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…Kramp Your Style

Happy Krampusnacht! Although, to be honest there’s nothing happy about it.

For those unfamiliar with the Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night, tradition, you’re in for a terrifying treat.

If you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Feast of St. Nicholas tomorrow, let’s just say it’s no coincidence that Krampus arrives the day before Jolly, Old St. Nick. Read the rest of this entry

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…believe

...Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.

Stockings hung with care…check

Visions of dancing sugarplums…check

No stirring creatures…as close to a check as we’re going to get

Santa Watch 2009 has begun.  It’s going to be a long day and night.  I hope you all brought something to do, because we’ve got several hours to go…

….what?  You didn’t bring anything?  Not a magazine?  An iPod? Really?

OK fine, I guess I could come up with a story or something.  But what story shall I tell on this, Christmas Eve?…hmmm

It’s a story of the power of time to transform.  A story of the power of the human imagination and spirit.  And a story of how while many things change, the truly important things will always endure.

Our tale begins in the year 270 A.D. in present-day Turkey (not the story some of you thought is it?), with St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra.  The man behind the modern myth, Nicholas, wasn’t exactly the jolly old man in red that we know today.

This St. Nick was just that, a saint.  He anonymously left coins and treats for the children in his town (in their shoes of course, and often in exchange for food for his horses).

Today’s celebration of his feast day (for any of you who leave your shoes out on the night of Dec. 5) is a recreation of just that.  This Nicholas was traditionally shown wearing a red bishop’s cloak and was assisted by a small orphan boy.

The journey from saint to magical, flying, time-bender is a multi-cultural, cross-continental trip.  Our next stop on this abbreviated journey is the Netherlands.

It was here during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century that we encounter Sinterklaas, a kindly figure who leaves gifts in the shoes of children (still in exchange for food for his horses) on the eve of St. Nicholas’ feast day (Dec. 6 for those who missed that).  It’s here that the elves entered the scene along with the sleigh on the roof-tops and his trips down the chimney.

During the 17th and 18th century the Dutch brought Sinterklaas to the U.S. where he became the Santa Claus that we all know and love today.

In 1773 the first reference to Santa Claus by his modern name appeared in a New York paper and stuck.  It was a few years later when Santa put on a little weight in Washington Irvings’ “A History of New York” (1809).

A classic Christmas poem and Coca Cola added the finishing touches to Father Christmas.  “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Moore gave St. Nick not only the power to fly, but names for each of his eight tiny reindeer.  And as a truly lasting testament to the power of advertising, in the 1930’s Coca Cola gave Santa his most recent makeover white trim and all.

And that brings us up to now with our stockings, sleigh bells, and presents.  History can be fun right?

From St. Nicholas to Sinterklaas to Santa…the sentiment is still there…the joy of giving and sharing what we have.  The reason for the season.

Thank you MSNBC (and zer) for the help on this one…and Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

A Christmas …bi-daily smile…

Believe and believe some more