Friday, December 24, 2010

The History of Christmas According to Dan (4 of 5)

Christmas Lights

Originally candles were lit in windows to show persecuted Christians where they could worship.

Then, in the mid-17th Century, people started using small candles to decorate their Christmas trees. Surprisingly this wasn’t the most dangerous way to light your Christmas tree as you will see below.

That honor goes to the giant lightbulb Christmas lights first introduced in the 1880s, but not becoming popular until the 1940s-1950s. These giant bulbs would light dried trees on fire, get stepped on and slice people’s feet open with Christmas wounds, and probably gave off an unhealthy amount of radiation.

Today we use fairly safe, smaller lights. These use relatively little electricity and usually if they cause accidents, its user error. (See Christmas Vacation, 1989)

Fun Christmas Fact: Some British call their Christmas lights Fairy Lights because they are a gullible, wussy, mythology loving people.

Now onto the flying reindeer!

Flying Reindeer

The eight traditional reindeer were invented in the poem by Clement C. Moore called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

He probably got the idea from the eight legged horse, Sleipnir. There’s nothing to back that theory up, but Mulder would see eight reindeer, eight legs, and call shenanigans on Santa.

The original names of the reindeer are German and are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen. (Which mean Thunder and Lightning respectively.)

Fun Christmas Fact: Donder and Blitzen went on to be stars in American Gladiators

At one point in the early 1900s, L. Frank Baum tried to write that there were 18 different reindeer. Some names were Racer, Pacer, Fearless, Peerless, Ready, Steady, Feckless, and Speckless. His version didn’t catch on, sounding more like sleazy race horse names than cherished magical beasts.

Then, in 1939, Rudolph was invented by Robert L. May so that the Montgomery Ward department store had something to give to the Children at Christmas time. Rudolph has largely taken over as the most popular of the reindeer. This proves that the outcasts can rise up and become popular, giving mythological nerds and elves who wish to be dentists hope.

Besides an awful cash grab attempt in 1989, (see Prancer) no other reindeer have tried to steal the spotlight from Rudolph.