Reading Dickens

Reading Dickens

Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol backwards and forwards. Pick a version by decade and you’re bound to find one you love. Everyone can claim to have seen a big or a small screen version of it. But have you ever read it? I confess it never passed in front of my eyes until I was an adult. It was during one of my first Christmas seasons alone — a bleak time when I felt more than sorry for myself for being alone at Christmas. I picked up the book in a store and thought I could wallowRead more

Christmas in July: A Vaudeville Tradition

Christmas in July: A Vaudeville Tradition

By Merry Carey Today, Christmas in July is an occasion to enjoy a taste of the Christmas season in the summertime—or in the wintertime, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also an occasion for Yule-themed shopping sprees and a flurry of out-of-season Christmas movies on the cable-TV networks. But did you ever wonder about the origins of Christmas in July? There are various theories about that, but it may well be that Christmas in July as we know it is the legacy of a special show business tradition of the early 20th century. Before the era of theRead more

Kings of Christmas Extravagance

Kings of Christmas Extravagance

By Jeff Westover The history of Christmas through the ages is written in chapters of contrasting observance. One chapter could speak of the sanctity of the season, observed in hushed commemoration. And yet another chapter could speak of it as a season of riotous overindulgence, wild parties and outright mockery of things held sacred in churches. The 11th century was such a time especially in medieval England. The season by then had been observed through twelve consecutive days of festival — the much-heralded 12 Days of Christmas. On some levels the celebration did focus on the Nativity. Beloved Christmas traditionsRead more

Christmas Giving: Are you a Spug?

Christmas Giving: Are you a Spug?

By Merry Carey Are you a Spug? To find out, ask yourself these questions: Do you believe that it is foolish to join in giving Christmas presents to those higher up? Do you believe that it is vulgar to give Christmas presents only because they are given to you? Do you believe that it is wicked to give Christmas presents without love and common sense? In 1912, if you answered “yes” to these questions, you had what it took to become a Spug. You could get together with four others who shared your beliefs to form a Spug Squad, chooseRead more

The Halifax Christmas Disaster of 1917

The Halifax Christmas Disaster of 1917

By B. Francis Morlan Editor’s Note: Every December the City of Halifax, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree to the City of Boston, Massachusetts. This story explains how that came about. December of 1917 was a time when the world was in transition. The horrors of World War I were known and the prospects of a merry Christmas were subdued in communities across the world as men and women left the safety of home to engage in the world’s first truly modern war. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the cares of the world felt a bit distant. A busy seaport, itRead more

The Christmas Tree Ship

The Christmas Tree Ship

By B. Francis Morlan The year of 1912 was tough for sailors. Dominating the news was the tragic voyage of the Titanic, which went down in April of that year off the Newfoundland coast. But another maritime tragedy struck in November of 1912. It is a story of superstition, ghosts and Christmas trees. At the helm and lost in this tragedy was a man known affectionately as Captain Santa. Herman Schuenemann was born in 1865 in the mostly German community of Ahnapee, now known as Algoma, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Herman was born at a pivotal time inRead more