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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 10 - Who Survives Christmas?!

David:

History of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree


First Rockefeller Christmas Tree
The very first Rockefeller Christmas tree, placed during the construction of the plaza

Christmas songs

JD McPeyton'sPhearson’s Socks album

Reverend Horton Heat Three Kings album

The Rev. Peytons Big damn band - Run Rudolph Run

Also, the version of Run Rudolph by Lemmy, Billy Gibbons of ZZ top, and Dave Grohl

Corey Taylor - Xm@s

Elvis Presley - Here comes Santa Claus

Paul Mc Cartney - Wonderful Christmas time

The Misfits - Blue Christmas

Wednesday 13 - Buried by Christmas

And a new addition at the time I wrote my list out

Grave Robber - Have yourself a scary little Christmas


Christmas Movies

Home alone

Krampus

Christmas Vacation

Jingle All The Way

The Christmas Chronicles

Polar Express

Muppets Christmas Carol

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Scrooged

A Christmas Horror Story




With Covid Brain Fog still affecting me for my portion, I was going to be doing more fun facts and trivia for Christmas like Sarah did for our Halloween episode then, it hit me like a tree branch hitting Clark Griswold in the face when he untied his tree. So, I’m sure at Sarah’s surprise at this point I’m going to be bringing you and our listeners how one of the world’s most possible iconic holiday bucket list locations or traditions if you are a New Yorker, came about. I’m talking about The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and ice skating with Prometheus watching. I will also have some other fun holiday facts as well.


I’m sure the first images that pop into your head when you hear “The Rockerfeller (Center) Christmas Tree you see the iconic images of a Christmas Tree towering over an ice rink and a golden sculpture of the Greek god of fire Prometheus standing guard.


The first Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Center would appear during the great depression. December 1931 Construction workers would pool their money together to buy a 20-foot-tall balsam fir (sharp pointy needle type tree) Christmas tree and place it on the construction site of Rockefeller Center. They would decorate the tree with handmade garland, streams, and ornaments made from Tin Cans. It wouldn’t until two years later that it would become an annual tradition at the plaza.


During WW2 instead of one large tree they would have three smaller trees and would remain at the plaza for the length of the war. The trees would take on a patriotic theme during this time with unlit red, white and blue bulbs.


The species of tree at the plaza is Norway spruce and the tallest tree debuted in 1999 at 100 feet tall. And this species of tree is selected for its use after being the most famous Christmas tree.


Head Gardener Erik Pauze for Rockefeller Center since 2010 scouts the region each year for the perfect tree for the plaza every year. He selects his potential candidates from nurseries. Tips on trees in the wild, and submission from homeowners. Pauze will monitor all of the candidates throughout the year on their condition through the season. He will also feed and water these regularly until he makes his final decision in September. Once the tree is selected Pauze and his crew carefully pack the tree taking care not to bend the branches in a manner that could break them during transport. It is pre-decorated before it arrives on the plaza. The tree is decorated with over 50k LED lights. The star on top of the Christmas tree is nine feet in diameter, weighs 900 pounds, and is covered in 3 million Swarovski crystals. If you are submitting a tree of your own, it must meet the requirements of at least 75 feet tall and 45 feet in diameter.

Since 2007 after the tree is taken down after New Year's Day the tree is milled and treated into lumber used in Habitat for Humanity homes.


New York legend has it that the iconic ice rink was inspired by a skate salesman demonstrating his skates on the frozen water of the Rockefeller Center fountain. However, the truth is that the sunken plaza where the ice rink has sits today was originally to attract shoppers to the high-end stores in the underground concourse. Christmas Day in 1936 the rink or skating pond was also known as open to the public. It was meant to be temporary but, it was an instant hit with tourists and New Yorkers. A permanent 120 by 60-foot would be constructed in 1939. During the summer months when their season ends in April, it's converted into an outdoor cafe named Rink Bar and now starting this year 2022 a retro-themed roller rink.


With the popularity of ice skating at the Rockefeller Ice rink, types they have to limit how many engagements are on the ice. They can book up to six engagements a day. They offer two type of engagement packages. The first is the classic package where you are ice skating with the daily crowds, and they will have disappeared leaving you and your significant other on the ice for your big moment with a song of your choice. Or for a more private moment, they book 30-minute sessions after hours with your own playlist as well.


Approximately 150k people ice skate at Rockefeller Center in one season.


With the most current ice rink technology. the Ice rink can still maintain skateable ice up to 75 degrees. This allows them to have their skating season from early November to April.


Holiday Fun Facccts!


Santa Claus will consume over 366 million cookies on Christmas Eve and drink 5.9 million gallons of milk.


Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI holds the title of the world's largest Christmas store covering a little over 2 acres of continuous retail space.


Santa Claus would have to travel at a speed of 2.9 million miles per hour to visit the 800 million children of the world. The fastest land vehicle can reach speeds of 763mph.


In 1965 two astronauts would prank NASA with the song Jingle Bells. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford practiced a skit before launch where they would report seeing an object similar to a satellite.

"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon.... You just might let me pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit."

As things got tense, Walter Schirra would be being to play jingle bells on a harmonica with miniature sleighbells played by Thomas Stafford. The harmonic and bells are on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.


Between November and December, 15,000 people will visit the ER with holiday decorating injuries.


Some of the first artificial trees were made from dyed goose feathers in 1865 in Germany.

The number 1 selling Christmas toy of all time is the Cabbage Patch Kids of 1983, I can only imagine the craze for these was just as bad as beanie babies in the 90s. And for my birth year, it was My Little Pony.


St. Nicholas Hallmark would first introduce Christmas greeting cards in 1915 and start to annoy significant others in 2002 with their first Christmas movie named “Countdown to Christmas” but the first actual Christmas Movie was filmed in 1898 appropriately named “Santa Claus.” The entire film is not even two minutes long the film would show two children are being placed in bed by a maid. She turns off the lights and the children fall asleep. Santa Claus enters the room from the fireplace and proceeds to trim the tree. He then fills the stockings that were previously hung on the mantle by the children. After walking backward and surveying his work, he suddenly darts at the fireplace and disappears up the chimney. The children woke up to see that Santa was in their bedroom. This film surprises everyone and leaves them to wonder how St. Nicholas disappeared.


And to close this out with the recent pole that I had created my weird Victorian fun fact that I can squeeze in on the short notice. During the holidays Victorians would play the game named Snapdragon. To play snapdragon you would take a plate and fill it with nuts and fruit. Then douse the nuts and fruit with brandy and light it on fire and attempt to eat as many flaming treats as you can without getting burned. You can also throw salt into the flames to make them flare for a moment. Typically, Snapdragon was played in a dark room to make everyone appear more devilish in the glow of the fire.


 

Sarah:

Mistletoe kiss, WWII Couple
WWII couple kiss under the mistletoe

The Origins of Mistletoe


I’m sure by now, you’ve heard Christmas songs mentioning Mistletoe, or you’ve seen it in person at a Christmas party…the shit is everywhere this time of year. As we know it now, if you see Mistletoe, or rather if you’re standing under it…it means it's time for a kiss. And if you do, pray to god it’s a good one. However, this has existed for quite a long time…prior to it being talked about in songs and being showcased in incredibly cheesy and unrealistic Hallmark Christmas movies.


Historians are not sure WHY kissing under the mistletoe started, but there is a general consensus as to where and when this custom began - and why it became popular around the Christmas holiday.


For starters…what IS mistletoe? It is a plant that grows on numerous types of trees. This includes oak trees, apple trees, and willow trees. It is a parasite plant that grows no roots in the ground itself but grows down into the host tree and grows there. As it grows larger, it’s roots within the tree suck up all of the water and nutrients to continue growing…which strips the tree of what it needs and will eventually kill the tree. Birds are the most likely culprit for how the mistletoe is initially planted on each tree it infests. They would eat the berries; they would shit anywhere because ya know…. birds. And then the parasitic plant would bloom. Mistletoe seeds are very sticky, which is what helps keep the parasite literally stuck to the tree. It is often referred to as resembling men’s semen, which as you’ll soon find out is a common theme.


Mistletoe is relevant to numerous cultures. Pagans saw the white berries as symbols of male fertility - the reason being is because they thought the seeds resembled semen.


The Greeks used it as a cure for many things including period cramps to disorders of the spleen. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder said it could be used as a balm to ward off epilepsy, poisons, leprosy, ulcers, and cancer. They referred to mistletoe as “oak sperm”. Fun but not fun fact: mistletoe berries have even been introduced into science semi-recently as a potential up-and-coming cancer treatment in the world of medicine.


Celtic Druids of the 1st century A.D. are more than likely the ones that started the plant's romantic symbolism. Since mistletoe could blossom even through the winter, the Druids came to see it as a symbol of vivacity - which caused them to give it to humans and animals in hopes of restoring fertility. The Celts saw mistletoe as the semen of Taranis, the God of Thunder.


Mistletoe is also traced back to a tale in Norse mythology about the God of the Summer Sun named Baldur. In this story, Baldur’s mother, Frigg (she is the goddess of marriage, love, and beauty), casts a spell to make certain that no plant grown on Earth could be used as a weapon against Baldur. There is one plant that this spell did not touch - and its mistletoe. It missed it because it does not grow out of the ground (Earth), instead, it grows out of tree’s branches. Loki, the God of Mischief, being the schemer he was, heard about this, and made a poisoned dart out of mistletoe. And this dart would be what ultimately kills Baldur.


In another version of the story, the Gods were able to resurrect Baldur from the dead. Frigg then declared that mistletoe was a symbol of love and vowed to kiss anyone who passed underneath it. If this was to be believed, perhaps that is where the connection to the act of romance under it today stems from.


Mistletoe’s association with vitality and higher fertility continued into the Middle Ages, but by the 18th century, it had become incorporated into and associated more with Christmas and its celebrations and traditions than anything else.


Kissing under the mistletoe would not have even been a thing or a tradition before the year 1720 because that is the year that any truly extensive research had been done and published about the plant. However, the earliest reference to kissing under the mistletoe came from a song published in 1784 from a comedy musical called “Two to One”. Part of its lyrics read…


What all the men, Jem, John, and Joe,

Cry, ‘What good-luck has sent ye?’

And kiss beneath the mistletoe,

The girl not turn’d of twenty.”


The first actual picture, or in this case - drawing - of a couple kissing under the mistletoe was published in the very first book version of A Christmas Carol in 1843. This could have been the catalyst for the tradition we know today.


In the western world, mistletoe was associated with peace, love, and understanding. It was hung over doorways to protect the household from witches and demons, as well as just plain old festive decoration.


Part of the early custom allowed men to steal a kiss from anyone caught standing underneath the mistletoe, but if the woman dashed his hopes and refused, it was a sign of bad luck for the man. Customs also showed that a berry would be picked from the sprig of mistletoe after the couple below it had kissed and once the sprig ran out of berries, then there would be no more kissing beyond that. If someone were to steal a kiss under a berry-less mistletoe, that was straight up out of line.


Keep in mind, there are types of mistletoe berries that are toxic to humans and animals. The levels of toxicity vary in each type. The most toxic was of course enough to kill a person, as there were reports of people being poisoned and dying after eating them. However, science today suggests that they are not nearly poisonous enough to kill a person, maybe just enough to make them sick to their stomach at most.


Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with the mistletoe tradition of people running up and holding it above my head. I find it just as off-putting as people tapping silverware on their glass of preferred beverage at a wedding to make the bride and groom kiss. It’s fucking weird and awkward. Like if you’re that interested in seeing someone kiss for your own entertainment…. there are plenty of free porn sites that will quench that thirst ya big nasty.

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