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Christmas Past

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United States




617 759-6479


013: Christmas Advertisements

You may cringe at the idea that Christmas advertisements are a legit Christmas tradition. But they're undeniably part of the atmosphere of the season...and have an interesting history behind them. Fun Links Genuine Chit ChatChristmas in America Music from this episode Pipe DreamzCases to RestWe Wish You

Duration: 00:11:36

Christmas Past 2017 season trailer

It's that time of year again! Christmas Past is getting ready to return for the 2017 Christmas season with a fresh batch of stories behind your favorite holiday traditions. Subscribe now so you won't miss any episodes this season. The first episode arrives on Thanksgiving Day. And this season has in store more of what you've come to love: fascinating histories, interesting guests, and Christmas memories from listeners. You can share your own by recording a voice memo on your phone and...

Duration: 00:01:28

Episode 13: Christmas Day 2016

For the final episode of 2016, we celebrate Christmas Day with Brian's family and take a look back at the 2016 Christmas season. Thank you, everyone, for a wonderful first season of the podcast! I hope to be back again next year with more stories from Christmas Past. Things will slow down on social media after today, but I'm not going anywhere, you can always find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or drop me a line at Wishing you a very Merry...

Duration: 00:06:00

Episode 12: Christmas Eve 2016

It's Christmas Eve! In our second-to-last episode of the season, Brian talks about his favorite Christmas Eve traditions and we hear from some of Brian's family members. Subscribe on iTunes and visit for show notes and extra content. Search for Christmas Past podcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Duration: 00:06:19

Episode 11: Sugar Plums

Even though you've heard mention of sugar plum every Christmas of your life, do you actually know what they are? In this episode, we hear about the history of the sugar plum and how it came to be associated with Christmas. We have two memories this episode! Both of them recall favorite childhood Christmas movies. Search for Christmas Past podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and visit for show notes. Write me anytime at...

Duration: 00:10:19

Episode 10: Old Time Radio

Getting tired of 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and stale cartoon specials? Take a trip back in time to the golden age of radio. You may like to check out the Christmas Old Time Radio podcast or search around to continue your listening after this episode. We hear from Chicago DJ Steve Darnall and some Christmas memories from Anna in California. I can't believe we're almost done with the first season of Christmas Past! One more full length episode to come, followed by two...

Duration: 00:13:00

Episode 9: Christmas Cards

Americans will send over a billion Christmas cards this year. Even in this age of instantaneous communication, the physical Christmas card is still inseparable from our modern holiday celebration. The Christmas card is an English invention. A man named Henry Cole is credited with creating the first commercially produced Christmas card in 1843. But more interesting are the social, economic, and technological factors that all came together at roughly the same time to enable the birth of the...

Duration: 00:11:47

Episode 8: Wrapping Paper

The appearance of festive gift wrap in stores is one of the first signs that the Christmas season is here. But wrapping Christmas gifts is a relatively new custom. In this episode of Christmas Past, we learn about the surprisingly interesting history of wrapping paper, with some help from Pat Lavin of the Framingham History Center. Corey Constable, host of the Omitted podcast, shares a Christmas memory. Subscribe to Christmas Past on iTunes or however you get your podcasts. Search for...

Duration: 00:10:59

Episode 7: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a classic underdog story, but maybe not the way you think. In this episode, we discuss the unlikely journey of Robert L. May from workaday copywriter to creator of an icon. In this episode we'll hear from Peter Carini, a librarian at Dartmouth College, which holds a collection of May's work. And we'll hear a Christmas memory from Kathy in New Jersey. Don't forget to subscribe to Christmas Past on iTunes, Google Play, or however you get your...

Duration: 00:11:24

Episode 6: Letters to Santa

The history of writing letters to Santa has some strange surprises in store for us. In this episode we hear from Gus Ruiz from the US Postal Service, Nancy Pope from the Smithsonian Institution's Postal Museum, and a Christmas Memory from Kenny in Ontario. Subscribe to Christmas Past on iTunes or however you get your podcasts. Search for "Christmas Past podcast" on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Visit for show notes. Write me at

Duration: 00:12:29

Episode 5: Gingerbread Houses

For centuries, gingerbread has been connected with all kinds of celebrations and holidays. And what could be more Christmassy than a gingerbread house? In this episode, we look at the history of gingerbread and the somewhat mysterious origins of the gingerbread house. We'll hear from my mom, who made a gingerbread house every year when I was growing up. We'll also hear from Melissa Ferrar from San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, which builds a life size gingerbread house annually. Subscribe...

Duration: 00:10:28

Episode 4: Santa Claus, Part 3

We're finishing off the series about Santa with a look at what happened to the legend when it reached America. The Santa we know today is largely an American invention, based on the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas. Dr. Bruce David Forbes joins one last time to tell us about the American contributions that put the finishing touches on Santa. Subscribe to Christmas Past on iTunes or however you get podcasts. Leave a review on iTunes, if you like what you hear. You can reach me at...

Duration: 00:12:45

Episode 3: Santa Claus, Part 2

Continuing where we left off in part 1, we continue exploring the legend of St. Nicholas. This time, we look at how many cultures left their own imprint on the legend as it spread across Europe. Once again, I'm joined by professor and author Dr. Bruce David Forbes. We also hear our first Christmas memory of the season from Hope in Massachusetts. You can submit a memory by recording a voice memo on your phone and sending it to christmaspastpodcast at gmail dot com Subscribe on iTunes or...

Duration: 00:10:19

Episode 2: Santa Claus, Part 1

We're kicking off the 2016 season with a 3-part series on the evolution of St. Nicholas to Santa Claus. Most episodes this season are for the whole family, but this series is just for the grownups. In this episode, I cover the life of the historical St. Nicholas, a 4th century bishop from Myra (modern day Turkey), and the legends that followed his death. Don't forget to subscribe to Christmas Past on iTunes (or however you get podcasts) to make sure you don't miss any episodes this...

Duration: 00:12:07

Episode 1: Introducing the Christmas Past Podcast

With the holiday season just weeks away, I thought now would be the perfect time to tell you about the Christmas Past podcast. Subscribe now on iTunes or however you get your podcasts, and visit me at

Duration: 00:03:30