Monday, December 27, 2021



Some snippets from some sites . . .



From Wikipedia:

The Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure in Central and Eastern Alpine folklore who, during the Christmas season, scares children who have misbehaved. Assisting Saint Nicholas, the pair visit children on the night of 5 December, with Saint Nicholas rewarding the well-behaved children with modest gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, walnuts and chocolate, while the badly behaved ones only receive punishment from Krampus with birch rods.

The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins. In traditional parades and in such events as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), young men participate dressed as Krampus and attempt to scare the audience with their antics. Such events occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

Since 1984, the character has become better known globally, having been portrayed in Hollywood horror films. Almost unknown before this time, Krampus has begun to become part of American popular culture.

1900s illustration of Saint Nicholas and Krampus visiting a child

A 1900s greeting card reading 'Greetings from Krampus!'


From the Smithsonian Online Magazine:

A Krampus scares an onlooker during Krampuslauf

For some, the annual festival of child-hunting Krampus is fun—but concerns that refugees in the Alpine towns that celebrate Krampus could find the tradition frightful has prompted some towns to consider taming the horror. This year, Krampus' scheduled arrival in the Alpine towns that celebrate him coincides with an influx of refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. Though the festival is well-loved, it gave rise to concerns that the new neighbors might be scared of the tradition and its nightmare-fueling costumes. Rather than cancelling the parade, town officials decided to educate the newcomers. The Telegraph's Rozina Sabur writes that refugee children in Lienz were invited to a presentation where they learned about the props, costumes and customs of Krampus.

Seghers likes the idea of introducing Krampus to refugees in Austria. "I think it's wonderful that they want to get the refugees used to this sort of thing," he says. "You can’t force people to adopt cultural traditions of which they have no basis or point of reference."



London Beer Flood, 1814:

From Wikipedia:

The London Beer Flood was an accident at Meux & Co's Horse Shoe Brewery, London, on 17 October 1814. It took place when one of the 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) wooden vats of fermenting porter burst. The pressure of the escaping liquid dislodged the valve of another vessel and destroyed several large barrels: between 128,000 and 323,000 imperial gallons (580,000–1,470,000 L; 154,000–388,000 US gal) of beer were released in total.

The resulting wave of porter destroyed the back wall of the brewery and swept into an area of slum dwellings known as the St Giles rookery. Eight people were killed, five of them mourners at the wake being held by an Irish family for a two-year-old boy.


Amusing Planet:

At the coroner's inquest, two days later, the jury ruled that the disaster was an act of God, and Meux & Co do not have to pay compensation. On the contrary, the brewery was waived excise taxes by the British Parliament for the thousands of barrels of beer it lost. In addition, it received an aid of ₤7,250 as compensation for the barrels of lost beer. The victims received nothing.

The beer flood led to the gradual phasing out of large wooden fermentation tanks in favor of lined concrete vats. The Horse Shoe Brewery, having survived bankruptcy, continued for another hundred years until it was closed in 1921. The following year, the brewery was demolished.

The Horseshoe Brewery, London, circa 1800.

Depiction of a giant beer fermentation vat.

19th century engraving of the event.



The JFK Christmas Card That Was Never Sent

From Reuters, 2007:

The White House has a display of Presidential Christmas cards but one such card is sadly missing. Although created and ready to send, even to some having already been signed, they never went out, that being the 1963 card of President and First Lady John and Jacqueline Kennedy.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Boxes of the 1963 card, featuring a colour photo of a nativity scene in the East Room of the White House, had been delivered to President Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline for their signatures before he was killed. It was the first time a religious image was put on a White House Christmas card.

Five hundred of the 750 Christmas cards ordered from Hallmark with the engraved message “With our wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year” were at the White House. There also were 150 cards ordered with the message “With best wishes for a Happy New Year.”

However, fewer than 30 of the cards actually were signed by the president and Mrs. Kennedy before they left for Dallas.

Another 1,500 identical Christmas cards also had been ordered but with the Kennedys’ printed signatures included.

Less than two dozen of the 1963 dual-signed Kennedy cards are known to exist. One sold last year (ie 2006) at an auction for $45,000. It came from the estate of Kennedy’s personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, who had reportedly destroyed the rest of the cards.

Lyndon Johnson, who became president after Kennedy’s assassination, was not planning to send an official Christmas card that year but the State Department’s protocol officer insisted he carry on the tradition started by Calvin Coolidge in 1927.

A very simple white card with the presidential seal on the cover and a thin red strip on the bottom was quickly printed for the new Johnson administration. Seeley said they were mailed to foreign ministers, heads of governments and the top ranking officials who attended Kennedy’s funeral.

The White House said it does not have a copy of Johnson’s 1963 card. Hallmark has donated a full set of presidential Christmas cards from Dwight Eisenhower through Ronald Reagan, including the Johnson and Kennedy 1963 cards, to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.


Christmas card signed by John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. November 1963

Rare 1963 White House Christmas card, issued after JFK's assassination, printed on cream-colored stock and featuring an embossed presidential seal on the front, with red stripe below. Inside is a simple printed message: "The President and Mrs. Johnson wish you a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year."

Smithsonian Online Magazine:

Although Jackie sent out no cards, an adoring and mourning public sent her cards and condolence letters, more than 800,000 of them.

She did not, however, forget the handful of people who had meant the most to her and the president. For them, she selected special Christmas gifts—books, photos, personal mementos. To Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, she gave a specially bound copy of the book Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington 1789 to John F. Kennedy 1961.

Jackie inscribed it “For Robert McNamara—The President was going to give you this for Christmas—Please accept it now from me—With my devotion always for all you did for Jack. Jackie, December 1963.”

To Dave Powers, part of the “Irish Mafia” and an aide throughout Kennedy’s political life, she inscribed another copy of the same book: “With my devotion always for all you did to give Jack so many happy hours. You and I will miss him most. Jackie.”

She also gave Powers a framed set of three black-and-white images of Powers playing with her son John Jr. She inscribed the mat around the photograph: “For Dave Powers—Who gave the President so many of his happiest hours—and who will now do the same for his son, John Jr. With my devotion always—for your devotion to Jack/Jackie, Christmas, 1963.”

The holiday card that was never sent survives as a reminder of the Christmas that John and Jackie Kennedy never celebrated, and remains an American treasure, a fragile relic of the all too “brief shining moment.”


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