Page 1 - Sentinel December 2016
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Just a bit of trivia to astound and impress your friends and                            of Saint Nicholas who supposedly left coins
relatives during the holiday season...                                                  in the boots of good children. Bad chil-
                                                                                        dren got lumps of coal. St. Nicholas be-
                            Did you know Rudolph the Red                                came Sinterklaus in the Netherlands, and
                            Nosed Reindeer was created in                               later Santa Claus in the English speaking
                            1939 by Robert May, an ad copy-                             world.
                            writer for Montgomery Ward? The
                            story of an outcast, shiny-nosed                            Christmas music comes in two strains—the
                            reindeer who led Santa’s sleigh one                         hymns, often written by ministers or church
                            foggy Christmas Eve and returned                            music directors in the 19th century, and the
                            a hero was a special Christmas          secular. Versions of each are played constantly after Hal-
pamphlet that year, largely for advertising purposes.               loween in any ambitious department store! Most of the
                                                                    early secular Christmas songs in the English-speaking
                                And Santa Claus only became “a      world were drinking songs—the Wassail Song comes to
                                jolly old elf” with reindeer and a  mind. Jingle Bells, probably the most pervasive Christ-
                                sleigh at Christmas, 1823, when     mas jingle of all time, was written in 1857 by a music direc-
                                Clement Moore’s poem, Twas          tor in Savannah, Georgia. The first performance of Irving
                                the night before Christmas, was     Berlin’s White Christmas was by Bing Crosby who sang it
                                published anonymously in the        on his radio show on Christmas Day, 1941. His recording
                                New York Sentinel. It became an     of the song is the best-selling single of all time, with esti-
                                instant success and its image of    mated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide.
Santa Claus was forever inculcated in American lore.
                                                                                              And what would our modern Christ-
                            Decorated evergreen trees have                                    mas be without the classic movies?
                            been used in winter festivals for                                 We all watch Miracle on 34th Street,
                            thousands of years, but the modern                                It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn (re-
                            “Christmas tree” is a fairly recent                               made as White Christmas), Rudolph
                            phenomenon. The city of Tallin in                                 the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie
                            Estonia claims to have had the first                               Brown Christmas, National Lampoon’s
                            public Christmas tree in the 1400s,                               Christmas Vacation—and marathons
                            and the tradition reached West-                                   of A Christmas Story. I’ll bet some of
                            ern Europe through Germany over                                   you can quote whole chunks of some
                            several centuries. Since Victoria,      of those movies or immediately recognize lines and allu-
                            Queen of England, and her husband       sions to them. An official Red Ryder air gun, anyone?
                            Prince Albert were both German, it
                            is not surprising that they brought     So enjoy the trivial trappings of the season—with Rudolph
the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle in 1841. After            and Charlie Brown, George Bailey and Ralphie Parker.
that decorated trees with candles and baubles became                Interested in a really interesting site about Christmas tra-
an instant success in both Great Britain and the United             ditions around the world? http://www.whychristmas.
States.                                                             com/

Christmas stockings are as old as the late medieval myths           Happy holidays. ~KDale
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