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Wow, I Never Knew That

There was a time when I assumed all Christmas traditions had been around forever. The passing of time made me realize that was not the case. Take the concept of leaving milk and cookies for Santa. We have the Dutch to thank for that. The tradition started with St. Nicholas' feast day on Dec. 6, when Dutch children leave food and drink, in exchange for the gifts St. Nicholas leaves overnight.

What about the image of Santa himself? It seems Coca-Cola played a part in Santa's brand, as we know it. Prior to the big soft drink maker’s advertising campaign in the early thirties, Santa's looks tended to be not so jolly. In 1931, the beverage company hired an illustrator named Haddon Sundblom to depict the jolly old elf for magazine ads. Hence, the current day image of Santa.

Most of us hang stockings in hopes of getting some yummy treats. Legend has it, the tradition started with a poor man who did not have enough money for his three daughters' dowries. Generous old St. Nick dropped a bag of gold down their chimney one night, after the girls had hung their freshly washed stockings to dry. I am still waiting for gold instead of that nasty lump of coal, I get each year.

I have always wondered, if Santa has eight reindeer, where does Rudolph come from. It seems he first appeared in 1939. The Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters to create a Christmas story for kids, the store could distribute as a promotion. The adorable movie, featuring the island of misfit toys, and Herbie the elf, hit the airwaves (and our hearts) in 1964. Rudolph became etched in time forever more.

One of my favourite tunes at Christmas is Jingle Bells. Well, who knew it was originally called

"One Horse Open Sleigh", and was written for a church's Thanksgiving concert in the mid-19th century. Then, in 1857, the song was re-released under the title we all know and love. Today, it's still among the most popular Christmas songs.

The hustle and bustle around Christmas keeps us all very busy, but that was not the case from 1659 to 1681. Anyone caught making merry in the colonies