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Fact or fiction? Answering some of the biggest holiday-related rumors

Christmas is a time to give gifts, spend time with family and take a breather from the chaos of the last year. If you are still stuck on what to buy, tap or click here for Kim’s Christmas shopping list of 13 things your friends and family will love.

Remember to keep that yule log burning no matter where you are celebrating this year. It’s considered bad luck to light a new one during the 12 days of Christmas. It might seem silly to some, but there are plenty of rumors and superstitions about the holidays.

From Darth Vader to popular songs, read on to answer the most frequently asked questions about the holiday season.

Was “Jingle Bells” written as a Christmas song?

“Jingle Bells” is the quintessential Christmas tune, and it’s easy to sporadically burst into song this time of year. But where did it come from, and do most of us have the meaning completely wrong?

If you pause to analyze the lyrics, you’ll notice no reference to Christmas or December. Written by James Lord Pierpont, it was initially copyrighted in 1857 under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh.” According to Snopes, the song isn’t a Christmas ditty at all, but rather an ode to Pierpont’s native Massachusetts.

Is the same actor in both “A Christmas Story” and “Elf?”

Aside from whether “Die Hard” is, in fact, a Christmas movie, there is another film debate that pops up every year. With 1983’s “A Christmas Story” and 2003’s “Elf” being popular this time of year, many film fanatics have often wondered if the two productions have an actor in common.

While released 20 years apart, actor Peter Billingsley does perform in both. He played Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” and Ming Ming in “Elf.”

Is the USPS “Operation Santa” real?

The United States Postal Service will continue helping needy families to spread Christmas cheer. So, yes, the USPS Operation Santa is real and goes back as far as 1912.

The program was set up to help struggling families by accepting wish lists during Christmas. The postal service opens the letters and uploads them to USPSOperationSanta.com. Other families can adopt a letter and fulfill the wishes of those in need.

Does the Vatican have Darth Vader in its Nativity Scene?

With everything that has been going on with COVID around the world, it certainly won’t be surprising to see “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader in a place where he doesn’t belong. Unfortunately for fans, the evil Jedi isn’t in a nativity scene displayed by the Vatican.

With that said, it is relatively easy to see where this rumor started. Flanked by a turkey and an astronaut, the nativity scene from 2020 includes a character that resembles Vader. But the holiday pieces were sculpted from 1965 to 1975 (during the moon landings), and the black helmeted figure represents “a great sinner.”

Is Hanukkah as popular in other parts of the world as in the U.S.?

The Jewish “Festival of Lights” is meant to commemorate the recovery of Jerusalem and the lighting of oil lamps in Israel’s Second Temple around the 2nd century BC. While it is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish religion, it is still celebrated across the world, with Israel being the epicenter of festivities.

It has a considerable significance to American Jews. Hanukkah means “dedication.” During the 1840s, South Carolina poet Penina Moise saw it as an opportunity for American Jews to celebrate their dedication to Judaism.

These were just a few holiday-related rumors. If you want to see the entire list compiled by Snopes, click here.

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