News from the Reference Desk Category: Mythology

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.

New Web Resource: National Geographic Virtual Library

The Library now subscribes to National Geographic Virtual Library and National Geographic Kids (brought to you by the incredible database company, Gale Cengage). The Virtual Library contains every single page of every issue of National Geographic since it began publication in 1888, all issues of National Geographic Traveler, published since 2010, and over 300 books.

The incredible photography takes on an amazing glow. Take a look at the about the Photo Ark article for proof of that. Every Last One. 

All articles can be saved to your computer, Google Drive, or saved to your folder in a Gale account. You can print them or email them to yourself or others.

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.

Britannica Library

britannica libraryThe Library now subscribes to the excellent and authoritative Encyclopedia Britannica’s online presence, Britannica Library. Explore thousands of topics in science, social studies, language arts, and mathematics for school projects, review concepts taught in the classroom, or learn something new. Very impressive are the more than 90,000 images, videos, and audio clips. There are 3 levels – children’s, teen, and adult – with great information for everyone. It would be easy to spend an afternoon or evening exploring here.