The History of Must-Have Holiday Toys

The History of Must-Have Holiday Toys

In a turbulent world, you can count on one thing to stay the same: Kids will always put toys at the very top of their holiday lists. Global toy sales topped $88.8 billion in 2016, and the array of choices is larger than ever, with classics like puzzles, games and dolls holding their own alongside trendy collectible toys, movie licensing tie-ins and high-tech interactive toys. But every year, a few standouts will enthrall masses of children, with some particularly trendy items (remember Cabbage Patch Kids?) causing sellouts and stampedes.

Here’s a look back at some of the most popular holiday toys of decades past, as well as the present-day counterparts that kids may be hoping for under their tree this year.

THEN: Beanie Babies (1990s)
NOW: WowWee’s Fingerlings

Launched in 1993 by toymaker Ty Inc., the line of squishy stuffed animals known as Beanie Babies didn’t sell well at first. But after their creator, H. Ty Warner, decided to discontinue certain animals and colors, turning them overnight into rare collectible items, a full-fledged craze soon spread from the Chicago area to the rest of the country. By the end of 1996, Ty Inc. had racked up more than $250 million in sales. The earliest collectors would end up with six-figure fortunes, according to Zac Bissonnette, author of The Great Beanie Baby Bubble, a 2015 book about the craze.

Today’s contemporary counterpart to Beanie Beanies is a line of similarly adorable plastic monkeys called Fingerlings. Made by WowWee, Fingerlings are even more interactive than their ‘90s counterparts. They can perch on a kid’s finger, hang upside down and even blow kisses—all of which makes them one of the most sought-after toys of 2017. So sought-after, in fact, that there’s apparently a thriving market of counterfeits; WowWee recently filed a federal lawsuit against 165 sellers of counterfeit Fingerlings.

THEN: Barbie’s Dream House (1960s and beyond)
NOW: Barbie’s DreamHorse

When Mattel’s iconic glamour girl got her first Dream House in 1962, it was a modest studio apartment with minimalist furnishings, designed by Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler, and crafted out of…cardboard? (For adult collectors, the toy company still offers a reproduction of the original classic.) Since then, the perennially top-selling Barbie living space has undergone a number of upgrades, culminating in the three-floor, seven-room mansion with an attached garage and working elevator sold today.

But with Barbie merchandise not selling as well as it used to, this year Mattel is banking on a new offering: the interactive Barbie DreamHorse, introduced at the 2017 New York Toy Fair. Barbie’s new equine companion (which comes with its own accompanying doll) has long blonde hair to brush and style. It walks and turns up to 360 degrees, neighs, nuzzles in response to touch, plays music and even dances.

THEN: Red Ryder BB Gun (1940s)
NOW: Nerf Rival Nemesis

One of the must-have toys on kids’ Christmas lists in the early 1940s probably wouldn’t pass muster with most safety-conscious parents today. The Red Ryder air rifle, which the Daisy Outdoor Products Company introduced in 1940, was modeled on the Winchester rifles wielded in Hollywood Western movies, and named for a popular Western comic strip hero. Reintroduced after World War II halted Daisy’s toy production, it was selling more than 1 million units a year by 1949, an astronomical number at the time. The Red Ryder enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s, thanks to its prominent appearance in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. (Little Ralphie Parker wants a classic Red Ryder, but is repeatedly denied with the phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”) The Red Ryder is still in production, and is considered the most popular and recognizable BB gun on the market.

This year’s most-coveted toy blaster, the Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K, bears little resemblance to the Red Ryder. For one thing, it comes in two bright colors (blue or red) and looks more like a paintball gun than a realistic weapon. But it packs a punch: Introduced early in 2017 at the New York Toy Fair, the Rival Nemesis has an easy-to-load, gravity-feeding hopper that can hold up to 100 rounds and shoot them at a velocity of 100 feet per second.

THEN: Cabbage Patch Kids (1980s)
NOW: Hatchimals

Back in the early 1980s, the must-have Christmas toy atop many kids’ lists was a soft, squishy-faced, so-homely-it’s-adorable Cabbage Patch Kid. People were rioting in the stores, and the dolls (originally created by Xavier Roberts, although he later settled a lawsuit alleging he stole the design from another dollmaker) were selling on the black market at 10 times the retail price of $25. By the end of that first year, toymaker Coleco had sold some 3 million of the dolls, each of which came complete with its own “adoption” papers from Babyland General Hospital; sales reached $2 billion in 1984. By the late ‘80s, the craze had died down, leaving Coleco in financial difficulties; Hasbro later bought it.

Hatchimals were the Cabbage Patch Kids of 2016. The furry, plastic-egg encased creatures that sparked last year’s Christmas craze (and made their Canadian makers into billionaires) continues its run near the top this year, with Spin Master introducing six new types for kids to collect. There are also new “Collegtibles,” mini versions that run about 1/10th of the size of the original Hatchimals.

THEN: Teddy Ruxpin (1980s)
NOW: Roarin’ Tyler

When Teddy Ruxpin made his debut in 1985, he was the original animatronic toy. Released by toy company Worlds of Wonder, Teddy would move his mouth when telling stories (thanks to a cassette player inserted in his back), a feature that made him the most wanted toy of the 1985-86 holiday seasons. “Kids adored Teddy Ruxpin so much that he became a multi-billion dollar product in five years,” Jeremy Padawer, president of Wicked Cool Toys (which recently launched an updated version of Teddy Ruxpin), told CNN Money.

Unlike his ‘80s predecessor, the new Ruxpin will have to compete with other animatronic toys on the market—such as the latest entrant from Hasbro’s FurReal line, Roarin’ Tyler. The plush tiger responds to touch and sound, closing his eyes when kids pet his head, roaring back at them if they roar and even playing tug-of-war when they wave a little squeaker toy near his mouth. In addition to the orange-and-black-striped Roarin’ Tyler, the must-have toy also comes in a white tiger version named Ivy.

THEN: Robert the Robot (1950s)
NOW: Think & Learn Teach ‘n Tag Movi

In 1954, the Ideal Toy Company debuted Robert, the first plastic robot to be manufactured in the United States, in the Sears Christmas catalog. Priced at just under $6 (almost $54 in 2016 dollars), Robert the Robot came accompanied with his own remote control, and according to Ideal’s vigorous advertising campaign: “He walks, talks, and his eyes light up.” Originally intended as a tie-in with the movie Tobor the Great, Robert became a sensation all on his own. Ideal later licensed T-shirts and other related merchandise and he made a cameo in the 1956 movie There’s Always Tomorrow with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.

Think & Learn Teach n’ Tag Movi, an interactive learning robot from Mattel’s Fisher Price, is geared at a younger audience than Robert, but has capacities far beyond walking and talking. With his rugged tires and ability to turn 360 degrees, the little guy is able to get kids moving, through games like “red light, green light” and “Movi says.” It can also teach kids to identify various animal noises, and is definitely more expressive than your average robot, with more than 60 facial expressions in its display.

THEN: “Star Wars” action figures (1970s)
NOW: “Star Wars” Black Series

Released in May 1977, the first of George Lucas’ Star Wars movies launched a worldwide craze that never really stopped. But because the movie wasn’t predicted to be such a success, Star Wars action figures (manufactured by toy company Kenner) weren’t even released until 1978. By the end of that year, Kenner had sold some 42 million. The original figures of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia and other characters inaugurated the trends of collecting action figures and making movie tie-in merchandise; they’re now worth as much as $200,000 each.

As 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the original film—plus the latest installment, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is out this holiday season—it seems a particularly auspicious time for the launch of a new Black Series of action figures. At the New York Toy Fair, Hasbro unveiled the new line, which recreates the original artwork and style of Kenner’s figures. At six inches (rather than 3 ¾ inches) tall, the figures are more detailed than their smaller counterparts, and seemed designed to please even the most rabid fans and collectors. In addition to action figures, the Black Series line also features Force FX light sabers, vehicles and other collectible items.

The History of Cabbage Patch Kids

During the 1983 Christmas season, parents in the United States frantically searched everywhere for the coveted Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. While many stores had extremely long waiting lists, others had a first-come, first-served policy, which led to shocking, vicious fights between potential buyers. By the end of the year, approximately 3 million Cabbage Patch Kids dolls had been "adopted."

The Cabbage Patch Kids frenzy of 1983 was to be the first of many such holiday-season toy frenzies in the years to come.

30 Great Moments In The History Of Robots

Babylonians develop the clepsydra, a clock that measures time using the flow of water, which is considered one of the first robotic devices in history. For centuries, inventors refine the design, and some time around 270 BCE, the Greek inventor Csestibus becomes famous for a water clock that utilizes animated human figures.

#2 Aristotle

The Greek philosopher Aristotle imagines the utility of robots, writing: "If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it… then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords."

#3 DaVinci's Knight

Leonardo DaVinci designs a clockwork knight that is designed to sit up, wave its arms, and move its head and jaw. It's not certain whether the robot was ever built, but the design may constitute the first humanoid robot.

A modern reconstruction of DaVinci's robot. (photo via Wikipedia)

#4 The Digesting Duck

French inventor Jacques Vaucanson builds a clockwork duck capable of flapping its wings, quacking, eating and digesting food.

#5 The Mechanical Turk

Hungarian author and inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen builds The Turk, a maplewood box with a mannequin dressed in cloak and turban protruding from the back. The device gains great fame as an automaton capable of playing chess against skilled opponents --until it is discovered that a human operator hides inside the box.

A modern reconstruction of von Kempelen's Turk (image via Wikipedia)

#6 The Jacquard Loom

French silk weaver and inventor Joseph Jacquard invents an automated loom that is controlled by punch-cards. Within a decade it is being mass-produced and thousands are in use across Europe.

#7 The Puppet Who Wished To Be A Real Boy

Italian author Carlo Lorenzini writes Pinnochio, a children's book about a marionette who turns into a real boy. The literary theme of mechanical men who come to life will flourish along with the technological evolution of robots.

Nikola Tesla's radio-controlled boat. (Image via Wikipedia)

#8 Tesla, Ahead Of His Time

Nikola Tesla demonstrates a new invention he calls "teleautomaton" to spectators at Madison Square Garden in New York --a radio-controlled boat. The audience believes it's a trick, and remote control technology does not become commonplace until decades later.

#9 Rossums Universal Robot

Czech playwright Karl Capek coins the term "robot" in a play called R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robot). The word comes from the Czech robota, which means drudging, forced work. The play ends with robots taking over the Earth and destroying their makers.

#10 Maria & Metropolis

Film director Fritz Lang releases Metropolis, a silent film set in a futuristic urban dystopia. It features a female robot --the first to appear on the silver screen-- who takes the shape of a human woman in order to destroy a labor movement.

Director Fritz Lang (right) inspects the robot from the film Metropolis (photo by Hulton . [+] Archive/Getty Images)

#11 The Three Laws

American science fiction author Isaac Asimov publishes a short story, "Runaround," which introduces the Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

#12 The Birth Of Cybernetics

American mathematician Norbert Wiener publishes Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, a seminal work in the field of practical robotics.

#13 Computer Assisted-Manufacturing

The Servomechanisms Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrates computer-assisted manufacturing. A robotic milling machine creates a commemorative ashtray for each attendee.

#14 Unimate Gets To Work

Industrial robotics pioneer George Devol creates Unimate, the world's first programmable robot. In 1961 it is put to work on a General Motors automotive assembly line.

#15 Birth Of The Robotics Industry

George Devol and Joseph Engelberger form the world's first robotics company, Unimation. In the 1960s, it is purchased by the Condec Corporation, which later is bought, in part, by industrial manufacturing giant Eaton .

#16 Shakey The Robot

The Artificial Intelligence Center at the Stanford Research Center begins development of Shakey, the first mobile robot. Its endowed with a limited ability to see and model its environment, and is controlled by a computer that fills an entire room.

A HAL 9000 console from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey

#17 "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

HAL 9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) appears in the Stanley Kubrik film 2001: A Space Odyssey, written (and novelized) by Arthur C. Clarke. The artificially intelligent computer runs the spaceship Discovery --and eventually goes berserk. The character reflects concern about the increasing power of intelligent machines over man.

#18 Human-Cyborg Relations

R2-D2 and C-3PO appear in George Lucas' Star Wars. The plucky androids are arguably the best-known robots in modern culture.

#19 The Stanford Cart

The Stanford Cart, a four-wheeled rover equipped with a TV camera for vision, navigates around the obstacles in a chair filled room by analyzing and programming its own course.

#20 Dante Descends

An eight-legged robot named Dante attempts to explore Antarctica's Mt. Erebus volcano. The landmark effort is remotely controlled from the U.S., and ushers in a new era of robotic exploration of hazardous environments.

The Sojourner rover (image via NASA)

#21 Pathfinder

The tiny Sojourner Rover begins its scientific mission on Mars. Moving at a maximum speed of 0.02 miles per hour, the robot explores the immediate area around its landing point, and takes 550 photographs over the next three months.

#22 Speaking Furbish

A fuzzy, batlike robot called Furby becomes the must-have toy of the holiday season. The $30 toys "evolve" over time, first speaking in gibberish, but soon developing the use of pre-programmed English phrases. Over 27 million of the toys sell in a 12-month period.

#23 Man's Best Friend

Gadget-lovers develop a serious case of puppy love for Sony 's robot dog AIBO. The $2,000 mechanical mutt can navigate around a room and respond to a set of limited commands.

Honda's ASIMO robot. (image via Wikipedia.)

#24 ASIMO walks

Honda Motor Company's humanoid robot ASIMO steps onto the stage. Standing 1.3 meters tall, it can walk and run with a near-human gait.

#25 The Cyber Sweeper

iRobot releases the Roomba robotic vacuum. With over six million units sold, the Frisbee-shaped device is the most commercially successful domestic robot in history.

#26 Big Business

The robotics industry crosses $1 billion in revenues in North America.

NASA's Spirit Rover lands on Mars and begins exploration of the planet. It will keep rolling for 6 years after its original 90-day mission ends, and will travel over 7.7 kilometers.

#28 Stanley Crosses The Finish Line

Stanley, an autonomously-driven vehicle created by a team from Stanford University, successfully negotiates a 212 kilometer off-road track. It becomes the first car to complete the DARPA Grand Challenge, winning a $2 million prize.

#29 The Robonaut

The final mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery delivers the first humanoid robot in space to the International Space Station. Dubbed R2, the Robonaut has a near-human range of motion and can perform tasks dubbed too dangerous for human astronauts. NASA says the bots "are essential to NASA's future as we go beyond low earth orbit."

Robonaut 2, onboard the International Space Station

#30 A Driverless Car Gets Licensed

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issues the world's first license for a robotic, self-driven car. It's issued to a Toyota Prius modified with technology developed by Google . To date, Google's driverless cars have logged more than 300,000 miles in traffic, and haven't been the cause of a single accident.

This list is based on a timeline created by the Robotic Industries Association, and updated from an older version on

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I write about games and technology. I'm a primate and a skeptic. I have root access and I'm not afraid to use it. I'm a beer geek. I can make stone tools and arrowheads. I drop science like Galileo dropped the orange. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.


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25 Great Moments In Robotics History

Babylonians develop the clepsydra, a clock that measures time using the flow of water. It's considered one of the first "robotic" devices in history. For centuries, inventors will refine the design. Around 270 BC, the Greek inventor Ctesibius becomes famous for a water clock with moving figures on it.

322 BC

The Greek philosopher Aristotle imagines the great utility of robots, writing,

"If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it … then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords."

Leonardo da Vinci designs a clockwork knight that will sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw. It's not certain whether the robot was ever built, but the design may constitute the first humanoid robot.

French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson builds a clockwork duck capable of flapping its wings, quacking, eating and digesting food.

Hungarian author and inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen builds "The Turk," a maplewood box with a mannequin, dressed in cloak and turban, protruding from the back. The device gains great fame as an automaton capable of playing chess against skilled opponents--until it is discovered that a human operator hides inside the box.

French silk weaver and inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard invents an automated loom that is controlled by punch cards. Within a decade it is being mass-produced, and thousands are in use across Europe.

Italian author Carlo Collodi writes Pinocchio, a children's book about a marionette who turns into a real boy. The literary theme of mechanical men who come to life will flourish along with the technological evolution of robots--most recently, in movies like Steven Spielberg's A.I. and in TV characters like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

L. Frank Baum invents one of the literary world's most beloved robots in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: the Tin Woodsman, a mechanical man in search of a heart. The character is seen as a symbol for the soullessness of mechanized industry.

Czech playwright Karl Capek popularizes the term "robot" in a play called "R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robot)." The word comes from the Czech robota, which means drudgery or forced work. The play ends with robots taking over the earth and destroying their makers.

Film director Fritz Lang releases Metropolis, a silent film set in a futuristic urban dystopia. It features a female robot--the first to appear on the silver screen--who takes the shape of a human woman in order to destroy a labor movement.

American science fiction author Isaac Asimov publishes a short story, "Runaround," that introduces the "Three Laws of Robotics"--rules that every robot is programmed to obey:

1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Industrial robotics pioneer George Devol files a patent (pictured) for the first programmable robot and coins the term "universal automaton."

George Devol and Joseph Engelberger (pictured) form the world's first robotics company, Unimation. In the 1960s, it is purchased by Condec, which later is bought, in part, by industrial manufacturing giant Eaton.

The Servomechanisms Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrates computer-assisted manufacturing. A robotic milling machine creates a commemorative ashtray for each attendee.

Unimate, the world's first industrial robot, goes to work on a General Motors assembly line.

Rosie the robot appears on The Jetsons, an animated TV program about a family from the future. The iconic house maid becomes one of the best-known robot characters in recent history.

The Artificial Intelligence Center at the Stanford Research Center begins development of Shakey, the first mobile robot. It is endowed with a limited ability to see and model its environment and is controlled by a computer that fills an entire room.

HAL 9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) appears in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by Arthur C. Clarke. The artificially intelligent computer runs the spaceship Discovery--and eventually goes berserk. The character reflects concern about the increasing power of intelligent machines over man.

R2-D2 and C-3PO appear in George Lucas' Star Wars films. The plucky androids are arguably the best-known robots in modern culture.

An eight-legged robot named Dante attempts to explore Antarctica's Mount Erebus volcano. It is remotely controlled from the U.S. and collects a small amount of data before mechanical difficulties end the experiment. But the landmark effort ushers in a new era of robotic exploration of hazardous environments.

A fuzzy, batlike robot called Furby becomes the must-have toy of the holiday season. The $30 toys "evolve" over time, first speaking in gibberish but soon developing the use of preprogrammed English phrases. More than 27 million of the toys sell in a 12-month period.

Gadget lovers develop a serious case of puppy love for Sony's robot dog AIBO. The $2,000 mechanical mutt can navigate around a room and respond to a set of limited commands.

Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO steps onto the stage. Standing 1.3 meters tall, it can walk and run with a near-human gait.

The Roomba robotic vacuum from the iRobot Corp. is released. The Frisbee-shaped device has sold over 2 million units to date, making it the most commercially successful domestic robot in history.

The robotics business hits the big time, becoming a $1.06 billion business in North America. Pictured is the humanoid robot Speecys SPC-003.

Star Wars Figures: A History

If you go into any toy store today you will notice that Star Wars action figures are wildly popular. As many know, Star Wars action figures have sold very well since the the release of the first movie in 1977. There's an interesting story behind the history of these little collectible figures, going back before Star Wars was in production.

Star Wars action figures have always been set in a 3.75 inch scale, however, traditionally, action figures were set in a much larger scale, about 12 inches. To understand this smaller scale, we must travel back in time to 1964, with the release of the first toys to be made under the title "action figure": GI Joe.

The early GI Joe action figures, like the one above were 11.5 inches tall. However, during the oil crisis of the 1970s, toy companies were forced to down-size their action figures.

The first of these was Micro Man, produced by Mego. Micro Man was 3.75 inches tall. This new scale succeeded in being very practical as far as economics are concerned.

Now, what you probably wanted to read about in this article is Star Wars action figures. So, let's now fast forward to the mid 70s.

Toy company Kenner bought the rights to produce toys based on George Lucas' upcoming space fantasy film, Star Wars. Predicting the movie would do poorly, they did not manufacture toys in time for the movie's release in May, 1977.

To solve this problem, Kenner created the Early Bird Certificate, better known as the empty box. (The picture below is of the 2005 re-release of this promotion, which looks mostly the same as the 1977 version, but with different dates on the expiration of the date and so on, there are no pictures of the real early bird big enough)

Children would receive the box in the holiday season of 1977 to open it and only find a certificate to mail away for four exclusive Star Wars action figures (in the new, previously mentioned 3.75 inch scale) as well as some other assorted Star Wars action figure accessories.

Star Wars action figures were finally released in 1978, selling for just $1.49, along with a select few 12 inch scale figures (which came with a bit of a greater price and were nowhere near as popular as their smaller counterparts.). Below is a picture of a carded 1978 Stormtrooper, one of the first 12 Star Wars (3.75 inch) Action Figures.

These action figures had very little in the way of articulation: they could only move at the hips and shoulders, and neck, and in some cases like the Stormtrooper, not even at the neck.

Another interesting feature of Star Wars action figures from 1978-1985 was the telescoping lightsaber. Instead of including a lightsaber accessory that an action figure could hold in its hand, Star Wars action figures had lightsabers built into the character's right arm, and could extend out of the arm, and be retracted back into the arm. Below is a loose 1978 Darth Vader action figure with telescoping lightsaber.

Also notable in these early Star Wars action figures were their vinyl cloaks, as seen above, meant to look like capes or Jedi robes, but clearly not fulfilling that purpose.

The first wave of Star Wars action figures (R2-D2, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Han Solo, C-3PO, Stormtrooper,Death Squad Commander, Jawa and Sand People) was successful, and later in 1978 eight more action figures were produced.

In 1979, the first Boba Fett 3.75 inch action figure was produced (one year after the character's first appearance in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, and a year before the fan favorite's live action debut in the Empire Strikes Back). This first Boba Fett action figure (below) has a very interesting story to go along with it.

This Boba Fett was initially going to have a missile launching rocket pack. However, after a young boy choked to death after swallowing a missile on a Battle Star Galactica toy, Kenner removed the feature. Today, prototypes containing the missile launching rocket pack, and even reproductions of these prototypes go for thousands of dollars on the secondary market and are highly sought after by collectors. Below is a picture of the back of one such prototype showing the missile launching section of the rocket pack (without the missile).

In 1980, the sequel to Star Wars was released: The Empire Strikes Back. Several new action figures were released, and the original 20 were also released on new cards bearing the Empire Strikes Back logo. In 1983, when Return of the Jedi was released, several more figures were released and another wave of repacks came with them. Below are examples of an Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi carded figure. (A 1980 Yoda and a 1983 Biker Scout)

Star Wars action figures were produced from 1982-1984 with the Return of the Jedi logo. However, in 1984, Kenner began to transition over to the new "Power of the Force" lineup, which featured re-released fan favorites as well as several new figures from all three movies released so far, and also sported a new logo as well as collector coins featuring the action figure/character they came packed with. Below is a carded 1984 Luke Skywalker action figure from the "Power of the Force". This line ran until 1985.

Along with the Power of the Force, action figures based on the "Droids" and "Ewoks" animated TV shows were released. In addition to a few characters from the movies that appeared in the TV shows, many characters exclusively appearing on the cartoon were made into action figures, marking the first Expanded Universe (EU is all media in Star Wars outside the films) Below is a Droids R2-D2 and an Ewoks King Gorneesh action figures,

Due to the waning popularity of Star Wars, Kenner ended the Star Wars line in 1986. However, a few prototypes and designs exist for a never produced Kenner line called "The Epic Continues".

"The Epic Continues" was to be a new story set in the Star Wars universe, with characters and plot designed by Kenner. The story was that after Emperor Palpatine's death, a new threat endangered the heroes of Star Wars: Atha Prime and his Clone Warriors. The Rebel heroes and the remaining Imperial forces would then be forced to stop Atha Prime. However Lucasfilm rejected this storyline and nothing else was made of the idea.

Below are several images from the Epic Continues, the AT-IC (All-Terrain Ion Cannon) toy prototype and concept art from Kenner of the Clone Warrior and Atha Prime respectively.


Clone Warrior

Atha Prime

Nine years later, in 1995, Hasbro, which now owned Kenner released Star Wars action figures once again. These action figures ran under the name Power of the Force, however, they are known to collectors as Power of the Force 2 to distinguish them from the original Power of the Force (1984-1985).

The action figures from 1995-1997 featured minimal articulation with only one improvement made over the original Star Wars action figures, that being the addition of waist articulation. These action figures were also poorly sculpted, with exaggerated "buff" statures and disproportionate features. The figures of this era could not even fit in the vehicles they were released alongside with due to their odd statures (it should be noted they were still 3.75 inches tall).

A prime example of these poorly designed action figures was the Princess Leia from 1995, infamous in the collecting community and known to avid collectors as "Monkey Face Leia" (below).

Another interesting note about Power of the Force 2 figures is that they came on cards with varying green and red highlights. The red and green cards also featured slightly different designs. Compare below the 1995 Obi-Wan Kenobi on red and green cards.

In 1996, Lucasfilm launched a multimedia project called Shadows of the Empire, covering the time between the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The project was supported by a graphic novel and novel adaptation, a video game, and of course, toys.

Hasbro created five basic figures for Shadows of the Empire, (Chewbacca (Bounty Hunter Disguise), Princess Leia (Boushh disguise), Dash Rendar, Luke Skywalker (in Imperial Guard armor) and Prince Xizor. Hasbro also produced several vehicles for the project, the re-released Boba Fett's Slave I related to the project and two new vehicles, Dash Rendar's Outrider and Swoop Bike with Swoop Trooper. In addition, two value packs were released under the Shadows of the Empire name: Boba Fett and IG-88, and Darth Vader and Prince Xizor. Below are examples of Shadows of the Empire toys, a basic figure (Luke Skywalker), a vehicle (Swoop Bike) and a value pack (Boba Fett and IG-88).

In 1998, Hasbro released a line called Expanded Universe, pulling figures from sources such as video games, novels, and comic books. The figures featured a pop-out cardboard play-set. Below is a fan favorite figure from this line, the Dark Trooper, which was the Fan's Choice Number 1 in 2007 and re-released because of this. The Dark Trooper is shown below with its pop-out cardboard play-set.

The Power of the Force 2 lineup ran alongside Shadows of the Empire and Expanded Universe, and in 1998, Hasbro improved the line by eliminating the "buff" sculpts. Still, there was not much in the way of improved articulation.

This changed in 1999, with the release of the new Stormtrooper which featured an accurate sculpt, and articulation at the shoulders, elbows, waist, neck, hips, and knees. Compare below the Stormtrooper from 1999 and the Stormtrooper from 1995.



Though not perfect, the 1999 Stormtrooper was an incredible improvement over all of its predecessors.

In 1998, in addition to eliminating "buff" sculpts, Hasbro included "Freeze Frames" with Star Wars action figures. These could be inserted into a Freeze Frame viewer to see a still from a Star Wars movie. Hasbro also added "Episode I Flashback Photos" to figures later that year, in anticipation of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, to be released in theaters the next year. These featured a card with a tab that could be pulled to show an original trilogy character and, if pulled again, their Episode I counterpart. Below are the Episode I Flashback photos included in 1998's Darth Vader, showing Darth Vader from the original trilogy, and Anakin Skywalker in Episode I.

In 1998, Hasbro also released two preview action figures for Episode I. Mace Windu, a promotional figure which could be obtained by sending in six proofs of purchase from Star Wars action figures, a receipt, and $2.99. In addition, a Battle Droid on STAP speeder was released to all retailers. Below are the Mace Windu and Battle Droid on STAP figures.

In 1999, Hasbro began releasing Power of the Force 2 figures with display stands that came with tiny computer chips inside, these were called Commtech chips. The stand could be placed on a Commtech reader and with the action figure placed on it, the reader would play some of that character's dialogue from the movies, making it appear as though the toy was speaking. Below is an example of a Commtech chip from the 1999 Stormtrooper (this action figure can be seen farther up in the article).

At exactly 12 AM on May 3rd, 1999, Toys R Us stores across the country opened up for the release of the new Episode I action figure line, based on the long anticipated first installment to the new Star Wars prequel trilogy, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. These action figures were incredibly popular and featured many new characters and new prequel versions of older characters.

The card art was also new, featuring the main antagonist of the new movie, Darth Maul, where Darth Vader had been on the Power of the Force 2 cards, and the words Episode I, replacing the Power of the Force logo. All cards featured red and black highlights. Included with each figure, just as with the 1999 and 2000 Power of the Force 2 action figures was a Commtech chip. Below is an example of an Episode I figure, Darth Maul.

The Episode I line lasted until 2000 and featured more basic figures then the Power of the Force 2 line did in its first couple of years. Also in 2000, the Power of the Force 2 ended with one final wave containing only Princess Leia and Admiral Motti.

In 2000, a new line started called "Power of the Jedi". Power of the Jedi featured new card art with green highlights and an image of Darth Vader and the Episode I version of Obi-Wan. Instead of Commtech chips, these action figures now included small pamphlets called Jedi Force Files with facts and statistics about the character with which they were packed.

This new line contained action figures from both Episode I and the Original Trilogy. Power of the Jedi did not end up greatly improving articulation, but sculpting was greatly improved. Most sculpts from the Power of the Jedi are on par with modern action figures. Below is an example of a Power of the Jedi action figure, the Sandtrooper.

Power of the Jedi ran from 2000 until 2002. At the end of the line, in early 2002, Hasbro released four preview action figures based on characters from the upcoming sequel to Episode I, Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Below are the four preview figures, Clone Trooper, Jango Fett, Zam Wessel, and R3-T7.

In the summer of 2002, when Attack of the Clones was released, Hasbro released a new line focusing at first on Attack of the Clones characters and then later on characters from all five movies released thus far. This line was simply called "Star Wars" on the action figure cards, but is actually known as Star Wars Saga.

The early Saga action figures featured limited articulation and certain action features that deterred from the sculpt of the figure and/or the sculpt of the figure. For this reason, action figures are not very well received by fans. The Saga card were also very basic featuring only two hands holding a lightsaber, the Star Wars logo, and a blue background.

Below is an example of a Saga action figure, Mace Windu.

In 2003, two new lines were released alongside Saga, both based on the new Star Wars multimedia project, Clone Wars. One line, the normal Clone Wars line, featured action figures based on characters from Dark Horse's Star Wars: Republic comic books. The other featured action figures with limited articulation and stylized sculpts based on the Clone Wars cartoon shorts from Cartoon Network. Below is an example of a Clone Wars action figure (Durge) and a Clone Wars animated action figure (General Grievous, based on his first appearance ever in the Clone Wars animated shorts).


General Grievous

As of 2004, despite major improvements, Hasbro'a Star Wars line was still behind in the action figure industry as far as articulation was concerned. Then, Hasbro released the first "Super-articulated" Star Wars action figure ever, a Clone Trooper in the Clone Wars line. This action figure was so popular it is still repacked and sold today. Below is the super articulated Clone Trooper, in an image exemplifying its superior articulation.

In the third quarter of 2004, Hasbro ended the Saga line and began the Original Trilogy Collection, released to celebrate the first ever DVD release of the Original Trilogy and drawing the figures in the line almost solely from original trilogy sources. Almost all figures in this line were re-packaged fan favorites, now in retro black and silver packaging. Below is an example of one of these action figures, Luke Skywalker.

Also released in 2004 was the first wave of the "vintage" action figures. These action figures were more detailed, more articulated, and came in the same packaging their vintage versions came in. Below is an image of the "vintage" Stormtrooper from 2004.

As 2004 came to a close, excitement began building for the final live action Star Wars film to be released in spring 2005: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In February 2005, Hasbro released four action figures from Revenge of the Sith in a preview wave. They were General Grievous, Tion Medon, R4-G9, and a Wookie Warrior. Hasbro also released Anakin Skywalker's Episode III Jedi Starfighter. Below is a picture of each.

On April 2, 2005, Toys R Us held a midnight madness event similar to the Episode I event more than half a decade earlier, to release the main Revenge of the Sith line. Wal-Mart also hosted an event, running from April 2-3 2005, allowing customers to participate in Star Wars related events, come in Star Wars costumes, and purchase the newly released Revenge of the Sith line.

The Revenge of the Sith main line and Sneak Preview wave featured a new style of packaging, a plastic bubble on a Darth Vader helmet, floating above a lava pit and an orange-red Star Wars logo. Any product features were listed on a sticker on the bubble. Below is an example of a Revenge of the Sith action figure, carded: a Royal Guard.

The Revenge of the Sith line featured major updates in details, sculpting, and articulation. These features became a standard in the Star Wars action figure line.

Revenge of the Sith featured almost all new action figures and ran through the rest of 2005. Then, at the beginning of 2006, Hasbro launched a new action figure line, spanning all six movies, and the Expanded Universe.

The packaging of the Saga Collection was a mix of the Original Trilogy Collection and Revenge of the Sith. The actual action figures were mainly repaints and retools of older action figures, and 2006 was mainly viewed as a step backwards for the Star Wars line. There were however some all-new action figures, below is one of the most highly sought-after action figures from the Saga Collection, Republic Commando Scorch.

In 2006, Hasbro included two new pack-ins: display stands for the action figures and a random mini "hologram" figure. Mini-holograms came first in translucent blue, then in translucent red. "Evil" characters came with holograms like Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, etc. while "Good" characters came with Yoda, Rebel Trooper,Han Solo etc. Below is an image of all of the mini-holograms.

Hasbro also created a new promotion called "Ultimate Galactic Hunt". These action figures came with a metallic display base and a metallic painted hologram figure. The packaging on these action figures featured reflective foil in place of cardboard in some areas. Below is an image of a carded Ultimate Galactic Hunt action figure, Boba Fett, and the included metallic painted hologram figure.

Also in 2006, a second "Vintage" wave was released. Just like in 2004, the 2006 line featured new action figures in the packaging of their 1980s/1970s counterparts. Below is an example of one, Luke Skywalker (X-Wing Pilot).

This wave of Vintage figures featured a mail-away promo: purchase all six (later any six of the Vintage figures) and mail away the included order form with all six stickers, one included in each figure, to receive a George Lucas in Stormtrooper Disguise action figure, seen below.

2006 came to a close with fans excited for 2007, the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. In early 2007, Hasbro ended the Saga Collection and released the first wave of basic figures from the new 30th Anniversary Collection. Each figure included a collector coin, and many of the action figures in the basic line were super articulated.

The first 30th Anniversary Collection action figure sold for ten dollars, instead of the MSRP of $7. This was a Darth Vader with coin album for the new collectible coins, seen below.

2007 was also featured the first, and to date, only action figure from the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978, the Holiday Special version of Boba Fett, seen below, as an example of a carded 30th Anniversary Collection action figure.

In 2006, Hasbro created a poll and sent it to the fan site, to vote on action figures to be re-released in the 2007 Saga Legends line. The number one fan's choice winner was the Dark Trooper from 1998, seen below.

2007 also saw the first comic book two packs since Shadows of the Empire. These included two action figures from the Star Wars comic books and a full length reprint of that comic book. The first was an internet exclusive, Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos, packed with the sixth issue of Star Wars: Crimson Empire. Later, Hasbro released several more comic packs to all retailers. Below is an image of the Kir Kanos and Carnor Jax comic pack, and a main line comic pack, Clone Commando with Super Battle Droid.

Because of the success of comic packs, Hasbro went on to produce them, and new ones are still produced today.

In 2007, the Star Wars multimedia project "The Force Unleashed", was scheduled for release. However, due to delays in one of the items involved in this project, a video game, also called "The Force Unleashed", all other items were pushed back. Hasbro had a wave of Star Wars action figures for the Force Unleashed, however, they were pushed back because of the video game delay, and replaced with a wave of repackaged/redeco figures in late 2007.

In 2008, Hasbro continued to produce the 30th Anniversary Collection. However, they now included display bases instead of collector coins. The first wave of 2008 30th Anniversary figures, released in early 2008, was Revenge of the Sith themed. The second, was the delayed Force Unleashed wave. Below is an image of 2008 30th Anniversary figure, the EVO Trooper.

Hasbro again released a poll on to vote for five more fan choice re-releases for 2008. Below is an example of one, the Shadow Stormtrooper.

Fans could also mail away seven dollars and four proofs of purchase with a form included in the 2008 30th Anniversary Collection figures for a preview figure from the upcoming movie, the Clone Wars. This preview figure was Captain Rex, seen below.

At 12:00 PM, July 25 2008, fans once again waited for hours outside of Toys R Us stores across the world for another midnight madness event, this time, to celebrate the release of the new animated move/TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars and its corresponding "animated style" action figure line, as well as the new regular line, the Legacy Collection. At 12:01 AM, July 26, 2008, fans rushed into stores and purchased the new toys.

The Clone Wars figures were sculpted to match their animated TV counterparts, while the Legacy Collection was realistic as most action figures had been in the past. The Clone Wars packaging featured a Clone Trooper helmet with a plastic bubble in front, the Legacy Collection was the same, except with a Stormtrooper helmet in place of the Clone Trooper. Below is an example of a Clone Wars action figure, Commander Cody, and a Legacy Collection action figure, Jodo Kast.

Legacy Collection action figures included a new pack-in, called Droid Factory (also known as Build a Droid or BAD). Droid Factory includes parts of action figures of droids. Fans can buy a set of Legacy Collection action figures, and combine the parts however they want, or connect them to make a droid from the movies or Expanded Universe. Below is a completed Droid Factory action figure, RA-7.

In 2009, Hasbro is continuing the Legacy Collection and the Clone Wars. The first wave of Legacy Collection figures from 2009, all from the original Star Wars film, feature no packaging changes, and still include Build a Droid parts. Below is one, an Imperial Spacetrooper, notable for having the likeness of Joe Johnston, a producer of Star Wars and the director of Jumanji. Johnston was also an extra in Star Wars and played one of the Space Troopers outside of the Death Star.

Hasbro recently released pictures of new Clone Wars packaging. This packaging no longer features blue and white highlights, but instead, red and white. It is more square shaped also. Below is a picture.

I hope you found this article interesting. Remember, the Force will be with you, always.

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A brief history of the Christmas present

How did the custom get started? Christians see gift giving as a symbolic homage to the Three Wise Men's tributes to the baby Jesus. In the New Testament, the Magi are described as honoring the newborn Savior with valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But gift giving this time of year dates to an even older tradition. Pagans in Europe and the Middle East gave presents at several winter festivals, including Saturnalia, a raucous Roman festival in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, which began on Dec. 17. During this weeklong holiday in the cold, dark dead of winter, pagans would lift their spirits by drinking to excess and giving one another gifts, such as pottery figurines, edible treats like fruit and nuts, and festive candles. Revelers greeted one another with a joyful "Io Saturnalia!" — the ancient Roman equivalent of "Merry Christmas!"

What happened to Saturnalia? Early Christian leaders phased it out. They considered it their religious duty to eradicate the existing pagan culture, but knew that dumping the beloved festival would cause a backlash. So in the 4th century, they created a rival festival to mark Jesus' birth: Christmas. The Bible doesn't explicitly state the date on which Jesus was born, and many theologians place his birth in the spring. But church leaders pushed the date back a few months to Dec. 25 and borrowed some Saturnalia rituals for their own festival to keep the public happy. "If Christianity moves Christmas into December, you can then fade out these other festivals," said archaeologist Sam Moorhead. "You can attempt to move on as if nothing has happened." The festival quickly spread across the Christian world, but some pious believers refused to join in the holiday cheer.

Who were these Scrooges? Our Pilgrim forefathers. Although today's commercialized Christmas is considered distinctly American, the festival was banned in the nation's earliest days. New England's Puritan leaders considered it a pagan or papist abomination, and any citizen found celebrating around Dec. 25 would be sternly reprimanded. But when Christmas celebrations became legal in the 1680s, gift giving boomed. Rural Americans carved wooden toys and made pieces of needlework in the agricultural offseason to give to family members and neighbors. The Industrial Revolution saw those handmade items replaced with mass-manufactured trinkets and toys. By 1867, the holiday present industry was healthy enough for Macy's in New York City to keep its doors open until midnight on Christmas Eve for the first time.

(This article originally appeared in The Week magazine. Try 4 risk-free issues, and stay up to date with the week's most important news and commentary.)

Did everyone get in the spirit? Not exactly. By 1904, one writer in Harper's Bazaar was already lamenting the rampant commercialism of the day. "Twenty-five years ago, Christmas was not the burden that it is now," wrote Margaret Deland. "There was less haggling and weighing, less quid pro quo, less fatigue of body, less wearing of soul and, most of all, there was less loading up with trash." Such complaints prompted the creation of organizations like SPUG, the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, whose members included Anne Morgan, the daughter of banker J.P. Morgan, and former President Theodore Roosevelt. But retailers were unabashed. The ultimate gift giver, Santa, started appearing in advertisements, and the dreaded "Christmas creep" began, with stores advertising their Christmas wares earlier each year. For toy makers and sellers, the holiday season now begins in February.

Why February? That's when tens of thousands of toy industry representatives gather at New York City's annual American International Toy Fair, where they try to figure out which toy will top children's wish lists 10 months later. Beanie Babies made their public debut at the fair in 1993, and the best-selling Furby electronic pet first appeared there in 1998. This year's must-have toy is Disney's $119 Frozen Castle and Ice Palace Playset, which has already sold out in much of the country and is going for more than $400 on eBay. With children's toys selling at such high prices, it's perhaps no surprise that the average American is expected to spend $720 on gifts this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Isn't that a bit excessive? Scroogenomics author Joel Waldfogel certainly thinks so. He's lobbied for Americans to abandon Christmas gift giving, which he calls an "orgy of wealth destruction." Waldfogel notes that one-third of holiday spending still isn't paid off two months after Christmas. Worse, most of us don't even like many of the presents we receive. The "deadweight loss" of sweaters never worn and books never read equates to about 18 percent of Christmas spending — a staggering $12 billion. Present buying may boost the economy, but Waldfogel argues that "if the spending we engage in doesn't produce any satisfaction, then it's hardly a measure of well-being." Worse, he contends, it goes against the very spirit of Christmas. Isn't it supposed to be the thought that counts? "The thought,'' he says, "doesn't need to be communicated with a lot of money."


The custom of merrymaking and feasting at Christmastide first appears in the historical record during the High Middle Ages (c 1100–1300). [3] This almost certainly represented a continuation of pre-Christian midwinter celebrations in Britain of which—as the historian Ronald Hutton has pointed out—"we have no details at all." [3] Personifications came later, and when they did they reflected the existing custom.

The first known English personification of Christmas was associated with merry-making, singing and drinking. A carol attributed to Richard Smart, Rector of Plymtree in Devon from 1435 to 1477, has 'Sir Christemas' announcing the news of Christ's birth and encouraging his listeners to drink: "Buvez bien par toute la compagnie, / Make good cheer and be right merry, / And sing with us now joyfully: Nowell, nowell." [4]

Many late medieval Christmas customs incorporated both sacred and secular themes. [5] In Norwich in January 1443, at a traditional battle between the flesh and the spirit (represented by Christmas and Lent), John Gladman, crowned and disguised as 'King of Christmas', rode behind a pageant of the months "disguysed as the seson requird" on a horse decorated with tinfoil. [5]

In most of England the archaic word 'Yule' had been replaced by 'Christmas' by the 11th century, but in some places 'Yule' survived as the normal dialect term. [6] The City of York maintained an annual St Thomas's Day celebration of The Riding of Yule and his Wife which involved a figure representing Yule who carried bread and a leg of lamb. In 1572 the riding was suppressed on the orders of the Archbishop, who complained of the "undecent and uncomely disguising" which drew multitudes of people from divine service. [7]

Such personifications, illustrating the medieval fondness for pageantry and symbolism, [6] extended throughout the Tudor and Stuart periods with Lord of Misrule characters, sometimes called 'Captain Christmas', [2] 'Prince Christmas' [2] or 'The Christmas Lord', presiding over feasting and entertainment in grand houses, university colleges and Inns of Court. [4]

In his allegorical play Summer's Last Will and Testament, [8] written in about 1592, Thomas Nashe introduces for comic effect a miserly Christmas character who refuses to keep the feast. He is reminded by Summer of the traditional role that he ought to be playing: "Christmas, how chance thou com’st not as the rest, / Accompanied with some music, or some song? / A merry carol would have graced thee well / Thy ancestors have used it heretofore." [9]

Puritan criticisms Edit

Early 17th century writers used the techniques of personification and allegory as a means of defending Christmas from attacks by radical Protestants. [10]

Responding to a perceived decline in the levels of Christmas hospitality provided by the gentry, [11] Ben Jonson in Christmas, His Masque (1616) dressed his Old Christmas in out-of-date fashions: [12] "attir'd in round Hose, long Stockings, a close Doublet, a high crownd Hat with a Broach, a long thin beard, a Truncheon, little Ruffes, white shoes, his Scarffes, and Garters tyed crosse". Surrounded by guards, Christmas asserts his rightful place in the Protestant Church and protests against attempts to exclude him: [13] "Why Gentlemen, doe you know what you doe? ha! would you ha'kept me out? Christmas, old Christmas? Christmas of London, and Captaine Christmas? . they would not let me in: I must come another time! a good jeast, as if I could come more then once a yeare why, I am no dangerous person, and so I told my friends, o'the Guard. I am old Gregorie Christmas still, and though I come out of Popes-head-alley as good a Protestant, as any i'my Parish." [14]

The stage directions to The Springs Glorie, a 1638 court masque by Thomas Nabbes, state, "Christmas is personated by an old reverend Gentleman in a furr'd gown and cappe &c." [10] Shrovetide and Christmas dispute precedence, and Shrovetide issues a challenge: "I say Christmas you are past date, you are out of the Almanack. Resigne, resigne." To which Christmas responds: "Resigne to thee! I that am the King of good cheere and feasting, though I come but once a yeare to raigne over bak't, boyled, roast and plum-porridge, will have being in despight of thy lard-ship." [15]

This sort of character was to feature repeatedly over the next 250 years in pictures, stage plays and folk dramas. Initially known as 'Sir Christmas' or 'Lord Christmas', he later became increasingly referred to as 'Father Christmas'. [10]

Puritan revolution—enter 'Father Christmas' Edit

The rise of puritanism led to accusations of popery in connection with pre-reformation Christmas traditions. [4] When the Puritans took control of government in the mid-1640s they made concerted efforts to abolish Christmas and to outlaw its traditional customs. [16] For 15 years from around 1644, before and during the Interregnum of 1649-1660, the celebration of Christmas in England was forbidden. [16] The suppression was given greater legal weight from June 1647 when parliament passed an Ordinance for Abolishing of Festivals [17] which formally abolished Christmas in its entirety, along with the other traditional church festivals of Easter and Whitsun. [11]

It was in this context that Royalist pamphleteers linked the old traditions of Christmas with the cause of King and Church, while radical puritans argued for the suppression of Christmas both in its religious and its secular aspects. [18] In the hands of Royalist pamphlet writers, Old Father Christmas served as the symbol and spokesman of 'the good old days' of feasting and good cheer, [2] and it became popular for Christmastide's defenders to present him as lamenting past times. [19]

The Arraignment, Conviction and Imprisoning of Christmas (January 1646) describes a discussion between a town crier and a Royalist gentlewoman enquiring after Old Father Christmas who 'is gone from hence'. [16] Its anonymous author, a parliamentarian, presents Father Christmas in a negative light, concentrating on his allegedly popish attributes: "For age, this hoarie headed man was of great yeares, and as white as snow he entred the Romish Kallender time out of mind [he] is old . he was full and fat as any dumb Docter of them all. He looked under the consecrated Laune sleeves as big as Bul-beefe . but, since the catholike liquor is taken from him, he is much wasted, so that he hath looked very thin and ill of late . But yet some other markes that you may know him by, is that the wanton Women dote after him he helped them to so many new Gownes, Hatts, and Hankerches, and other fine knacks, of which he hath a pack on his back, in which is good store of all sorts, besides the fine knacks that he got out of their husbands' pockets for household provisions for him. He got Prentises, Servants, and Schollars many play dayes, and therefore was well beloved by them also, and made all merry with Bagpipes, Fiddles, and other musicks, Giggs, Dances, and Mummings." [20]

The character of 'Christmas' (also called 'father Christmas') speaks in a pamphlet of 1652, immediately after the English Civil War, published anonymously by the satirical Royalist poet John Taylor: The Vindication of Christmas or, His Twelve Yeares' Observations upon the Times. A frontispiece illustrates an old, bearded Christmas in a brimmed hat, a long open robe and undersleeves. Christmas laments the pitiful quandary he has fallen into since he came into "this headlesse countrey". "I was in good hope that so long a misery would have made them glad to bid a merry Christmas welcome. But welcome or not welcome, I am come. " He concludes with a verse: "Lets dance and sing, and make good chear, / For Christmas comes but once a year." [21]

In 1658 Josiah King published The Examination and Tryall of Old Father Christmas (the earliest citation for the specific term 'Father Christmas' recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary). [1] King portrays Father Christmas as a white-haired old man who is on trial for his life based on evidence laid against him by the Commonwealth. Father Christmas's counsel mounts the defence: "Me thinks my Lord, the very Clouds blush, to see this old Gentleman thus egregiously abused. if at any time any have abused themselves by immoderate eating, and drinking or otherwise spoil the creatures, it is none of this old mans fault neither ought he to suffer for it for example the Sun and the Moon are by the heathens worship’d are they therefore bad because idolized? so if any abuse this old man, they are bad for abusing him, not he bad, for being abused." The jury acquits. [22] [23]

Restoration Edit

Following the Restoration in 1660, most traditional Christmas celebrations were revived, although as these were no longer contentious the historic documentary sources become fewer. [24]

In 1678 Josiah King reprinted his 1658 pamphlet with additional material. In this version, the restored Father Christmas is looking better: "[he] look't so smug and pleasant, his cherry cheeks appeared through his thin milk white locks, like [b]lushing Roses vail'd with snow white Tiffany . the true Emblem of Joy and Innocence." [25]

Old Christmass Returnd, a ballad collected by Samuel Pepys, celebrated the revival of festivities in the latter part of the century: "Old Christmass is come for to keep open house / He scorns to be guilty of starving a mouse, / Then come boyes and welcome, for dyet the chief / Plumb pudding, Goose, Capon, minc't pies & Roast beef". [26]

As interest in Christmas customs waned, Father Christmas's profile declined. [2] He still continued to be regarded as Christmas's presiding spirit, although his occasional earlier associations with the Lord of Misrule died out with the disappearance of the Lord of Misrule himself. [2] The historian Ronald Hutton notes, "after a taste of genuine misrule during the Interregnum nobody in the ruling elite seems to have had any stomach for simulating it." [27] Hutton also found "patterns of entertainment at late Stuart Christmases are remarkably timeless [and] nothing very much seems to have altered during the next century either." [27] The diaries of 18th and early 19th century clergy take little note of any Christmas traditions. [24]

In The Country Squire, a play of 1732, Old Christmas is depicted as someone who is rarely-found: a generous squire. The character Scabbard remarks, "Men are grown so . stingy, now-a-days, that there is scarce One, in ten Parishes, makes any House-keeping. . Squire Christmas . keeps a good House, or else I do not know of One besides." When invited to spend Christmas with the squire, he comments "I will . else I shall forget Christmas, for aught I see." [28] Similar opinions were expressed in Round About Our Coal Fire . with some curious Memories of Old Father Christmas Shewing what Hospitality was in former Times, and how little there remains of it at present (1734, reprinted with Father Christmas subtitle 1796). [29]

David Garrick's popular 1774 Drury Lane production of A Christmas Tale included a personified Christmas character who announced "Behold a personage well known to fame / Once lov'd and honour'd – Christmas is my name! /. / I, English hearts rejoic'd in days of yore / for new strange modes, imported by the score, / You will not sure turn Christmas out of door!" [30] [31]

Early records of folk plays Edit

By the late 18th century Father Christmas had become a stock character in the Christmas folk plays later known as mummers plays. During the following century they became probably the most widespread of all calendar customs. [32] Hundreds of villages had their own mummers who performed traditional plays around the neighbourhood, especially at the big houses. [33] Father Christmas appears as a character in plays of the Southern England type, [34] [35] being mostly confined to plays from the south and west of England and Wales. [36] His ritual opening speech is characterised by variants of a couplet closely reminiscent of John Taylor's "But welcome or not welcome, I am come. " from 1652.

The oldest extant speech [36] [37] is from Truro, Cornwall in the late 1780s:

hare comes i ould father Christmas welcom or welcom not
i hope ould father Christmas will never be forgot
ould father Christmas a pair but woance a yare
he lucks like an ould man of 4 score yare [38]
Here comes I, old Father Christmas, welcome or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Old Father Christmas appear[s] but once a year,
He looks like an old man of fourscore year [80]

During the Victorian period Christmas customs enjoyed a significant revival, including the figure of Father Christmas himself as the emblem of 'good cheer'. His physical appearance at this time became more variable, and he was by no means always portrayed as the old and bearded figure imagined by 17th century writers. [4]

'Merry England' view of Christmas Edit

In his poem Marmion of 1808 Walter Scott wrote

"England was merry England, when / Old Christmas brought his sports again. 'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale / 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale A Christmas gambol oft could cheer / The poor man's heart through half the year." [39]

Scott's phrase Merry England has been adopted by historians to describe the romantic notion that there was a golden age of the English past, allegedly since lost, that was characterised by universal hospitality and charity. The notion had a profound influence on the way that popular customs were seen, and most of the 19th century writers who bemoaned the state of contemporary Christmases were, at least to some extent, yearning for the mythical Merry England version. [40]

Thomas Hervey's The Book of Christmas (1836), illustrated by Robert Seymour, exemplifies this view. [41] In Hervey's personification of the lost charitable festival, "Old Father Christmas, at the head of his numerous and uproarious family, might ride his goat through the streets of the city and the lanes of the village, but he dismounted to sit for some few moments by each man's hearth while some one or another of his merry sons would break away, to visit the remote farm-houses or show their laughing faces at many a poor man's door." Seymour's illustration shows Old Christmas dressed in a fur gown, crowned with a holly wreath, and riding a yule goat. [42]

In an extended allegory, Hervey imagines his contemporary Old Father Christmas as a white-bearded magician dressed in a long robe and crowned with holly. His children are identified as Roast Beef (Sir Loin) and his faithful squire or bottle-holder Plum Pudding the slender figure of Wassail with her fount of perpetual youth a 'tricksy spirit' who bears the bowl and is on the best of terms with the Turkey Mumming Misrule, with a feather in his cap the Lord of Twelfth Night under a state-canopy of cake and wearing his ancient crown Saint Distaff looking like an old maid ("she used to be a sad romp but her merriest days we fear are over") Carol singing the Waits and the twin-faced Janus. [43]

Hervey ends by lamenting the lost "uproarious merriment" of Christmas, and calls on his readers "who know anything of the 'old, old, very old, gray-bearded gentleman' or his family to aid us in our search after them and with their good help we will endeavor to restore them to some portion of their ancient honors in England". [44]

Father Christmas or Old Christmas, represented as a jolly-faced bearded man often surrounded by plentiful food and drink, started to appear regularly in illustrated magazines of the 1840s. [2] He was dressed in a variety of costumes and usually had holly on his head, [2] as in these illustrations from the Illustrated London News:

Old Christmas / Father Christmas 1843

Charles Dickens's 1843 novel A Christmas Carol was highly influential, and has been credited both with reviving interest in Christmas in England and with shaping the themes attached to it. [45] A famous image from the novel is John Leech's illustration of the 'Ghost of Christmas Present'. [46] Although not explicitly named Father Christmas, the character wears a holly wreath, is shown sitting among food, drink and wassail bowl, and is dressed in the traditional loose furred gown—but in green rather than the red that later become ubiquitous. [4]

Later 19th century mumming Edit

Old Father Christmas continued to make his annual appearance in Christmas folk plays throughout the 19th century, his appearance varying considerably according to local custom. Sometimes, as in Hervey's book of 1836, [47] he was portrayed (below left) as a hunchback. [48] [49]

One unusual portrayal (below centre) was described several times by William Sandys between 1830 and 1852, all in essentially the same terms: [32] "Father Christmas is represented as a grotesque old man, with a large mask and comic wig, and a huge club in his hand." [50] This representation is considered by the folklore scholar Peter Millington to be the result of the southern Father Christmas replacing the northern Beelzebub character in a hybrid play. [32] [51] A spectator to a Worcestershire version of the St George play in 1856 noted, "Beelzebub was identical with Old Father Christmas." [52]

A mummers play mentioned in The Book of Days (1864) opened with "Old Father Christmas, bearing, as emblematic devices, the holly bough, wassail-bowl, &c". [53] A corresponding illustration (below right) shows the character wearing not only a holly wreath but also a gown with a hood.

A hunchback Old Father Christmas in an 1836 play with long robe, holly wreath and staff.

An 1852 play. The Old Father Christmas character is on the far left.

In a Hampshire folk play of 1860 Father Christmas is portrayed as a disabled soldier: "[he] wore breeches and stockings, carried a begging-box, and conveyed himself upon two sticks his arms were striped with chevrons like a noncommissioned officer." [54]

In the latter part of the 19th century and the early years of the next the folk play tradition in England rapidly faded, [55] and the plays almost died out after the First World War [56] taking their ability to influence the character of Father Christmas with them.

Father Christmas as gift-giver Edit

In pre-Victorian personifications, Father Christmas had been concerned essentially with adult feasting and games. He had no particular connection with children, nor with the giving of presents. [2] [10] But as Victorian Christmases developed into family festivals centred mainly on children, [57] Father Christmas started to be associated with the giving of gifts.

The Cornish Quaker diarist Barclay Fox relates a family party given on 26 December 1842 that featured "the venerable effigies of Father Christmas with scarlet coat & cocked hat, stuck all over with presents for the guests, by his side the old year, a most dismal & haggard old beldame in a night cap and spectacles, then 1843 [the new year], a promising baby asleep in a cradle". [58]

In Britain, the first evidence of a child writing letters to Father Christmas requesting gift has been found in 1895. [59]

Santa Claus crosses the Atlantic Edit

The figure of Santa Claus had originated in the US, drawing at least partly upon Dutch St Nicolas traditions. [10] A New York publication of 1821, A New-Year’s Present, contained an illustrated poem Old Santeclaus with Much Delight in which a Santa figure on a reindeer sleigh brings presents for good children and a "long, black birchen rod" for use on the bad ones. [60] In 1823 came the famous poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, usually attributed to the New York writer Clement Clarke Moore, which developed the character further. Moore's poem became immensely popular [2] and Santa Claus customs, initially localized in the Dutch American areas, were becoming general in the United States by the middle of the century. [48]

The January 1848 edition of Howitt's Journal of Literature and Popular Progress, published in London, carried an illustrated article entitled "New Year's Eve in Different Nations". This noted that one of the chief features of the American New Year's Eve was a custom carried over from the Dutch, namely the arrival of Santa Claus with gifts for the children. Santa Claus is "no other than the Pelz Nickel of Germany . the good Saint Nicholas of Russia . He arrives in Germany about a fortnight before Christmas, but as may be supposed from all the visits he has to pay there, and the length of his voyage, he does not arrive in America, until this eve." [61]

In 1851 advertisements began appearing in Liverpool newspapers for a new transatlantic passenger service to and from New York aboard the Eagle Line's ship Santa Claus, [62] and returning visitors and emigrants to the British Isles on this and other vessels will have been familiar with the American figure. [48] There were some early adoptions in Britain. A Scottish reference has Santa Claus leaving presents on New Year's Eve 1852, with children "hanging their stockings up on each side of the fire-place, in their sleeping apartments, at night, and waiting patiently till morning, to see what Santa Claus puts into them during their slumbers". [63] In Ireland in 1853, on the other hand, presents were being left on Christmas Eve according to a character in a newspaper short story who says ". tomorrow will be Christmas. What will Santa Claus bring us?" [64] A poem published in Belfast in 1858 includes the lines "The children sleep they dream of him, the fairy, / Kind Santa Claus, who with a right good will / Comes down the chimney with a footstep airy . " [65]

A Visit from St. Nicholas was published in England in December 1853 in Notes and Queries. An explanatory note states that the St Nicholas figure is known as Santa Claus in New York State and as Krishkinkle in Pennsylvania. [66]

1854 marked the first English publication of Carl Krinkin or, The Christmas Stocking by the popular American author Susan Warner. [2] The novel was published three times in London in 1854–5, and there were several later editions. [67] Characters in the book include both Santa Claus (complete with sleigh, stocking and chimney), [67] leaving presents on Christmas Eve and—separately—Old Father Christmas. The Stocking of the title tells of how in England, "a great many years ago", it saw Father Christmas enter with his traditional refrain "Oh! here come I, old father Christmas, welcome or not . " He wore a crown of yew and ivy, and he carried a long staff topped with holly-berries. His dress "was a long brown robe which fell down about his feet, and on it were sewed little spots of white cloth to represent snow". [68]

Merger with Santa Claus Edit

As the US-inspired customs became popular in England, Father Christmas started to take on Santa's attributes. [2] His costume became more standardised, and although depictions often still showed him carrying holly, the holly crown became rarer and was often replaced with a hood. [2] [10] It still remained common, though, for Father Christmas and Santa Claus to be distinguished, and as late as the 1890s there were still examples of the old-style Father Christmas appearing without any of the new American features. [69]

Appearances in public Edit

The blurring of public roles occurred quite rapidly. In an 1854 newspaper description of the public Boxing Day festivities in Luton, Bedfordshire, a gift-giving Father Christmas/Santa Claus figure was already being described as 'familiar': "On the right-hand side was Father Christmas's bower, formed of evergreens, and in front was the proverbial Yule log, glistening in the snow . He wore a great furry white coat and cap, and a long white beard and hair spoke to his hoar antiquity. Behind his bower he had a large selection of fancy articles which formed the gifts he distributed to holders of prize tickets from time to time during the day . Father Christmas bore in his hand a small Christmas tree laden with bright little gifts and bon-bons, and altogether he looked like the familiar Santa Claus or Father Christmas of the picture book." [70] Discussing the shops of Regent Street in London, another writer noted in December of that year, "you may fancy yourself in the abode of Father Christmas or St. Nicholas himself." [71]

During the 1860s and 70s Father Christmas became a popular subject on Christmas cards, where he was shown in many different costumes. [49] Sometimes he gave presents and sometimes received them. [49]

An illustrated article of 1866 explained the concept of The Cave of Mystery. In an imagined children's party this took the form of a recess in the library which evoked "dim visions of the cave of Aladdin" and was "well filled . with all that delights the eye, pleases the ear, or tickles the fancy of children". The young guests "tremblingly await the decision of the improvised Father Christmas, with his flowing grey beard, long robe, and slender staff". [72]

From the 1870s onwards, Christmas shopping had begun to evolve as a separate seasonal activity, and by the late 19th century it had become an important part of the English Christmas. [73] The purchasing of toys, especially from the new department stores, became strongly associated with the season. [74] The first retail Christmas Grotto was set up in JR Robert's store in Stratford, London in December 1888, [73] and shopping arenas for children—often called 'Christmas Bazaars'—spread rapidly during the 1890s and 1900s, helping to assimilate Father Christmas/Santa Claus into society. [73]

Sometimes the two characters continued to be presented as separate, as in a procession at the Olympia Exhibition of 1888 in which both Father Christmas and Santa Claus took part, with Little Red Riding Hood and other children's characters in between. [75] At other times the characters were conflated: in 1885 Mr Williamson's London Bazaar in Sunderland was reported to be a "Temple of juvenile delectation and delight. In the well-lighted window is a representation of Father Christmas, with the printed intimation that 'Santa Claus is arranging within.'" [76]

Even after the appearance of the store grotto, it was still not firmly established who should hand out gifts at parties. A writer in the Illustrated London News of December 1888 suggested that a Sibyl should dispense gifts from a 'snow cave', [77] but a little over a year later she had changed her recommendation to a gypsy in a 'magic cave'. [78] Alternatively, the hostess could "have Father Christmas arrive, towards the end of the evening, with a sack of toys on his back. He must have a white head and a long white beard, of course. Wig and beard can be cheaply hired from a theatrical costumier, or may be improvised from tow in case of need. He should wear a greatcoat down to his heels, liberally sprinkled with flour as though he had just come from that land of ice where Father Christmas is supposed to reside." [78]

As secret nocturnal visitor Edit

The nocturnal visitor aspect of the American myth took much longer to become naturalised. From the 1840s it had been accepted readily enough that presents were left for children by unseen hands overnight on Christmas Eve, but the receptacle was a matter of debate, [79] as was the nature of the visitor. Dutch tradition had St Nicholas leaving presents in shoes laid out on 6 December, while in France shoes were filled by Père Noël. [79] The older shoe custom and the newer American stocking custom trickled only slowly into Britain, with writers and illustrators remaining uncertain for many years. [79] Although the stocking eventually triumphed, [79] the shoe custom had still not been forgotten by 1901 when an illustration entitled Did you see Santa Claus, Mother? was accompanied by the verse "Her Christmas dreams / Have all come true / Stocking o'erflows / and likewise shoe." [80]

Before Santa Claus and the stocking became ubiquitous, one English tradition had been for fairies to visit on Christmas Eve to leave gifts in shoes set out in front of the fireplace. [81] [82]

Aspects of the American Santa Claus myth were sometimes adopted in isolation and applied to Father Christmas. In a short fantasy piece, the editor of the Cheltenham Chronicle in 1867 dreamt of being seized by the collar by Father Christmas, "rising up like a Geni of the Arabian Nights . and moving rapidly through the aether". Hovering over the roof of a house, Father Christmas cries 'Open Sesame' to have the roof roll back to disclose the scene within. [83]

It was not until the 1870s that the tradition of a nocturnal Santa Claus began to be adopted by ordinary people. [10] A poem The Baby's Stocking that was syndicated to local newspapers in 1871 took it for granted that readers would be familiar with the custom, and would understand the joke that the stocking might be missed as "Santa Claus wouldn't be looking for anything half so small." [84] On the other hand, when The Preston Guardian published its poem Santa Claus and the Children in 1877 it felt the need to include a long preface explaining exactly who Santa Claus was. [85]

Folklorists and antiquarians were not, it seems, familiar with the new local customs and Ronald Hutton notes that in 1879 the newly formed Folk-Lore Society, ignorant of American practices, was still "excitedly trying to discover the source of the new belief". [10]

In January 1879 the antiquarian Edwin Lees wrote to Notes and Queries seeking information about an observance he had been told about by 'a country person': "On Christmas Eve, when the inmates of a house in the country retire to bed, all those desirous of a present place a stocking outside the door of their bedroom, with the expectation that some mythical being called Santiclaus will fill the stocking or place something within it before the morning. This is of course well known, and the master of the house does in reality place a Christmas gift secretly in each stocking but the giggling girls in the morning, when bringing down their presents, affect to say that Santiclaus visited and filled the stockings in the night. From what region of the earth or air this benevolent Santiclaus takes flight I have not been able to ascertain . " [86] Lees received several responses, linking 'Santiclaus' with the continental traditions of St Nicholas and 'Petit Jesus' (Christkind), [87] but no-one mentioned Father Christmas and no-one was correctly able to identify the American source. [48] [88]

By the 1880s the American myth had become firmly established in the popular English imagination, the nocturnal visitor sometimes being known as Santa Claus and sometimes as Father Christmas (often complete with a hooded robe). [10] An 1881 poem imagined a child awaiting a visit from Santa Claus and asking "Will he come like Father Christmas, / Robed in green and beard all white? / Will he come amid the darkness? / Will he come at all tonight?" [10] [89] The French writer Max O'Rell, who evidently thought the custom was established in the England of 1883, explained that Father Christmas "descend par la cheminée, pour remplir de bonbons et de joux les bas que les enfants ont suspendus au pied du lit." [comes down the chimney, to fill with sweets and games the stockings that the children have hung from the foot of the bed]. [88] And in her poem Agnes: A Fairy Tale (1891), Lilian M Bennett treats the two names as interchangeable: "Old Santa Claus is exceedingly kind, / but he won't come to Wide-awakes, you will find. / Father Christmas won't come if he can hear / You're awake. So to bed my bairnies dear." [90] The commercial availability from 1895 of Tom Smith & Co's Santa Claus Surprise Stockings indicates how deeply the American myth had penetrated English society by the end of the century. [91]

Representations of the developing character at this period were sometimes labelled 'Santa Claus' and sometimes 'Father Christmas', with a tendency for the latter still to allude to old-style associations with charity and with food and drink, as in several of these Punch illustrations:

Rewriting Our History, Changing Our Traditions

He's the Saddam Hussein of economics. He's one of the "fat cats" that the president says causes the problem. He was on the board of governors of the Federal Reserve from 2002 to 2005 and was chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 2005 to January 2006. In February 2006 he was appointed as a member of the board for a 14-year term and to a four-year term as chairman.

Wall Street and banking CEOs are crucified, but the government guy who's overseen the tanking of our economy is applauded?

Bernanke's victory was bad enough, but the other finalists were even worse. He was up against — I'm not kidding: Usain Bolt (he runs faster than most people) Gen. Stanley McCrystal (who was ignored by Barack Obama) Nancy Pelosi Steve Jobs and — my favorite finalist — the Chinese worker. Which one? The one that dipped our toys in lead paint or the one that poisoned our dog food?

I could go for the Chinese worker, if Time made it the slave that you are now slave to, but that's not the angle they were going for.

Fast runners, iPod creators, and people employed in Chinese sweatshops making iPods. Hmm, who is missing in this equation? I can't think of any protests or anything like that. There weren't many disagreements with this president. Progressives are jamming bills down our throats and America is just taking it. No questions asked.

How did Time miss the tea party movement or the 9/12 movement?

Time's year in pictures review doesn't include any pictures of either the 9/12 rally or the tax day tea party protests all over the country. But these are some of the most memorable pictures of 2009.

Cindy Sheehan brought 40 people to Crawford, Texas and she was a media darling and included in Time's 2005 year-end review. How do you tell the full, complete story of America and totally miss this massive voice of opposition?

This is the movement that has, so far, stopped the government health care debacle from passing there's no one else standing in the way. Democrats have the 60 votes they need. What else is holding things up? There is no reason for a Democrat to vote against it unless they fear for their re-election chances. And because of you, they do.

At the very least, I'd expect the tea party protesters and 9/12ers to be included in the way I've grown accustomed to journalists covering them: The tea-bagger people standing in the way of reform.

But it's even worse than just being slandered with lame sex jokes. Millions of Americans united in a belief that government is out of control and needs to scale back the spending, the corruption, the special interests and who are publicly demonstrating their frustration at health care town halls, on tax day and on 9/12, they aren't being mocked anymore. They are being completely ignored. You don't even exist.

But this is not unexpected for people who take the Obamas at their word. Listen to what Michelle Obama has said in the past:


MICHELLE OBAMA: "Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices we are going to have to change our conversation we're going to have to change our traditions, our history we're going to have to move into a different place as a nation."


Change our traditions and change our history. What did she mean by that? I think we are starting to see it.

Changing history means not just telling the same old tall tales of the free market system and the Founders. No, it's the history according to progressives. And it's not merely spinning the old facts it's taking current events and molding them to fit the progressive agenda and, in this case, completely ignoring history.

What else did she say? Change traditions. Here are some facts:

92 percent of Americans believe in God

83 percent believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays

66 percent say they will celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ

Only 6 percent don't celebrate Christmas at all 3 percent were not sure how to answer

That's what we believe. Those are our traditions. But here's what happens on the ground:

Teachers of a second grade class in Taunton, Massachusetts gave an assignment to their class: Make a Christmas drawing, something that reminds you of the holidays. One of the 8-year-old students knew exactly what he'd draw. He and his family had just visited nearby National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette where they have crucifixion statues. So, the little boy drew a stick figure Jesus hanging on the cross. Makes sense: Christmas is, after all, Jesus' birthday and the crucifix was fresh in his mind.

Now, imagine an 8-year-old boy. He must have been so excited to see how the teachers would react. Like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story," eager to win his teacher's approval of the Red Rider story he concocted. And just like when Ralphie's teacher responded with a "You'll shoot your eyes out" reaction, this boy was also completely devastated. Instead of reacting with praise, the teachers immediately sent him home and ordered that he undergo a psychological evaluation.

Where is the common sense? The principle says "school safety protocols" in place that were followed. They had a safety net in place — great — but they still thought a picture of Jesus fit in the risk category?

Let's go to New Jersey: A third grader was getting ready for quiet time at school. During this time the kids can read a book, sleep, rest or whatever. This little girl, her name is Mariah, decides she's going to read her bible. The teacher walks over to Mariah and tells her that the bible is not appropriate reading material and she has to put it away. Mariah was upset and confused.

See what's happening? Ninety-two percent believe in God 64 percent celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. But God is "inappropriate" and what your parents have shown you is so risky you may need a psychological exam?

It doesn't match the real values of the country. But removing God does fit the progressive agenda.

Change history. Change traditions. But you can't just wipe them out, you need to replace it with something. And we are constantly being force-fed the progressive agenda through intentional propaganda:

NEA art propaganda: Obama-care regularly polls worse than Hillary-care, so they "create" the illusion of support through art

Those who stand up for the Constitution: Free speech isn't highlighted — no, no! You are part of some crazy right-wing militia

If you aren't convinced global warming is man-made and it might be that giant ball of fire in the sky slightly fluctuating from time to time, you are a flat-Earther. You think the moon landing was fake? You are a Holocaust denier!

If you believe in lower taxes for all, are you an opposing voice? Nope, you must hate poor people

Tea party-goer? Well, you don't even exist. You've been crossed out of the history books

But if you are crossed out, who is being put in?

Dateline, Wisconsin: Teachers at a Wisconsin schools will have to teach the history of organized labor, under a bill signed by Governor Jim Doyle. Doyle added that he was "happy to sign the bill so students would understand the importance of the labor movement."

I know the cheese unions were crucial in building Wisconsin, but really? Let's see, which has been better for Wisconsin: Jesus Christ or the labor unions?

Imagine if the governor came out and signed a bill forcing kids to learn about the positives of Jesus in textbooks? The ACLU would be in full crisis mode.

Where are the teachers? When a politician can not only say what to write — because of a special interest group — but also the importance of it? When they are out of power, who gets their turn to indoctrinate? Every member of the teachers union should be screaming at the top of their lungs.

They are changing our history, changing our traditions and indoctrinating our children.

Watch the video: Leo Messi shows his magic in PSG training