Wednesday, December 18, 2013

100 Years of Holiday Gifts

Bailey Jaronski

Since 1913 to 2013 childrens lists to Santa have advanced from simple, everyday things, like oranges to machine made, glamorous toys. Based on research using previous Dear Santa letters from a century ago in historical newspaper questions, a family history website called MyHeritage gathered the information of the top ten Christmas gifts from 1913 and compared them towards the gifts asked for in 2013. Back then, it’s interesting to see how children asked for basic items like food and clothing compared to fancy, high tech toys.

Top 10 Gifts in 1913  
  1. Candy
  2. Nuts
  3. Rocking Horse
  4. Doll
  5. Mitten/gloves
  6. Toy Train
  7. Oranges
  8. Books
  9. Handkerchiefs
  10. Skates

Top 10 Gifts in 2013:
  1. Furby Boom
  2. Teksta Robotic Puppy
  3. LeapPad Ultra
  4. Flying Fairy
  5. Bugs Hug Elmo
  6. Barbie Dream House
  7. Giggly Monkey
  8. Nerf Gun
  9. Ninja Turtles
  10. Lego

The History of Santa Claus

Josh Searle
Staff Writer

    You can’t think of Christmas without thinking about the big man in red. His name is now known throughout the globe as Santa Claus, and behind this fictitious gift-giving saint lies a very complex and intriguing history. I mean, come on, the tale of a fat man who lives to fly around the globe giving gifts to every good child in every nation on earth with the assistance of magical reindeer on the 24th of December has to have a pretty interesting background story. This global icon for Christmas cheer is derived from a multitude of sources that even have their own origin stories themselves. We’re going to go as far back as we can to answer the question of what led to the legend of the good-doing sleigh-riding cookie-eating Santa Claus.
    We start in northern Europe, where the winters are long, cold, dark, and depressing, the coldest, darkest, and most depressing day in winter being on the winter solstice. During the solstice (which lies on either  the 21st or the 22nd of December for the northern hemisphere), northern Europe receives only a few weak hours of sunlight, if any at all for some towns. So, to lighten the mood during this time of year, these sun-deprived citizens created magical characters that would visit them to bring presents and celebration. These beings ranged from elves to Gods to even goats, but two in particular pertain to the history of Santa Claus: St. Nick from the Netherlands and Father Christmas from England. In the tradition, St. Nicholas (or “Sinterklaas” in dutch) is a stern character who brings presents to children in early December. He dresses like a bishop in red and white, carries a staff, and rides a white horse through different towns, for whom children are encouraged to leave out a carrot for. Sound familiar at all? England’s Father Christmas, on the other hand, is a large, jolly pagan dressed in green with a holly wreath upon his head. Traditionally, he is less concerned with children and gifts and is more heavily associated with food, wine, and celebration. He is most famously known as the second of three spirits to terrorize Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol.” When Europeans from the many different areas of Europe all settled relatively close together when the North American colonies were established, St. Nick, Father Christmas, and all of the other characters started to mix together, explaining why America’s modern “Santa Claus” (America’s take on the dutch “Sinterklaas”) has so many alternative names: St. Nick, Father Christmas, and Kris Kringle (originating from Germany), just to name a few. In the old world, each of these names were for separate characters, but in the new world, they evolved into one overtime, which can be seen in older stories.     
    One of the first instances of America’s gift-giving saint within American literature was the poem “A Night Before Christmas,” which came out in New York in 1823. This poem established that Santa landed on roofs, slid down chimneys, and filled stockings with toys. However, the Santa in the poem is an elf, much like those from Nordic countries. In the poem, Santa is small and drives a miniature sleigh with equally miniature reindeer, which made the fact that he slides down chimneys make more sense. Also, the word “Santa” isn’t even used in the poem, as the original title was “A Visit from St. Nick.” As the 1800s continued, the fat, human-like immortal Santa became the standard among American authors, and it was in America where Santa gained both his elvish work force and a wife. By the early 1900s, Santa had developed into his current iconic style. Also, contrary to popular belief, Coca-Cola didn’t change Santa’s colors to fit their corporate scheme, but but instead his conveniently red and white colors were used in 1931 advertisements to help sell more soda in the off season of winter. Although Coke didn’t create him, their image of Santa in their advertisements probably became the one true image people thought of when thinking of Santa. They even helped this image of Santa spread throughout the world, spreading this idea of Santa to cultures that had no traditions of gift giving during Christmas time. This American Santa in turn helped to change his magical European brethren to become more like him, with the exception of the Netherlands, which still firmly holds the idea of St. Nick as a separate character.
    The last main detail about Santa that is up for debate (at least between countries) is where the jolly gift-giver and his workshop resides. In the late 1800’s, his home was the Magnetic North Pole, centered under the Aurora Borealis. Although this would be the most agreed upon location, magnetic north has since moved off of the polar ice sheet and into the ocean. Obviously, it would be a little difficult to run a busy toy factory underwater, so different countries now argue over where Santa lives. Canada claims that Santa lives somewhere in Nunavut, has given him his own postcode (which is H0H 0H0), and has even given him official Canadian citizenship. Here in the States, we claim that the north pole Santa resides in doesn’t refer to the magnetic north pole but rather to the town of North Pole, Alaska. Denmark claims that Santa lives in their former colony of Greenland, and Greenland unsurprisingly agrees. The nordic countries quarrel over where his exact location is, but Finland trumps above all others with their claim that Santa and his workshop reside in Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. Finland has actual evidence of the claim as well, for you can go visit the workshop and see all of the elves, toys, and reindeer with your own eyes, making the claim pretty strong. No matter where or what Santa’s origin is, though, he still manages to deliver all of those presents in one night, even when he stops for a cookie break at each house.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Welcoming Ms. Cron to the High School

Jackie Gouris
Staff Writer

You may have noticed that the second entrance to the library has been transformed into a classroom. “Many students come in here thinking they can get to the library, thats how I meet a lot of people!” Ms. Cron, the new special education teacher says. She works out of the new classroom and has also helped create the coffee shop Hope and Sole.
 Ms. Cron previously taught in Boston, and moved to Bucks County after she got married. She grew up in Connecticut and went to a small public high school similar to New Hope. Ms. Cron started doing volunteer work when she was 16, and that is when she knew that she wanted to do similar work as her job. She completed her graduate degree in Boston and began teaching at Pennsbury High School. This will be her sixth year of teaching.
 Ms. Cron says that one of her main goals is “to build a strong transition learning center and a strong, inclusive learning environment.” She is very excited about the coffee shop, because she says it is a great experience and learning opportunity for her students. Ms. Cron says she looks forward to the continued support from her students and colleagues. She would like to say to students:  “Don’t be shy, I’m always looking for student volunteers. A lot of students come here by accident, because this used to be a door to the library. Dont be afraid to stop by and learn about the program, and if you want any volunteer opportunities come and see me.”

Amazon Reaching New Heights

Dylan Selbst
Opinions Editor

As early as 2015, you may look in the sky and observe what looks like a fleet of mechanical birds, however what you actually will see is Amazon’s newest innovation in the realm of online buying. These drones are unmanned flying helicopter-like robots designed to deliver packages to customers directly from warehouses. They are part of a program called Amazon Prime Air and are far from science fiction.
 Currently, Amazon has real, functional prototypes and expects many of these drones to be in use over the next few years. These drones take packages directly from where they are in stock and are programed with GPS technology to fly to the doorstep of nearby Amazon customers in less than 30 minutes.
 This concept could be a great way to bypass ground shipping and would allow customers to quickly and easily receive packages. However, the technology must first be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Currently, it is illegal for private corporations such as Amazon to operate and deliver packages with unmanned drones, but the FAA is expected to allow it by 2015.
 Some major complications with this concept include vandalism to the product while it is in flight and the practicality of drone usage over long distances. While there are still many obstacles in the way of this concept becoming a reality, Amazon is very optimistic.
 If all goes according to Amazon’s plan, their lines of unmanned drones will be released by mid-2015, and we will be telling our grandchildren about the times when mail was delivered in cars.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon