Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year Resolutions

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions? Which ones are attainable and which ones have been broken already? Which one(s) are you most serious about honoring? You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine!!

A New Year's resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year's Day and remain until fulfilled or abandoned. More socio-centric examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more economically or environmentally responsible. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The new year resolution is one example of the rolling forecast-method of planning. According to this method, plans are established at regular short or medium-term time intervals, when only a rough long-term plan exists.

There are religious parallels to this secular tradition. For example, during Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Do you know how responsible this tale was for making Christmas the way it is today? Lots of generosity, sharing, giving and love.

English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, 'A Christmas Carol'. The story's message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits if celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and-gifts on their children without appearing to 'spoil' them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards, and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I know we all have heard the story "twas the night before ChristmasBUT did you know who drew the illustrations to give us today's images of Santa Clause and his eight tiny reindeer?

In 1822, Clement Clark Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." Moore's poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Clause as a "right jolly old elf" with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore's imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve - Santa Claus waiting for the children to get to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve-in 'a miniature sleigh' led by eight flying reindeer, whom he also named-leaving presents for deserving children. "An Account if a visit from St. Nicholas," created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore's poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper's Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tree Trivia

Did you know?????

Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.

In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Between 1877-1933 a fishing schooner called the Christmas Ship would tie up at the Clark Street bridge and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.

The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas Fir in the town of Woodsville, Washington.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1933. Franklin Pierce, the 14th President, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White house.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.

Most Christmas trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet.

In 1912, the first community Christmas tree in the United States was erected in New York City.

Christmas trees generally take 6-8 years to mature.

Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.

100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry.

98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms.

More then 1,000,000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees.

77 million Christmas trees are planted each year.

On average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.

You should never burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace. It can contribute to creosote

Thomas Edison's assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees.

In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.

Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.

In the first week, the tree in your house will consume as much as a quart of water per day.

Tinsel was once banned by the government. Tinsel contained lead at one time, now it's made of plastic.

In 1984, the National Christmas tree was it on December 13th with temperatures in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.

34-36 million Christmas trees are produced each year and 95 percent are shipped or sold directly from Christmas tree farms.

California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree produces states.

The best selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, and White Pine.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Truce of 1914

Did you know????

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many Germans and Bristish troops sang Christmas Carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soildiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man's-land, calling out "Merry Christmas" in their enemies' native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum pudding and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of a good-natured game of soccor.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man's land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated-future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officer threats of disciplinary action-but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers' essential humanity endured.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ancient Christmas Events

This week I'm introducing some old-time Christmas events and would like your opinions about how Christmas has changed over the years. What traditions or rituals do you do that you really enjoy or like and which ones do you dislike? I'd love to hear about them.

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.

The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Fast Facts

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.
  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous-a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties.
  • From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • Christmas wasn't a holiday in early America- in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country's first Christmas under the new constitution.
  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
  • The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement.
  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsettia, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890's.
  • Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Only 38 days remaining!!!! Be sure to check back once a week to read my blog (posted on Sundays) which will contain holiday history and trivia throughout the end of the Year.

Leave me a comment as welll. I would love to hear from you. Thanks!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Return toChristmas-Anthology

This anthology is compiled of four short inspiring and uplifting Christmas stories which should help you get into the true Christmas spirit. Not the spirit of buying presents for everyone you know but sharing love, being with family, overcoming bad times, for one day of the year everyone is happy, just loving 'it all' spirit of Christmas.

That's the feeling I hope this book will give you to help kick off the season, not in the commercialized way it's become but in a loving and sharing way. Please take a minute to download your own copy at

Be sure to visit me at my website; I'd love to hear from you!