Friday, December 25, 2015

Link Round-Up: December 25, 2015

46% say Rudolph is their favorite, and otherAmerican attitudes on the holiday season

6 Fake Christmas Trees You Can Fold, 3D Print, or Wire Up at Home

12 games to play on Christmas day (or thereabouts), from Dr David King, a lecturer in games design and specialist in physical computing at the University of the Arts London.

Children have been sending letters to Santa for well over a century now, and for much of that time those letters don't look very different from today's. Children want toys, and they want to convince Santa that they ought to get them. But where did that tradition come from, and how did it develop into its modern form? How did we come to believe that Santa lives at the North Pole and that the postal service can carry letters to Santa? What kinds of things have changed in the things children ask for over time? The Smithsonian's trying to deliver some answers for the holidays.  The Postal Service began receiving Letters to Santa Claus more than 100 years ago. In 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to the letters through programs such as Operation Santa, Letters To Santa & Globe Santa. Individuals or Groups fill out a form, and then basically make a kids' wish come true. Some letters get replies. Some Letters go to Macy's. Some busy elves even stay up all night to help. Like Tonight.  The popular and venerable Twitter account Tweets Of Old continues its seasonal tradition of posting late 19th century /early 20th century children's letters to Santa.  Instructions from the US Post Office for getting a North Pole postmark - apparently Santa operates out of Fairbanks.

A disturbing collection of late nineteenth to early twentieth century Christmas cards: "He knows if you've been bad or good. For his part, he's been exclusively bad."

Kris Kringle is derived from Christkindlein, German for Christ child, entroduced by Germans in Pennsylania or there-abouts.

Merry Christmas from The Venture Bros. After a few years' hiatus, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick return with the (formally) annual Venture Christmas song. For 2015, surgically-conjoined Guild of Calamitous Intent members Dragoon and Red Mantle revisit the Rankin-Bass classic "Miser Brothers."

Neil Gaiman reads A Christmas Carol

"So as much as A Charlie Brown Christmas is about the significance of the religious tradition as what Christmas is "really about," it sees that tradition at least in part as a gateway to, and an inspiration for, other actions. It doesn't only suggest Christmas is really about the Bible story; it suggests Christmas is also really about friends, dogs, cooperating, the beauty of humble things, singing out loud, and hope." Linda Holmes, "'A Charlie Brown Christmas' At 50," for NPR's Monkey See.

The stories, legends and history that lead to the modern Santa Claus go back to the third century, but what of his better half? She is a relatively recent invention, at least in written form. First mentioned in reference and passing in 1849 and 1851 respectively, Mrs. Claus finally appears in person, with a babe in arms, in 1854 in a story written in The Opal volume 4 (a literary journal written by the patients of New York Lunatic Asylum in Utica). She didn't get a name until the 1996 musical TV movie, Mrs. Santa Claus, where Angela Lansbury is Mrs. Anna Santa Claus, the plucky wife of Mr. Claus who takes the sleigh out herself.  The story of a disgruntled or overlooked Mrs. Clause taking the sleigh goes back to 1889, when Goody Claus is tired of doing all the work and having none of the present delivering fun. Also, Santa has had a number of mishaps over the decades, causing Mrs. Claus to step in, as in Mrs. Santa Claus, Militant, a 1914 one-act comedic play.  Mrs. Claus disappeared from media mentions from the 1920s until 1961 when she reappeared in Phyllis McGinley's poem How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas (narrated by Rich Renik). Her appearance is generally one that is similar to the Jolly Old Elf version of Santa, with the exception of her appearance in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, the 1970 Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas special, where Kris Kringle falls for a school teacher named Jessica, and they get married, becoming the Santa and Mrs. Claus that are generally portrayed.  As you now see, Mrs. Claus has had a few different names. She has also been named Annalina, Layla and Martha.

The wild, over the over top, totally insane holiday lights of Dyker Heights! Bonus A Local's Guide To The Christmas Lights

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