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Advent Calendar: The Star Wars Holiday Special [video]

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Now that we've got all the good stuff out of the way, behold what is widely held to be the worst holiday special ever produced.

If you want some warning, here's a brief explanation of what in God's name is wrong with this thing. If you're brave and/or masochistic... well, here you go:


Advent Calendar: Celtic Folk & Fairy Tales [full audiobook]

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Advent Calendar: "A Visit From St. Nicholas" [audio]

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Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem, "A Visit From St. Nicholas", aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", as read by Vincent Price.


Advent Calendar: "The Rabbi's Game of Cards"

From From The Heart of Israel: Jewish Tales And Types, collected by Bernard Drachman. James Pott & Co., New York, 1905.

At the time this book was published, "Israel" was more a concept than an official place; the independent state of Israel wasn't established until after WWII, in 1948. Most collections of "Jewish folklore" are comparatively modern stories from the Jewish populations of Europe. (I'm pretty sure the 'province of Posen' referenced here is present day Poznań, which sets this story in then-Prussia, now-Poland.) I tried finding something older, but there's almost nothing out there from the Middle East between the Bible and the printing press in age. I would be very surprised if there weren't Jewish variations of the tales of Nasruddin, a figure in Arabic-language lore that spreads from North Africa all the way into Turkey, who is alternately portrayed as a very wise man and a complete wiseguy. A lot of the same clever "wel…

Advent Calendar: "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" [video]

I feel compelled to point out that stories need not be old to qualify as folk tales. Though the popular notion that Santa's sleigh was drawn by flying reindeer dates back at least to "A Visit From St. Nicholas", published 1823, the story of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was written by an employee at Montgomery Ward in 1939, at the request of his boss, for distribution as a Christmas season promotion. Ten years later, the poem was set to music by country singer Gene Autrey. The famous Rankin-Bass stop-motion animation special linked below dates to 1964, and has been imitated -- but never quite matched -- many times since.

Advent Calendar: Old Peter's Russian Tales [full audiobook]

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Advent Calendar

From Manx Fairy Tales, by Sophia Morrison. David Nutt, London, 1911.

Humans are so very odd about names. I spend a fair amount of time on subreddits like r/UnresolvedMysteries and r/gratefuldoe, where the denizens can be laser-focused on finding who the unknown dead are, and giving them back to their families. The latter sub was founded, in fact, after reddit managed to crowdsource a solution for the identity of the Grateful Doe, a young man dubbed thus because he perished in a car accident after attending a Greatful Dead concert. They've ID'd several Does since, many of whom have had their names and stories released to the public by their thankful families.