December 26, 2016

Christmastime miscellany

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Though we love Christmas for the traditions that it entails, we have forgotten one of the most important traditions. For several centuries people waited until Christmas to celebrate Christmas. And then they celebrated it for twelve days. There was a fast leading up to the feast, and then there were many days of feasting. But in recent years, in spite of official attempts to deflate Christmas altogether, the festival lasts for over a month leading up to the actual feast, and then it vanishes instantly and all evidence of it is erased.

G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, and the Joy of Christmas

In his brief remarks, Chesterton pointed out that there is no substitute for Christmas. No new religion has made a new festival anything like it. No new philosophy has been popular enough to make a popular holiday. The pleasure-seekers with their nightclub life are not happy people. Chesterton says it is unfair to call them Pagans. It is unfair to the Pagans....The modern Pagans are merely atheists; who worship nothing and therefore create nothing. They could not, for instance, even make a substitute for Thanksgiving Day. For half of them are pessimists who say they have nothing to be thankful for; and the other half are atheists who have nobody to thank.”

Christmas: Embattled From the Beginning.  The Saturday essay in the WSJ
For 2,000 years, believers and nonbelievers alike have fought over the meaning and traditions of a repeatedly reinvented holiday

World’s largest Rube Goldberg machine lights up Christmas tree (link to video)
To make the act of switching on the town’s Christmas tree lights even more exiting, Latvian e-commerce company Scandiweb constructed the world’s Largest Rube Goldberg for the people of Riga with a chain reaction that consisted of 412 individual mechanical steps.

Harvesting One Million Christmas Trees over 6 weeks with chains, trucks and helicopters.

 Harvesting Million Xmas Treee

A 2016 Christmas Card: Silent Night by 8 cellists from the Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK)  filmed in candlelight at St Mary de Castro, Leicester.

 Silentnight 8 Cellists

Discover What 3 Classic Paintings Secretly Say About The Meaning Of Christmas

like“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674),


Alison Kraus and Yo-Yo Ma - The Wexford Carol on YouTube

The ‘magic of the global marketplace’ and the ‘miracle of global manufacturing’: Christmas 1964 vs. today

6 Christmas Dates You Should Not Forget

Look at all that we’d miss out on if we shut down our Christmas on December 26 along with the secular world!

General Patton's Christmas Card distributed to 250,000 troops under his command in 1944

During the holiday season of 1944, Gen. Patton’s Third Army was bogged down in their advance against the Germans. According to WND, Patton was bogged down as he was trying to reach Bastogne, a town in southern Belgium that held by 15,000 American troops but encircled by over 50,000 Nazi soldiers bearing down on it. Unfortunately, due to the weather, Gen. Patton didn’t have the air cover he needed to relieve the 15,000 brave American troops holding off the Germans. That’s when he decided to rely on the power of prayer.

Patton had Chaplain Fr. James O’Neill compose a card to be distributed to each one of the 250,000 troops under his command in the Third Army, and had all of the men pray this simple prayer:

 General Patton's 1944 Xmas Card  click to enlarge
And it worked. The next day, the weather cleared, Patton’s Third Army made its way into Bastogne to relieve the 101st Airborne, stymie the Nazis, and … well, you know the rest.

From A Bunch of Hilarious Christmas Posts That You Can’t Help But Laugh At

Funny-Christmas-Tree In A Cage

10 UK Christmas Traditions That Confuse Americans like Crackers for one.

German town forced to evacuate on Christmas (2015)

Thousands of people in the southern German city of Augsburg have left Christmas presents and decorations behind, forced to evacuate while authorities disarm a large World War II aerial bomb.

The bomb was uncovered last week during construction work in the city’s historic central district. Police say Christmas Day is the best time to defuse it because there is less traffic and it is more likely people can stay with relatives. Some 32,000 homes with 54,000 residents are in the evacuation zone.

The Piano Guys sing Angels We Have Heard on High with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and over 1000 angels.

The Origins of a Christmas Carol: The Real ‘Winter Wonderland’ by a  jingle-writer dying from tuberculosis in a sanatorium who was inspired by children playing in the snow outside his window and remembering his own childhood.

Funny Historical Letters to Santa

 Santa Letter Percy From Wv 1907

The True Story of Pain and Hope behind "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".

30 million tune into the BBC's Christmas Eve broadcast of Nine Lessons And Carols From King’s College, Cambridge. Few know the ethereal carol service was inspired by the horror of the trenches.

Christmas in Aleppo: Worshippers cram into Saint Elias Cathedral that was almost destroyed by rocket fire for the first time in 5 years.

 Aleppo Christmas 2016

How Jimmy Stewart Became George Bailey

After two years of subsisting largely on ice cream and peanut butter, he had only just begun to eat real food and keep it down. He had the shakes and at times flew into rages, and his sleep was interrupted by images of bombers burning in the sky and men tumbling to earth.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was Stewart’s first picture after almost five years away, including 20 months on the front lines. As a squadron commander of B-24 heavy bombers, he flew his first combat mission to Germany on Dec. 13, 1943. He commanded 12 missions in his first two months and was almost shot down twice. The experience unnerved him enough that he spent time at the “flak farm,” where fliers went to decompress after seeing too much combat.

Where Did the Wise Men Come From?  Dwight Longnecker argues that they came from the Kingdom of Sheba (present day Yemen)

The three gifts of the magi indicate an origin in Sheba since the kingdom was known firstly for its vast wealth from the gold mines of Africa, secondly, the Boswellia tree–from which the gum that is used to make frankincense is tapped–is native only to the Arabian peninsula and Somalia. Thirdly, the commiphora tree–from which the resin to make myrrh is derived–also grows only in the Arabian peninsula.

Japan Is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas  Thanks to the successful Kentucky for Christmas! marketing campaign in 1974, 

These days, KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas eve. Back office staff, presidents and execs come out to help move the lines along. Fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous:

An incredible Christmas story from WWII

Posted by Jill Fallon at December 26, 2016 2:18 PM | Permalink