Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Post 2013: Traditions and other seasonal miscellany

We continue our series of holiday posts here at The Itinerant Librarian. Today we look at some traditions, trivia, and other curious and miscellaneous things about Christmas and the holiday season. From some safety tips if you are serving food to a look back at Christmas past, I hope my four readers will find things here to amuse, entertain, and maybe learn a thing or two. Remember to stay tuned as later in the week we'll do our book edition of the holiday posts followed by the end of year "what the heck happened?" edition. So, let's have a look at a few traditions and trivia.

Some trivia and things to know

  • The folks at the U.S. Census Bureau have put a nice list of facts about the 2013 holiday season.  For example, did you know that the U.S. Postal Service expects do deliver nearly 15 billion pieces of mail betwee Thanksgiving and New Year's Day?
  • From Pew Research, learn how Americans celebrate Christmas then and now.  One of the highlights from the survey: "Among the religiously unaffiliated, 87% say they celebrate Christmas, including 68% who view Christmas as more of a cultural holiday."
  • Tracking Santa on Christmas Eve has been a tradition in our home for a while now. No matter our ages, we still enjoy firing up the computer and keep track of Santa as he goes on his journey. Learn how to do so as well with information from, including link to the Norad Santa Tracker.
  • NORAD has a tradition of tracking Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve journey to bring gifts to children around the world. Find out how this tradition got started in this article from Mental Floss
  • Unfortunately, there are always some people doing things to ruin Christmas for others. This includes low lifes who break into houses and steal Christmas presents from the houses. In West Midlands, UK, they made a public service announcement to warn people to make sure houses are locked at night and presents not put out til as close to Christmas as possible. They got creative with it. They made a PSA with Legos. Via COED magazine.
  • Would you like to learn how to be one of Santa's impersonator helpers this holiday? If you think you can wear the red suit and be the jolly old man or be his Mrs. Claus, you could attend one of the "11 Workshops Offered by the International University of Santa Claus." Via Mental Floss blog. Here is also the direct link to the school if you are interested in learning more.
  • The price of the items in the "12 Days of Christmas" has gone up to $114,000. According to the PNC analysts, that is a big increase from a year ago. Story via NPR. 
  • Christmas is not the only holiday this time of year. It came in early this year, but Hanukkah is widely celebrated by our Jewish friends. We usually see decorations in green and red, but learn "why are blue and white the Hanukkah colors." Via Mental Floss blog.
  • Gaining weight during the holidays is a common concern. To help out, here are "12 Ways to Avoid Gaining Weight Over the Holidays." Via Dumb Little Man.

The tree and decorations 

  • The usual Christmas ornaments a bit too boring? Maybe you want to spice up your tree a bit with "12 X-Rated Pornaments." Via  Here are a few more via Incredible Things.

Christmas cards

  • Sending Christmas cards out is a popular tradition. We do send out cards at home. However, we do try to pick out something nice and simple. However, some people do send out some interesting things, such as these cards that the best you can say about them is "WTF?" Via BuzzFeed
  • I think it's a wonderful thing when people choose to send homemade cards. However, not all efforts result in beautiful and sweet cards. These may be "12 Wonderful Homemade Christmas Cards," but they seem more "WTF" than anything else. You decide. Via Mental Floss
  • Then there are the folks who send cards with sexual innuendos. This may be a bit risque for some readers. Via, here we have "10 Amazingly Raunchy Holiday Cards."
  • Now, some folks go all out and send more than just a card. They send out holiday letters. These are the end of year letters they send out to family with all sorts of details of their family lives during the past year. Some people can write them well. Others we just cringe when we read them. To help you write a good holiday letter, if you feel so moved, here is a piece on "How (and Why) to Write Compelling Holiday Letters." There are some good tips here. Via Writing Through Life blog.

Food, drink, and entertaining

  • Throwing a holiday party? Here are some tips on how to do so via Dumb Little Man
  • Now, whether you are having a party or just a little get together, food is important. You want to make sure that you serve food safely. Here is some information on "how to prepare holiday meals safely" from
  • Ah, Christmas dinner in the old days. Via Mental Floss, we get some highlights of a Christmas menu from 1660. If you thought you had it tough putting a meal together, take a look at this. "The earliest known published Christmas menu includes pork, beef, goose, lark, pheasant, venison, oysters, swan, woodcock, and 'a kid with a pudding in his belly, to name just a few." 
  • Eggnog is always a popular drink. Here is some trivia about eggnog from Mental Floss blog. It may be "Way More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Eggnog." 
  • Christmas cookies are always a popular treat. At home, our daughter always bakes a batch of cookies for Santa and the rest of us. A warm homemade cookie is certainly one of the nice pleasures of the holidays Some people decorate them and make them in different shapes and forms. For instance, here are "24 Glittery Christmas Cookies That Will Fill You With Joy" via BuzzFeed. Links to recipes are included.
  • Want to enjoy some vodka during the holidays, but plain old vodka is just too boring? Maybe you want to make your own flavor infused vodka. For some ideas, here are "the 12 Vodkas of Christmas." Links to recipes included. Via BuzzFeed. If the alcohol does not do you in, I am sure the added sugar in some of these probably will. 
  • Want to have a more classic holiday drink? The Art of Manliness has "5 Holiday Cocktails to Warm your Spirit." Among the basics here is how to make hot buttered rum. These are drinks that "are traditionally served warm, to warm the body and the spirit during the cold and dark days of the year."
  • Here are a few more contemporary cocktail recipes, via Drinkhacker
  • If you have a lot of people over for the holidays, maybe a punch bowl may be a good option. Here are "28 Huge Bowls of Holiday Booze to Help You Appreciate Your Family." Family can be a stress factor during the holidays. Maybe a little spiked punch will make things go a little easier Via BuzzFeed. Recipe links are included. 

Music and singing

  • I wonder how many people these days still buy a Christmas music CD or album. I still remember LP's, and those could have some very interesting or curious covers. Let's go down memory lane a bit with a gallery of "the 25 Strangest Christmas Album Covers of all Time." I think "of all time" is a bit ambitious, but there are some curious gems here. A few are positively and humorously disturbing. Via COED Magazine.
  • Now, just because you are an atheist, it does not mean you do not like Christmas or carols. Via Greta Christina's blog, here are "10 Christmas Carols Even An Atheist Could Love." Don't be alarmed. They are mostly secular songs that I think most of us can enjoy just fine regardless of creed or lack of it.
  • Now not everyone likes "traditional" Christmas carols. Maybe you'd consider this set of "Alternative Holiday Songs." It includes some YouTube videos so you can sing along. Via Esquire magazine. 
  • Some people like their Christmas songs with a bit of an edge. So, for those folks, you can listen to "Christmas Songs--the 10 Most (Delightfully) Offensive Ones." Via Addicting Info.
Dressing for the holidays

  • For many, wearing an ugly holiday sweater is a tradition and point of pride. So, to inspire those folks, here are "15 Fantastically Ugly Holiday Sweaters." Via Mental Floss blog.  
  • OK, so you got your sweater? Oh, now you want to dress up your dog? How nice. Well, you could try this doggy reindeer sweater. Via Incredible Things
Miscellaneous things

  • It seems Santa likes to take a smoke now and then, or used to before we learned more about the  bad effects of tobacco. I always cigarette advertising interesting, and holiday advertising is no exception. Here are "16 Vintage Tobacco Advertisements featuring Santa Claus." Back then, Santa, among other things, wanted a smoke that would guard against throat scratch. If he only knew back then. The list even includes some pipe tobacco ads. Does anyone even smoke pipes anymore, at least in public anyways? Via BuzzFeed.

Photo credit: Image from "Midweek Moodboard #19" posted at She Hearts the High Street.

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