News from the Reference Desk Category: Holiday

Origins of Winter Holiday Celebrations

Mistletoe, presents, candlelight–all of these and more are part of winter holidays.  The origins of the traditions carried out this time of year are both ancient and modern.  The editors of JSTOR an online resource of academic articles have collected a variety of articles which address aspects of the winter holiday season.  You will learn more about Santa Claus, mistletoe, the lights of Hanukkah, poinsettias,  the winter solstice and other treasured aspects of this time of year.  Take time during this busy season to immerse yourself in the lore of the winter holidays.  May this experience bring you understanding and a greater appreciation of the season.

The History of Santa Claus

The holiday season is full of traditional events and practices, many of which revolve around the figure of Santa Claus.  But who is this figure?  What is his history?  That story goes back to 280 CE in Myra, an area now in modern Turkey, where Saint Nicholas lived and worked as a bishop. After his death on December 6 in an unknown year, many stories developed about his kindness and generosity, especially to children.  These legends were adopted over the years by people in many areas of Europe where Saint Nicholas is still considered to be the source of gifts.  It is from him that Santa Claus as he is known today emerges with some help from Nordic mythology and the Protestant Reformation among other influences.  An article from National Geographic online gives a detailed description of this transition.  Additional information can be found at the Santa Claus entry on History.com and the website of the St. Nicholas Center.  This far-reaching tale reveals how many cultures have added to the legend of Santa Claus, making him one figure that belongs to everyone.

Consumer Reports Holiday Gift Guide Is Here!

Access ConsumerReports.org free through our website with your Library card and PIN because they have just released their 2016 gift guide. Find the best gadgets for the chef in your life. Find out why you should buy an organic turkey this festive season. Discover how to be a winner on Black Friday. There are many articles, some with intriguing titles such as “Nothing Says You Care Like a Home Blood Pressure Monitor” and “Why Tires Go Flat in Winter.” Lots of interesting stuff!

Celebrating Veterans Day

Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, was first set as a U.S. legal holiday to recognize the end of World War I.  This “armistice” took place on November 11, 1918.  In 1938 legislation was past to formally dedicate November 11 to the “cause of world peace.”  With the urging of veterans organizations, the U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938, replacing “Armistice” with the word “Veterans.”  On June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans.  In 1968 Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October.  This move was highly unpopular so in 1975 the annual observance of Veterans Day was moved again to November 11.  A more complete history of this holiday can be found here at the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Many Mount Prospect natives have served in the military over the past 100 years.  There are some artifacts of this service in the online collection Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect.  Among them are a World War I gas mask, a World War I uniform jacket and helmet, and the stole of a local World War II chaplain. 

On November 11 of this year, Mount Prospect will honor veterans in a free program to be held at Lions Park Recreation Center beginning at 10:30 AM.