Christmas at Valley Forge

Christmas at Valley Forge

Picture it: George Washington leads his army of 11,000 men – a third of which he estimated did not even have shoes – into Valley Forge just before Christmas 1777. There, just days before Christmas on the 19th of December, the Continental Army and George Washington himself would find a way to reverse the course of the war. That Christmas was just the beginning of both an incredible tale of survival and redemption. Valley Forge was so named thanks to an iron forge owned by a family named Potts. It had been in their family for years. Washington selected theRead more

The Very Merry Dick Van Dyke

The Very Merry Dick Van Dyke

We have known for decades that Dick Van Dyke is a merry soul who can sing. But we have long lacked the great Hollywood Christmas musical or even Christmas music of Dick Van Dyke. We can’t say that any more. Now 92 and soon to be seen in screen again in the remake of Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke released a Christmas song in 2017 much to the delight of fans of all ages. “We’re Going Caroling” is an infectious little tune and the video of Van Dyke proves he still has the moves: The song, performed with Jane Lynch,Read more

The History of Pumpkin and Christmas

The History of Pumpkin and Christmas

When it comes to Christmas the United States can lay claim to few traditional elements of the season. Christmas trees came from Germany, Santa Claus came from Turkey, while Christmas pudding, eggnog and mistletoe all came from various places in Europe. America just adopted them all. Except for pumpkin. Pumpkin is one of America’s greatest contributions to Christmas. Wait, you say – pumpkin has nothing to do with Christmas in America? Well, hold on there, pilgrim. The pumpkin was, from the very beginning, a festive element in the Puritan Christmas. Wait, again, you say – the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas,Read more

Mourning Dickens and Recognizing Christmas

Mourning Dickens and Recognizing Christmas

June of 1870 is a month of incredible Christmas history. It was during this month that the Congress of the United States passed a blandly worded law making Christmas a legal national holiday and it was the time that the world mourned the passing of Charles Dickens. Christmas in America was an ancient tradition. Contrary to many modern historians and popular culture that tells us Christmas was a secular invention of the middle part of the 19th century, it is a well- documented  fact that Christmas was celebrated in America from the very beginning. What was the first thing ColumbusRead more

The Next Really Bad Nutcracker Movie

The Next Really Bad Nutcracker Movie

Sad to say this but our tradition of bashing yet-to-be-released movies of a Christmas theme continues. You could say we are compelled to put the screws to the new Nutcracker coming out this fall. Hollywood just gives us no choice. This time, as other times in the past, the maker of a holiday stinker is none other than Disney. Out now are some truly bizarre trailers of a butchered Nutcracker story that Disney calls The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. As discussed in a recently released edition of the Merry Podcast, the Nutcracker is a 200 year old tale writtenRead more

Christmas Cards Remain a Durable Tradition

Christmas Cards Remain a Durable Tradition

Many assume that with the rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media that older forms of communication have faded away. Indeed, letter writing, telegrams, and “dispatches” of the days of yore are now somewhat relic in nature and victims to technology. But one old fashioned form of festive communication has stubbornly survived and even grown in the digital age: Christmas cards. As traditions go, sending Christmas cards is not really an old tradition. BUT, sending Christmas greetings is an ancient tradition, dating back centuries. What was true then remains true now: Christmas takes the aspect of greetingsRead more

Bruce, how could you?

Bruce, how could you?

Bruce Willis is all over the news this week after he declared that Die Hard, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is not a Christmas movie. This has roiled the ranks of movie fans everywhere because it is one of the classic debates of both Christmas and movies. Let me share with you a true story, a story that takes us back more than 30 years ago before Die Hard was made. Even though I have been writing about Christmas since we began here in 1991 I’ve only shared this story once, last year during an episode of Tim Babb’sRead more

Tis the Season for Christmas Weirdos

Tis the Season for Christmas Weirdos

Once upon a time The Atlantic wrote of our merry website “they’re weirdos”. It was a swipe at the year round celebration of Christmas and of those who “took Christmas to the hobbyist” level. What other holiday, they asked, has such a following? Indeed. The groupies of Christmas are many: there are the Christmas light fanatics, the professional Santas, the Christmas radio geeks, the year-round Christmas music freaks, the Christmas collectors, the Christmas historians, the Christmas foodies, and the Christmas organizers. There are so many sub-groups that embrace the specialties of Christmas we cannot even begin to enlist them all.Read more

2018 Postage Stamps to Feature Traditional Santa

2018 Postage Stamps to Feature Traditional Santa

The United States Postal Service announced today the first of their new holiday stamps for 2018, this year featuring the traditional images of Santa Claus as envisioned by Haddon Sundblom. The images were an effective marketing campaign by the Coca Cola Company, who has long used the image of Santa Claus in combination with their traditional red and white colors to advertise during the holiday season. The stamps — sure to be as popular as the Charlie Brown Christmas stamps of 2015 — will be issued as Forever Stamps and will likely be released in early October in concert withRead more

History of Leon Day

History of Leon Day

Look out folks – it is almost Leon Day. It is, by all accounts, an obscure day to many. But Leon Day is now coming out of the shadows. Literally millions mark the day now. The 25th of June – previously unremarkable in every way – is a huge day on the calendar for anyone who considers themselves a true fan of Christmas: it is Leon Day. Leon is Noel, spelled backwards. Leon Day marks the exact halfway point to Christmas. Leon Day is a Christmas phenomenon born of Christmas socializing online. Long before the advent of Facebook and otherRead more