Christmas through the ages

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Nov 28, 2021
New York
Although Christmas is always a time to be with friends & family,
our perceptions have changed through the years.
New Traditions have come along.
and, when this happens, we believe that it was always that way.

For example:
bringing the Christmas tree into your home.
Yes, we've had Christmas trees for a long time.
But, most people recently learned that most Christmas trees prior to the 1870's were table-top trees.

This was called to our attention by an expert who could tell how old photographs were likely to be.
So, when a family gathered around a nice, large Christmas tree; it was said to have taken place in the 1850's.
But, the "Expert" stepped in and examines all the scenery and concludes that it was probably taken in the 1880's.

SO, at one time, it was relatively rare to have a full-sized Christmas tree in your home.
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Nov 28, 2021
New York
Okay. Instead of making this Chronological, I'll just bounce around from different eras. Let's mention a recent event: The annual television program "Christmas at Rockefeller Christmas".
We all know the story about the first Rockefeller Tree, which was modest sized raised by construction workers in 1931. and, the first "real Sized" tree was 1933. But obviously, it wouldn't become a televised event for many years to come.
So, every year, we excitedly await the annual lighting of the "Rockefeller Tree". and, the past few years, it's been a 3-hour prime-time television extravaganza. But, many people don't realize that, the Lighting of the Rockefeller tree was a mere 5 minute segment of the local news. and, this lasted well into the 1980's.
Finally, c. 1990, the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree became a Full One-Hour television special. Several years later, it was increased to 2-hours. and, two years ago, it became a 3-hour prime time program.
So, when people look forward to the annual television program, "Christmas at Rockefeller Center", many people don't even realize that it's a recent event. And, just a few decades earlier, it was a short segment on the local news.
Nov 28, 2021
New York
How early Animated Short Subjects changed Christmas.

Santa Claus has appeared in silent-films since the invention of motion picture.
But, it wasn't until "the talking era" which changed our perceptions of Christmas.
Animation in particular was able to bring Santa to life.

Let's talk about the early days of 1930's short subjects.
It all began with a 1931 (B&W) Mickey Mouse Cartoon, "Mickey's Orphans";
and, one year later; another Christmas-themed cartoon,"Mickey's Good Deed" was released.

The first major contribution was Disney's "Santa's Workshop" in 1932.
Disney also gave us "The Night Before Christmas" in 1933.

In 1933; Santa appeared in a Warner Bros animated short, titled "The Shanty Where Santa Lives".
The same year, Popeye The Sailor released "Seasin's Greetinks".
In 1938, Popeye & Olive Oyl appeared in "Let's Celebrake".
Paramount studios also produced, "Christmas Comes but once a Year", in 1936.

MGM cartoons gave us "Alias St. Nick" (1935),
"A Pups Christmas" (1936), and "The Captain's Christmas (1938).
(and 1939, "Peace on Earth").

There were also many snowy themed short subjects in the 1930's.
Disney's Winter, Bosco in Dutch, Frozen Frolics, Polar Pals, and, Jack Frost ( name a few).

In the 1940's, there were great Christmas cartoons:
(1940) "Bedtime for Sniffles"
(1941) "The Night Before Christmas" (starring Tom & Jerry)
(1948) "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"
(1948) "Hector's Hectic Life"
(1948) "Once Upon a Wintertime" [reissued in 1954]
(1949) "Toy Tinkers (starring Chip & Dale)
(1949) "Snow Foolin'" (sing-a-long)
(1949) "Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus"

The 1950's also had a strong line-up:
(1950) Mice Meeting You (starring Herman & Katnip)
(1952) Gift Wrapped (starring Tweety & Sylvester)
(1952) True Boo (starring Casper the Friendly Ghost)
(1952) Pluto's Christmas Tree (Disney)
(1954) Frosty The Snowman (3-minute short)
(1955) Mister & Mistletoe (Popeye The Sailor)
(1957) Jumping with Toy (starring Baby Huey, the duck)

Finally, this classic era ends with (1960) "Sappy New Year", starring Heckle and Jeckle.

Plus, we won't mention the controversial Animated shorts; such as "Toyland Broadcast",
"Broken Toys", "Santa's Surprise",

And, these Classic animated shorts contributed to our modern perceptions of Christmas.
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Nov 28, 2021
New York
Christmas just wouldn't be the same without feature-length Animated television programs.
But, years ago, there were NO prime-time Christmas specials.

Until, one day, a full Hour-Long broadcast aired on December 18, 1962 . and, Christmas hasn't been the same since.
Soon thereafter;
we suddenly began to see prime-time specials; such as "A Charlie Brown Christmas", and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
And these T.V. classics would continue playing annually; while new Christmas programs are added every year.

(2) Many people remember "Rankin Bass: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" as the first Feature Length holiday classic.

But it was actually two years earlier; when "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" aired on NBC.
and, this was truly the first Prime Time special.
---- (a few interesting facts about Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol:
--- A) it was the very last episode of the original Mr. Magoo series-
--- B) [ U.P.I. studios primarily focused on theatrical cartoons and would adjust to made-for-TV animation. ]
--- C) Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was directed by Abe Levetow. He previously spent decades working as an animator for Warner Bros; under supervision of Chuck Jones.
--- D) The character "Bob Cratchit" was voiced by Jack Cassidy; father of David Cassidy (of Partridge Family). Jack sang impressive vocals on "The Lord's Bright Blessing".
--- E) and, of course; Mr. Magoo is voiced by Jim Backus (who's most famous for playing Mr. Howell on Gilligan's Island).

(3) Two years later, Rankin-Bass gave us "Rudolph The red-nosed Reindeer".
Then, various classics appeared on all major networks.
(such as"Christmas Flintstones", "Charlie Brown's Christmas", and, "The Grinch").
By this time, prime-time Christmas programs had already become a permanent staple of the holidays.
And it wasn't limited to one studio, or any specific television network.

Rankin-Bass has given classics, such as "The Little Drummer Boy", "Frosty The Snowman", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town",
"Twas The Night", "The Year without Santa Claus", "Frosty's Winter Wonderland", and "Rudolph's Shiny New Year".
Incidentally; Rankin-Bass also produced many lesser-known episodes, as well.

(4) After Animated Christmas programs gained a foothold in the 1960's (such as "The Night Before Christmas" in 1968); the next decade continued a strong showing.
This includes: "Santa and the Three Bears", "The Bear who Slept Through Christmas", "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus", "Silent Night, Holy Night",
"A Flintstone Christmas #2" "A Pink Panther Christmas", "Raggedy Ann and Andy's The Great Santa Claus Caper" (from Chuck Jones),
"The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree", "Casper's First Christmas" (it was actually his 2nd Christmas, nearly three decades after his original, "True Boo"),
"A Family Circus Christmas", “Disney's The Small One”, "Christmas with B.C." (comics), and, the decade ended with a few great Bugs Bunny Cartoons-
"Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol" and "Fright Before Christmas".

Even the less-famous cartoons were still worth watching-
("A Christmas Story", "A Very Merry Cricket" (directed by Chuck Jones), and various versions of "A Christmas Carol" ... to name a few.

(5) The 1980's saw another amazing string of great prime-time classics.
Beginning with "Yogi's First Christmas" (a full 100-minute fully-animated movie), "A Snow White Christmas", "A Chipmunk Christmas",
"Yogi Bear's All Star Christmas Caper" (only 24 minutes), “The Snowman”, “Ziggy's Gift”, "The Smurfs Christmas Special", “Madeline's Christmas”,
“Mickey's Christmas Carol”, “Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas”, "Cabbage Patch Kids", "He-Man and She-Ra's Christmas Special", “Christmas Every Day”,
"A Garfield Christmas", "A Claymation Christmas" (with the California Raisons), “The Little Troll Prince”, “The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite”, “Christmas in Tattertown”.

(6) And, The early 1990's continued a strong line-up.
“The Christmas Tree” (with Mrs. Mavilda) [on USA Network], “A Wish for things that work”, “The Wish that Changed Christmas”, “Rugrats -The Santa Experience”,
“Winnie The Pooh and Christmas Too”, “Goof Troop Christmas”, “It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas”, “The Twelve Days of Christmas (written by Romeo Muller),
“Noel” (narrated by Charlon Heston), “The Town Santa Forgot” (narrated by Meat cobbler Van Dyke), Nick & Noel ,
"Animaniacs Christmas / Little Drummer Warner's"..... just to name a few.

(7) And, this paved the way for epic movie-quality broadcasts which would follow.
(“Santa Vs. The Snowman”, “Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas”, “The Polar Express”, “Barbie's Christmas Carol” “Snow queen” ....etc. )

And, until this very day; old classic AND brand-new Animated programs appear throughout television.
It's become a major part of the holidays.

(8) I'll also mention those great Disney compilation films,
such as “Jiminy Cricket's Christmas”, “A Disney Christmas Gift”, 'Disney's Very Merry Christmas Songs”; and all similar remakes.
(beginning with “From All of Us to All of You”, dating back to 1958).
Plus, all the Muppet Christmas programs, and Sesame Street.
But, that's a whole new chapter altogether.

(9) One final note: Most Cartoons listed were done in Chronological order.
Nov 28, 2021
New York
You'll learn an interesting story as to why Christmas Eve became a major holiday, in its own right.
...Currently, on par with Christmas day.

It all happened because religious observers feared that Saint Nick was gaining too much popularity.
Years ago, St. Nicholas Day was celebrated on December 6th, each year. This holiday included Gift Giving, and a large feast. This concerned clergy that St. Nicholas Day was rivaling Christmas. So, the festivities on December 6th ceased. And, people began exchanging gifts on Christmas Day.
Originally, the bearer of gifts was "Christ Kindl". (german translation: Christ Child). But this didn't stop the legend of Saint Nick. Eventually, people replaced the namesake with Chris Kringle (a nickname for Santa Claus). St Nick now began giving presents & "filling the stockings" on a new day. Christmas.

Once again, people were still trying to differentiate St. Nicholas from Christmas day.
And, their final effort was to move Santa to the evening before Christmas. December 24th.

....and, the rest is history.


Now, for a few interesting notes:
-- as early as the 11th century; there was already evidence for gift-giving on St. Nicholas day.
-- by the 1500's, efforts had already begun to demote Saint Nick. (believing he was too popular).
-- There's evidence of Jesus bearing gifts on Christmas morning in the 1500's.
-- in 1809, a book Titled "A History of New York" (by Washington Irving) spoke of Saint Nick riding over the skies in a Wagon. So now, Santa was larger than lift.
-- In 1821, a poem titled "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight"; Sante Claus rode a sleigh, pulled by a singular reindeer. However, the trip was made on New Year's Eve.
-- Then, in 1823; Clement C. Moore wrote his famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nick". IT featured all the basic elements of The Christmas Eve of today.
-- As early as 1808, the author Henry Livingston was believed to write poems which inspired elements of Christmas Eve.
-- the first mention of Mrs. Claus was in 1849; in a short Story titled "A Christmas Legend" by James Rees. Although WE already knew about her, many years earlier.
-- There were many attempts to depict Christmas Eve in illustrations. But, editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast made huge improvements in the 1860's.
-- IT wasn't until the 1870's, when illustrations definitively depicted Santa Claus residing at the North Pole.
( Although we ALREADY knew that, many years earlier !!!

-- In the 1890's, we could definitively say that Santa Claus was life-sized, rather than being a tiny elf. Now, Santa could be depicted by Salvation Army "look-alike's", and, department Store "imposters".
-- In the early 1900's, many "old-world Santa's" were still illustrated on Post Cards.
Mostly depicting the Christmas Eve delivery of gifts.
(whether by bicycle, train, airplane, Zeppelin, old-fashioned sleigh, or flying reindeer).

Clearly, Christmas Eve became the major holiday "in its own right".
In future years; The Holiday Season would continue to reach outward ! Growing ever larger.

And now, Christmas is a multiple-day's festivity.
So, Merry Christmas & to all, a good night.