What is Boxing Day?

Here’s some information from ducksters.com.

What does Boxing Day celebrate?   Boxing Day has nothing to do with the fighting sport of boxing, but rather is a day when gifts are given to people in the service industry like mail carriers, doormen, porters, and tradesmen.

When is Boxing Day celebrated?  The day after Christmas, December 26th

Who celebrates this day?   This day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and most other areas that were settled by the English except the United States. Other countries that celebrate the holiday include New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

What do people do to celebrate?   The main thing people do to celebrate is to tip any service workers who have worked for them throughout the year such as postal workers, the paper boy, the milkman, and doormen.

The holiday is also a day to give to the poor. Some people gather gifts in Christmas boxes to give to poor children throughout the world.

In many countries Boxing Day has become a large shopping day. Just like Black Friday after Thanksgiving, Boxing Day is a day of big markdowns on products that stores were not able to sell for Christmas.

Other ways people celebrate include traditional hunts, family reunions, and sporting events such as football.

History of Boxing Day  No one is quite sure where Boxing Day got its start. Here are a few of the possible origins of the day:

One possible origin is from metal boxes that were placed outside of churches during the Middle Ages. These boxes were for offerings to give to the poor on the Feast of St. Stephen, which is also celebrated on the 26th.

Another possible origin is from when wealthy English Lords would give their servants the day after Christmas off as a holiday. They would also give them a box with leftover food or even a present on this day.

The day is likely a combination of these traditions and others. Either way, Boxing Day has been around for hundreds of years and is a national holiday in England and other countries.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

I’m sure you have heard the line from the famous editorial, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but what is the story behind it?  Here’s some information, including the letter, I found at newseum.org.

Virginia O’Hanlon

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun newspaper, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’  Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?   VIRGINIA O’HANLON, 115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET


Response printed in the New York Sun newspaper 

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Light on a Snowy Day Story

Here is a short story I’d like to share with you called “Light On A Snowy Day – A Story for Children” By Artie Knappclose.  Thank you Artie for making it available. I would also like to take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes in the New Year.  Thank you for reading my blog!

To download and print the story click here


It was two days before Christmas and young Maggie Dotson was already being told that her Christmas wish would not be coming true. Paxton she was told, would not be coming back.

A year before that December day an injured baby deer had been abandoned in the woods behind the Dotson’s home. So weak was the little deer, that he hadn’t the strength to run from Maggie’s father when he approached him.

As he carried the little deer towards their home, Maggie rushed outside and greeted her father with great excitement.

“Wow, a deer! What happened to him, Daddy?” asked Maggie.

“Well, I’m not sure how he managed to do it, but he mangled one of his hoofs pretty severely,” Mr. Dotson said.

Maggie leaned in to take a better look. “Poor little reindeer. Can we keep him, Daddy?”

“First of all, he’s a white­-tailed deer,” laughed Mr. Dotson. “And no, we can’t keep him. He’s a wild animal, Maggie. I’ll do everything I can and then he’ll have to be set free.”

While gently rubbing the little deer’s nose it licked Maggie’s hand, which made her laugh. Mr. Dotson smiled and just shook his head. He proceeded to carry the little deer to the garage.

After Mr. Dotson carefully placed the little deer on the floor, he asked Maggie to go to the house and get his medical bag. The little deer was in luck. He was being attended to by James Dotson, local Veterinarian.

In what seemed like two seconds to Mr. Dotson, Maggie rushed inside the garage carrying his medical bag, and a handful of lettuce she had grabbed from the refrigerator. Maggie handed her father the bag, and then placed the lettuce by the little deer’s mouth – but he wasn’t interested.

“Why isn’t he hungry, Daddy?”

“Maybe he’s just too scared to eat right now.”

“I know what he needs,” Maggie said. “He needs carrots, because that’s what Santa’s reindeer like to eat.”

“He’ll get plenty of food, alright. Right now he just needs to have his hoof cleaned and bandaged.”

As Mr. Dotson placed a bandage around the little deer’s injured hoof, Maggie became excited as the little deer began to nibble on the lettuce. And then, she pointed out to her father that the little deer had markings above its eyes that looked like the sun. After a quick observation, Mr. Dotson was struck by how much the little deer’s markings did in fact resemble the sun with protruding rays of light.

It was dark outside and the temperature was quite cold. Despite her reluctance to leave the little deer, Maggie’s father convinced her that he would be safe in the garage. Maggie insisted that her father return with carrots and warm blankets for him. He promised he would.

After he turned off the light in the garage, Maggie turned to her father and said, “I’m going to name him Paxton, Daddy.”

“That’s a fine name for a deer, Maggie.”

“You really think so, Daddy?”

“Sure do.”



“Are you sure Paxton is going to be alright?”

“He’s going to be fine, Maggie. Now let’s get inside where it’s warm.”

Later that night Maggie could barely sleep. She kept getting up to view the garage from the window in her room. Even though she couldn’t see Paxton, looking out at the garage comforted her.

After she awoke the next morning, Maggie rushed down the stairs and was heading for the front door, when her mother asked her where she thought she was going.

“I’m going to go see Paxton, Mommy.”

“Not before you eat your breakfast, young lady.”

To the dissatisfaction of her mother, Maggie wolfed down her breakfast. She had two eggs, scrambled, and a piece of toast. Her glass of orange juice never left the table.

“Where’s Daddy? Is he in the garage with Paxton?”

“Yes, he’s in the garage tending to your little….” Before Mrs. Dotson had finished her sentence, Maggie was out the door.

As Maggie darted into the garage she nearly knocked her father over.

“How’s Paxton, Daddy?”

“He’s doing fine, Maggie.”

“Is his hoof all better now?”

“Well, it’s going to take time to heal. Right now he just needs to work on getting his strength back.”

Paxton was very timid as Maggie approached him.

“Why is he afraid of me, Daddy?”

“He’s still not used to us. This is a strange place to him.”

But with time and persistence, Maggie finally gained the little deer’s trust. In fact, he was soon eating carrots right out of her hand. And when the holidays were over and Maggie was back in school, she never left without feeding Paxton first thing every morning.

Mr. Dotson could see the bond that his daughter felt for the little deer. That scared him, though, because he knew Maggie would never be able to say goodbye. So when his hoof had finally healed, Mr. Dotson came home early one afternoon to set Paxton free.

When Maggie learned that her father had released Paxton, she was devastated. Mr. Dotson had believed it would be easier on Maggie that way, but he was wrong. His daughter never forgot the little deer and she called out to him every day, hoping he would hear her.

In time, though, Maggie did come to understand that deer are not like puppies, or kittens. She understood that wild animals, even little deer, need to be in their natural habitat. But that didn’t change how much Maggie cared for and missed Paxton.

Between the Dotson’s home and acres of woods lay a pond that always froze-solid in the winter months. It was a large pond, and many children would come over to ice-skate on it. But the pond hadn’t frozen over that winter yet, because the weather had been warmer than usual.

As Maggie stood by the pond one afternoon, it started to snow. Mr. Dotson saw Maggie through the kitchen window and could tell she looked upset. Without having to ask what was wrong, he knew.

Mr. Dotson felt guilty about having not been more supportive of his daughter’s belief that she would see Paxton again. And even though he didn’t want to give her false hope, he realized that no longer mattered. Maggie was hurting and he wanted to help.

As Mr. Dotson walked outside to greet his daughter, he carried a pair of binoculars with him. He and Maggie would spend the next couple of hours in the woods, where they searched for deer tracks in the newly fallen snow. But as Mr. Dotson had expected, their search came up empty.

“I’m sorry we didn’t have better luck, Maggie.”

Maggie sadly nodded at her father, who was now carrying her because her toes felt like popsicles. But then something happened! As they were exiting the woods, two deer were standing next to the pond. One of the deer was female, and the other was a buck with antlers. Based on the size of the deer, Maggie never considered that either could be Paxton. But her father quickly reminded her of how much Paxton would have grown over the past year.

As Maggie and her father edged closer to the pond, the doe quickly abandoned her attempt at a drink of water. The buck turned and saw them staring in his direction. But the buck stood still, barely flinching. Maggie, who was no longer being held by her father, watched as he peered through his binoculars. As Mr. Dotson got a closer view of the buck, something stood out through the falling snow; it was the markings above the buck’s eyes. He handed the binoculars to his daughter, and whispered if she recognized anything special about the deer with antlers. Maggie immediately recognized the markings on the buck as Paxton’s. With great excitement, Maggie called out to him, and then the two deer darted away. She continued to call out to Paxton, who briefly stopped in his tracks and looked back at her. After a few moments, he darted off again to catch up with the doe and then disappeared into the woods.

At first, Maggie felt happy, but her happiness soon turned to sadness. She felt as if she had lost Paxton all over again. But her father explained to her the gift she had received in getting to see him once more.

As Maggie stood next to her father, with the snow still falling, a carp jumped making a large splash in the pond. It had been a long day. They went inside to unthaw from the cold.

Many years later when Maggie told this story to her grandchildren, she reminded them that the best Christmas presents often aren’t found under a tree, but in your heart.


About the author: Artie Knapp is the author of many published works for young readers. His children’s book Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand was endorsed by The National Stuttering Association and the American Institute for Stuttering. Artie’s children’s literature has been featured in such publications as The Detroit Free Press, Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, Lincoln Kids, The Modesto Bee, Kids Turn Central, California Kids, Ft. Wayne Family Magazine and the Cincinnati Enquirer to name a few. He is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and graduated from Ohio University. Artie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife Priya.  

Three animated holiday TV classics that almost never made it to the airwaves

For many TV viewers, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Rudolph, Charlie Brown and the Grinch.  These three animated holiday favorites have been part of our popular culture for more than five decades. But would you believe that these Christmas classics all faced obstacles that could have prevented their getting on TV in the first place? Read the story of each from this TNS One Page written by David Martindale, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


The Story of Hanukkah from Time for Kids

This year (2014), Jews begin celebrating Hanukkah at sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 16, and end the celebration on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 24. The holiday lasts a total of eight days and nights.In Hebrew, the word “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” Hanukkah honors a struggle that dates back to 165 B.C., when Jews defeated an invading army and regained the Temple at Jerusalem. According to legend, Jews found a lamp inside the temple with just enough oil to light their holy lamps for one night. By some miracle, the legend goes, it burned for eight nights.Today, Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a candle in a menorah for each of the eight nights.


1. When is Hanukkah? Jewish holidays are based on a lunisolar calendar, which is based on the movement of the sun and moon. A year on the Hebrew calendar ranges from 353 to 385 days. So, unlike Christmas, Hanukkah does not fall on the same date each year.

2. The Menorah:  Menorahs were the lamps used in the ancient holy temple in Jerusalem. The original menorahs only had seven candle-holders. A Hanukkah menorah has nine. During Hanukkah, it is tradition to light candles on a menorah — one for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, and an extra one to light the others.The world’s largest Hanukkah menorah — at 32feet high — can be found during the Festival of Lights in New York City’s Central Park.

3. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel:  A dreidel is a popular Hanukkah toy. It is a four-sided spinning top with different Hebrew letters on each side. To play the dreidel game, players start out with the same amount of money (or candy) and they gain or lose depending on which letter turns up when they spin the top. In Hebrew, the letters form the initials of the message, “A great miracle happened there.”

4.The Gift of Gelt:  One Hanukkah tradition is the giving of gelt, or gold coins. In the past, children would give gelt to teachers and charities. Eventually, it also became the reward for winning dreidel games. During the holidays, chocolate candies wrapped in gold tinfoil are sold to mimic real gelt.

5. Festive Foods:  Many families celebrate the holidays by enjoying a meal together. Latkes or potato pancakes, are a popular Hanukkah dish.They are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are also popular.


© 2014 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved. TIME FOR KIDS and Timeforkids.com are registered trademarks of Time Inc.  Illustrations by Chris Ware/TNS

Check out this local story in the Grand Forks Herald.

Holiday Season Newspaper Activities

Looking for some activities to do in the classroom? Here are some ideas from the NIE Institute. The actvities cover a variety of subjects from art to social studies.

ART: During the holiday season, many gifts are exchanged between friends and family. Students can use your newspaper (including advertisements and regular content) to create personal wish lists. First, have students pick five items they’d like to receive, then five items they would like to give. Using the design skills they’ve learned in your class, allow students to cut and paste these items into an attractive collage.

Students can cut letters from the newspaper (or use their own artistic flair) to create an appropriate title for their collages. After their collages are created, students can practice their drawing and copying skills by recreating their favorite item from the 10 onto a new sheet of paper.

CAREER EDUCATION: Retail establishments are very busy throughout December. Use your newspaper to find examples of other businesses that are impacted positively or negatively by the holidays. What jobs can you find that would ONLY exist during the holiday season? Are there any jobs can you find that would NOT be affected in any way by the holiday season?

ENGLISH/ LANGUAGE ARTS: Christmas is the most widely known and celebrated holiday in December, but many other holidays also occur in this season. Use your newspaper to find examples of some of these other holidays. Write a persuasive essay encouraging your classmates to celebrate another winter holiday (either in addition to or in place of Christmas). Use your newspaper to research more about the holiday you’ve chosen to promote and utilize outside sources to locate additional details.

GEOGRAPHY: Although many people in our area wish for a “white Christmas,” use today’s weather map to locate other areas in our country where a white Christmas might be more likely to occur. If you decided to drive to one of these areas during the holidays, what route would you take? How many miles would you be traveling? What scenic features (mountains, rivers, etc.) would you cross on your journey? What states would you pass on your way there? If you decided you definitely wanted to AVOID snow on Christmas, where would you be most likely to visit? Answer the same questions for your new travel plans.

HISTORY: The New Year is fast approaching. What do you think will be historically the most important things that happened in 2011? Use your newspaper to locate stories you think will still matter in 2012 and even further into the future. Based on what you’ve found in your newspapers, what are the five items you most think deserve a spot in a 2011 time capsule? Write an essay to explain your decisions.

MATHEMATICS: The month of December traditionally has more advertising than other months of the year. Work with a partner or two to determine how many column inches of advertising are included in one section of today’s newspaper. Now determine how many column inches are devoted to editorial content (stories or photos). Compare the two numbers: what percentage of that section’s content is advertising and what percentage is news? When your class has completed this job, compile your numbers and determine which section has the most advertising and which has the most news. Create a graph to compare these numbers.

MUSIC: Well-written articles are often very lyrical. Work with a couple of students to fnd a story in today’s newspaper that you think would make a good song. Make a list of the story’s main points and especially note any sentences or phrases that you think might work “as-is” in your song. Use a popular holiday tune to set your song to music. Share your song with the class.

NEWSPAPER KNOWLEDGE: A good newspaper includes a wide array of topics and materials each day. What topics do you find in today’s newspaper that probably wouldn’t occur in other months? Create a list and see how many December-specific stories you find.

SCIENCE & HEALTH: As the weather gets colder, we know cold and flu season is upon us. What are some specific steps you can take to avoid being sick during your winter vacation? Compile a class list of ideas and submit them to the newspaper as a letter to the editor. (Letters that are brief, well-written and well-edited are more likely to be published, so don’t send a first draft!)

SOCIAL STUDIES: Holidays are celebrated differently throughout the world. Pick a country outside of the United States and research what December celebrations might be like there. Using a current holiday newspaper article as a guide, write a feature story about your chosen country and holiday. Be sure to include an attention-grabbing headline and lead!

COMMUNITY SERVICE: More people are interested in helping out during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Create a newspaper clip file or bulletin board that details organizations in your area that could use community support. As a class, choose a group you’d like to help. Because many organizations need help year-round, determine what your class can do AFTER the holidays to help out as well. Your contribution could be as simple as designing artwork for their buildings or as complicated as a fundraising drive.

JUST FOR FUN: Go on a newspaper scavenger hunt! It shouldn’t be hard to find holiday-related items in this month’s news. Time yourself as you look for the following:

1. A holiday article or photo that is NOT about Christmas;

2. A dateline that indicates a place you’d really like to visit during your vacation;

3. An example of a gift you’d really like to receive;

4. A word or phrase that you think best exemplifies this season;

5. A classified advertisement for something holiday-related;

6. A photo that reminds you of winter;

7. A food you’d like to eat during the holidays; and

8. A sporting event that will occur during your winter vacation.

December Holidays

From KRP’s The Ultimate Holiday Activity Guide. Here are four different holidays that are observed in the month of December.

Hanukkah (cultural/religious)  Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights, or Feast of Dedication. It begins on the evening of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (about December) and lasts eight days. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees (led by Judah) over the Hellenistic Syrians in a famous revolt. While the victory itself was considered miraculous, Jewish legend provides another explanation for Hanukkah rituals, the most important of which is candle lighting. According to legend, when the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, it had to be rededicated. But there was only one jar of sacramental oil enough for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, from which the eight days of Hanukkah was derived.

The Jews observe many traditions during Hanukkah, including eating foods fried in oil, playing the dreidel game, and giving gifts or (money) to children.  Ask students to compare and contrast Hanukkah to Christmas or another winter holiday. Have them make a comparison chart illustrated with pictures and graphics cut out of the newspaper.

The menorah is a special candleholder that holds nine candles; one for each of the eight days of Hanukkah and a ninth candle called the shamas. The shamas is lit every night and used to light each of the other candles, one each day. Send students on a search for menorahs in newspaper advertisements. Have them make a menorah poster with information about this important Jewish ritual.

Have students find out how the dreidel game is played. Then have them write a how-to story for the school newspaper. Ask:  Can you think of games we play in observance of other holidays? Discuss.

Christmas (federal, cultural/religious)  The most popular of Christian observances is Christmas, a festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, founder of the Christian faith. Although no one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth, most Christians celebrate on Dec. 25. Christmas is celebrated throughout the world. In the United States it is one of the most joyous times of the year. People decorate their homes and Christmas trees. They sing Christmas carols, attend church services, send cards, feast with family and friends, and exchange gifts.

Many of the Christmas traditions observed in the United States originated in other countries. In small groups, have students find newspaper datelines for five countries that celebrate Christmas. Then have them conduct research to see if any American Christmas traditions originated in those countries. Allow a spokesperson to report each group’s findings.

Have students cut out words, graphics, and pictures from the newspaper that symbolize Christmas. They can use the cutouts to create their own Christmas cards.

Since Christmas is one of the busiest and most hectic times of the year, have students write a letter of advice to someone who wants to know how to slow down and enjoy the holiday. Point out your newspaper’s advice column beforehand.

Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1, cultural/religious)  Many of the traditions observed by African-Americans today have roots in African culture. The seven-day festival known as Kwanzaa is one of them. This holiday is widely celebrated by African-Americans each year and is based on the traditional African festival of the first crops. M. Ron Karenga first introduced Kwanzaa to the United States in 1966. It combines traditional African practices with African-American ideals. The holiday centers on the Nguzo Saba, seven principles of black culture developed by Karenga. Each evening during Kwanzaa, family members light one of the seven candles in a kinara (candleholder), discuss the principle for that day, and sometimes exchange small gifts. Near the end of the holiday, the community gathers for karamu - a feast of traditional African food.

Plan a Kwanzaa feast for your class. Assign each student a traditional African-American food to bring. After they taste-test each item, have students write a newspaper-style review of their favorite African-American delicacy.

Tell students about the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (collective economics); Ujamaa (cooperative economics); Nia (purpose); Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith). Have them illustrate their understanding of these principles by finding newspaper examples of them in action. They can make a poster or bulletin board display with their findings.

Boxing Day (Information is from holidays.kaboose.com)

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th or the following Monday if December 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Boxing Day began in England, in the middle of the nineteenth century, under Queen Victoria. Boxing Day, also known as St. Stephen’s Day, was a way for the upper class to give gifts of cash, or other goods, to those of the lower classes.

Boxing Day is celebrated in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, and Canada.

There seems to be two theories on the origin of Boxing Day and why it is celebrated. The first is that centuries ago, on the day after Christmas, members of the merchant class would give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude much like when people receive bonuses, from their employer, for a job well done, today. These gifts, given in boxes, gave the holiday it’s name, “Boxing Day”.

The second thought is that Boxing Day comes from the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents thereof which were distributed amongst the poor, by the clergy, the day after Christmas.

Newspaper Activities for December 2014

Check out these daily lesson plans using the newspaper for the month of December. This calendar provides a subject specific focus for each day of the week with activities for every school day of the month: Monday – Language Arts, Tuesday – Social Studies, Wednesday – Math, Thursday – Science, Friday – Newspaper Information.