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Christmas History

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Important national events of the 1920s to mid-1950s that profoundly affected the way we celebrated Christmas will be included. The youth of today will experience the sadness of the Depression and World War II. They will see how we survived really hard times. One rather amazing event in the plans will be a re-enactment of the re-supplying of our troops by air in the Battle of the Bulge during Christmas of 1944. The actual types of aircraft that gallantly flew then are ready and waiting in Texas. They have uniforms, actors, a camera plane, and everything else we need to go back to 1944.

This will contrast with the utter jubilation of 1949, when we were blessed with eight new Christmas songs at once. One of them was Rudolph. We did go a bit wild, making Rudolph statues out of plywood for the front yard.

Santa Claus is Comin to Town:
One of the first new Christmas songs depicted in the movie was written on a subway car in New York. A painting was commissioned in order for us to see this romantic scene at the time of creation. On October 13, 1933, a famous songwriter, Haven Gillespie wrote Santa Claus is Comin to Town on the back of an envelope. He was on his way to the publisher, Leo Feist. Ethel Shutta sang it on the Eddie Cantor radio show two weeks before Thanksgiving. It became a national sensation. By the 5th of December, Santa Claus is Comin to Town had sold more sheet music than any song in history. It was the first Christmas song to hit via radio.

There is actually a lot more to this story. We will hear about the creation of more than 20 other songs during the course of the show. Some were an instant hit like this one, while another took 10 years to get from a book to becoming a song. Most people who have heard these stories were riveted with fascination as the tales were being told.

Jingle Bells was written by James Pierpont in this house in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1850. Oddly enough, the song was not a big hit amongst most of the townspeople. It was sung mostly by school children and folks in the sleigh races. By the Christmas seasons of 1855 and 1856, James Pierpont was down south in Savannah. Everyone in Savannah loved this jolly song from the snowy north. Pierpont decided to send in for a copyright in December of 1856.

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Christmas Eve 1822, Chelsea, New York. Clement C. Moore reads his new poem to his family, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Seen are his wife, Eliza, Margret in white 7, Charity in red 6, Ben 4, Mary 3, Clement Jr. 2, and Emily 8 months.

Painting by Denver artist Harold Shuler. Commissioned by Christmas historian Thomas H. Carlisle.

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