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Santa Claus Through History

The man we know as Santa Claus has a history all his own. Keep reading to find information about the history of Santa Claus, his earliest origins, and how he became the jolly man in red that we know today.

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The Legend of St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

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Sinter Klass Comes to New York

Sinter Klaas

Sinter Klaas

St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”

Shopping Mall Santas

Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped to popularize Christmas Eve – Santa Claus waiting for the children to get to sleep the now-familiar idea of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve – in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer, whom he also named – leaving presents for deserving children. “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” created a new and immediately popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

The Many Names of Santa

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Rudolph: The Ninth Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.

In 1939, May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn’t be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular. Montgomery Ward sold almost two and a half million copies of the story in 1939. When it was reissued in 1946, the book sold over three and half million copies. Several years later, one of May’s friends, Johnny Marks, wrote a short song based on Rudolph’s story (1949). It was recorded by Gene Autry and sold over two million copies. Since then, the story has been translated into 25 languages and been made into a television movie, narrated by Burl Ives, which has charmed audiences every year since 1964.

Yes, kiddies, Santa is smoking...bad Santa! 😉




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44-D True Crime: Shattered Silence–The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter

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I’m the Daughter of a Serial Killer…

Melissa Jesperson Moore

Melissa Jesperson Moore

Throughout her life Melissa Jesperson Moore hid a part of her identity. She had pretended that life was perfect after her parents divorced and she was suddenly uprooted from everything familiar. She had to be silent and to pretend not to be disturbed when her father brutally strangled stray animals in front of her. These experiences prepared Melissa to hide the deepest, darkest secret of all……..

shatteredsilenceThen one day far from her hidden past her young daughter asked an innocent question,”Mommy…everybody’s got a daddy.Where’s your daddy?”

This was the starting point in her memoir, “Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter“.

Shattered Silence is an honest reflection of growing up with a sociopath as a father and having to relearn what ‘normal‘ was through observation of friends, outside family, and peers.

Who is Keith Hunter Jesperson?

Keith Hunter Jesperson

Keith Hunter Jesperson

Keith Hunter Jesperson (born April 6, 1955, Chilliwack, British Columbia) is a Canadian born American serial killer known as the “Happy Face Killer” for the smiley face he drew on his many letters to the media. Keith Hunter Jesperson was first arrested in 1995 for the murder of his girlfriend, Julie Ann Winningham, 41, of Camas.

In addition to his conviction for Winningham’s murder, Jesperson has been convicted of murdering four women in Oregon, California, and Wyoming. While Jesperson sat in the Clark County Jail for the murder of Julie Winningham, he began talking to his attorney, Thomas Phelan, about other crimes that he had committed starting with Taunja Bennett. He is currently serving three consecutive life sentences at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. Learn more about Jeperson at the TrueTV Crime Library.

Another Book on Keith Hunter Jesperson

ithecreationofaserialkillermediumPrize-winning journalist Jack Olsen, armed with unprecedented access to one of the most infamous serial killers in American history, provides a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a murderer in the killer’s own words . . .

In February 1990, Oregon State Police arrested John Sosnovke and Laverne Pavlinac for the vicious rape and murder of Taunja Bennet, a troubled 23-year-old who had been mildly mentally disabled since birth. Pavlinac had come forth and confessed, implicating her boyfriend and producing physical evidence that linked them to the crime. Authorities closed the case.

There was just one problem. They had the wrong people…

And the real killer wasn’t about to let anyone take credit for his kill. Keith Hunter Jesperson was a long haul truck driver and the murderer of eight women, including Taunja Bennet. As the case wound through police precincts and courts–ending in life sentences for both Sosnovke and Pavlinac–Jesperson began a twisted one man campaign to win their release.

Happy Face Murders, the 1999 movie

happyfacemurderposterAn eccentric older woman (Ann-Margret) implicates her brutal & controlling lover in the murder of a young mentally disabled girl. Absorbed with “Murder She Wrote” and “Matlock“, she creates details of the murder from clues she picks up from the detectives (Marg Helgenberger, Henry Thomas) on the case. Implicating herself and sentenced to jail, she then recants her testimony. But no one believes her until clues surface from the real killer that he is still out there, has killed before, and will kill again. He signs his messages with Happy Faces.

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I’m the Daughter of a Serial Killer

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Rodale and the Obamas Make a Case for Health (and Health Care)

Michelle Obama talks about her family’s diet in Children’s Health.

First Lady Michelle Obama talks about her family’s diet in Children’s Health.


Posted by Audiegrl

Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times reports:

President Obama is taking his argument for a health care plan to a new place: Rodale magazines, where he or his wife appear on coming covers of Prevention, Men’s Health, Women’s Health and the new publication Children’s Health.

The president has been pitching his health care plan without total success in Congress and in town hall meetings nationwide. Now, he makes the argument in the pages of the Rodale publications. Peter Moore, editor of Men’s Health, who wrote a cover article on Mr. Obama in November, approached the White House in the spring with the idea of doing articles focused on health care in four Rodale magazines. Three will run in the October issues, while the Prevention cover is appearing in November.

The Men’s Health and Women’s Health articles publicize the Obama health care plan, with Men’s Health strongly endorsing it. A sidebar to the president’s interview there lists “five reasons you should care” about the health care plan, and each point is positive — your premium may go down, your emergency room care would improve.

Mr. Moore said he approached the article with a very clear point of view. “We’re not bystanders,” he said. “The whole issue of health care in the U.S., it’s something that we have to feel strongly about. We’re health journalists.”

“We know, if anyone does, what’s broken there, and so if this comes off as more of an advocacy piece, it’s because we’re advocates for health.”
Cont’d

I like this outside-of-the-box marketing approach. For many people, reading an article in their favorite (and trusted) magazine is often more persuasive than listening to a speech or watching both pro and con healthcare advocates duke it out on TV. One of the things that hurt the health care debate (food-fight), was that everyday people were not told, in the simplest of terms, why health care reform is important for them. Why its important for people who already have insurance, why its important for our Seniors, why its important to all Americans. If the majority of this country is firmly behind Health Care Reform, convinced that it is in their own best interest, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

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Michael Moore’s ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’

Posted by Audiegrl

It’s a crime story. But it’s also a war story about class warfare. And a vampire movie, with the upper 1 percent feeding off the rest of us. And, of course, it’s also a love story. Only it’s about an abusive relationship.

It’s not about an individual, like Roger Smith, or a corporation, or even an issue, like health care. This is the big enchilada. This is about the thing that dominates all our lives — the economy. I made this movie as if it was going to be the last movie I was allowed to make.–Michael Moore


For anyone who would like to read Michael’s diary on DKos and send him a message, you can find it here.

The movie will be in theaters on October 2nd.

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