The holidays


Hello

Today we are going to Muse about the holidays.  If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

Colored text is a link.  Clicking on the text will provide additional information about the subject.

FIRST

For Croquet enthusiasts — A RIDDLE.

Yesterday I played a game of Golf Croquet, a game in which the team that is the first to make 7 wickets wins.  My team scored nine wickets and the other team scored three.  However, my team lost.  How can that be?

Answer is found following my next discussion.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

The holidays and Christmas will soon be upon us.

It got me thinking about the celebrations, Christmas in particular.  I  did a little research and this is some of what I found.

An Ancient Holiday

The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world.

Early Europeans, the Scandinavians, Germans, Gauls, Saxons and others celebrated pagan religions. Over time Christianity was introduced and began to make inroads through central, western and northern Europe.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention date for his birth (a fact Puritans later pointed out in order to deny the legitimacy of the celebration). Although some evidence suggests that his birth may have occurred in the spring (why would shepherds be herding in the middle of winter?), Pope Julius I chose December 25.

By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion. On Christmas, believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras. Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

An Outlaw Christmas

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

Irving Reinvents Christmas

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas.

This was a period of class conflict and turmoil. Unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories which include the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

In 1843, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family centered day of peace and nostalgia. As they began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas as it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday and Santa Claus to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation,

Santa Claus by Thomas Nash 1881

Santa Claus by Thomas Nash 1881

Tommy's Drum by Norman Rockwell

Tommy’s Drum by Norman Rockwell 1921

Christmas Facts

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today’s Mardi Gras parties.
  • From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
  • The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.
  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.
  • Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.”

ANSWER TO CROQUET  RIDDLE:

My team scored five wickets for ourselves but during the play unfortunately sent our opponents ball through another four wickets. Without our help they scored three wickets.  Thus they won, three plus four equals seven.  Humph!

more to come

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Fine Art America, a Pixel.com company

Pixel.com is now offering Throw Pillows, Coffee Mugs, Bath Towels, Hand Towels, Shower Curtains, Duvet Covers and more with reproductions of my artwork.  If you want to check them out, here are the steps:
1.  Click on this link:thomas-tribby.pixels.com
2.  Click on one of the galleries to open up the page of images.
3.  Click on an image you like.  It will open up a side bar with a number of options.
4.  Click on “HOME DECOR“.  It will open up a menu of products.
5.  Click on the product and it will open up a sizing slide so you can adjust the image.

Have fun.

My work is available as traditional prints on canvas, paper or metal, but it also available on greeting cards, phone covers, tote bags, shower curtains,  t-shirts and more.  It makes for some very personalized gifts.  Below is the link to the site.  When you click on an image in the site,  a menu of products will appear.  I hope you like it.

           CLICK ON:  thomas-tribby.pixels.com

If you like Musings, take a moment and click the subscription button on the side-bar to the right so you will be notified by e-mail when I make a new post.

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Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
Click on title below to preview

Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida

 Works at

                                thomas-tribby.pixels.com

Nocturnal Butterfly

Nocturnal Butterfly

Click to see

Before the Moon

Before the Moon

Click to see

Kimono on Blue

Kimono on Blue

Click to See

For information about these or other original works of art, please feel free to contact us:

 

 

 

About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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1 Response to The holidays

  1. Nancy Lopez says:

    response to the riddle…   were you all drinking eggnog  during this and the goal keeper the only one keeping score for real?

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