Activities for December

Five Articles for Assisted Living / SNF Activities for December

Here are five activities for the month of December.

The Origins of Christmas and Hanukkah

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The two biggest holidays this month are the Christian celebration of Christmas and the Jewish observance of Hanukah. Let’s start by looking at how these have developed over the years.

Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is celebrated by most Christians to mark the birth of Jesus, which is believed to have occurred in Bethlehem in the Roman Province of Judea. Christ's birth, or nativity, was said by his followers to fulfill the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin.

The word Hanukkah means "dedication." Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. At the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

Let It Snow

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How about a ski resort inside a mall? Only in Dubai. Getty Images

Winter Wonderland

"Winter Wonderland" was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith. Who is Parson Brown by the way? In the period when this song was written, parsons often traveled across small towns to perform wedding ceremonies. Therefore, when the next time Parson Brown was in town, he would be able to conduct a wedding ceremony for these children.

Let It Snow sometimes also known as "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow") was written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in 1945 and first recorded by Vaughn Monroe, becoming a huge popular hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard music chart the following year.

Due to its seasonal lyrics, "Let It Snow" is commonly regarded as a Christmas song. Yet despite its cheery, holiday feel, it is a love song that never mentions Christmas. (Cahn and Styne, like Irving Berlin, who penned "White Christmas," and several other period composers of popular holiday music, were Jewish.)

Origins of Santa Claus

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Santa Claus, legend has it, is based on St. Nicholas, a bishop from the fourth century with a reputation for generosity, kindness and performing miracles for children and sailors. Red and white were the colors of the traditional bishops robes of that time.

The Dutch modeled a gift-giving Saint Nicholas on the eve of his feast day on December 6. In North America, other colonists adopted the feast of Sinterklaas brought by the Dutch into their Christmas holiday, and Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, known in some West African and the UK countries as Father Christmas. The French equivalent of Santa, Père Noël, evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image Haddon Sundblom painted for a worldwide Coca-Cola advertising campaign in the 1930s.

Christmas Myths and Facts

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Why do people drink eggnog during the holidays?

Short answer: It has booze in it -- usually rum, brandy or sherry. But, as you might have guessed, there's more to it. Eggnog is thought to have started in England, around the 17th century, where it was a favored drink of the rich. Early hot versions, called posset, contained milk, eggs, and ale. (In Britain, nog is slang for ale.) Then someone added sugar, took out the ale, and replaced it with brandy or sherry.

But why make eggnog in the first place?

Historian James Humes put it this way: "The average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk. There was no refrigeration, and the farms belonged to the big estates." The heat and the alcohol helped preserve the milk. Dairy farms were plentiful in America, and the new drink soon became popular here. Colonists often substituted rum, which was cheaper than the heavily taxed brandy or sherry. George Washington, reportedly a big fan of eggnog, had his own recipe, a knee-weakening concoction made with rye whiskey, rum, ​and sherry.

The Legend of Bing and White Christmas

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"White Christmas" is an Irving Berlin song. The morning after he wrote the song — Berlin usually stayed up all night writing — the songwriter went to his office and told his musical secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written — hell, I just wrote the best song that anybody's ever written!" Berlin wrote the song in early 1940. "White Christmas" was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn. In the film, he actually sings it in a duet with Marjorie Reynolds. The song went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Song.

Harry Lillis Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington on May 3, 1903, in a house that his father built (1112 North J Street, Tacoma, Washington). He was the fourth of seven children - five boys and two girls born to English-American Harry Lowe Crosby and Irish-American Catherine Harrigan, the daughter of a builder from County Mayo in Ireland. His paternal ancestors Thomas Prence and Patience Brewster were born in England and immigrated to the U.S. in the 17th century; Brewster's family came over on the Mayflower.

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