History of The Nutcracker: the Ballet That’s a Christmas Tradition

TheNutcracker

HISTORY OF THE NUTCRACKER: THE BALLET THAT’S A CHRISTMAS TRADITION On December 18, 1892, The Nutcracker premiered at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, a week before Christmas.   Nutcracker Popularity The Nutcracker has had such an enduring influence on the celebration of Christmas for more than a century that no one even…

Read More

5 Christmas Myths, Not Found in the Nativity Story

5 Christmas Myths

5 CHRISTMAS MYTHS: NOT FOUND IN THE NATIVITY STORY I’m often asked to explain the history behind a holiday: is it based on history, tradition, or legend? The best historical sources we have on the birth of Jesus are found in two of the Gospel accounts in the New Testament: St. Matthew and St. Luke.…

Read More

History of Christmas: Caesar Augustus

augustus caesar

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS: CAESAR AUGUSTUS Perhaps it is fitting that our last historical Nativity character in the History of Christmas series should be the first person mentioned in St. Luke‘s story of the first Christmas. But he was not Jewish, nor a shepherd, nor a Magi. Instead, he was 1500 miles away, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus,…

Read More

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…

Read More

History of the Christmas Star: Natural or supernatural?

Christmas Star

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR: NATURAL OR SUPERNATURAL? The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled scholars for centuries. Some have skeptically dismissed the phenomenon as a myth, a mere literary device to call attention to the importance of the Nativity. Others have argued that the star was miraculously placed there to guide the Magi and is,…

Read More

History of A Charlie Brown Christmas

HISTORY OF A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS On December 9, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered on CBS TV as a 30-minute animated Christmas special written by Charles M. Schulz, creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. The comic was hugely popular at the time when the TV special debuted. Though this was not Schulz’s first TV…

Read More

History of the Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE December 8 is National Christmas Tree Day. It is generally believed that the first Christmas tree was of German origin dating from the time of St. Boniface, an English missionary to Germany in the 8th century. He replaced the sacrifices to the Norse god Odin’s sacred oak — some say…

Read More

History of the 12 Days of Christmas: They’re after Christmas?

Partridge

THE HISTORY OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: THEY’RE AFTER CHRISTMAS? The 12 Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical or ecclesiastical calendar of the Western Church between the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child (Christmas Day, December 25) and the coming of the Wise Men, or Magi, to visit at his…

Read More

History of Santa Claus: Saint or Elf?

Santa Claus

HISTORY OF SANTA CLAUS December 6 is “Saint Nicholas Day.” The name Santa Claus is a kind of a contraction for Saint Nicholas. The German name Sankt Nikolaus can be pronounced San’t(a) ni-KLOuse (sounding like house.)   Origin of St. Nicholas He was born in the late 3rd century, perhaps in A.D. 270. Nicholas became a bishop…

Read More