Greeting cards for the holidays

Consider ordering some  of these beautiful cards. They are blank inside, so you can craft your own message to each recipient.

Card shows a christmas bulb that looks like the Earth seen from space

 

 

Happy Holidays, everyone!

You can get your science-oriented cards from here: Science Gallery Christmas cards.

An atom symbol with a snowflake in the centre: card says All I want fo Christmas is a rationalist view of a Universe governed by physical laws"

All I Want for Christmas

Happy Holidays! Ho, ho, ho!

And a “Ho, ho, ho!” to you and yours. You can buy these sciency cards at Not on the High Street.

ho3-christmas-cards

The ‘war on Christmas’ is older than we think

I just found out that the War on Christmas has been going on much longer than most of us realize. Not only were Christmas trees a pagan German tradition introduced to England by Victoria’s husband; not only does the holiday itself have deep pagan roots in the turning of the year; but also the first Christmas card was non-religious!

First Christmas card, illustrated by John Horsley

It was printed in 1843 for Henry Cole, who didn’t have time to write long letters to all his friends. The card is illustrated by John Horsley with two scenes of charity and gift-giving to the poor, flanking a large holiday dinner in which almost everyone is holding a glass of wine. One of those too young to hold her own glass, a little girl of about three, is being given a drink from her mother’s glass. There’s a seasonal greeting and a lot of ivy twined around the scenes. No Christ, no manger, no wise men, no Star of Bethlehem, no religion. The remaining Puritans objected to the scene of jollity and booze and destroyed the original cards as harmful to society. Consequently, only ten of the First Christmas Card are known to exist (information from the BBC’s Victorian Farm Christmas).

However, the idea quickly caught on among other busy folk with lots of friends; by 1877 the Brits were sending 4.5 million each year. The custom was spread by the new rail travel for sending the post and lower postal rates for Christmas cards and postcards (more from the BBC’s Victorian Farm Christmas).

I think it’s clear that the essence of the midwinter holiday is a shared feast to cheer us up during the dark days of the winter solstice, including sharing with the less fortunate members of the community. Long may we celebrate it!

Extreme pumpkins!

There are always a few people who both use their imaginations and raise pumpkin-carving to an art form. Check out the 2010 contest winners at Extreme Pumpkins.

The Octoberpus at Extreme Pumpkins is from the 2006 conteset.

 

Extreme pumpkin carving

Carving pumpkins for Hallowe’en shouldn’t be a chore; it should be a pleasure and an art. This year’s crop is particularly good: Extreme pumpkins. One relatively new idea is to let the pumpkin dry out or even start to rot.

Happy Newtonmas!

Yes, it’s also Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday. Newton was the famous scientist who proved that one could be a genius and also a right shit. “Newton’s Tyranny,” which tells how Newton did his best to torpedo, sidetrack, delay, and suppress the discoveries of Stephen Gray and John Flamsteed.

Hat tip to Theo Bromine at Thinking For Free for today’s Newtonmas carol:

God rest ye merry, physicists
Let nothing ye dismay.
Remember Isaac Newton
Was born on Christmas day.
His gravity and calculus
And f=ma
Oh pillars of physics and math, physics and math,
Oh pillars of physics and math

And hat tip to John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts for the concept of Newtonmas (or Newtonmass).

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