December 24, 2008

December 20, 2008

Kick Santa's Butt!

This testimonial from an excited Mother. Capture the Magic has captured her 10 bucks for a picture of Santa's BUTT.

Carol M., Boise, ID:

My kids are going to do backflips. Ever since they’ve heard about Santa they’ve asked us to take a picture of him. I really like the fact that I can create a photo that doesn't show Santa's face, so we can leave something to the imagination. They will love this, and so will my husband. I’m not going to tell him I’m doing this! It will be such a big surprise for him too!

Capture the Thief

Yo, Dude! Come back with the loot!

$9.99 for a fat red lie

Santa Inc. rolls on, in big and small ways.
Noted in the Chicago Tribune:

A new website,, allows you to create photos that prove beyond a doubt that jolly old St. Nick really did visit your home on Christmas Eve.

The process is simple. The result, says company spokesman Rob Weingarten, is magical.

Until I actually saw this, I was skeptical myself," he says. "But if you can upload a picture, you can produce a photo of Santa putting presents under the tree in your family room or eating cookies or standing by your fireplace. You can put him in your driveway or on your deck or at your front door. As long as you have a picture of the space, you can put Santa into it. Kids are blown away, and adults are pretty impressed as well."

The website features Santa in more than 200 sizes and poses, including standing, sitting, kneeling and even as a blur in motion, and offers tips for achieving the best results. charges $9.99 for the first picture and 99 cents for additional copies.

Once the Christmas holidays are over, the company plans to turn its lens on other childhood mythic figures.

Twain on Christmas Dread

Like C.S. Lewis, Belschnickle, and many other writers, Mark Twain noted the wrongs of the annual Christmas rites. As the article in the Hartford Courants points out,

"Twain himself was of two minds on the holiday. On one hand, he wrote long letters to his daughters in the persona of St. Nick and spoke of a season of joy and peace in a letter to his wife.:

Though his wealthy family seems to have enjoyed Christmas very much, the sarcastic writer had this to say of the holiday:

"The approach of Christmas brings harassment and dread to many excellent people," he wrote. "They have to buy a cart-load of presents, and they never know what to buy to hit the various tastes; they put in three weeks of hard and anxious work, and when Christmas morning comes they are so dissatisfied with the result, and so disappointed that they want to sit down and cry. Then they give thanks that Christmas comes but once a year."

A Twain House Christmas

Mark Twain House dining room

Here is what the Twain family may have sat down to eat for a Christmas feast. It is part of an exhibit at the Twain House, in Hartford, CT. From the Twain House website:

Twains 19-room mansion, resplendent with Tiffany interiors, will be adorned as it was for holiday celebrations from 1874 to 1891, when the author, his wife and their three daughters lived in the house....

The curatorial staff of The Mark Twain House has extensively researched holiday traditions of the Victorian period to give visitors a true representation of the late 1800s and the family of Sam Clemens.

The house is decorated according to information gleaned from Clemens family letters and memorabilia, including receipts for everything from food and gifts to ribbons and wreaths, presenting not just a beautifully decorated Victorian house, but also a glimpse at how the family celebrated the season.

Children and adults alike will find reminders of Christmas past throughout the house. There are baskets overflowing with gifts for friends and neighbors, as prepared by Mrs. Clemens, who made up at least 50 such baskets for the poor each holiday season. The dining room table is set for a traditional Christmas dinner. In the entry hall, a "kissing ball" of mistletoe dangles overhead, and the homes massive staircase is wreathed in garlands and ribbons. Gifts in various stages of wrapping are placed in bedrooms and the children's schoolroom on the second floor.

"Traditionally Christmas trees in the late nineteenth-century were decorated with both store-bought and hand-made ornaments. The tree on display, complete with hand-strung popcorn and cranberries, reflects the true Christmas tree of that period," said Patti Philippon, Chief Curator. Gifts found beneath the tree are

December 10, 2008

Beautiful Nicholas Art - Icons

Doing a Google image search brings up over 1 million St. Nicholas results (most of them churches) Here are some lovely images of the kind you will find if you search there.

December 9, 2008


Here is a woman of faith with a good perspective on Santa. Obviously, anyone who has read this blog knows I would not place Santa a distant third in the hierarchy of Xmas players, but ASLaN has a big tent. If the media would only search, I believe they would find MANY more disbelievers in the Santa charade: Sue Metzger writes:

I did imagine occasionally that there might be a Santa. My mind would wander to spectacular gifts I wanted that realistically were never going to show up. Anyone can dream. However, even if Santa were real, he had responsibilities that extended far beyond me .

Other children needed him more - poor kids whose hopes seemed to hang on a miracle, seriously ill and dying children who needed something extra to believe in, youngsters who lived in households with physical and emotional abuse. Santa could keep very busy filling just those stockings.

If there really was a Santa and I was offending him with my disbelief, he surely would forgive. After all, I was just an average kid lucky to have a dad and mom to provide a pleasurable if modestly reasonable Christmas. What's wrong with that?

With my children, I followed my mother's lead, neither promoting Santa nor humbugging him. Having written about this in times past, I have been strongly criticized for being a Scrooge in the Santa department. I don't mind. I wish more young children could know who actually provides the joys of Christmas morning. St. Nick is not even the "second banana."

Behind Jesus Christ and loving parents, Santa runs a distant third.

December 8, 2008

Rooted in Nicholas

From an article from Youngstown, Ohio. It is the last line in the excerpt that caught my attention :

The fifth annual event held Saturday included a shortened version of a regular service, a skit in which Bill Dick of Youngstown portrayed St. Nicholas, and a party for kids.

In keeping with Dutch tradition, the children in attendance left shoes or boots filled with carrots by the fireplace, in hopes that St. Nicholas would fill them with treats during the service. The carrots are for his horse.

They have wooden shoes they set out for St. Nicholas each year, said Sarah Durham, Canfield. She celebrated the day as a child and continues the tradition with her 6-year-old twins, Beth and Kate.

Beth said she got chocolate and a licorice pipe last year. Both girls were excited to see St. Nicholas at the event.

“It’s a great time,” the Rev. Mr. Marshall said. “It’s a very nice early advent alternative to what can become the craziness of this season and absolute rootlessness in relation to what is this Santa Claus figure. It’s nice to have roots.”

December 7, 2008

Der Speigel has an article on Krampus:

In Austria, Santa keeps track of who's been naughty and nice -- and unleases a 7-foot-tall horned devil on the naughty. He's called the Krampus, and he's unlike any Christmas tradition you've ever seen.

Santa's all well and good, but darker things have always lurked in Austria's woods. Take the Krampus, a towering, hairy creature with a long, long tongue, goat's head and horns and cloven feet. Krampus is no dancing Greek satyr. Instead, he roams rural Austria clad in chains and carrying a stick, terrifying misbehaving children on Dec. 5, the night before St. Nicholas' Day.

Depending on who you believe, Krampus is very old indeed. Some say the tradition stems back to the pre-Christian era, and that the Krampus known and feared by Austrians today is a version of an ancient god incorporated into Christian holidays.

December 6, 2008

Why is Santa a Fraud?

An ASLAN fan asks "Why is Santa a fraud?"

An editorial this week by Bob Beltz briefly surveys the history of St. Nicholas, and ends with this:
In malls and shopping centers across America, this is the caricature imitated by a small army of fat men, wearing fake beards and strange outfits, who in reality are guilty of falsely impersonating a fourth century Turkish Bishop. So, this Christmas, if you have children who ask the question, “Mom/Dad, is there really a Santa Claus?” Maybe you could answer the question by telling them the story of the real St. Nick.
It is not so much economic fraud (gift-giving is a Divine characteristic), but the historical and cultural fraud of the absurd species Santus Americanus. Even though folks who use Santa to promote good things for needy people have righteous intentions, Santa has turned into a charlatan and a deceiver.

Iffelen from Austria

Villagers dance with their "iffelen", which are artfully designed giant mitres lit by candles from within, through the village of Kuessnacht am Rigi on the shores of Lake Lucerne during the traditional "Klausjagen" procession December 5, 2008. The ancient custom of "Klausjagen", or St. Nicholas hunt, where villagers accompany St. Nicholas through the village, is a cross between a Christian celebration and a pagan rite and goes back to the middle ages.


KRAMPUS (is weird)

A man dressed as a Krampus, the companion of St. Nicholas and one of Austria's unique Advent traditions, is seen during a traditional Krampus procession in the city of Unken in Salzburg province on Friday, Dec. 5, 2008.

(AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Nick & Tannenbaum

A man dressed as Saint Nicholas stands beside an illuminated Christmas tree in the city center of Hamburg December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Charisius (GERMANY)

Joyous Saint Nicholas Day 2008


St. Nicholas is being remembered and revered around the globe today.Like ASLAN, Nick is on the move!

Hope to post more this season. Belschnickle