Time > Christmas > Father Christmas / Santa Claus
Santa Claus School
Six of the 15 men enrolled in Santa Claus School
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
Peanuts by Charles Schulz
December 22, 2013
Santa Claus / Father Christmas / St. Nicholas
cartoons > Cagle > Santa
cartoons > Cagle > Santa and Wikileaks
cartoons > Cagle > Santa
Santa Claus outfit / suit
Santa Claus performers for Christmas grottos
Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) > A Visit from
'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
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
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
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
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!"
"A Visit from St. Nicholas",
also known as "The
Night Before Christmas"
G2 pp. 14-15
20 December 2006
Gerald Scarfe cartoon
The Sunday Times
December 21, 2008
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Santa Claus
Background > Recession
Man in a Santa Suit
Kills at Least 8 at a Party
The New York Times
By SOLOMON MOORE
and ANAHAD O’CONNOR
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
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
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
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
“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,
Those Inflatable Santas:
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
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
“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,
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
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
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
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,
Santa dies at children's party
Friday December 22, 2006
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
"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,
12 questions of Christmas
When exactly is Christmas Day?
Was there a Star of
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?
do reindeer ever have red noses?
Published: 24 December 2005
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
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
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
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
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
More than a third said that they had to deal with arguments between relatives
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
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?
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
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
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,
Vicar tells children 'Santa is dead'
10 December 2002
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
Mr Rayfield is now writing a letter to parents apologising
for the incident.
filed: 11:39 Tuesday 10th December 2002,
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