Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

December 25, 2017

December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from the Oshawa Museum.

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From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

Did you know, even though Christmas is celebrated as the birth of Jesus by Christians, many historians believe he was actually born in the spring.

Other people who celebrate December 25 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
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his brother Alexandre, a journalist. They are sons of former PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau and, interestingly, they are not twins, but rather siblings who share a birthday
  • Annie Lennox, singer
  • Cab Calloway,  jazz singer and bandleader
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December 24, 2017

December 24, 2017

This is the seventh year we have shared stories on our Victorian Advent Blog.  As we have done since the beginning, on Christmas Eve, we share the classic poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore, originally published in 1823.

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday.

 

‘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 sugar-plums 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 my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window 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 a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he 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, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As 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 on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
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, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full 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, 2017

December 23, 2017

Legend tells us that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by a team of eight (or nine) reindeer. Reindeer, or Caribou, are native to most northern climates in North America, parts of Greenland, and Europe.  The caribou adorns the reverse side of the Canadian 25 cent piece, or quarter.

Did you know that both male and female caribou can grow antlers, the only member of the deer family where the females grow antlers.  As well, females typically keep their antlers year round, while male caribou shed their antlers in the fall and grow a larger set the following spring.

That’s right – scientifically speaking, if Santa’s sleigh is depicted with antlered reindeer, then Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen must be female!

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From the Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017

The ever-popular Elf on the Shelf had returned to stores this holiday season promoting good behaviour in young children. The Elf arrives every December 1st and makes an appearance every morning until Christmas, playing with the children’s toys, and sometimes, making a mess. But where did the Elf on the Shelf tradition begin?

In 2005 a children’s picture book titled “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” was released by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. The main concept of the Elf is simple, he is sent from the North Pole to watch over children for Santa. Every night the Elf would return to Santa and tell him about the children’s behaviour and before morning return back to take up a new position in the home for the children to find.

Throughout the years, the tradition of the Elf toy has transformed allowing parents to create new themes and concepts for the Elf to promote good behaviour for children all over. In the last decade, the Elf on the Shelf has been awarded the Learning Express’ Best Toy in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

December 20, 2017

December 20, 2017

Festive Coffee: A Modern Christmas Tradition
By Karen A., Visitor Host

I don’t know about you, but for me the excitement of Christmas begins when Starbucks releases their annual holiday drinks in their traditional red cups. It has become a custom for me and my friends to go out grab a festive drink and shop around the Oshawa Centre during the month of December. Starbucks, of course, has their line-up of festive drinks which come out early November lasting until the holiday season ends. My all time favourite is the Caramel Brulee Latte but they also offer a Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, an Eggnog Latte, a Gingerbread Latte and many more.  McDonalds, in competition with Starbucks, has also created their own line of Christmas beverages, which include the Crème Brulee Coffee and the Peppermint Mocha, both drinks are also available as Iced Frappe options. Tim Hortons does not have specialty Christmas beverages but they do sell Christmas mugs, ornaments and holiday donuts, which are just as tasty! Somehow, over the last decade or so, our favourite coffee shops have promoted Christmas to sell us more drinks and merchandise and, in my opinion, it is definitely working. This is my modern Christmas tradition: grabbing a nice hot cup of Christmas joy!

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December 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

October 21, 1879 saw the invention of the first light bulb by Thomas Edison.  A mere three years later, the world’s first electrically illuminated Christmas tree appeared.  Prior to this invention, Christmas trees were illuminated using candles.  A rather dangerous practice that meant a bucket of water was always kept nearby to put out any fires that could start.

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A colleague of Edison’s, Edward Johnson, decorated his tree with eighty coloured light bulbs.  The bulbs had been hand blown and the tree rotated slowly on a tiny pine box.  The effect must have been breathtaking.  Electricity in the late 1800s was very expensive and was limited to the very wealthy.  Few were able to afford the electricity needed to light a Christmas tree.

December 16, 2017

December 16, 2017

According to Time Magazine, the record for the most recorded Christmas song goes to Silent Night, which has 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978.  It was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.

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Carollers in Guy House

December 15, 2017

December 15, 2017

Christmas portrait of unknown fire department associate with children and an unknown individual dressed as Santa.  From the archival collection of the Oshawa Museum (A012.5.38)

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December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017

December 14 is Roast Chestnuts Day. I’m sure during this holiday season, you’ve heard the Christmas Song a number of times, with its opening lyrics: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

The Christmas Song was written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé during a hot summer. This song came about in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool.”  With imagery including Jack Frost, Santa Claus, reindeer, and carol singers, it’s hard not to think of the cool holiday season.

December 13, 2017

December 13, 2017

Thunder and lightning? What do they have to do with Christmas? Two of Santa’s reindeer have names that translate to Thunder and lightning – Dunder and Blixem!

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