Sunday, June 22, 2008

Christmas Rituals Part 3

Alright, kids. Settle down, settle down. Ready for another round of Uncle Howard telling the truth this year? Well alright! Let's begin!

Christmas sweaters-Christmas sweaters didn’t originate with Bill Cosby. Heck, they were way before his time. In the days of yore, there existed dragons. Yeah, you heard me, real live fire-breathing dragons. It’s amazing what you learn from me and not some silly history textbook. In these days, dragons would terrorize kingdoms and villages and disrupt daily life for people. Dragons then escalated into demanding tribute or the threat of a conflagration would loom over the heads of the villagers. Most of the times, a king couldn’t afford the tribute. So as a solution to this dilemma, he would give some poor sap, er, serf a white elephant in the shape of a loud, obnoxious sweater. He then would order the rest of the villagers to smear ash on their bodies and wear sack clothing. The serf wearing the sweater would then boast and show off his new threads, only to be cut short by the looming sight of a dragon on the horizon. Naturally, dragons have terrible vision, so they’d seek out people wearing bright clothing. Naturally, the guy with the Christmas sweater always got it. And that’s why we always make fun of the guy wearing the Christmas sweater with a 3-D tree and working lights on it; he’s completely clueless and has no idea bad things will happen to him.
Candy canes-It’s true that candy canes are confectionary treats that are flavored with peppermint oil. It’s also true that they’re delicious. But did you know that they originated from a snazzy dresser? That’s right, Elliott Simms was the stuff in the early 1800’s. He’d wear a lime green top hat with lavender trousers, red silk spats, and a harlequin silk shirt. When Christmas rolled around, he got to feeling down. So he went to his haberdasher and ordered a cane made from ivory and bloodwood. The haberdasher realized with some slight alterations in the building material, he could swindle Elliott out of a ton of money. The haberdasher went to a confectioner and ordered a large cane to be made out of sugar and painted in a twisting stripe pattern with red dye. The confectioner asked him what it should be flavored. “Oh, peppermint for all I care,” replied the haberdasher. Two weeks later, Elliott received his cane and was immediately impressed by its light weight and pleasant smell. As soon as he used it, it broke and all the little waifs in the street grabbed all the splinters to sell them to make matches. When the waifs realized it was candy, they grabbed Elliott’s cane and left him flabbergasted. Elliott then realized the fortune he could make on these new sweet treats and started his own confectionary. We now know him as Willy Wonka.

Santa Claus wearing red suit-I’ve already told you the story about Black Richard. Sometimes Black Richard needed to be incognito to get all the little naughty children in his gunny sack, so he’d dress up as an obese man wearing a red suit with ermine trim and a hood, black boots, a huge belt with a brass buckle, a ridiculous looking hat, and a clay pipe. He’d yell at the top of his lungs, “HO HO HO!” to drown out the sounds of the naughty kids screaming for their parents when he put them in his gunny sack, and would take off running much faster than a seemingly obese man could go, only pausing to shout over his shoulder at the parents, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Upon Black Richard’s death due to strychnine and arsenic poisoning by the naughty boys and girls, his legion of cult followers paid tribute to him by dressing up in his disguise, and scaring the living daylights out of young children by screaming, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS! HO HO HOOOO!” while they sat on his lap.

Christmas crackers-Everyone knows that Christmas crackers are British. However, the first Christmas cracker was actually Swedish and was invented by Alfred Nobel as a precursor to dynamite. As he was perfecting the explosive substance and putting it into a hard paper tube, a rival chemist snuck in the lab and attempted to steal it. A tug of war ensued, and was abruptly ended when the thing exploded and shot off the rival’s hat and rings through the window to the outside. Little waifs then snuck off with the rings and the hats and would recount the wondrous story of Alfred Nobel and his exploding candle that shot out hats and rings. Someone decided to invent it, and the rest is history.

Sugar Plums- Sugar plums and sugared fruit for that matter had their start in the 1800’s. What happened was a brutally cold winter with its temperature nadir on Christmas. Plums and fruit were supposed to be served to all the kids on that Christmas morn, but the cook had forgot about them and left them outside in the cold. The fruit took on an icy look with droplets of frost, that didn’t look unlike a coating of sugar. The older siblings of the household decided to play a prank on the youngest, Little Hope. “Here, young sister,” they said with a guile smile “Sweets that Saint Nick has left for you!”
“Oh, goody!” cried Little Hope, and then began crying when her teeth were broken from attempting to masticate the frozen fruit. Her cries were quelled when the father of the house made the older siblings eat the fruit upon learning the trick they had played upon Little Hope. After several chipped teeth and severe ice cream headaches, they vowed to never play a prank again. Sugared fruit was created, but mostly as a gag gift to give amongst the older siblings in their later years.

And there you have it, the true story of Christmas.
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