CLICK THE MICROPHONE TO SKIP TO LOCAL STATIONS PLAYING CHRISTMAS MUSIC,
INCLUDING STREAMING AUDIO
Friday, December 25, 2009
There are exactly shopping days until Christmas.
The Story of Christmas: The Birth of Jesus Christ
(NOTE: This is a new revision separate from the 2004 version I wrote.
I've gained a lot of insight reading some sources. Thank you,
Wikipedia-- and the actual gospels, of course!)
Two accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ are present, one in the
Gospel of Matthew and another in the Gospel of Luke. Luke's account is
more elaborate in the details, while Matthew makes an extensive effort
to fit the story to prophecy, including some unusual stretches. The
two, in some cases, contradict. (On a personal note, I have a tendency
to put more faith in Luke's account, due to Matthew, other than the
nativity account, being mostly a plagiarism of Mark. The real Gospel of
Matthew, the first Gospel to be written and one that was originally in
Hebrew as opposed to the current Matthew's origins in Greek, is lost.)
Luke places the birth of Jesus at the time of the Census of Quirinius,
an event in 6 AD that led to the deposition of the Jewish ruling class
and the institution of Roman rule, according to Jewish historian
Josephus. Joseph of Nazareth, said to have been descended roughly 78
generations from Adam through the biblical King David and possibly
through the Maccabees that ruled Jerusalem in the 2nd century B.C., was
engaged to a virgin named Mary. [Matthew's less plausible account adds
up to only 58 generations, with several notable omissions and obvious
divergences after David; Matthew follows the kings of Jerusalem, who
were frequently cursed, instead of an alternate line preferred by
Luke.] However, the angel Gabriel informed her that she was pregnant by
the Holy Spirit and was to give birth to a child, that is, Jesus. (An
older cousin of Mary's, Elizabeth, also had miraculously conceived six
months prior; that child would become John the Baptist.) Mary and
Joseph arrived in Bethlehem and sought shelter in a local "inn," which
unfortunately was full, requiring them to take shelter with the
animals. It was here that Jesus was born. Shepherds were first to be
informed of His birth, and came to visit the stables.
Matthew includes an account of King Herod the Great having heard of his
birth. Herod, who according to Josephus was suffering from psychosis in
his old age, sent Magi (astrologers, or "wise men," occasionally
referred to as "kings of the Orient") as informants to the stable where
Jesus was born; these magi bore gifts to give him. Having heard of the
prophecies regarding Jesus, the insane Herod ordered every male child
under two to be killed, an order that, fortunately, appears never to
have been followed, though it was enough to force Mary, Joseph and the
young Jesus to find a detour to avoid Herod's henchmen. The problem
with this is that Josephus places Herod the Great's death in 4 BC, ten
years before the census of Quirinius, meaning Matthew's account and
Luke's are not compatible.
Spread to pagan culures: From debauchery to holiness
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, it ran into many pagan
cultures. Many of these cultures had celebrations that marked the
winter and spring seasons. Christians, willing to negotiate on the
issues in an effort to win over the pagans, converted the winter
celebration into Christmas and the spring celebration into Easter, to
mark the birth and resurrection of Christ, respectively. At first, the
"Christmas" celebrations were examples of sex, drunkenness, and general
debauchery until Christian purists demanded that the holiday be taken
Santa Claus is a legend based upon a philanthropist from circa AD 200
known as St. Nicholas of Turkey, a noted clergyman, philanthropist and
(somewhat ironically) anti-paganism activist. For those of you going on
Jeopardy! any time soon, he had a feast named in his honor that was
originally designated on December 6; the proximity to the Christmas
holiday is what caused "Santa Claus" to be lumped into the Christmas
However, the legend has since grown into a
full-blown industry. So here's the general consensus on the legend.
Santa Claus's physical description: he is of unknown height, notably
overweight, he has a long white beard and is bald. His wardrobe is
almost universally red. The story of Santa Claus's origin is disputed;
however, we do know that he is married to a woman known only as Mrs.
Claus and that he lives in a workshop on the North Pole. (Note:
Geologists may note that there are two North Poles, a geographic
[covered in water and ice] and a magnetic [under an island].
Fullervision, for the sake of realistic possiblility, will argue that
the workshop is on the magnetic North Pole on Bathurst Island, Nunavut,
Canada. Other organizations have argued that Santa lives in northern
Scandinavia.) The workshop on
the North Pole is manned by elves, who are responsible for producing
all of the toys in the world. (This despite most claims that they are
made by other diminuted people-- the Chinese.)
The apex of activity at the North Pole workshop comes on Christmas Eve
(December 24 for those of you in Rio Linda), when all of the elves
gather the toys and place them into a large sack for Santa Claus to
carry around the world. The sack is carried out to a large sleigh,
which is powered by nine reindeer (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph, the last with a bright red
nose to guide the sleigh during inclement weather). Santa also compiles
a list, from various sources, of all of the children to be considered
"naughty" and undeserving of gifts. The rest of the Christian children
are labeled "nice" and are rewarded with gifts from the sack. The
sleigh navigates in a fashion so that it arrives at the children's
houses at about midnight local time.
Chanukkah (December 11-19)
Chanukkah, also spelled Chanukah or Hanukkah, is celebrated December
11-19 this year, which marks an average start. The
relatively minor Jewish holiday is noted so often because it lands in
roughly the same time frame as Christmas, one of the most major
Christian holidays, and due to the fact that many famous media
personalities are Jewish
(see Adam Sandler's line of "Hanukkah Songs") The story of this holiday
involves a belief that
divine intervention allowed one day's worth of temple oil to last for
eight days. The custom is symbolized by lighting a menorah of nine
candles, one master candle to light the other eight, one for each day.
Also involved is a game of dreidel-spinning (the dreidel being a top
with four sides, each with Hebrew lettering) and feasts including
deep-fried potato latkes (pancake-like creations).
Kwanzaa: It's fake, it's racist, I don't even consider it a
Radio: Holiday Music Watch
The following outlets are expected to carry Christmas music this
year. Expect most American stations to change some time on
November 19, 2010.
Quite a few, even more than usual, changed right on November 1 this
So far, no surprises, except for a mild one in Albany, where two
stations, WBZZ and WTRY, both changed to Christmas music with the early
adopters the first week of November. Traditional early adopters WZUN
and WUMX did so again November 1. Still waiting on Rochester where they
change a little later than the others (WVOR is particularly hardwired
to the Friday night before Thanksgiving). In Buffalo, a typical change,
WJYE changed the week before Thanksgiving and WTSS pulled their typical
lowbrow move, did some opposition research, and changed 15 minutes
before WJYE did. A brief pleasantry on the AM dial as WHLD played a
week of Christmas standards on November 8. Programming
and playlists being watched with help from Yes.com, Scott
Fybush and CNYRadio.com
Buffalo, New York
1270 (no audio) (playlist)
as "Salute to the Holidays;" one song per hour as of 11/15
6:00 a.m. Note:
apparently scrambled, includes both X-mas and non-X-mas feeds
Please note that all times
listed are subject to change. As the holiday approaches, I will update
dates and times as well as remove any dropped specials.
Most notable television specials, by network (NOTE: This list is
missing some dates. I apologize.)
the Red Nosed Reindeer Nov. 30 The first and original
Rankin-Bass claymation special featuring the voice of Burl Ives and the
famous Gene Autry song, as well as the longest running Christmas
special on television today. In addition to strictly following the song
storyline to the word, this series also incorporates several good
subplots including Hermie the Dentist Elf, the Abominable Snowman and
the Island of Misfit Toys.
Snowman Dec. 11/17 Rankin-Bass's only
hand-drawn animation series based upon the infamous winter carol. A
brave young girl named Karen attempts to keep Frosty safe from rising
temperatures and the notoriously bad (in more ways than one) magician
Frosty Returns Dec. 11/17 A leftist piece of tripe
produced by CBS as a sequel to Frosty the Snowman.
A Home for the Holidays Celebrities seek homes for
foster children in this special created by Kathie Lee Gifford.
Yes, Virginia Dec. 17 Based on the classic "Yes,
Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter.
The Flight Before Christmas Dec. 11 The story of the love child of
one of Santa Claus's reindeer. I kid thee not.
Charile Brown Christmas Dec. 7 The first animated
Peanuts special ever created, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is considered
to be one of the best Christmas specials of all time. The story is
effectively a lament of Christmas gone awry due to commercial excess
and a reminder of what Christmas is truly celebrating. Coupled with
"Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales."
Landing Dec. 9/24 Billed as the first animated
Disney television special produced specifically for ABC (most of
Disney's specials have debuted on ABC Family or Disney Channel), Prep
and Landing is about an elite team of Santa Claus's elves. I'm guessing
it returns this year because ABC invested so much money into it.
the Halls In this midquel between Shrek
the Third and Shrek Forever After, the cast of Shrek has a hard time
figuring how to celebrate Shrek's first Christmas with his family.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Nov. 30/Dec. 23 The television adaptation
of Dr. Seuss's book, narrated by horror flick legend Boris Karloff,
about a character who plots to steal all material possessions related
to Christmas from the tiny, innocent town of Whoville... but fails to
quash the Whos' Christmas spirit. Movie includes famous "You're a Mean
One, Mr. Grinch" performance by Thurl Ravenscroft. The program moves to
ABC and will also air on TBS and Cartoon Network.
The 2003 movie adaptation of this story starring Jim Carrey and
directed by Ron Howard can be
seen on ABC/ABC Family.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town Dec. 2 Another Rankin-Bass
special, this one focusing on the story of Santa Claus (only loosely
based upon the title song). A tripped out hippie scene makes this one a
worthwhile watch. Replays on ABC Family.
a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown! This sequel to "A Charlie
Brown Christmas" (actually, the second such sequel) was first released
after the death of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, and focuses on the
youngest and newest Peanut, Rerun van Pelt, taking in Snoopy's
desert-living cousin Spike as a pet. (NOTE: This special was bumped
from the 2009 schedule due to a speech by President Barack Obama.)
Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation Dec. 24 The Disney Channel original
series makes its terrestrial television debut.
Disney Parks Christmas Parade Watch one big fat honking
Disney commerical disguised as a parade. Hosted by Regis Philbin
and Kelly Ripa from Walt Disney World in Florida.
Year In this Rankin-Bass
sequel to the original "Rudolph," the title character is sent out to
find the New Year's Baby, who has gone astray in time in an effort to
shirk his duties and hide his large ears.
Rockin' Eve with Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest,
Dec. 31 10 PM Dick Clark returns with
co-host Ryan Seacrest to count down to 2011.
Christmas at Rockefeller Center Nov. 30 A two-hour extravaganza
featuring a dozen musical performances and culminating with the
lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Movie: It's a Wonderful Life Dec. 11/24 The famous movie about a
man who wishes he had never been born-- and then sees what his life
would be like without him through the help of a guardian angel. Special
presentation narrated for the blind by former President George Bush.
A Flintstones Christmas Note: ABC Family also has this
on their schedule. Don't ask me how or why, but for the past decade,
Warner Bros. has been extremely tight about insisting that their
properties only air on their outlets... that seems to be softening this
A Scooby-Doo Christmas
Bah Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer Direct-to-video program based
upon Elmo Shropshire's song of the same name.
Olive, the Other Reindeer Olive (voiced by Drew
Barrymore) is a dog who hears a news
report on trouble with Santa's reindeer and mistakes it for a "help
Check listings for specials
and one-off episodes all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
A Christmas Story, Dec. 24 Jean Shepherd narrates
his life story through the character of "Ralphie," an enthusiastic
young boy whose life goal is to get a Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine
Action Air Rifle for Christmas. Many memorable moments (wow, I've
become Irv Weinstein) exist, including the ad-dispensing decoder ring,
the tongue stuck to the flagpole on a "triple dog dare," and the
continuously repeated phrase "you'll shoot your eye out."
"25 Days of Christmas" -- A 25-day virtual marathon of
Christmas specials (home page)
programming will begin on 12/1, including the following specials:
Frosty's Winter Wonderland Rankin-Bass's original
sequel to Frosty the Snowman, narrated this time by Andy Griffith and
built around the song "Winter Wonderland." In this special, Frosty
seeks a wife.
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July The full-length
both the Rudolph and Frosty stories, featuring a very dark and bizarre
storyline, some plot inconsistencies, and (drumroll, please)... Ethel
Year Without a Santa Claus (animated version) Two kids negotiate a
deal with the Heat Miser and Snow Miser (two weather-controlling
demigods who have catchy and nearly identical theme songs) to bring
snow to the South, but in return, the North Pole is warm for Christmas,
which jeopardizes Santa Claus's ability to leave via sleigh.
A Garfield Christmas Special The story of Jon
Arbuckle's trip to Christmas dinner with his family. Garfield
eventually discovers Jon's grandfather's old love letters to Jon's
grandmother and returns them as a gift to Grandma. CBS discontinued
this special after losing the rights to A Charlie Brown Christmas; the
two specials had aired side-by-side for several years. CBS sold the
rights to Garfield to Fox and they have opted not to air the special;
however, Fox has made the special available on DVD. ABC resumes airing
Other claymation specials: Jack Frost, Pinnochio's
Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, among others
Movie: The Polar Express
Movie: The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa
As well as a handful of movies, which begin in November under
the "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" banner
The Homecoming: A Christmas Story The made-for-television
movie that spun off the television series The Waltons, this story is
the tale of a rural Depression-era family who is rocked by the
disappearance of their father. CBS had aired the program on Saturday
mornings until the late 1990's, when it inexplicably disappeared. It is
available on DVD but is rare and comparitively expensive. Yes, I have a
copy. No, you can't have it.
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown! I have never seen this
little known sequel to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" produced in 1992.
Bootleg copies are floating around on Youtube, I believe.
Holidaze, the Christmas that Almost Didn't Happen The story of Rudolph's
little-known, incompetent and depressed reindeer brother, Rusty. Last
seen on MyNetworkTV.
The Story of Santa Claus This special previously ran on
CBS and The CW.
Blizzard A 2003 film about reindeer.
Movie: Elf The movie starring Will
Ferrell as a man who was raised by elves and has to return home to New
Television Sports (Christmas Eve/Christmas Day)
San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans, 8:15 p.m. ET Christmas
Day, NFL Network
NBA (All games Christmas Day)
Chicago Bulls @ New York Knicks, MSG Network
Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic, ABC
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Los Angeles Lakers, ABC
NCAA football and the NHL are taking Christmas Day off.
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Dedicated to the memory of Andrea C. Morton (1988-2009)