Every Friday, we celebrate the weekend — and all the reading and relaxing and daydreaming time ahead — with Melissa's favorite book- and travel-related links of the week. Why work when you can read fun stuff?!
This post is part of our Endnotes series.
That picture-perfect spire surrounded by snowy mountains is in Mittelberg, an Austrian valley accessible by road only from Germany. (I’m sure there are no werewolves.) In 1300, five families who spoke the Walser dialect of German hoofed it over the Hochalppass, a mountain in the northeastern Alps. They put down roots, baked cookies and built snowmen (probably), and generally enjoyed the beautiful, snowy terrain. These days, it’s an excellent place to ski — cross-country or downhill — tromp around in snowshoes, and soar on a toboggan. Fun fact: Mittelberg was the setting for one of the levels in Call of Duty: World War II: Nazi Zombies.
Let’s time travel back to the Christmas Eve ball in 1798 that inspired Jane Austen to write this letter.
Sparkly! Spectacular Christmas trees from around the world. (I don’t think anywhere beats Rockefeller Center.)
Who invented candy canes?. ‘One theory claims the iconic holiday candy was created in Germany to appease fidgety choirboys.’
This is such a neat story about the puppets from the Rakin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
St. Nicholas, Father Christmas Santa Claus, Kris Kringle: What’s the deal? ‘It wasn’t until the late 19th century… that the image of Santa became standardized as a full-size adult, dressed in red with white fur trim, venturing out from the North Pole in a reindeer-driven sleigh and keeping an eye on children’s behavior.’
Do you know the stories behind A Christmas Story](https://wapo.st/3hvgm5L)? ‘…the film’s many charms are also simpler, more slapstick, than its genesis on radio and in print.’ (gift link from The Washington Post)
During the Edwardian era, kids and grownups celebrated the season by dressing up in Christmas tree costumes. (Is it just me, or does the male Christmas tree look like Conan O’Brien?)
The marriage of butter and sugar is one of the most delicious parts of holiday magic. Here’s a brief history of the Christmas cookie.
In 2013, Neil Gaiman dressed as Charles Dickens and read A Christmas Carol from a rare version of the book — that belonged to Dickens himself — and is marked up with notes and annotations to read it aloud. The New York Public Library has a recording of this epic performance.
31 Things You Didn’t Know About Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’.
‘When you come to see us on Christmas Eve will you please bring us some little toy ducks and chickens for a present…’ Read a 120-year-old letter to Santa.
Peep at the Library of Congress Christmas tree:
Challenge yourself with the Atlas Obscura Christmas crossword puzzle.
How to make snow globes. (These are super cute!)
News you can use: What is Boxing Day?
Is it even December 25 if you have yet to listen to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’? Here are the 10 best cover versions of the classic song — and, if you need more, a Spotify playlist of 100.
Finally, Dave and I have made an annual tradition of watching the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol starring Albert Finney. The showstopper number is ‘Thank You Very Much.’ It’s enough to make you want to dance in the snow.
Top image courtesy of Mike Kotsch/Unsplash.
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