Christmas by the Numbers

The Christmas season, with all its festivity, traditions, bright lights, and cookies, is here! Take a break from the busiest of seasons to enjoy some numerical trivia about the holiday.

Christmas has, of course, been celebrated for hundreds of years, but it only became a federal holiday in the U.S. in 1870.

With 95% of Americans saying they celebrate Christmas, how do they spend the day? 74% of people will go to a party, and 65% attend a religious service; as you might expect, 93% exchange gifts.

88% of Christmas observers put up a Christmas tree, which means that between 25 and 30 live trees are sold each year, as well 8 to 12 million artificial ones. Good thing we grow plenty to go around: there are 350 million trees growing on farms all across the U.S. The most famous tree is in Rockefeller Center; the first one that was erected in 1931 was a mere 20 feet tall – and the largest one yet rose 100 feet and weighed 10 tons in 1999. Belgians set a record in 2010 for the largest number of Christmas lights ever on a tree: 194, 672.

Christmas trees aren’t the only things we produce en masse: we also manufacture 1.76 billion candy canes annually, which would measure 167, 000 miles in length – enough to circle the globe at its widest point 6.7 times. 70 million poinsettia plants are sold each year, and almost all of them within a 6 week period.

Around 25% of people leave their gift-wrapping until the two days before Christmas. For 74% of families, wrapping is handled by the female head of house – time for dads and kids to lend a hand. Good thing the “true love” from the famous Christmas carol didn’t have to wrap all of his gifts before giving them: between the partridge in a pear tree and the 12 drummers drumming, they total 364!

Wrapping paper isn’t the only paper going around this time of year: 1.5 billion holiday cards are sent annually, labelled with some of the 1.3 billion holiday-themed stamps sold by the post office. And not all of that is domestic – 30 million pounds of holiday mail are sent to soldiers overseas each year.


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