Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

MAY THE MAGIC OF CHISTMAS FILL EVERY CORNER OF YOUR HEART AND YOUR HOME. 

ROBERTA ANGARAMO: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Christmas wasn’t always on December 25

While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, there is no mention of December 25 in the Bible. Most historians actually posit that Jesus was born in the spring. And his birthday itself didn’t become the official holiday until the third century. Some historian believe the date was actually chosen because it coincided with the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which honored the agricultural god Saturn with celebrating and gift-giving.

MELISSA IWAI: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

The first recorded Christmas cards were sent by Michael Maier to James I of England and his son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1611. It was discovered in 1979 by Adam McLean in the Scottish Record Office.

There are more than 3,000 greeting card publishers in America. 15% of Christmas cards are purchased by men. Over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year. Around 500 million e-cards are sent each year.

CHERYL PILGRIM: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Evergreens are an ancient tradition

The tradition of Christmas trees goes all the way back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, who marked the winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder that spring would return. So if you decorate with a green tree, wreaths or evergreen garland, you’re throwing it back – way back.

SUSAN MITCHELL: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

If you prefer an artificial tree, you’re not alone. It’s a cheaper and lower maintenance option, giving parents and pet owners one less thing to worry about during the holidays. Artificial trees date back to the 1880s, when Germans looking to offset deforestation made the first ones from dyed goose feathers held together with wire. Since then, people around the world have made fake trees out of aluminum, cardboard, and glass, although most artificial Christmas trees sold today are made out of PVC plastic.

GABHOR UTOMO: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY. 

Celebrating Christmas used to be illegal

By the time the Puritans settled in Boston, celebrating Christmas had been outlawed. From 1659–1681, anyone caught making merry would face a fine for celebrating. After the Revolutionary War, the day was so unimportant that Congress even held their first session on December 25, 1789. Christmas wasn’t proclaimed a federal holiday for almost another century, proving that the Grinch’s notorious hatred of the holiday was alive and well long before he was.

CHRISTINE KORNACKI: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

You can thank Prince Albert for your Christmas tree

In 1848 Prince Albert of Germany introduced a tree to his new wife, Queen Victoria of England and the Illustrated London News ran a drawing of the couple in front of a Christmas tree and it became all the rage. You can say the idea went viral.

DORIS ETTILINGER: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Just about half of Americans attend Christmas services

If church seems a little sparse on Christmas Eve, there may be a reason for that. The Pew Research Center found that fewer people think of Christmas as a religious holiday these days. Only 51% of people who celebrate attend church on Christmas.

KATE COSGROVE: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

The Rockefeller Christmas tree started small

The first tree at Rockefeller Center probably looked more like Charlie Brown’s than the resplendent one today. Construction workers at the site first placed a small, undecorated tree while working there in 1931. Two years later, another tree appeared in its place, this time with lights. It grew and grew from there. Nowadays, the giant Rockefeller Center tree bears more than 25,000 twinkling lights and is visited by millions of selfie-takers each season.

LISA FIELDS: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

The term “Xmas” dates back to the 1500s

Think “Xmas” is a newly nefarious attempt to take Christ out of Christmas? Think again. According to From Adam’s Apple to Xmas: An Essential Vocabulary Guide for the Politically Correct, “Christianity” was spelled “Xianity” as far back as 1100. X, or Chi, in Greek is the first letter of “Christ” and served as a symbolic stand-in. In 1551, the holiday was called “Xtemmas” but eventually shortened to “Xmas.” In reality, Xmas is just as Christian as the longer version.

SARAH DILLARD – FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Your Christmas tree likely traveled a bit

Unless you cut it yourself, your “fresh” Christmas tree probably spent weeks out of the ground before it made it to your local retailer. And there’s likely no hiking into the woods to get it, either: 98% of American trees today grow on farms, mostly in California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the country’s top Christmas tree-producing states.

GABHOR UTOMO: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY. 

Tinsel has a storied history

Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was originally spun from real silver, making it far from the chintzy decoration it is now. It also has an edgy history. The U.S. government once banned tinsel because it contained poisonous lead. But never fear; now it’s made of plastic. However, you should still use caution if you have pets or small children, since it’s still harmful if swallowed.

ruthsandersonC003_Christmas-Doorway

RUTH SANDERSON: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

Christmas wreaths are symbols of Christ 

The Christmas wreath originated as a symbol of Christ. The holly represents the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and the red berries symbolize the blood he shed. So when you see a wreath this season, you’ll remember the reason for the season.

WENDY EDELSON: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Mistletoe is an aphrodisiac

The holiday flora is an ancient symbol of fertility and virility — and the Druids considered it an aphrodisiac. So keep that in mind next time someone jokes about meeting you under the mistletoe. You might want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

WILL TERRY: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Candy canes originated in Germany

The National Confectioners Association says a choirmaster originally gave the candies to young children to keep them quiet during long church services. Grandmas who still dole out sweets during droning sermons, you’ve got history on your side. But it wasn’t until a German-Swedish immigrant decorated his tree with candy canes in 1847 that they became popular as a Christmas candy.

PATRICIA ACHILLES: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

Settlers created the first American eggnog

The Jamestown settlers created the first American batch of eggnog, although it may not have tasted quite the way we know and love today. The word nog comes from the word grog; or any drink made with rum. So technically, an early nog didn’t require the rich, milky base we now ladle out of grandma’s cut-crystal punch bowl.

YVONNE GILBERT: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY.

Ham ranks as the festive favorite

Some families cook up a turkey for Christmas dinner, others go for ham, and still more go rogue and stick a leg of lamb or another protein in the oven. Google searches for “ham” and “turkey” both spike during the month of December, according to Google Trends data. Despite the popularity of both festive entrees, spiral-cut ham remains the more popular choice for a Christmas table. The jury’s still out on whether people prefer ham or turkey sandwiches the day after, though.

JESSICA COURTNEY TICKLE: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Did you know that TCHAIKOVSKY’S NUTCRACKER SUITE was not composed for children?

The Nutcracker Suite was commissioned by Imperial Russian Ballet choreographer Marius Petipa in 1891. Petipa wanted a ballet score based on Alexandre Dumas’ (1802-1870) adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s (1776-1882) fantasy story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Interestingly, Petipa grew ill mid-way through his choreography, leaving strict instructions for his successor – Lev Ivanov – which is why the choreography is so consistent throughout.

The original story was not a children’s tale at all, but rather a glimpse into the darker side of humanity – how a nightmare can bring to light your greatest fears. So, while you may enjoy playing tunes from The Nutcracker to delight the children in your life, the roots of the magical ballet are much darker than most people realize.

JESSICA COURTNEY TICKLE: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Popcorn garland is a truly American tradition.

All it takes is some popcorn, cranberries, a needle, and dental floss to make your very own homemade Christmas tree garland. Though Germans traditionally decorated their trees with cookies, nuts, and fruit, Americans in the 1800s adapted that custom to long strings of popcorn and cranberries. While it’s unknown exactly why popcorn was chosen—likely because it was inexpensive—cranberries are perfect, since their waxy coating keeps them from spoiling quickly. If you want to try it yourself, just make sure you use day-old popcorn, which breaks apart less easily than fresh kernels.

JESSICA COURTNEY TICKLE: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY

Germans believe it’s bad luck to put up your tree before Christmas Eve.

In order to avoid bad luck at Christmas, some Germans believe you should erect your Christmas tree no sooner than Christmas Eve (or sometimes the 23rd) and take it down no later than Twelfth Night (Jan. 5). In some predominately Catholic countries—Ireland, Italy, Argentina, etc.—the tree goes up on Immaculate Conception Day (Dec. 8) and comes down on Epiphany (Jan. 6), though some Catholics extend that to Candlemas (Feb. 2), according to Italy Magazine. However, everyone can agree that you should definitely not put your tree up before Halloween (or in America, before Thanksgiving).

MACKENZIE HALEY: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY 

The Christmas tree was one tradition that the Catholic church snubbed for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until 1982 that Pope John Paul II, already known as a bit of a reformer, brought a Christmas tree into the Vatican to sit beside the traditional Italian Nativity crib. Today, Catholic liturgy includes a prayer for officially blessing your tree.

ANA OCHOA: FEATURED ON ILLUSTRATOR SATURDAY 

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12th to January 6th.

From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the ‘Posada’ processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns.

ANNE LAMBELET: Featured on Illustrator Saturday.

HAVE YOURSELF A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Merry Christmas, Kathy! XO

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  2. Merry Christmas, Kathy!

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  3. Merry Christmas, Kathy and thank you for all you do for the Kidlit community! May 2021 be filled with blessing for you and your loved ones!

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  4. Love this post and al the wonderful posts you present throughout the year. Good health and happiness in 2021!

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  5. Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

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  6. Just lovely. Thanks. Merry Christmas to you, Kathy.

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  7. Very interesting, Kathy. Thanks for sharing and thanks for all you do for us. Merry Christmas!

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  8. Merry Christmas!

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  9. Merry Christmas! It was wonderful to read all of the interesting history, and enjoy the beautiful illustrations!

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  10. Beautiful! Merry Christmas!

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