Portsmouth Rotary Log – Thursday, December 19, 2013

The last club meeting until January 9th, 2014!

Beginning with announcements, President David Underhill expressed the club’s appreciation to the wait-staff for their caring attentiveness throughout the year.  No doubt, member donations totaled a generous amount.

President Elect, Tricia Cummings, announced over 1400 Christmas trees and 100% of 2013s limited edition ornaments were sold.  Gross income approximated $80,000!

                       Former Police Chief (now a budding college adjunct professor of History) David “Lou” Ferland shared musings of “Christmas Around The World.”  Lou crafted a story time of traditions beginning with the winter solstice celebration of merriment, gift giving and emotional sharing of religious beliefs.  While Christianity recognizes the birth of Christ, Germans burned the yule log as the center of celebration and brought evergreen trees inside their houses symbolizing prosperity.  Romans celebrated December 25th as the feast day of the sun as 4th Century Christians claimed the day as Jesus’s birthdate.  Puritan America passed through 200 years before allowing settlers to celebrate what their religion deemed to be pagan rituals.

                       The Jewish faithful celebrated the Festival of Lights, 8 Days of Hanakkah and dreidel games. The Chinese are reminded of their ancestors and anticipate the New Year.  African tradition recognizes the warmest time of the year.  Australians plan community dinners.  Russians have their Festival of Winter.  Buddhists reflect on their experiences.  South Americans plan a Harvest Festival.

                       What happened in …?   1822-Clement Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote The Night Before Christmas. 1828-Joel Poinset, US Ambassador to Mexico introduced the Christmas flowering plant.  1843- Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol with the message of giving to others.  An Englishman started sending Christmas cards.  In 1863, Thomas Nyst, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly created a jolly, rotund man with big red cheeks, styled after a robber baron in reverse!  The Dutch believed in Santi Claus and the Greek Orthodox Church characterized him as St. Nicholas.  1700 years later, our Santa Claus is an American custom based on good children receiving gifts and naughty ones nothing.  1939-Robert May a copywriter at national retailer, Montgomery-Ward wrote the song about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.   1966-Kwanzaa celebrates African American heritage.  1997- Seinfeld spent time airing grievances and wrestling his friends.

                       All over the world, people want to re-connect, rediscover values and the meaning of life.  Traditions, customs, greetings, songs, movies and stories help everyone to find inner peace and goodness. Truly, all cultures enjoy a blend of sacred and secular activities.