20-Dec In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” His poem, which he was hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with the ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. The poem popularized the image of Santa Claus flying from house to house on Christmas Eve in a miniature sleigh led by eight reindeer and leaving presents for deserving children.
21-Dec Today at 12:11 p.m., the Winter solstice begins. Due to the earth’s tilt, the Northern Hemisphere is as far away from the sun as it can be; therefore, the first day of winter is the shortest day of the year.
22-Dec Toys for Tots began in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists collected and distributed toys to needy children. Over the last 66 years, Marines have distributed more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children. This charitable endeavor has made the U.S. Marines the leader in looking after children in need at Christmas.
23-Dec While mistletoe is widely viewed as a symbol of love and fertility, it’s also representative of peace. Ancient tales tell of enemies who encounter each other underneath trees bearing mistletoe. The enemies lay down their arms, embrace, and agree to a truce until the next day. This act of goodwill is yet another possibility for why we kiss under mistletoe. Abstaining from violence and exchanging greetings under the plant may have prompted the custom of kissing.
24-Dec Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States. Approximately 1.5 billion cards are sent annually during the holiday season. According to Hallmark research, nearly three-fourths of consumers who send holiday cards do so because of how good it feels when they receive a holiday greeting card in return.
25-Dec Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus.
26-Dec Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Black Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, he searched for ways to bring African Americans together as a community. Karenga combined aspects of several harvest celebrations to form the basis of Kwanzaa. Over seven days, family and friends gather to exchange gifts and light including, black, red, and green candles, symbolizing the seven values of African American family life: unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
27-Dec Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was born 100 years after his eight counterparts. In 1939, Robert May, a copywriter at Montgomery Ward, created the story of Rudolph to increase holiday traffic in the store. Rudolph’s message—that being different can be an asset—proved popular. Montgomery Ward sold 2.5 million copies of the story. May’s story has been translated into 25 languages and made into a television movie, which has charmed audiences since 1964.
28-Dec On December 28, 1945, the U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
29-Dec Santa Claus isn’t the only one who comes at Christmas. Kris Kringle gives presents to Swiss and German children. In Scandinavia, the elf Jultomten delivers gifts in a goat-drawn sleigh. In English legend, Father Christmas fills children’s stockings. Père Noël fills the shoes of French children. In Russian legend, a woman named Babouschka misguided the wise men on their way to see Jesus. Remorseful, every January 5, she leaves gifts for children; hoping one of them is baby Jesus. In Italy, the kindly witch La Befana rides a broomstick down chimneys to deliver toys.
30-Dec The tradition of the New Year’s resolutions goes back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, who had two faces, could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions, and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the New Year.
31-Dec The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year, and watching fireworks.