Is Die Hard Really A Christmas Movie?

die hard

IS DIE HARD REALLY A CHRISTMAS MOVIE? Scholars and historians have debated for centuries the question “Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?” Or at least during the last three decades since the movie was released. This is why readers have turned to me, your friendly neighborhood historian, to wrestle with this age-old question and help…

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History of the First American Christmas: 1776

Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze

HISTORY OF THE FIRST AMERICAN CHRISTMAS: 1776 It is called the first “American” Christmas because the Declaration of Independence was created the previous summer, essentially “divorcing” America from England and declaring our country an independent nation. Admittedly, the country had not yet created a solid form of government. The Articles of Confederation were not produced…

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History of Carol of the Bells: from a Ukrainian folk song

Carol of the Bells

HISTORY OF CAROL OF THE BELLS: FROM A UKRAINIAN FOLK SONG The favorite Christmas song, Carol of the Bells, is based on a Ukrainian folk song that initially had nothing to do with Christmas and was, in fact, popular in pre-Christian Ukraine. How did this folk song become such a popular American Christmas carol, and…

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History of a Sacred Oratorio: Considered Scandalous?

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HISTORY OF A SACRED ORATORIO The genteel reception accorded the original debut performance stood in marked contrast to the savage hostility that greeted the work less than a year later in the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London. The English aristocracy and churchmen began an unrelenting campaign against the work and its creator. They…

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History of Christmas Music: More than just Carols

Christmas Carols

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC Music early became a marked feature of the Christmas season. But the first chants, litanies, and hymns were in Latin and deemed too theological for popular use. Under Francis of Assisi‘s influence in the 13th century, we began to see the rise of the carol written in the vernacular. The word carol comes…

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History of Black Friday: One Day Only?

HISTORY OF BLACK FRIDAY: ONE DAY ONLY? While it is difficult to connect this term to the start of the Christmas shopping sales season before its use in the mid-1960s in Philadelphia, the concept appears to go back to the 19th century when Christmas sales followed Thanksgiving Day parades. In 1939, President Franklin D Roosevelt…

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History of Thanksgiving Indian: Why Squanto already knew English

massasoit statue

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING: FRIENDLY INDIAN SQUANTO We’ve all heard how the Pilgrims, landing in Massachusetts four hundred years ago on the Mayflower in 1620, were ill-equipped to survive the harsh winters of the New World. We’ve also heard how they met a Native American Indian of the Patuxet tribe, Squanto, who befriended them. He taught them…

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History of John F Kennedy: 60 Years Ago

JFK

John F. Kennedy, the most popular post-WWII President was the youngest American President voted to the office, having succeeded Dwight D Eisenhower, the oldest President at the time. Kennedy was attractive, winsome, and exuded youth and vitality despite his health problems. Kennedy was supremely confident. The celebrities he courted in the public eye were American royalty.

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When We Start Celebrating Holidays: Can we listen to Christmas music now?

Confusion

THE START OF HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS Here’s an article I wrote nine years ago. Is the trend accelerating?   On November 1st, a friend asked, partly in jest: “Halloween is over, can we listen to Christmas music now?”   And therein lies a conundrum. When do we begin the celebration of the Christmas holiday? There are…

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Six Blades – When Five Just Aren’t Enough

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SIX BLADES Today, while I was at the pharmacy waiting for a script to be filled, I thought I’d wander down the Shave Needs aisle and see the latest.   Five Blades Years ago, scientists realized that a single blade was not enough for a clean shave and added a second, and then a third,…

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History of the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln at Gettysburg

HISTORY OF THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS Abraham Lincoln, on this day in history, began his address in Gettysburg: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. With only nine more sentences, he dedicated a…

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