By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

Compliments of the History Channel, a bit of history of Christmas.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.


Irving Reinvents Christmas 

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

A Christmas Carol 

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.


Christmas Facts 

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today’s Mardi Gras parties.
    From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
    The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good life. (Sorry…)

More Posts by Pogo


52 thoughts on “Christory”

  1. Thanks Renee. I ran across the article and found it interesting- there’s a bunch more info in the article than I quoted – it’s lengthy but a fun read for a heathen like me.
    Having a great morning with Mrs. P, LP and Mrs. P’s mom. Cooking, eating, a few gifts, all the traditional stuff. 

  2. mince pie baked
    goose in the oven
    pausing now to appreciate the aromas
    guests will soon arrive
    been a busy morning and more fun to come

  3. Pat, do you often do a goose? I have been directed to report to daughter Sue’s home for dinner. I’m bringing wine instead of cooking–I’m just not motivated to put the requisite effort into it.

  4. Pogo, why in the world would anyone want Christmas on the 26th of June?
    Despite several hours of temperatures in the 20s this morning, our dum-dum robins were still here; am I seeing a Christmas sign for your list? ‘In 2018 Christmas Robins started wintering just north of Columbia, South Carolina. Deniers try to explain this fact away by saying it’s an outgrowth of global warming.’

  5. Flatus, you’re cooking the right way. ? we had a quiche for breakfast, have decided to do a standing rib roast for dinner (we’re a bit poultried out) with jalapeño cornbread, my mom’s sweet potato casserole, and whatever else Mrs P decides I’ll cook as a veggie side. Gonna be some serious heavy eyeliddage later- I can see it coming now. ?

  6. I wonder what sort of outrage trump would have to perform before pence would push him aside, ie 25A. Would it be calling for live tv coverage of a national announcement that there is no Santa Claus ? Would it be celebrating Kwanzaa ? Would it be that with his friends Erdogan and muhammed bin salmon he’s converted to Islam ?

  7. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

    In El Paso TX, Sunday night at 6:30 pm ICE dropped off several bus loads of refugees(211 that time with more to come) at the greyhound bus terminal. No notice, no planning they  just dropped them off as if Greyhound keeps 3 or 4 extra buses around for such things.  This sudden release on Christmas holiday weekend overwhelmed the El Paso social services with the scrambling to  feed and house all the people being released by ICE. 
    Merry Christmas and Welcome to America

  8. Courtesy of Charles Dickens – A Christmas Trump will love:

    “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

  9. Thanks Pogo – and of course Coca-Cola played a big role in the creation of the current view of Santa.
    We are having waffles, bacon and Mimosa’s as soon as the birthday woman arrives.   Later in the day about the time the Warrior play the Lakers we will be having a stuffed pork roast.   And a lot of Christmas cookies too

  10. Trifle made
    Dressing made
    Brandied Yams made
    Chicken in oven
    Mashed potatoes & Peas to complete the meal
    Anybody who wants to drop in is welcome

  11. The youtube algorithm is doing its job,  pulling up some good shit, this is a great instrumental with a Jerry Garcia and group.

  12. Pogo,
    Thanks for the history lesson.?
    Sounds like there will be some sumptuous feasts along the trail today. Ham with all the fixings here. Bourbon pecan pie to finish everything off.
    Have a wonderful day all. Merry Christmas!? 

  13. flatus, have been cooking my goose (in more ways than one) every Christmas since the turn of the century.  when 1st started, had horrible experience with goose grease all over everything.  learned the hard way to tear out as much  fat as possible and make frequent use of baster to lower grease level as it roasts.

    a 10 pounder takes about 5 hours in 350 degree oven. goose, like duck, is mostly bone so 10 lbs doesn’t mean that much meat. what there is however is worth its weight in gold.

  14. jamie – Yay!  A special eaglet.
    patd – back when family used to gather at my place for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, I would often smoke a goose and a couple of ducks, along with cooking a turkey in the oven.  In a way I miss that, in a bigger way I do not.  Tonight will be crab cakes, made from Chesapeake blue crabs, and steamed perch.  My ancestors would have added a bit of venison, but I am on a diet.
    For tonight’s entertainment the movie is Beetlejuice.  The weather has cleared and it is beautiful night.  The moon is a great view.

  15. Beetlejuice was great fun. We went out with friends and saw Shoplifters today. It’s a wonderful movie, so good that it shakes my belief (not really) that shoplifters should be hanged in public.
    I think I’ll pour myself a black Beam & water. Then, Sweetie and I shall settle down with a nice Eric Ambler novel, one in which the nazis ALMOST win. Before there was LeCarre, there was Ambler. 

  16. reported by the hill:
    “To those in the field or at sea, ‘keeping watch by night’ this holiday season, you should recognize that you carry on the proud legacy of those who stood the watch in decades past,” Mattis wrote in a holiday letter to U.S. troops.
    “In this world awash in change, you hold the line. Storm clouds loom, yet because of you, your fellow citizens live safe at home.”
    “Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe,” Mattis concluded.

  17. BB
    Unfortunately, the eagle story took a tragic turn yesterday.  No need for details, but the little one is gone.  We don’t know if the second egg is viable.  Even if it is, it probably wouldn’t survive.  The big question now is whether Romeo will leave the nest since he can’t protect it against the much larger female.

  18. The Eagle fans have been on quite a roller coaster.   The NE Florida lost an eaglet, but the SW Florida gained two with E12 & E13 putting in an appearance.  This was the nest originally of Ozzie and Harriet.  About five years ago, Ozzie died but Harriet took up with M15 who has never been officially.

  19. from alternet
    … in a new article for the Intercept, Billie Winner-Davis—mother of imprisoned U.S. Air Force veteran Reality Leigh Winner—asserts that her daughter has been treated much more harshly than Michael Cohen, Rick Gates and other Trump associates who have admitted to serious federal crimes.
    The 27-year-old Winner is serving a five-year federal prison sentence for releasing a National Security Agency (NSA) document detailing cyber attacks on U.S. election officials by Russian military intelligence. Winner-Davis stresses that although her daughter was “wrongly portrayed” as a “traitor and spy” and a “Taliban sympathizer” for “unlawful disclosure of national defense information,” her actual motivation was showing the American public the degree to which the United States’ election system had been under attack by a foreign power.
    Winner-Davis writes, “It is maddening to watch my daughter in prison as the so-called justice system interacts in such drastically different ways with Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.” And she goes on to discuss their cases, noting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has recommended no prison time for Flynn (who admitted to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016) and that Papadopoulos was sentenced to only two weeks of incarceration.
    Winner-Davis explains, “Gates’ fate is not yet known, but we do know that he has not spent time languishing in a jail or prison after he was charged, unlike Reality, who is now on day 568 behind bars.”
    Cohen, Winner-Davis points out, pled guilty to everything from tax evasion to lying to Congress and was sentenced to three years in prison compared to five years for her daughter. And she has a lot to say about Manafort, noting that initially, Trump’s former campaign manager “was allowed to remain out of jail on bond.”
    “Manafort’s bond was revoked only when he was accused of tampering with witnesses,” Winner-Davis explains. “And even then, he seemed to be getting preferential treatment—until a judge transferred him to a ‘real’ jail. Manafort was convicted of eight crimes and then entered into a plea agreement in another case. That plea was later revoked, after he was accused of lying to prosecutors.”
    Winner-Davis argues that even admitted Russian agent Maria Butina has been treated better than her daughter. Butina, she writes, “was not charged with and will not be convicted of espionage. Let that sink in. My daughter Reality, who blew the whistle on Russian efforts to attack our election, is the traitor, the one guilty of espionage—but not a Russian agent and those working with her.”
    Winner-Davis concludes her article by emphasizing that when her daughter is treated more harshly than Trump associates like Cohen, Flynn and Gates, it “sends the clear message that if you are poor and powerless in this system, you will be abused. I am outraged. I hope you are too.”

  20. ny times today:  Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam?
    In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam.
    For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.
    Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.
    The podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, died in 2007. But his daughters say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Mr. Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.
    “I know it was a favor,” said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times.
    Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. “But did he examine him? I don’t know,” she said.
    For decades, Dr. Braunstein saw patients in a congested ground-floor office below Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens, one of dozens of buildings owned by the Trumps in the 1960s. The family sold the building in 2004, records show.
    “What he got was access to Fred Trump,” Elysa Braunstein said. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”
    No paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events described by the Braunstein family, who also suggested there was some involvement by a second podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein, who died in 1995, lived in two apartments in Brooklyn owned by Fred Trump; city directories show he moved into the first during the year Donald Trump received his exemption.
    Dr. Braunstein’s daughters said their father left no medical records with the family, and a doctor who purchased his practice said he was unaware of any documents related to Mr. Trump. Most detailed government medical records related to the draft no longer exist, according to the National Archives.
    In an interview with The Times in 2016, Mr. Trump said that a doctor provided “a very strong letter” about the bone spurs in his heels, which he then presented to draft officials. He said he could not remember the doctor’s name. “You are talking a lot of years,” Mr. Trump said.
    But he suggested he still had some paperwork related to the exemption, which he did not provide.
    Mr. Trump did not mention in that interview any connection between his father and the doctor. The White House did not make Mr. Trump available for a follow-up interview and did not respond to written questions about his service record.
    [more of the long article continues]

  21. another excerpt from the above nyt article:
    The Times began looking into Mr. Trump’s draft record anew when an anonymous tipster suggested that a podiatrist who was a commercial tenant of Fred Trump’s had provided the medical documentation.
    The tipster offered no names, but The Times used old city directories, held by the New York Public Library, and interviews with Queens podiatrists to identify Dr. Braunstein.
    The doctor’s daughters said his role in Mr. Trump’s military exemption had long been the subject of discussions among relatives and friends.
    “It was family lore,” said Elysa Braunstein. “It was something we would always discuss.”
    She said her father was initially proud that he had helped a “famous guy” in New York real estate. But later, her father, a lifelong Democrat who had served in the Navy during World War II, grew tired of Donald Trump as he became a fixture in the tabloid gossip pages and a reality television star, she said. The daughters, both Democrats, say they are not fans of Mr. Trump.
    Dr. Braunstein’s daughters said that when he discussed Mr. Trump’s medical exemption, he often mentioned Dr. Weinstein, though it was unclear to them what role Dr. Weinstein may have played. He was close to the family, they said, and known as Uncle Manny.
    The two men forged a close friendship after meeting in podiatry school in New York, from which they graduated in 1953. Dr. Weinstein was among the oldest students in the class, classmates said, and Dr. Braunstein was remembered for being among the smartest.
    One possible explanation that has been raised over the years, the Braunstein sisters said, is that Dr. Weinstein had a connection to the draft, as some private practitioners did. In fact, multiple doctors would have been involved in the final determination.
    Before people were inducted into the service, they underwent a physical exam overseen by military doctors, court records from that era show. Men could bring along documentation of medical concerns from private physicians. That information was presented at their exams and considered by a medical officer. Often, a civilian specialist working with the exam station would be asked to review the case and make a recommendation. A local draft board would finalize the man’s classification.
    Dr. Weinstein practiced podiatry in Brooklyn’s Bath Beach neighborhood, maintaining an office near another Trump building, Shore Haven Apartments. In 1968, phone books show, Dr. Weinstein moved into an apartment in Westminster Hall, a Trump-owned building. He lived in that building for many years, and later lived in another owned by the Trumps.

  22. ICE has another dead child on its hands and the world is busy chattering about Trump’s method of avoiding a war from 50 years ago. <sigh>

  23. Pat
    It wasn’t just you.
    and the only thing about it for the most part is the story of  how the BP Nd ICE are never going to let that happen again. I’ve yet to see a good explanation of why this happened in the first place. It is what happens when you warehouse children instead of care for them. All part of the same problem.

  24. Jack, it’s inevitable. Separate kids and parents, house kids in camps with cursory services and death will result.  We are engaged in heartless, soulless, feckless border control aimed at poor brown people trying to find a better life. SFB will pay for this someday, somehow, some way. I hope the payment will be painful. 

  25. Pogo
    I hope you are right and all of his enablers too.
    But this is nothing new,  Woody wrote about back before we were born. You would think some thing would change…….

  26. Wow. SFB went to Iraq.  And the idiocy continues. 
    Set the phone and email to I am furloughed until funding is restored.
    What is very disconcerting is the media talking about me being on “unpaid leave” instead of “furloughed”.  Unpaid leave is a completely different pay category than furlough.  Officially I am furloughed.  There will be a lot of hurting people if we are not paid.

  27. Given the lack of news about the border situation I’ve started following a local freelance reporter here is his latest

    Just in from Ruben Garcia at

    : ICE is releasing 518 more migrants in El Paso today, bringing the 4-day total to more than 1,300. CBP also expected to begin more quickly releasing children in the wake of 2nd death. This will strain El Paso resources. 1/

    The large numbers of asylum seekers being released in El Paso and the 2 child deaths stem from the same issue. While public attention has been focused on the caravan in Tijuana, thousands of migrants a week are crossing in El Paso and southern NM. 3/


    Migration patterns have changed from single Mexican men to Central American families in recent years, but almost nothing has been done to adjust border enforcement infrastructure. The result is a crisis that El Pasoans are responding to remarkably. But it’s not sustainable. 4

  28. Ah, the joy of December 26th!
    snacking all day on the Christmas leftovers which are as tasty today as they were yesterday without the pressure of having to be just perfect. Ham and Stilton on a home made roll, pie and a glass of red. Just right and so easy. Then onto fudge,freshly ground coffee and an evening full of music and candle light.?

  29. Pat, I compared your path to goose success with the Rombauers’ discussion in the 1964 printing of their stupendous cookbook. Clearly, your road is the one that should be traveled.

  30. When you own a government shutdown, when you are being investigated by umteen different sources soon to be more,when the stock market has tanked, and your approval rating is just south of small pox: what is a president with five deferments supposed to do? Leave the country and try to bask in the glow of the men and women who defend us both at home and abroad.
    What a phony coward and an absolute disgrace .

  31. Jace, the past couple of months strikes me as being incredibly like the set-up for Black Monday (19 Oct 87). The only thing that saved my ass back then was doing some covered short-selling of a British company during a five-minute exodus from the previous Friday’s EMBA class at USF.
    Tuesday morning when the TeeVee cameras showed-up at Schwab, I swept my arm down at the interviewer’s feet, “Look, there’s blood all over the floor!” I thought he was going to lose it there and then.

  32. Jace
    Your snacking sounds good.
    I went to Wal-Mart this evening to get some snack stuff and some coconut to make a custard that I’m calling  coconut macaroon pie. It is  the one thing that Mrs Jack has been able to consistently eat through all her chemo. It is a modification believe it or not of my mothers pumpkin pie. Many modifications true.
    It was a bit nostalgic. Wal-Mart had all their Christmas decorations marked down 50% folks were digging through them loading up their carts for next year. That used to be me and Mrs Jack. we’ve stopped that the last few years. Really we have too much crap and are now in down sizing/selling or packing it up and donating it to DAV.
    How to make coconut macarooooon pie 
    1 egg; 1/2 cup of any combination condensed milk, cream, half and half; 1/4 cup sweetner, In this case a table spoon of sugar and the rest yellow stuff but you can use all sugar(I always add a little sugar for mouth feel in any low sugar baking.) teas. vanilla, teas or so of corn starch, a cup of  shredded coconut (the cheaper the better from my experience) I put in a 5 inch cake pan I have,  cover it with foil and bake @ 350 for 20 min or until it is setup.

  33. john d. rockefeller said, When there is blood in the streets, buy everything in sight.
    I missed today’s binge buying of oil. dammit. 
    Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

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