The LuLac Edition #2797, December 21st, 2014
MAYBE I’M AMAZED …..that even before Christmas was established, the evergreen was symbolic for people in the winter. During the 16th century, German Christians began putting trees in their homes. Legend has it that Martin Luther was the first to decorate the tree with candles. Here’s a big star for the Commonwealth too because it was German immigrants in Pennsylvania that brought the tradition to the U.S.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED………that St. Nicholas was said to have inherited a fortune that he gave away to the poor and sick. His legend and popularity spread through Europe with feasts commemorating him held on the anniversary of his death. That day was December 6th. His was particularly popular in Holland where he was known as “Sinter Klaas.” Children of Holland were said to put their shoes out on December 6th to get a present or a little toy or good from St. Nick. As a youngster we put our shoes out on December 6th as a precursor to Christmas and usually received a small gift. This was not uniform though for our class at St. John the Baptist, some people did this, others did not. My friends Drew and Bob Wasko and I have had many conversations about the Holiday concert we gave at The Baptist. After performing, we'd get a gift from Santa. Santa was usually played by Bill Wagner or Paul Suscan, our bus drivers. One of the most remarkable gifts we got was a Quick Draw McGraw hat that also doubled as a squirt gun. Drew to this day maintains that it was Father Super, not the PTA that chose and bought the gifts.
Known primarily as 'A Visit From St. Nicholas,' the famous Christmas poem that practically invented the modern concept of Santa almost stayed in the drawer. Moore, a 19th century author and classics professor, wrote the poem for his family to celebrate Christmas in 1822, allegedly drawing inspiration for Santa from a pudgy Dutch driver who took his family on a sleigh ride. But Moore never intended for it to be made public. In fact, a close friend of Moore's actually sent the poem to the Sentinel newspaper, where it was published anonymously. The writer felt the poem was beneath his talents, and when it was published and became a huge hit, he denied authoring it for nearly 15 years. (It was eventually included in an anthology of Moore's work thanks to the urging of his kids.)
Bell Telephone used to broadcast a Christmas special every Holiday Season. Now remember this was the time when there were only three TV stations. The broadcast of this show was as important as a visit to a department Store for a chat with Santa and going to church on Christmas Day. In the broadcast, an actor plying Clement Moore is seen laboring over the poem.
The second part of the broadcast featured The Nativity. Mabel and Les Beaton, through their company, Stringtime Productions, produced this film. Featured were marionettes.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that a government worker, Sir Henry Cole,and John Horsley, an artist, created the first Christmas card depicting people helping the poor and enjoying Christmas dinner with their family. Early Christmas cards usually had the Nativity, snow scenes or robins on them. Now Christmas card have everything under the sun on them. As a youngster we sold Christmas cards in our Catholic school to support The Pagan Babies.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED ...........that it has been a little less than a century that the U.S. Postal Service was authorized to respond to children’s letters to Santa. The Postmaster General was Frank Hitchcock and the year was 1912. By the 1940s, charitable organizations, companies and other community groups were invited to help respond the growing number of letters. According to the U.S. Postal Service, children often address their letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska,” and many wish Santa a happy birthday.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that it was First Lady Lou Henry Hoover who is is credited with beginning the unbroken tradition of the official White House Christmas tree in 1929. In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the Christmas tree. A tradition that has continued to this day. ”
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……but not that another Christmas icon, Rudolph was actually inspired by a department store. The Montgomery Ward department store purchased and gave away Christmas coloring books to shoppers every year. In 1939, they decided to make their own and commissioned Robert May, a copyright, to develop a story for the coloring book. He created Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 2.4 million coloring books were distributed the first year. Ten years after Rudolph was created, Gene Autry recorded the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which was written by May’s brother-in-law.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED….at how many people don’t realize that when you put up a sign saying Merry Xmas you are not taking Christ out of Christmas. Actually, the “X” comes from the Greek translation of Christ, Χριστός, and “X” has historically been used by artists and writers to symbolize Christ. Still, some have seen the use of Xmas as disrespectful. The 1948 Vogue’s Book of Etiquette stated “‘Xmas’ should never be used” in greeting cards. Its use is discouraged by the AP Stylebook which I’m not sure many people pay much attention to anymore.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that one of the most popular sweets, the candy cane was created in Germany in the 19th century when a choirmaster wanted to create something the children could enjoy during church service. He created an all-white candy in the shape of a shepherd's crook as a reminder of the shepherds who visited Christ. The red stripe wasn’t added until later. Today, Bobs Candies (no apostrophe) is the largest manufacture of candy canes, and they also created the largest candy cane ever, an eight-foot-long striped cane that weighed more than 100 pounds.
MAYBE I'M AMAZED……..that the song “Winter Wonderland” seems to get more play every year. But not may realize the song was written by a Honesdale native Dick Smith. Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale's Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis, better known then as consumption. The West Mountain Sanitarium is located off N. Sekol Ave. in Scranton, Pennsylvania. North Sekol Road is where the original WWDL Studios were). In November 2007, ASCAP, a performance rights organization in the United States, listed "Winter Wonderland" as the most-played ASCAP-member-written holiday song from 2002 to 2007.