Pulse Rate December 2010

The widespread legend of elves building toys in Santa’s workshop comes from the cover of the Christmas 1873 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine. It featured an illustration of Santa surrounded by toys and elves along with a caption that read: “Here we have an idea of the preparations that are made to supply the young folks with toys at Christmas time.”

The significance of Hanukkah’s miraculous burning lamp: It was intended to re- consecrate the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the army under King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria.

Antarctica contains 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the world’s fresh water.

In Roman times, due to calendar calculation discrepancies as well as a government official in Gaul wanting more monthly tax revenue, a 13th and 14th month were created after December. The 13th month was called Undecimber, Undecember or Intercalaris Prior and the 14th month was called Duodecember or Intercalaris Posterior.

When icebergs melt, compressed air bubbles within pop, creating a fizzing sound called “bergie seltzer.”

The first official shots by America in WWII occurred on the morning of Dec. 7 1941 at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. They were fired by the destroyer USS Ward and sank a Japanese midget submarine.

According to the US National Weather Service, a snowstorm becomes a blizzard when winds exceed 35 mph, visibility drops to ¼ mile or less and the storm lasts at least 3 hours. Temperature is not taken into consideration.

Christmas in Australia, being in the southern hemisphere, can be around 100 degrees F and Santa makes frequent appearances at beaches atop a surfboard.

The Bible’s Gospel of Matthew does not specify that there were 3 wise men who visited the infant Jesus, just that there were 3 gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh).

The sinister truth of pioneering Christmas carolers: In the European Middle Ages during the holiday season, gangs of young men in disguise would go to wealthy homes singing songs with lyrics that threatened violence if they weren’t invited in for food and drink.

“Dhu al-Hijjah” is the final month in the Islamic calendar, occurring around December and January. This is one of the most sacred months of the Islamic calendar, the traditional period to conduct a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The word “Yule” (as in “Yule log”) comes from the name of a Germanic pagan festival connected to “The Wild Hunt,” a European folk legend centered on phantasmal hunters pursuing game in the sky, on the ground or underground.

One of the inspirations for Father Time, the symbolic old year in New Year’s Eve celebrations is Chronos, the personification of time in Greek mythology. He was a serpent with the heads of a man, bull and lion.

Merry Christmas, Phil.