Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PRS Quotes

#PRSQuotes-- Women keep a special corner of their hearts for sins they have never committed.  ~Cornelia Otis

#PRSQuotes-- I have an idea that the phrase "weaker sex" was coined by some woman to disarm some man she was preparing to overwhelm.  ~Ogden Nash

#PRSQuotes-- If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.  ~Aristotle Onassis


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas History in America


In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebratedearly american christmas - winter holiday in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. 
The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.
An outlaw ChristmasAfter the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.


Washington Irving reinvents Christmas

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.
Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended—in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
Before the Civil War
The North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as on the question of slavery. Many Northerners saw sin in the celebration of Christmas; to these people the celebration of Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season. Not surprisingly, the first three states to make Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.Early Christmas & Santa engraving

In the years after the Civil War, Christmas traditions spread across the country. Children's books played an important role in spreading the customs of celebrating Christmas, especially the tradition of trimmed trees and gifts delivered by Santa Claus. Sunday school classes encouraged the celebration of Christmas. Women's magazines were also very important in suggesting ways to decorate for the holidays, as well as how to make these decorations.

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopped for the Christmas season. Since that time, materialism, media, advertising, and mass marketing has made Christmas what it is today. The traditions that we enjoy at Christmas today were invented by blending together customs from many different countries into what is considered by many to be our national holiday.
An overview:
1600's: The Puritans made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas' name. People were not allowed to exchange gifts, light a candle, or sing Christmas carols.
17th century: Dutch immigrants brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas.
1773: Santa first appeared in the media as St. A Claus.
1804: The New York Historical Society was founded with St. Nicolas as its patron saint. Its members engaged in the Dutch practice of gift-giving at Christmas.
1809: Washington Irving, writing under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, included Saint Nicolas in his book "A History of New York." Nicolas is described as riding into town on a horse.
1812: Irving, revised his book to include Nicolas riding over the trees in a wagon.
1821: William Gilley printed a poem about "Santeclaus" who was dressed in fur and drove a sleigh drawn by a single reindeer.
1822: Dentist Clement Clarke Moore is believed by many to have written a poem "An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicolas," which became better known as "The Night before Christmas." Santa is portrayed as an elf with a miniature sleigh equipped with eight reindeer which are named in the poem as Blitzem, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer, and Vixen. Others attribute the poem to a contemporary, Henry Livingston, Jr. Two have since been renamed Donner and Blitzen.
1841: J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a "Criscringle" outfit and climb the chimney of his store.
1863: Illustrator Thomas Nast created images of Santa for the Christmas editions of Harper's Magazine. These continued through the 1890's.
1860s: President Abraham Lincoln asked Nast to create a drawing of Santa with some Union soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy had a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army -- an early example of psychological warfare.
1897: Francis P Church, Editor of the New York Sun, wrote an editorial in response to a letter from an eight year-old girl, Virginia O'Hanlon. She had written the paper asking whether there really was a Santa Claus. It has become known as the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter. 4
1920's: The image of Santa had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight, jolly man dressed in a red suit with white trim. 5
1931: Haddon Sundblom, illustrator for The Coca-Cola ™ company drew a series of Santa images in their Christmas advertisements until 1964. The company holds the trademark for the Coca-Cola Santa design. Christmas ads including Santa continue to the present day.
1939 Copywriter Robert L. May of the Montgomery Ward Company created a poem about Rudolph, the ninth reindeer. May had been "often taunted as a child for being shy, small and slight." He created an ostracized reindeer with a shiny red nose who became a hero one foggy Christmas eve. Santa was part-way through deliveries when the visibility started to degenerate. Santa added Rudolph to his team of reindeer to help illuminate the path. A copy of the poem was given free to Montgomery Ward customers. 6
1949: Johnny Marks wrote the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Rudolph was relocated to the North Pole where he was initially rejected by the other reindeer who wouldn't let him play in their reindeer games because of his strange looking nose. The song was recorded by Gene Autry and became his all-time best seller. Next to "White Christmas" it is the most popular song of all time.
1993: An urban folk tale began to circulate about a Japanese department store displaying a life-sized Santa Claus being crucified on a cross. It never happened.
1997: Artist Robert Cenedella drew a painting of a crucified Santa Claus. It was displayed in the window of the New York's Art Students League and received intense criticism from some religious groups. His drawing was a protest. He attempted to show how Santa Claus had replaced Jesus Christ as the most important personality at Christmas time. 7


Holiday Shopping Tips

With Black Friday within reach and Christmas right around the corner, many people are starting to think about holiday shopping. Whether or not you plan to brave the storm this Friday, here are some tips to help you come out on top this holiday shopping season.

1. Create a holiday shopping budget.
Hopefully, you have been saving up for the holidays. If not, don't worry, just do your best this year and plan to do better the next. Whether or not you have money earmarked for gifts, you should create a holiday shopping budget. Make a list of people that you want to present with a gift and write down the gift ideas along with the amount you want to spend for each person. Be realistic with what you can afford! Now tally everything up and you’ll have your total cost. If the total is too high, either scale back on all the gifts, or make the tough decision of giving to fewer people this year. Whatever you do, create a realistic budget that you won't regret after the holiday season is over.

2. Scout out your gifts.
If you can afford to, buying locally is a great way to put money back into your community. However, you might not be able to find what you want locally, or the price might be so high that you want to make your purchase elsewhere. Whether you are planning to buy locally or online, you should first check out online coupon sites to see if you can find coupon codes and discount promotions for your purchases.
These sites sometimes offer discounts that stores do not advertise and have deals that could save you significant amounts of money.

3. Comparison shop.
Don't take the first "good deal" that you stumble across. Suppress your impulse to grab the deal right away and check out a few other sites or stores to see if you can find an even better deal elsewhere. Be sure to also check out items similar to the one that you intended to buy. Occasionally, you will find significantly better deal without sacrificing too much on features and functionality — this is especially true for computers and electronics purchases.

4. Buy with a Credit Card
Credit card use is not right for everyone, so if it is not for you, don't use it! If you can handle credit cards without much trouble, use them. Credit card companies usually provide additional warranty on your purchases and offer you a level of protection against damaged and/or defective products. Moreover, you can get cash reward on your purchases. For instance, Discover Card is currently offering a great promotion. It includes: 5 percent cash-back bonus in department stores and clothing stores, and a double cash-back bonus on up to $1,000 in online purchases through the end of the year. That is an excellent way to save a little more money on top of everything else.

5. Understand the price protection policy.
Be sure to ask about the price protection policy that each store offers. Some stores do not offer this protection, buy a few do. The protection period varies from store to store, but it is typically between 15 to 30 days. With price protection, you can demand a refund of the difference if the store reduces the price on the item you purchase inside the protected period.
For the power shoppers, you may even want to wait on your purchases so that the price protection period ends a few days after Christmas. This way, if the store offers an "After Christmas Sale" you can try to get some money back.
Good luck with your holiday shopping!