The Best Christmas Carol You Have Never Heard

The Best Christmas Carol You Have Never Heard

Some Christmas carols are so old it is hard to tell which is older — the lyrics or the tune. Below is a carol thought to be one of the oldest Christmas tunes ever. Few today know it well and it is presented here as something new and fresh to Christmas music fans. 500 years ago tunes were performed publicly only occasionally and, of course, there was no radio or television to play things over and over. Songs then were re-purposed for a variety of uses. The song What Child is This? is perhaps the most well known Christmas song that also reflects a different purpose for the tune in Greensleeves. The tune for the song below is so oldRead more

Perils of Playing Santa

Perils of Playing Santa

The cat-and-mouse game of hiding the Christmas presents begins as soon as a black Friday bargain is found. Whether you are hiding gifts from your significant other or your children the game can be intense. Take, for example, the year of the drum set. My then 10-year old son had his heart set on a drum set for Christmas. It was out of our realm of possibility until about two days before Christmas when a moving neighbor had to off-load his five-drum set due to a sudden move. The price was right but how to hide it for Christmas morning? Fortunately we had an easy answer. Parked on our driveway as a long travel trailer belonging to my sister andRead more

Real Onion Dip

Real Onion Dip

The staple of all dip standards when it comes to year round entertain is the timeless combination of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix with sour cream. Have that and your dips will be a hit. But what if you want an onion dip with a little zing…a little surprise shot of freshness, a dip that makes folks grab another chip and ask, “what’s in this stuff?” The rumor about the Lipton dip is that it was devised in the 50s and proves so popular as part of holiday entertaining that more of Lipton’s product ends up on chips and not really in soup bowls. So if you’re lazy and just need a quick dip, by all means go traditional…and processed. IfRead more

History of the Tradition of Elves

History of the Tradition of Elves

Lost in the romance, fantasy and some would say mystery and myth of Christmas is the concept of elves. Most folks today think of Santa’s helpers, often in the form of little people, who work at the North Pole busily making toys for good children everywhere. But elves in that vein are a relative recent invention, stemming from 19th century minds full of fantasy as the modern character of Santa Claus was developed in the Americas. Elves have their origins deeply staked in ancient mythology and their history, unlike St. Nicholas, is completely lacking any relation to deity or the divine. In fact, most elves with ancient pedigrees in Scandinavian folklore are downright naughty, if not outright evil and nasty.Read more

Mr. Dog’s Christmas at Hollow Tree Inn

Mr. Dog’s Christmas at Hollow Tree Inn

As a boy one of my secret adventures was to scour the bookshelves at my grandmother’s house for books I could not find anywhere else. Grandma and I were a match made in heaven – I was a bookworm and she was a school teacher. I read not only from her vast collection of Reader’s Digest and Saturday Evening Post but I also greatly enjoyed her collection of children’s books that dated back to her own childhood. Among her collection was a book that contained stories of “Mr. Dog” and other characters set in Hollow Tree. So when a passionate publisher recently reached out for our take on a book titled “Mr. Dog’s Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn” somethingRead more

The History and the Mystery of Santa’s Wink

The History and the Mystery of Santa’s Wink

Santa’s wink is missing. British fans of Christmas are taking to social media to vent over a change in Coca Cola’s traditional Christmas commercial that shows Santa handing a bottle of Coke to a little boy and then winking at him. That wink from Santa is meaningful. It has been around for a long, long time both as a gimmick in holiday advertising and as yet another means of imaging the legendary gift bringer. But what most do not know is that Santa’s wink goes back much, much further than that. One of the many ancient figures that make up the modern legendary character of Santa Claus is the Norse mythological figure of Odin. Odin carries several striking similarities toRead more

Five Must See Movies Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Five Must See Movies Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving represents a lot of traditions in American culture. Some enjoy the parade, others get into the football and some are all about the food. For many, it is a simple day of being together and playing games. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, really is a true holiday. Everything stops for something different. Thanksgiving is also traditionally a time set aside to kick off the Christmas season. Many put up or cut down their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Most have their Christmas lights hung and many use Thanksgiving night as their time for turning them all on. By Thanksgiving evening the Christmas music is heard without apologies everywhere. Part of our culture in celebrating Christmas is the watchingRead more

Sainsbury Christmas Story

Sainsbury Christmas Story

If there is one thing that separates British and American Christmas celebrations it has to be the commercials. Simply put, American commercials are short and sell hard while British commercials are mini-movies with huge production values and frequently tug at the heart strings. No wonder the commercials in the UK are so widely anticipated. Sainsburys is a British retailer who frequently competes in these over-the-top Christmas commercials. This is a three minute production telling the story of an overworked Dad named Dave: It’s Christmas and Dave is concerned what to give his family for Christmas. He discovers that his greatest gift is himself. Que the Kleenex.

Santa Claus of the 19th Century

Santa Claus of the 19th Century

While Christmas in America predates the American Revolution Santa Claus did not make a splash in America until 1810. He arrived, as many Americans do, in New York City. Local merchant and leader of a local historical society by the name of John Pintard objected to the roughness of Christmas as it was celebrated in the early 19th century and proposed a solution. Drawing on New York City’s Dutch origins, he promoted Saint Nicholas as the city’s patron saint – having a pamphlet printed in 1810 that’s the earliest known American image of Santa. Pintard suggested that the celebrations should be private and family-oriented rather than public and brawling. His brother-in-law, Washington Irving, picked up on St. Nick in hisRead more

Peter Hollens Releases What Child Is This

Peter Hollens Releases What Child Is This

Peter Hollens brings us his 2nd new video from his Christmas album, A Hollens Family Christmas – What Child is This? Hollens calls it a follow-up to his smash video release last year of Mary, Did You Know? What Child is This? Has a long history as a Christmas carol. The tune – Greensleeves — is much older than the lyrics, dating back to the 15th century, if not earlier. Greensleeves was once upon a time a tune not previously associated with religious works and some mistakenly credit King Henry VIII with writing the song. The song is an ancient English folk tune whose date of creation isn’t actually known. The earliest known mention of the song dates from 1580Read more