Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Tradition of the Annual Ball Drop in Times Square


On December 31, 1907, the tradition of the annual ball drop began in Times Square, formerly Longacre Square. Times Square is at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. It is considered the Theater District and it is full of pedestrians. Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times, who took care of the New Year’s Eve fireworks, felt he needed a ball drop to promote The Times, and had it designed by Artkraft Strauss, organized the event. The ball for us has changed over the years since originally, it was made in wood, but millions of people watch the event. The Times building sits on one Times Square.


I have been to Times Square dozens of times, but never for this event. I am sure by the scores of people there, it must be a regular traffic jam to go home, unless you are lucky enough to have booked a hotel in the city or to live in the area.


Have a Happy New Year!




Filed under Historical

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope you are going to spend the time with family and friends, because today is definitely a day to be merry. It is also a time to think of those less fortunate than you are.

We are all little bits of sand upon this planet, whether you have money or not, we are all worth the same. We all entered the world the same way, and we will leave the same. It is up to us to make our mark. Charles Dickens was a writer so he wrote, and he was the social critic. He like many other writers used their words to express their opinions of how the ridiculous the world was, and how it should be. At this time, people would be reading his novella, A Christmas Carol, about Ebenezer Scrooge. Dickens made a large impression on us, about Christmas, and sharing and giving to others and what was important. What if Dickens was alive today what things, might he criticize about our world today?

People often think that their opinions do not count for much. If you are not talking than you do not have an opinion. Going shopping will not stop Emergency Unemployment Benefits ending for millions of Americans on December 28, or the cut of the SNAP, which will just cause more people to go hungry; it will just put most people further in debt. The best gifts you’ll ever receive don’t come from a shopping mall and they cannot be bought.

Have a wonderful day!



Filed under Holiday

Silent Night was First Performed on Christmas Eve in 1818

Silent Night was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village on the Salzach river in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was composed in by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr.

Mohr worked as a coadjutor in 1816, when he came up with the lyrics to Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht as it is said in German or Silent Night, while working for his father in Mariapfarr, in the Salzburg Lungau region. Franz Xaver Gruber, was the schoolmaster and organist in Arnsdorf, and Mohr asked in to write a melody for his lyrics. After the melody was written, they performed it together at St Nicholas parish church.

Silent Night as been translated and sung in over 140 languages.

This song touches our hearts, thinking of family and love. Religion is only part of the story of this song. It reminds me of times with my family, since the song is the story of a family. Whether or not you are religious, the song speaks of love, Christ is only part of this story. What you feel is the rest.

Below is Bing Crosby and the Bob Mitchell Boy’s Choir singing Silent Night.




Filed under Music

A Visit from Saint Nicholas was First Published on December 23

A Visit from Saint Nicholas was published anonymously on December 23, 1823 in the Troy, New York, Sentinel. A friend of Clement Clarke Moore submitted the poem, which we all know of now as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. At the time there was much controversy over who was the real author of the poem but on December 25, 1837, in the Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier Moore in finally confirmed.

Moore’s conception for Santa Claus came from some of the works of Washington Irving.

He was a graduate of Columbia College and held an BA and MA. Moore worked as a professor Biblical learning at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Diocese of New York until 1850. He often became wrapped up in politics, so when he wrote the poem he felt it was best to remain anonymous. It was not the normal work he published, and didn’t fit in with the academic work he had published previously.

This is a great story to read to your kids before they go to bed on Christmas Eve. My mother read it to my brother and I. Before you go with you children to their room to read to them you can set out food for Santa Claus so he can have a snack. Your children probably will have a hard time sleeping, awaiting the excitement for Santa Claus to come. Then you can tell them the story and they will listen for the reindeer on the roof, and no matter where you live, you can tell your children, Santa will not forget to come and visit. He knows where you live and he is thinking of you.

Here is Lorne Greene with Twas The Night Before Christmas or A Visit From St Nicholas.




Filed under Historical, Holiday, Poem

Paul Revere’s Birthday!

Image from

Paul Revere was born on December 21, 1734 in Boston, Massachusetts. Revere was considered an activist in his time, and an artisan. He owned a shop where he created items such as teapots, and silverware and other fine items people needed and wanted and the time, often putting his seal so show that the work was his. He also served as a colonial militia officer, and was part of the Minutemen. Most famous for his midnight ride, which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called “Paul Revere’s Ride” where, he tells Paul Revere’s infamous story.

On December 16, 1773, Revere also participated as one of the ringleaders of the Boston Tea Party. A bunch of colonists dressed up as Indians and boarded the Dartmouth, and dumped the tea of the British East India Company in Boston Harbor. They did this in opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere made that fateful ride we all hear about in Longfellow’s poem. Revere send a signal to Charlestown, and traveled by horse than by rowboat to deliver his message, and then of to Lexington, anything to avoid the British troops. In 1776, Revere was commissioned a major of infantry in the Massachusetts militia. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the artillery.

Things did not always work out as Revere as hoped. He tried to become a military officer and failed, and despite the times and success of his business, his business was only able to grow so far due to the economic climate. Probably much as things are today. He was an entrepreneur, and he became interested in manufacturering.

Revere must have become frustrated upon putting so much effort, and working to make so many connections those things at times did not come to about, as he wanted. Revere never realized how important he really was since he made it to the history books. He seemed to want more money, and a better station, since later on in life he believed in Alexander Hamilton’s ideas. Revere felt they matched his own.




Filed under Birthdays, Historical

It’s a Wonderful Life Premiered at the Globe Theater in New York

It’s a Wonderful Life Poster from

On December 20, 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life premiered at the Globe Theatre in New York. The story is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift“, which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939. Frank Capra produced and directed this classic, which is on every year around Christmas time without fail. This movie of course, would make a great Christmas gift, or would be great movie, to just sit down with the family to view together.

The story takes place in Bedford Falls. James Stewart plays George Bailey, and Donna Reed play Mary Hatch Bailey with Henry Travers playing Clarence. George Bailey always wanted to be a world traveler, his life becomes sidetracked by his father’s business, Bailey Building and Loan Association when he ends up running it, but Bailey is able to make a nice life for himself. His nemesis is Mr. Henry F. Potter, the banker, played by Lionel Barrymore, and known to be a slumlord and majority shareholder in the Building and Loan Association who doesn’t believe in helping the poor. He is not happy when the Bailey Building and Loan starts loaning money for the poor so they can have their own homes. He wants them to life in Potter’s Field. Life is not anything like George Bailey planned.

Mr. Henry F. Potter knows everyone hates him in town and is not afraid to say it. “George, I am an old man, and most people hate me. But I don’t like them either so that makes it all even.”
It is obvious he is a stick in the mud, and will always be unhappy and wants to bring the world down with him, but he wants all the money, and probably thought a long time ago that that might make him happy.

This movie reminds us what Christmas is all about, helping people so that they can make a better life for themselves. It is not about shopping and sales, and materialism. Sometimes the greatest gift you may have to gift is something you made or something of your own. It is could also be a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation that may be nothing more than paste but has sentiment. We don’t love people because of their materialistic things. That is like demanding gifts. The best gift you can have is being together.





Filed under Historical, Holiday, Movies

The Nutcracker Premiered December 18, 1892 in St. Petersburg

On Sunday, December 18, 1892 in St. Petersburg at the Mariinsky Theatre, The Nutcracker premiered on a double bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta. They performed the libretto which was choreographed by Marius Petipa.

Alexandre Dumas most notable for his works, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers in 1844 made a revision of E.T.A. Hoffmann‘s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was adapted for ballet for Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Dumas wrote took many of the stories he wrote and adapted them into plays and opened the Théâtre Historique. Tchaikovsky was commission by Ivan Vsevolozhsky to compose the Nutcracker and he worked with Petipa in cooperation in creation of the ballet.

The players included the Sugar Plum Fairy, Prince Coqueluche, Nutcracker-Prince, Drosselmeyer and Clara. The children’s roles were performed by real children. Now the roles of often performed by adults.

Tchaikovsky’s music is wonderful in the telling of the story, and if you haven’t seen the performance of the Nutcracker on stage, you should try to make it a point, it is of sheer delight. The performance of ballet is elegant and beautiful. Ballerina’s can move across the stage as if they were butterflies.

Here is The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, thankfully not in 1892. Enjoy the show!






Filed under Ballet, Historical, Music

A Christmas Carol was First Published on December 17, 1843

The novella by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, or Scrooge as some may call it, was first published on December 17, 1843 by Chapman & Hall. This is the perfect gift for someone to find in his or her stocking or under the tree on Christmas morning.

This story befitting even of today’s standards as Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens’s leading character, mirrors so many of today’s Republicans and other Capitalists. Marley’s ghost comes to visit Ebenezer and turns his whole life upside down. After all, Scrooge believed if a man wasn’t working, he didn’t deserve to be paid, they belong in jail or in the workhouses. It wasn’t his job to feed the poor. Scrooge cares about money, the making of money, and holidays come in second place. If Scrooge is working, so are his employees. As far as he is concerned, everything else is frankly, “Bah! Humbug!” Bob Cratchit, his clerk who he paid a minimal stipend, even though he had a family to support, is the one who has to hear this from his boss Mr. Scrooge. Most of the time when he asks for time of the answer is an astounding, “No.” The other family members pitch in, because Cratchit’s meager salary hardly covered the costs  to fulfill all the family needs. His family never complained. Scrooge complained all the time.

It also carries the meaning of Christmas, and reminds us about what is important. The story has become immortal. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this time honored classic cannot help but touch your heart, because Charles Dickens was a humanitarian, and it is obvious he cared about people, and saw through the foolishness of law and of men. It also made a huge impact on society and influence can be seen in many of our favorite holiday classics.

The ideas I present to you are all thanks to Charles Dickens. He was always the social critic, constantly looking at peoples ideals and often finding ways in his books to throw it back in their faces. He was aware that their actions spoke loudly, and he used the information he gained wisely.

Here is the Audiobook of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens





Filed under Historical, Novels

Gone with the Wind Premiered on December 15, 1939 at the Loew’s Grand Theatre

On December 15, 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia, Gone with the Wind premiered at the Loew’s Grand Theatre. One million people attended. They had three days of festivities in honor of the movie and they even had a parade. There were limousines and people dressed in costumes like confederates. Mayor William B. Hartsfield hosted the event and Eurith D. Rivers, the governor of Georgia attended, and declared December 15 a state holiday. Clark Gable attended the event under direst, he wanted to boycott the event, but somehow someone convinced him to attend.

This would have been a great event to attend around the holidays. People in other states would have been able to give tickets to the premiere at gifts for the holiday.

To get in to see Gone with the Wind was quite expensive. There were limited seats, and it cost a $1 to see the movie. This was more than double the price. They charged this price for the show from December 1939 through July of 1940. The movie only played at a limited number of theaters.

Gone with the Wind cost 7 million to make including advertising they only had a budget of $3.85 million.

Adult tickets are usually $11 now for an evening show, so imagine paying $22 a ticket to see one movie per person. The Hobbit is offering Super Tickets where they are charging people $35 a ticket with Fandango with that purchase you get a copy of The Hobbit Unexpected Journey (2012). Would you pay that much money to go to the movie theater? We are lucky we have more to keep us entertained. If they could not go see the movie, they could read the book.





Filed under Movies

December 13 is St. Lucy’s Day

December 13 marks St. Lucy’s Day, which is celebrated in many religions and cultures in many different ways. St. Lucy or Lucia as she is called in Scandinavian folklore. The story surrounds struggles between light and darkness. Below is a video of the story  of Saint Lucy  and how it is celebrated.

It is a sad story, but she stands up for herself, and others and what she believes. She believed so much she was willing to die for it. She would not compromise her beliefs. She was standing up for herself and others, how else could you become a saint.





Filed under Folklore, Historical, Holiday