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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Xmas:

And That’s Your Lot

Today marked the end of the Advent Calendar of Oddments and, as much as I enjoyed putting it together, it was bloody exhausting, so I can’t promise we’ll have a repeat of it next year.

Anyway, for anyone who missed any entries I thought I’d post a list of links for ya’:

And on that note, merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Stereograph Christmas Scenes

Just thought I’d polish off the Advent Calendar of Oddments with these pleasant scenes of Christmas past.

All can be credited to Strohmeyer & Wyman.

[Sources: Met Museum : Daily Mail : Flickr : Falmanac]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 24th

(Source: google.co.uk)

Father Christmas is Dead
Sorry kids…
Historians have uncovered evidence that Father Christmas lived in Essex and died nearly 500 years ago. Archivists at the county’s records’ office have discovered a brief archive entry that states Father Christmas was laid to rest at a churchyard in the village of Dedham on May 30, 1564. It simply reads: ‘The 30th Day, Father Christmas was buried.’
[Obviously there’s a boring explanation for this, which you can read about in the original article]



Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 23rd

Father Christmas is Dead

Sorry kids…

Historians have uncovered evidence that Father Christmas lived in Essex and died nearly 500 years ago. Archivists at the county’s records’ office have discovered a brief archive entry that states Father Christmas was laid to rest at a churchyard in the village of Dedham on May 30, 1564. It simply reads: ‘The 30th Day, Father Christmas was buried.’

[Obviously there’s a boring explanation for this, which you can read about in the original article]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 23rd

The Lord of Misrule and the Feast of Fools
In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools - a riotous banquet where the central idea seems always to have been a brief social revolution in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly conferred on those in a subordinate position. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to oversee these Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness, wild partying and general licentiousness.
The appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. 
In the medieval version young people chose from among their own number a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule. Participants would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the chief church of the place, and give themselves such names as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, Boy Bishop, or Pope of Fools.
The parody often tipped dangerously towards the profane, the ceremonies mocking the performance of the highest offices of the church, while other persons, dressed in different kinds of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practised all manner of revelry within the church building. As a result, the Feast and the almost blasphemous extravagances were constantly the object of condemnations of the medieval Church, until it was finally forbidden under the very severest penalties by the Council of Basel in 1431.
[Image Source: Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 22nd

The Lord of Misrule and the Feast of Fools

In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools - a riotous banquet where the central idea seems always to have been a brief social revolution in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly conferred on those in a subordinate position. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to oversee these Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness, wild partying and general licentiousness.

The appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. 

In the medieval version young people chose from among their own number a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule. Participants would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the chief church of the place, and give themselves such names as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, Boy Bishop, or Pope of Fools.

The parody often tipped dangerously towards the profane, the ceremonies mocking the performance of the highest offices of the church, while other persons, dressed in different kinds of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practised all manner of revelry within the church building. As a result, the Feast and the almost blasphemous extravagances were constantly the object of condemnations of the medieval Church, until it was finally forbidden under the very severest penalties by the Council of Basel in 1431.

[Image Source: Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 22nd

Befana
Here comes, here comes the BefanaShe comes from the mountains in the deep of the nightLook how tired she is! All wrapped upIn snow and frost and the north wind!Here comes, here comes the Befana!
One may recall the previous Advent post demonstrating the curious depiction of witches on Christmas cards. Well, Befana may go some way to explaining that little oddity…
In the Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (January 5) in a similar way Santa Claus.
Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was but Befana did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The men invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus, however, she was unable to find them, so to this day, she is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy or fruit, while the bad children get coal, onions or garlic.
Another legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.
Also, popular tradition tells that if one sees Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. 

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 21st

Befana

Here comes, here comes the Befana
She comes from the mountains in the deep of the night
Look how tired she is! All wrapped up
In snow and frost and the north wind!
Here comes, here comes the Befana!

One may recall the previous Advent post demonstrating the curious depiction of witches on Christmas cards. Well, Befana may go some way to explaining that little oddity…

In the Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (January 5) in a similar way Santa Claus.

Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was but Befana did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The men invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus, however, she was unable to find them, so to this day, she is searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good children toys and candy or fruit, while the bad children get coal, onions or garlic.

Another legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.

Also, popular tradition tells that if one sees Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen. 

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 21st

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Art of Panto
Pantomime is one of those rare theatrical events that doesn’t translate into any other time or place – it is … a bizarre [and exclusively] Christmas genre. It is a surprising amalgam of a variety of rich artistic traditions [with] its origins in the Bacchanalia of ancient Rome, the medieval Italian Commedia dell’arte, medieval morality plays and riotous routines of Victorian Music hall[s]. While present day panto seems utterly out of control, it actually has a very structured framework, based on a strong story line, where good battles against evil and is victorious.
Tradition says, for example, that the pantomime villain should be the first to enter, from the ’dark side’, stage left, followed by his adversary, the good fairy, from stage right, echoing the Middle Ages, when the entrances to heaven and hell were placed in these positions.
Italian Night Scenes, first seen in Britain at Drury Lane in 1700 [are] Perhaps the most obvious ancestors of the modern panto. Th[ey] were rowdy plays in which the plot was communicated by slapstick and dance, rather than dialogue. The basic theme generally consisted of a misunderstanding leading to a comedy brawl, and, although many people regarded them as vulgar, they became extremely popular.
Slapstick, a crucial aspect of panto, takes its name from a device used in these early entertainments. Harlequin (a panto stock character) used to carry with him a wooden sword [that] had a hinged flap that created a loud ‘slapping’ noise when used, giving emphasis to comic actions.
The 1800s introduced the pantomime Dame, played by a man; the Ugly Sisters, also played by men; and the Principal Boy, played by a woman. The reasons for the cross-dressing were simple: it was only just becoming even remotely respectable for women to enter the theatrical profession, and those who had made the break certainly didn’t wish to portray elderly, ugly or villainous women. Equally (in a society where women were required to be modestly dressed) theatrical entrepreneurs well understood that a young woman showing a shapely leg in tight fabric while playing the part of a man would be acceptable on the grounds of artistic license – and would, of course, bring in the audiences.
[Edited from the article “He’s Behind You…” by Jill Glenn for Optima Magazine]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 20th

The Art of Panto

Pantomime is one of those rare theatrical events that doesn’t translate into any other time or place – it is … a bizarre [and exclusively] Christmas genre. It is a surprising amalgam of a variety of rich artistic traditions [with] its origins in the Bacchanalia of ancient Rome, the medieval Italian Commedia dell’arte, medieval morality plays and riotous routines of Victorian Music hall[s]. While present day panto seems utterly out of control, it actually has a very structured framework, based on a strong story line, where good battles against evil and is victorious.

Tradition says, for example, that the pantomime villain should be the first to enter, from the ’dark side’, stage left, followed by his adversary, the good fairy, from stage right, echoing the Middle Ages, when the entrances to heaven and hell were placed in these positions.

Italian Night Scenes, first seen in Britain at Drury Lane in 1700 [are] Perhaps the most obvious ancestors of the modern panto. Th[ey] were rowdy plays in which the plot was communicated by slapstick and dance, rather than dialogue. The basic theme generally consisted of a misunderstanding leading to a comedy brawl, and, although many people regarded them as vulgar, they became extremely popular.

Slapstick, a crucial aspect of panto, takes its name from a device used in these early entertainments. Harlequin (a panto stock character) used to carry with him a wooden sword [that] had a hinged flap that created a loud ‘slapping’ noise when used, giving emphasis to comic actions.

The 1800s introduced the pantomime Dame, played by a man; the Ugly Sisters, also played by men; and the Principal Boy, played by a woman. The reasons for the cross-dressing were simple: it was only just becoming even remotely respectable for women to enter the theatrical profession, and those who had made the break certainly didn’t wish to portray elderly, ugly or villainous women. Equally (in a society where women were required to be modestly dressed) theatrical entrepreneurs well understood that a young woman showing a shapely leg in tight fabric while playing the part of a man would be acceptable on the grounds of artistic license – and would, of course, bring in the audiences.

[Edited from the article “He’s Behind You…” by Jill Glenn for Optima Magazine]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 20th

Grýla
In Icelandic mythology Grýla is a terrible mountain-dwelling monster and giantess who ventures down from her lair at Christmas time in search of naughty children to cook in a stew and eat, with the vain hope of remedying her insatiable appetite.
According to the legend Grýla has been married three times and her current husband, Leppalúði, lives with her and her their sons, the Yule Lads - mischievous and criminal Santa-type figures who also torment the Icelandic people by harassing sheep, stealing food, and window-peeping - in their cave in the Dimmuborgir lava fields, along with the black Yule Cat.
The legend dates back to the 13th century, though it didn’t become associated with Christmas until the 17th. In 1746 a decree was issued banning the use of Grýla and the Yule Lads to scare children.
[Written with the help of Wikipedia. Image: Grýla by Þrándur Þórarinsson]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 19th

Grýla

In Icelandic mythology Grýla is a terrible mountain-dwelling monster and giantess who ventures down from her lair at Christmas time in search of naughty children to cook in a stew and eat, with the vain hope of remedying her insatiable appetite.

According to the legend Grýla has been married three times and her current husband, Leppalúði, lives with her and her their sons, the Yule Lads - mischievous and criminal Santa-type figures who also torment the Icelandic people by harassing sheep, stealing food, and window-peeping - in their cave in the Dimmuborgir lava fields, along with the black Yule Cat.

The legend dates back to the 13th century, though it didn’t become associated with Christmas until the 17th. In 1746 a decree was issued banning the use of Grýla and the Yule Lads to scare children.

[Written with the help of Wikipedia. Image: Grýla by Þrándur Þórarinsson]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 19th

A Curious Collection of Creepy Santa Clauses 

I actually found a website dedicated to this sort of thing which one may view here.

Do some of them remind anyone else of Victorian post-mortem photographs?

[Images Sources: 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 18th

Father Christmas and the Coca Cola Company
Father Christmas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in Britain, and pictures of him survive from that era, portraying him as a jolly well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe - something like the 19th century image above.
Contrary to popular belief The Coca-Cola company did not invent Father Christmas’ red suit:

Urban myth has it that the red suit only appeared after the Coca Cola company started an advertising campaign depicting a red suited Father Christmas in the 1930s. Though images of Santa Claus were popularised through depictions of him for The Coca-Cola Company’s Christmas advertising in the 30s, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilise the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising—White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa in 1915 and 1923 advertisements. 
Earlier still, Santa Claus had appeared dressed in red and white on several covers of Puck magazine in the first few years of the twentieth century, whilst cartoonist Thomas Nast had portrayed Santa Claus in red in an 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly.

The Wikipedia for Santa Claus is actually a pretty interesting read if perchance you’re interested in the evolution of the character.

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 17th

Father Christmas and the Coca Cola Company

Father Christmas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in Britain, and pictures of him survive from that era, portraying him as a jolly well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe - something like the 19th century image above.

Contrary to popular belief The Coca-Cola company did not invent Father Christmas’ red suit:

Urban myth has it that the red suit only appeared after the Coca Cola company started an advertising campaign depicting a red suited Father Christmas in the 1930s. Though images of Santa Claus were popularised through depictions of him for The Coca-Cola Company’s Christmas advertising in the 30s, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilise the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising—White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa in 1915 and 1923 advertisements. 

Earlier still, Santa Claus had appeared dressed in red and white on several covers of Puck magazine in the first few years of the twentieth century, whilst cartoonist Thomas Nast had portrayed Santa Claus in red in an 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly.

The Wikipedia for Santa Claus is actually a pretty interesting read if perchance you’re interested in the evolution of the character.

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 17th

Earnst Haeckel’s Christmas Cards

All the sweet things that the squiddies,
Twittering in the dewy spray,
Wish each other in the springtime,
I wish you this happy day. 

Marine themed Christmas cards from Earnst Haeckel, the eminent German biologist, naturalist,  philosopher, physician, professor and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogeny, ecology, phylum, phylogeny, stem cell, and the kingdom Protista. [Wikipedia]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 16th

(Source: retronaut.com)

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