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Do You Know The Meaning Behind Santa Claus?

Warning! Spoilers ahead.

Children across the country are getting excited for Christmas with many of them writing and sending their lists to Santa Claus in preparation for the big day. Whether you embrace the religious meaning of the day or not, you cannot deny the attraction of the big man bringing presents to all the nice boys and girls on his list.

However, we may not have a real understanding of where the concept of Santa Claus actually came from. There are claims that he originated from the Dutch back in the 1600s. Sinterklaas was a gentleman who dressed in a red bishop’s miter and had a long, white beard. A folklore story, Sinterklaas was based on the 3rd century Greek St. Nicholas who had been living in modern day Turkey.

Although St. Nick was a bishop it was believed he was also a bit naughty. When archaeologist found his bones back in 2005 they discovered he had been buried with a broken nose. Theories are that it could have been caused by Christian-on-Christian violence as there were many who were constantly persecuted by Christians during his era. Many rumors have circled around the story of St. Nick, including him being demoted from his bishop status following possible fighting.

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Fortunately for children, St. Nicholas was also well known for protecting children and passing out gifts. There are a few stories to back this up including the tale of a pauper who had three daughters and was unable to offer a dowry – money brought by the bride to her husband when they wed – and he was concerned they would all become prostitutes. Once Nicholas had heard the story he placed three bags of gold through his window, therefore saving the women from a life of prostitution.

It was these good deeds that helped make Nicholas one of the greatest male saints of the Middle Ages, with many churches, Christian groups and places listing St. Nick as their patron. December 6, or St. Nick’s feast day, was celebrated as the day he died for centuries across Europe, with many giving children gifts in his memory.

However during the 1500s many Christian saints were denounced as idolatrous and unbiblical by the Protestant Reformation. It was also around this time that Christmas disappeared for many living in Protestant Europe. Jump forward to the early 1800s and New York City. Each December 25th, working-class individuals would go out for drinks, often getting so drunk they would head into cities to loot what they could. Kind of like spring break, New Year’s Eve and Black Friday all rolled into one!

This was soon to stop thanks to a collection of New Yorkers who felt this was not appropriate behavior.

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Professor of History at the University of Manitoba in Canada and author of ‘Santa Claus: A History’ Gerry Bowler explains, “They wanted to domesticate Christmas, bring it indoors, and focus it on children.”

Taking aspects of traditional stories, the Saint Nicholas Society decided the best way to stop the city being overrun with drunks was to appoint a family friendly ‘mascot’ to their campaign. By utilizing the story of St. Nick with the look of Sinterklass they made Christmas an occasion focusing on being nice to children rather than a day when you went out drinking. However, the general public needed a story behind the campaign so Washington Irving, an American author of the time, created some drawings of Sinterklaas and placed a pipe-smoking man high in the sky above New York delivering gifts to all the children who had been good that year.

It was not until 1821 that an anonymous poem – The Children’s Friend – that ‘Santeclaus’ made his first appearance. With reindeer pulling his sleigh across the sky, delivering ‘rewards’ to all the well-behaved children’s stockings, the magic of Christmas started to appear. With this poem in mind, Episcopalian scholar Clement Clarke Moore wrote another poem called ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas,’ more commonly known as ‘The Night Before Christmas.’

Although a seminary professor, Moore removed all religious aspects to St. Nick, made his red tunic a fur suit, placing him on the roof and slipping down chimneys to make sure all the good children got their gifts. It was not long before Moore’s story spread across the northeastern states of America, and by the early 1900s, “Santa” became known as the beloved white-bearded man, dressed in his red suit with a sparkle in his eye. And it is not just us who liked it.

Bowler acknowledges that retailers saw the opportunity to expand on the idea of Santa saying, “they immediately saw the possibility that this personification could be useful in their selling.” With St. Nick/Sinterklaas/Santeclaus/Kris Kringle or just Santa Claus making Christmas what it is today, full of fun, magic, gifts and cheer, you better make sure you are on the nice list so you do not miss out.

Mens Tie

A Tie For Dad Again? Generic Gifts To Avoid Putting Under The Tree This Year

With the holiday season upon us the stress of gift giving has slowly crept back up on all of us. The internet is an amazing resource for gift ideas for all your friends, family, and loved ones, but a lot of the resources can often list the same types of gifts and lack the capacity to tell readers what gifts they should attempt to steer away from. The fact is, gifts that are considered “generic” are just the easiest option, and during this time of year, easy is understandably the best option. However, if you’re like me, and live for giving the perfect gifts to fit your loved one’s personalities, than you need to know the generic items that have frankly been overdone. However, if you’re the type of person who just needs something to stuff in Grandma’s stocking, than this list will be just as beneficial. In fact, “generic” gifts can be quite perfect for anyone you don’t really know; like when you’re forced into an office secret Santa after only working for the company for one month and you barely know everyone’s name, let alone what to get them as a gift. 

Mugs – Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve given a mug at least a dozen times as a present. As a gift, it’s really quite practical, as most people enjoy some type of hot beverage during the winter season, and the versatility that comes from mug designs can be customized to match anyone’s personalities. However, you reach a point where you realize that you’ve given your mom a mug for the past five Christmas’s and she doesn’t have any more room in the cabinet. Mugs are great, but have become one of the most predictable gifts. Instead, maybe consider something else in the hot beverage category that would be a little more surprising. For example, if the receiver is a big tea drinker, consider buying them a teapot instead of just another mug to drink out of. Better yet, there are plenty of monthly tea bag, coffee, beverage subscriptions for any drink lover. Monthly subscription services can be the gift that quite literally keeps on giving all year round, and many of these services offer discounted gift packages to utilize!

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Ties – As stated by the title, we all know that getting a tie for your dad, grandpa, uncle, or any man in your life, is the most stereotypical and predictable “masculine” gift one could give. If the man in your life works in an industry that requires formal ware as the uniform, than it makes sense why this would be your go to gift. However, a gift that’s meant to be used for ones work, is really just reminding the receiver that they have to work the next day, and who wants to think about that on one of the rare days off they get throughout the year? Instead of a tie, think deeper into areas of the receivers wardrobe that’s due for a bit of an upgrade. Maybe a nice pair of casual sneakers, a cool new denim jacket, some accessories to upgrade any sort of outfit, etc. Clothing in general can be a great and unique gift to give to a person, but it’s even better when it’s an item of clothing the person would actually want to wear on any given day, not just for work exclusively.

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Socks/Undergarments – Now, when i say socks and underwear, I don’t necessarily mean all kinds. When it comes to socks with cool patterns, fuzzy isolated interiors, fluffy lining, knitted patterning, etc. I’m all in, and in general, those are the types of generic gifts people go out of their way to ask for. Same thing with underwear, whether it be a multi-colored pack of Calvin Klein boxer briefs, a luxury in the underwear world, or a multi-pack of food themed patterned undergarments, by all means, give away. However, generic packs of plain white socks and Hanes underwear, just don’t cut it anymore. It would be more beneficial to just buy your loved one some new underwear and tell them they were in need of an upgrade. Comfy interiors, and unique designs are very trendy currently, so steer clear of the basic standards and go for something a little more fresh.

Gift Cards – This may be a controversial one, and is just as divided of an idea as socks and underwear. Gift cards are perfect for your niece/nephew, cousins, even some close friends. Instead of shopping at their favorite establishment for them, you just give them a credit at the store and let them go nuts, it’s a great idea to be honest. However, a gift card in general is thought of as the holiday gift for the last minute shopper. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Gift card’s are perfect for any co-worker, however, if you’re looking for a gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe steer clear of them. Instead, think about the place that you’re getting the card from, and don’t underestimate your ability to pick out something you know your loved one will actually enjoy from the establishment. Trust your gut, and when in doubt, call their sibling and ask if they’d like what you’ve picked out.

All of these gift items do still work as great gifts depending on the person and situation. However, anyone will agree that when it comes to “generic” and overdone gifts, these only scratch the surface. Don’t be afraid to use any of these as a back up and branch out in terms of where you shop for everyone you need to buy for this year. Worst case, a $30 Starbucks gift card should suffice.

Christmas Market

We’ve Looked at Six Fantastic Christmas Markets You Should Visit This December

With Christmas only five weeks away it is time to start putting together your list of presents, activities and decoration shopping and although the thought of heading to the bigger stores can be appealing we think a Christmas market is an even better idea.

We’ve looked at some of the markets across the country and put together some of the best, and funkiest, markets for you to choose from.

Christmas Village, Philadelphia

Based on the traditional German markets, the Christmas Village in Philadelphia has many German vendors selling authentic German trinkets, Christmas decorations, toys, accessories and much more. It is always worth going to these German markets with an empty stomach so you can fill up on amazing goodies including German bratwursts, a glass of Gluhwein, schnitzels and cotton candy.

When: November 28th – December 24th 2019
Open: Sunday to Thursday, 11am – 7pm. Friday to Saturday, 11am – 8pm. Thanksgiving Day 9am – 5pm & Christmas Eve 11am – 5pm.
Where: Love Park, JFK Plaza, Philadelphia

Georgetown Christmas Markets, Colorado

If you fancy a more traditional setting for a Christmas market head over to Colorado and their snowy mountains to the beautiful town of Georgetown and join in with their 60th annual Christmas market. As well as their outdoor European marketplace there are also horse drawn wagon rides, Christmas museum tours, appearances by St. Nicholas, carolers in Victorian dress and a Santa Lucia Children’s Procession each day at noon.

Like most Christmas markets there is free entry leaving you more money to spend in the many stunning stalls selling a mixture of Christmas goodies, food and drink – including the amazing Colorado wine – and the different tours through Hamill House, Hotel de Paris and Energy Museums.

When: December 7th & 8th and December 14th & 15th 2019
Open: 10am – 5pm
Where: 6th Street, Downtown Georgetown, Colorado

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Christkindlmarkt, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Visited by locals and tourists alike, Christkindlmarkt is an experience for everyone. Celebrating their 27th year there have been many new booths added for 2019 meaning you can buy your Christmas presents, eat your Christmas food and listen to the live Christmas music that is played the entire day.

You can also treat your pets here with several booths dedicated to our furry friends, including a pet photo session with St. Nicholas on certain dates. Make sure you also visit the fire pits and igloos in the outdoor village!

When: November 22nd – December 22nd 2019
Open: Thursday (from 5th December) 11am – 6pm, Fridays 11am – 8pm, Saturdays 10am – 8pm and Sundays 10am – 6pm.
Where: Steelstacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Columbus Circle Holiday Market, New York

You cannot compile a guide to the best Christmas markets across the country without including New York.

New York City has several markets, including Union Square Holiday Market and Grand Central Holiday Fair however we think you should head to Columbus Circle Holiday Market in Central Park West.

Although this is one of the smaller markets it has a huge personality! The buzz you feel as you wander around the jewelry, Christmas decorations, scarves and gloves and children’s toys is something you may not experience in many other markets.

And with the location being Central Park West it is easy enough to head towards the Wollman Rink for some ice-skating under the New York skyline.

When: December 4th – 24th 2019
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am – 8pm, Sunday 10am – 7pm
Where: Columbus Circle, 59th Street, Central Park West, New York City

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The Old World Christmas Market, Wisconsin

Wisconsin may be famous for its cheese but their Old World Christmas Market is also something you should be visiting.

With similarities to the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, Wisconsin’s 22nd annual market is full of Christmas cheer from around the world. Whether you prefer Russian nesting dolls, Czech glass-blown ornaments or Estonia woollens there really is something for everyone.

Once you have finished your shopping head over to The Old World Food Court which has a fantastic choice of international fare, including Nuremberg bratwurst, apple strudel, dumplings and more. And if that isn’t enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, Father Christmas himself will be wandering around the market, ready to speak to anyone regardless of which list they have made!

When: December 6th – 15th 2019
Open: 10am – 5pm
Where: The Osthoff Resort, 101 Osthoff Avenue, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco

If you are looking for a Christmas fair with a difference head over to Daly City in San Francisco where they will be hosting their Great Dickens Christmas Fair, dedicated to life in Victorian London, England.

You’ll join hundreds of performers in a twilight evening in Charles Dickens’ London Town and can roam the winding streets in search of Christmas gifts, decorations, food and drink with the beautiful aroma of roasted chestnuts in the air.

When: November 23rd – December 22nd 2019
Open: 10am – 7pm
Where: Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, San Francisco

Whichever Christmas market you decide to head to – whether on our list or not – we’re sure you’ll have an amazing time.