Christmas Surprises *Open Thread*


161212_0002As the Twelve Days of Christmas continue, and I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day, I came across an article on things one might not know about this season. I found it to be of interest, and learned some things I didn’t know. I thought you might appreciate reading some of the “9 Things You Didn’t Know About Christmas,” too:

3. In the Middle Ages, Christmas was often a “riotous” celebration, growing into more of a family-oriented holiday by the 1800s. During the Middle Ages, Christmas was “a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere” when celebrated. The holiday was quelled for a bit after falling out of favor when it became viewed as “too riotous in its celebration and too close to Catholicism in its rituals” during the Calvinist rebellion and sneered at by the intellectuals of the Enlightenment era. But Christmas came roaring back in the 1800s, when authors like Washington Irving and Charles Dicken with his famous A Christmas Carol championed the holiday as “a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status,” per The revival of Christmas came at a time when families became “more sensitive to the emotional needs of children,” and Christmas became a holiday to enrich the lives of children through gift-giving.

That is such a different picture to have than how I had previously considered the history of Christmas way back when. That it was more a “drunken” event in which revelers were not exactly singing Christmas Carols and reflecting on the birth of Jesus is eye-opening. At least it is for me.

It is also interesting to learn how influential were the writings of Charles Dickens and Washington Irving in how Christmas was viewed. Who knew?

Then there is this one:


5. It is not known how exactly the custom of Christmas trees began. Some believe that it began as Paradise Trees to celebrate Adam and Eve’s day on December 24, and the tree symbolized the Garden of Eden. Among the first times a tree was used for Christmas and New Year’s Day was when people danced around them in town squares. There are some who believe that Martin Luther started the custom of Christmas trees inside homes because an image he saw of stars through the tree branches “reminded him of Jesus.” Others believe it originated from this German folk tale:

Once on a cold Christmas Eve night, a forester and his family were in their cottage gathered round the fire to keep warm. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. When the forester opened the door, he found a poor little boy standing on the door step, lost and alone. The forester welcomed him into his house and the family fed and washed him and put him to bed in the youngest son’s own bed (he had to share with his brother that night!). The next morning, Christmas Morning, the family were woken up by a choir of angels, and the poor little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. The Christ Child went into the front garden of the cottage and broke a branch off a Fir tree and gave it to the family as a present to say thank you for looking after him. So ever since them, people have remembered that night by bringing a Christmas Tree into their homes!

At first, Christmas trees were decorated with candles, but that naturally became a fire hazard. Eventually, electric Christmas lights were invented to avoid this.

Isn’t that a wonderful tale? It reminds me of the passage of “entertaining angels unaware,” though this takes that to a whole new level, doesn’t it?

And no kidding about the candles being a bit of a problem on a tree, especially as it starts to dry out over time I am glad for the lights, I have to say. I love them. Plugging in my tree early in the morning (that’s it at the top of the post) brings me great joy.

The last one I want to share is about Winston Churchill. Now, that might seem an odd choice for a piece on Christmas, but Churchill had quite an impact on the United States on Boxing Day (December 26th) decades ago:

8. Winston Churchill revived America’s morale on Christmas 1941. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, America was demoralized. It was Churchill, who was a guest in the Roosevelt White House during the Christmas holiday, who helped elevate the American psyche with a rousing speech:

December 26, 1941 was proclaimed “Churchill Day” when the British leader addressed a joint session of Congress. It was held in the smaller Senate chamber because congressional leaders worried about the image of empty seats, given that Congress was in recess. It worked out, though: the acoustics were better, and the speech was broadcast to a grateful nation on all radio networks. Churchill did not disappoint. Indeed, he was “Churchillian.”


He said America had “drawn the sword for freedom and cast away the shadow.” Though he predicted difficult weather ahead, he did see a happy ending — the result of American and British courage.

“Here in Washington, I have found an Olympian fortitude which, far from being based upon complacency, is only the mark of an inflexible purpose and the proof of a sure, well-grounded confidence in the final outcome,” he said.

Churchill concluded by invoking spirituality. He was a devoted member of the Church of England. FDR, typical of his social standing, was an Episcopalian, the very church created by those bolting the English state religion. No matter. “I will say,” he intoned in that growly and determined voice, “that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, for we have the honor to be the faithful servant.”

[…] (Click here to read the rest.)

That Churchill brought inspiration to the people of this nation at a time that was difficult indeed as World War II raged on was a Christmas gift that was sorely needed. I admit, I have had a soft spot for Churchill since I learned he said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Naturally, I would add “woman” to that, but you get the idea.

Anyway, that Churchill lifted us up during that time is something I did not previously know about him. I am glad to know it now, though!

I am glad the Christmas Season continues. Honestly, I am not ready to let it go anyway, from the movies to the music, I am glad there are Twelve Days of this powerful, moving season.

And speaking of music, I do love all of the Carols. This one is for “Cuz’n Cindy,” who mentioned it the other day. It is a good one, that’s for sure:

May the blessings of this season continue to be upon you!

This is an Open Thread.



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17 Responses to “Christmas Surprises *Open Thread*”

  1. kenoshamarge Says:

    I’ve always loved that quote from Churchill about the “outside” of a horse too. But there are so many great quotes from him that we could go on forever. I knew about his rallying England but not about that speech here. Thanks for sharing that information. I love learning new things.

    I missed posting something about St. Stephen’s Day yesterday but that is easily remedied. Here it is:

    Saint Stephen’s Day Is A Moment To Reflect On Our Witness And Immortality

    This gives us the chance to look at some beautiful objects, delve into history, and reflect on why the martyrdom of a first-century Christian is still relevant almost 2,000 years later

  2. kenoshamarge Says:

  3. helenk3 Says:

    I had to share this

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      I love Emily Dickenson and I love that poem – so appropriate to start a new year.

      I have always loved the line about the robin, me being a bird watcher and lover.

      Thanks Helen.

      If I can stop one heart from breaking,
      I shall not live in vain;
      If I can ease one life the aching,
      Or cool one pain,
      Or help one fainting robin
      Unto his nest again,
      I shall not live in vain.

  4. helenk3 Says:

    just announced
    Carrie Fisher died

    • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

      What a shame… Thoughts and prayers for her family and George Michael’s as well.

      Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

    • kenoshamarge Says:

      RIP Princess Leia.

      Whenever I think of Carrie Fisher I always picture her bending over and giving that message to R2D2 for Obi Wan Kenobi. Granted those first Star Wars movies were kind of cheesy compared to the special effects and sophistication of what there is today, but she was a class act and we all loved her and those movies. I still do.

      • Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

        That is such a great scene. And yes, compared to what they can do now they are a bit dated, but oh, so much fun!

        Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

  5. helenk3 Says:

    one of the best articles I have read in awhile

  6. helenk3 Says:

    Report: Obama administration close to announcing measures to punish Russia for election interference, officials tell Washington Post

    get him gone. he is not going to be happy until he starts WW3

  7. Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy Says:

    Mike Rowe is a truth-teller:

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