MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you write “Merry Xmas,” you’re taking the Christ out of Christmas, right? And did Coca-Cola really give us the modern picture of Santa Claus? We’re replying all to WCCO-TV viewers’ Christmas Good Questions.
• Why is Christmas often abbreviated as Xmas? Is it sacrilegious? – Adam Giddings in Red Wing and Emily Levin in Lakeville
It’s not an insult. It’s left over from an ancient language. The “X” stands for the Greek letter “chi.” It’s the first letter of the word “Christos,” which means the Messiah. X has always been used in symbols and abbreviations for the word Christ.
• Did Coca Cola invent the modern image of Santa Claus? — David in Red Wing
I’ve heard this a lot – it’s so cynical. A commercial illustrator hired by Coca-Cola did draw Santa as a jolly, red man, and that does match the red color of the Coke bottle. The first ad showed up in 1931. But there are images of Santa from 1906, 1908, and 1925 wearing the same red suit. The image of Santa has slowly evolved over the years — gaining and losing weight — just like the rest of us.
• Why do we hang stockings by the chimney? – Joe from Ham Lake
That goes back to a very old fable – where three daughters are suffering because their mother had died. After a day of cleaning before Christmas, they hang their stockings over the chimney, so they can dry. Santa Claus felt for the girls- so overnight he came in and put a bags of gold in each stocking.
• What is the most popular Christmas song? – Mike from New Brighton
As of mid-December 2010, according to ASCAP, Sleigh Ride has been played on the radio more than any other song, nearly 175,000 times. Winter Wonderland is in second, with 156,000 plays. Sleigh Ride has been tops for the past two years.
• What’s the origin of kissing under the mistletoe? – Dwayne in Park Rapids
The ancient Celtics thought mistletoe had magical healing powers because it stayed green in winter without having roots. Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.
WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha Reports