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 theRead more

Christmas at Sea

Christmas at Sea

When thinking of Christmas at sea one immediately turns to the traditional carol “I Saw Three Ships”. The song, repeatedly made popular by interpretations in modern recording ranging from Sting to Amy Grant to traditional orchestras, is a happy tune dating back to the 17th century. But for all of its age and history, nobody really knows who wrote it or even what it entirely means. The lyrics have confounded historians for centuries and it is believed the song’s connection to Christmas is merely a sailor’s song of hope. After all, the song talks of three ships sailing into BethlehemRead more

Friendly Beasts

Friendly Beasts

There are tales and legends aplenty of the animals present at the Nativity. In a great telling of some of those legends in song is Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, star of stage and a voice known from many films. Dubbed “The Last Leading Man” by The New York Times, Mitchell has enjoyed a rich and varied career on Broadway and television and in film, along with appearances in the great American concert halls. His musical versatility has kept him in demand by some of the country’s finest conductors and orchestras:

Legend of the Christmas Orange

Legend of the Christmas Orange

Nicholas, as you know, was a Bishop long before he ever was a Saint. This story is but one of many that make up his legend and it is sacred to those who consider him a saint. He had heard of a family that lived closed by — not even members of his faith — who were very poor. So poor, in fact, that the father of this family was considering selling his oldest daughter into slavery, so that he might have funds for his other children. Word of this reached Bishop Nicholas who, in the dead of a coldRead more

The Controversy of Who Wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas

The Controversy of Who Wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas

One of the more romantic notions associated with Santa Claus and Christmas comes in the form of an early 19th century poem titled A Visit from St. Nicholas. As the legend goes, college professor and devout church man Clement Clarke Moore was out delivering Christmas turkeys on a snowy Christmas Eve at the behest of his wife when he composed a poem to present to his children later that evening before they went to bed. Using the snowy elements surrounding him and the image of his rotund, jolly sleigh driver who accompanied him, Moore was inspired to compose the poemRead more

Animals in the Story of Christmas

Animals in the Story of Christmas

Animals play a prominent role a Christmas, regardless of whether or not religious beliefs are behind it. The story of Rudolph is but one example of an animal that has become an icon of the season. The truth is that there are many animals are central to the story of Christmas and reindeer especially are the consummate Christmas animal. As with all things Christmas we turn back to ancient history to find out why this is so. According to Viking lore, the northern Germans and Scandinavians celebrated Yule, a pagan religious festival heralding the arrival of the winter solstice fromRead more

The Legendary Bing Crosby

The Legendary Bing Crosby

He was born the middle of seven children in the great American northwest. His father was an English-American bookkeeper and his mother a second-generation Irish American, making young Harry about as American as apple pie. The rest of his story is classically American as well as he grew to become one of the grandest figures in Christmas history, touching a variety of American industries to become the first multimedia superstar. Harry was born in an era predating airplanes, radios and automobiles. By the time he would pass from this world he mastered the emerging technologies of the 20th century toRead more