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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS TREE SHIP!


The Original Christmas Tree Ship





Captains Schuenemann





    The story of the beginning of the Christmas Tree Ship is the story of the Schuenemann family, and most particularly the story of Capt Herman Schuenemann and his last ship, the Rouse Simmons.
In approximately 1885 August and his brother Herman Schuenemann moved to Chicago to seek out their fortune. Chicago’s Harbor was one of the busiest in the world at this time with over 20,000 vessels entering and leaving annually. As competition was fierce, the brothers became excellent businessmen as well as sailors. Although they made a relatively good living, two-thirds of their annual income was generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the sale of trees. August had become a truly competitive trader and by 1895 had a well-established reputation as a Christmas tree merchant. In early November of 1898, August was in Sturgeon Bay looking for trees that he would bring to Chicago on a ship named the S. Thal. He purchased 3,500 trees and on November 9th departed with 3 crewmembers for Chicago’s Harbor. A few days later the S. Thal was caught in a horrific storm off the coast of Glencoe, IL and perished. There were no survivors. Herman did not sail with his brother that year, probably due to the birth of his twin daughters in October.
    Continuing with the efforts of his and Augusts, Herman now had a business without a partner. Herman sailed further and further north with each passing year. This allowed him to purchase better quality trees at a lower cost but this also made Herman and his crew incur poor and unpredictable weather the further north they sailed. Over the next few years Herman had lost one ship and almost lost another. This triggered him to purchase larger ships (the largest measuring 130 feet long and 26 feet wide.) With the larger and more stable ships, Herman went as far north as the Soo Canal to purchase his trees from the Indians. Eventually, he would hire his own crew to cut and prepare the trees for the journey back to Chicago. In 1910 Schuenemann had established the ” Northern Michigan Evergreen Nursery” whose address was given as the “SW corner Clark Street Bridge.” This allowed him to lower his expenses by selling his cargo directly from the deck of his ship. No longer would Capt. Schuenemann pay laborers to carry trees to store owners and local grocers. He was trying to eliminate as much of the middleman as possible. While Herman sold trees and greens on deck, his daughters worked below by the warmth of the cabin stove making wreaths out of cut greens. In order to even further lower his expenses, sometime between 1910 and 1912 Herman purchased 240 acres in upper Michigan. In salaries for tree cutters, crew, provisions, towing fees and miscellaneous expenses, a single trip would have cost him approximately $3,000. Any failure to return with trees would leave Herman flat broke. In order for Herman to cover all of these expenses as well as make the bulk of his annual income, he now had to transport as many trees as possible with each journey.






Loaded with Trees




    By 1911, Schuenemann owned a large vessel named the Rouse Simmons. A ship of her magnitude could carry more than 5,000 trees that were lashed down tightly. The weight of these trees would not become a factor unless they became wet and froze. If this was to happen the weight could now become detrimental to the journey’s success. Schuenemann had the Rouse Simmons recaulked during his passage to Chicago in 1911, but failed to recaulk her prior to leaving Chicago for his 1912 adventure. The neglect to recaulk the Rouse Simmons in 1912 was probably due to financial strains caused by Schuenemann being sued for failure to repay an old debt. The decision not to recaulk the Rouse Simmons would be a fatal one. She was last seen on November 23, 1912, between Kewaunee and Two Rivers Wisconsin, with distress signals flying. Capt. Schuenemann and his crew of 16 went down just 30 miles south of his boyhood home of Ahnapee, Wisconsin. Throughout the years that the Schuenemann’s made their living from the Maritime Christmas Tree business, it rose, peaked and by 1912 was fading. What began as an informal barter system evolved into big business controlled by the high-volume wholesalers. As the railroads and improved highways were now the most efficient way of moving Christmas trees throughout the Midwest, old wooden bottomed vessels became obsolete.
    Chicagoans remembered ” Christmas Tree” Schuenemann for at least the next generation. In December of 1934, in the height of the depression, three middle-aged women opened a store on the Near North Side of Chicago. The sign, which brought back many good times and feelings, read CAPTAIN AND MRS. SCHUENEMANN’S DAUGHTERS. Passerby’s entered the store, shared stories of their childhood on the docks and bought the tree they were to display in their parlor. That was the only year that the daughters had a shop. That was probably due to the depression, but it was said that so few people had given so much joy to so many people, as did the Schuenemann family, just for doing their job.












    With a Christmas tree hanging from its mast and a red-bowed wreath fastened beneath its bridge, the icebreaker Mackinaw powers through the frigid waters of Lake Michigan bound for Chicago's Navy Pier. Lashed to the decks of the U.S. Coast Guard ship are 1,500 Christmas trees that will be distributed to disadvantaged families in the Windy City.
    Each December, the 240-foot Mackinaw and its 60-person crew carries on the time-honored tradition that rouses holiday spirit and creates lasting memories for tree growers, volunteers and recipients.
    "This will be our first Christmas tree," says Nana Afari, 34, after receiving a free tree last year with her husband, Eric, 36, and their son, Kweku, 3. "We're very excited about it," adds Afari, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana eight years ago.
    "We're going to put a star on the tree," Kweku chimes in.
    The Christmas Tree Ship, as the evergreen-laden Mackinaw is dubbed, continues the legacy of the Rouse Simmons, a three-masted schooner that transported Christmas trees to Chicago a century ago from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The ship's captain, Herman Schuenemann, sold trees from his vessel and gave some to Chicagoans who couldn't afford their 50-cent price.













"The crew and I feel fortunate to share in such a wonderful endeavor," says Mackinaw Cmdr. Scott Smith, 42, standing aboard his ship. "We're proud to stand in for the Rouse Simmons."

Reclaiming a Tradition

   The legacy of the Rouse Simmons was resurrected a decade ago as Coast Guard administrators and members of Chicago's marine community were searching for ways to help Chicago's less fortunate during the Christmas season. They formed the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee and began raising money to purchase trees for families who couldn't afford them.
    "We knew a large number of kids couldn't afford Christmas trees; we didn't want that to happen in Chicago," says Truitt, the committee's program director.
    Since 2000, the all-volunteer organization has given away more than 10,500 trees to poor individuals and families. "It gives me great satisfaction to know these trees are going to families who wouldn't otherwise get one," says Lloyd Karzen, 71, a yachting enthusiast who has served on the    Chicago Christmas Ship Committee since its inception.
    The committee organizes thousands of volunteers each year and raises thousands of dollars to purchase Christmas trees. Growers in Michigan and Wisconsin provide 6-foot fir trees at reduced prices and deliver them to Cheboygan, Mich. (pop. 5,295), where the Mackinaw is stationed.












"Contributing to someone else's happiness is what the season's all about," says Chris Maciborski, 36, owner of Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich.

Voyage and volunteers

    Scouts, high school students and crew members load the Mackinaw prior to Thanksgiving before the Coast Guard cutter departs on its 600-mile seasonal journey to replace buoys on Lake Michigan with winter markers.
    After the Mackinaw docks in Chicago on the first Friday in December, yachting club volunteers string 8,000 lights on its railings, some years chipping off ice before they can decorate the ship. Hundreds of school children tour the ship, listen to ecology lessons from Coast Guard Auxiliary, and hear Ruth Gibson retell her mother's Christmastime story.
The following day, the trees are unloaded. Laughing, joking and singing holiday songs, 250 Scouts from across the Midwest unload trees from the Mackinaw's deck. Trucks transport the evergreen cargo to 16 charities and churches throughout Chicago for distribution, and the Mackinaw departs to resume its winter mission.
    "This is a fantastic display of human togetherness," says Boy Scout Nick Bernstein, 17, a third-year volunteer. "It's truly heartwarming."

DIY EPSOM SALT CANDLE AND ORNAMENTS!

This diy comes from www.thriftyparsonageliving.blogspot.com . They look like they been outside and the snow and ice has crystalized on them. Very nice. Enjoy!


DIY Epsom Salt Ornaments and Candle




I know there's been candles and ornaments
made with Epsom salt floating around blog land for a while now,
but I thought I'd share my version which utilizes simple things most of us have lying around our homes.

Here is what I had and you'll need if you're going to make these.
1. Styrofoam balls
2. Candle
3. Paint
4. Mod Podge or Glue
5.Epsom Salt

I made this project for mere pennies because every thing I used I already had in my home.

Three styrofoam balls - from a "free" box at the local thrift store.



Paint (deco art) given to me by a friend who no longer had a use for it.


Glue

I didn't have any Mod Podge in the house, but
you can substitute glue watered down with a few
drops of water as a homemade version.
Begin by painting the balls.

Next, a rubber band was placed about 1/3 of the way from the top
of an old candle (left over from our daughter's wedding)...



.....and the bottom two thirds painted
(the rubber band acting as guide/stopping point for the paint)
.




After painting all the items, I coated them with glue followed by sprinkling Epsom salt on them.
(Removing the rubber band after everything is totally dry.)
I added some left over silver elastic ribbon to the top of the candle...




...and placed all the items on a heirloom tray
from my grandparents 25th wedding anniversary.



OH CHRISTMAS TREE INFOGRAPHIC!


   It is the most wonderful time of the year! From trimmed trees to twinkle lights to knit stockings hanging over the fireplace, you really can’t escape the christmas cheer. Although we have many christmas time traditions, the christmas tree is definitely the first and foremost.
   This timeline takes us through the history of the christmas tree from the first decorated tree in 1600, to the first christmas tree in the white house, to the griswolds A Christmas Vacation. It is easy to see the influence of the different fads and trends through out the century, like the bubble lights from the 1940′s. My best friend’s tree has bubble lights each year! Its their christmas tree staple.
   The other main aspect of the timeline is the debate between the real and artificial tree. My family are a bunch of real tree advocates, claiming that they will never own an artificial tree ever. I do agree and love the real tree, but artificial trees are so easy and require no clean up! The list of pros and cons goes on and on, and the debate will probably never go away!
   So tell me, what are your favorite christmas tree traditions? Do you love sparkly tinsel? Maybe pop corn strings? Or do you don your tree with candy canes? And when it comes to the tree itself, are you all natural or prefer an artificial?




Xmastree-Candidate





HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS CRACKERS AND HOW TO MAKE THEM!


   


The childhood magic of anticipation comes rushing back with one of these treasures packs of promise! 

   Christmas crackers or bon-bons are an integral part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They are also popular in Ireland. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun).
   Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy, small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper.









   Assembled crackers are typically sold in boxes of three to twelve. These typically have different designs usually with red, green and gold colors. Making crackers from scratch using the tubes from used toilet rolls and tissue paper is a common Commonwealth activity for children. Kits to make crackers can also be purchased.
   Crackers are also a part of New Year celebrations in Russia (where they are called хлопушка - khlopushka) and some countries of the former Soviet Union. Those are however more similar to pyrotechnical devices, normally used outdoors, activated by one person, and produce a stronger bang accompanied by fire and smoke.

 History

The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of cracker bonbons and the pulling of crackers from the early 1840s.  Tradition tells of how Thomas J. Smith of London invented crackers in 1847.   He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon-bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert mottos into the wrappers of the sweets ( fortune cookies), but this had only limited success.
   Smith added the "crackle" element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. The size of the paper wrapper had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a small gift. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque (i.e., Cossack), but the onomatopoeic "cracker" soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties came on the market. The other elements of the modern cracker, the gifts, paper hats and varied designs, were all introduced by Tom Smith's son, Walter Smith, to differentiate his product from the rival cracker manufacturers which had suddenly sprung up.









   However, the OED may well be in error as they appear to have been available in France in 1817. Lt. Colonel Felton Hervey states in a letter dated 7 November 1817 The night before last Arthur Hill desired me to give a letter to the Duchess of R[ichmon]d, which I did very innocently. It contained one of these crackers, called Cossacks, which are sold in the fair here. It went off, and the duchess also, into one of the most violent fits of laughing hysterics ever witnessed. I am happy to say she does not think me guilty. I wonder it did not kill the old woman.



Make Your Own Christmas Crackers

Required Supplies and Equipment
  • Wrapping paper (cut to 7.5 x 12 inches) -- crackers made with lighter weight papers will tear apart easier when pulled.
  • Stiffener ends (cut into 2.25 x 7 inches -- use 60-70 weight white card stock, such as 67# Exact Vellum Bristol.
  • Fortunes, jokes or riddles.
  • Cracker snaps.
  • Paper hats.
  • Small gifts or novelty items (at least one per cracker).
  • Cracker rollers (1 pair).
  • Cardboard tubes (2 x 4 inches).
  • Low temperature glue gun.
  • Scissors.
  • Curling ribbon.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker


Step by Step Directions
1 -- Insert rollers into ends of cardboard tube (if fit between tube and roller is not snug enough, add a little masking tape to smaller (red) end of roller).
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
2 -- Lay roller-tube assembly on back of wrapping paper                          making certain tube is centered across length of paper.                          Apply a small drop of glue from glue gun to bottom middle edge of paper and roll tube back over glue.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
3 -- Place snap under front (leading) edge of roller-tube assembly, making certain snap is centered across length of paper.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
4 -- Roll paper onto roller-tube assembly to within a half inch or so of paper's end. Make certain paper rolls evenly (straight) onto tube.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
5 -- With glue gun, run a narrow bead of glue along back                          of paper about a quarter inch in from top edge. Roll paper over glue keeping glued seam pressed against work surface for several seconds to allow glue to harden                          (placement of glue bead may have to be adjusted slightly inward if glue flows out of seam onto outer surface of wrapping paper).
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
6 -- While holding paper cylinder in middle (one hand grasping cardboard tube), remove roller from each end of cylinder.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
7 -- Roll stiffener end into slightly smaller diameter cylinder than cracker and insert into end of cracker until even with outer edge. Do not cover snap during this procedure -- it must remain free in end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
8 -- Spread stiffener out firmly against inside wall of cracker end and glue into place with glue gun.

9 -- Repeat step 8 on other end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
10 -- Using thumb and forefinger, crimp (gather) one end of cracker between tube and reinforced (stiffened) end.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
11 -- Securely tie a 10 - 12 inch length of curling ribbon onto the gather of the cracker using a double knot. Then clip off the loose ribbon ends.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
12 -- Insert gifts/messages into open end of the cracker.                          The fillable central part of the cracker measures 2 inches in diameter by 4 inches in length. Your items must fit comfortably into this space in order for the cracker to be closed and finished. When filling your crackers, make certain you do not push the cracker snap into the center of the cracker.
13 -- Repeat steps 11 and 12 for open end of cracker.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
14 -- Check the finished end of the cracker to make certain the snap is located near the outer rim of the cracker and not too far down into the cylinder. Reposition with fingers as necessary.

Your cracker is now finished and ready to be shared with your party guests.
Make Your Own Christmas Cracker
Some practice is usually required to make a consistently well-wrapped and formed cracker. Techniques such as the one described above using solid core centers, rollers, and stiffened ends have been found by many people to be among the easiest methods for making nice looking crackers. Other techniques and directions for making your own party crackers can be found at the following web addresses:

Friday, December 26, 2014

CHRISTMAS IN COSTA RICA!!!













   During Christmas in Costa Rica, people like to decorate their houses with beautiful tropical flowers. A model of the nativity scene, called the Pasito or Portal, is the center of the display. It's also decorated with flowers and sometimes fruit. Some of the scene take a long time to make and all the family is involved. As well as the traditional figures, people add other models including houses and lots of different sorts of animals.
Christmas wreaths are made of cypress branches and are decorated with red coffee berries and ribbons. Most homes, shops and important buildings are decorated with Christmas lights.
   In Costa Rica, the gift bringer is often 'Niño dios' (Child God, meaning Jesus) or 'Colacho' (another name for St. Nicholas).
   On Christmas Eve, everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to Midnight Mass. In Costa Rica it's called the 'Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster); it's also called that is Spain.




   After Midnight Mass the main Christmas meal is eaten. It normal includes chicken and pork tamales that have been wrapped for cooking in plantain leaves. To drink there's lots of egg nog and rum punch!
   After Christmas, and into January, there are lots of fiestas, parades, rodeos, street parties, bull runs and choral and dance festivals. On 26th December (Boxing Day) there is an important horseback parade called the Tope. The next on the the 27th, many towns and cities have 'Carnaval' with a big parade featuring dancing and big floats.

WHY IS DECEMBER 26TH BECOMING ONE OF THE BIGGEST SHOPPING DAYS?????


Why December 26 is a 'monster' shopping day: 4 theories



   The day after Christmas is second only to Black Friday as the year's busiest shopping day — thanks, in part, to a tendency for people to buy themselves delayed presents.

If projections come to pass, the day after Christmas this year may break holiday sales records.


1. More people are spending on themselves.


Plan on hitting the mall today? You're not alone. In a recent American Express survey, 57 percent of Americans said they planned to go shopping on December 26, up from 43 percent in 2010. In fact, the day after Christmas is second only to Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of the year. But why are more Americans willing to circle around crowded parking lots than last year? Here, 4 theories:
In the days leading up to Christmas, Americans are consumed with shopping for friends and family. After the 25th, the focus shifts. One out of five shoppers will be cashing in gift cards they got from Santa, says Brad Tuttle at TIME, with many purchasing holiday presents for themselves — "a continuation of one of the season's hottest trends." What are they buying? TVs and clothing, primarily.

2. Struggling retailers mean stronger discounts.

While sales over Thanksgiving weekend of this year were promising, many stores bit off more inventory than they could chew for the month of December. Retailers like Gap and Ann Taylor, for example, are offering store-wide clearances of more than fifty percent off, looking to unload merchandise. "The inventory is worth so much less in two weeks," one anonymous chief executive of a retailer tells the New York Times. Stores are trying to take advantage of the momentary surge in traffic before the New Year. "With that kind of inventory, you’ve got to get rid of it. Whatever the margin is today, it’s that much lower next week and the week after."

3. The day after Christmas falls on a Monday instead of a Sunday.  

 One reason for the uptick in shopping interest, says Fox News, is that compared with last year's big shopping day — which fell on a Sunday, "when many people spend time with family" — 2011's post-Christmas spree comes on a Monday. And since most offices are giving employees the day off, they have ample time to brave long return lines.

4. People are simply postponing Christmas Day.  

Since more retailers are offering huge bargains on a "wider variety of items than they do in the weeks leading up to the holiday," some "cost-conscious" shoppers are waiting until after December 25th to go gift shopping, says Christina Rexrode at the Associated Press. Online spending in the days following Christmas has grown as much as 56 percent compared to previous years, and when you factor in the "the headache of shopping in the pre-Christmas madness," it's easy to understand why celebrating Christmas a little later has come to make sense.

EGG NOG MILKSHAKE!

This recipe comes from www.bravetart.com .  A change of pace than your average egg nog recipe.   Probably better to consume and enjoy as well.  Good luck!

Egg Nog Shake ·  (serves 4)

I originally shared this recipe for my column on Serious Eats. You can read more about the terrifying ingredients found in a McDonald's Egg Nog Shake, but I’ll give you the short story: there are thirteen ingredients in the cherry alone. Not kidding.
So, skip the drive through and make something you don’t have to be scared of.
What gives this egg nog its distinctive flavor is chopped, not grated, nutmeg. Whether with pre-ground nutmeg from the jar or freshly grated as needed, most people only use nutmeg in its smallest form. Now imagine if you only used garlic that way in cooking. No sliced garlic. No whole cloves smashed open. No chopped garlic. No minced garlic. Only garlic paste.
Yeah. More than vampires would die in the aftermath, that’s for sure. Used like that, garlic would often overwhelm rather than enhance many dishes.
Same thing here. Grated nutmeg is…great. But sometimes too intense. Chopping it releases the same flavor, but in a much more gentle way. Meanwhile, a little bit of cinnamon steeped into the base rounds out the flavor and delivers spot-on McDonald’s perfection.


McDonald's Style egg nog shake

Egg Nog Shake


12 ounces whole milk
8 ounces heavy cream
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped; seeds reserved
1 cinnamon stick, about 3” long
3 whole nutmegs, roughly chopped
3 ounces egg yolks (from about 4 eggs)
7 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt (use only 3/4 teaspoon for authentic McDonald’s sweetness)
2 ounces Frangelico
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Mix-In
12 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces brown sugar
Optional: 4 Maraschino cherries
Especially awesome with Molasses Ginger Cookies (gluten free)
In a medium pot, bring the milk and cream to a simmer together with the vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg. When the mixture simmers, shut off heat and cover. Steep one hour.
Meanwhile whisk the sugar gradually into the egg yolks. It’s a lot of sugar, so don’t dump it in all at once or it will be difficult to incorporate. Whisk in the salt.
Return dairy to a simmer and fish out the vanilla bean and spices (don’t worry if any nutmeg chunks slip past; you’ll strain them out later). Use a spatula to scrape out the heavily flavored cream from inside the vanilla pod.
Temper the hot cream into the egg yolks, one ladle-full at a time. Then whisk the egg mixture back into the cream. Turn heat to medium low. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all along the bottom of the pot to avoid curdling.
Normally, ice cream recipes entreat you to cook until the mixture is “thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon,” but with this recipe, that’s harder to judge. Instead, cook until a thermometer registers 145° F. If you’re more cavalier about these things, just cook until it is extremely hot to the touch.
Immediately shut off the heat and strain the custard through a sieve and into a large bowl. Discard any bits of nutmeg that remain. Stir in the Frangelico and vanilla extract. Cool in an ice bath and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; about six hours.
Shake it up
To make it a proper “shake” you’ll need to super-cool the mixture and fluff it up a bit. The best way is to do this with an ice cream machine. Process the chilled ice cream base in ice cream maker just until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes; you want it just a little softer than soft serve. If you don’t have a machine, you can skip this step. Your shake will have a thinner body, but will still be delicious.
While the shake base churns, combine the brown sugar and whipped cream in a medium bowl. Whip on medium speed until the cream holds stiff peaks. Transfer about four ounces to a pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip. Set aside.
Shut off the ice cream maker and pour or scoop the thickened base into the bowl of whipped cream. Fold gently with a rubber spatula to combine. If you’d like to add some extra booze, now would be the time.
Pour the shake into four glasses and top each with a swirl of whipped cream and a Maraschino cherry. Put some Molasses Ginger Cookies on the side and consider your halls decked.
Happy Holidays!

A THUMB-NAIL HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS IN ENGLAND!




   FIRST MENTION OF FEAST OF NATIVITY ON 25th DECEMBER: Possibly the earliest mention of a special feast for the Nativity on the 25th December is in the Philocalian Calendar in the year 354. This does refer back to earlier information from 336. However, in 388, St Chrysostom wrote that the observing of the festival of the Nativity (on December 25th) was not yet ten years old.

*WHEN CHRISTMAS CAME TO BRITAIN: The first records show that St Augustine came to Britain with his missionary monks from Rome, and on Christmas Day 598 it is said that he baptised more than 10,000 English people in the Christian faith.
*According to the Venerable Bede in his History of the English Church, the legendary King Arthur was crowned by St Dubricius on Christmas Day, somewhere very close to this date.
*In the year 816, the Council of Chelsea enforced the observance of Christmas on December 25th in Britain. This date was formerly called 'Mothers Night, a vigil in honour of the re-birth of the new sun, so it had been deemed easy to replace it with the birth of the Son of God. /





*PEACE AND GOODWILL: During the reign of the Saxon King Ethelred 991-1016- a law was made that the season of the Nativity should be a time of peace and goodwill, when all strife must end.
*WHEN THE NATIVITY BECAME 'CHRISTMAS' Until c1170, the festival was always referred to as 'In Festis Nativitatis' Or 'Natalis' The Feast of the Nativity. The anglicised 'Christes-Masse' did not appear until after the Norman invasion.
* WHEN CHRISTMAS WAS BANNED: Christmas became the chosen time for coronations, decrees and all manner of important events. The Reformation brought about by King Henry VIII (mid-16th century) brought this all to a stop. In 1644 the puritan parliament first sat on Christmas Day setting a trend of 'no Christmas', in 1645 they had declared Christmas a working day. Christmas actually was banned! Anyone found making Christmas pies was in severe trouble, and often arrested as an example to others.




   At this time also all the customs began to die out, because anyone found celebrating was similarly chastised. Priests were in hiding, and few people managed to attend the old 'Christe-Masse.'. No 'Waits' sang in the streets; people were compelled to work on Christmas Day, and there was no feasting or decorating of houses or streets.
*CHRISTMAS REVIVED: After the restoration of the King (Charles II) in 1660, things got better, but after over 100 years of reformation and puritan restraint, many of the old customs were not restored in their former style. Mostly, it was country people who held onto them, and although there was an element of the 'Christmas of Olde England' in Georgian England,( as you can read from the extract of CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIAN ENGLAND), for many townspeople the customs were just not there. It was not until the Victorian scholars began to research into old documents, and talk to ancient characters in villages and hidden areas of the North of England etc where things changed more slowly, that the old customs were to be practiced again. Sadly many of the symbolism and reasons behind the christianised versions of these customs was lost, a fact particularly obvious in the custom of KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE - THE KISSING BOUGH.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

YES VIRGINIA, COCA-COLA HAD A HAND IN CREATING SANTA CLAUS!!!







 Most people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like---jolly, with a red suit and a white beard.  But he didn't always look that way, and Coke advertising actually helped shape the modern day image of Santa.
   2006 marked the 75th anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus.  Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit.  Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on their advertising.






1931 Coke Santa Ad




 Before the 1931 introduction of the Coke Santa Claus, created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall.  Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.
   Through the centuries, Santa has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf.  He has worn a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin.  The modern day Santa is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries.





Santa Claus, 1936




  The Civil War cartoonist, Thomas Nast, drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union.  Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red.  Though some people believe the Coca-Cola Santa wears red because that is the Coke color, the red suit comes from Nast's interpretation of St. NIck.
   The Coca-Cola Company began the Christmas advertising in the 1920's with shopping related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post.  The first Santa ad used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.






Santa, 1937




   At this time, many people thought of Coke as a drink only for warm weather.  The Coke Company began a campaign to remind people that Coke was a great choice in any month.  This began with the 1922 slogan "Thirst Knows No Season", and continued with a campaign connecting a true icon of winter---Santa Claus---with the beverage.
   In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke.  The ad featured the world's largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo.  Mizen's painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.





Santa, 1938





 Archie Lee, the D'Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coke Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic.  In 1931, The Coke commissioned Michigan born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus--showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa, as Mizen's work had portrayed. him.
   For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore's 1822 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas", or what it's commonly known to day as "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  Moore's description of St. Nick led to an Image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human.  For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa-an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.






Haddon Sundblom, 1931

Haddon Sundblom, some 30 years later








  














  From 1931 to 1964, Coke advertising showed Santa delivering (and playing!) with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerator's at a number of homes.  The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coke advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars, and even plush dolls.  Many of those items today are popular collectibles.
   The Coke Santa made its debut in 1931, in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others.  The instantly popular ad campaign appeared each season, reflecting the times.  One ad even featured Santa in a rocket!




Santa, 1941






  Sundblom continued to create new visions of Santa through 1964.  For decades after, Coke advertising has featured Santa's image based on Sundblom's original works.
   These original paintings by Haddon Sundblom are some of the most prized pieces in the art collection of the Coke Company's Archives Department, and have been on exhibit around the world, including at the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo and the NK Department Store in Stockholm.






Santa, 1951





   The Coca-Cola Santa has had a powerful, enduring quality that continues to resonate today.  Many of the original paintings can be seen on display at "World of Coca-Cola" in Atlanta, Ga. or touring during the holiday season.

Did You Know?

   People loved the Coke Santa images and paid such close attention to them, that when anything changed, they sent letter to The Coke Company.  One year, Santa's large belt was backwards.  Another year, Santa appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus.

   In the beginning, artist Haddon Sundblom painted the image of Santa using a live model-his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman.  When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom, used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror.  After the 1930's, he used photographs to create the image of St. Nick.

   The children who appear with Santa Claus in Haddon Sundblom's paintings wee based on Sundblom's neighbors.  However, the neighbors were both girls, and Sundblom simply changed one to a boy in his paintings.  He also used the neighborhood florist's dog, a gray poodle in one of his paintings, but painted the animal with black fur. To make the dog stand out in the holiday scene.












Santa, 1953


     The image of Santa Claus has appeared on cartons for bottles of Coke since 1931, when artist Haddon Sundblom first created his version of St. Nick.  Early cartons completely covered the bottles of Coke--almost as if they were inside a box--and had a handle at the very top.  The carton itself was created--and patented--by the Coca-Cola system.  Introduced in 1923, it allowed people to take home more bottle of Coke.
   The Coke Polar Bear stars with Santa on the 2006 advertising for the U.S. Hispanic market.  The Coke Polar Bear was introduced in 1993 as part of the "Always Coca-Cola" campaign.  The first commercial featuring the bear showed was called "Northern Lights" and showed a group of bears watching a "movie" (the Aurora borealis) and drinking from bottles of Coke.





Santa and Spriteboy





   The "Sprite Boy" character, who appeared with Santa and was used in Coke advertising in the 1940's and 50's, was also created by artist Haddon Sundblom.  Though the Coke Company does have a drink called Sprite.  The Sprite Boy character was not named for the beverage.  Sprite Boy's name came because he is a sprite--an elf.  Sprite Boy first appeared in ads in 1942, while the drink Sprite was no introduced until the 1960's.

   In 2001, the artwork from Haddon Sundblom's 1962 original painting was used as the basis for an animated TV commercial staring the Coke Santa.  The ad was created by Academy Award-winning animator Alexandre Petrov.