Activities & Crafts Christmas & Winter Family Activities

Tracking Santa On-line and Legends of Santa Claus & Christmas Customs

Tracking Santa On-line 

You can track Santa Claus’ trek across the earth on Christmas Eve at www.noradsanta.org.  NORAD stands for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a bi-national defense effort between the US and Canada.  The website will show you where on earth Santa is and you can watch him fly through New York City, Chicago, etc.  This way, you can encourage your children to go to bed by letting them know when Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive in your town so that, like children who’ve been good all year, they will be sound asleep before Santa and his reindeer arrive (the website is already counting down the days to Santa’s annual journey)!
Legends of Santa Claus & Christmas Customs 

The customs which we celebrate in America for Christmas, which means “Christ’s Mass,” come from a number of countries. Santa Claus himself comes from a Dutch Bishop, St. Nicholas, who brought presents to the needy and the young, and was brought to the New World by, among others, Columbus, who named a Haitian port for St. Nicholas in 1492, and by the Spanish, who named what is now Jacksonville, Florida, St. Nicholas Ferry. 

However, it was New Year gift giving, which began in England as early as 1558, that was the custom in America until the early 19th century.  It took New Yorker Washington Irving, of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Rip Van Winkle fame, to popularize St. Nicholas and his image as a jolly, rotund figure, through a satire published in 1809.

Still, the image of the gift-giving Santa Claus developed slowly, assisted by Thomas Nast, the famous American artist who, during the Civil War, portrayed Santa Claus as a Union supporter and rotund fellow with a long beard, dressed in red fur garments. 

Even as late as the early 20th century, Santa Claus was still often referred to as St. Nicholas, and only after Coca Cola’s 35-year commercial use of Santa Claus in advertisements during the mid-1900’s was he established firmly in American culture. Norway is supposed to have given us the custom of Santa Claus coming down the chimney.  One legend has St. Nicholas throwing gold coins down a poor family’s chimney, so his gift would be anonymous, and the coins landing in a stocking hung there to dry. 

Pagan converts to Christianity used their sacred tree, the evergreen, to symbolize the holiday, and decorated the tree with candles, which represented the light that Christ brought to earth, and nuts. Mince meat pie, with its spices and fruits, symbolizes the exotic treasures of the three Wisemen.  Icicle decorations are thought to symbolize the frozen tears of happiness coming from trees that realized that the child Jesus had taken shelter under their branches.  

Finally, the Yule (wheel) log symbolizes the sun, which pagans thought stood still for 12 days at the end of each year; the log burns for 12 days to get rid of the evil of the previous year. 
Matchbox Gifts 
1. For a standard size matchbox, cut 33/4-by-2 inch band of decorative paper. 
2. Glue Band around box: you can attach more paper to box ends.
3. Embellish with string, or stickers, or thin strip of paper glue glued around box. 
4. To make a card to go inside, cut a 2-by21/2 inch piece of paper; trim edges with pinking shears, if desired and fold in half.
Magic Reindeer Food

Reindeer food is a simple combination of glitter, oats and sugar. Sprinkle on the lawn or Door step at night…The moon will make it sparkle bright !!!As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam,This will guide them to your home!!!

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