Horrible Histories: Horrible Christmas by Terry Deary

Published: 6th October 2016Goodreads badge
Pages: 96
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

It’s history with the NASTY bits left in!

Do you want to know:
– A very rude pantomine song?
– Why making Christmas pudding used to be a crime?
– How to get rid of carol singers?

Horrible Christmas tells you all the festive facts you ever wanted to find out but were too stuffed full of mince pies to ask.

It’s Christmas time and what better way to celebrate than with a fabulous book that tells you everything you know about Christmas is either wrong or even more interesting than you thought? Legendary series Horrible Histories has taken hold of Christmas and filled up this fabulous book with trivia, fun facts, and a whole heap of history both intriguing and horrible all relating to this the festive season.

The book is also incredible funny and quirky and I loved learning all the facts about Christmas and the surrounding myths and associations. There are multiple quizzes to test your knowledge and it is fascinating about all the old traditions that have either been forgotten or the ones that live on today but I had no idea of the original reasons why. There’s some science in there too as the realities of Santa’s sleighing and reindeer endeavours are worked out with maths and logic (a lot funner than it sounds), plus the horrible bits of history that wouldn’t be Horrible Histories without it.

The book is laid out with pictures, colours, and trivia boxes and full page stories. There are topics like chapters breaking up the book into relevant information like Christmas Carols, Christmas History, Rotten Christmas etc that keep the topics together but there is still general crossover. Great to pop in and out of when you need a certain fun fact.

I love learning new things and fun facts and trivia are some of my favourite things in the world so this book is right up my alley and it is presented in such a fun and non-intimidating way that it is easily accessible. It isn’t just page after page of facts, the best part is you learn things in different ways, not just quizzes, not just the fact lists but with storytelling and humorous writing too. Information like the first Christmas card was printed in 1843, or that kissing under the mistletoe comes from a Druid tradition are told in clever ways that are interactive and make it a fun experience.

My favourite fun facts from the book must be included here because they are wonderful:

  • There were no angels around when Jesus was born. The reporters wrote in Greek of ‘angelos’ being there which is not Greek for angels, it’s Greek for ‘messengers’.
  • Silent Night was first played on a guitar.
  • The first record of Christmas being written down is in 1038 in a Saxon book where it appears as Cristes Maesse.
  • Little Jack Horner (of thumb in pie fame) was actually a monk who (supposedly) tricked Henry VIII out of a land deed at Christmas.
  • In the 1600s the Germans decided that the Christ Child should be worshipped at Christmas. They called him Christkindl – German for Christ Child. This became Kris Kringle and became a name for Santa Claus instead.
  • Rudolph was created for an advert in 1939
  • In the 1800s Christmas had almost died out but Charles Dickens bought back its popularity with ‘A Christmas Carol’.

There’s definitely a lot more but these ones stood out. There’s so much to learn in this book about old customs, traditions from Victorians and other eras, other countries, present day and the past. It is fascinating to see what feels like an ingrained tradition or idea is actually manufactured or something so old was really a simple thing at first.

If you have been a fan of Horrible Histories in the past this is a great addition with a nice holiday theme, but if this is your first experience of Horrible Histories it is also a great book because you get to learn a little more about Christmas and its history and love the joyfulness that is Horrible Histories.

You can purchase Horrible Christmas via the following

QBDDymocks | Amazon

A Closer Look At Harry Potter

After all this time you wouldn’t have thought that there was any closer we could look at the series, but the vast amount of information out there says otherwise. There’s plenty of information about each about the books and films on their own, but what about the series as a whole? What are the facts and figures that give Harry Potter the marvellouss depth and detail? What are the key pieces of information that make you realise just how much work Rowling invested in creating her world? What are random bits of information about the actors that you never thought you needed to know? All that and more are answered below.

The Stats

  • The total word count across the entire series is 1 084 170.
                Philosopher’s Stone: 76,944 words
                Chamber of Secrets: 85,141 words
                Prisoner of Azkaban: 107,253 words
                Goblet of Fire: 190,637 words
                Order of the Phoenix: 257,045 words
                Half-Blood Prince: 168,923 words
                Deathly Hallows: 198,227 words
  • The series is made up of 4095 pages
  • Translated into 73 languages
  • Sold more than 500 million copies (as of May 2013)
  • In 2012 all 7 books were in the top 10 best selling books of all time
  • As of 2015, the Harry Potter series is the second-highest grossing film franchise of all time having grossed more than $7.7 billion worldwide.

Series Fun Facts

  • Hagrid is 8 feet, 6 inches tall.
  • Ron Weasley originally swore a lot, but Rowling’s publisher wouldn’t let her use that sort of language because it would’ve been inappropriate for young readers.
  • Throughout the eight-movies five actresses played Pansy Parkinson
  • Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) got a mini-fan and a fruit bat stuck in his shaggy beard.
  • To keep Deathly Hallows from leaking early, Bloomsbury gave it codenames such as Edinburgh Potmakers or The Life and Times of Clara Rose Lovett: An Epic Novel Covering Many Generations. 
  • The brooms used in the series aren’t regular brooms, they were made by modeller Pierre Bohanna using aircraft-grade titanium to support the weight of the actors.
  • Animatronics were made for the actors to interact with on set, including baby mandrakes, Hedwig, the Monster Book of Monsters, and Buckbeak.
  • Harry’s scar was applied 5800 times in the making of the films. 2000 times on Radcliffe and the rest on film and stunt doubles.
  • Harry went through 160 glasses.
  • Some original names of the characters were Hermione Puckle, Neville Puff, Draco Spinks, Lily Moon, Madhari Patil, and Mati Patil.
  • While filming Prisoner of Azkaban, Tom Felton’s robes had their pockets sewn shut because he kept trying to sneak food onto the set.
  • Forty versions of Salazar Slytherin’s locket had to be created to accommodate Harry and Ron’s failed attempts to destroy.
  • Voldemort awkwardly hugging Draco was not scripted, but improvised by Fiennes. Felton’s shocked response was authentic.
  • Voldemort’s wand is made of yew.
  • Rowling said she would have fought the decision to make it Sorcerer’s Stone if she had been in a better position.


Words, Names and Their Meanings

  • Each of Dumbledore’s names has a meaningAlbus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore
                Albus is white in Latin
                Wulfric was a name of a saint who became a holy man after seeing a
                homeless man
                Percival was a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table
                Brian is Celtic for strong
                Dumbledore is Old English for bumblebee.
  • The Hogwarts motto,”Draco dormeins nunquam titillandus” means “Never tickle a sleeping dragon”
  • Muggle existed in the early to mid-1900s, as a jazz-word that was used for pot smokers.
  • Hogwarts is the name of a plant
  • Voldemort comes from the French words meaning “flight of death” (the T is silent)
  • The wizarding world’s plants come from a real book called Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. The book was penned in the 17th century by English botanist and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper. You can actually read it here.
  • AccioOriginally, the word meant “send (for)”, “summon (forth),” or “fetch”, among other things
  • Evanesco – literally means to vanish
  • Incendio – Latin for fire-raising
  • Expelliarmus – incantation loosely combines expellere (drive out or expel) and arma (weapon)
  • Nox – Latin word for night
  • Expecto Patronum – means ‘I await a patron’
  • Crucio – Cruciare means torment/torture
  • Avada Kedavra – derives from the Aramaic phrase Abhadda kedhabhra, which means to ‘disappear like this word’. (Also probable origin of abracadabra)
  • Severus – means severe or serious
  • Draco Malfoy – Draco translates to dragon, while Malfoy can be traced back to malus, which means bad, evil, or wicked
  • Remus Lupin – In mythology, Remus was raised by wolves, and Lupin is a form of Lupus which means wolf.
    Side note: Lupin’s father was called Lyall which also means wolf, his mother’s maiden name was Howell
  • Quidditch – also known as Ikarosfairke or “Ikarus ball,” which refers to the Greek myth of Icarus who flew too close to the sun.

Fun Facts

More Fun Facts

Even More Fun Facts

Movie Fun Facts

Movies 6-8: Fun Facts and Differences

This post may contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the films or read the books.

What I love about these final three films is that OotP is the longest book by about 60 000 words, and yet it’s the final book that was made into two films. I’ve chosen to group the final two films together because it is only one book, and Part One was a lot of camping so I think that saves a lot of time in terms of plot.

The Half-Blood Prince

Fun Facts

  • The film was released in the United Kingdom, United States, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, India, Brazil, Spain and Mexico on 15 July 2008
  • Originally set to be released on 21 November 2008, but was pushed back by eight months
  • The movie is 2 hours 33 minutes long, making it the 3rd longest film in the series.
  • Broke the then-record for biggest midnight showings, making $22.8 million in 3,000 cinemas
  • It was translated into 67 different languages, with a Scots Gaelic version planned for this month.
  • Dame Maggie Smith completed filming this film whilst undergoing radio-therapy as treatment for breast cancer.
  •  Emma Watson considered not returning for the film, but eventually decided that, “the pluses outweighed the minuses,” and could not bear to see anyone else play Hermione.
  •  Timothy Spall plays Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) for the fourth time, but in both Order of the Phoenix and this film, he does not have a single line of dialogue.
  •  Ron thinks Dumbledore is 150 years old. Dumbledore was actually 115 years old when he died. He was roughly in his fifties when he first met Tom Riddle.
  •  The strange “fluid” in Dumbledore’s Pensive is entirely done with CGI.
  • That highly torturous fluid in the cave that Dumbledore drinks, was really just some milk thinned down with water and then visually “tweaked” by the CGI department.
  •  A giant swing was used to send actors flying across the room for scenes in which Quidditch players fells off their brooms.
  •  A total of 27 owls appear in Half-Blood Prince and all of them came from animal sanctuaries.
  •  The cauldrons  in the Potions classroom are remote control operated. And the knitting needles that knit on their own are also operated by a custom built machine.
  • Over 80 sets were used for this film.
  • Daniel Radcliffe’s least favourite own performance in the series, stating in an interview that he was “just not very good in it”, and calling it “hard to watch”.

More Trivia
Extra Trivia
Additional Trivia
Extra Additional Trivia


  • Opening scene with the British Prime Minister is omitted.
  • The Dursleys do not appear.
  • Horace Slughorn’s appearance in the film differs dramatically from his description in the book. In the book he is extremely fat and bald, with a “walrus-like” moustache. In the film, he is depicted as being only slightly overweight, hair only slightly thinning, with no facial hair.
  • Three new scenes were added into the film that don’t appear in the book: The collapsing Millennium Bridge, Harry flirting with the waitress, and the attack at The Burrow.
  • Harry is only warned not to move by Dumbledore in the tower; in the book he is magically frozen.
  • Dumbledore’s funeral was removed as it was believed it did not fit with the rest of the film.
  •  The climactic battle was removed to avoid repetition with the Deathly Hallows films.

More Changes


Deathly Hallows – Part One and Two

Fun Facts

It was originally meant to be one film. But after reading the book, screenwriter Steve Kloves said that he couldn’t make it much shorter than 4–5 hours. So it became two.

Both parts were filmed back-to-back, as if it were one long film.

The world premiere for Deathly Hallows Part One1 was held in Leicester Square in London on 11 November 2010

Deathly Hallows Part One grossed $24 million in North America during its midnight showing, beating the record for the highest midnight gross of the series, previously held by Half Blood Prince, at $22.2 million. This record was again broken with Deathly Hallows Part 2

Filming the “Seven Harrys” scene was so complex, that Daniel Radcliffe counted over ninety takes for just a single shot.

 Part One is the only film not to feature Dame Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall) or David Bradley (Argus Filch).

 Linguist expert Dr. Francis Nolan devised the Parseltongue language for the Harry Potter films which feature the serpent speak.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had its world premiere on 7 July 2011 in Trafalgar Square in London.

At 2 hours and 10 minutes, Part Two is the shortest film in the series.

Part Two is the eighth highest grossing film of all time worldwide.

When Harry, Ron, and Hermione enter Gringotts near the beginning, Hermione has taken Polyjuice Potion to disguise herself as Bellatrix. Before the scene was shot, Emma Watson acted out the scene for Helena Bonham Carter so she would know how to act as if she were Hermione in this situation. So, essentially, this scene is Carter acting like Watson who is acting like Hermione acting like Bellatrix.

Most of the events in Part Two – from the raid on Gringotts to the Battle of Hogwarts – take place over the course of a single day

210,000 coins were made for the scene inside the vault at Gringotts.

The only film in the franchise, where Hermione actually controls a broom.

Director David Yates wanted to get as many actors who have appeared in the franchise back for the final battle scene.

If you watch all 8 Harry Potter films it would be 18 hours and 20 minutes long all together.

More Trivia
Even More Trivia
Extra Trivia
Additional Trivia



  • The escape from the Dursley’s is different
  • Harry and Hermione don’t use Polyjuice Potion at Godric’s Hollow
  • Snape never actually witnessed Lily’s death first hand.
  • Peter Pettigrew doesn’t die.
  • Harry doesn’t hide under the cloak after Hagrid brings him back from the forest
  • The invisibility cloak isn’t used nearly as much
  • Harry and Dumbledore use a pensieve in order to look into Voldemort’s past. This is how Harry knows to look for Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in Bellatrix LeStrange’s Gringotts vault, it’s not just a feeling that he has.
  • Voldemort doesn’t disintegrate in the book, he dies like the mortal man he is.
  • Harry destroys the Elder Wand however, in the book he uses it to mend his own wand and returns the Elder Wand back to Dumbledore’s grave. 
  • Harry does not go to the Headmaster’s Office after the battle

 Part One Changes

Part Two Changes

More Changes in Part Two
Further Changes in Part Two
More Changes

Further Changes

To cap things off here’s a general list of differences between the books and the films

17 Fun Facts About JK Rowling

I was all prepared to do a bunch of research to find out fun facts about JK Rolling, but upon investigation I realised her own website has a detailed list already. So a lot of these I’ve borrowed from there but not all.

1. Joanne Rowling was born on 31st July 1965 and grew up in Gloucestershire in England and in Chepstow, Gwent, in south-east Wales. She shares her birthday with Harry Potter.

2. Full name is Joanne Rowling (pronounced rolling), she has no middle name. Using the initials ‘JK’ was a publishing suggestion to make her identity anonymous, for fear that a wizarding story penned by a woman might be unpopular. As a result, a girl called Francesca Gray wrote Rowling her first fan letter addressing her as: ‘Dear Sir…’

3. Father was a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer and her mother was a science technician.

4. Was Head Girl at Wyedean School and College, and graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in French and Classics.

5. Wanted to be a writer from an early age. She wrote her first book at the age of six – a story about a rabbit, called ‘Rabbit’. At just eleven, she wrote her first novel – about seven cursed diamonds and the people who owned them. (I really want to read this book.)

6. Worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.

“There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.”

7. On a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990, Rowling wrote her initial Potter ideas on a napkin. She typed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on a typewriter, often choosing to write in Edinburgh cafés. One in particular was The Elephant’s House in Edinburgh which I absolutely visited when I was in Edinburgh. It was awesome.

8. Went from being unemployed and living on state benefits to becoming a multi-millionaire in five years.

9. In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research.

10. Her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when Rowling was a teenager. Rowling regrets not being able to tell her about Harry Potter before she died.

11. Was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2000. Since then she’s received an incredible amount of awards. The full list can be found here. She has also received honorary degrees from St Andrews University, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Exeter, the University of Aberdeen and Harvard University.

12. In 2004, Forbes named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books.

13. In 2008 she spoke at the Harvard commencement ceremony. This speech was made into an illustrated book in 2015 called Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination (Sphere), and sold in aid of Lumos and university-wide financial aid at Harvard.

14. Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression which she claims gave her inspiration to create the Dementors in the Potter series. She also suffers from insomnia which she puts down to working too late and reading things on which she has a strong opinion.

15. Her first marriage was to television journalist Jorge Arantes to which she had one daughter, Jessica. Her second marriage was to anaesthetist Neil Murray, to which she has another son and daughter. Rowling admits to buying her wedding dress for her second marriage in disguise, to avoid being recognised.

16. Her first novel for adults was The Casual Vacancy  which has now been translated into 44 languages and was adapted for TV by the BBC in 2015. She also writes crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith about private detective Cormoran Strike. The first being The Cuckoo’s Calling, then The Silkworm, then Career of Evil. The series is being adapted for a television series for BBC One, produced by Brontë Film and Television.

17. Made her screenwriting debut on the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. She is also a producer, and is writing the sequel.


So there’s some of my fun facts about JK Rowling. I kept it relatively short otherwise it would go on forever. If you want to know more about Rowling and the Potterverse, I can highly suggest searching out all of her interviews. All of them highly fascinating, especially the ones from the early years when the phenomena started, but also the later, intimate ones because you discover a whole bunch of exciting things about the Potterverse and more about Rowling herself. You can also explore her own website and her Wikipedia page for further fun facts and information.


Fun Facts About Winnie the Pooh

There are many fun facts I could share but since I have already mentioned some of them in my previous posts I will leave them out to avoid too many cross overs. These can be some lesser known facts about Pooh.

I’ve included a few links below that have the more fun facts about Pooh Bear and his little empire and legacy.

Fun Fact #1
In the original Milne books, Winnie the Pooh was written as Winnie-the-Pooh. When Disney acquired the rights to animate the character they dropped the hyphens and it soon became the more popular expression.

Fun Fact #2
It was after Milne’s death that his wife Daphe sold the rights to Disney. Walt’s own daughters were said to be fans of the Milne stories which led Disney to want to share the stories. Daphne then destroyed all of Milne’s papers to preserve family privacy.

Fun Fact #3
Real Life magazine reported that two hundred hundred Disney artists used 1.2 million pencils to sketch the 1968 animated movie Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. This short film went on to win an Academy Award in 1969.

Fun Fact #4
Pooh was the first fictional character to have licensing rights sold overseas. Stephen Slesinger purchased the U.S and Canadian rights to the character in January 1930. Milne was paid the generous sum of $1,000 in advance, and the promise of 66% of any income Slesinger made. 18 months later, Winnie the Pooh had become a $50 million-a-year business (around $720 million today).

Image result for slesinger winnie the poohFun Facts #4.1
Slesinger created the first Pooh doll, record, board game, puzzle, radio broadcast, animation, and film. After his death in the 1950s, Slesinger’s widow Shirley took over the business and launched her own licensing campaigns. In 1961 and 1983, Stephen Slesinger, Inc. licensed certain Pooh rights to the Walt Disney Company.

Fun Fact #5
The fictional Poohsticks played in the book is now a real sport played worldwide with its own world championships.

Fun Fact #6
The skull of the real bear Winnie was displayed at the Being Human Festival in London for the first time in 2015.

Fun Fact #7
Most of the locations in the stories are based on real places you can visit in Ashdown Forest: the Hundred Acre Wood is the Five Hundred Acre Wood and Galleon’s Leap is Gill’s Lap. Roo’s sandpit
and Poohsticks Bridge are also real places to visit.

Fun Fact #8
Image result for pooh star hollywoodWinnie the Pooh has his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame, being one of only fifteen fictional characters to do so.

Fun Fact #9
The most successful translation of the books remains the Latin one from 1958. Upon release the book became a huge hit, with one critic describing it as “the greatest book a dead language has ever known”, and Time Magazine calling it “a Latinist’s delight, the very book that dozens of Americans, possibly even 50, have been waiting for.”

Image result for winnie the pooh original shepardFun Fact #10
E. H. Shepard’s original drawings are worth an incredible amount at auction. The highest price was paid in 2014 when $292 727 was paid for the image entitled “For a long time they looked at the river beneath them…” depicting Pooh, Christopher Robin, and Piglet playing Poohsticks.


More Fun Fact Fun

10 Fun Facts About Winnie the Pooh

5 Fun Facts About Winnie the Pooh

Fun Facts About Winnie the Pooh

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Winnie the Pooh

11 Things You May Not Know About Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh Fact Sheet

50 Facts about Winnie the Pooh

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