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The Handmaid’s Tale  by Margret Atwood being included on school reading lists has made it a lightning rod for controversy. The novel has been deemed pornographic, age-inappropriate, and anti-Christian. 

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a near-future America under the rule of a theocratic totalitarian state called the Republic of Gilead. An unnamed environmental disaster has rendered large portions of the population sterile; women deemed fertile, known as ‘handmaids,’ are kept for reproductive purposes in an effort to combat the declining birth rate. The novel is told from the point of view of a handmaid, Offred, who describes the history and social structure of the Gilead regime. In accordance with the regime’s interpretation of religious doctrine, women under Gilead have been stripped of all rights and freedoms, and are even forbidden to read. Even the protagonist’s name reinforces her submission to patriarchal authority; in her role as handmaid she has been given the name Offred (literally ‘of Fred’). As the novel progresses, Offred begins to see the hypocrisy and avenues of resistance that exist beneath the rigid surface of the regime’s rule as she looks for a means of escape.

Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Islamic extremists) that kills the President and most of Congress, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order
They are quickly able to take away all of women's rights, largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labelled by gender.
 The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious ultra-conservatism among its newly created social classes. In this society, almost all women are forbidden to read.

The story is presented from the point of view of a woman called Offred (literally Of-Fred). The character is one of a class of women kept as concubines ("handmaids") for reproductive purposes by the ruling class in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.
The book is told in the first person by Offred, who describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred (referred to as "The Commander"). Interspersed in flashbacks are portions of her life from before and during the beginning of the revolution, when she finds she has lost all autonomy to her husband, through her failed attempt to escape with her husband and daughter to Canada, to her indoctrination into life as a handmaid. Offred describes the structure of Gilead's society, including the several different classes of women and their circumscribed lives in the new theocracy.

The Commander is a high-ranking official in Gilead. Although he is supposed to have contact with Offred only during "the ceremony,"*a ritual of sexual intercourse intended to result in conception and at which his wife is present, he begins an illegal and ambiguous relationship with her. He offers her hidden or contraband products, such as old fashion magazines and cosmetics, takes her to a secret brothel run by the government, and furtively meets with her in his study, where he allows her to read, an activity otherwise prohibited for women.* The Commander's wife, Serena Joy, also has secret interactions with Offred, arranging for her secretly to have sex with Nick, Serena's driver, in an effort to get Offred pregnant. In exchange for Offred's cooperation, Serena Joy gives her news of her daughter, whom Offred has not seen since she and her family were captured trying to escape Gilead.

After Offred's initial meeting with Nick, they begin to rendezvous more frequently. Offred discovers she enjoys sex with Nick, despite her indoctrination and her memories of her husband. She shares potentially dangerous information about her past with him. Through another handmaid, Ofglen, Offred learns of the Mayday resistance, an underground network working to overthrow Gilead. Shortly after Ofglen's disappearance (later discovered to be a suicide), the Commander's wife finds evidence of the relationship between Offred and the Commander. Offred contemplates suicide. As the novel concludes, she is being taken away by the secret police, the Eyes of God, known informally as "the Eyes", under orders from Nick. Before she is put in the large black van, Nick tells her that the men are part of the Mayday resistance and that Offred must trust him. Offred does not know if Nick is a member of the Mayday resistance or a government agent posing as one, and she does not know if going with the men will result in her escape or her capture. She enters the van with her future uncertain.

The novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called "the Gilead Period". The epilogue is "a partial transcript of the proceedings of the Twelfth Symposium on Gileadean Studies" written in 2195. According to the symposium's "keynote speaker" Professor Pieixoto, he and colleague, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred's story recorded onto cassette tapes. They transcribed the tapes, calling them collectively "the handmaid's tale". Through the tone and actions of the professionals in this final section of the book, the world of academia is highlighted and critiqued.[5] The epilogue implies that, following the collapse of the theocratic Republic of Gilead, a more equal society, though not the United States as it previously had existed, re-emerged with a restoration of full rights for women and freedom of religion.

The furor over the novel has not died down: as recently as 2012 parents in North Carolina were protesting the book for having negative views of religion and “anti-biblical” attitudes toward sex.

The American Library Association (ALA) lists The Handmaid's Tale as number 37 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000". Atwood participated in discussing The Handmaid's Tale as the subject of an ALA discussion series titled "One Book, One Conference".
The book's inclusion in school curricula and assignments has been challenged by some groups in particular cities in the United States:
1990: Challenged at Rancho Cotate High School, Rohnert Park, California as too explicit for students.
1992: Challenged in Waterloo, Iowa schools, reportedly because of profanity, lurid passages about sex, and statements defamatory to minorities, God, women, and the disabled.
1993: Removed because of profanity and sex from the Chicopee, Massachusetts high school English class reading list.
1998: Challenged for use in Richland, Washington high school English classes, along with six other titles determined to be "poor quality literature and [that] stress suicide, illicit sex, violence, and hopelessness".
1999: Challenged because of graphic sex, but retained on the advanced placement English list, at George D. Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Florida.
2000: Downgraded from “required” to “optional” on the summer reading list for eleventh graders in the Upper Moreland School District near Philadelphia due to “age-inappropriate” subject matter.
2001: Challenged, but retained, in the Dripping Springs, Texas senior Advanced Placement English course as an optional reading assignment. Some parents were offended by the book’s descriptions of sexual encounters.
2006: Initially banned by Superintendent Ed Lyman from an advanced placement English curriculum in the Judson, Texas school district, after a parent complained. Lyman had overruled the recommendation of a committee of teachers, students, and parents; the committee appealed the decision to the school board, which overturned his ban.[20]
According to Education Reporter Kristin Rushowy of the Toronto Star (16 Jan. 2009), in 2008 a parent in Toronto, Canada, wrote a letter to his son's high school principal, asking that the book no longer be assigned as required reading, stating that the novel is "rife with brutality towards and mistreatment of women (and men at times), sexual scenes, and bleak depression." 
Rushowy quotes the response of Russell Morton Brown, a retired University of Toronto English professor, who acknowledged that The Handmaid's Tale wasn't likely written for 17-year-olds, '*but neither are a lot of things we teach in high school, like Shakespeare*. ...'And they are all the better for reading it. They are on the edge of adulthood already, and there's no point in coddling them,' he said, adding, 'they aren't coddled in terms of mass media today anyway.' ...He said the book has been accused of being anti-Christian and, more recently, anti-Islamic because the women are veiled and polygamy is allowed. ...But that 'misses the point,' said Brown. 'It's really anti-fundamentalism.'

In her earlier account (14 Jan. 2009), Rushowy reported that a Toronto District School Board committee was "reviewing the novel." While noting that "The Handmaid's Tale is listed as one of the 100 'most frequently challenged books' from 1990 to 1999 on the American Library Association's website", Rushowy reports that "The Canadian Library Association says there is 'no known instance of a challenge to this novel in Canada' but says the book was called anti-Christian and pornographic by parents after being placed on a reading list for secondary students in Texas in the 1990s."

In November 2012 two parents in Guilford County, North Carolina protested against inclusion of the book on a required reading list at a local high school. The parents presented the school board with a petition signed by 2,300 people, prompting a review of the book by the school's media advisory committee. According to local news reports, one of the parents said "she felt Christian students are bullied in society, in that they're made to feel uncomfortable about their beliefs by non-believers. She said including books like The Handmaid's Tale contributes to that discomfort, because of its negative view on religion and its anti-biblical attitudes toward sex."

It is meant to offend your delicate sensibilities. It is meant to be extreme
This is a book about an extreme, anti-feminist, fascist dictatorship where women are enslaved and sexuality is so restricted that unapproved sexual relations are punished with execution.

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The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank
Many have noted the historical parallels between the current debate over Syrians seeking refuge in the United States and the plight of European Jews fleeing German-occupied territories on the eve of World War II.

Among the many who tried — and failed — to escape Nazi persecution: Otto Frank and his family, which included wife, Edith, and his daughters, Margot and Anne. And while the story of the family's desperate attempts ending in futility may seem remarkable today, it's emblematic of what a number of other Jews fleeing German-occupied territories experienced, American University history professor Richard Breitman wrote in 2007 upon the discovery of documents chronicling the Franks' struggle to get U.S. visas.

"Otto Frank’s efforts to get his family to the United States ran afoul of restrictive American immigration policies designed to protect national security and guard against an influx of foreigners during time of war," Breitman wrote.

The diary documents the daily life of a Jewish girl in Amsterdam during World War II. Frank started writing on her 13th birthday, shortly before her family went into hiding in an annex of an office building. The version of the diary in question includes passages previously excluded from the widely read original edition, first published in Dutch in 1947. That book was arranged by her father, the only survivor in her immediate family. Some of the extra passages detail her emerging sexual desires; others include unflattering descriptions of her mother and other people living together.

In 2010, Culpeper County Virginia public school officials have decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank's diary, one of the most enduring symbols of the atrocities of the Nazi regime, after a parent complained that the book includes sexually explicit material and homosexual themes.

A mother of a seventh grader in the Northville school district in Michigan said late last month that Frank's depiction of growing up in hiding as a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust, which has sold millions of copies worldwide, contains "inappropriate material". She pointed in particular to a passage from the "definitive" version of Frank's diary – which includes around 30% of extra material left out of the original 1947 edition by Anne's father Otto – in which the young girl discusses her anatomy.

Quote from the book:
"Until I was 11 or 12, I didn't realise there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn't see them. What's even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris," wrote Frank. "When you're standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you're standing, so you can't see what's inside. They separate when you sit down and they're very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there's a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That's the clitoris."

The ALA has documented only six challenges to "The Diary of Anne Frank" since it began monitoring formal written complaints to remove or restrict books in 1990. Most of the concerns were about sexually explicit material, Maycock said. One record dating to 1983 from an Alabama textbook committee said the book was "a real downer" and called for its rejection from schools.

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Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by George Orwell published in 1949.

It was banned in the USSR until the 1980s for its allegorical depiction of the rise and fall of socialism and Stalin's totalitarian regime. Ironically it was also banned in the US for having communist text in the introduction.

Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter." 

In 2014, an Egyptian student was arrested near the entrance of Cairo University for carrying a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Nineteen Eighty-four is just the kind of book that you would expect to be banned in China, all that talk of Big Brother, Newspeak and the rewriting of history is far too close to the bone, surely. So I was amazed to come across it on open sale in a state-run bookshop in Yanji 延吉on the North Korean border in fact.

Nineteen Eighty-Four popularized the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.  In 2005, the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.  *It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor's list, and 6 on the readers' list.   In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.* 

The Last Man in Europe was one of the original titles for the novel, but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher Fredric Warburg, eight months before publication, Orwell wrote about hesitating between The Last Man in Europe and Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Warburg suggested changing the main title to a more commercial one.

Copyright status - The novel will be in the public domain in the European Union and Russia in 2020, and in the United States in 2044 ] It is already in the public domain in Canada,  South Africa, Argentina, Australia,  and Oman. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four is set in Oceania, one of three inter-continental superstates that divided the world among themselves after a global war. Most of the action takes place in London, the "chief city of Airstrip One", the Oceanic province that "had once been called England or Britain".  Posters of the Party leader, Big Brother, bearing the caption "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU", dominate the city, while the ubiquitous telescreen (transceiving television set) monitors the private and public lives of the populace. The social class hierarchy of Oceania has three levels:

The protagonist Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party, works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth as an editor, revising historical records to make the past conform to the ever-changing party line and deleting references to un-persons, people who have been "vaporized", i.e. not only killed by the state, but denied existence even in history or memory.

The story of Winston Smith begins on 4 April 1984: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen"; yet he is uncertain of the true date, given the régime's continual rewriting and manipulation of history.

 His memories and his reading of the proscribed book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, reveal that after the Second World War, the United Kingdom fell to civil war and then was absorbed into Oceania. Simultaneously, the USSR conquered mainland Europe and established the second superstate of Eurasia. The third superstate, Eastasia, comprises the regions of East Asia and Southeast Asia. The three superstates wage perpetual war for the remaining unconquered lands of the world, forming and breaking alliances as is convenient. 

From his childhood Winston remembers the Atomic Wars fought in Europe, western Russia, and North America. It is unclear to him what occurred first: the Party's victory in the civil war, the US annexation of the British Empire, or the war in which Colchester was bombed. However, his strengthening memories and the story of his family's dissolution suggest that the atomic bombings occurred first (the Smiths took refuge in a tube station), followed by civil war featuring "confused street fighting in London itself", and the societal postwar reorganization, which the Party retrospectively calls "the Revolution".

Winston Smith, begins retaining a journal criticizing the Party and its enigmatic leader, Big Brother, which — if and when uncovered by the Thought Police — warrants certain death. The flat has an alcove, beside the telescreen, where Winston apparently cannot be seen, and thus believes he has some privacy, while writing in his journal: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death." 

The telescreens (in every public area, and the quarters of the Party's members), have hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permit the Thought Police to spy upon everyone and so identify anyone who might endanger the Party's régime; children, most of all, are indoctrinated to spy and inform on suspected thought-criminals — especially their parents.

At the Ministry of Truth, Winston is an editor responsible for historical revisionism, to concord the past to the Party's ever-changing official version of the past; thus making the government of Oceania seem omniscient.

As such, he perpetually rewrites records and alters photographs, rendering the deleted people as "unpersons"; the original documents are incinerated in a "memory hole". Despite enjoying the intellectual challenges of historical revisionism, he becomes increasingly fascinated by the true past and tries to learn more about it.

One day, at the Minitrue, as Winston is assisting a woman who has fallen down, she surreptitiously hands him a folded paper note; later, at his desk, he covertly reads the message: I LOVE YOU.  The woman is "Julia", a young dark haired mechanic who repairs the Minitrue novel-writing machines. Before that occasion, Winston loathed the sight of her, since women tend to be the most fanatical supporters of Ingsoc. He particularly loathed her because of her membership in the fanatical Junior Anti-Sex League. Additionally, Julia is the type of woman he believed he could not attract: young and puritanical. Nonetheless, his hostility towards her vanishes upon reading the message. As it turns out, Julia is a thoughtcriminal too, and hates the Party as much as he does.

Cautiously, Winston and Julia begin a love affair, at first meeting in the country, at a clearing in the woods, then at the belfry of a ruined church, and afterwards in a rented room atop an antiques shop in a proletarian neighbourhood of London. There, they think themselves safe and unobserved, because the rented bedroom has no apparent telescreen, but, unknown to Winston and Julia, the Thought Police were aware of their love affair.

Later, when the Inner Party member O'Brien approaches him, Winston believes he is an agent of the Brotherhood, a secret, counter-revolutionary organization that intends to destroy the Party. The approach opens a secret communication between them; and, on pretext of giving him a copy of the latest edition of the Dictionary of Newspeak, O'Brien gives Winston the Book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein, the infamous and publicly reviled leader of the Brotherhood. The Book explains the concept of perpetual war, the true meanings of the slogans WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and how the régime of the Party can be overthrown by means of the political awareness of the Proles.

The Thought Police capture Winston and Julia in their bedroom and deliver them to the Ministry of Love for interrogation. Charrington, the shopkeeper who rented the room to them, reveals himself as an officer of the Thought Police. Soon after his arrival at Miniluv, Winston is greeted by O'Brien. It turns out that O'Brien is also a Thought Police agent; he was part of a false flag operation used by the Thought Police to root out suspected thoughtcriminals. 

After a prolonged regimen of systematic beatings and psychologically draining interrogation, O'Brien, now Smith's interrogator, tortures Winston with electroshock, showing him how, through controlled manipulation of perception (e.g. seeing whatever number of fingers held up that the Party demands one should see, whatever the apparent reality, i.e. 2+2=5), Winston can "cure" himself of his "insanity" – his manifest hatred for the Party. In long, complex conversations, he explains the Inner Party's motivation: complete and absolute power, mocking Winston's assumption that it was somehow altruistic and "for the greater good". Asked if the Brotherhood exists, O'Brien replies that this is something Winston will never know; it will remain an unsolvable quandary in his mind. During a torture session, his imprisonment in the Ministry of Love is explained: "There are three stages in your reintegration ... There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance,” i.e. of the Party's assertion of reality.

In the first stage of political re-education, Winston Smith admits to and confesses to crimes he did and did not commit, implicating anyone and everyone, including Julia.   In the second stage, O'Brien makes Winston understand that he is rotting away; by this time he is little more than skin and bones. Winston counters: "I have not betrayed Julia." O'Brien agrees Winston had not betrayed Julia because he "had not stopped loving her; his feelings toward her had remained the same." One night, in his cell, Winston awakens, screaming: "Julia! Julia! Julia, my love! Julia!" O'Brien rushes into the cell and sends him to Room 101, the most feared room in the Ministry of Love, where resides each prisoner's worst fear, which is forced upon him or her. In Room 101 is Acceptance, the final stage of the political re-education of Winston Smith, whose primal fear of rats is invoked when a wire cage holding hungry rats is fitted onto his face. As the rats are about to reach Winston's face, he shouts: "Do it to Julia!" thus betraying her and relinquishing his love for her.

Sometime after being restored to orthodox thought and reintegrated into Oceania society, Winston encounters Julia in a park. Julia reveals that she has endured a similar ordeal to Winston, and each admits betraying the other:
"I betrayed you," she said baldly.
"I betrayed you," he said.
She gave him another quick look of dislike.
"Sometimes," she said, "they threaten you with something – something you can't stand up to, can't even think about. And then you say, 'Don't do it to me, do it to somebody else, do it to so-and-so.' And perhaps you might pretend, afterwards, that it was only a trick and that you just said it to make them stop and didn't really mean it. But that isn't true. At the time when it happens you do mean it. You think there's no other way of saving yourself and you're quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don't give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."
"All you care about is yourself," he echoed.
"And after that, you don't feel the same toward the other person any longer."
"No," he said, "you don't feel the same."
Throughout, a song recurs in Winston's mind: Under the spreading chestnut tree - I sold you and you sold me.

An alcoholic Winston sits by himself in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, still troubled by "false memories" which he is convinced are indeed false. He tries to put them out of his mind when suddenly a news bulletin announces Oceania's "decisive victory" over Eurasian armies in Africa. A raucous celebration begins outside, and Winston imagines himself a part of it. As he looks up in admiration at a portrait of Big Brother, Winston realizes that "the final, indispensable, healing change" within his own mind had only been completed at just that moment. He engages in a "blissful dream" in which he offers a full, public confession of his crimes and is executed. He feels that all is well now that he has at last achieved a victory over himself, ending his previous "stubborn, self-willed exile" from the love of Big Brother – a love Winston now happily returns.

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"Each one of us needs to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch," said President Obama during his farewell speech on Jan. 10. "'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'"
+J.R. Bowles Here's an unforeseen development. If your head of state endorses a character from a work of fiction, I wonder if it will become more difficult to ban a specific book? Interesting times.

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“’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
Posted on 18 November, 2012
’Twas the night before Christmas and someone stole Santa’s pipe.

Yes, folks- yet another beloved tale from childhood has become the latest victim of the red pen of politically correct censorship as tradition and historical accuracy fall to ignorance and arrogance.

The 18th-century poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”- more commonly known by its famous first line, ’Twas the night before Christmas- is a tale of holiday magic that has delighted children worldwide for generations and has become a staple of holiday traditions in many an American home as children bundle up with hot cocoa on Christmas Eve and listen to the timeless story of Santa Claus and his yearly trek across the world to spread cheer.

But that’s all about to change.

The American literary world was shaken and battle lines were drawn recently all because a self-published author has taken it upon herself to edit the classic and remove all mention of smoking from Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 masterpiece.

Canadian publisher Pamela McColl changed the poem to “save lives and avoid influencing new smokers,” according to statements on her website.

McColl’s new version, which she released through her own publishing company, cuts two lines that describe Santa smoking: ‘The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;’ and she also omits the iconic illustration of Santa holding the pipe between his teeth.

“I just really don’t think Santa should be smoking in the 21st century,” McColl was quoted as saying in a telephone interview.

She took refuge behind her website to release the following statement: “I have edited out a few words and lines that reference Santa smoking and removed the cover illustration of his pipe. The omission of these few words do not change the material intent of the author nor do they infringe on the reader’s understanding or enjoyment of this historically-rich story, but by removing these words we may save lives and avoid influencing new smokers. I think these edits outweigh other considerations. If this text is to survive another 200 years it needs to modernize and reflect today’s realities. I want children to celebrate the spirit of giving and to reflect proudly on the holiday traditions that shape their childhood, and the best way to honor Santa and this story is to make him smoke-free.”

The American Library Association has gone on record that the changes amount to “an act of censorship that denies the audience access to the author’s authentic voice.”

I have to agree; and I think of another famous writer whose works have had a similar fate in recent years- Mark Twain, whose classics have been revised to omit “offensive words” that were common vernacular for the time.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said that “such censorship misrepresents the artist’s original work and relies wholly on the idea that children are incapable of critical thinking or that a parent’s guidance and training are meaningless.

She suggested that “a far better path would be providing tools for parents who want to raise the issue with their children rather than suppressing Clement Moore’s speech. One person’s beliefs- no matter how well-meaning- should not be used to deny youth and families the ability to read Clement Moore’s original poem for their own enjoyment.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. This is yet another incident in which the insecurities of a so-called modern mentality are running roughshod and revising history to fit the censors’ self-righteous sensitivities. It is an insult to fact and logic. Smoking was a common practice and this image of a man is befitting of the 19th century, folks- step out of the bubble and deal with it. That’s the whole point of history- to learn from our mistakes.

“A lot of people my age have lost someone to smoking,” McColl said, herself a former smoker, “And I thought, ‘Oh my. This is a great project.’”

So, with illustrators Elena Almazova and Vitaly Shvarov, McColl put out the new version in Spanish, English, and French with a note from Santa on the back flap that says he has “…decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us.”

The reaction has been mixed, to say the least. It has drawn support from children’s advocates and pediatricians, but strong criticism from librarians and those who oppose censorship. Many critics cast serious doubt that the image of Santa’s pipe gets children to light up, and they say that it’s not okay to hack away at the original poem.

“My fear is not that kids will read [it] and take up smoking. My fear is that kids will take their cues from models I revere nowhere near as much as I revere literature,” said David Kipen, owner of Libros Schmibros bookstore in Los Angeles and a longtime literature advocate.

“It bespeaks of such a wholesale misunderstanding of what literature is or does. Given a choice of kids smoking or not smoking, I would come out on the side of kids not smoking. But I don’t think the means justify the ends.”

He added, “Smoking killed my dad, so it’s not like I’m an apologist for the devil weed.”

The New York Post reported that The National Coalition Against Censorship said that “putting children in an insulation bubble, hoping to protect them from anything their parents may deem harmful, is not only impossible, it is unproductive.”

“I didn’t run into any opposition until someone said he’s a historical figure. He’s not historical to the people I’m worried about. To children, he’s real. He’s coming down the chimney and he’s smoking in the middle of the living room,” McColl said.

I’m no supporter of smoking by anyone, let alone children; but even I thought a comment by David Savona, a blogger on the website Cigar Aficionado, was spot on when he stated, “I have no issue with a person coming up with a story that doesn’t mention smoking, or one that talks about smoking being bad for you. If it’s your story, you can write it any way you please. But rather than having the creativity to imagine a tale of her own, to pluck words from the ether and place them together in a way that people might find as memorable, endearing and entertaining as the original, McColl simply took out her red pen and cut out the words she didn’t like. That’s not writing- that’s censoring.”
As for Santa’s “chubby and plump” stature, McColl said she’ll leave that to others.

“He doesn’t eat in the story. That’s not my issue,” she said to the LA Times. “That’s Jamie Oliver and other people’s issue.”

How smug is this person?

But the truth is that she doesn’t stop with just smoking. She may have a blasé faire attitude about the obesity thing, but she does take issue on animal rights.

In the back flap of her new version it also states, in the supposed “Letter from Santa,” that the fur on his iconic suit is fake. That ought to appease to the folks over at PETA, but why not go all out. Obviously he’s an animal abuser who wears the skin of his victims, but he also chains them up and forces them to drive his sleigh as he breaks into homes around the world to offer free candy and gifts to our children- an obvious indoctrination into the welfare system; all the while helping himself by engorging on our cookies and milk. He’s teaching our kids to abuse animals, expect free hand outs, and have poor dietary habits because being overweight is awesome.

McColl’s Twas the Night Before Christmas has also made the Grammar Nazi emerge from my psyche, as it is published without the apostrophe before the “t” in “’twas.” I think she needs a history and a grammar lesson.

Speaking of history lessons- Clement Moore came from a prominent family and his father, Benjamin Moore, was the Bishop of New York who officiated at the inauguration of George Washington.

Smoking may be a practice that will not stand the test of time but we can’t ignore its history or its place in literature and character. For all the good that it does, there are times that the politically correct movement gets a little too full of itself and steps outside of the boundary of logic and good intentions. Trying to create a meaningful future by revising and ignoring the past is counterproductive to tradition and a disservice to critical thinking. The greatest gift you can give the next generation is not in taking a red pen to past traditions but by creating new ones that in time will become just as beloved and cherished on those cold winter nights.

For more information on the Banned Books Awareness and Reading for Knowledge project and the complete list of titles covered, please visit the official website at

Sources: American Library Association, Wikipedia, Guardian UK, Telegraph UK, Daily Mail, Examiner, Cigar Aficionado, LA Times
© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions (removed upon request.)

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White Christmas-Bloody Christmas: Finally the True Story of the Lawson Family Murders of Christmas Day, 1929 by M. Bruce Jones, Trudy J. Smith

Charles Davis Lawson (May 10, 1886–December 25, 1929) was an American tobacco farmer from Stokes County, North Carolina who is remembered for having committed one of the most notorious mass murders in the state's history on Christmas Day 1929.

Charlie Lawson's parents, Augustus and Nancy, lived in the unincorporated community known as Lawsonville, located ten miles from Danbury, the Stokes county seat in North Carolina. Charlie was born there and, in 1911, he married Fannie Manring, with whom he had eight children. The third child, William, born in 1914, died of an illness in 1920. In 1918, following the move of his younger brothers, Marion and Elijah, to the Germanton area, Lawson followed suit with his family. The Lawsons worked as sharecroppers, saving enough money by 1927 to buy their own farm on Brook Cove Road.

In 1929, shortly before Christmas, Charlie Lawson took his family (37-year-old wife Fannie and their children: Marie, 17; Arthur, 16; Carrie, 12; Maybell; 7, James, 4; Raymond, 2; and Mary Lou, 4 months) into town to buy new clothes and to have a family portrait taken. As they were far from wealthy, this seemed unusual.

The new clothes ultimately became burial outfits. On the 25th, he began the slaughter with his daughters, Carrie and Maybell, who were setting out to their uncle and aunt's house. Lawson waited for them by the tobacco barn; when they were in range, shot them with a shotgun, then ensured that they were dead by bludgeoning them. He then placed the bodies in the tobacco barn.

Afterwards, he returned to the house and shot Fannie, who was on the porch. As soon as the gun was fired, Marie, who was inside, screamed, while the two small boys, James and Raymond, attempted to find a hiding place.

Lawson shot Marie and then found and shot the two boys. Lastly, he killed the baby, Mary Lou. It is thought that she was bludgeoned to death.

After the murders, he went into the nearby woods and, a few hours later, shot himself. The only survivor was his eldest son, 16 year-old Arthur, whom he had sent on an errand just before starting his deadly work. The bodies of the family members were found with their arms crossed and rocks under their heads.

The gunshot signaling Charlie Lawson's own suicide was heard by the many people who already had learned of the gruesome event on the property and gathered there. A police officer who was with Arthur Lawson ran down to discover Charlie's body along with letters to his parents. As footprints encircled the tree it was supposed that he had been pacing around the tree prior to taking his life.

Speculation and rumors
There were rumors as to why Charlie Lawson would take the lives of himself and his family and it was speculated that Charlie did not murder his family at all, that it was staged to look as though Charlie had committed suicide. One of these explanations was that Charlie had witnessed an organized crime incident, had been found out, and that he and his family had been murdered to silence them. Another involves a black man with whom Charlie had started a fight. Neither of these rumors seemed plausible, or fit with the facts. All obvious signs pointed to a murder/suicide.

Incest theory
It was not until the book White Christmas, Bloody Christmas, was published in 1990 that a strong claim surfaced. On interviewing many people regarding the Lawson family murder, the book's authors, M. Bruce Jones and Trudy J. Smith found that several people recounted rumors, and stories regarding Charlie, Marie, and incest.

In 1989 the authors had received a call from an anonymous woman. She said she had gone on a tour of the Lawson home shortly after the murders, and the tour guide had told about the incest rumor, which he stated as fact.

The day before the book was to be published the authors received a phone call from Stella Lawson, daughter of Marion Lawson, and cousin to the Lawson children, who had already been interviewed for the book. On this occasion she told them she knew the truth as to why Charlie did it. Stella said that at the funeral for the Lawsons she had overheard Fannie's sisters-in-law and aunts, including Stella's mother Jettie Lawson, discussing how Fannie Lawson had confided in them that she had been concerned about Charlie and Marie. Jettie died in early 1928, meaning Fannie had been suspicious of the incest at least that long before the murders in late 1929.

Even more evidence was revealed in "The Meaning of our Tears" by Trudy J. Smith. Maybe the most convincing evidence yet came from a close friend of Marie Lawson's, Ella May. She claims that just weeks before Christmas, Marie told her that she was pregnant, and that it was Charlie's. Ella May also said that Charlie, and Fannie knew about this.

Hill Hampton, another close friend and neighbor to the Lawson family was interviewed. He said that he knew of serious problems going on within the family, and he knew the nature of the problem, but that it was personal, and he chose not to reveal what it was.

Shortly after the murders, Charlie's brother, Marion Lawson, opened the home on Brook Cove Road as a tourist attraction. A cake that Marie Lawson had baked on Christmas Day was displayed on the tour. Because visitors began to pick at the raisins on the cake to take as souvenirs, it was placed in a covered glass cake dish and thus preserved for many years.

Among the many remembrances of the event is a folk song entitled, "The Murder of the Lawson Family". This song was recorded by the Stanley Brothers in March 1956, released by Columbia Records on the CD, "An Evening Long Ago," in 2004.

Here's a link to a Youtube rendition of the song by an oldtime picker DOC WATSON.

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True story. If I labeled myself I would say I am an agnostic. I don't presume I am of intelligence enough to say that any known statement of any absolute is true. That being said, I don't believe, or take with a grain of salt, any of mankind's visions of religions dictating behavior and social interactions. (There are good and bad teachings in all of them.)

Anyway back to the true story. In my neck of the woods there is a local high school that has been legally battling the placement of a copy of the Ten Commandments for several years.

Now, when you work with people over a period of time they tend to label you and of course I had been labeled (not an atheist) but "The Atheist" mostly, because I challenged all religious statements poking holes in their logic.

I digress again, one day the "Church Lady, (a sometimes sweet more often tart self centered Baptist) and I were working together and I could see the sly machinations churning in her head and "written all over her face." She felt sure she could pin me down and prove to all that I was/am an Atheist.

"So," she said trying not to grin, "what do you think of them trying to remove the Ten Commandments from the school?"

I could see it all over her face. She had me cornered and she could finally tell everyone what a little deviant I am.

I inhaled slowly and gave her my most serious face. "Elizabeth, what day of the week do you go to church?"

I could see confusion gathering on her face. I had thrown a wall in front of her sensual thrill of the gotcha moment.

"Sunday, why?"

"So you admit you don't follow the Ten Commandments?"

Her face went pale and then "beet" red as she stood up rapidly and stomped away.

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Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas as people would have known it then. By the 17th century, Christmas had become a holiday of celebration and enjoyment - especially after the problems caused by the civil war.

Cromwell wanted it returned to a religious celebration where people thought about the birth of Jesus rather than ate and drank too much*

In London, soldiers were ordered to go round the streets and take, by force if necessary, food being cooked for a Christmas celebration. The smell of a goose being cooked could bring trouble. Traditional Christmas decorations like holly were banned.

Oliver Cromwell remains one of our most famous characters in history. From 1649 to 1653, Parliament ran England but from Cromwell's point of view, it was not a system that worked effectively and England, as a nation was suffering. As a result, Cromwell, backed by the army, sent home MP’s and he became the effective leader of England from 1653 to 1658.

He was the man who really pushed for the execution of Charles as he believed that Charles would never change his ways and that he would continue to be a source of trouble until he died. Cromwell's signature is one of the easiest to make out on the death warrant of Charles - it is third on the list of signatures. It is said that a shadowy man was seen by guards who were guarding the dead body of Charles. He was heard to mutter "Twas a cruel necessity, twas a cruel necessity." Was this Cromwell? However, there is no proof that this ever happened and it could be that it is just one of those historical stories that has gone down into legend.

Cromwell was a Puritan. He was a highly religious man who believed that everybody should lead their lives according to what was written in the Bible. The word "Puritan" means that followers had a pure soul and lived a good life. Cromwell believed that everybody else in England should follow his example.

One of the main beliefs of the Puritans was that if you worked hard, you would get to Heaven. Pointless enjoyment was frowned upon. Cromwell shut many inns and the theatres were all closed down. Most sports were banned. Boys caught playing football on a Sunday could be whipped as a punishment. Swearing was punished by a fine, though those who kept swearing could be sent to prison.

Sunday became a very special day under the Puritans. Most forms of work were banned. Women caught doing unnecessary work on the Holy Day could be put in the stocks. Simply going for a Sunday walk (unless it was to church) could lead to a hefty fine.

To keep the population’s mind on religion, instead of having feast days to celebrate the saints (as had been common in Medieval England), one day in every month was a fast day - you did not eat all day.

He divided up England into 11 areas; each one was governed by a major-general who was trusted by Cromwell. Most of these generals had been in Cromwell’s New Model Army. The law - essentially Cromwell's law - was enforced by the use of soldiers.

Cromwell believed that women and girls should dress in a proper manner. Make-up was banned. Puritan leaders and soldiers would roam the streets of towns and scrub off any make-up found on unsuspecting women. Too colorful dresses were banned. A Puritan lady wore a long black dress that covered her almost from neck to toes. She wore a white apron and her hair was bunched up behind a white head-dress. Puritan men wore black clothes and short hair.

Despite all these rules, Cromwell himself was not strict. He enjoyed music, hunting and playing bowls. He even allowed full-scale entertainment at his daughter’s wedding.

Despite being a highly religious man, Cromwell had a hatred for the Irish Catholics. He believed that they were all potential traitors willing to help any Catholic nation that wanted to attack England (he clearly did not know too much about the 1588 Spanish Armada).

During his time as head of government, he made it his task to ‘tame’ the Irish. He sent an army there and despite promising to treat well those who surrendered to him, he slaughtered the people of Wexford and Drogheda who did surrender to his forces. He used terror to ‘tame’ the Irish. He ordered that all Irish children should be sent to the West Indies to work as slave labourers in the sugar plantations. He knew many would die out there - but dead children could not grow into adults and have more children. Cromwell left a dark stain on the history of Ireland.

By the end of his life, both Cromwell and the 11 major-generals who helped to run the country, had become hated people. The population was tired of having strict rules forced onto them. Cromwell died in September 1658. His coffin was escorted by over 30,000 soldiers as it was taken to Westminster Abbey where he was buried. Why so many soldiers? Were they there as a mark of respect for the man who had formed the elite New Model Army? Or was there concern that the people of London, who had grown to hate Cromwell, would try to get to the body and damage it in some way ?

Cromwell was buried in Westminster Abbey. This is where kings and queens were buried. His son, Richard, took over leadership of the country. However, Richard was clearly not up to the task and in 1660 he left the job. In that year, 1660, Charles II was asked to return to become king of England. One of Charles’ first orders was that Cromwell’s body should be dug up and put on 'trial' as a traitor and regicide (someone who is responsible for the execution/murder of a king or queen).

His body was put on trial, found guilty and symbolically hanged from a gallows at Tyburn (near Hyde Park, London). What was left of his body remains a mystery. Some say the body was thrown on to a rubbish tip while others say it was buried beneath the gallows at Tyburn. His head was put on display in London for many years to come.

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In Hans Christian Andersen's early life, his private journal records his refusal to have sexual relations.
Hans Christian Andersen often referred to in Scandinavia as H. C. Andersen; 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories, called eventyr in Danish, or "fairy-tales" in English, express themes that transcend age and nationality.

Andersen often fell in love with unattainable women and many of his stories are interpreted as references. At one point, he wrote in his diary: *"Almighty God, thee only have I; thou steerest my fate, I must give myself up to thee! Give me a livelihood! Give me a bride! My blood wants love, as my heart does!"

A girl named Riborg Voigt was the unrequited love of Andersen's youth. A small pouch containing a long letter from Riborg was found on Andersen's chest when he died, several decades after he first fell in love with her, and after he supposedly fell in love with others.

Other disappointments in love included Sophie Ørsted, the daughter of the physicist Hans Christian Ørsted, and Louise Collin, the youngest daughter of his benefactor Jonas Collin. One of his stories, The Nightingale, was a written expression of his passion for Jenny Lind, and became the inspiration for her nickname, the "Swedish Nightingale". Andersen was often shy around women and had extreme difficulty in proposing to Lind. When Lind was boarding a train to take her to an opera concert, Andersen gave Lind a letter of proposal. Her feelings towards him were not the same; she saw him as a brother, writing to him in 1844 "farewell... God bless and protect my brother is the sincere wish of his affectionate sister, Jenny."

Andersen certainly experienced same-sex love as well: He wrote to Edvard Collin: "I languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench... my sentiments for you are those of a woman. The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery." Collin, who preferred women, wrote in his own memoir: "I found myself unable to respond to this love, and this caused the author much suffering." Likewise, the infatuations of the author for the Danish dancer Harald Scharff and Carl Alexander, the young hereditary duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, did not result in any relationships.

Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include "The Little Mermaid", "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Nightingale", "The Emperor's New Clothes" and many more. His stories have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

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When was Jesus born? (Not a banned book but Christmas sprang up around a portion of the Bible which has been and is continuously banned).

A. Popular estimation puts his birth on December 25th in the year 1 C.E.

B. The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

C. The year of Jesus birth was determined by Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, “abbot of a Roman monastery. His calculation went as follows:

a. In the Roman, pre-Christian era, years were counted from ab urbe condita (“the founding of the City” [Rome]). Thus 1 AUC signifies the year Rome was founded, 5 AUC signifies the 5th year of Rome’s reign, etc.

b. Dionysius received a tradition that the Roman emperor Augustus reigned 43 years, and was followed by the emperor Tiberius.

c. Luke 3:1,23 indicates that when Jesus turned 30 years old, it was the 15th year of Tiberius reign.

d. If Jesus was 30 years old in Tiberius’ reign, then he lived 15 years under Augustus (placing Jesus birth in Augustus’ 28th year of reign).

e. Augustus took power in 727 AUC. Therefore, Dionysius put Jesus birth in 754 AUC.

f. However, Luke 1:5 places Jesus’ birth in the days of Herod, and Herod died in 750 AUC – four years before the year in which Dionysius places Jesus birth.

D. Joseph A. Fitzmyer – Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association – writing in the Catholic Church’s official commentary on the New Testament, writes about the date of Jesus’ birth, “Though the year [of Jesus birth is not reckoned with certainty, the birth did not occur in AD 1. The Christian era, supposed to have its starting point in the year of Jesus birth, is based on a miscalculation introduced ca. 533 by Dionysius Exiguus.”

E. The DePascha Computus, an anonymous document believed to have been written in North Africa around 243 CE, placed Jesus birth on March 28. Clement, a bishop of Alexandria (d. ca. 215 CE), thought Jesus was born on November 18. Based on historical records, Fitzmyer guesses that Jesus birth occurred on September 11, 3 BCE.

II. How Did Christmas Come to Be Celebrated on December 25?

A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.

B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).

C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.

D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.

F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.” Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.

G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”

H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.” On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.

III. The Origins of Christmas Customs

A. The Origin of Christmas Tree
Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning “Christmas Trees”.[7] Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them, and this observance was adopted and painted with a Christian veneer by the Church.

B. The Origin of Mistletoe
Norse mythology recounts how the god Balder was killed using a mistletoe arrow by his rival god Hoder while fighting for the female Nanna. Druid rituals use mistletoe to poison their human sacrificial victim.[8] The Christian custom of “kissing under the mistletoe” is a later synthesis of the sexual license of Saturnalia with the Druidic sacrificial cult.[9]

C. The Origin of Christmas Presents
In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia (in December) and Kalends (in January). Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general populace. The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the supposed gift-giving of Saint Nicholas.

D. The Origin of Santa Claus

a. Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE and later became Bishop of Myra. He died in 345 CE on December 6th. He was only named a saint in the 19th century.

b. Nicholas was among the most senior bishops who convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE and created the New Testament. The text they produced portrayed Jews as “the children of the devil” who sentenced Jesus to death.

c. In 1087, a group of sailors who idolized Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy. There Nicholas supplanted a female boon-giving deity called The Grandmother, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children's stockings with her gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, which became the center of the Nicholas cult. Members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, December 6.

d. The Nicholas cult spread north until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. These groups worshipped a pantheon led by Woden –their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw. Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn. When Nicholas merged with Woden, he shed his Mediterranean appearance, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and donned heavy winter clothing.

e. In a bid for pagan adherents in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did (and they should) distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.

f. In 1809, the novelist Washington Irving (most famous his The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) wrote a satire of Dutch culture entitled Knickerbocker History. The satire refers several times to the white bearded, flying-horse riding Saint Nicholas using his Dutch name, Santa Claus.

g. Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, read Knickerbocker History, and in 1822 he published a poem based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

h. The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus. From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper’s Weekly. Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

i. In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. And Santa was born – a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol.


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