Christmas

Join NHPR's Rick Ganley and Sean Hurley for an old-timey hour of Christmas stories and memories. This special will become one of your family's favorite holiday listening traditions!

Tune in for the broadcast at 1 PM on December 24th, or listen right here:

Holiday Tales and Traditions

Dec 22, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

This year, Christmas Eve and the start of Hanukkah fall on the same day, a rare aligning of the Gregorian and Lunar calendars.  And so, we'll explore the customs and origins of these holidays -- the symbols they share, how they differ, and how much they've borrowed from each other - and from more ancient, Pagan celebrations.


Malmark Handbells

If you need a break from baking, wrapping and card-writing, you can immerse yourself in one of the many seasonal performances on offer this weekend.

Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Musical, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.  An adaptation of the children’s book by Barbara Robinson, this “bad kids crash local Christmas pageant and chaos ensues” is high energy and madcap.

Sean Hurley

Some people get their trees at the supermarket, some at Christmas tree farms.  Some cut them down in the National Forest.  They take them home and get out the tinsel and the ornaments and the lights. But in some New Hampshire parts, not everyone brings a tree home.

Some people like to decorate Christmas trees in the wild.

Producer's note: As with every Sean Hurley story, we really recommend giving this a listen!

From the Hatbox’s adaptation of a Christmas Carol to a pantomime version of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse to the reasons why, after 83 years, the Peterborough Players are offering their first winter season, NHPR’s Sean Hurley has a holiday theater round-up for the month of December. 

Sean Hurley

There might not be any snow on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start getting into the holiday spirit.  Premiering tonight at the Hatbox Theater, a new adaptation of Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”.  NHPR’s Sean Hurley went to a dress rehearsal of the show and is happy to report that Scrooge is alive and well and living in Concord – at least for the next two weeks.  

 A New Hampshire town that said it wouldn't be decorated with holiday lights this season because of code issues with a utility now has a glimmer of hope.

The Portsmouth Herald reports that Exeter town officials have been talking to Unitil and are looking to get an electrician to install a needed meter and utility pole panel so they can set up their lighted garlands.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

Sean Hurley

Up in Jackson around this time of year you can climb aboard a horse drawn Austrian sleigh and ride through town collecting handmade chocolates from local merchants.  NHPR's Sean Hurley went along on the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour and sends us this.

Even though Kathleen Driscoll has to sit all day in a gazebo beside a roaring fire she says she has no trouble resisting the bowl of handmade chocolates before her.  "I don't like chocolate," she says, "I'm not a chocolate fan. If it was birthday cake I'd eat it!"

Gerald Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'

Dec 24, 2015
Serge / Flickr/CC

We're listening back to a seasonal favorite, our 2005 conversation with Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens's great-great-grandson and an actor. He has been touring America for the past several years with his one-man performance of "A Christmas Carol," and we spoke with him about the legacy of his namesake and the magic of "A Christmas Carol." He also performed a handful of scenes from his show.

Phil Long via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/b1H21c

Last winter researchers set off for Norway’s northern reaches where the sun barely rises above the horizon to find out how residents cope with the cold and darkness and discovered something remarkable. On this Solstice day, we reveal the Norwegian secret to enjoying a harsh winter. Plus, how Granite Staters feel about the lack of snow this holiday season. Then, for some parents, Christmas raises a conundrum – how to navigate the magical world of Santa. 

It's Official: This is the Best Holiday Song EVER

Dec 21, 2015

After a contentious battle, our first ever, December Madness Holiday Song Showdown winner has been crowned: White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Poor She & Him didn't stand a chance against Bing; it was a landslide victory.

Maybe it's because the weather outside hasn't been too frightful and Jack Frost hasn't been doing much nipping at our noses here on the East Coast. Or maybe when it comes down to it, a classic song sung by a classic crooner is what we really want to hear come December. 

A big thank you to everyone who participated, and to everyone who shared their picks for the holiday song they can't live without. We've compiled a list of most of those songs below  so you can create your very own, Word of Mouth crowd sourced holiday playlist. (We left out Pump up the Jam and Stairway to Heaven because we're pretty sure we were being punked with those choices.)

Christian Kellermann

A rite of passage for many kids this time of year is a visit with Santa. And that usually means a trip to the mall. But for parents with kids who have autism or other sensory disorders, a rambunctious mall is the last place they want to be.

In Merrimack, kids have another option—  a quieter visit with what’s called a “Sensitive Santa.”

From a distance, he’s your typical Santa. He wears the puffy red suit and belts out a laugh that’s as hearty as any other St. Nick.

But up close, his demeanor is more calming.

Milly via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8QM5Sg

Since they were first introduced in 1847, postage stamps have become a staple of American life and taste. On today’s show,  a look at America’s most memorable stamps, and why some were beloved, while others were surprisingly contentious. Plus, what happens when a pro-wrestler abandons the ring for Santa’s sleigh?

As volunteers fan out across the state for the annual Christmas Bird Count, they’re likely to see two noteworthy species down from the north this year. Both are named "Crossbills" for unique bills that actually do cross, all the better to pry seeds from a conifer cone.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Members of the Concord Community Music School’s Scholarship Vocal Ensemble performed Christmas songs for members of the Executive Council Tuesday morning.

You can listen here to their performances of "The First Noel" and "Joy To The World."

Brady Carlson, NHPR

We all have our holiday traditions – family dinners, decorating, songs, presents... or, in one particular case, doing calculations about some of the most famous parts of the holidays.

The Ferguson decision, Eric Garner protests, and immigration are all topics we avoid at the holiday table, but opinions run free on Facebook. On today’s show what do you do when your Facebook friends make racist posts?

Plus, think ice fishing is for people who like to drink and dislike their families? The fishing nerds say the times they have-a-changed…

Also today, bad taste among the British; we’ll review the UK traditions of really bad Christmas number ones.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? What was left out of the song was Rudolph's New Hampshire connection.

Amy via flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes considering radical medical treatments require getting over the ick factor. On today’s show, how transplanting fecal matter from one person to another has saved lives, especially for those with antibiotic resistant digestive disorders, such as clostridium difficile, or C-Diff.

Then, Christmas is next week, a festival of lights, decorated trees, parties, and for some parents, the Santa conundrum…from to elf on a shelf to carrots for Rudolph, we’ll navigate the magical world of Santa.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Last week, a GOP staffer resigned after political Facebook faux-pas - criticizing President Obama’s daughters for dressing like teenagers. On today’s show, we’ll take a look back at the long and fraught history of judging the President’s kids.

Then, these days just about every coffee shop, bookstore, and restaurant touts a free Wi-Fi hotspot – but at what cost? We’ll find out the hidden dangers of public Wi-Fi.

Plus, the industry secret behind the robust flavor of orange juice.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Courtesy the WWE/Sean Hurley for NHPR

In late November, they begin to arrive. In malls, outside stores, at company parties across the country. A deluge of Santas. We don't often stop to wonder who the men are beneath the red stocking caps. And sometimes, Santa has a secret he wants to keep from us, too. 

Producer's note: While you might be tempted to read this story instead of listening to it, we recommend listening first...and reading and perusing photos later. It's worth it, we promise. 

Brady Carlson, NHPR

This month for Foodstuffs I’ve been talking with New Hampshire bakers about what they do at the holidays. This week, it’s my turn. And I’ve got a very special baker working with me - my two year old son, Owen, who has a special message for you:  “Hello, people! I’m making cookies people!’

Here's What It Would Take To Be Santa Each Christmas

Dec 24, 2013

It is perhaps the greatest scientific conundrum of our time – how does Santa do it all, getting all those toys under the tree for kids each Christmas?

Amanda Loder / NHPR

New Hampshire’s Christmas tree farms are mostly very small operations—even by Granite State standards.  

Sean Hurley

For the last 3 years, NHPR's Sean Hurley and his family get a $5 permit to cut down their Christmas Tree in the White Mountain National Forest and every year, as Sean explains in this audio postcard, they run into the same problem. 

We walk beside an ice snagged brook looking for the balsam fir we tagged with a purple ribbon the month before.  My wife Lois leads us along, interpreting the wildlife signs as we go.

Affendaddy via flickr Creative Commons

Maybe it’s the repetition, or maybe the obligatory cheeriness, but there’s something about hearing holiday songs that you don’t like that rankles much more deeply than other assaults on the senses.  We asked listeners to share their favorite seasonal tunes on our Facebook page, along with the ones they hate.

mariahcarey.com

The song, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey was released in 1994, and has become a Christmas standard, consistently topping the billboard holiday charts. Despite the sleigh load of holiday albums released every winter, there hasn’t been an original holiday single with the staying power of Mariah Carey’s hit for nineteen years.

So, has our culture stopped welcoming new holiday songs? Has our Christmas carol quota been met?  Chris Klimek, is here to weigh in, his article for Slate:  “All I Want For Christmas Is A New Christmas Song,” pretty much says it all.

Sherwin Sleeves

Christmas songs can quickly puncture the spirit of the season with deep rancor. NHPR’s Sean Hurley found this out for himself, when he decided to compose a new Christmas carol. Sean's song, “The Christmas La La Song” was picked up by Sirius XM shock jocks Opie and Anthony. We’ll let Sean pick it up from there. And a reminder that these are the kind of radio personalities that love to inflame…

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