Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Season Potpourri

Christmas is a holiday celebrated all around the world.  Whether your season festivities are spiritual or secular - involving a gift-giving character the season is overflowing with possibilities for every kind of believer.  Let's take a look at some of the many interesting ways Christmas is celebrated in Lake County and all around the world.  Included will be some holiday trivia too!
  • Upside down Christmas tree - said to date back to St. Boniface in the 8th century, it remains popular throughout Eastern Europe.  Legend has it that Boniface confronted non-Christians and chopped down their giant oak tree in an angry moment.  A tiny evergreen grew in its place and the triangular shape was used to explain the Holy Trinity.  the tree was hung upside down and the Trinity Tree had its origins.
  • Nativity Scenes (Vatican and Lake County) - Depictions of the nativity figures owe their origins to St. Francis of Assisi.  The first creche appeared in 1223.  In less than a century the custom was entrenched throughout Italy and the world.  Historic Kirtland has a nativity display annually that is considered a top 100 destination in the United States.  Free and open to the public daily into January, one should make every effort to view the more than 400 creches on display, some from countries far away.
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - Rudloph is 50 this year.  Taken from a 1939 poem, an animated television short about Rudolph aired in 1964 featuring the voice and singing talents of Burl Ives.
  • Frosty the Snowman - A 1950 song was used for a 1954 animated short about this most famous snowman.  In 1969 the television show still shown today remains.  Jimmy Durante was the voice talent used in the 1969 classic.
  • Mistletoe - The bush-like plant found on trees dates back to the Celtic people to about five centuries before Christ.  It is said the Druids considered mistletoe a sacred plant and hung it above their doorways for protection.  Enemies in battle would often declare a one day truce if they met near the plant.
  • George Harrison of Beatles fame is the only member of the Fab Four to never write or record a Christmas Song.
  • Holly & The Yule Log - The log is associated with winter solstice / December 21st.  Its origin remains in doubt although believed to be Germanic in nature.  Burned to bring good luck, holly was part of the ritual and placed under the log.  The sprig of holly symbolized buring up the troubles of the past year as well keeping safe their homesteads.
  • The Grinch -  Dr. Suess wrote his classic tale of the Grinch in 1957.  The animated version first appeared in 1966 and is third in longevity when one recalls Holiday TV specials.
  • It's a Wonderful Life - The 1946 holiday classic includes what today would be called a 'blooper' or DVD-extra.  An inebriated Uncle Billy has trouble walking in a scene.  A crash is heard and Uncle Billy says, "I'm alright."  The actual crash was that of a crew member dropping something during filming.  The gaffe is part of holiday history.
  • It's a Wonderful Life - "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings..." is well known.  If you listen carefully you will hear 42 bells ringing in this seasonal movie classic.
  • Madagascar - Santa is known as Dadabe Noely.  Only small gifts are exchanged.
  • Wales - Carolers highlight the season and Christmas Day.  They sing at dawn and are invited in for snacks.  Carol writing contests are annual events.
  • Russia - Children carry a star and go house to house singing carols and receiving sweets.  A porridge, kutya is popular and served with honey or poppy seeds to ensure happiness and peace for the coming year.
  • Philippines -  Simbang Gabi are the nine days before Christmas.  A practice dating back to Spanish rule of the islands, attending mass is the main focus of the season.
  • Charlie Brown -  Charles Schulz's characters were widely popular since the 1950's.  The comic characters got their first television exposure in 1965 with A Christmas Special.  Arguably the best known holiday special it is a December viewing tradition.
  • Country Lights at Farmpark began its Toyshop in 1990.  Originally meant to just supplement an outdoor wagon ride and visit with Santa, 2014 will feature more than 70 varieties of wooden toys and possibly surpass 15,000 toys built in December 2014.
  • Check out Historic Lake County Alliance Member activities this month and throughout the upcoming year.  Whether it is a visit with the Grinch in Fairport Harbor, holiday fireworks in Eastlake, a traditional concert performance in Painesville or a holiday stroll in downtown Willoughby that includes a visit with Santa as part of their Welcome Center,  there are always holiday traditions Yule Enjoy!!

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