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Xmas (0001-2000)

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The history of the Xmas celebration, Saint Nicholas, Kris Krimble, Santa Claus, and Father Christmas
    0001  CEThe first Christmas, according to calendar-maker Dionysus Exiguus
c.    0300  CEThe first well-known gift-giver, Saint Nicholas who lived in Myra (now Turkey). Some years later he became a bishop, hence the bishop's hat or miter, long flowing gown, white beard and red cape.
 25 Dec 0336  CEThe first recorded celebration of Christmas on this day took place in Rome. By this year Dec 25 was established in the Liturgy of the Roman Church as the birthday of Jesus.
    1551  CEThe term 'Xmas' was used at least this early for Christmas. The short form derived from the Greek letters 'XP', chi and rho, as an abbreviation of the Greek symbol for Christ.
   Dec 1773  CEA New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of Saint Nicholas's death. The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, 'Sinter Klaas', a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). It was reported again in 1774.
    1804  CEThe New York Historical Society was founded with Nicholas as its patron saint, its members reviving the Dutch tradition of Saint Nicholas as a gift-bringer.
    1804  CEJohn Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of Saint Nicholas at the society's annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace.
    1809  CEWashington Irving, gave Americans their first detailed information about the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. His 'History of New York', published under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving described the arrival of the saint on horseback (unaccompanied by Black Peter) each Eve of Saint Nicholas.
    1810  CEWhen Washington Irving became a member of the New York Historical Society, the annual Saint Nicholas Day dinner festivities included a woodcut of the traditional Nicholas figure (tall, with long robes) accompanied by a Dutch rhyme about 'Sancte Claus' (in Dutch, 'Sinterklaas').
    1812  CEWashington Irving revised his 'History of New York', adding details about Nicholas 'riding over the tops of the trees, in that selfsame waggon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children'.
c.    1820  CEIn parts of Europe such as Germany, Nicholas the gift-giver had been superseded by a representation of the infant Jesus, the Christ child, or 'Christkindlein'. The Christkindlein accompanied Nicholas-like figures with other names, such as 'Pre Nel' in France, or he travelled with a dwarf-like helper, known in some places as 'Pelznickel', or Nicholas with furs. 'Belsnickle' in German-American dialect, was represented by adults who dressed in furry disguises, visited while children were still awake, and put on a scary performance. Gifts found by children the next morning were credited to Christkindlein, who had come while everyone was asleep.
    1821  CEWilliam Gilley, a New York printer, issued a poem about a 'Santeclaus' who dressed all in fur and drove a sleigh pulled by one reindeer. Gilley's 'Sante', however, was very short.
    1822  CEClement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled, 'An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas'. Moore's poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is largely responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a 'right jolly old elf' with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head. Moore gave Saint Nicholas eight named reindeer. Moore's Nicholas was still a small figure described as a 'miniature sleigh' with a 'little old driver'. 
    1823  CEThe beginnings of the Santa we know today when Clement C. Moore's 'A Visit from St. Nicholas' was published. He described Saint Nicholas as 'chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf'. 
    1841  CEThe modern man-sized version of Santa Claus became the dominant image derived from: Saint Nicholas the elf-like gift bringer described by Moore, and a friendlier 'Kriss Kringle' amalgam of the Christkindlein and Pelznickel figures.
    1842  CEThe Christmas card became popular.
    1843  CECharles Dickens publishes 'A Christmas Carol', in England.
    1863  CEThomas Nast, political cartoonist, created a different illustration each year of 'Santa' for the cover of Harper's Weekly. His Santa was a plump, jolly old fellow with a white beard and smoking a long stemmed pipe. 
    1863  CEDuring the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln asked Thomas Nast to do an illustration showing Santa with the Union troops. Many historians say this was one of the most demoralizing moments for the Confederate army... seeing Santa side with the North.
    1866  CEThomas Nast's 1866 montage entitled 'Santa Claus and His Works' established Santa as a maker of toys.
    1869  CEThomas Nast's book 'Santa Claus and His Works' collected new Nast drawings with a poem by George P. Webster that identified the North Pole as Santa's home. Although Nast never settled on one size for his Santa figures, his 1881 'Merry Old Santa Claus' drawing is close to the modern-day Santa image.
    1871  CEBoxing day (the day after Xmas day) becomes a legaly recognised as a 'Bank Holiday' in Britain, observed by banks, government worker and the post office. Boxing Day is considered to be the first week day after Xmas day. It's origins are obsure, but may originate from the practice of distributing funds collected from the churchgoing wealthy in Alms 'Boxes' during Xmas day to the poor the day afterwards.
    1871  CEXmas day becomes a legaly recognised as a 'Bank Holiday' in Britain, observed by banks, government workers and the post office.
    1885  CELouis Prang, a Boston printer, introduced the English custom of Christmas cards to America.
    1885  CELouis Prang, a Boston printer, issued a card featuring a red-suited Santa. The chubby Santa with a red suit began to replace the fur-dressed Belsnickle image and the multicolored Santas.
c.    1890  CEIn the late 19th century Santa was portrayed as both large and small. He was usually round but sometimes of normal or slight build and he dressed in furs (like Belsnickle) or cloth suits of red, blue, green, or purple. 
c.    1890  CEThe Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began the practice of dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations.
 25 Dec 1914  CEUnofficial Christmas truce declared by soldiers along the Western Front during WWI.
    1925  CESince grazing reindeer would not be possible at the North Pole, newspapers revealed that Santa Claus in fact lived in Finnish Lapland.
    1927  CEOn Finnish public radio, 'Uncle Markus' (Markus Rautio) who hosted the popular 'Children's hour' , revealed the great secret for the first time: Santa Claus lives on Lapland's Korvatunturi (Ear Fell).
c.    1930  CEThe burgeoning Coca-Cola company was still looking for ways to increase sales of their product during winter, then a slow time of year for the soft drink market. They turned to a talented commercial illustrator named Haddon Sundblom, who created a series of memorable drawings that associated the figure of a larger than life, red-and-white garbed Santa Claus with Coca-Cola. The success of this advertising campaign has helped fuel the (false) legend that Coca-Cola actually invented the image of the modern Santa Claus, to promote the company colors.
    1931  CEHaddon Sundblom begins creating a new Santa each Christmas for Coca-Cola advertisements (1931-1964) that appeared world-wide on the back covers of Post and National Geographic magazines. This is the Santa had a red suit trimmed with white fur, leather boots and belt, long white beard and a pack of toys slung onto his back.
    1939  CERudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, was invented by an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company. Technically as Rudolph is always shon with antlers, he must be a girl, as all male reindeer loose their antlers during winter!
    1942  CEBing Crosby records "White Christmas" one of the greatest selling records ever.
    1958  CEThe first voice from space; a recorded Christmas message by Eisenhower.
 24 Dec 1968  CEFrank Borman transmits a Christmas reading from Apollo 8, while orbiting Moon.
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