Why is our boy surprised?
He’s just made a startling discovery!!
Poor Little Guy!! Tomorrow, Shop ‘Til You Drop! Rita Bay
Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) was a famous American painter and illustrator that reflected American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades.
Among the best-known of Rockwell’s works are the Rosie the Riveter, Saying Grace (1951), and the Four Freedoms series. He was also known for some of his Christmas paintings.
What do you think has surprised the young boy on the right? More tomorrow. Rita Bay
After a visit to the Holy Land, Saint Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene in 1223. The first nativity scenes were living depictions of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Magi, shepherds, and animals from the descriptions in the Gospels. Later nativity scenes were permanent displays with statues of wood or stone. The oldest surviving nativity scene is housed in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. It was sculpted in marble by Arnolfo di Cambio in the late 13th century.
Tomorrow, Modern Secular Christmas Art Rita Bay
Many thanks to award-winning and multi-published author Allison Knight for contributing to Rita Bay’s Holiday Celebrations with her blog on Medieval Christmas. Allison is the author of the outstanding Song Medieval series from Champagne Books. WINDSONG is the latest in the series.
First, no one knows exactly on what day Christ was born. Pope Julius I selected December 25 way back in the 6th century. It might have been a play on words for the Druids celebrated the “Birth of the SUN” at that time and Julius declared the day to be the “Birth of the SON.” Since I write about medieval England, I’ll concentrate on their traditions. It’s not surprising to learn most of their traditions were influenced by the Druids.
Let’s start with the Yule log, a tradition in every castle and manor house in England. The Druids had a great reverence for trees, especially evergreens which you’ll see later. All trees were special and had spiritual meaning for the pagans. During the winter solstice, they’d selected a big log and keep it burning for the entire 12 days of celebrations which also included a lot of food, drink and games.
Back to the English Yule log. In the middle ages, the men of the household went into the woods searching for the perfect tree, then dragged it home and kept it burning for the twelve days of Christmas. If it burned for the full 12 days it brought good luck to the household.
The English also followed the tradition of feasting and drinking. The host would toast his guests with Wassail, a strong hot drink of ale, honey and spices. Caroling came much later because the Church, which played a central part in everyone’s life, didn’t approve of it.
Even the breads they ate can be traced back to a pagan religion. The Druids baked bread to honor the God of the Harvest. At Christmas in the middle ages, they called their special bread the bread of life and inscribed it with a “J” for Jesus.
Gift giving had nothing to do with Christmas back then. This was a religious time and the peasants loved it. The food of the day was mince meat pies and yes, those pies had shredded bits of meat along with fruit and spices. They were much smaller and looked nothing like our pies today. The days involved all kinds of religious dramas played out in Church. In fact, the original Christmas tree did not come from Germany. Remember the evergreens I mentioned that the Druids held in such reverence. On the 24th of December, a big fur was place outside of Church and decorated with apples, hence the first Christmas tree. The play on the 24th was all about the fall of man and the part the apple played in his downfall.
The nativity crib was first constructed in Italy by St. Francis of Assisi in the early part of the 13th century, but it wasn’t part of the medieval Christmas tradition in England.
I’ll add one final note. December 28th was considered a day of extreme bad luck. You didn’t go any place or do anything if you could help it. Did I mention there was a lot of superstitions in the middle ages?
Whatever your traditions, may I wish you all a Happy Christmas!
Award winning author, Allison Knight claims she’s married to the world’s greatest husband because he’s her greatest supporter and works with her on all her projects. The mother of four children, she retired from teaching to move south to warmer climes. She has written and published nineteen romances for both paperback and digital publishers. Her third medieval romance from her ‘song’ series and a short story are available from Champagne Books, Inc.
Because she can never quite step out of teaching mode, she blogs often sharing the knowledge she gained writing and publishing in the romance genre. She also loves to talk about the growing digital market.
You can find her at:
She blogs once a month for The Writers’ Vineyard, http://thewritersvineyard.com
Thank you again, Allison. Tomorrow, the oldest surviving free-standing nativity scene. Rita Bay
After buying that gorgeous solid gold Christmas tree, what can you put under it? Anything from Christie’s Elizabeth Taylor auction that begins tomorrow. More than 2,000 of Taylor’s belongings will be up for sale.
Taylor who died in March was married eight times, twice to actor Richard Burton. Her husbands were very generous. A ruby and diamond Cartier set, from hubby #3, film producer Mike Todd, is worth between $2 and $3 million. A pearl and diamond necklace with the most perfect and largest natural pearl drop that’s in private hands is also up for sale. Then there’s the Elizabeth Taylor 33 carat diamond that Richard Burton bought for $300,000 in 1968 might set you back $3 million. Taylor’s clothes, accessories, artwork and memorabilia will also be on the block.
If you can’t afford those items there’s an online auction including costume jewelry, fine jewelry, and personal items and memorabilia some of which begin at $100. To view the entire collection or to register for the online auction, go to
BTW, today is my first day blogging with The Writers Vineyard (the second Monday of each month) at http://thewritersvineyard.com/. My blog is about How to Avoid Being Attacked by a Trojan. Please check it out so they’ll let me come back next month. Thanks so much, RB
Tomorrow, another Vintage Christmas Postcard Rita Bay
This year is the 80th anniversary of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola by artist Haddon Sundblom featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create his modern image.
The Coca-Cola Santa made its debut in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others. The instantly popular ad campaign appeared each season, reflecting the times. From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and even plush dolls.
Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman and friend of Sundblom, was the model for Santa using a live model. After Prentiss’ death Sundlblom used himself People loved the Coca-Cola Santa images and paid such close attention to them, that when anything changed, they sent letters to The Coca-Cola Company. One year, Santa’s large belt was backwards. Another year, Santa Claus appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus. The children who appear with Santa Claus in Haddon Sundlbom’s paintings were based on Sundblom’s neighbors. However, the neighbors were both girls, and Sundblom simply changed one to a boy in his paintings!
To read the whole story of the Coca-Cola Santa from which these excerpts were taken check out: http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_santa.html
Tomorrow, Another Coca-Cola Santa Rita Bay