A Prediction of Christmas Future from 1896

A Prediction of Christmas Future from 1896

In preparing for another episode of the Merry Podcast I came across an editorial from a New York newspaper published in 1896. It contains an amazing prediction of Christmas-yet-to-come. It is interesting to contemplate this being written considering how Christmas was celebrated in 1896 in America. By the end of the 19th century Christmas had become the near all-encompassing celebration it is today of all things seasonally sacred and secular. Then, like now, nobody could escape it. It was embedded everywhere. But it is safe to say that it was still a different Christmas than what we see now. ThereRead more

How Thanksgiving Became Thanksgiving

How Thanksgiving Became Thanksgiving

Like Christmas, the origins of Thanksgiving are hotly debated. Like Christmas, we can thank stories of Thanksgiving passed down through generations by word of mouth, in letters and documents, period media reports, and great literary works for the making of all that we celebrate of the holiday today. Historians these days love to deconstruct “the facts” surrounding Thanksgiving. They tell us we are wrong to think of it as we do. They say the “first Thanksgiving” celebrated in grade school plays likely never happened. But facts are stubborn things, noted President John Adams. Here are some stubborn facts about ThanksgivingRead more

Finding Christmas in Thanksgiving

Finding Christmas in Thanksgiving

A recent survey revealed sharp divisions in when the celebration of Christmas begins. Nearly a third said Christmas begins right after Halloween, a third said Christmas begins right after Thanksgiving and for another third the celebration of Christmas is something done every day. In recent years many have insisted that Christmas so overpowers the calendar that holidays such as Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day are entirely forgotten. Those making the argument are also those who claim Christmas celebration comes in the form of broadcast music, seasonal Starbucks cups and decorations sold in stores. There are even those who blanch and takeRead more

What Sears Meant to Christmas

What Sears Meant to Christmas

The news has been decades in the making: iconic retailer Sears is closing its doors for good this year. The effect of their loss, like that of Toys R Us, will not matter one bit to consumers. But the loss of Sears to Christmas history is worthy of note. Once upon a time Sears was the yearly watch-word for Christmas shoppers and Santa dreamers coast to coast. Kids everywhere marked the day when the Sears Christmas Wishbook would show up in the mail. Generations took their children to Sears to have their pictures taken with Santa. It was the placeRead more

Christmas on Social Media

Christmas on Social Media

Cecilia Johnson did not mean any harm when she did it. In late November of 2015, as a 9-year-old neighbor boy lay dying of cancer, Cecilia took up the cause of having Christmas cards sent to him. The boy had expressed a desire to fill his walls with Christmas pictures and this seemed a simple task to accomplish. Using her own home address Cecilia took to social media to spread the word. It very quickly worked. Several of Cecilia’s friends shared the post, the word was slipped to a local news station and within days the mailbox was full ofRead more

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 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

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