AceHistoryDesk – In Latin the word ‘advent’ (adventus) means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’, and it was a period of time before the new year during the 4th and 5th centuries that involved prayer, penance and fasting before Christian converts being baptised. The exact opposite of the over-indulgence and excess that usually takes place in the run-up to Christmas.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.06: 2023: Sky History Christmas News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
The tradition of marking the days until Christmas on an advent calendar likely started in 19th century Germany. Though the question of who the original inventor is still contested.
One strong contender for the title of ‘the inventor of the advent calendar’ is Gerhard Lang, or more specifically, Gerhard Lang’s mother. Incidentally, the other contender was an Austrian Protestant who, in 1902, sold calendars from his bookshop, but his invention didn’t come with anything edible and everyone knows an advent calendar MUST have chocolate at least. More on that later.
Anyway, Gerhard’s enterprising mother attached twenty-four cookies onto a square of cardboard for the young Gerhard to scoff in the days leading up to the festive season. When he was all grown up, Gerhard remembered his mum’s inspired idea and went on to manufacture his very own advent calendars in 1908 with his business partner Reichhold. He didn’t bother with the cookies but introduced the concept of concealing little pictures hidden behind little closed doors.
Unfortunately, the business came to an end in 1930 but the concept had caught on. A few years after Reichold & Lang went into liquidation, the Sankt Johannis Printing Company (among others) started producing advent calendars but, in this instance, with a distinctive twist on the original concept: goodbye twenty-four little doors concealing little pictures (and the vague possibility of chocolate) hello twenty-four little doors concealing biblical verse.
This was short-lived with the arrival of the Nazis who banned advent calendars in the 1940s, preferring to call them ‘pre-Christmas calendars’ and replaced the biblical verse with swastikas and exploding tanks.
After the war, the advent calendar had a renaissance and, for the first time in its history, began to appear outside of Germany, largely thanks to Richard Sellmer of Stuttgart (his company still produces more than a million calendars a year in 25 countries) who, in 1946, exported the tradition of printing advent calendars depicting snowy, winter scenes; motifs that have come to define the aesthetics of Christmas.
And now for the six-million-dollar question, when did chocolate begin appearing in advent calendars?
There are rumours that they appeared in the latter half of the 1950s, but it didn’t catch on. Even when Cadbury began to commercially produce chocolate advent calendars in 1971, no one was overly taken with this fusion of glitter-sprayed cardboard and little renditions of Santa immortalised in chocolate. It took a further two decades before Cadbury’s put chocolate advent calendars into continuous production, which seems almost absurd when you think about how many chocolate advent calendars there are in the shops, right now.
But what if you’re up for something more than suspicious-looking bits of whiteish, year-old chocolate lurking behind poorly functioning perforated cardboard portals? Don’t despair! The boffins at Porsche have come up with an advent calendar that’ll set you back more than a million dollars! I’d love to tell you more, but I’ve hit my word count. Merry Christmas,
AceBreakingNews – The Holdovers opens in the UK on 19 January.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.06: 2023: BBC News By Colin Paterson: Entertainment correspondent: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
I am sitting in a corridor at the Corinthia Hotel in London, waiting to interview actress Da’vine Joy Randolph about her new film The Holdovers, in which she stars alongside Paul Giamatti.
At this exact moment she wins an award.
Up it pops on social media, that 3,500 miles away, the New York Film Critics Circle have named her best supporting actress for this very role. She plays Mary Lamb, a grieving cook who works at a New England boarding school.
Set over Christmas in 1970, Lamb is sharing the mistletoe with a misanthrope. The school’s history teacher (Giamatti) has been tasked with looking after the holdovers – the pupils who are staying at school over the holidays instead of going home to their families.
As her previous interview ends, I can hear Randolph (best known as Detective Williams in Only Murders in the Building and Lady Reed in Dolemite Is My Name) being informed by her assistant about the breaking news of her win. I enter the room to see her beaming a huge smile.
“They just told me,” she laughs. “I literally just found out as you walked in. My brain is not computing it. I don’t even know what that means.”
Even better for Randolph is the fact that the award will be presented at a gala dinner on the 3 January, so she has not even missed her big moment by having to meet me.
The Holdovers is set in a boarding school over the Christmas holidays in 1970
Next door, 20 minutes later, I am able to share an update about Randolph’s win with her co-star Paul Giamatti. His response? “That’s fantastic. Awesome.”
Over the next few months, it seems likely that Giamatti will also be in the running for awards, thanks to this film.
The film has broadly gone down well with critics. The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber said while the movie “is not without its flaws, it is an engaging and often touching comic drama that builds power as it moves toward its immensely satisfying conclusion”.
Variety’s Peter Debruge added: “Peer beyond the perfectly satisfying Christmas-movie surface, and The Holdovers is a film about class and race, grief and resentment, opportunity and entitlement. It’s that rare exception to the oft-heard complaint that “they don’t make ’em like they used to”.
Interestingly, despite being set at Christmas time, The Holdovers is not being released in the UK until late January, hoping to capitalise on awards success, rather than festive feelings.
The Holdovers sees Giamatti reunited with the director Alexander Payne for the first time since 2004’s Sideways – the hugely successful movie which took wine tasting and threw in a mid-life crisis and a hatred of Merlot. In real life this had economic consequences for the drink industry.
“A year or so after it came out, Tom Church [his co-star] and I were asked to do ads for the Merlot growers of America to try to rescue the sales,” he reminisces, “but we didn’t do it.
“Apparently only now have they recovered.”
Giamatti, best known for his role in Sideways, was seen on the picket line during the recent Hollywood actors’ strike
The Holdovers continues a trend which has been a huge part of Giamatti’s career in films such as Sideways, American Splendor and Barney’s Version – bringing humanity to people who on a first look are not that easy to like. His character, Paul Hunham, certainly falls into that category.
“I do end up playing a lot of these not terribly nice, complicated people,” he agrees. “I do wonder why that is? Whether it’s something somebody saw me do early on and then they’d like to see you do it again. Or whether it’s something I bring to the parts, I don’t know.”
He continues: “The interesting thing about a lot of them and with this guy too, is that he’s not wrong about a lot of the things he says, it’s just the way he goes about it.”
One aspect that makes the character particularly memorable is his startlingly realistic lazy eye.
“It’s hard to tell which one it is, isn’t it?” replies Giamatti with a degree of mischief, when I put the theory to him that the afflicted eye changes side during the film.
“It’s movie magic and acting prowess. That’s what I’d like to think it is.”
Indeed, the end credits feature a contact lens technician – Zach Ripps.
Giamatti has only previously been nominated for an Oscar once – best supporting actor for Cinderella Man in 2006
Earlier, Randolph gave me her theory as to why The Holdovers is generating so much awards buzz. “Something that Alexander Payne does so beautifully is that he can take ordinary people and make them so special,” she says. “There is something about how he makes these people feel so real and tangible.”
She explains that she was offered the part without an audition as Payne had seen her opposite Eddie Murphy in Dolemite. “His theory is that he prefers to work with people with comedic chops, because he feels more comfortable that they can pull out the dramatics, but not necessarily, in his opinion, the other way around.”
The only problem? She did not recognise the director’s name. “I asked him to please share the titles of some of the movies he had done, so I could watch them and get to know him better.
“He was very humble and said, ‘I did this thing called Sideways’ and I went ‘When that guy’s drunk the whole time and running around the vineyard. Wait, you did The Descendants? Where George Clooney is running around in flip-flops screaming?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah that’s me.’ And I went, ‘Oh I like your stuff.'”
Laughing, I suggest that her “one sentence movie reviews” should become a regular thing.
“Exactly!” she enthuses.
Giamatti says he hopes the Holdovers has the potential to become a Christmas film staple
Randolph felt so protective of her role as mother whose son has just been killed in Vietnam, that she insisted that she was not called a school cook, but “a head chef running a culinary department”. She also asked to do as much of the cooking in the film herself, even going as far as choosing the Christmas menu that is served on screen.
It would seem likely that she is the only actor in the running for this year’s big awards who “pre-chopped all the vegetables”. But it is this authenticity which shines through in a performance which is already being rewarded.
Finally, I ask her how ready she is for the campaigning ahead? She already has a plan in place: “Lots of naps. Vitamins, staying healthy and sleeping on planes. That’s all you can do. Save your energy, because at this point it’s a marathon.”
The Christmas canon
Paul Giamatti believes that The Holdovers could also receive a different type of award all together, one without any trophy, by becoming a Christmas classic.
“I think it is precisely the king of film that people will watch at Christmas over and over again. Alexander [Payne} makes movies that I think will stand the test of time.”
And Giamatti’s favourite films in the Christmas canon?
“It’s a Wonderful Life is a great movie. Elf is a great movie. And there’s a more obscure one that I like and wish it was better known. It’s a musical from the 70s called Scrooge with Albert Finney. I would urge people to watch that.”
Tellingly, Scrooge’s stand out song has the refrain: “I hate people”.
Paul Giamatti, a true believer in the joy of a grumpy Christmas.
AceHistoryDesk – Gift-giving at Christmas is a relatively new tradition, thanks to the Victorians making it popular in the 1840s. That doesn’t mean people haven’t had plenty of opportunities to take it to extremes. If celebrities gifting each other waterfalls and super yachts seems outlandish, get a load of these Christmas crackers.
Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.06: 2023: Sky History Christmas News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link https://t.me/+PuI36tlDsM7GpOJe
1. Dali’s harp
Musical instruments aren’t the wildest of Christmas presents but when Surrealist Salvador Dali gets involved all bets are off! Dali was openly a huge fan of the comedic movies by the Marx Brothers. He even described the aptly named mime artist and harpist, Harpo Marx, as one of the ‘three great Surrealists’, naming Cecil B. Demille and Walt Disney as the other two.
When they met in 1936, it turned out Harpo was also a huge fan of Dali’s work and the two quickly became friends. That Christmas, Salvador sent Harpo a full-size harp, with his own twist of course. It arrived wrapped in cellophane with spoons for tuning knobs, cutlery glued all over the frame and strings made of barbed wire.
Delighted with his gift, Harpo wasted no time sending back a photo of him pretending to play the harp with bandaged fingers. Two months later, Dali travelled to America at Harpo’s behest to sketch him with his harp, and a lobster on his head, naturally.
2. Queen Victoria’s nudes
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s romantic and risqué gifts to each other are well documented. The raunchy paintings and portraits of a personal nature commissioned by Queen Victoria included works by painters such as William Dyce, for their home Osborne House. Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s ‘Florinda’, depicting an erotic bevvy of semi-clad women, still hangs facing what would have been Victoria and Albert’s writing desks.
Although Victoria was decidedly more au faire about nudity than Albert, he was an enthusiastic recipient of these gifts and even had a statue of himself in the guise of a Greek warrior commissioned for Victoria, which she loved. Albert however found it a little too revealing and recommissioned a more ‘covered’ version for display at Buckingham Palace.
No wonder they had nine children!
3. The gift of liberty
In 1865, French anti-slavery activist and careful follower of American politics, Edouard de Laboulaye made a proposition to deliver a Christmas gift to America commemorating the centennial of their independence and continued friendship with France. His friend and sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, began bringing Laboulaye’s vision to life in 1870.
In June 1885, the 225-ton statue of the Roman goddess Libertas, standing at 305 feet tall, arrived in New York to await the completion of her pedestal. The statue’s full name is ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’and was symbolic of the ideas Napoleon III had tried to suppress during his reign in France.
In 1886, assembly began on Bedloe Island starting with Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel’s iron framework. The rich copper brown statue was officially unveiled on 28th October 1886, clutching a tablet inscribed July 4 1776. Now more widely recognised by the blue-green patina which developed over her first 25 years in New York Harbour, The Statue of Liberty remains the largest Christmas gift ever given.
During Christmas of 1914, five months into the hostilities of World War I, something miraculous happened along the 400 mile stretch of land between France and the North Sea known as the Western Front. While fighting continued in some areas, widespread unofficial Christmas ceasefires broke out between the opposing troops. Amidst one of the most violent conflicts in human history, the artillery fell silent and roughly 100,000 troops from both sides laid down their arms.
In some areas, the ceasefires allowed little more than recovering fallen soldiers. In others, men from both sides sang each other carols and even ventured out of their trenches to chat and exchange small gifts or souvenirs like buttons. There are even accounts of soldiers getting a haircut! Not to mention partaking in the odd game of footie.
Alfred Anderson of the 1st/5th Battalion Black Watch recalled the eeriness of the ceasefires after living with the constant noise of battle. He also commented, ‘The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.’
One can’t help but wonder how many men who would’ve died that day made it home thanks to those pockets of Christmas peace.
So many 👑of Isaiah’s prophesies look forward to the coming of the Messiah! It is no wonder that we read so many of them during Advent and Lent.👑 In today’s passage, we read not only the virtues that the Messiah will possess, but also the gifts that we are given by the Holy Spirit. ⭐If you were to ask for just one of them today, which would it be? ⭐👑🌟👑🌟
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