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Month: December 2017

Light trails

virtual advent: random christmas trivia

Christmas is a weird holiday for me. I’m not really in on the religious aspect. I like the fact that it happens around the winter solstice, which heralds the arrival of my favorite season of the year.

It snowed this morning in New York City, where I happened to be on business. The city is particularly beautiful in a fresh coating of white, with the lights of the holiday decorations (both Christmas and Hanukkah) adding a dash of color to the mix (necessary in a city where black winter coats rule the fashion landscape).

But today isn’t that day. Today is December 15th. There are 9 shopping days left until the big day.

December 15th is also International Tea Day – so appropriate for sprite, given her fondness for a nice, hot cuppa.

“That’s trivial,” you say. Well, it is, to an extent. And I like trivia, so here are some random bits of Christmas trivia (thanks to the Daily Mirror and The Telegraph UK for giving me some insight on these).

  • From 1647 until 1660, Christmas celebrations were banned in England by Oliver Cromwell in the aftermath of the English Civil War.
  • Greek (i.e. Orthodox Christian, including Russian) Christmas falls on January 7th, thanks to an adherence to the classic Julian calendar. In Greece, the presents of the season are opened on New Year’s Day.
  • January 7th is Three Kings’ Day in most non-Orthodox Christian traditions, the day it’s said the three wise men arrived with their gifts for the baby Jesus. Some folks call this “little Christmas” and exchange gifts on said day (as was the case in my house growing up, a mash-up of Orthodox Christmas and the “little Christmas” gift giving).
  • The needles of conifer trees are edible and are a good source of vitamin C. That said, I’ll stick to orange juice.
  • “White Christmas,” as performed by Bing Crosby, is the best selling Christmas song of all time, with over 50 million copies sold since its release in 1942.
  • Electric Christmas lights (i.e. “fairy lights” in the UK) were invented in the U.S. in 1882. Certainly the first case of frayed nerves from trying to deduce which light threw off the whole strand started that same year.
  • Even though a decorated tree is a tradition borrowed from Saturnalia in the pagan traditions, the first reference to a tree used specifically for Christmas celebration dates back to 1570, as seen in a German pamphlet.
  • In Japan, practicing Christians will often source their holiday meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken – one of the easiest places in the country to find a (mostly) whole chicken for sale. Colonel Sanders may look a little like Santa… sorta.
  • Estonians celebrate Christmas Eve with some time in the sauna – never cold on Christmas, those Estonians.
  • Oh to live in Greece, Italy, Spain, or Germany, where workers receive a Christmas bonus of one month’s salary by law.

So there’s a list of weird facts and traditions about Christmas. Trivial? Absolutely.

Necessarily trivial.

This post is part of sprite’s Virtual Advent 2017. And now I go to sleep… zzzzzz….

Skiing Santa from Ho Ho Pro

virtual advent: skiing santas!

Welcome to another stop in sprite’s Virtual Advent 2017! I love that sprite carries on this tradition every year – and I try to provide something unique to the mix every year.

This year I’m sharing the tradition of the skiing Santas. Many ski areas kick off their season in early December, and most of them have a skiing Santa to welcome skiers, especially the children.

But some ski areas go a bit further. Witness Sunday River, Maine, where the annual “Santa Sunday” brings out hundreds of skiers in full Santa garb (though the helmet is a new nod to safety). These skiers can ski for free on this day, provided they wear their full Santa regalia all day. Here is footage from this year’s Santa Sunday, which took place last weekend:

And because everything is bigger in the Alps (though the Alps are geologically younger mountains than the Appalachian Range, of which Sunday River’s peaks are part), Verbier, Switzerland, hosted over 2,600 Santas (and associates of Santa) for their annual “Santa Après Ski” festivities this past Saturday:

And because I really can’t wait for the beginning of ski season, here are two cheesy ski videos. First up: Hansi Hinterseer, former Austrian downhill racer, graces us with the latest rendition of his hit song (in Austria, of course), “Ski-Twist”:

And as Christmas for sprite and me is never complete without a bit of John Denver, here’s his video for “Dancing With The Mountains,” from his 1980 album, Autograph:

I’ll be back with more Virtual Advent later in the month – stay tuned!

The header image is a still from “Ho Ho Pro” – another fun video of a skiing Santa, this time at Telluride, Colorado.

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