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December 5, 2014     Post-Gazette
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December 5, 2014

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POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 5, 2014 Page4 truly Christmas season, one of my favorite times of the year. A large carton of light eggnog now inhabits my refrigerator, and I take refreshing sips of the spicy, warm drink whenever I need an extra holiday boost. My husband and I placed candles in our windows, hung greenery on our front door, and set up our small Christmas tree. The light from these decorations brightens the darkest of mid- winter nights, while ever- greens remind me of the perpetual cycle of nature, of life blossoming even through the cold stillness. I listen to carols on the radio, un- abashedly singing out loud to the merry tunes. Of course, this all goes without mentioning perhaps the most universally recognized Christmas symbol around -- Santa Claus. I see him everywhere, from television advertisements to sitting on his throne in the shopping mall, from cookie faces to household decorations. Sometimes he appears as a serious-faced Father Christ- mas, holding a staff and sporting intricate robes. Most often, he is a rotund and merry bearded man in a red-and-white trimmed suit, holding a bulging sack of presents over his shoul- der. While this jolly man has become synonymous with Christmas commercialism, I like to always think of Santa Claus in his purest state, as a metaphor for the joy of the season and the spirit of kindness which ac- companies the holidays. In fact, Santa Claus himself has a complex-and fascinat- ing history, and he even boasts his own feast day on December 6! Describing Santa Claus may seem like an odd endeavor at first. He is a man who lives in the North Pole, wears red, has a toyshop filled with elves, and delivers presents on a sleigh to children across the world around Christmas time. How did such a figure become associated with the holiday? Like many Christ- mas traditions, Santa Claus has both pagan and Chris- tian roots. Some of his char- acteristics derive from the Norse God Odin, who mounted his eight-legged Santa Claus and the Spirit of the Season by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz I am now finding myself " erupting in celebration on  ..... -. immersed in the his feast day, with parades by Sal GIarratanl horse and led a hunt across the sky during the time of the winter solstice. Children would often leave carrots for Odin's horse, just as children leave cookies and milk for the modern Santa. Elves also come from Scandinavian folklore, and it was believed that these magical crea- tures were especially active around the Twelve Days of Christmas. However, Santa Claus's most direct ancestor is St. Nicholas, a fourth-cen- tury bishop from Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). St. Nicholas was renowned for his generosity, which is why he became the patron saint of children and retains a strong connection to gift-giv- ing. According to one famous story, he secretly made a gift of gold to three sisters who were too poor to afford a dowry. The name "Santa Claus" is even a corruption of "Saint Nicholas," hailing from Dutch settlers who brought their figure of Sinterklaas to America. In other countries, like En- gland, Santa Claus's name is translated to "Father Christmas." This is the case in Italy, where Santa Claus is called Babbo Natale, liter- ally "Father Christmas." Though the premiere gift- bringer in Italy is La Befana, a kind witch who makes her rounds during the eve of the Epiphany, Babbo Natale has become quite a popular fig- ure as well and his jolly, red- suited image is very famil- iar to Italians. The feast day of St. Nicho- las, the predecessor of Santa Claus, occurs on December 6 m. La Festa di San Nicola, as it is known in Italian, is one of my grandmother's favorite holidays, since she hails from the southern Italian city of Bari, which holds the relics of the saint. My grand- mother remembers the city 1 Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Maverick Marketplace 154 Ma Street Boston # Repair and processions centered around the renowned Basilica di San Nicola. In other European countries, the feast day of St. Nicholas serves as a small precursor to Christmas, a quaint holi- day where children receive presents in a tantalizing pre- view of what is to come. Children in central Euro- pean countries like Ger- many, Hungary and the Czech Republic leave their shoes or boots on the win- dowsill the night before December 6, and wake up the next morning to find them filled with candy and trinkets. Polish children will fund small bags of candy un- der their pillows, while their French counterparts honor the holiday by baking special gingerbread and brioche. My own family celebrates St. Nicholas's Day with customs designed to bring out the child in anyone. For ex- ample, my husband's par- ents bless and distribute candy canes on this day, sharing the joy of the clas- sic Christmas treat. I have been baking an eggnog cake on this holiday for several years now. The cake is creamy and warm, filled with golden raisins and topped with a crunchy brown sugar streusel. It reminds me of home and hearth, and so it is perfect for a holiday cel- ebrating family. (Continued on Page 7) LEGAL NOTICE NOTICE OF SALE Notice is hereby given by TODISCO TOWING OF 94 CONDOR STREET, EAST BOSTON, MA pursuant to the provisions of Mass G.L. c 255, Section 39A that they will sell the following vehicles. Vehicles are being sold to satisfy their garage keeper's lien for towing, storage and notices of sale: 1999 TOYOTA COROLLA VIN # 2T1BR12EIYC319745 ,2001 FORD FOCUS VIN # 1FAFP33P61W318631 2003 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT VIN # WVWPD63B43P043397 1997 TOYOTA CAMRY VIN # 4TIBG22KOVU088266 2005 DODGE MAGNUM VIN # 2D8FV48V35H516330 2008 CHEW MALIBU VIN # 1G1ND52TgW6235090 2004 PONTIAC AZTEC VIN # 3G7DAO3E84S557287 2002 ACURA TL VIN # 19UUA56672A022065 1999 CHEW PRISM VIN # 1YISK5281XZ440989 2009 DODGE DURNAGO VIN # 1D4HB48N74F203199 2010 CADILLAC SRX VIN # 3GYFNEEY1AS612610 2004 JAGUAR X-TYPE VIN # SAJEA51CX4WD96762 2005 GMC YUKON VIN # 1GKEK13T15J164102 2000 VOLVO $40 VIN # YVIVS2554YF533844 2001 MERCURY SABLE VIN # 1MEHM59S31G614377 2000 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE VIN # 1J4GW48N8YC158286 The above vehicles will be sold at auction online only at TOWLOT.COM MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2014 at 10:00AM at Run dates: 12/5, 12/12, 12/19, 2014 Onward from Black Friday Ah, here we are Thanks- giving, Black Friday Eve, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all behind us. Ahead of us only Christmas and New Year's. The darkest time of the year full of things to do and celebrate and then things start looking up on December 22 nd, which I think is the shortest day of the year and also would have been my dad's 102 nd birthday. The latest news I heard (November 28 ) was first that an unknown shooter started shooting at the Austin City Police Headquarters from a nearby high-rise. The place had to evacuated. I know this area well, trav- eling there often to see the Texas-wing of the Giarratani family. Austin by the way has a bit of a history with this kind of violence. Back in 1966, the University of Texas Tower was the site of a mass killing sniper pick- ing off students walking below. Sadly, sick things of- ten keep repeating them- selves. This time it seems no one was injured by the shooter. The other news, even scarier, was a plot uncovered by law enforcement alleging that the New Black Panther Party cohorts reportedly planned to kill the prosecu- tor in the Ferguson case, the Ferguson police chief and blow up the St. Louis Arch in downtown St. Louis. The world keeps getting scarier all the time. Recently, demonstrators tried to block up businesses in malls across America to protest Ferguson and work- ers at these businesses who aren't being paid enough. Any excuse for a protest march can set things into motion. People love to be part of a movement even when no one knows what it is. Just march and yell. I believe justice was served in the Ferguson case, but that won't stop those voices out there who love whipping up anger and get much needed face time in the media. Never let emo- tions get in the way of the facts. Number one culprits are the Rev. AI Not-So- Sharpton, anyone on CNN and anyone on MSNBC. Let's hope that sounder heads will prevail and that we start working together on contested issues out there rather than looking for ways to tear apart the fabric of our society. There is more that unites us then divides us and we should strive to fund our com- monality as we head into this season of peace before we fall to pieces as a caring society. Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building NORTH END00 Quality Printing for all your Commercial and Personal Needs Stationery * Busins Cards * Menus * Flyers Program Books * Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents ..... COMPETITIVE PRICES 617-227-8929