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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Web Page 1106
22th December 2012

Top Picture: My Christmas card to you all

Second Picture: Christmas Carry On Poster

The bottom picture shows Station Road in Drayton when a combination of high tides and heavy rain last week caused flooding.

Christmas Overseas and at Home

This week’s page is written by Martin in the USA and he is looking at the differences between a GB Christmas and a US Christmas. Plus a Cosham Christmas from Anida.

First Martin.

Christmas in United States of America

Santa Claus was born in US in the 1860's he was named this as he had a white beard and a belly, so he was named Santa Claus as this was the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sintaklaas. Although the Dutch had bought him with them in the 17th century, he did not become an important person at Christmas until Washington Irving put him in a novel in 1809. This first Santa Claus was still known as St. Nicholas, he did smoke a pipe and flew around in a wagon without any reindeer, but he did not have his red suit or live at the North Pole, he did however bring presents to children every year.
In 1863 he was given the name Santa Claus and bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh.
Now Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the US because of the variety of nationalities which have settled in it.
In Pennsylvania, the Moravians build a landscape, called a putz - under the Christmas tree, while in the same state the Germans are given gifts by Belsnickle, who taps them with his switch if they have misbehaved.
Early European settlers brought many traditions to the United States. Many settled in the early days in the South, these settlers would send Christmas greetings to their distant neighbors by shooting firearms and letting off fireworks. In Hawaii this practice hapens as under the sunny skies, Santa Claus arrives by boat and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors.
In Alaska, a star on a pole is taken from door to door, followed by Herod's Men, who try to capture the star. Colonial doorways are often decorated with pineapple, a symbol of hospitality.
In Alaska, boys and girls with lanterns on poles carry a large figure of a star from door to door. They sing carols and are invited in for supper.
In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree's lights.
In Boston, carol singing festivities are famous. The singers are accompanied by hand bells.
In New Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and with ribbons tied to its horns.
In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas is kept up. This is a ritual procession and play representing the search of Mary and Joseph for a room at the inn. Families play the parts and visit each other's houses re-enacting the drama and, at the same time, having a look at each family's crib.
In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship, which is a ship bringing a great load of Christmas fare. Santa Claus also arrives by boat.
In California, Santa Claus sweeps in on a surf board.
In America the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.
The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with the exchange of gifts and greetings and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the Midnight Mass. At Christmas it snows in many states, so dinner is usually eaten indoors. Dinner usually is roast turkey, goose, duck or ham with cranberry sauce, then plum pudding or pumpkin pie followed by nuts and fruit.
American homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and branches of trees, most have a Christmas tree hung with electric lights, tinsel, baubles, and strings of popcorn and candy canes.
In Colorado, an enormous star is put on the mountain; it can be seen for many kilometers, while in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a star is lit in early December.
Polish Americans on Christmas Eve spread hay on their kitchen floor and under the tablecloth to remind them of a stable and a manger. When they make up the table for dinner two extra places are set up for Mary and the Christ Child in case they should knock at the door to ask for shelter.
In Philadelphia, a procession called a mummers parade runs for a whole day with bands, dancers and people in fancy dress.
There are two homes for Santa Claus in the United States one is in Torrington, Connecticut, where Santa and his helpers give out presents. The other home is in Wilmington, New York, where a village for Santa and his reindeer is located.
In Arizona they follow the Mexican traditions called Las Posadas. Families play out the parts of Mary and Joseph searching for somewhere to stay. They form a procession and visit their friends' and neighbors' homes where they admire each family's Nativity crib. In parts of New Mexico, people place lighted candles in paper bags filled with sand on streets and rooftops to light the way for the Christ Child.

Christmas in Florida

The weather outside may not be frightful, but Christmas in Florida can be so delightful. While balmy breezes and swaying palms may not be everyone's idea of a typical Christmas, Floridians have found some pretty unique ways to celebrate and for those who just can't do without ice and snow, we have that too... we even have a town named Christmas!
There really is a Christmas, Florida it may not see much snow, but the small post office near Fort Christmas sees lots of activity prior to the holidays. People come from miles to have their cards postmarked "Christmas, Florida!" If you go, expect to wait in longer-than-usual lines for what has become a holiday tradition for many. Additionally, the first weekend in December Fort Christmas celebrates a "Cracker Christmas" with pioneer demonstrations, homemade crafts, exhibits and barbeque. Christmas, Florida is located about 20 miles east of Orlando on Highway 50 at 1300 Fort Christmas Road
Even if we sing "Let it snow... let it snow..." - getting in the holiday mood in Florida is sometimes just plain hard. Enter any of of te Christmas shops and be transported into a winter wonderland. Lavishly decorated trees, twinkling lights, ornaments that shine, garland that shimmers and snow covering everything combines with the scent of pine to take you into another world. Whether you live in Florida or somewhere in the frozen north, you are probably looking for a great way to showcase those shells you picked up on the beach during your last vacation. Why not use them as decorations on your holiday tree? You're only limited by your imagination and we'll even give that a jump start with a few ideas, how-to craft projects, and places to purchase themed lights and ornaments.
It isn't hard to believe that after Santa spends much of the year at the North Pole that he wouldn't enjoy the warmth of Florida. It seems he gets away to the Sunshine State about this time every year for a little R&R before his all-night Christmas Eve sleigh ride, because he is sighted in the most unlikely places.
The Real Story of the still Number One Christmas Song White Christmas

"White Christmas" was written in 1940 by a Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie "Holiday Inn" starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Berlin's assignment was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the year. But Berlin, who was Jewish, found that writing a song about Christmas was the most challenging. He drew upon his experiences of the holiday in New York (including Christmas Trees erected by neighbours when he was a boy) and Los Angeles, but still felt that the end result was wanting. However, when Bing first heard Berlin audition "White Christmas" in 1941 he reassured Irving that he had created a winner. Bing's preliminary evaluation turned out to be a gross understatement.
Bing Crosby introduced "White Christmas" to the public on his NBC radio show on December 25, 1941. Apparently, no recording of this broadcast survived the War. He then recorded the song for Decca on May 29, 1942. "Holiday Inn" was released in August, 1942. By the end of the War it had become the biggest-selling single of all time. Bing's recording hit the charts on Oct. 3, 1942, and rose to No1 on Oct. 31, where it stayed for 11 weeks. In the following years Bing's recording hit the top 30 pop charts another 16 times, even topping the charts again in 1945 and January of '47. The song remains Bing's best-selling recording, and the best-selling Christmas single of all-time.
The success of the song led to a movie based on the song. "White Christmas" was released in 1954 and became the main box-office draw of 1954. The movie was supposed to reunite Crosby and Astaire for their third Irving Berlin extravaganza of song and dance. But Astaire bowed out after reading the script (another source says that Astaire was ill at the time). Donald O'Connor was selected to replace Astaire, but he, too, had to exit because of a back injury and was replaced by Danny Kaye.
Bing's "White Christmas" sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and was recognized as the best-selling single in any music category for more than 50 years until 1998 Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind," overtook it in a matter of months. However, Bing's recording of "White Christmas" has sold additional millions of copies as part of numerous albums, including his best-selling album "Merry Christmas", which was first released as an L.P. in 1949.
The most familiar version of "White Christmas" is not the one Crosby recorded in 1942, however. He was called back to the Decca studios on March 19, 1947, to re-record "White Christmas" as a result of damage to the 1942 master due to its frequent use. Every effort was made to reproduce the original Decca recording session. The resulting re-issue is the one that has become most familiar to the public.
Sheet music to White Christmas is not included in any major published collection. During his lifetime, Mr. Berlin jealously guarded the lyrics; "frostily refused permission to reprint his lyrics even to friends."
William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader
Because "White Christmas" may be the most popular American secular Christmas carol, rivaled only by "Jingle Bells," it could easily be presumed that it was treated as a star from the moment of its 1940 conception by Irving Berlin. Before its presentation to the public in the 1942 black-and-white movie Holiday Inn, the expected hit was to be the Valentine's Day song, "Be Careful, It's My Heart." That song quickly lost out to "White Christmas".
The honours for "White Christmas" commenced soon after its premier. It received the Oscar for best song of 1942.
According to a 1998 press release from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), "White Christmas" remains the number one performed Christmas carol, and is the most recorded Christmas carol (over 500 versions in "scores of languages"). The other top five are "Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town," Mel Torme’s "The Christmas Song," "Winter Wonderland," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Leroy Anderson’s "Sleigh Ride."
By 2003, however, "White Christmas" had slipped to the number two position on their list of Christmas songs. The number one song was "The Christmas Song" (Mel Torme and Robert Wells). The other three in the top five are "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie), "Winter Wonderland" (Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith), and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin). By 2007, "White Christmas" occupied the number five position (based on airplay over the preceding five years).
The Christian Science Monitor
Nostalgia with all the trimmings
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know ... in Beverly Hills, L.A.?
We all know that Bing could sing. He could sell, too, as 396 of his tunes hit the charts, including 38 No. 1 hits (the Beatles, by comparison captured the top spot 24 times). Worldwide, Crosby has sold more than 400 million records, but for all of his tunes - most done, famously, in a single take - one outsold, out-stripped, outlasted them all: "White Christmas," with total sales of more than 100 million copies. Even though the song has been covered by everyone from underground pop whiz-kids The Flaming Lips to Michael Bolton, The Three Tenors to Kiss, it's still Bing Crosby's 1942 version that defines the song.
Irvin Berlin was a Jewish immigrant from Siberia published 812 songs, of which 451 became hits. He did Hollywood and he did Broadway. He wrote in a variety of styles, keeping his songs in step with what America wanted - war songs, ragtime, or, in the case of "White Christmas," nostalgia for something lost.
What's so strange in all of this is that the now-deleted first stanza of the song endows the tune with the stuff of satire, not longing:
The sun is shining.
The grass is green.
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,
And I'm longing to be up north.
It was Berlin himself who ordered the stanza cut from all future sheet music in 1942 after hearing the power of the song by Crosby and watching "White Christmas" rocket up the charts a full four months before Christmas. Ironies, abound, of course, since a secular Christmas song written by a Jewish immigrant became the embodiment of holiday nostalgia. Further, the very selling of the idea of a more tranquil, innocent, idealized holiday past helped fuel the American commercialization of Christmas.
When Irving Berlin first conceived the song "White Christmas," he envisioned it as a "throwaway", a satirical novelty number for a vaudeville-style revue. By the time Bing Crosby introduced the tune it had evolved into something far grander: the stately yuletide ballad that would become the world's all-time top-selling and most widely recorded song.
Today, the song endures not just as an icon of the national Christmas celebration but as the artistic and commercial peak of the golden age of popular song, a symbol of the values and strivings of the World War II generation, and of the saga of Jewish-American assimilation. With insight and wit. American GIs made "White Christmas" their wartime anthem, and from the American past Irvin Berlin's masterpiece lives on as a kind of secular hymn.


At this time of the year there is always a desire to look back at Christmas’s past and reminisce about how uncommercialised they were and much less hard work that today.  My own memories of Christmas in the 1950’s and 60’s were all about family.  Not that I had a huge family being an only child but there was a large extended family, who, at the time, seemed pretty ancient but in reality of course were probably only in their late 40’s and early 50’s.  I had a whole battalion of great aunts a few of whom were pretty exotic, and certainly brought some glamour and style into those rather austere years after the war.  Take Auntie May for example, she was a widow, Uncle Jim having died as a result of the first world war.  She was, shall we say ‘stately’ and had platinum blonde hair usually styled in a Marcel wave, owner of a mink coat this was generally worn draped over one shoulder.  Usually just before Christmas the whole family would gather at her house in Southsea where presents would be exchanged followed by a musical interlude when, accompanied by the piano, Auntie May would sing in her own inimitable way, a rather warbling soprano.  Thankfully if enough, Stones Ginger wine, sherry and brown ale had been consumed then soon everyone would be joining in a good old Christmas sing song.

Christmas day itself would generally be spent at my Grandparents house in North End or when they were older, along with my grandmothers sister ‘Auntie Laura’ they would come to Cosham.  Laura was as broad as she was tall and could consume extraordinary amounts of food.  Come to think of it we all seemed to eat a good deal more on Christmas day than we do today.  Christmas lunch would generally be around 12.30, this would be a capon as turkeys were unavailable and as chickens were pretty scarce then a capon was considered the height of luxury. Christmas pudding followed set alight and brought ceremoniously to the table, absolutely no suggestion of any concession to those who might not like its richness or taste.  If you really couldn’t manage a piece of pudding then you might be grudgingly allowed a single mince pie dredged with sugar and moistened with the same Bird’s custard that was poured over the pudding.  Lunch would be followed by Christmas cake and mince pies at about 5.00 to tide everyone over until supper.  In the gap between we would all assemble around the dining table to play cards, usually ‘Chase the Ace’ or ‘21’s’ using pennies, chocolate coins or matchsticks as currency.  The men would have glasses of shandy and the ladies a sherry or a port and lemon which I would be allowed to sample.  The air would be filled with cigarette smoke which nobody seemed to mind or even notice and would curl around the crepe paper streamers strung from corner to corner, which my father made on the sewing machine.  Inevitably somebody always had to sit dangerously near the coal fire and if you got too hot then everyone moved around to prevent you bursting into flames.  There we would be ‘Tapas’ of liquorice allsorts, sticky dates in frilly boxes, sugared almonds, Quality Street chocolates, Turkish delight and, of course, mixed nuts in their shells just in case anyone should feel a little peckish.

Cards would finally be abandoned and the table cleared ready for supper, this was always my favourite and looked forward to with relish.  Out would come the large boiled ham, slices of left over capon, Pan Yan pickle, piccalilli, pickled onions (home made), celery and a huge bowl of mashed potato personally mashed until every lump had been eradicated by my father.  Just writing this is making my mouth water, today this meal is replicated on Boxing Day along with bubble and squeak as we don’t seem to be able to manage to fit supper in on the day itself.  There would be happy chit chat and good natured teasing along with some gossip about what other members of the family had been up to.  It was all very simple, I suppose it was hard work for my mother I can remember her making and icing everyone a Christmas cake as well as the pudding.  There was usually a Dundee cake as well although why it was thought necessary to have both I cannot imagine.  All this food was produced in our very small kitchen, the walls and windows would pour with condensation and anything that had to be kept cool was kept in the ‘meat safe’ just outside the back door.

So as I put my Christmas shopping requirements into the computer for home delivery a few days before the big day, I cannot help but reflect how different it all was.  Our family is now so small we barely fill all the chairs around the table but there still seems to be the same amount of work and expectations are so much higher.  Do I yearn for those old times, of course not, bring it on Tesco’s!
Happy Christmas everyone! Anida

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How about this for a line up for the 2013 American 7 day Malt Shop Cruise.

I have no idea of the cost of a ticket!

On this day 22nd December 1960-1965

On 22/12/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Knight Errant (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 22/12/1961 the number one single was Tower of Strength - Frankie Vaughan and the number one album was Another Black & White Minstrell Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 22/12/1962 the number one single was Return to Sender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 22/12/1963 the number one single was I Want to Hold Your hand - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 22/12/1964 the number one single was I Feel Fine - The Beatles and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 22/12/1965 the number one single was Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out - The Beatles and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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