At Christmas, we celebrate the ‘spirit of giving’. Thus, gift exchange is a big part of it. It is a tradition based on the Three Wise Men giving presents to Baby Jesus in the nativity story. But of course, that’s not all there is to know about Christmas. Read on to learn some fun facts about the history, customs and traditions of everyone’s favourite holiday paired up with a collection of the most wonderful festive photos!

With the very first Christmas card created over 170 years ago, the tradition of sending Christmas wishes on cards with colourful, cute or snowy motives isn’t going to fade away any time soon. Billions of Christmas cards are sent every year with the sweetest messages for our loved ones near and far.

It is believed, that Christmas tree decoration originated in the 16th century in Germany. Germany is also the country credited with starting the whole Christmas tree tradition as well as with the production of the first artificial Christmas trees, which were made of wood or goose feathers. Modern-day artificial trees would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be more eco-friendly than buying an actual tree each year and some zoos even take donated Christmas trees (the real ones, of course) and give them a second use as food for their animals.

The magic of Christmas is even strong enough to end wars – temporarily, that is. During World War 1, in 1914, an unoffcial truce was held between Germany and the UK at Christmas. They decorated their shelters, exchanged gifts across no man’s land and played a game of football between themselves.

Depending on the country or culture, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are all associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season. Though this doesn’t even begin to cover all the different Christmas traditions there are! In Iceland, for example, there are 13 Santas, Yule Lads or Jólasveinar that visit the children on Christmas. Although originally the Yule Lads were portrayed as mischievious pranksters, they either reward or punish them depending on whether the kids have been naughty or nice in the modern-day adaptation of the tradition. Additionally, the mother of Yule Lads, a horrifying troll named Grýla, kidnaps naughty kids and boils them in her cauldron. Doesn’t that sound chipper?!

Considering all time zones, Santa, Father Christmas and the other have 31 hours to deliver presents to all the kids around the globe. There are different approches (of very serious nature) to proof or disproof the physics behind this but we think the most logical explanation simply is magic.

Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. It is argued, that their popularity increased when the Grimm Brothers wrote their story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the two siblings stumble upon a house made entirely of treats in the deep of the forest. However, whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale or vice versa is unclear.

In 2013, the biggest gingerbread house ever was erected in Bryan, Texas. It took an estimated 1,800 pounds of butter, 7,200 eggs, 3,000 pounds of sugar, 7,200 pounds of flour and more than 22,000 pieces of candy to build it, resulteing in over 35.8 million calories! The world’s largest Gingerbread Town on the other hand, is located in Bergen, Norway: the Pepperkakebyen.

To see your own photos of this wonderful time on our postcards for the next holiday season, head over to Instagram and tag’em with #xmaswonders until the end of December!