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.

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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 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul.  This happy soul was made popular by the song “Frosty the Snowman”.  This song was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and performed by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys.  It saw its first public release on December 14, 1950.  The song quickly grew in popularity, reaching a height of 7th place in the US Pop Singles chart of 1950.  The song has been adapted into several other media, including a popular 1969 television special created by Rankin/Bass Productions.

The song tells the story of a snowman who is brought to life by a magical silk hat.  He spends the day playing with the children who created him, until he has to leave, claiming that “I’ll be back again someday.”  Despite not making any mention of Christmas in the original lyrics, Frosty has become a well-known icon as a Christmas character.

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From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017

Did you know that in the 1950s, Boston tried to ban the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?  According to Time Magazine:

Boston church leaders tried to have the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” banned in the 1950s because they thought it “promoted physical intimacy.” Singer Jimmy Boyd had to fly to Boston and explain to them why it wasn’t obscene.

Fun fact: Jimmy Boyd recorded the song on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old.

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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December 12, 2017

December 12, 2017

Today at sunset, the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah begins.  Because the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar rather than the solar year, the date of Hanukkah moves about on the calendar and can land anywhere between November 25th and December 26th.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people’s successful rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BCE.  After the victory, a ritual re-dedication was to take place in temple.  Oil that was only expected to last one night instead lasted eight nights.  This was seen as miraculous, and to celebrate this miracle, Hanukkah began and has been celebrated for over 1500 years.

Iconic of Hanukkah is the menorah, a nine branched candelabrum; on the first evening of Hanukkah one candle is lit and special prayers are said. On the second evening two candles are lit, and so on. The rest of the evening is spent singing songs, playing games, telling Hanukkah stories, and enjoying special holiday foods.

Children may also celebrate Hanukkah by spinning the dreidel, Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (He), ש (Shin), which together form the acronym for “נס גדול היה שם” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – “a great miracle happened there”).

Happy Hanukkah!