Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year, New Resolution

Where did the year go?  It seems like it was only yesterday that we were celebrating the coming of 2011; now the year has already come and gone within the blink of an eye.  It’s true what they say; each year goes faster than the last.  And now it’s time for everyone’s most dreaded annual decision: the New Year Resolution.  As you know New Year Resolutions are certainly not new; however, you may not realize just how old they really are.

Let’s travel back in time about 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.  In those days, calendars had not yet been developed so residents used late March (the beginning of spring) as the unofficial start of the New Year.  The Babylonians were firm believers that the first intentions of the year would be reflected in the days to follow.

To make their good intentions clear, the Babylonian people created New Year Resolutions.  The most popular resolution at that time was to remember to return borrowed farm equipment.

You could say times have changed since 2000 BC.  In the past two years, the top New Year Resolutions have been to:

  1. Lose weight and/or exercise daily
  2. Spend more time with family and friends
  3. Improve financial situation by getting out of debt

Will you be making a New Year Resolution this year?  If so, what do you hope to accomplish in 2012?  We will be checking in with you in the middle of January.  Good luck!

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(More) Fun Facts About Top Christmas Songs

After our last post, Fun Facts About the Top Christmas Songs of All Time, we learned from our readers that we missed quite a few popular Christmas songs.  So we have decided to write a sequel.  Here are more fun facts about popular Christmas songs.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Although “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was first released by Brenda Lee in 1958, it did not hit the charts that year or the following year.  By 1960, Lee became well known for other hits such as “I’m Sorry” and “Sweet Nothin’s” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” finally caught on to become a Christmas classic.

Frosty the Snowman

“Frosty the Snowman” was first recorded by Gene Autry as a follow-up to his successful recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  It is considered to be a Christmas song; however, Christmas is not mentioned once in the song.

Jingle Bells

The words and music for “Jingle Bells” were written by American Composer James S. Pierpont in 1857.  The original title was “One Horse Open Sleigh.”  The song contains a third verse which is rarely sung

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls to night
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get bob-tailed bay
Two forty as his speed.
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead

All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)

Donald Gardner wrote the story in 1944 while substitute teaching for a second grade class.  His inspiration for the song came after asking his students what they wanted for Christmas.  He couldn’t help but notice that nearly all of his students were missing at least one front tooth.  He wrote the song in only 30 minutes.

Silent Night

The story of “Silent Night” began in modern-day Austria in December 1818.  A parish priest named Josef Mohr was upset that his church organ broke and would not be fixed by Christmas.  He told his friend, Franz Gruber who just so happened to be a headmaster and amateur composer.  He took a Christmas poem that Josef had written him nearly two years prior and set it to music.  That Christmas Eve, the church had music after all.  Josef played his guitar and the pair sang the first “Silent Night.”

Did we miss any more popular Christmas songs?  What are your favorites?

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Fun Facts About the Top Christmas Songs of All Time

It seems like no matter where you go, you just cannot get away from the music of Christmas.    You hear it in the stores, you hear it in the car and you hear it at home.  You probably know the following songs very well, but you may not know some of these fun facts.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

In the late 1930s, department stores bought and distributed coloring books each holiday season.  In 1939, Montgomery Ward thought they could save money by writing their own; copywriter Robert L. May was given the assignment.  “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” came from May’s own childhood difficulties as the smallest boy in his class.   The story was made into a song when May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, developed the music and melody.

White Christmas

Written by Irving Berlin, “White Christmas” is thought to be the most popular Christmas song ever.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Bing Crosby’s version is the best-selling single of all time.  The song was originally written to capture holiday nostalgia.  It was a story about a New Yorker stuck in California at Christmas.  The song has been re-recorded over 50 times since its first release in the early 1940s.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Jimmy Boyd recorded the Christmas classic when he was only 13 years old.  Many people thought the song was too risqué and was banned from play in multiple radio stations.  Columbia Records had to appeal to the Council of Churches to clear the ban.  The appeal worked and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” became a Christmas favorite.

The Christmas Song

Song writing partners Mel Torme and Bob Wells took turns going over to each other’s houses to write songs.  One smoldering hot day in July, Mel drove to Bob’s home.  When he arrived, he could not find Bob, but found words written on an open spiral note pad.  It said “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos.”  Mel asked Bob what these words were and he said he was trying to mentally cool himself down by writing about a totally different season.  The duo wrote the rest of the song in 35 minutes.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)

David Seville was inspired to write “The Chipmunk Song” in 1958 when his son kept asking him if it was Christmas yet; he assumed he was not the only parent with a child overly excited about the upcoming holiday.  “The Chipmunk Song” was the last Christmas song to hit #1 on the US Billboard Pop 100 Chart.

Who knew the Christmas classics had such history?  What are your favorite classic Christmas songs?

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The Short Story of St. Nicholas

Tonight, children all around the world will hang their stockings or set their shoes by the back door before bed.  They will then have to try and contain their excitement until the morning to see what goodies St. Nick has brought.  St. Nicholas sounds astonishingly similar to Santa Claus, so why exactly do we celebrate St. Nick Day two and a half weeks prior to Christmas?

St. Nicholas was born during the 3rd Century in the village of Patara, land now known as Turkey.  Nicholas was taught, at an early age, the value of helping the less fortunate.  He inherited his parents’ wealth after they died in a tragic epidemic.  Nicholas then gave it all away to help the sick, the needy and the suffering.

He wanted to help people in secret.  Nicholas’ signature gesture was to leave small bags of gold in stockings and shoes.  He became known all around the land for his generosity.

St. Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD.  The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration to honor his life.  The Feast of St. Nicholas has been celebrated since that time in Europe; however, the tradition followed the first American immigrants.

Throughout the years, the custom has been changed.  In the United States, St. Nicholas has become the model for the modern day Santa Claus.  Although St. Nicholas Day is celebrated by a few, Christmas remains the primary gift-giving holiday.

Do you celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas?  If so, how do you observe the holiday?

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The History of Advent Calendars

December is here and by now children and adults alike are beginning to count down the days until Christmas.  There are several different accessories used to count down to Christmas including ornaments, signs and even screensavers, but by far the oldest and most popular form of holiday countdown is with Advent calendars.

The Advent calendar tradition began in Germany in the late 19th Century and was not a calendar at all.  Families would count down the days by drawing a chalk line above the door every day until Christmas.

The first printed calendar was produced by Gerhard Lang in the early 1900s, the exact date remains unknown.  He came up with the idea after his mother gave him a piece of cardboard with small candies attached.

Lang’s first calendar contained 24 small pictures that would be added to a piece of cardboard each day closer to Christmas.  The calendars were sold up until World War II when production stopped due to shortages caused by the war.

Richard Sellmer resumed producing calendars after the war.  Many say this is when the Advent calendar custom truly began.  Sellmer, himself, credited the Eisenhower family for the growth of the tradition after a newspaper article showed the First Grandchildren with the Little House Advent calendar.

The Advent calendar has undergone multiple modifications throughout the past one hundred years.  You can now find calendars fit for anyone: wooden calendars, felt calendars, everyone’s favorite chocolate calendars and our very own, Christmas Traditions Advent Calendar.

Are you counting down the days until Christmas?  What is your family’s holiday countdown tradition?

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