Why the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” would be difficult to remake today.  

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is probably my favorite Christmas movie of all-time.

I feel that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a story frozen in time, however.

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If the movie were to be remade today, I believe the basic concept of the movie could be redone, but the story itself, as we know it, would become almost unrecognizable.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was made in 1945 and released in 1946.  In this movie we see George Bailey’s life from roughly World War I (1914-1918), George Bailey was born in 1907, through to the period just after the end of World War II (1945). Two world wars, an influenza epidemic, and a devastating economic depression…, it definitely wasn’t the easiest of times. George’s breakdown happens on Christmas Eve of 1945.

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We see how the Great Depression of 1929 causes a run on the banks and threatens the Building and Loan. During World War II, George acts as an air-raid warden and keeps serving the community, while his brother Harry becomes a Navy pilot.

An uplifting story like “It’s a Wonderful Life” was just the thing for the hearts of people who’d just been through difficult and trying times during World War II.

There aren’t many people still alive today who really know what “difficult and trying times” are!

Difficult and trying times these days equates to Donald Trump being elected, breaking your smart phone or your smartphone’s battery dying on you!

But I digress.

Firstly, it would be tough to remake “It’s a Wonderful Life” because there just isn’t another actor around like Jimmy Stewart anymore.

There wasn’t another Jimmy Stewart then and there isn’t one now.

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If I was forced to make a short list of actors who I thought could conceivably play the role of George Bailey, the list would include (not in any particular order):

John Krasinski

Robert Downey Jr.

Jim Carrey

Denzel Washington

and Tom Hanks

 

Second, a bank or a savings and loan just aren’t family type businesses anymore.  That whole storyline would have to change…, but change into what?  And that would take away to whole “run on the bank” part of the story away as well.  The closest thing I could imagine for a more current version of the story would be a stock market crash, or something along those lines.

Third, there aren’t any tollhouse keepers on bridges anymore, and in any case, 911 would have been called, the EMTs would have been there, and then it would have been off to the hospital.  End of story.

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Also, as far as George crashing his car into a tree after drowning his sorrows at Martini’s bar, he probably would have gotten a DUI ticket and taken into custody, thus ending the story as well.

In addition, a lot of the suspense in the story would be lost, as communications are just a lot better now.  There would be no telegrams, or the inability to get ahold of anyone.

Like I said at the top of the article, if “It’s a Wonderful Life” were to be remade today, “The basic concept of the movie could be redone, but the story itself, as we know it, would become almost unrecognizable.”

Please be my guest and view a related article about “It’s a Wonderful Life” at:

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/its-a-wonderful-life-karolyn-grimes-jimmy-hawkins-tell-all

Or view the original movie trailer at:

https://youtu.be/sFXoAVi4FPk

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A Blessed and a Merry Christmas from Mr. Erickson! 

achrist 1From The Bible, Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (This was the first census that took place while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them at an inn.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 And the angel said unto them, do not be afraid: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born unto you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas season, Christian or not.

MrEricksonRules.

 

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Christmas 101: Christmas!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas IS the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s wonderful in many different ways for many different cultures and many different people.

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Let’s take a look at the history, the traditions and the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas (“Christ’s Mass”) is a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus, although it has evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many different traditions.

For over two thousand years, people around the world have been observing Christmas with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  The actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known.

Popular Christmas customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

December 25th, Christmas Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870, but winter and “Christmas” celebrations go back hundreds and thousands of years.

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter.  Many people 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.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday.  The birth of Jesus was not even celebrated.  It wasn’t until the fourth century (the 300s), that church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention the date of Jesus’ birth.  Pope Julius chose December 25 as the day The Church would celebrate Jesus’ birth.  It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.  First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.  By the end of the eighth century (the 700’s), the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.  By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.  On “Christmas,” believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras.  Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink.  If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief.  Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

In the early 17th century (the early 1600’s), a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas.  By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

Christmas was not a holiday in early America, due to the Puritan nature of the Pilgrims.  From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston.  Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.

After the American Revolution (The American Revolution took place between 1765 and 1783), English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas.

It wasn’t until the 19th century (the 1800’s) that Americans began to embrace Christmas.  Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil.  During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season.  In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot.  This was the catalyst for certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.”  It was a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly.  In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.  Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule.  Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended, in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, “A Christmas Carol.”  The story’s message of 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 of celebrating the holiday.

In my estimation, Charles Dickens was the one who set the tone and established the spirit of Christmas that we know and love today.

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.

The “American” Christmas nowadays does not really align with the “Church’s” Christmas season anymore.

Americans typically switch into “Christmas mode” right after, or even during the Thanksgiving celebration, a month before Christmas Day.

This really aligns with the season of “Advent” on the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Advent (from the Latin word adventus, which means “arrival” or “coming”) is the first season of the liturgical year.  It begins four Sundays before Christmas, the Sunday falling on or nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve. Traditionally observed as a “fast”, it focuses on preparation for the coming of Christ.  Advent “a period for devout and joyful expectation.”

This season is often marked by the Advent Wreath, a garland of evergreens with four candles. Although the main symbolism of the advent wreath is simply marking the progression of time, many churches attach themes to each candle, most often ‘hope,’ ‘faith,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love.’ Other popular devotions during Advent include the use of the Advent Calendar or the Tree of Jesse to count down the days to Christmas.

The “Christmas” season immediately follows Advent. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin with Christmas Eve on the evening of December 24th and continue until the feast of Epiphany. The actual Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, or the following Monday if that Sunday is Epiphany.

So in the Church, “Christmas,” and the Christmas season does not actually begin until Christmas Day.

 

Here are some great Christmas traditions my family has, along with some interesting ones I’ve heard of:

  1. Make a list of your favorite Christmas songs, find a great version of these songs and download them. You can play them over and over again and sing along. Here are my favorites:

“Mary did you know?” – CeeLo Green

“The Little Drummer Boy” by Harry Simeone Chorale

“The Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole.

“All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams

“I’ll be home for Christmas” by Elvis Presley

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives

“Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra

“Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” by Dean Martin

“Baby it’s cold outside” by Dean Martin

“Mistletoe and Holly” by Frank Sinatra

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Perry Como And The Fontane Sisters

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland

“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano

“Silent Night” by Dinah Washington

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Nat King Cole

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Bing Crosby

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

“Angels We Have Heard On High”

“Away in a Manger”

“The First Noel”

“Jingle Bells”

“Ave Maria” by Mario Lanza

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Beverly Sisters

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

“O Christmas Tree”

“Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus” by The London Philharmonic

“Home For The Holidays” by Perry Como

“Carol Of The Bells/Deck The Halls” by Robert Shaw Chorale

“Joy To The World” by Julie Andrews

“O Holy Night” by Luciano Pavarotti

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

 

As Buddy from the 2003 movie “Elf” explains, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!”

Continuing with my list…,

  1. Pick out the perfect tree from out in the forest, a local tree lot, or set-up an imitation tree.
  2. Decorate your tree.
  3. Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, to just admire your tree.
  4. Put together a decorative Christmas village, a manger scene, or a Christmas display of some type.
  5. Hang lights and decorations outside.
  6. Pile into the car at night and drive around looking at all of the Holiday lights and decorations.
  7. Hang a wreath on your door to welcome in the Holiday, as well as visitors.
  8. Hang up the Mistletoe in your house.
  9. Hang up Christmas Stockings.
  10. Make a Gingerbread House.
  11. Bake some Christmas Cookies.
  12. Get an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas.
  13. Watch your favorite Holiday movies. Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

“A Christmas Carol” (Scrooge) (The 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge is my favorite version.)

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

“Home Alone”

“A Christmas Story”

“Miracle on 34th Street”

  1. Watch your favorite Holiday TV specials. Here are some of my favorite Christmas TV specials:

“The Little Drummer Boy”

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”

  1. Send out Christmas cards and hang up the ones you receive.
  2. Christmas Eve usually entails an endless selection of favorite hors d’oeuvres, and drinks, while visiting with family and friends.
  3. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Don’t forget the reindeer though! Leave some carrots for them.
  4. Have someone dress up as Santa and bring some presents and treats for the little ones.
  5. Go to a midnight mass or church service to “ring in” Christmas Day and Jesus’ birth.
  6. I especially like finding an old Christmas movie on TV and watching it alone after everyone has gone to sleep on Christmas Eve.
  7. Christmas Day is usually a casual day with a dinner, much like Thanksgiving, except you may open some presents in the morning.
  8. Read the Christmas Story from the Bible at Christmas dinner (Luke 2:1-20). You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part.

There are literally hundreds of other Christmas traditions around the US and around the world.  If you have any you’d like to share, please leave me a message.

 

Here are some fun facts about Christmas:

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.

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. Poinsett, 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 1890s.

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 “lighting of the Christmas tree” tradition in 1931.

“Santa Claus” originated in a newspaper ad.  Far from being a quaint medieval legend, Santa Claus first appeared as a recognizable entity was in a newspaper ad for toys and “gift books” in the mid 1800’s.

Scrooge does not celebrate with the Cratchits. While most cinema versions of “A Christmas Carol” show the reformed miser celebrating with his lower-class employee, in the book, Scrooge celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew only.

It’s a tradition in Japan to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas.  Orders must be placed over two months in advance to guarantee you’ll be “doing your chicken right!”

Paul McCartney earns over $400,000 a year from his “Wonderful Christmastime” song, which he regards as the worst song he ever recorded.

It only took Charles Dickens six weeks to write “A Christmas Carol.”

 

Christmas 101 class is now dismissed!

Please have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!

 

Thank you to the editors at History.com for their contributions to this article.

 

I value your feedback and I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re not already “following” me and you liked my blog(s) today, please “click” on the comment icon just to the right of the date at the bottom of this article.  From there you can let me know you “like” my blog, leave a comment or click the white “FOLLOW” button at the bottom of that page, which will keep you up to date on all of my latest posts.

Thank you, MrEricksonRules.

 

Congratulations mainstream media!  You’re not only liberal propaganda…, you’re a bunch of bullies!

In the age of “bully awareness,” the mainstream media has unabashedly claimed the title of “bully.”

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Every company and every organization has an anti-bullying policy these days.

The problem is with these liberals…, they think it only applies to them.

If you think differently than they do you’re fair game.

And when it comes to President Trump and his family, all bets are off.

In fact, liberals applaud other liberals for bullying “non-liberals.”

There’s a name for this…, it’s fascism.

Yes folks…, it’s one thing to mercilessly attack, constantly denounce, and shamelessly promote negative propaganda about The President…, but it’s completely another thing to heartlessly shun and verbally bully our First Lady.

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The mainstream media has left no doubt as to their shallowness, their extreme bias, their pettiness, and their ruthlessness.

The mainstream media should be ashamed of themselves…, but they won’t be.

I’m afraid we’ll all have to be ashamed enough for them.

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What has caused me to focus my ire on the media you might ask?

Just the latest in a LONG line of snubs and bullying behavior towards our lovely and gracious First Lady, Melania Trump.

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According to Gerren Keith Gaynor of Fox News, “Melania Trump’s Christmas tree exhibit compared to horror film by online critics.”

And not only by “online critics,” but by many media outlets.

“First Lady Melania Trump’s White House Christmas tree display, which she debuted on Sunday, is on the receiving end of online mockery.”

“Some critics said the first lady’s ‘Spirit of America’ video was reminiscent of a horror film, comparing some of its contents to the scary movie classic ‘The Shining.’”

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Here is the link to the video…, you be the judge.

https://youtu.be/pgAAdNaL4oM

That was just terrible, wasn’t it?

What are these bullies and idiots talking about?!

It is just so obvious that these people just have a liberal propaganda ax to grind.

“This comes after the two previous exhibits — last year’s ‘blood red trees’ and 2017’s hallway of ‘sticks’ — were also compared to horror flicks such as ‘The Blair Witch Project.’”

‘“The Spirit of America is shining in the @WhiteHouse!’ the first lady tweeted Sunday night. ‘I am delighted to share this beautiful exhibit of patriotism for all to see, and excited for everyone to experience the beauty of the #Christmas season!’”

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If the “biased, liberal propaganda, fake news media” isn’t criticizing her actions, they’re criticizing her clothing, or they’re just ignoring her altogether.

Case in point…, former first lady Michelle Obama “graced” the cover of over 35 magazines, many of them on multiple occasions, during President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House.

35 magazines!

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It’s hard to even come up with names of 35 different magazines!

And how many magazine covers has Melania Trump been on?

Zero.

Say what?!

ZERO!

That can’t be possible you might say.

Oh it’s possible alright.

Zero.

35+ to 0.

And did you catch the title on the “Vogue” cover?  “Michelle Obama, The First Lady the World’s been waiting for?

Excuse me…, but I think I just threw up a little in my mouth!

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The American people can surely recognize a bully when they see one, and the mainstream media is not treating Melania Trump fairly by any stretch of the imagination.

Bullies.

They’re all bullies…, and nobody likes a bully…, except other bullies.

abullies 9

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If you’re not already “following” me and you liked my blog(s) today, please “click” on the comment icon just to the right of the date at the bottom of this article.  From there you can let me know you “like” my blog, leave a comment or click the white “FOLLOW” button at the bottom of that page, which will keep you up to date on all of my latest posts.

Thank you, MrEricksonRules.

 

 

 

A Blessed and a Merry Christmas from Mr. Erickson! 

From The Bible, Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (This was the first census that took place while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them at an inn.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 And the angel said unto them, do not be afraid: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born unto you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

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jesus2

 

Christmas 101: Christmas!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas IS the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s wonderful in many different ways for many different cultures and many different people.

Let’s take a look at the history, the traditions and the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas (“Christ’s Mass”) is a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus, although it has evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many different traditions.

For over two thousand years, people around the world have been observing Christmas with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  The actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known.

Popular Christmas customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

December 25th, Christmas Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870, but winter and “Christmas” celebrations go back hundreds and thousands of years.

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter.  Many people 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.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday.  The birth of Jesus was not even celebrated.  It wasn’t until the fourth century (the 300s), that church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention the date of Jesus’ birth.  Pope Julius chose December 25 as the day The Church would celebrate Jesus’ birth.  It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.  First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.  By the end of the eighth century (the 700’s), the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.  By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.  On “Christmas,” believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras.  Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink.  If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief.  Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

In the early 17th century (the early 1600’s), a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas.  By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

Christmas was not a holiday in early America, due to the Puritan nature of the Pilgrims.  From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston.  Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.

After the American Revolution (The American Revolution took place between 1765 and 1783), English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas.

It wasn’t until the 19th century (the 1800’s) that Americans began to embrace Christmas.  Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil.  During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season.  In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot.  This was the catalyst for certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.”  It was a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly.  In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.  Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule.  Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended, in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, “A Christmas Carol.”  The story’s message of 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 of celebrating the holiday.

In my estimation, Charles Dickens was the one who set the tone and established the spirit of Christmas that we know and love today.

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.

The “American” Christmas nowadays does not really align with the “Church’s” Christmas season anymore.

Americans typically switch into “Christmas mode” right after, or even during the Thanksgiving celebration, a month before Christmas Day.

This really aligns with the season of “Advent” on the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Advent (from the Latin word adventus, which means “arrival” or “coming”) is the first season of the liturgical year.  It begins four Sundays before Christmas, the Sunday falling on or nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve. Traditionally observed as a “fast”, it focuses on preparation for the coming of Christ.  Advent “a period for devout and joyful expectation”.

This season is often marked by the Advent Wreath, a garland of evergreens with four candles. Although the main symbolism of the advent wreath is simply marking the progression of time, many churches attach themes to each candle, most often ‘hope’, ‘faith’, ‘joy’, and ‘love’. Other popular devotions during Advent include the use of the Advent Calendar or the Tree of Jesse to count down the days to Christmas.

The “Christmas” season immediately follows Advent. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin with Christmas Eve on the evening of December 24 and continue until the feast of Epiphany. The actual Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, or the following Monday if that Sunday is Epiphany.

So in the Church, “Christmas,” and the Christmas season does not actually begin until Christmas Day.

 

Here are some great Christmas traditions my family has, along with some interesting ones I’ve heard of:

  1. Make a list of your favorite Christmas songs, find a great version of these songs and download them. You can play them over and over again and sing along. Here are my favorites:

“Mary did you know?” – CeeLo Green

“The Little Drummer Boy” by Harry Simeone Chorale

“The Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole. (Chestnuts…)

“All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams

“I’ll be home for Christmas” by Elvis Presley

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives

“Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra

“Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” by Dean Martin

“Baby it’s cold outside” by Dean Martin

“Mistletoe and Holly” by Frank Sinatra

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Perry Como And The Fontane Sisters

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland

“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano

“Silent Night” by Dinah Washington

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Nat King Cole

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Bing Crosby

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

“Angels We Have Heard On High”

“Away in a Manger”

“The First Noel”

“Jingle Bells”

“Ave Maria” by Mario Lanza

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Beverly Sisters

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

“O Christmas Tree”

“Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus” by The London Philharmonic

“Home For The Holidays” by Perry Como

“Carol Of The Bells/Deck The Halls” by Robert Shaw Chorale

“Joy To The World” by Julie Andrews

“O Holy Night” by Luciano Pavarotti

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

 

As Buddy from the 2003 movie “Elf” explains, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!”

 

  1. Pick out the perfect tree at a local lot or tree farm.
  2. Decorate your tree.
  3. Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, to just admire your tree.
  4. Put together a decorative Christmas village, a manger scene, or a Christmas display of some type.
  5. Hang lights and decorations outside.
  6. Pile into the car at night and drive around looking at all of the Holiday lights and decorations.
  7. Hang a wreath on your door to welcome in the Holiday, as well as visitors.
  8. Hang up the Mistletoe in your house.
  9. Hang up Christmas Stockings.
  10. Make a Gingerbread House.
  11. Bake some Christmas Cookies.
  12. Get an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas.
  13. Watch your favorite Holiday movies. Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

“A Christmas Carol” (Scrooge) (The 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge is my favorite version.)

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

“Home Alone”

“A Christmas Story”

“Miracle on 34th Street”

  1. Watch your favorite Holiday TV specials. Here are some of my favorite Christmas TV specials:

“The Little Drummer Boy”

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”

  1. Send out Christmas cards.
  2. Christmas Eve usually entails an endless selection of favorite hors d’oeuvres, and drinks, while visiting with family and friends.
  3. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Don’t forget the reindeer though! Leave some carrots for them.
  4. Have someone dress up as Santa and bring some presents and treats for the little ones.
  5. Go to a midnight mass or church service to “ring in” Christmas Day and Jesus being born.
  6. I especially like finding an old Christmas movie on TV and watching it alone after everyone has gone to sleep on Christmas Eve.
  7. Christmas Day is usually a casual day with a dinner, much like Thanksgiving, except you may open some presents in the morning.
  8. Read the Christmas Story from the Bible at Christmas dinner (Luke 2:1-20). You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part.

There are literally hundreds of other Christmas traditions around the US and around the world.  If you have any you’d like to share, please click on “Contact” at the top of my blog and leave me a message.

 

Here are some fun facts about Christmas:

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.

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. Poinsett, 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 1890s.

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 “lighting of the Christmas tree” tradition in 1931.

“Santa Claus” originated in a newspaper ad.  Far from being a quaint medieval legend, Santa Claus first appeared as a recognizable entity was in a newspaper ad for toys and “gift books” in the mid 1800’s.

Scrooge does not celebrate with the Cratchits. While most cinema versions of “A Christmas Carol” show the reformed miser celebrating with his lower-class employee, in the book, Scrooge celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew.

It’s a tradition in Japan to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas.  Orders must be placed over two months in advance to guarantee you’ll be “doing your chicken right!”

Paul McCartney earns over $400,000 a year from his “Wonderful Christmastime” song, which he regards as the worst song he ever recorded.

It only took Charles Dickens six weeks to write “A Christmas Carol.”

 

My Christmas 101 class is now dismissed!

Please have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!

 

Thank you to the editors at History.com for their contributions to this article.

 

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merry christmas

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