Holidays are the perfect time to check out the myth- and rumor-debunking Web site Snopes.com.
Among the Christmas hoaxes the site puts in their place:
* The Bible says exactly three wise men traveled to visit baby Jesus. (Nope, it doesn't say how many, only that they brought three gifts.)Fascinating stuff, I think. And I've heard two of these myths purported as fact in the past week alone.
* The image of Santa as a fluffy, bearded, red-and-white-clad cheerster was invented by Coca Cola. (The image predated the Coca Cola ads by more than 45 years.)
* "Immaculate Conception" refers to the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary, or birth to a woman who has never had sex. (It's actually a Catholic doctrine that says Mary was kept free from original sin, which is the sin you have at conception.)
* Candy canes were created as a symbol of Jesus, in the shape of a J with red streaks to symbolize his blood. (Nope.)
* "Xmas" is a modern abbreviation that is disrespectful for "taking the Christ out of Christmas." (The first letter in the Greek word for Christ is chi, which looks like an X in our alphabet. So, you get Xmas and sometimes even Xian.)
* The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. (There may be more people out, but it certainly isn't when the most money is spent. For the past 10 years, that has always occurred in mid- to late December.)