Need a Little Christmas? You can have a piece of 2013.

Noah’s grandmother Christine is the first to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, and she is also the first to pack her decorations, just hours after December 25.

Holiday lights, train, and other displays are disappearing, many ending with the new year, often around the 12th day of Christmas, January 5.

Until January 12, you still have time, though, to witness one of the best gingerbread displays in America, Gingerbread Lane, at the New York Hall of Science in New York City.  This gingerbread display, designated as Guinness World Record Holder, is celebrating its 20th year.  It is the handiwork of one man, chef Jon Lovitch, and he works all year to build his sugar-coated creations.  Here is a great New York Daily News article that includes several videos demonstrating the construction process. What I like best about Lovitch is that he has a PLAN that puts  The Yule Log 365 to shame.  Here’s his annual timeline–and Lovitch does all of this while holding a full-time job!

On January 12, Lovitch disassembles the village and gives away the individual parts—houses, trains, and other confections.  The give-away begins at noon–bring your own cardboard box.

Washington Irving’s Birthday: the birth of modern Santa Claus?

old-christmasAccording to the Writer’s Almanac, today is the birthday of Washington Irving, in 1783.  It is Washington Irving who is responsible for the popularization of Christmas in America, and, specifically, the depiction of Santa Claus and his sleigh.

According to The Office of Santa Claus (How much more official can we get?) and many other sources, Irving’s portrayal was meant to be satire, a joke!

“In the British colonies of North America and later the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further. For example, in Washington Irving’s History of New York, (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into “Santa Claus” but lost his bishop’s apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. Irving’s book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention.”

Santa is a New Yorker?!?

Where is the North Pole?

Santa lives there, but where exactly is the North Pole?  Geographically speaking it is located at exactly 90 degrees North latitude.  It is the point on our globe where axis comes to the surface.  It is the only place on the planet where all turns lead South.  There is no actual land located at the North Pole.  It is a large frozen mass of ocean.  No native peoples ever lived there, the closest being over 500 miles to the South in Nunavut in Canada.  Right now it is night at the North Pole.  Sunrise will come near the Spring Equinox and sunset won’t come until the Autumnal Equinox in September.  That’s right, only one single day in a whole year.  There is also no local time at the North Pole.  It doesn’t really sound like the place Santa and his elves would be making so much joy.  But of course they could all be a hidden magical part of the North Pole, or maybe one of the other North Poles.

There’s North Pole, New York.  This tiny town is in the Adirondack mountains.  They claim to have over a 90% chance of a white Christmas.  Santa’s Workshop is actually located there!  It opened in 1949 and may be one of the oldest theme parks in the United States.  You can check out all the details at their website- Santa’s Workshop.

There’s also North Pole, Alaska located just outside Fairbanks.  It is another small town.  They host the Santa Claus House- a gift shop with the world’s largest Santa Claus Statue.  Christmas is all through the town.  Streets have holiday themed names. The fire trucks are all red and the municipal vehicles, including cops, are all green and white.  Christmas is everywhere in North Pole.  They even have a professional roller derby team named the North Pole Babes in Toyland.  You can plan a trip now, just visit the town’s official site- North Pole, Alaska.