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Xmas Factoids

Payless4 Xmas Snow - ImageBoxing Day
December26, was traditionally known as St. Stephen's Day, but is more commonly known as Boxing Day.  This expression came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in churches during the festive season.  This money was then distributed  to the poor and needy after Christmas.  

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by a 34 year old copywriter named Robert L. May, who came up with a poem about a misfit reindeer at the request of his employer, Chicago based Montgomery Ward ,for a Christmas story they could use as a store promotional gimmick. The Montgomery Ward store had been buying pre-printed colouring books and giving them away at Christmas every year, and the thought of creating their own would save them a lot of money. May, who had a knack for writing children's stories and limericks, was asked to create the booklet. Payless4 Xmas Snow - Image Drawing in part on the tale of The Ugly Duckling he settled on the idea of an underdog, teased by the reindeer community because of his physical abnormality: a glowing red nose. Looking for an alternative name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph.

He then proceeded to write Rudolph's story in verse, as a series of rhyming couplets, testing it out on his 4-year-old daughter as he went along. Although his daughter was thrilled with Rudolph's story, May's boss was initially worried that a story featuring a red nose- an image associated with drinking and drunkards- was unsuitable for a Christmas tale.  Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in 1939, and although wartime paper shortages stopped printing for the next several years, a total of 6 million copies had been given away by the end of 1946. Payless4 Xmas Snow - Image The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story as an employee of Montgomery Ward, they held the copyright and he received no royalties. Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife's terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward's corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947. With the rights to his creation in hand, May's financial security was assured. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially in 1947 and shown in theatres as a nine minute cartoon the following year. The Rudolph phenomenon really took off, when May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song. Marks' musical version of "Rudolph", recorded by Gene Autry in 1949, sold two million copies that year and went on to become one of the best selling songs of all time, second only to "White Christmas."  May quit his copywriting job in 1951 and spent seven years managing his creation before returning to Montgomery Ward, where he worked until his retirement in 1971. May died in 1976.