149 - Holiday 5

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Where History Meets Mystery! Earlier his week, I talked about one of my all-time favorite Christmas tales from the Victorian period, A Christmas Carol written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, and how it really played into the politics of what was going on in Victorian England at the time. For the remainder of the week, I wanted to talk about 5 historical facts regarding Christmas you might have not known about. I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for those who don’t, I still hope you find this interesting. Today, with fact #5, I am bringing it full circle back to the wonderful Charles Dickens. So, if you missed the first episode this week, you’re in luck!

 

#5 God Bless Us Everyone:

One of my favorite Christmas stories is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Like many of his works, Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was written as a commentary on specific social issues of the day, particularly the plight of the poor and the brutality of child labor. When Charles was 11, his family was imprisoned in Marshalsea debtors’ prison in Southwark, London because of his father’s mounting debts from living beyond his means. It was up to young Charles to leave school to help pay the family’s debt and he was soon employed at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse where he worked 10 hours a day pasting labels on pots of boot blacking.

 

When he first set out to work on the project that was to become the beloved story we know today, he intended for it to be a pamphlet entitled “An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child,” but he decided that he could reach the hearts of more people by telling the story symbolizing the harshness of government and the rich, and in Ebenezer Scrooge and how he behaved toward innocent families and the children in the lovely Cratchit family. It was a decision that produced an immediate and timeless best-seller, followed by print, stage and theater productions.

 

I hope you have learned something new and heart-warming about some of these Christmas traditions. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and joyous Holiday season!

 

 It’s not too late! Yes, it’s Christmas Day, but there is always time to give! Do you have a person in your life who might like to read a mystery featuring Annie Oakley and set during the hey-day of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, or maybe they might enjoy one set in the theater of Broadway show business during the roaring 1920’s, or what about a mystery set in the American Southwest of the 1950’s? The possibilities are endless! If these options sound like good gift ideas to you, you might want to head over to Amazon to check out my Annie Oakley Mystery series, or my 1920’s novel, Grace in the Wings, or my southwestern mystery Bones of the Redeemed. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

148 - Holiday 4

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Where History Meets Mystery! Earlier his week, I talked about one of my all-time favorite Christmas tales from the Victorian period, A Christmas Carol written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, and how it really played into the politics of what was going on in Victorian England at the time. For the remainder of the week, I wanted to talk about 5 historical facts regarding Christmas you might have not known about. I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for those who don’t, I still hope you find this interesting. Today, I am discussing fact #3 and fact #4.

 

#3. Away In A Manger:

The Nativity Scenes that we see all over different countries in churches and homes has its origins in Italy in the 13thCentury. In 1223, St. Francis of Assissi made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. While there he visited the historical cave that housed the rustic stable where Jesus was born. It is believed that Francis was so moved by the place that he was inspired to recreate the scene for a special Mass on Christmas Eve. He held this Mass in a cave in Greccio, Italy, where he set up an empty manger or feeding trough and brought in a live ox and a donkey to more accurately recreate the first Christmas night. He is said to have wanted to do something so that people would remember the simplicity and poverty in which this child had been born, and for his people to remember the true reason for Christmas celebration.

 

#4 Itsy Bitsy Spider:

I don’t know about you, but I have never associated Christmas with spiders. However, tinsel for the Christmas Tree has its origins in spider’s webs and is reported to have come from legends in Northern European countries such as Germany, Ukraine, Finland and Scandinavia. Most of these legends center around a poor family who cannot afford decorations for their Christmas tree, which in some tales grew from a pine cone in their house and in others was brought in by the family. When the household goes to sleep, a spider housed in the tree, covers it with intricately designed cobwebs. By the time the family rises in the morning, the spider’s beautiful webs have magically turned to strands of silver and gold. Some people believed that St. Nicholas’ magical powers turned the web to precious metals and others say it was the magical powers of the light of the sun. Apparently, it is considered good luck in parts of Poland, Germany and Ukraine to find a spider or spider’s web on your Christmas tree. Spider’s Web ornaments called ‘pavuchy’ (little spider) made of paper and silver wire are very popular in those countries.

 

Come back tomorrow for the final little known fact of Christmas.

 

 Have you finished your holiday shopping? If not, what a better gift to give than a book—perhaps a riveting murder mystery? Do you have a person in your life who might like to read a mystery featuring Annie Oakley and set during the hey-day of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, or maybe they might enjoy one set in the theater of Broadway show business during the roaring 1920’s, or what about a mystery set in the American Southwest of the 1950’s? The possibilities are endless! If these options sound like good gift ideas to you, you might want to head over to Amazon to check out my Annie Oakley Mystery series, or my 1920’s novel, Grace in the Wings, or my southwestern mystery Bones of the Redeemed. Happy shopping!

 

147 - Holiday 3

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Where History Meets Mystery! Earlier his week, I talked about one of my all-time favorite Christmas tales from the Victorian period, A Christmas Carol written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, and how it really played into the politics of what was going on in Victorian England at the time. For the remainder of the week, I wanted to talk about 5 historical facts regarding Christmas you might have not known about. I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for those who don’t, I still hope you find this interesting.

 

#1. Jolly St. Nick:

Much unlike the stories of Santa Claus who resides at the North Pole, the history of the beloved “jolly old elf” actually has its origins in the Mediterranean in the 4th century. St. Nikolas of Myra, now modern-day Demre, Turkey, was a Greek Bishop known for the many miracles he performed and also for his benevolence toward children. One tale recounts that he saved three young girls from a fate of prostitution when he had 3 bags of gold secretly delivered to their parents. Another story tells of Nikolas entering an inn whose inn keeper had just murdered three boys, sliced them up, and pickled them in barrels. Somehow, Nikolas sensed this horrific crime and resurrected the three boys. For these miracles he was deemed the patron saint of children. Nikolas is also the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

 

#2. Oh, Tannenbaum: 

By the middle ages, the legend of Jesus’ birth had grown. Although the bible doesn’t state exactly when Jesus was born, ancient peoples associated his birth with the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. After the Christ child was born, he gave new light to the world and it is said that all of the trees throughout the world shook off the ice and snow that had settled on their branches revealing new shoots of green. Many ancient peoples used evergreen branches to decorate their homes, and in the 16th century people started setting up Paradise Trees—associated with Adam and Eve’s Day, December 24—laden with fruits. During that century, some say the first person to bring Christmas Trees into the home was the German preacher Martin Luther. In fact, the Christmas Tree has  strong historical roots in Germany with the medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of churches on Christmas Eve. Decorated trees were paraded around town to advertise the play. Christmas Trees became more popular in the Victorian period when the German Prince Albert and his wife Queen Victoria of England erected a Christmas Tree in Windsor Castle for their children. In 1848, a drawing of “The Queen’s Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” was published in the London News. In December of 1850 the illustration was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Philadelphia, giving rise to the popularity of Christmas Trees in America.

 

Come back tomorrow for more interesting facts about the Christmas tradition.

 

Have you finished your holiday shopping? If not, what a better gift to give than a book—perhaps a riveting murder mystery? Do you have a person in your life who might like to read a mystery featuring Annie Oakley and set during the hey-day of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, or maybe they might enjoy one set in the theater of Broadway show business during the roaring 1920’s, or what about a mystery set in the American Southwest of the 1950’s? The possibilities are endless! If these options sound like good gift ideas to you, you might want to head over to Amazon to check out my Annie Oakley Mystery series, or my 1920’s novel, Grace in the Wings, or my southwestern mystery Bones of the Redeemed. Happy shopping!