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Baloo's Bugle

November 2005 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 12, Issue 4
December 2005 Theme

Theme: Faith, Hope and Charity
Webelos: Craftsman & Scientist
  Tiger Cub
Activities

TRADITIONS

Christmas on December 25

San Gabriel, Long Beach Area, Verdugo Hills Councils

Celebrations during the mid-winter season were common, even before Christmas was celebrated on December 25.  Christmas was once a moveable feast celebrated many different times during the year.  Pope Julius I made the choice of December 25 in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun.

The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.  In 1752, 11 days were dropped from the year when the switch was made from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.  The December 25 date was effectively                                                                                                                                                                                         moved 11 days backwards.  Some Christian church sects, called Eastern Orthodox, still celebrate Christmas on January 7 (previously Dec. 25 of the Julian calendar). 

Many of the traditions associated with Christmas (giving gifts, lighting a Yule log, singing carols, decorating an evergreen) hark back to older religions.

The Origin of the Kettle

San Gabriel, Long Beach Area, Verdugo Hills Councils

In December of 1891, a Salvation Army Captain in San Francisco had resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area's poor persons. But how would he pay for the food? As he went about his daily tasks, the question stayed in his mind. Suddenly, his thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. He remembered seeing passersby at Stage Landing place their charitable contributions into a large pot they called "Simpson's pot."

The next morning, he secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing at the foot of Market Street. No time was lost in securing the pot and placing it in a conspicuous position so that all those going to and from the ferryboats could see it. In addition, a brass urn was placed on a stand in the waiting room for the same purpose.

Thus, Captain Joseph McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States but also throughout the world.

Now kettles are used in Korea, Japan, and Chile and in many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to the kettles enable the Salvation Army to bring the spirit of Christmas to those who would otherwise be forgotten - the aged and lonely, the ill, inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and unfortunate. In the United States, the Salvation Army annually aids more than 7,000,000 Americans at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kettles have changed since the first utilitarian cauldron set up in San Francisco. Some of the new kettles have such devices as a self-ringing bell and a booth complete with a public address system that broadcasts traditional Christmas carols.

Behind it all, though, is the same Salvation Army message, "Sharing is Caring."

Hanukkah

Baltimore Area Council

Observed by millions of Jews around the globe, it commemorates the victory of faith over tyranny. Although Hanukkah is technically a minor Jewish festivity, it is a holiday for which Jews exchange gifts. Also, it is celebrated in the Jewish month of Kisiev, which usually falls in December. This combination has resulted in the misperception that Hanukkah is “the Jewish Christmas.” In fact this festival has a rich tradition and history of its own.

The Christmas Spider Legend

Baltimore Area Council

A long time ago in Germany, while a mother was busily cleaning house in preparation for Christmas, the spiders that usually stayed in the living room corner fled upstairs to the attic to escape from her broom. From the attic they could hear all the excitement from the living room as decorations were being made for when the Gift Giver was to come on Christmas Eve and bring gifts for the children.

Frantic to see the decorated tree, the spiders slowly crept downstairs for a view. Oh, what a beautiful tree! In their excitement, they scurried up the trunk and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed all through the tree to see the glittering beauty. But alas! By the time they were through climbing all over the tree, it was completely shrouded in their dusty-gray spider web.

When the Gift Giver came, he smiled as he saw how happy the spiders were. However, he knew how heart-broken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with the dusty webs. So He reached out and touched the webs, blessing them and turning them to silver and gold.

Thus, the custom to have a spider ornament amongst all other decorations with tinsel of gold and silver on the Christmas tree was born.

What Is Kwanzaa?

Baltimore Area Council

Kwanzaa is a special holiday that was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Dr. Karenga wanted Black Americans to have their own holiday so they could celebrate their own unique history.

The words of Kwanzaa come from Swahili, a language that is from Africa.  Swahili is special because no country can claim it as its own. Many different people all over Africa speak Swahili.  Dr. Karenga chose it because it helps Black Americans remember that all of Africa their ancestral land, not just one area or one country.

The name “Kwanzaa” means “the first fruits of the harvest.”



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