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Origins of Santa Claus

Posted on Dec 08, 2010 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment

One story tells of a poor man and his three daughters. With no money to get his daughters married, he was worried what would happen to them after his death. Saint Nicholas knowing the anguish of the father, stopped by the man’s house after the family had gone to bed. He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. Seeing the daughters stockings hung over the fireplace for drying, he put one gold bag in each stocking and left. The girls waking up the next morning, they each found a bag of gold coins in their stocking. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply “Santa”, is a figure which was derived from the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas, a historical, legendary figure who in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day). The legend may have part of  tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas.

While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop’s robes, today Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots.

This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This has become the popular image and depicted through song, radio, television, and films. In the United Kingdom and Europe, he is often depicted in a manner identical to the American Santa Claus, but he is commonly called Father Christmas.

Traditionally, in the weeks between his arrival and 5 December, before going to bed, children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney of the coal-fired stove or fireplace. In modern times, they may put them next to the central heating unit. They leave the shoe with a carrot or some hay in it and a bowl of water nearby “for Sinterklaas’ horse”, and the children sing a Sinterklaas song. The next day they will find some candy or a small present in their shoes.

Typical Sinterklaas treats traditionally include: hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, pepernoten, letter-shaped pastry filled with almond paste or chocolate letter which was the first letter of the child’s name made out of chocolate.

Stop back soon! I will be putting up posts on the Origin of the Christmas Tree and the Origin of his Reindeer!


Will Rogers The Great American Humorist

Posted on Nov 21, 2010 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment

1879 – 1935

I grew up with a father who absolutely admired Will Rogers.  He would repeat many of Will’s quotes often.  Listening to my dad, I developed an incredible respect for this cowboy from Oklahoma.  I wish I  could have known him. His quotes, to this day, are so pertinent – they never get old!

William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was an American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer and actor and one of the best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s.

Will Rogers is known as Oklahoma’s Favorite son.  He was born to a prominent Cherokee Indian family in Indian Territory, now part of Oklahoma.  He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies wrote more than 4,000 nationally-syndicated newspaper columns and became a world-famous figure.

He performed in the Ziegfeld Follies with his rope act which led to his first of many movie contracts.  His 1920s newspaper column and radio appearances increased his visibility and popularity.  By the 1930s he was the most beloved figure of the American people.  His political wit of the Progressive Era led to some of the very best quotes that have come down through time and are as significant now as they were then.

In 1935 he and aviator Wiley Post were in a small plane, returning from a trip to Alaska. The plane went down near Barrow , a City in Alaska, and both men died. Will was only 55 yrs old.

Probably his most famous quote was “I Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like

He provided his own epitaph for his tombstone.  He commented “When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read”:

I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.”

“I am so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved!”

Will Rogers was born on the Dog Iron Ranch, near present-day Oologah, Oklahoma.  The house he was born in had been built in 1875 and was known as “The White House on the Verdigris River”

I will be adding more information on this incredible man from time to time. I hope you will stop by and read up on Will Rogers.  You too might just wish you could have known him also! For now, please enjoy some of his quotes.


“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth”

“We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others”

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer”

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves”

“The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf”

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing”

My Thanks to Wikipedia for their valuable information for this post.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Posted on Oct 09, 2010 under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The building of the Blarney Castle was a prodigious affair, requiring many hands and several years. Originally started in 1210 it was not completed until 1446. The Castle was completed by King of Munster, Dermot McCarthy.  Blarney Castle is located in Blarney, approximately 5 miles (8 km) from Cork, Ireland. The castle would have been used not only by the McCarthy clan but also by their retinue of knights and retainers. A powerful stronghold, it was designed to provide safety in times of attack, one of which happened in 1646 when Oliver Cromwell attacked Ireland and had a devastating effect on the castle.

The McCarthys were not only powerful leaders and warriors, they were also patrons of Irish culture, music and art. They established a Bardic School at Blarney, which attracted scholars from throughout Ireland. By the 1600’s Blarney had become well known as a Court of Poetry where poets gathered to read their compositions, many of which have survived in the original Irish form.

The word blarney has come to mean “clever, flattering, or coaxing talk”.

The Blarney Stone (Irish: Cloch na Blarnan) is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle.  According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens.

Legend of the Stone:

An early story involves the goddess Clíodhna. Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle,  being involved in a lawsuit, appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told MacCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart “the ability to deceive without offending”. MacCarthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle.

The proprietors of Blarney Castle list several other explanations on the origins of the stone on their website. Many of these suppose that the stone had previously been in Ireland, was taken to Scotland and then returned to Ireland in 1314. The stories listed include one suggesting that the stone was presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. This legend holds that this was a piece of the Stone of Scone and was installed at McCarthy’s castle of Blarney. Although colourful, this folk legend doesn’t account for that fact that it supposes that the stone was removed from Scotland 18 years before Bannockburn. hmmmm

Kissing the Stone:

Prior to the installation of the safeguards, the kiss was performed with real risk to life and limb, as participants were grasped by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height. In the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (first broadcast March 18, 1946), a man attempting to kiss the Blarney Stone falls to his death. Holmes’ investigation reveals this as a murder, the man’s boots having been surreptitiously greased before the attempt.

Kissing the Blarney Stone is for some people a difficult physical feat. In past times, to kiss the Stone people were hung by their heels over the edge of the parapet. One day a pilgrim broke from the grasp of his friends and went hurtling downward to certain death. Since that time the stone has been kissed by another method. First, you sit with your back towards the stone and then someone sits upon your legs or firmly holds your feet. Next, leaning far back and downward into the abyss while grasping the iron rails, you lower yourself until your head is even with the stone to be kissed.

I doubt I will be kissing the Blarney stone anytime in the near or distant future. As I loath heights, I certainly do not plan on hanging over the edge of a castle backwards!

But you are brave, willing and able – I have a link to the website for Blarney! Get your reservations and become clever and flattering!

Blarney Castle

“There is a Stone that whoever Kisses.
Oh! He never Misses to Grow Eloquent
‘Tis he may clamber to a Lady’s Chamber,
Or become a Member of Parliament.”
- Francis Sylvester Mahony

Have a Great Day!


U.S. Trivia to Coffee Trivia

Posted on Oct 04, 2010 under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’ve found some really fun trivia for the week. From U.S. Trivia to How Do You Like Your Coffee? I hope you will enjoy!

Our Illustrious Post Office Steps In It Big Time!

In 1999 the U.S. Postal Service printed a stamp depicting the Grand Canyon. As beautiful as the stamp was – they made one huge blunder! Printed on the stamp was “Grand Canyon, Colorado” ????

It cost over $500,000 to destroy the stamp and reprint it. Well now hold on! The story doesn’t end here! In the Second printing, they printed the Reverse Image of the Canyon! Yep – when people viewed the stamp it was like looking at it in a mirror – A Reversed Image! LOL

They chose Not to correct this error and supposedly said “No matter how you look at it, the Grand Canyon is Beautiful!”


A Woman Ran For President Long Before Anyone Knew!

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States! Her running mate was Frederick Douglass. She was declared ineligible because she was not 35 years of age! She would not turn 35 until September, After the January Inauguration!


Did You Know That:

Arlington National Cemetery was once General Robert E. Lee’s Plantation

The London Bridge was transported to Lake Havasu, Arizona in 1968

The first President to be born in a hospital was Jimmy Carter

Amelia Earhart designed clothes.


Coffee Anyone?

Coffee originated in Europe, it was known as Arabian Wine

In the 1680s, a French Doctor recommended treating patients with cafe’ au lait. Shortly thereafter, people started adding milk to their coffee.

The first cafe’ opened in Paris in 1689. It was specifically opened to serve coffee.

In 1790 the first wholesale coffee roasting company opened in the U.S.

Since the 1700s 90% of people, living in the western world, have switched from tea to coffee.

Dorothy Jones, a woman from Boston, was the first American Coffee Trader. She obtained her license in 1670.

Louis XIV of France started the tradition of putting sugar in coffee in 1715

Well, that’s it for now. I will have some more, totally worthless fun in a few days! So, lick those stamps, drink that coffee and go ahead and run for President!

Have a Great Day!

skype: ellen_thorp

The Mysterious Red Herring

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 under Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In many Fictional Mysteries, the term “Red Herring” is used quite often.

Where Did That Come From?

A Red Herring is a device which intends to divert the audience from the truth or an item of significance. For example, in Mysteries an innocent party may be purposefully cast as highly “suspicious” through emphasis or descriptive techniques; attention is drawn away from the true guilty party.

In a literal sense, there is no such fish species as a “red herring”; it refers to a particularly strong kipper, i.e. fish – that has been strongly cured in brine and/or heavily smoked. This process makes the fish particularly pungent smelling and turns them red.

There are variations of the story, but the most common states that the red herring would be dragged along a trail until a puppy hound learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox, the trainer would drag a red herring perpendicular to the animal’s trail to confuse the dog. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent of the kippers – i.e. herring.

Another theory states that escaping convicts used the pungent fish to throw off hounds in pursuit.

Various facts offered by Wikipedia

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Have a Great Day!


Where Have All The Closets Gone?

Posted on Sep 21, 2010 under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This is actually a very short article. But it’s one of those pesky trivia things that has been floating around in my head for a long time. So, I’ve decided to share it with the rest of you.

Excuse Me! What’s With Kitties in Bustle Dresses?

Yes, I know – most kitties Do Not walk around in Bustle Dresses! This is a design I created a long time ago and felt I had to use it somewhere! Hey – they Are cute!

Now, down to business!

Do you know why so many Victorian houses did not have closets?

During the Victorian era, houses were not typically taxed on their Size or the Acres they sat on. They were taxed on the Number of Rooms within the home! Now, that said – A Closet was considered a Room! Therefore, homeowners decided that the price was not worth it. Ergo Enter the Armoire! An Armoire is quite simply a wardrobe or movable cabinet – typically ornate – for storage. The Armoire became an Extremely popular alternative for keeping one’s clothing, shoes and other items stowed away.

Victorian Era:

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from June 1837 until her death on the 22nd of January 1901. The reign was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowing an educated middle class to develop. Some scholars extend the beginning of the period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political games that have come to be associated with the Victorians— to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

Some believe that the Victorian Era was a mentally abusive time in society. The Social structure was so very strict that stepping outside the Social Law of the time could leave one without friends, family, jobs and, in some cases, marriage opportunities.

To be perfectly fair, though. The Victorian era was ushering in advancement in technologies both industrially and medically. Education was on a rise and women, for the first time, were standing up – demanding to be heard – demanding to vote. These courageous women put themselves in harms way so women today would have the Right to Vote.

The Victorian era had so many contradictions and contributions that I, quite honestly, am fascinated by it! I hope to be writing more articles on this period in history. So please stop by for other trivia moments!

Various facts supplied by Wikipedia

Have a Great Day!


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