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Vocapedia > Time > Christmas > Father Christmas / Santa Claus

 

 

 

Santa Claus School

 

Six of the 15 men enrolled in Santa Claus School

learning how wear wigs and whiskers

during course for Santa certification that will enable them

to get Yuletide employment in local department stores.

 

Location: Albion, NY, US

Date taken: November 1961

 

Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt

Life Images

http://images.google.com/hosted/life/b14b06fd562a3f5b.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peanuts by Charles Schulz

Gocomics

December 22, 2013

http://www.gocomics.com/peanuts#.UraltvTuKAk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus / Father Christmas / St. Nicholas

http://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/santa-claus 

 

http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2016/12/25

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2013/dec/23/conservatives

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/17/santa-claus-black-white-christmas-race-debate-fox-news

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/dec/12/pupils-father-christmas-ruined-by-vicar-santa-claus-origins

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/movies/ho-ho-homicide-killer-santa-is-back-in-silent-night.html

http://www.cagle.com/news/Santa10/main.asp

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/24/santa-tracker-norad-radar

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/22/comment-christmas-santa-claus

 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/dec/22/christmas 

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2006/oct/12/retail.lifeandhealth 

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/dec/11/netnotes 

 

 

 

 

black Santa

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/24/
macys-secret-black-santa-claus-new-york

 

 

 

 

cartoons > Cagle > Santa        2012

http://www.cagle.com/news/santa-2012/

 

 

 

 

cartoons > Cagle > Santa and Wikileaks        2010

http://www.cagle.com/news/SantaWikiLeaks/main.asp

 

 

 

 

cartoons > Cagle > Santa        2010

http://www.cagle.com/news/Santa10/main.asp

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus outfit / suit

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/26/us/26Santa.html

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus performers for Christmas grottos

 

 

 

 

sleigh

 

 

 

 

reindeer        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/24/
opinion/reindeer-are-fading-into-holiday-myth.html

 

 

 

 

Rudolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) > A Visit from St. Nicholas

 

'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 down 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 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 the lustre of mid-day 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 dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top 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 hand, 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 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;
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!"

http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poet231.html

 

Related

"A Visit from St. Nicholas",

also known as "The Night Before Christmas"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Visit_from_St._Nicholas 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guardian        G2        pp. 14-15        20 December 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerald Scarfe cartoon

The Sunday Times        December 21, 2008

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article5373136.ece

 

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Santa Claus

Background > Recession

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man in a Santa Suit

Kills at Least 8 at a Party

 

December 26, 2008

The New York Times

By SOLOMON MOORE

and ANAHAD O’CONNOR

 

COVINA, Calif. — A man in a Santa Claus outfit opened fire on a Christmas Eve gathering of his in-laws in this Los Angeles suburb and then methodically set their house ablaze, killing at least eight people and injuring several others, the authorities said Thursday.

Shortly after the attack, the gunman, identified as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, killed himself with a single shot to the head at the home of his brother in the Sylmar section of Los Angeles, the police said.

In addition to the eight people whose bodies were found in the ashes of the house here, none of whom were identified, at least one other person was thought to be missing, and perhaps as many as three. Among the total of dead or missing were the couple who owned the home and their daughter, the estranged wife of the gunman, the police said.

Investigators continued to search the charred structure Thursday, and coroners said dental records would be needed to identify some of the remains.

The frenzied shooting occurred just before midnight Wednesday at the two-story house, set on a cul-de-sac in this middle-class town about 22 miles east of Los Angeles. Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department said Mr. Pardo, armed with one or two handguns and fire accelerant, had gone to the house looking for his former wife, Sylvia, with whom he was finalizing a contentious divorce after only a year of marriage.

People who escaped the house got out by smashing through glass and jumping. One woman broke an ankle when she leapt from a second-floor window.

The house was owned by James and Alicia Ortega, an elderly couple who were retired from their spray-painting business and who often invited their large extended family over for parties, particularly around Christmas.

Relatives said about 25 people, among them many children, were inside the home celebrating when Mr. Pardo knocked on the door around 11:30 p.m. He had apparently disguised himself as a hired entertainer for the children in order to gain access.

When a guest opened the door, Lieutenant Buchanan said, Mr. Pardo stepped inside the house, drew a semiautomatic handgun and immediately started shooting, beginning with an 8-year-old girl who was hit in the face but who survived, as did an older girl who was shot in the back.

As Mr. Pardo unleashed a barrage of gunfire in the living room, relatives smashed through windows, hid behind furniture or bounded upstairs. Then he sprayed the room with accelerant, using a device made of two pressurized tanks, one of which held pressurized gas. Within seconds, the house was ablaze.

Joshua Chavez of Seattle was visiting his mother’s house, which sits behind the Ortegas’, when he heard a loud explosion. “Then I saw black smoke and this large flame,” he said.

Mr. Chavez ran out to the backyard and heard three girls, including the one who had been shot in the back, trying to climb over his mother’s wall. “There’s some guy shooting in there,” he said one of the girls told him.

“About 20 seconds after that,” he continued, “the house was totally on fire. One girl said that a guy dressed as Santa started shooting.”

Another neighbor, Jeannie Goltz, 51, saw three more partygoers fleeing the burning home. One of them, a young woman, had escaped upstairs from the living room but broke her ankle when she jumped out a second-story window.

SWAT teams arrived shortly after Ms. Goltz had shepherded these three survivors into another neighbor’s house, but by that time Mr. Pardo was on his way back to Los Angeles.

Police officers said they could not recall so horrific a crime in Covina, and neighbors said they would never have imagined anything so grisly on their quiet block.

The Ortegas had lived in the house for more than two decades and were known for their family spirit, their generosity and their dog, which frequently escaped their yard.

“I would generally play Santa for the family every year,” said Pat Bower, a neighbor of the Ortegas for 25 years. “The family was always together. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles were always in the house. They were a gigantic family. We all envied them, actually.”

Robert and Gloria Magcalas lived next door to the Ortegas for 11 years but were celebrating Christmas Eve with relatives in Los Angeles. Their own home was barely spared the flames.

“They were a big, loving family,” Mrs. Magcalas said. “We usually exchanged gifts with them today. They gave us tamales and cookies every Christmas.”

The police said they had found two handguns in the ruins, and an additional two pistols at the scene of Mr. Pardo’s apparent suicide. Officials said they would continue to search the crime scene Friday, seeking information about the identities of the dead.



Solomon Moore reported from Covina,

and Anahad O’Connor from New York.

Man in a Santa Suit Kills at Least 8 at a Party,
NYT, 26.12.2008,
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/26/us/26Santa.html

 

 

 

 

 

Those Inflatable Santas:

Eyepoppers to Eyesores

 

December 22, 2006

The New York Times

By PAUL VITELLO

 

HOLTSVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 19 — On a recent quiet afternoon, with few witnesses around, Homer Simpson, Santa Claus and a penguin perched on an igloo suddenly appeared here on the Long Island landscape as if from nowhere, unfolding slowly like Frankenstein monsters lurching to life on the table. As Homer’s extremities reached full size, his pink nylon fist puffed into Mr. Snow Man’s face — an involuntary attack, to be sure. Bop.

Such is the phantasmagoric, Disney-esque experience of the new Christmas custom sweeping the suburbs.

Whatever else Christmas in America means — the birth of Jesus, holly wreaths, the Chipmunks, cultural tension — it now also includes these gargantuan, inflatable outdoor decorations, called “Airblowns” by their chief manufacturer.

They have been around for a while, but mark 2006 as the year these decorations became a full-blown fixture in the pantheon of holiday traditions — and, as is the holiday tradition, the subject of a rift.

Not quite a culture war. Call it an intramural disagreement among the Christmas crazed.

“Appalling,” Catherine Bruckner, a traditionalist who decorates only in holly and evergreen, sneered as she stopped her car in front of an inflated Santa playing poker with two shrewd-eyed reindeer in a menagerie totaling two dozen figures. “It’s bad enough to see those things on Halloween. At Christmas, they rise to a level of tackiness that is horrible.”

For the purists, the old-fashioned stuff is still out there: the strings of lights along the gutters, the lighted tin soldiers, crèches. The homemade wooden Rudolph with blinking red nose, hauled out of storage every Christmas for 45 years and put up on Frank and Diana Culmones’s roof in Franklin Square.

But the inflatables have brought the notion of Christmas self-expression to another plane. Now, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that televised triumphal march that inaugurates the season, can live on in miniature for weeks at a time, swaying and bobble-heading across the front lawn of anyone willing to pay the electric bill — maybe a thousand dollars if you keep them inflated all the time, less if you leave the skins of your Christmas characters sprawled on the ground most of the day, their crumpled faces staring blankly at the sky or the sod, depending.

Some people do not like — inflated, deflated — the whole thing.

“The children must enjoy it, but we were noticing how when they’re deflated, these things look like trash,” Robert Rickert, a friend of the appalled Mrs. Bruckner, said as he stepped from the car to snap a picture. “Or dead bodies,” Mrs. Bruckner added.

Old-school enthusiasts like the Culmones and their son Christopher, who spend weeks hanging 10,000 lights, have no patience for anything that advertises itself, more or less, as a big Christmas bang for the too-busy-to-bother set.

“We just wouldn’t have those things,” said Mrs. Culmone, whose house with the Rudolph on the roof is also adorned with a homemade replica of Rockefeller Center: the Rock, the tree, the ice skaters, the works. “The plastic. It’s not homey.”

The inflatables sell off the shelf for $69 to $300, and Gemmy Industries Corporation of Coppell, Tex., which claims to produce the majority of the large figures sighted this year on lawns, porches, terraces and roofs from Long Island to Los Angeles, is not shy about the product’s corner-cutting appeal.

“The magic of the Airblown is that you buy it, plug it in, and it’s ready to go,” said Sharlene Jenner, the marketing manager for Gemmy, a company that first made its mark six years ago with a wall-mounted singing fish known as Big Mouth Billy Bass, and began making Christmas floats soon after. “You’re going to make a big statement without 20 hours of work. It’s a lot of decoration for the dollar, in other words.”

Ms. Jenner refused to reveal specifics, but said that this year’s sales were “very strong.” The company also sells inflatable turkeys, pumpkins and the occasional dreidel.

A spokeswoman for Home Depot said its stores doubled the number of inflatable Christmas items offered this year to 18 from last year. Bob Davidson, vice president for merchandising of Brandsonsale.com, an online retailer in California, said sales of inflatables had tripled since his first sales four years ago, adding, “We’re bringing them in by the containerload.”

Is the divide between inflaters and noninflaters as big a deal as the one between, say, some outspoken Christians and the people they consider to be engaged in a “war on Christmas?”

There are no studies on the matter to date, but the answer seems to be, probably, no. There is too much intermarriage among the camps.

Anthony and Lena Colagrande of Baldwin Harbor, N.Y., for example, already had the big glass case outside with the dancing Christmas figurines, and the tin soldiers, candy canes and angels when they bought their first inflatable, a six-foot polar bear, a few years ago. They now have 25 inflatables of all kinds.

“Every year, I just buy more and more stuff,” said Mr. Colagrande, a home builder. “People started coming to look at what we had, and after a while it was like they expected it, and you can’t let them down.”

A grand tour of some of Long Island’s most ambitious Christmas displays suggests that the inflatable decorations are scarce in lower-income neighborhoods, but they are also rare in pricier places, where the culture of understatement seems to rule: white lights twined with fresh evergreen sprigs, etc.

There is something of Charles Dickens’s Mr. Wemmick in the bigger displays. He is that dour clerk in “Great Expectations” who turns out to be so kindly when entertaining Pip at his cottage, which is a sort of fortress of cozy curiosities and extravagantly rigged Rube Goldberg-ianisms contrived for the amusement of his father, the Aged P. You can hear Mr. Wemmick’s line: “My own doing. Looks pretty; don’t it?” in the pride of almost any homeowner whose display stands out from a few blocks off.

Homeowners like Ron Meoni, 52, the impresario of the tableau of 22 inflatable ornaments here in Holtsville where Homer slugged the snowman.

“You want to see that again?” Mr. Meoni, a carpenter asked an intrigued passer-by.

He cut the power, and as Homer and Santa and the others melted to the ground, and the absence of the thrum of their motors made the air seem especially still, there was no doubt about it: a theatrical moment was poised somewhere in the air above the crumpled plastic.

Mr. Meoni stood at the switch in the doorway of his garage.

“Ready?” he asked.

Those Inflatable Santas: Eyepoppers to Eyesores,
NYT, 22.12.2006,
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/22/nyregion/22inflate.html

 

 

 

 

 

2.15pm

Santa dies at children's party

 

Friday December 22, 2006
Press Association
Guardian Unlimited

 

Children watched in horror as a Santa Claus collapsed and died as he handed out presents at a Christmas party on Sunday.

Andrew Robertson was taken ill as the excited youngsters received their gifts. The 82-year-old was taken to a side room and attempts made to revive him, but he was pronounced dead when medics arrived.

Mr Robertson, from Dundee, had played Santa at the city's Broughty Castle bowling club Christmas party, held for the grandchildren of members, for several years.

"Andy was a father figure in the club who never had a bad word to say about anyone," Ian Smart, the bowling club's secretary, said. "If you asked him to do anything for you, he would always say 'no problem'.

"One wee kid said 'how are we going to get our presents next week if Father Christmas is ill?' - they didn't understand what had happened."

Mr Smart said Mr Robertson, who had played an active role in the club, was "well liked and will be sorely missed".

Mr Robertson's brother, Alister, said he had complained about feeling hot shortly before collapsing.

"The kids saw him getting taken away," he told the Courier newspaper. "They knew something was wrong with Santa Claus as he went away with the two guys, but they didn't see anything further.

"It has been quite a shock for everybody, but my view is that he was there thoroughly enjoying himself when he was struck down."

    Santa dies at children's party, G, 22.12.2006,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/christmas2006/story/0,,1977823,00.html

 

 

 

 

 

12 questions of Christmas

 

When exactly is Christmas Day?


Was there a Star of Bethlehem?


Could Santa deliver gifts to all the world's children?


What are the chances of a White Christmas?


How far has your Christmas dinner travelled?


And do reindeer ever have red noses?

 

Published: 24 December 2005
The Independent

 

When exactly is Christmas Day?

By Robert Verkaik

No one knows when Jesus was born. Early Christians tried to calculate the date of Christ's birth based on the Annunciation, 25 March, the Bible's first account of when Mary was told she was pregnant. If this is taken as the conception of Christ, nine months later it is 25 December.

But Jewish tradition has it that Jesus was born during Hanuk-kah, 25 Kislev into the beginning of Tevet. In the Julian calendar, 25 Kislev would be 25 November.

Others say Jesus and Mohammed shared the same birthday. Mohammed was born on the 12th of the Muslim month of Rabi-ul-awal in the 7th century which this year was celebrated in April. Muslims use a lunar calendar, so Mohammed's birthday will eventually fall in December. Most Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

Christmas was first celebrated on 25 December in the 5th century in the time of the Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. This date was probably chosen because the winter solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festival called Saturnalia was in December. The winter solstice is the day with the shortest time between the sun rising and setting. It falls between 22 and 25 December.

 

 

 

Was there a Star of Bethlehem?

By Cahal Milmo

Opinion is split on just what the Magi were looking at when, according to gospel of Matthew, they saw the star of the king of the Jews in the eastern sky and set off for Bethlehem.

Some historians argue that the light is entirely mythical - part of a series of "stars" that legends of the time described as heralding a royal birth.

Astronomers have pored over the question for centuries, exploring theories that the star was a comet or a supernova.

This week a British astronomer, Professor Mike Bode suggested that what the Three Kings saw was not a star at all but a "conjunction", the passing of two planets so close to each other that they appear as a single light source. Professor Bode calculated that, in June of 2BC, Jupiter and Venus passed close together and would have created a bright object.

Some scholars argue that the date of Christ's birth is actually June, based on references to his conception. But even with the conventional December date, Jupiter appears a strong candidate for the Star of Bethlehem.

But believers in a second coming may struggle for a new celestial signal of salvation. Light pollution, caused by the upward glare of electric lights, is making it increasingly difficult for earthbound telescopes to penetrate the heavens. A modern Magi would probably have to rely on satellites rather than the firmament to locate an infant saviour. During the 1990s, the area of countryside in the developed world with completely dark skies reduced by 27 per cent.

Scientists estimate that less than half of the population of Europe and parts of the Middle East, including Israel and the West Bank, will ever see the Milky Way.

As a result, most observatories in the Western world have had to relocate to the much darker southern hemisphere or what is left of the dark countryside.

 

 

 

Is a Virgin Birth possible?

By Jeremy Laurance

The Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth is that Jesus was conceived in his mother's womb without a human father. The Immaculate Conception took place when the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary. However, Christ was not created from nothing, as the church says he "took his flesh from Mary". The doctrine's importance to Christianity is that it shows Jesus's divine and human natures united, paving the way for all humanity to be united with God.

In scientific terms, a virgin birth is classed as parthogenesis - when an embryo grows and develops without fertilisation by a male. Parthogenesis occurs in some plants, insects, fish and vertebrate animals such as lizards. The resulting organism is a clone of the original because it has an identical genetic make-up. Parthogenesis does not occur naturally in humans or other mammals. However, modern scientific techniques have made it possible to create clones of mammals, beginning with Dolly the sheep in 1996. It would in theory be possible to create a child from a virgin mother whose sole genetic inheritance was from her.

 

 

 

Was Jesus black?

By Robert Verkaik

This question has preoccupied theologians since at least the end of the 19th century. What most concede is that he could not have been a white Caucasian as depicted in Western iconography. In Revelation he is said to have hair " like wool" which is used as evidence to show he was of African descent. The indigenous people of the Middle East at the time of Jesus's birth were mostly of African birth. The existence of Black Madonnas, dark-skinned images of Jesus's mother, Mary, have also strengthened the case for Jesus being of non-Caucasian descent. Jesus' male ancestors trace a line from Shem, the eldest son of Noah. Anthropologists believe they would have been of mixed race because of their time spent in captivity in Egypt and Babylon. The "black/white" argument is easily settled if one follows the American test of whether someone is racially "black". Under the " one-drop rule" if any person has any black ancestors he or she is considered "black" even if they have pale skin colour. Under this rule, Mariah Carey, LaToya Jackson and Jesus would all be classified as " black".

 

 

 

Could Santa deliver gifts to all the world's children in one night?

By Cahal Milmo

Of course he can, with help from Nasa, Einstein and 360,000 reindeer. Scientists have been wrestling with the feasibility of Santa's job description since the 1850s. The latest thinking is that delivering one kilogram of presents to the world's 2.1 billion children (regardless of religious denomination) is entirely realistic, with a little lateral thinking.

Scientists at the American space agency, Nasa, reckon the man from Lapland relies on an antenna that picks up electromagnetic signals from children's brains to know what presents they want. Assuming an average of 2.5 children per house Mr Claus must make 842 million stops tonight to fill his orders.

By allowing a quarter of a mile between each stop, he must travel 218 million miles with about a thousandth of a second to squeeze down each chimney, unload a stocking, eat a mince pie, swig cooking sherry and get his sleigh airborne again. To achieve this he must travel at 1,280 miles per second. Travelling east to west, he can stretch Christmas Day to 31 hours.

To have enough presents, Santa's sleigh must carry 400,000 ton of gifts. With the average non-turbocharged reindeer capable of pulling only 150kg, Father Christmas would need 360,000 reindeer to heave his vehicle skyward.

The cavalcade would have a mass of about 500,000 tons which, at the required speed, would cause each reindeer to vaporise in a sonic boom flattening every tree and building within 30 miles. Father Christmas would have a mass of two million kilograms, causing him to combust when his reindeer come to their sudden halt. Piffle.

First, Einstein's theory of relativity dictates that the faster an object travels, the slower time appears to pass. So at the speed he is travelling, .0001 of a second allows Santa to perform his tasks at leisure pace. Second, as an expert in quantum physics, Mr Claus knows wormholes in the fabric of universe allow him to move instantly from one dimension and place to another. His sleigh is a time-machine powered by an unknown fuel which any economy on the world would have on its Christmas list.

 

 

 

Is this the season of goodwill?

By Maxine Frith

The common perception is that the suicide rate always goes up over Christmas. But in fact, the number of people who kill themselves drops by around 7 per cent during December - although it then rises to its highest monthly rate in January.

Despite the reduction in suicides, calls to the Samaritans increase by 10 per cent between Christmas and New Year.

The murder rate also goes up by 4.2 per cent, partly due to the increase in domestic violence that is widely reported by police forces.

More than 8,000 children called the NSPCC or ChildLine phone lines between Christmas Eve and 4 January last year to talk about emotional problems and abuse. One in five people says that the festive period causes them stress, according to the mental health charity Mind.

And of the five million elderly people who live alone in the UK, one million will spend Christmas Day on their own.

A poll by Reader's Digest found that people's greatest irritation over the Christmas period is the plague of family grievances that the holiday season engenders.

More than a third said that they had to deal with arguments between relatives every year.

Even events out of the family home are not much better - half of office parties feature a punch-up and one in three with an incident of sexual harassment.

 

 

 

Do you ever get a Silent Night?

By Cahal Milmo

Only on the pages of a carol sheet and in the depths of galaxies.

The silence to which the hymn refers can only be found in a vacuum and, since human existence is difficult inside a Hoover, the only place where true silence can be found is space.

The result is the strange paradox that silence has no sound. For example, when sci-fi films excite their audiences with the familiar roar of a rocket blasting between the planets, they are lying - there is nothing to be heard between the stars and planets. The impossibility of silence is all the more perplexing because humanity is in increasingly dire need of it, or at least a bit more peace and quiet.

Experts believe that the high sound levels of modern society not only damage the human ear but also contribute to stress.

The European Environmental Agency calculated earlier this year that 450 million people, some 65 per cent of the population in Europe, are regularly exposed to noise levels of 55 decibels and above - the level shown to generate annoyance.

About 115 million experience 65dB and above, suffering an increased risk of high blood pressure, and 10 million are exposed to 75dB or more - a level known to generate high levels of stress.

The Health and Safety Executive says that a third of workers in noisy jobs will permanently damage their hearing.

 

 

 

What are the chances of a White Christmas?

By Cahal Milmo

Bookies yesterday put the odds of London receiving the requisite single flake of snow on the roof of a weather bureau in the capital that would make it a white Christmas at 5/2.

Officially, meteorologists put the chances of snow nationwide on Christmas Day at "very unlikely", although, by the middle of next week, there is a 60 per cent chance that southern England will be under several centimetres of the fluffy stuff.

The long-term outlook is somewhat different. Enjoy any December snow while you can for the white Christmas bonanza for turf accountants, who tend to profit to the tune of £1m from the lack of snow, is likely to be a quirk of history.

London has only had six white Christmases since 1957 and thanks to humanity's talent for producing carbon dioxide, the Dickensian festive scene will remain only on greetings cards.

Climatologists this week predicted that global warming would make snow in December a thing of the past for all of Britain apart from its highest mountains and more northerly climes.

Scientists at the Met Office calculate that winters will be up to 30 per cent wetter within a generation, with an average rise in temperature of up to 3.5C by 2080. A Met Office spokeswoman said: "We won't see the effects immediately but the trend is that snow levels will drastically fall over the next century."

 

 

 

Is Christmas bad for the environment?

Martin Hickman

Yes. People consume far more at Christmas than at other times of the year.

Gifts are made at factories that use lots of energy and contribute to global warming. Finite and diminishing natural resources such as metals go into them. In particular, plastics use a high amount of oil, yet these goods are often poor quality and disposable, something especially so for toys at Christmas.

Transporting these products to the shops results in more energy use and pollution.

Intensive food production to sate our festive appetite discourages wildlife and allows pesticides to leach into streams and rivers.

About three million tons of rubbish will build up in our homes, yet barely a quarter will be recycled. The remainder will be incinerated or dumped in landfill, both of which cast out pollutants. Friends of the Earth believe that this Christmas is likely to generate a record amount of waste because each year we buy more and more presents and food.

The only bright spot environmentally is that while we are stuffing our mouths with food or ripping open our presents (wrapped with disposable paper), we are not jumping into our cars and spewing pollution from the exhaust pipes. Or working in factories to supply goods for the next Christmas.

 

 

 

How far has your Christmas dinner travelled?

By Maxine Frith

According to the Soil Association, most of the meat and vegetables on the average Christmas dinner plate will be cheap imports. The turkey may have come from Norfolk, but your carrots are likely to have come from Morocco, the crackers from China and the Brussels sprouts from the Netherlands. When you add in cabernet sauvignon from Chile, cranberries from the US and runner beans from Guatemala and assorted goods, the total "food miles" bill comes to 43,674. The Soil Association estimates that 12 British farmers are going out of business every day because they cannot compete with cut-price foreign goods.

The transportation by air of 200g of Chilean grapes will generate 1.5kg (3.3lb) of greenhouse gas - equivalent to leaving a lightbulb on all weekend. But, while buying locally sourced food could save Britain £2.1bn in environmental and congestion costs, it could double the average bill because of the higher prices charged by small and organic producers.

 

 

 

Is Christmas unhealthy?

By Jeremy Laurance

Christmas lunch of turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, bacon, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts and gravy adds up to 620 calories. Follow it with Christmas pudding and cream and the calorie counter zooms up to 1,306.

With a glass of champagne, (100 calories) a couple of glasses of burgundy (90 cals each) and a glass of port (185 cals), the total leaps to 1,771 calories. Once a year, a blow out on this scale - a day's worth of calories at a single sitting - is unlikely to do any lasting harm. But if you keep it up over the holiday period you will inevitably put on weight.

There are some health benefits too though. The sprouts and carrots contribute to the five-a-day target for fruit and vegetables, the cranberries may help to ward off infections and alcohol in moderation cuts the risk of heart disease. But the greatest health benefit of Christmas is - or should be - the good cheer it generates.

 

 

 

Do reindeer ever have red noses?

By Cahal Milmo

The notion of reindeer and red noses - or more to the point the infernal tune that assails Christmas shoppers - can be blamed on Robert May, an advertising copy-writer in 1930s Chicago.

Mr May was commissioned by his company to invent a seasonal tale to give away to customers of a department store chain and the resulting yarn of Rudolph, the disfigured ruminant, sold six million copies. Mr May never made a penny from his invention because the copyright belonged to his employer.

But recently researchers discovered that there is in fact such a thing as a red-nosed reindeer. Scientists in America found that reindeer were susceptible to a particular type of mite which irritates the nasal passages and causes the animals to rub their noses raw.

12 questions of Christmas, I, 25.12.2005,
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article335011.ece

 

 

 

 

 

Vicar tells children 'Santa is dead'

 

10 December 2002

Ananova

 

A vicar has apologised for telling children at a Christmas carol service that Santa Claus was dead.

He also told the congregation at St Mary's Church in Maidenhead it was impossible for so many presents to be delivered in such a short space of time.

The Reverend Lee Rayfield, of nearby St Peter's Church, has now admitted he made a terrible mistake.

He based his sermon on joke scientific research from the internet and says it was meant as a bit of fun for older children who already knew Santa did not exist.

He added: "I made a serious misjudgment of the ages of the children. I did not realise how young some of them were and I am sitting here now wondering how I managed not to realise.

"Even when I was there, I did not twig. I am mortified and appreciate I have put some parents in a difficult position with a lot of explaining to do. I love Christmas."

Mr Rayfield's comments came from a joke story that circulated on the internet earlier this year on how scientific research would dispel the myth of Santa.

It says Santa would have to deliver 378 million presents to 91.8 million homes in 31 hours. To do it, he and the reindeer would have to travel 3,000 times the speed of sound.

It says the reindeer would be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second and Santa would be killed by 4,315,000 pounds worth of force.

Mr Rayfield is now writing a letter to parents apologising for the incident.

Story filed: 11:39 Tuesday 10th December 2002,
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_725147.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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