Christmas in the Crosshairs

Christmas in the Crosshairs

The phrase “war on Christmas” has become so tiresome in the ongoing dialogue about Christmas that it tends to trigger instant eye-rolling disdain. The media attention to it all just makes one weary at the mere mention of it. Gerry Bowler’s new book, Christmas in the Crosshairs, settles rather emphatically the question of whether or not the modern “war on Christmas” is unique – or even worthy of all the eye-rolling. It’s not. It has been around forever and will be around forever. So stop the eye-rolling. In fact, as Bowler almost gleefully notes in his new book, it isRead more

The First Christmas Tree in England

The First Christmas Tree in England

It was the British royal family’s German connections which led to the introduction of the Christmas tree custom in England. King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte — who was of German descent– arranged for a great yew tree to be erected inside the Queen’s Lodge at Windsor on December 25 1800. A party of children of the local great-and-good was to take place that Christmas Day, and she had the tree decorated with toys, sweetmeats, fruits and nuts wrapped in wax paper. The whole thing was then lit with small candles. She kept a Christmas tree in the royal familyRead more

Ancient Connections of Thanksgiving and Christmas

Ancient Connections of Thanksgiving and Christmas

Here is some fodder for your Thanksgiving day discussions around the turkey — which is the more sacred holiday in America, Thanksgiving or Christmas? Check your learning of history at the door. This history of both holidays goes back further than you know — and both are related to each other in significant ways. Watch this video: Christmas, while constantly under a cloud in regular debates of what is politically correct or not, was NEVER a religious holiday in America. It may have been a religious holiday once-upon-a-time in Rome. The mashed-up words “Christ” and “mass”, which many historians sayRead more

The Year Santa was Nearly Banned

The Year Santa was Nearly Banned

It is interesting to note in this day and age when Christmas shopping can be done on a device you hold in your hand and whatever it is you buy can be shipped to your home without you ever getting dressed what it was like 97 years ago as the U.S. government grappled with the idea of another Christmas at war. The year was 1918 and war was raging in Europe. As wars went, it was a ugly as could be. It had been four years since the Christmas truce of 1914 but Christmas for 1918 was looking anything butRead 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

History of the American Christmas Tree

History of the American Christmas Tree

The story of Christmas trees in America usually takes us down the path of Hessian soldiers who showcased Christmas trees to George Washington’s troops during his famous Christmas trek across the Delaware. Historians explain that Christmas trees found their popularity in Pennsylvania over the ensuing 60 years in America as German settlers made them a permanent part of the American Christmas tradition. Others explain that Queen Victoria’s gaily decorated Christmas tree featured in newspapers and magazines of the 1840s and 1850s also gave rise to the use of evergreens in American holiday celebrations. All this is certainly true. But thereRead more

Merry Podcast #47 — O Little Towns of Christmas

Merry Podcast #47 — O Little Towns of Christmas

In this merry episode of the Merry Podcast we explore a little about the American Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, a story of inspiration where the writer of the poem was inspired by a visit to an important place in Christmas history. Where would your important places of Christmas history be? We asked that question of ourselves and came away not only with a list — but also a commitment to something we’re calling the Great American Christmas Road Trip. The little towns of Christmas featured in this episode are: 1. Santa Claus, Indiana — home to theRead more

The World’s First Christmas Movie

The World’s First Christmas Movie

The world’s first Christmas movie dates back to 1898, an age well before even popular silent films shown in movie houses. Directed by George Albert Smith, a British pioneer of film making, this wonderful bit of film was considered a technological wonder of the time and to this day remains a cherished look back at Christmas in time: While it is a first among Christmas films it is also a first in special effects. Smith links the shots in terms of both space and time, by placing the new image over the space previously occupied by a fireplace, and continuingRead more

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas

The legend of Santa Claus, the image of Father Christmas, and the basis for most legendary Christmas gift bringers of old world Europe all has their genesis in the real-world figure of Saint Nicholas. His story as a benevolent religious figure and giver of gifts has led to a centuries old reputation that has influenced seasonal charity for generations. He was born of a wealthy family in the village of Patara, located now in modern-day Turkey. Legend recalls young Nicholas growing up in a privileged situation, his parents being quite wealthy Christians. But their lives were taken as an epidemicRead more