Fun Facts about Our Christmas Traditions

Part 2 of 2

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference LibrarianArtificial-Christmas-Tree

Christmas Carols – These are songs specifically written and sung to celebrated the events of the Nativity. Carols have been around since the 300s. St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscans put poems to music and popularized the carols. During the reformation and in Puritan America, they were frowned upon and often illegal.

Christmas trees – No one really knows when this tradition started, but it is generally considered to have begun in Germany. Having Christmas trees spread slowly through Europe, and came to England with the German Hanoverian kings. Trees were truly popularized during Queen Victoria’s reign, with the influence of her husband, Prince Albert.

Christmas Wrapping – Originally, unwrapped presents were put out during Christmas Eve, after the tree was decorated. Nowadays, trees are put up so much earlier and gifts come from other family members. It is generally understood that any unwrapped gifts came from Santa Claus.

Christmas cards – Christmas cards started out as decorative note paper that people used to write to their relative on holidays. They became even more popular after Valentine’s Day cards spread throughout England in the 1830s.

Eggnog – This popular milk or cream based drink gets its name from an old term for ale, which was called nog. The drink was a French tradition, which we Americans promptly added ale (or liquor) to.

2256785187_179f1c297e_zNativity Scene or Crèche – The earliest known Nativity Scene dates back to Rome in the 300s; it was part of the Christ’s Mass, and was said to have come from Bethlehem. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with popularizing it when he placed real animals and people in the scene.

The Nutcracker – This story was written in 1816 by German author E T A Hoffman and was rather a dark grim tale. Alexandre Dumas adapted it in 1845 and made it less scary. In 1891, Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet which opened in St. Petersburg in 1892, and has remained popular ever since.

The Twelve Days of Christmas – This time period starts on December 26 and continues through Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day.) which is January 6th.  In 567, at the Council of Tours, it was decided that these twelve days would be set aside to honor and observe the birth of Christ.

Wassail – Wassail comes from the Old English words waes hael, which means “be well,” “be hale,” or “good health.” Originally it was a strong, hot drink (usually a mixture of ale, honey, and spices), but over the centuries some non-alcoholic versions of wassail evolved.

How to write Merry Christmas in other languages

Afrikaans Geseënde Kersfees
Czech Velike Vanoce
Danish Glaedelig Jul!
French Joyeux Noël
German Froeliche Weinachten
Italian Bono Natale
Japanese Meri Kurisumasu
Polish Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Swedish God Jul
Welsh Nadolig Llawen


Sources:

Guest Post: Have a Healthy Christmas!

8760623100_c7f6553d6b_bBy Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Every family has traditional holiday foods. Instead of using the holidays as an excuse for high-fat, high calorie feasting, use these 5 easy tips to remake your holiday favorites with good health in mind.

Holiday Tip #1: Control Portions

Set the holiday table with dinner plates 9 inches or so in diameter. No one will notice a decrease in portion sizes when you use smaller plates and glasses. Cut cake into 18 servings, make 4 dozen smaller cookies instead of 3 dozen larger ones, and use 4-ounce glasses for your favorite sparkling punch.

Holiday Tip #2: Double Up on Vegetables

Serve vitamin-packed, lower carbohydrate vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or broccoli in large bowls. Put higher calorie mashed potatoes and winter squashes in smaller bowls and use a smaller serving spoon. Your family will unknowingly serve themselves smaller portions. Instead of meatballs and cheese logs, feature vegetable appetizers like marinated mushrooms, tomato bruschetta, roasted asparagus, etc.

Holiday Tip #3: Give Healthful Gifts

Give homemade gifts that are made with healthful ingredients. Bake breads that feature whole grains, send a basket of fresh fruit instead of a box of candy, or tie a bow around a bag of nuts instead of cookies.

Holiday Tip #4: Lighten Up

Lighten up favorite recipes. Use fat-free evaporated skim milk instead of cream in custard pies and sauces, boost flavor in casseroles with spices instead of butter or salt, and bake foods instead of frying them. No one will notice the changes!

Holiday Tip #5: Make Fruit the Star

Give colorful fruit a starring role. Serve fresh berries for a holiday breakfast, include fresh fruit such as pineapple, mango, kiwi, and red grapes on bamboo skewers for a holiday buffet. Offer dates and grapes instead of cheese and crackers, etc.

On the 1st Day of Christmas, One Librarian Blogging: 10 Charming Children’s Christmas Books

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Assistant Librarian

polar‘Tis the season—for reading! Here is a non-comprehensive, totally subjective, but thoroughly festive list of Christmas books for children. In no particular order:

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: This “new classic” and Caldecott Medal winner has amazing illustrations and a sweet, inspiring story about a boy’s Christmas Eve journey with Santa Claus and other children to the North Pole. (The page with the wolves is my favorite.)

grinchHow The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss: “Maybe Christmas perhaps . . . means a little bit more.” Join The Grinch on his night of marauding and morning of soul searching when he learns that Christmas came to Whoville even without the boxes and bags.

Olive, The Other Reindeer by J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh: Colorful, whimsical artwork combines with a hilarious storyline about Olive the Dog for a fun holiday book that is sure to make anyone’s Christmas a little merrier.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: In October of 1843, Charles Dickens was giving new meaning to the term “starving artist.” Deep in debt and under huge obligations to his publisher, Dickens began crafting what would become the quintessential Christmas story, and creating one of the most memorable and enduring characters in English literature in Ebenezer Scrooge.

auntieAuntie Claus by Elise Primavera: Is Sophie’s eccentric great-aunt Auntie Claus just another weird New Yorker, or is there something else going on there? Snuggle up and accompany Sophie on her yuletide adventure. (There are also some fun sequels!)

Christmas In The Barn by Margaret Wise Brown: There are two editions of this lovely interpretation of The Nativity; the original was published in 1952 and alternated pages in color and black-and-white, similar to Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon.  The 2007 edition keeps the simple, beautiful original text but features all new illustrations in full color.

reindeerThe Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett: Teeka, a young Arctic girl living “in the shadow of Santa’s Winterfarm,” has been tasked with getting Santa’s reindeer ready to fly on Christmas Eve. The creatures are not responsive to Teeka’s tactics of yelling and bossing. She realizes that to prevent the annual sleigh ride across the skies from being a disaster, she is going to have to come up with some new motivational methods for Bramble, Heather, Windswept, Lichen, Snowball, Crag, Twilight, and Tundra.

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg: A mysterious stranger rides into a small prairie town one cold November night. (No, it isn’t Clint Eastwood.) The stranger’s identity is revealed to a young girl named Lucy, and he tells her of the legend of the candy cane and provides the answer to the town’s dreams. Will Lucy in turn share her newfound knowledge?

comfortThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson: The horrible Herdman horde is a lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, smoking, cussing bunch of social outlaws. When they decide to commandeer the annual Nativity program at the local church, the congregation is caught completely flat-footed. However, the result is one of the most unorthodox—and hilarious—Christmas pageants ever.

Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco: Life is no sleigh ride for foster child Welcome Comfort at any time, but especially around Christmas, with no family or friends, no presents, and no Santa Claus. But when Welcome makes a new friend in the school custodian Mr. Hamp, his fortune just may be changing.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

11 Free Ways to Enjoy the Holidays at the Williamson County Public Library

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Library Assistantd9890eccdf1d0946cb63a759e5745ba8

  1. Mood Music. Attend a concert of seasonal music by artists like Hannah and Esther DeLadurantey and the Eleganza Strings presenting a Family Christmas Concert on harp and violin.
  2. Come and see Santa with your family, and be sure to bring your cameras for that special photo.
  3. Enjoy a holiday musical like this year’s production of “Cindy’s Magic Snow Globe.”
  4. Take in a holiday movie on the Library’s Big Screen selected Friday Mornings and Thursday evenings.
  5. Save money by borrowing books from the library; and that includes electronic books.
  6. Need a holiday recipe? Take advantage of the library’s entire of wall of cookbooks as well as using our Zinio connection to read cooking magazines free online.
  7. What about some DIY Crafts for that personal touch in gifts? Attend a craft class in making bead bracelets or Christmas tree ornaments.   You might also want to see the good DIY books, ready to borrow for your special project.
  8. Tech Tune-up! Take time out to learn more about computers and technology by attending classes like Microsoft Word, Excel, or our “Appy Hour:” where we learn about choosing the best apps for your tablet or Ipad.
  9. It’s family time. Learn about your family history in a class taught by library archivists called, “Introduction to Ancestry.com.”
  10. Enjoy the special activities for teens, like the Teen Cookie Decorating Party.
  11. Learn French (or German, or Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and more) for your next vacation or just for fun with the library’s free online language program called “Powerspeak.”

Bonus: Find a perfect holiday gift at a reasonable price from the Library’s Academy Park Press. Available at the main library circulation desk are the children’s book, Bucky and Bonnie’s Library Adventure, and the recently published: Bullets and Bayonets: A Battle of Franklin Primer.

The History of Christmas

Part 1 of 2

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference  Librarian732px-Jonathan_G_Meath_portrays_Santa_Claus

Most church historians have said that although December 25 is the official birth date for Jesus, most believe he was born in March. So why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25?

Because of Mithras. Mithraism spread across Asia Minor from Persia and became very popular with the Roman army. The Roman army was made up of conquered peoples, many of whom worshiped Mithras. He was a sun god; one of his main celebration dates was December 25, to ensure that the sun would be reborn to bring warmth to the world again in the spring and summer.   When Christianity was just starting, Mithraism was one of its main rivals. So the church changed the date of the celebration of Jesus’ birth to December 25.

The other main rival for Christmas was the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. This farming festival included feasting, giving gifts to family and sharing food with the poor lasted a whole week, ending on December 25. The Romans drank to excess and ate to excess, which is what many do today. The early Church considered these celebrations unseemly, so they made giving gifts and food to the poor part of the Christmas festival.

Christmas was a solemn and reflective holy day (holiday) for several centuries for Christians – Christmas was originally Christ’s Mass, a special service.   But the pagan celebrations persisted for so long that the Church adopted them, hoping that the pagans would become Christian.

The way we celebrate Christmas now generally originated in the Middle Ages, mostly from England. The decorations, carols, food, cards and gift giving were brought to the United States from England, Holland and Germany. Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicolas, which in Dutch became Sinter Claus, which became Santa Claus. In Holland, Belgium and Italy, children are left presents in their shoes on December 6, which is St. Nicholas’ Day. The Santa Claus we all know and are used to was created by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly, and first appeared in 1863!

Did you know Christmas was outlawed in the Puritan community of Plymouth. The Puritans associated all the celebrating and carousing with paganism. By the 1870s, Christmas gradually began to become more like what we know now. In the Jamestown Colony, in Virginia, Christmas was celebrated riotously, almost like it was in England.

Fun facts about our Christmas traditions coming in Part II!!


Sources:

Cold Comfort Farm – What’s It All About??

coldBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Cold Comfort Farm was written in 1933 by Stella Gibbons, and is a satire of earthy British novels, ala Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence and the Brontes. It’s also vaguely science fictiony. Imagine if Mark Twain has written a parody of Jane Eyre or Return of the Native. It’s a staff favorite for many reasons, because of the quirky characters – human and bovine—and how each person is figured out; plus it is really very funny!

Here’s the plot: Miss Flora Poste has just turned 20 and has been recently orphaned. Her parents left her a modest inheritance of £100.00 per year, not quite enough to live on. She writes to her relatives about coming to visit for a year (and give them the £100.00), and gets varying replies. The most intriguing one is from the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm. She thinks she could be useful there and decides to take the challenge. The farm is full of mud, dread, suspicion and a recluse. She writes her friend to send wellington boots and the latest fashion magazines. She firmly believes that there is almost nothing in life than can’t be set to rights with good hygiene, good manners and proper foundation garments. And so, with pragmatism and cheerful optimism she sets out to put the farm and family to rights. Unfortunately, we never do find out what Ada saw in the woodshed…

The movie is a wonderful adaptation of the book, starring Sir Ian McKellan, Rufus Sewell, Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Fry and other British actors you would have heard of if you watch PBS. We hope you either read the book, or come watch it Thursday, December 18 at 6:00 in the Meeting Room.

Read to Your Child: Doctor’s Orders!

By Megan Sheridan, Children’s Librarian

Has your child’s doctor told you to read to your little one?  If not, maybe you’ve heard about this; the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised pediatricians to urge parents and caregivers to read to their children (read the article).  Why are some doctors doing this?  It’s because reading to children, especially ages 0 to 5, plays a crucial role in preparing them for success in school and in life. Reading to very young children is not about teaching them to read but getting them ready to read.  The American Library Association (ALA) has built a program around this concept called Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR). As more and more data about the importance of Early Childhood Literacy has been published and analyzed, groups like The American Academy of Pediatrics and others are urging caregivers to read to their children.

You might be overwhelmed or even intimidated when an article, book or doctor tells you to read to your child.  You might wonder “what books should I read to my little one(s)?” and “How do I prepare my child for Kindergarten?”

Created by Rebecca Tischler

Created by Rebecca Tischler

If you’ve asked yourself these questions; don’t worry! You’re probably already doing many things to get your child ready to read and if you’re not, it’s easy to start and never too late.

There are five activities to develop your child’s early literacy skills: Talk, Read, Sing, Write and Play. For a quick explanation of these activities and examples of how to do them visit this website from the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota. The five activities can be done in your daily routine. For example, simply talk to your child about the world around you and the activities you do every day. Talk about how pretty the white clouds are in the sky and how the cozy the blanket is. Don’t feel silly talking to your newborn when you’re changing her diaper or getting her bottle ready. The more your child hears you talk the more words she’ll learn and this is vital for early childhood literacy development.

If you, like most parents and caregivers, feel stretched for time and have a busy life, you might not get as much time to read with your children as you would like.  That’s okay because you can still do reading activities without a book!  Read street signs out loud as you pass them by in the car when your little one is in the back seat.  Look at cereal boxes in the grocery store and read the names of the cereal out loud. Do this for infants too, and not just for toddlers and preschoolers.

By talking, reading, singing, writing and playing with your child every day she will not only be prepared for school and life but you will have fun together. And that’s one doctor’s order that is easy to follow!

Resources:

  • To find examples of great books to read to your child, visit Let’s Read on the Williamson County Public Library website and click on toddler and pre-school tabs on the right.  This will bring up lists of books that are just right for children in the 0 to 5 range.  We also have board books which are wonderful for babies and toddlers.  Believe it or not, by giving your baby or toddler a board book and letting her play with it you’re getting her ready to read! Your baby is learning how to hold the book and turn the pages. These are the building blocks of literacy and it’s never too early to start teaching them to your baby. She might even put the book in her mouth and that’s okay! That’s how babies learn about the world around them.
  • tree

    Click here for the PDF

    Zero to Three has some great information about how to choose a book for babies, toddlers and families. There is also a more in depth explanation of early language and literacy development on their website.

  • For more ideas on how to develop early literacy skills download the ACPL Family app, which is FREE! It has wonderful examples of how to do the five early literacy activities every day.
  • The Library of Virginia has an easy to understand visual of the five Early Literacy activities. An image of a sun and a tree is used to illustrate the components of Early Childhood Literacy. The caregiver is the sun. He or she makes the difference in a child’s early literacy development. The fruit of the caregiver’s interactions with a child, of doing the five activities together, is that she will find it easier to learn to read. Click here for more explanation:

 

Janice Keck Literary Awards 2015

Submission Guidelines

janiceJ

The Williamson County Public Library is pleased to announce that submissions are being accepted for the 2015 Janice Keck Literary Awards to promote excellence in writing by authors currently residing in Williamson County, Tennessee. These awards honor the memory of the late Janice Keck, Director of the Williamson County Public Library from 1979 until her death in 2011. Keck, an author herself, was a strong supporter of writers and writing in the community. The awards given in her name recognize excellence in four categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry collections, and writing for children. Only unpublished works will be considered for the awards, although authors who have previously had works published are encouraged to enter.

Submissions will be judged by an independent review committee made up of published authors who are not affiliated with the Williamson County Public Library. In the event that there are no submissions which meet the criteria in any given category, the review committee reserves the right not to make an award in that category. Submissions will be accepted between December 1, 2014 and March 2, 2015.

The winning authors will receive a publishing package to include:

  • Assistance in setting up an account with IngramSpark for e-book and print
  • Assistance in obtaining copyright registration (the author will hold the copyright to the work)
  • International Standard Book Number and barcode
  • Assistance with registration with online vendors
  • 10 print copies of the work

Eligibility Requirements

  • Authors must be over the age of 18.
  • Authors must live in Williamson County.
  • Employees of the Williamson County Public Library are not eligible to enter.
  • Authors who previously entered the Janice Keck Literary Awards competition may re-submit their work as long as the work has not been published.
  • Authors may submit work in more than one category, but only one submission per category.

Submissions may be made in one of the following ways:

  • Entries should be submitted in digital form, as a Word-compatible document or pdf.
  • Submissions should be uploaded to Google Drive, and shared with academy.park.press@gmail.com
  • Submissions may also be put on a disc or flash drive and mailed or delivered to the Williamson County Public Library, 1314 Columbia Avenue, Franklin, TN 37064, attention: Writing Contest Committee. Discs and flash drives will not be returned.

Submission Requirements

  • The author’s name should not appear anywhere in the manuscript.
  • The author must submit a separate cover sheet in addition to the manuscript that includes name, address, phone number, and email address. Entries that do not include the author’s address will not be considered.
  • Poetry collections should include not less than 24 poems.
  • No previously published work will be accepted. This includes individual articles, poems or short stories that have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, or other publications, and any works that have been self-published.
  • Manuscripts must be submitted as one complete document or file. Manuscripts sent with chapters and pages saved as individual files will NOT be accepted.
  • Manuscripts must be page numbered.
  • Children’s picture books will NOT be considered if they do not include all illustrations.
  • All artwork (illustrations, photos, maps, charts) must be included for works in any category.
  • Only copies of artwork, NOT the original artwork, should be submitted.
  • Submissions must include a 200-word description of the work.
  • All entries must be “publishing ready.” In this contest, “publishing ready” means that the manuscript:
    • Must be professionally edited (edited for content and thoroughly proofed).
    • Must include a copy of artwork for the book cover.

Submissions will not be returned.
No editorial feedback will be provided.

Questions should be sent to academy.park.press@gmail.com

Newsletter: November / December 2014

Vol.14, Issue 11

November / December 2014

Click Image to Read Newsletter

12-14

 

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Happy_Thanksgiving_by_Purdaisia

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