Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

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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December 11, 2017

December 11, 2017

Santa Claus as we know him today is a jolly man adorned in his iconic red suit.  Our depiction of Santa comes from a few sources.  In 1837 Clement C Moore wrote his poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (commonly referred to as Twas the Night Before Christmas), and in it, he describes Father Christmas as such:

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 pedler 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 of 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 bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

Here, we see Santa dressed in fur with his round belly and bright cheeks.  It was in the 20th century when red became solidified as his signature colour.  While he was dressed in red before the 1930s, it was Coca-Cola’s advertising, created by Haddon Sundblom which truly popularized the depiction of Santa that we know today.  

December 9, 2017

December 9, 2017

Did you know December 9 is Christmas Card Day? A perfect excuse reach out to friends and loved ones and send along holiday cheer.

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole approached John Callcott Horsley with an idea, an idea that is still very popular today.  Cole’s idea was to develop a card that could be sent to family and friends to wish them well during the holiday season.

Horsley designed the first Christmas card, showing a family enjoying a meal together, carrying the simple message of “Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year To You”.  The initial print run was for 1000 cards which were lithographed and hand coloured by a professional colourer.

In total, 2050 cards were produced with this image and started a tradition that continues to be popular today.

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December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

Santa Claus parades are held annually in cities and towns all over North America.  These parades often celebrate Christmas, music, culture, and local groups.  One of the largest Santa Claus parades is held closer to home than you may think, being the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  This parade first began on December 2, 1905 under the name “Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade”, as it was sponsored by the Eaton’s chain of department stores.  This parade consisted of only a single attraction, being Santa Claus arriving at Union Station to meet Mr. and Mrs. Eaton, then travelling together to the Eaton’s Store.  This annual parade soon exploded in popularity, as Canadians from all over would come to watch the parade, or witness it through the many bilingual broadcasts from the 1950s onward.  During these years, Santa has arrived by train, a chariot, a float, and in 1913, Santa travelled through the streets of Toronto in a sleigh drawn by four live reindeer brought in from Labrador.  In 1982, Eaton’s cancelled their sponsorship.  Luckily, a non-profit organization took their place, and the annual Toronto Santa Claus Parade was reborn, still continuing to this day.

Much like Toronto, many smaller cities and towns have taken to the tradition of hosting annual Santa Claus parades.  Today Oshawa hosts Santa’s Parade of Lights every November.  Children and adults alike come every year to watch parades of holiday cheer and local culture pass through their towns, just like they have for over a century.

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December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017

Whereas most iconic Christmas characters are jolly and helpful – such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman – there is one that is well known for being not so nice: the Grinch.  Back in 1957, Dr. Seuss published his first book starring the Grinch, being How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Although this was the Grinch’s first full book, his first appearance was actually in a 1955 poem called The Hoobub and the Grinch.  Yet the popularity of the Grinch’s Christmas book quickly overshadowed the poem.  The story became a worldwide phenomenon, being adapted into various media.  In 1966, the book was adapted into the well-known animated featurette under the same name.  It was in this featurette that the popular song “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” was created.  The song, featurette, and original book have served to solidify Dr. Seuss’s the Grinch as a beloved Christmas character.

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December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

Did you know December 3 is Make a Gift Day? According to DaysoftheYear.com:

There’s just something amazing about unwrapping a gift, wondering what’s inside. Underneath the wrapping paper could be anything, a CD from your favorite band, a new headset from Best Buy, any one of a million things from a million stores. But what’s really special is when you open up that paper and what’s found inside is a tangible representation of the love and adoration the person giving the gift felt you. Nothing says that like a hand-made gift, and on Make a Gift Day, you get to be the one to share that love with the people you care about.

You can celebrate this day as simply as making a gift! Everyone has skills, put yours to use and make something special. This could also be a great day to try something new and learn a new skill!

 

December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

There is one more day left in 2016.

Today is steeped in history.

On this day: 

1813 – War of 1812: British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York.
1896 – Canadian ice hockey player Ernie McLea scores the first hat-trick in Stanley Cup play, and the Cup-winning goal as the Montreal Victorias defeat the Winnipeg Victorias 6–5.
1903 – A fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, Illinois kills at least 605.
1919 – Lincoln’s Inn in London, England, UK admits its first female bar student.
1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is formed.
1936 – The United Auto Workers union stages its first sitdown strike.
1981 – In the 39th game of his third NHL season, Wayne Gretzky scores five goals, giving him 50 on the year and setting a new NHL record previously held by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy, who earlier had each scored 50 goals in 50 games.
2005 – Tropical Storm Zeta forms in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for the latest tropical cyclone ever to form in the North Atlantic basin.

And if today is your birthday, then you share with these individuals:

1865 – Rudyard Kipling, English author and poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1936)
1869 – Stephen Leacock, English-Canadian political scientist and author (d. 1944)
1928 – Bo Diddley, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2008)
1935 – Sandy Koufax, American baseball player and sportscaster
1940 – James Burrows, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1945 – Davy Jones, English singer-songwriter and actor (d. 2012)
1949 – Jim Flaherty, Canadian lawyer and politician, MP for Oshawa-Whitby, 37th Canadian Minister of Finance (d. 2014)
1953 – Meredith Vieira, American journalist and game show host
1957 – Matt Lauer, American television journalist and anchor
1961 – Douglas Coupland, German-Canadian author and playwright
1975 – Tiger Woods, American golfer
1980 – Eliza Dushku, American actress and producer
1984 – LeBron James, American basketball player and producer
1986 – Ellie Goulding, English singer-songwriter and producer

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Douglas Coupland’s Group Portrait 1957, installed at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON. Coupland celebrates a birthday on December 30!

December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016

Did you know that December 26th is National Candy Cane Day? 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.  The first candy canes weren’t as colourful as we know them to be, rather they were plain white; the red and white striped candy canes were introduced in 1900.

December 26 is also Boxing Day in Canada, the UK, and other Commonwealth nations.  It isn’t a day reserved for the sport of Boxing (as I naively thought as a child!), but rather Boxing Day originated in England, where the word “boxing” refers to the distribution of small gifts of money.

December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe, help to make the season bright! The word “mistletoe” derives from an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning dung on a twig.  This stems from the fact that their seeds were often spread through the droppings of birds. The custom of kissing underneath mistletoe started in Victorian England, it traditionally, it was bad luck to refuse such a kiss.

Kissing boughs differ from mistletoe in appearance, but traditionally they had the same superstitions surrounding it. Although popular in England, were not present in Ontario during the 19th century.

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Kissing Bough hanging in the Henry House hallway

December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

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.

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!

St. Nicholas is the patron Saint of the Netherlands, and his feast day is observed every December 6, or December 19 in Eastern Christian countries.