Are These Three Christmas Urban Legends True?

Can you spot which one of our favorite Christmas urban legends is true? Internet ScamBusters #210

Today we’ll take a look at our three favorite Christmas Urban Legends. You’ll probably be surprised to learn that one of them is true. Can you spot which one?

– Candy canes have religious significance after all — they are a homage to Jesus Christ.

– A house is elaborately decorated with Christmas lights that blink in time to music.

– The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was actually written to contain the basic beliefs of Catholicism, masked in secular words.

Let’s check out today’s Christmas Urban Legends…

Are These Three Christmas Urban Legends True?

As we head towards Christmas, we thought we’d do a lighter ScamBusters issue this week and focus on three Christmas urban legends. And the truth behind these holiday myths may even surprise you!

Although Christmas urban legends may make us smile, most are, of course, not true. Out of all the Christmas urban legends out there, here are our three favorites:

Christmas Urban Legend #1. Candy canes have religious significance after all — they are a yummy homage to Jesus Christ.

Well, this is a fake Christmas urban legend if ever we’ve heard one!

Candy canes are not ‘J’ shaped to represent Jesus. Their white bases don’t symbolize Jesus’ innocence. And the red stripes certainly have nothing to do with the blood that Jesus shed to save mankind.

Candy canes are just tasty treats — nothing more and nothing less.

Some versions of this Christmas urban legend can make it easy for you to believe that candy canes are about religion in general. And as nice as it is to put a story behind a tradition, this story isn’t true, either.

Candy canes didn’t originate as tasty treats for children in church. They originated as tasty treats for people who were hungry. The design is just part of the package.

So as sweet as this Christmas myth may be, it’s simply not true. 😉

Christmas Urban Legend #2. A house is elaborately decorated with Christmas lights that blink in time to music.

Believe it or not, this Christmas urban legend is actually true.

In 2005, an Ohio electric engineer named Carson Williams transformed his house into a Winter Wonderland. He spent $10,000 in cash and two months of time decorating.

The final result? Carson’s house became the house that other houses wish they could be. And Carson became a living embodiment of Christmas spirit.

When this story first circulated on the Internet, we thought it was just another Christmas urban legend. In fact, that seemed to be the general consensus. However, Carson’s story is actually real.

And if you still think this is nothing but a Christmas urban legend, you can always see the show in person. From December 2 until December 31, 2006, Mason, Ohio, will present their “Christmas in Lights” show. Just bring your car along and the rest will be brought to you.

Christmas Urban Legend #3. The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was actually written to contain the basic beliefs of Catholicism, masked in secular words.

The concept behind this urban legend is that this Christmas song was originally created as a coded catechism that was used by Catholics to teach their children. However, it’s not true.

Here is an example from one of the most popular versions going around:

— Begin Portion of Urban Legend Email

It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law – private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith – a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head – or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I’m not aware was ever practiced anywhere else.

— End Portion of Urban Legend Email

Here is a list of what the symbols supposed represented:

– A partridge in a pear tree. Said to symbolize Jesus Christ, a mother partridge protecting her nestlings (Jesus’ followers).

– Two turtle doves. The Old and the New Testaments.

– Three French hens. The Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.

– Four calling birds. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

– Five gold rings. The first five books of the Old Testament telling the story of man’s fall from grace.

– Six geese a laying. The six days of creation.

– Seven swans a-swimming. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

– Eight maids a-milking. The eight Beatitudes.

– Nine ladies dancing. The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

– Ten lords a-leaping. The Ten Commandments.

– Eleven pipers piping. The eleven faithful disciples.

– Twelve drummers drumming. The twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

According to historians, there is no evidence to suggest that The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a covert catechism. Further, these symbols were all shared by both Catholics and Anglicans, so there would have been no point in hiding these symbols in a song, since these beliefs could have been taught openly without betraying someone as Catholic.

On a different note: Each year as a tongue-in-cheek economic indicator, economists compute the cost of every item mentioned in this Christmas carol. In 2006, the total of the “Christmas Price Index” is $18,920.59, which is a 3.1% increase from 2005. 😉

You can read more about The Twelve Days of Christmas here.

So, the next time you hear a Christmas urban legend like this one, do what we do. Just smile and move on. Although it’s nice to put some history behind a story, sometimes it’s best to bypass the Christmas urban legends and focus more on the candy canes, Christmas lights, and cheerful jingles that inspire them. 😉

We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas — and we’ll see you next week.