Christmas Trains

Christmas Trains

For more than a century trains were the center piece of mass transportation. This time in culture also saw the rise of the industrial revolution and, as well, the media-driven mass popularity of the secular Christmas. The real connection of trains to Christmas was born of the fact that going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holidays was best accomplished by trains and it happened every Christmas. In fact, more people moved by train in November and December over the course of those 100 years than by any other method. If you wanted toRead more

Five Weird American Christmas Traditions the World Misunderstands

Five Weird American Christmas Traditions the World Misunderstands

There is plenty to Christmas around the world that people consider weird. Krampus, for example, is strange. The popularity of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan on Christmas Eve is another weird one. But when it comes to Christmas no place is known for weird better than America. While Christmas wasn’t born in the United States it sure has taken it over. And that dismays much of the world that still considers Christmas a sacred and religious festival. The secular growth of Christmas in America is what lends the odd elements of it that people around the world consider so strange.Read more

Tips to Prepare for Christmas Card Sending

Tips to Prepare for Christmas Card Sending

It is our tradition to announce and open our annual Christmas card exchange during our Christmas-in-July festivities each year. In advance of that we thought it best to share with you some tips for preparing for the sending and receiving of approximately 100 cards from around the world as part of the exchange. Many of us have done this now for over a decade. In a time where the world has seen a decline in the practice of sending cards we have merrily clung to the tradition for many reasons. For many of us the joy of receiving this mailRead more

Top Five New Christmas Traditions of the 21st Century

Top Five New Christmas Traditions of the 21st Century

We had a big response to our recent post about dying Christmas traditions. But if Christmas has proven one thing over the centuries it has been a resilient ability to constantly evolve into ever creative new levels of celebration. For example, the Christmas tree wasn’t always a part of Christmas. While historians lay claim to the idea that pagans gave rise to the tradition long before Christianity, as this video points out the celebration of the tree as a religious symbol really pre-dates it all. Regardless, the modern Christmas tree didn’t really get its start until the mid-19th century. AndRead more

Five Dying Christmas Traditions

Five Dying Christmas Traditions

Once upon a time Christmas was celebrated with tinsel on trees. Tinsel is an ancient product with roots more than 400 years old where it was crafted to represent ice. Originally placed on statues and made from actual silver, tinsel has morphed over the ages to be made from other, cheaper materials. Once quite popular during the 20th century it hasn’t found a lot of love in the 21st century. In fact, it is a Christmas tradition that is dying. And the reason seems to be nothing more or less than convenience. There are so many other choices in ChristmasRead more

Christmas in Ireland

Christmas in Ireland

The Irish get more than their share of love every St. Patrick’s Day but they feel a little left out when it comes to Christmas. That is unfortunate because many of the ancient elements of Christmas have Irish roots. The most Irish of Christmas songs, Christmas in Killarney, briefly references some of the ancient Irish tie-ins to Christmas: The holly green, the ivy green The prettiest picture you’ve ever seen The holly and the ivy – long sung at Christmas and long associated with the color green – is both highly symbolic and meaningful to the Irish. Ever green plantsRead more

Frankincense

Frankincense

They came from distant lands, these kings and wanderers following a star. With them they packed precious gifts fit for a King: gold, myrrh and frankincense. We know what gold is and we know that myrrh was considered then to be an ointment of great value in the lands of the desert. But what is frankincense? Frankincense is the sap of the Frankincense tree, found these days in the lands of Arabia, Ethiopia, Somalia and India. It is used now much as it was then – as incense. When the sap dries and becomes hard the yellow lumps of resinRead more

Tips for Keeping Santa Special

Tips for Keeping Santa Special

In the spirit of St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) we offer a few suggestions for keeping the magic of Santa alive. The figure of Santa Claus holds a special place in the heart of anyone who loves Christmas. Belief is not measured in wanting Santa to bring things — belief is embracing the love and hope and joy and giving of the season. Famously it is said that there are four stages in life: you believe in Santa, you don’t believe in Santa, you believe in Santa again, then you look like Santa. Funny as that statement is the truthRead more

What the Phrase Merry Christmas Means

What the Phrase Merry Christmas Means

It falls from our lips without much thought: “Merry Christmas!” But what is it we are really saying? In an informal survey conducted recently more than 94 percent of Americans asked thought that the word “merry” meant “jolly”. Taken in context, many around the world do indeed celebrate a “jolly” Christmas these days. But that contemporary interpretation is not exactly the traditional definition of the word “merry”. In old England where the phrase originates the word ‘merry’ means pleasant or joyous. Alternatively, the word ‘merry’ also means to drink with great fervor. In some context, it is not a complimentRead 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