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Christmas myths debunked

Published December 17. 2011 09:01AM

Let's have some fun this week as Christmas Myths Busters.

Despite popular opinion that all Santa's reindeer are males, I received this important email that debunks that theory. It goes like this:

*According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl. We should've known ... ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

Despite the DJs of every known radio station in America who thinks we like the following songs, they are wrong and should desist at once in playing them a billion times a day. Here they are, in no specific hate-order, (since I hate them all equally):

*"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."

This song was released in 1953, written by John Rox. He had written a children's book by the same name, in 1950. Then he wrote the song. (Why?) It was sung by Gayla Peevey, 10 years old at the time. Peevey told a radio interviewer in 2007 that a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and her local roots, launched a campaign that ended up presenting her with a hippopotamus, which she donated to the Oklahoma City zoo. It lived almost 50 years. I wish the song had died with it.

*"Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey."

Richard Allen, Sam Saltzberg, and Lou Monte wrote this one and Monte sang it in 1960. The song describes a donkey who helps Santa Claus bring presents to children in Italy. And that's where this song should stay. Hee-haw, hee-haw!

*"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"

This depressing little ditty should be immediately removed from all radio stations because of its inaccurate material. It was written by Randy Brooks and originally performed by the husband and wife duo of Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire in 1979. In the lyrics, the grandmother of the family gets drunk from drinking too much eggnog and due to having forgotten to take her medication and despite warnings from the family, staggers outside into a snowstorm, either to retrieve it or due to the effects of senile dementia, which the medication was supposed to treat, is then run over by Santa Claus and his reindeer, and killed. I object strenuously to this. Grandma, if she was senile, would never have remembered that she forgot to take her medication, therefore, she never would have gone outside in search of it and never would have been run over by Santa and the reindeer. Plus, it gives Grandmas all over the world a bad name.

Here is a Christmas quiz. See how many you can guess right. Maybe they will debunk some Christmas myths for you, too.

1. What was the origin of the abbreviation "Xmas"?

A. It was created by secular humanists in an attempt to dilute the Christian aspect of the holiday.

B. It was simply a side effect of the need for brevity in commercial advertising

C. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the name Christ begins with the letter Chi (X), which has been used for many centuries as an abbreviation for Jesus Christ

D. None of the above

Answer: C.

2: True or false: The day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," is literally the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States.

Answer: False. It is the Saturday before Christmas.

4. Modern depictions of Santa Claus as a fat, jolly elf clothed in red and white with rosy cheeks and a twinkle in his eye were inspired by ...

A. Coca-Cola advertisements of the 1930s

B. The beloved children's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas"

C. The drawings of 19th-century cartoonist Thomas Nast

D. All of the above

Answer: D (But my favorite is, yup, you guessed it, A.)

5. True or false: Poinsettias are quite poisonous if eaten and must be kept out of reach of children and pets.

Answer: False. According to the American Medical Association's "Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants," other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no ill effect. Also, Harry, fake poinsettia plants do not need to be watered to continue to bloom.

6: The word "mistletoe" derives from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning ...

A. Dung on a twig

B. Yule tidings

C. Kissing weed

D. Winter harbinger

E. Bitter leaf

Answer: A. Dung on a twig. Mistletoe tends to spring from bird droppings that have fallen on trees, with the seeds having passed through the digestive tract of the birds. At the time the plant was given this name, the people didn't know anything about that, but had observed that mistletoe seemed to spring into existence from bird droppings on trees, thus "mistle" or "missel," which meant basically "dung," and "toe," which came from the Anglo-Saxon "tan" meaning "twig." Thus, mistletoe is another way to essentially say "poop twig."

This is what we kiss under? A poop twig? Ewww!

Brings new meaning to the Christmas song, "It Must Have Been the Mistletoe."

The plant became associated with Christmas from the tradition of hanging mistletoe in one's home to bring good luck and peace to those within the house. If a couple was found under the mistletoe, they kissed. This kiss was more or less a promise of marriage to the one kissed. If the two didn't marry each other, it was "Oh well. Poop on you."

If you have any other Christmas myths you'd like debunked, just ask. But if I don't get right back to you, I'm probably taking down the mistletoe, or as I shall forever refer to it now as, dung on a twig. Ewww!

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