The Price of Reindeer Meat, How Fast A Fake Christmas Tree Burns, and Other Fun Facts from Harper’s Index

The following citations are culled from a search of Harper’s Index that used the term “Christmas.” (If it’s not obvious, the numbers before each datum are the month and year that Harper’s originally published the datum in its Index)–

12/84   Number of robots FAO Schwarz expects to sell this Christmas season: 10,000

12/84   Total number of recordings of “White Christmas” that have been sold: 150,431,669

12/84   Chance of a white Christmas in New York: 23%

In Minneapolis: 73%

12/85   Percentage of Jewish households in the United States that had Christmas trees in 1984: 12

12/85   Rank of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” among all Christmas singles, in sales last year: 1

12/87   Price of a pound of reindeer meat at Lobel’s Prime Meats in New York City: $14.98

12/88   Estimated cost of a partridge in a pear tree, retail: $39.95

12/89   Percentage of Americans who say they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas last year: 6

12/89   Percentage of Americans who say they ate plum pudding last Christmas: 1

12/89   Ratio of U. S. households that have real Christmas trees to those that have artificial Christmas trees: 1:1

12/90   Average number of Christmas cards received by an American household each December: 26

12/91   Estimated number of cookies that will be left out for Santa Claus this Christmas Eve: 84,000,000

12/92   Price paid at auction in October for a 1942 Christmas card signed by Adolf Hitler: $3,025

12/93   Maximum speed at which the seeds of the dwarf mistletoe are expelled when ripe, in miles per hour: 60

12/93   Price of a life-sized computer-controlled triceratops, from the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue: $93,000

12/93   Percentage of Americans who say they enjoy Christmas shopping “a great deal”: 28

12/93   Pages of forms an applicant must fill out to be considered for the position of elf at Macy’s: 10

12/95   Fee charged by a California design firm to place a string of lights on an outdoor Christmas tree, lights not included: $75

12/96   Estimated number of Americans hospitalized last year for injuries involving the ingestion of Christmas ornaments: 687

12/97   Chance that an American adult can name all of Santa’s reindeer: 1 in 4

12/98   Year in which Christmas celebrations, plum pudding, and mince pie were outlawed in England: 1647

12/00   Minutes required to take in “the true story of Christmas ” at Little Rock’s Living Nativity drive-through: 2

12/01   Number of Montreal stores vandalized last year for mounting Christmas displays in November: 14

12/02   Chances of getting a hotel room in Bethlehem on Christmas in 2000 and 2001, respectively: 0, 9 in 10

Chance that a Bethlehem hotel expects to be open this Christmas: 1 in 5

12/02   Rank of a burning Yule-log video loop among the top-rated 8-10 a.m. TV shows in New York City last Christmas: 1

12/03    Estimated number of artificial Christmas trees displayed in U.S. homes each year for every real one: 2.6

12/05   Miles per hour of two low-flying Danish fighter jets in February when they startled a reindeer named Rudolph to death: 450

Amount his owner, a professional Santa, was paid by the Air Force in September to buy a new Rudolph: $5,000

12/06   Number of worldwide incidents last Christmas of “Santarchy,” which involves roving mobs of unruly Santas: 29

Number of fruitcakes that drunken Santas catapulted into the air at the event in Portland, Oregon: 6

1/07   Percentage change since 1970 in the height of the National Christmas Tree: +63

12/07   Number of golf clubs a Phoenix tourism group is sending to troops overseas as part of its “Operation White Christmas”: 14,000

12/07   Number of Christmas trees FedExed last year to U.S. troops: 11,854

12/07   Number of seconds it takes a synthetic Christmas tree to burn: 32

12/08   Percentage of U.S. Christmas trees purchased in 2001 and 2007, respectively, that were artificial: 21, 36

The Minimum Number of Books in Harvard’s Libraries That Are Bound in Human Flesh (and Other Fun Facts from Harper’s Index)

The following citations are culled from a search of Harper’s Index that used the term “literature.” (If it’s not obvious, the numbers before each datum are the month and year that Harper’s originally published the datum in its Index)–

5/84    Percentage of Americans who say they never read books: 45

Percentage of these who can’t read: 13

12/87  Number of direct-mail solicitations sent to Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond this year: 90

4/87   Copies of Gabriel García Márquez’s new book burned by the Chilean government last November: 15,000

2/88   Exclamation points in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities: 2,343

10/90   Number of years George Bush has been citing Bonfire of the Vanities as an example of his pleasure reading: 2

11/90   Number of Georgia third-graders Representative Newt Gingrich paid $2 for every book they read last summer: 282

3/91   Percentage of American households in which no books were bought last year: 60

12/92   Chances that an attempt to ban or restrict access to school materials or books last’ year was successful: 2 in 5

6/94   Amount Random House lost on the 29 of its books included on the 1993 New York Times Notable Books list: $698,000

11/95   Estimated number of books banned since 1965 in Indonesia: 2,000

3/95   Amount for which a Mississippi man attempted to sue “the Bible” last year, citing it as “oppressive hearsay”: $45,000,000

5/95   Tons of remaindered books destroyed in the United States each year: 250,000

5/95   Number of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays quoted on the Senate floor last year by Robert Byrd: 37

9/95   Percentage of Americans who own at least five Bibles: 27

9/95   Number of California library books of modern American poetry from which pages have been reported stolen this year: 250

1/00   Estimated temperature of Hell, according to two Spanish physicists ‘ interpretation of the Bible: 832° F

Estimated temperature of Heaven: 448°F

3/00  Number of Playboy centerfold models since 1959 whose bios claimed their favorite book was by Ayn Rand: 12

9/00   Ratio of the number of copies of The Great Gatsby sold each month in the U.S. to the number sold in the author’s lifetime: 5:3

9/03   Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner: 300

6/04   Minimum number of the brand names mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses that are still extant: 28

Number of the brand holders that are sponsoring Dublin’s centennial Bloomsday celebration this month: 2

9/06   Minimum number of books in Harvard’s libraries that are bound in human flesh: 2