Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 24, 2020

Happy Christmas Eve

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeers pulling on the reins
Bells are ringing, children singing, all is merry and bright
So hang your stockings and say your prayers, ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight

METTE ENGELL: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOT SATURDAY

St. Nick was the first Santa

You probably already knew that the idea of Santa Claus came from St. Nicholas. According to legend, the fourth-century Christian bishop gave away his abundant inheritance to help the needy and rescued women from servitude. His name was Sinter Klaas in Dutch.

JIM STARR: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

Santa Comes to America

Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sint Nikolaas or by his nickname, Sinterklaas, to America in the 1700s. Later this morphed into Santa Claus.

YVONNE GILBERT: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

Washington Irving created many Santa legends

You may know Washington Irving best for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and his headless horseman, but he wrote a lot about St. Nicholas, too. In fact, he bestowed eight tiny reindeer on the big man. He loved Santa Claus so much that in 1835, he helped found the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York, serving as its secretary until 1841.

Coca-Cola played a part in Santa’s image

Before Coca-Cola got in on it, Santa used to look a lot less jolly — even spooky. It wasn’t until 1931, when the beverage company hired an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom for magazine ads that we got the jolly old elf. Now, kids won’t get nightmares when they dream of Christmas eve.

ruthsanta in fireplace

RUTH SANDERSON: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Hanging stockings started by accident

According to legend, we hang stockings by the chimney with care thanks to a poor man who didn’t have enough money for his three daughters’ dowries. Generous old St. Nick (remember, that’s his trademark!) dropped a bag of gold down their chimney one night, where the girls had hung their stockings to dry. That’s where the gold ended up, and how the tradition began.

DAVID WENZEL: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

Rudolph was a marketing ploy

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 when the Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters to create a Christmas story the store could give away as a promotional gimmick. The store had been giving away coloring books for years, and decided to make its own to save money.

ERIC FREEBERG: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

“Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song

Turns out, we were originally dashing through the snow for an entirely different holiday. James Lord Pierpont wrote a song called “One Horse Open Sleigh” for his church’s Thanksgiving concert. Then in 1857, the song was re-published under the title it still holds today, and it eventually became one of the most popular Christmas songs.

MARY UHLES: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

Astronauts broadcast “Jingle Bells” from space

This prank almost went too far. Nine days before Christmas in 1965, the two astronauts aboard Gemini 6 sent an odd report to Mission Control that they saw an “unidentified flying object” about to enter Earth’s atmosphere, traveling in the polar orbit from north to south. They interrupted the tense report with the sound of “Jingle Bells,” as Wally Schirra played a small harmonica accompanied by Tom Stafford on a handful of small sleigh bells they had smuggled aboard.

LRYNA BODNARUK: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

J.P. Morgan’s uncle wrote “Jingle Bells.”

Born in 1822, songwriter James Lord Pierpont composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the holiday standard. His older sister, Juliet, married millionaire Junius Spencer Morgan, and their oldest child, John Pierpont Morgan, followed his father into the banking business and became one of the most powerful financiers of the Gilded Age.

MARK MEYERS: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

Christmas decorating sends nearly 15,000 people to the ER

If you’ve ever watched Clark Griswold decorate his house in Christmas Vacation, that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 14,700 people visit hospital emergency rooms each November and December from holiday-related decorating accidents. So please, be careful when you’re decking your halls.

RICHARD JOHNSON: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

Santa has his own Canadian postal code

Every year, letters to Santa Claus flood post offices across the world, forcing parent to find a way to answer them or explain to the kiddos why their letter got, um, lost in the mail. Cementing their reputation as one of the nicest countries around, some big-hearted Canadian Post Office workers started writing back. As the program took off, they set up a special postal code for Santa as part of a Santa Letter-Writing Program initiative: HOH OHO.

SUSAN MITCHELL: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

We ship a ton of packages at the holidays

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day last year, the U.S. Postal Service delivered an estimated 910 million packages — in addition to almost 15 billion pieces of mail. That includes gifts for faraway loved ones, cards, letters to Santa and those dreaded credit card bills after we put our holiday purchases on plastic (oops).

CHERYL PILGRIM: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY 

This Christmas gift held a lifesaving secret

During World War II, The United States Playing Card Company joined forces with American and British intelligence agencies to create a very special deck of cards. They gave them out as Christmas gifts that also helped allied prisoners of war escape from German POW camps. Individual cards peeled apart when moistened, to reveal maps of escape routes. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

RENE GRAEF: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas

It may feel like Christmas is everywhere you turn from October right on through New Year’s, and those decorations hit stores earlier every year. That’s partially because most Americans really do jingle bell rock their way right through the season: over 90 percent of us. Not all of those celebrate it as a religious holiday, though.

DEBORAH MELMON: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Scientists calculated that for Father Christmas to deliver all gifts to people around the world, on Christmas Eve, he would have to visit 822 homes a second, traveling at 650 miles a second!

DONALD WU: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

One Florida town makes an annual Christmas tree out of 700 tons of sand

Every year West Palm Beach, Florida, boasts that it has the world’s largest Christmas tree made entirely of sand: 700 tons of the stuff go into making “Sandi,” a 35-foot peak strung with lights and topped with a star.

JAMIE GREEN: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY 

******

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane
He’s got a bag that’s filled with toys for boys and girls again
Hear those sleigh bells jingle jangle, oh what a beautiful sight
So jump in bed and cover your head, ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. and to you –

    Like

  2. You’ve done a lot of research regarding the origins of Santa Claus. I had been researching this topic myself, and you’ve made it easier for me to dig in further. Wishing you all Happy Holidays, and may 2021 make our dreams come true. Thank you for posting such interesting topics all year round.

    Like

  3. Wonderful collection and great Christmas tidbits! Merry Christmas, Kathy!

    Like

  4. These are some cool facts. You’ve put me in the Christmas spirit! Thank you! I tend to favor the old-fashioned depictions of Santa, but leave it to Coca Cola to turn Santa into a “rounder and more jolly” kind of figure. Better cut down on that sugar, LOL. Merry Christmas!!

    Like

  5. Wow. Just WOW!!!

    Like

  6. This was such fun! Merry Christmas, Kathy:)

    Like


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