Friday, July 9, 2021

What is America?

 From Charles Coulombe:

Nothing reflects the strangely mixed nature of our country so much as the uniquely American way of celebrating Christmas. The Christmas Tree is German; Santa Claus, via Clement Moore, Thomas Nast, the old New York Sun, and Coca-Cola, Dutch; holly and mistletoe are English; and the Nativity Scene ultimately Italian. Depending on where you live, English plum pudding, eggnog, and tom-and-jerries may take their place beside Mexican tamales, Neapolitan fish dishes, French buche-de-Noel and our own turkey and pumpkin pie atop Yuletide tables. The American Christmas songbook erupts into a virtual United Nations and World Council of Churches combined: the Church herself contributed O Come All Ye Faithful; The First Nowell and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen came from English, Angels We Have Heard on High and O Holy Night from French, and Silent Night from Austrian Catholics. Away in a Manger is attributed (some say falsely) to Martin Luther, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing was written by John Wesley’s brother, Charles, O Little Town of Bethlehem by the Episcopal Bishop of Boston, Philips Brooks, and It Came upon the Midnight Clear by the Unitarian clergyman, Edmund Sears. Peculiar to this country are the non-religious Christmas songs, starting with such hits as Santa Claus is Coming to Town and White Christmas, and culminating in the likes of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. (Read more.)


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