Rudolph’s Medical Issue, A KFC Xmas and Other Holiday Curiosities

by Bob Sparrow

Santa’s High-Tech Sleigh

Now that you’ve been given those great gift ideas from Suzanne’s blog last week, I thought I’d continue that December Christmas theme with some little-known and less-cared about Christmas facts.

I really shouldn’t have even put my name on this one, since my search of the topic this week sent me to Roger Highfield’s book, The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkeyas well as humorous comments on the book, from Amsterdam marketer, Alexandra Libina.  Highfield’s book raises questions that I’m sure you’ve all pondered; such as, Can Reindeer Fly? Why is Santa Fat?  Why is Rudolph’s Nose Red? How Does Santa Manage to Deliver Presents to an Estimated 842 Million Households in a Single Night?  If you’ve struggled with some of these conundrums, here finally are some answers . . .

  • Is Santa pretty much the same all over the world?  No, in Holland, Sinterklass (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) arrives from Spain, not the North Pole, and his helpers are not adorable hard-working elves, but rather (now politically-incorrect) black-faced boys and girls who can steal your kids if they misbehave and bring them back to Spain, which according to the Dutch is a severe punishment. Travel tip: Don’t take your kids to Holland for Christmas.

 

  • How does Santa deliver all those toys all over the world in one night?  The number of children and households in the world would indicate that Santa would have to make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve, traveling some 221 million miles.  Given the different time zones, Santa has 36 hours to deliver all the gifts and thus would have to average a speed of approximately 650 miles

    Santa relaxing after a time-warp Christmas Eve

    second.  It is less than the speed of light, therefore theoretically possible, but extremely difficult, particularly for a chubby old man.  So how does he do it?  He ‘stretches time’ like a rubber band, which actually gives him months to deliver gifts while only a few minutes pass for the rest of us.  Just believe!

 

  •   What’s the the most popular time for couples to break up?  Couples are more likely to end their relationship two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after Valentine’s day, during the spring break. Christmas Day, however, is the least favorite day for breakups.  So if you can make it through this week, you should be good . . . at least until after Valentine’s Day.

 

  • Haven’t you always wondered what the Japanese eat for Christmas dinner?  Probably not, because the percentage of Christian people in Japan is close to zero, but due to a post-WW II ad campaign every Christmas, kids and grown-ups head to the closest KFC to enjoy some fried chicken – the closest food to turkey that you can get in Japan.  Chopsticks lickin’ good!

 

  • Is it sacrilegious to substitute an ‘X’ for Christ when writing Xmas?  No, it does not take the “Christ” out of Christmas, no one is taking “Christ” anywhere. In the Greek alphabet, the letter X (“chi”) is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ.  Yeah, it’s all Greek to me too.

 

  • Why is Rudolph’s nose red? The original Rudolph did not have a red nose, as red noses were seen

    Female or Castrated? (the deer not Santa!)

    as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and no one wanted him to look like a drunkard.   Quite simply his red nose is a result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.  Another seldom-known fact is that Rudolph’s original name was Reginald.

  • Is there a gender issue with the Santa’s reindeer?  Possibly, since most of the reindeer names are masculine and it is a known fact that male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter, so Santa’s team is either made up of all females or castrated males.  There’s a cheery Christmas thought.

 

  • How did Christmas cards help our POWs? Bicycle, the U.S. playing card company, manufactured cards to give all the POWS in Germany during World War II as Christmas presents. These cards, when soaked in water, revealed an escape route for POWs. Colonel Klink and the rest of the Nazi never knew.

 

YOU’RE A SAD ONE, MRS. GRINCH

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Much has been made in the press about the second grade teacher in upstate New York that told her class that there was no Santa Claus.  Apparently people are so angry that she is receiving threats.  As boneheaded as her move was, I don’t feel angry with this teacher; I feel sorry for her.  She obviously lives in a very exacting world, where Christmas is cut and dried and allows no room for the magic that occurs each year.  Of course there is a Santa Claus!  Some may call it “Christmas spirit” but each year – if we’re lucky – it enriches our lives.

Christmas is a sentimental time and like many people I’ve been reflecting about Christmases past the last few days.   I was fortunate to grow up (and still be) in a wonderful family that more than gets along … my brothers and I actually like being together.  At our house, we had LOTS of magical Christmases.  Our dad was a warm, wonderful, funny person who was in his element at Christmas with his bow tie that looked like holly and his infectious laugh.  In later years we also came to appreciate the gin ice cream fizzes that he fixed every Christmas morning!  I miss him especially at Christmas but know that his spirit lives on whenever our family gathers together.

As I’ve grown older I’ve found magic in finding the perfect gift for my husband or kids and watching their faces light up when they open it.  And just the other day I found it while making Christmas cookies for our grandsons.    It is there for all of us, usually in the small moments and memories, and makes each Christmas a time of appreciation of those we hold close.

I wish that teacher had received my friend Cheryl Ortenburger’s  Christmas letter this year, for she captured the essence of Santa perfectly in the following paragraph:

I believe that Santa Claus not only represents innocence, but is the embodiment of hopes and dreams.  He is the epitome of selfless giving.   Who does not want to personify that selfless image and be a part of making someone’s wishes comes true?  Of course, we all do!  Hence the race with the calendar and our yeoman’s efforts to find THE gift that will bring a smile to that special someone’s face.  We do this in the name of Hanukah, or Christmas, or Santa, or whatever the cultural or religious motivation.  I think Santa brings out the best in us, draws us together, and unites us in spirit.  Kids all over the world know who Santa is and excitedly await his arrival.  Although Santa has been accused of being a little commercial at times, who can help but love the jolly old elf, with the twinkle in his eye, and corncob pipe?  I think Santa represents the best part of us.  However we chose to celebrate, let’s follow the example of Santa and find the best in ourselves and see the best in others.  

I wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous 2012.  And mostly, I hope no one dares to tell you that there is no Santa Claus.

 

 Morning News in Verse, Christmas 1971