12/24/2012 10:22 am ET Updated Feb 23, 2013

Christmas Factoids Explained!

Young House Love

"What if there had been room at the inn?" So many people have asked this question that I don't know who to attribute it to.

QUICK! What are the names of all of Santa's reindeer? And what is the fallacy about them?

The names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. And there is that 20th century addition, Rudolph, with his nose so bright.

The interesting thing about Santa's reindeer is that all of them have to be female, because two professors at Edinburgh University tell us that only female reindeer have traditional antlers at this time of year.

They grow antlers in time for winter, in order to compete with other females over holes dug in the snow to reach lichens and food for offspring. Males have antlers only during the mating season in autumn but get rid of them before the Yuletide.

Otherwise, there'd be lots of quarrels in the ranks if the reindeer were male. I haven't mentioned the names of the professors behind this canard to tradition because, honestly, such highly disillusioning facts make know-it-all professors unpopular.

You could just forget such inconvenient factoids when it comes to Christmas. But let's get it down that the Three Wise Men are Melchior, King of Arabia... He brought the baby Jesus gold...Caspar, King of Tarsus. He brought the child in the manger Frankincense... Balthazar, King of Ethiopia. He brought Myrrh. Or so goes Matthew 2:11.

Christmas trees traditionally used to come into the house on Christmas Eve. Not a moment before, says the tree expert Jeanne McManus. But as one has to struggle with a tree for hours, I say this is impractical bunk. Get somebody to put your tree up with the lights arranged on it and pay them if necessary. This is the only way to have a happy Christmas Eve.

  • THIS YEAR we might give a thought to our Coptic Christian brethren in Egypt. They are having a very hard time in their country right now, in spite of being some 10 million strong and trying to celebrate their 28th day of the month, Kiahk, which will now fall on January 2. The old, imprecise Gregorian version of the calendar lost 10 days and gained others so Copts may celebrate anytime after January, fasting well before that day.