Archive for December 2011

December 26

December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day!


Thank you everyone for supporting this blog and checking the fun and fantastic  facts we posted throughout the month of December.  From the staff of the Oshawa Community Museum and Archives, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.


PS, In 1871 Boxing Day officially became a bank holiday, but was listed as one in the 1851 Almanac. 🙂


December 25

December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas to all of our followers!

December 25 is observed as the day of Christ’s birth.  However, it is argued by some that Christmas isn’t Jesus’s birthday, but the the son of Pagonistic God the Babylonian Queen in Heaven. Pope Julius I had adopted the date Dec. 25 to coincide with pagan celebrations.

Other people who celebrate December 25th as their birthday include:

  • Sir Isaac Newton, English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian
  • Humphrey Bogart, actor
  • Jimmy Buffet, singer
  • Sissy Spacek, actress
  • Justin and Alexandre Trudeau, politician and journalist, respectively, and sons of PM Pierre Elliott Trudeu (fun fact, they are not twins, but rather siblings who share a birthday)
  • Annie Lennox, singer
  • Cab Calloway,  jazz singer and bandleader

December 24

December 24, 2011

A Visit From St. Nicholas

By Clement C. Moore


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;


The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads, and Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap, when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.


Away to the winder I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave the lustre of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, with a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.


More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”


As the dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky, so up to the housetop the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too!


And then, in a twinkling, I heard of the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, down the chimney came St. Nicholas with a bound.


He was all dressed in fur, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes – how they twinkled, his dimples – how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; the stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke of it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.


He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;


He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; he sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.


But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

December 23

December 23, 2011

The word “mistletoe” derives from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning dung on a twig.  Kissing boughs, although popular in England, were not present in Ontario during the 19th century.

December 22

December 22, 2011

Early Christmas trees were decorated with fruits, flowers and candles, which were heavy on the tree branches. In the 1800’s German glass blowers began producing glass balls to replace the heavy decorations and called them bulbs.

December 21

December 21, 2011

In the US, Christmas wasn’t a holiday — in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country’s first Christmas under the new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.  Americans continued the “No Christmas” tradition, and even congress remained in session during Christmas day for 67 years because many of the Americans were even more orthodox then the British counterparts, going as far as to fine individuals 5 shillings for exhibiting “Christmas Spirit”

December 20

December 20, 2011

Tinsel comes from the unfortunate consequences of spider webs in Christmas trees.

December 19

December 19, 2011

A highlight of the Christmas dinner in Victorian times (and still for many today) is the Christmas Pudding.  It was made on the first Sunday on Advent, called “stir-up Sunday”. Ingredients include raisins/currants, flour or breadcrumbs, brown sugar, eggs, sweetmeats (candied lemon/orange peel) and suet (raw beef or mutton fat).  The pudding was steamed, then it was soaked in brandy over the next few weeks. The most exciting moment of the Christmas meal was when the pudding was brought out and lit it on fire!


Mrs. Beeton’s Christmas Pudding Recipe:



(Very Good.)

 INGREDIENTS – 1–1/2 lb. of raisins, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of mixed peel, 3/4 lb. of bread crumbs, 3/4 lb. of suet, 8 eggs, 1 wineglassful of brandy.

Mode.—Stone and cut the raisins in halves, but do not chop them; wash, pick, and dry the currants, and mince the suet finely; cut the candied peel into thin slices, and grate down the bread into fine crumbs. When all these dry ingredients are prepared, mix them well together; then moisten the mixture with the eggs, which should be well beaten, and the brandy; stir well, that everything may be very thoroughly blended, and press the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down tightly with a floured cloth, and boil for 5 or 6 hours. It may be boiled in a cloth without a mould, and will require the same time allowed for cooking. As Christmas puddings are usually made a few days before they are required for table, when the pudding is taken out of the pot, hang it up immediately, and put a plate or saucer underneath to catch the water that may drain from it. The day it is to be eaten, plunge it into boiling water, and keep it boiling for at least 2 hours; then turn it out of the mould, and serve with brandy-sauce. On Christmas-day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wineglassful of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to table encircled in flame.

Time.—5 or 6 hours the first time of boiling; 2 hours the day it is to be served.

Average cost, 4s.

Sufficient for a quart mould for 7 or 8 persons.

Seasonable on the 25th of December, and on various festive occasions till March.



December 18

December 18, 2011


It took a Church Choirmaster to create candy canes from straight sugar cane candies in order shut the mouths of talkative church going children. The cane shape is said to represent a Sheppard’s staff.

December 17

December 17, 2011

In one week, Jolly old St. Nicholas will be visiting homes all around the world!  Who was St. Nicholas, and how did he get tied to Santa Claus?

St. Nicholas was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra in Lycia. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.  He is the patron Saint of the Netherlands.

Santa became popular in Christmas tradition when Sinter Klaus, Dutch for “Saint Nicholas,” was brought over by Dutch immigrants and they honored his death.  New York newspapers reported on this and his popularity grew!