10 facts about Christmas for photo inspiration

Sweden, Wrapped Christmas presents with twigs
Folio Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Looking for inspiration on what to shoot for Christmas themed stock imagery? These 10 facts about Christmas may help you get some ideas for what to produce for your next shoot.

One of the best things about working for Alamy is all the weird and wonderful discoveries we make by looking at the images our contributors sends us. Our collection of over 97 million images is like a huge encyclopedia of the world and a lot can be learned from it. Last year we did a Christmas special blog about weird traditions from around the world. This year we have looked at 10 facts about Christmas you possibly haven’t heard of before. And if you’re up for an alternative Christmas, maybe some of these facts will inspire you to do something a little bit different this year…

1 – Rudolph’s red nose

There is actually a little bit of science behind Rudolph’s shiny red nose. A study based in Norway (near the North Pole) was made to demystify the redness of this famous reindeer’s nose and it turned out that by comparison to humans, reindeer have a more richly vascular nasal micro circulation, with a 25% higher vascular density. This doesn’t only create a red looking nose, but also helps to protect the reindeer from freezing and control the temperature of the brain during activities like flying Santa’s sleigh on cold winter nights.


Reindeer picture by Paddy McGuinness
Paddy McGuinness / Alamy Stock Photo


2 – The Christmas dinner

Stats shows that 76% of British families cook up a roast turkey for dinner on Christmas day, however this wasn’t always the case. Goose, swan, pheasant and peacock have all been served throughout history in the UK, but the most special dinner dates back to medieval times where it was common to dish up a roast boars head as the centre piece of the table (best enjoyed with a dollop of mustard).


Father Christmas
Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo


3 – Festive spiders

It is not uncommon to include artificial spiders and cobwebs as decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees as it is believed this brings good luck.


Woman Face Covered by Fake Cobwebs
Riccardo Sala / Alamy Stock Photo


4 – Stir-up Sunday

Traditionally a Christmas pudding should be made on the last Sunday before the season of Advent. Families used to gather together in their kitchens and each take turns stirring the stodgy mixture whilst making a wish for the New Year ahead. The mixture was always stirred from East to West to honour the three wise men and their visit to baby Jesus.


Christmas postcard published by Raphael Tuck titled Stirring the Christmas Pudding
Amoret Tanner / Alamy Stock Photo


5 – Throw your shoe and start planning your wedding

In the Czech Republic many single women perform an unusual ritual on Christmas Eve to find out if they will marry in the following year. Turning their backs to the house door they throw a shoe over their shoulder, if the shoe lands with its front pointing towards the door, it means she will move out of her parents’ house and should start with the wedding preparations.


Bridal shoes on window parapet
Jozef Polc / Alamy Stock Photo


6 – Saint Lucy’s day

Saint Lucy’s day is a celebration taking place on the 13th December, the darkest day of the year, in Scandinavian countries. According to the legend, Saint Lucy brought food and aid to the Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Great Persecution. She was wearing a candle-lit wreath on her head to light up the way whilst carrying as much food as possible. The ceremony today is carried out in a similar way. A group of people, often children, will march through their neighborhood in the dark with one person carrying the wreath. They will knock on everyone’s doors, deliver cakes and sing about Saint Lucy.


Miss Lucia Queen and Princesses at Skansen Park in Stockholm on December 13th with reindeer and snow falling
Chad Ehlers / Alamy Stock Photo


7 – Praise agriculture

The date of Jesus’ birth is not mentioned anywhere in the bible, but there are a few references pointing towards the baby being born during the lambing season. So if Jesus was most likely born in spring, why do we celebrate Christmas in December? Researchers think the tradition sprung out of the Roman pagan festival Saturnalia. The farmers would celebrate the end of autumn planting, in honour of Saturn, who was the god of agriculture. Homes would be decorated in wreaths and greenery, gifts were shared and gambling was allowed.


Chaos, Cybele and Saturn, Roman gods of creation, great mother and time.
Florilegius / Alamy Stock Photo


8 – Turkey or bucket of Christmas chicken?

After a highly successful marketing campaign in 1974, KFC has been the go to place for Christmas dinner in Japan.


Fried chicken bucket
Image navi – QxQ images / Alamy Stock Photo


9 – The invention of the cracker

The Christmas cracker was invented by a London sweet shop owner called Tom Smith in 1847. He had spotted the French bonbons and developed his own version by adding a little trinket and a bang followed by gifts such as jewelry and miniature dolls. The British people couldn’t be more ready for an invention like this and by 1900 he was selling 13 million a year.


Couple pulling christmas crackers
Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo


10 – Christmas cards

If you happen to be celebrating Christmas in Japan this year (and possibly enjoying a fine meal in KFC) avoid sending any red Christmas cards as this is associated with death…


US mailbox with Christmas cards
TRG / Alamy Stock Photo


Do you have any quirky Christmas traditions of your own that you would like to share with us? Tell us all about it in the comments below, or even better, upload some photos of it!


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