It’s Christmas in London. You still have presents to buy, work parties to attend and lots of lights to see. Any time left between that? Why not learn where it all began for Christmas in London, and impress everyone with your festive facts over Christmas dinner? Ho-ho-ho!
1. The first commercial Christmas card was printed in London in 1843.
It was commissioned by a bloke called Sir Henry Cole, and it pictures three generations of a family drinking wine and celebrating. In 2001, it sold to an anonymous bidder for £22,250. Seems worth it…
2. The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is sent to us by Norway every year.
They send us one every year to thank us for our help in the Second World War. What a nice bunch, eh? Seems to be quite the divisive topic every Christmas on the internet, however…
3. The very first Christmas Cracker was created in London in 1847
London-based sweet maker, Tom Smith, created the first Christmas cracker all the way back in 1847. He was inspired by bonbons wrapped in a twist of tissue paper when on a visit to Paris.
4. William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066 at Westminster Abbey.
Getting crowned King after victory in battle? It’s like Christmas come early…
5. In 2007, the Children’s Society made the world’s largest stocking.
It weighed as much as five reindeer, was as long as three double decker buses, and held almost 1,000 presents. It raised an incredible £14,000 for the Children’s Society. We’re bitter though, because the record was recently beaten by a yarn manufacturer in North Carolina.
6. Celebrating Christmas was totally banned between 1647 and 1660.
Okay, not strictly a London fact, but Ollie Cromwell said bah humbug and it stuck… for a few years, anyway.
7. Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk in A Christmas Carol, lived in Camden.
Charles Dickens himself actually resided in Camden as a kid (16 Bayham Street if you fancy visiting the plaque). We suspect he owned a lot of tobacco lollipops and incense…
8. The puppets in the 1992 adaptation of The Muppets Christmas Carol were created in London
Talking of Camden, those lovable puppets for the 1992 adaptation were made in what was once a warehouse on Oval Road.
9. Harrods sees an average of 300,000 people PER DAY walk through its doors at Christmas.
On a regular day, around 100,000 people head into the store, but these figures triple over the Christmas period. We feel stressed out just thinking about it…
10. Regent Street and Oxford Street’s Christmas lights were banned between 1971 and 1977
This too place over the six year period in order to save money. But thanks to then-Prince Charles, they returned in 1978.
So there you have it – 10 festive facts about London we bet you didn’t realise! From crowning Kings to banning the actual event in the 1600’s, there’s plenty for history buffs to lap up here!
Also published on Medium.