Thanksgiving is over and now we're looking at Christmas and New Year's. I was going to say, "What's happened to this year? Where has it gone?" But I think I'll save that, might use it in my New Year's blog. :)
It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than three weeks away. And, while Christmas seems to get most of the publicity—shopping ads, Mall decorations, movies, episodes of television series, and Christmas television specials—it is certainly not the only holiday at this time of year.
In addition to Christmas, we have the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Muslim Eid holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the week long African American heritage celebration of Kwanzaa, winter solstice and Yule.
Why do people kiss under the mistletoe? After all, mistletoe is a parasitic plant you find in the forest attached to and gaining its sustenance from its host tree. The entire plant is poisonous, especially the berries which are extremely toxic. Ingesting the berries causes acute stomach and intestinal pains, diarrhea, weak pulse, mental disturbances, and the collapse of blood vessels. Death has occurred within ten hours after eating the berries. Not exactly what first comes to mind when you think of kissing. :)
The tradition of linking mistletoe and kissing together started in Europe. According to Norse mythology, Baldur, the god of peace, was shot and killed by an arrow made of mistletoe. After the other gods brought him back to life, Frigga, the goddess of love, transformed mistletoe into a symbol of love and peace. And to this day, everyone who passes under the mistletoe must receive a kiss.
Hunky Santa Show:
And for several years there was the Hunky Santa Show held each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through the Christmas season at the Beverly Center (an upscale shopping center) in Los Angeles. Instead of a round tummy and big beard, these guys have buffed bodies with 6-pack abs and are probably more receptive to champagne than cookies and milk. In 2015, after several years of featuring this annual event, the Beverly Center has chosen to not include the Hunky Santa Show as part of their Christmas season. The Hunky Santa Show is still in operation around the country and a schedule can probably be found on their facebook page.
What about the place where Santas go to learn how to properly Ho Ho Ho? The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School is located in Midland, Michigan. The non-profit school has been in operation since its creation in 1937. It is the longest continuously running Santa Claus school in the world. Students attending the school learn the history of St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, proper dress and use of make-up, experience for radio and television interviews, Santa sign language, live reindeer habits, practice Santa flight lessons, newest toys and gadgets on wish lists, and much more.
So, the next time you see a Mall Santa, remember that he's most likely not merely some guy who stuck on a false beard and climbed into a red suit on a whim.
Be sure to check back here next Sunday, December 13, for a look at the Ancient roots of Christmas, and on December 20 for A Christmas Carol—Charles Dickens' story of the true spirit of Christmas.