How Did the Snowman Connect to Christmas?

outdoor snowmen

Both the “Christmas” tree and sometimes life size snowmen originated in pagan cultures.  Snowman documentation dates as far back as the Middle Ages.  Before that, we can only assume that in the dark times of winter, humans were creating art with anything available, including snow.  According to Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman, the snowman’s earliest known representation is in the 1380 Book of Hours in the Koninkijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, Netherlands.

Continue reading “How Did the Snowman Connect to Christmas?”

Before He Was Santa, Was He Sinterklaas?

santa sleigh

Dutch Influences in the Story of Santa

It is believed that Santa is a derivative of the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas, which is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas was described as a serious-looking older man with a long white beard, who wears a red cape, rides a white horse and carries a large red book filled with names of children who have been naughty or nice. Sinterklaas was said to travel with an apprentice called Piet.

Before the Book of Naughty and Nice

Santa’s helpers either listened at the chimney or on rooftops. Then Santa’s helper would report back to Santa the goings on in the homes. With this information Santa would decide who was worthy of a reward. In some stories, it was his helper Piet, in other stories it was two ravens named Huginn and Muninn, who listened on Santa’s behalf. When the focus shifted to children is unknown, but it is possible that when the fable of Santa was Christianized, it may have been in that time. Eventually, instead of Santa’s helpers listening for Santa, it was inferred that Santa, simply knew if a child was naughty or nice and Santa kept track of it in his large red book. Continue reading “Before He Was Santa, Was He Sinterklaas?”


Thanks to our wonderful customers, both new and returning, we had a successful 2013 season. Many of our website visitors already know this, as they have found their product choices sold out. We are working on re-stocking and expect to have most items in inventory between March 1 and May 15. A few items will not arrive until mid July.

In the meantime, we are offering our “Pay Later” Layaway purchase plan, as explained on our website and a pre-order option which protects the customer from possible price increases in product and shipping costs, with payment in advance. A pre-order customer is guaranteed not to be disappointed by finding an item sold out for the season as early as November 1.

We are improving our packaging by providing more external protection and cushioning against occasional rough handling by the courier and trucking companies. We will also be offering more  truck shipping options including priority, guaranteed day and time and “white glove” special handling which include inside delivery, product set up and removal of pallet and shipping material. For ground and courier shipments we will be offering more  products with flat rate and free shipping.

In 2014, we are introducing a number of new and redesigned products. There will be new dog statues, animals and saints for our Saint Francis Garden site and new Soldier/Nutcracker and Santa figures and redesigned Nativity figures for Christmas Night site. We will publish more details and photos of these as they come out of our factories

We are improving the speed and functionality of our websites and shopping baskets and creating sites that are equally at home on smart phones, tablets,  PC’s and Mac’s.

We will continue to update these posts, particularly as we are able to announce and display our new and redesigned products.


Our business is mostly about Christmas. So when Labor Day is gone, Columbus Day is on the horizon and the leaves are turning and then falling, our excitement builds as we become busier and busier with calls and orders for our Nativities , Nutcrackers, Santa and Toy Soldiers.santa-sleigh-reindeer

Since I like to cook, the change of seasons means a change in the kind of dishes I prepare. Gone are the salads and lobster rolls, steamers and burgers on the grill. Instead we eat roasted chicken with root vegetables, chicken fricassee, steak and fries and salmon prepared several different ways. Roasted duck is a favorite and various hearty pastas, including a sinfully good carbonara with eggs and cream. I had better stop. This list is making me hungry.

Other pleasures to anticipate are the special seasonal items made by our local bakery cafe. Our town is blessed with a world class bakery cafe owned by a professionally trained perfectionist and employing some of the best pastry and bread bakers in the country. I would compare our gem to the best shops in the largest cities and our bakery would still come out ahead.

During the summer, our bakery  cafe produces fruit pies with seasonal berries, plums and fresh figs. When fall comes they  switch to pumpkin and apple pies ,as well as southern pecan pie. Thanksgiving brings cranberry walnut pie, pumpkin-caramel pecan pie and , our favorite, chocolate-pecan pie. Then there is something called a Plymouth described as “layers of chocolate mousse, pecan meringue and pumpkin mousse”. Delicious!desserts

Baked Christmas goodies include Christmas pastry cream logs and Christmas cakes with preserved fruit, but nothing like the pies. Having worked with Christmas decorations all year long, we travel at Christmas. Someplace sunny and warm. A different kind of Christmas.



4 Pound Chicken cut into 10 pieces, Flour, Olive oil. Three cups thin sliced yellow onion, Chopped garlic clove, Juice of one lemon, Lemon cut into 10 slices, 2 cups chicken stock, 8 sprigs fresh thyme, salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F, Dredge the chicken pieces in flour  and salt and pepper and brown completely in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Remove and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook at medium low for 20 minutes until soft. Add thyme and chicken pieces. Pour in stock and squeeze lemon over chicken. Place  lemon pieces on top of chicken pieces, cover pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes until done. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on a platter with a bitter green vegetable, such as broccolini, and french bread

5 Reasons We Love Fall

The crisp breeze signifies that summer is gone and fall is in the air. We love fall; it has a beauty all to its own. From warm apple cider to autumn leaves, there are so many reasons to enjoy fall. Here are five things about the season that we love:


The Changing Leaves

If you are blessed to live in a place where the leaves change color, you know why fall foliage is one of the reasons we love this season. Walking down a tree-lined street to see a canopy of orange, yellow and red leaves is thrilling. In Upstate New York, the leaves typically peak in late October. A good amount of colorful foliage lasts through Thanksgiving and even into the wintery months.

Fall Clothes

Fall clothing is just wonderful! As the temperature begins to drop, we take our fall essentials out of retirement. We’re talking about boots, sweaters and scarves. Nothing feels as delightful on a crisp fall day as a wool sweater and pair of comfortable boots. Well, maybe a cup of warm apple cider would make the day even better!

Pumpkin Everything

Whether it’s a baked good, drink or savory dish, when September rolls around and our taste buds salivate at the thought of all things pumpkin. Ice cream, coffee, pale ales, and more all come out in pumpkin flavors during the fall. Pumpkins can also make the best fall décor. Decorate your Thanksgiving table with a beautiful pumpkin centerpiece. Another seasonal favorite is pumpkin carving!


While Christmas is our favorite holiday, we really enjoy Thanksgiving too. This autumn holiday is special for a couple reasons. Thanksgiving has both religious and cultural traditions. Not only do you gather around a table and spend time with loved ones, but you also have the opportunity to reflect on all the things that you are thankful for. And we have a lot to be thankful for!

Christmas Planning

We simply adore Christmas and fall is the perfect time to think about to the holiday season. For instance, setting a holiday budget now will make it easier to achieve all your Christmas goals later. More important, planning early will allow you to enjoy the holiday season, rather than get caught up in the hustle and bustle. If you start Christmas planning now, you will reap benefits come December!

Tell us what you think. We want to know your favorite things about fall!

Celebrate Christmas in July!

Christmas in July is an unofficial holiday celebrated by many people. It is especially popular among people in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa because in the southern hemisphere, winter falls in July. Therefore, these countries celebrate Christmas as a way to embrace the winter spirit.

Here are five ways you too can celebrate Christmas in July:

Watch Christmas movies

You don’t have to wait until December to watch your favorite holiday classics. This July, rent all of your favorite holiday movies and spend the weekend having a holiday movie marathon. Make your Christmas in July experience more realistic by turning the air conditioner on high and breaking out your fleece blanket.


Get a head start on holiday shopping

We all know how packed shopping malls can get during the holidays. Take this opportunity to hit up flea markets and outlet malls for gifts. Just think, when the holidays finally roll around, you will already have a lot of your shopping done. Plus, you’ll end up saving money during the holiday season. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you don’t have to spend most of your holiday stuck in a mall.

Bake your favorite treats

Love peppermint and gingerbread cookies? Now you can enjoy your favorite holiday goodies in July. Pop in your favorite holiday cd and spend the day (or weekend) baking. Wrap up a plate of cookies and drop them off at your neighbor’s house. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Volunteer at a local shelter

Get into the holiday spirit by giving back. Whether you prefer four legs or two, volunteering at a local animal or homeless shelter is the perfect way to spread the holiday spirit. You will feel great about it and the shelter can definitely use your help. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are really about?

Host a summer soiree

Summer is the perfect time to get the family together for a backyard barbecue. Cook traditional bbq foods but try to incorporate some summer twists on the traditional holiday drinks like chilled eggnog or red and green margaritas. You can also rename some traditional summer games such as horseshoes to “Reindeer Shoes” for added fun. Don’t forget to break out those holiday decorations for your Christmas in July.

It’s never too early to get into the Christmas spirit, and now you can celebrate the holiday season more than once a year. Enjoy the true meaning of Christmas without the commercialism. Celebrate all day or all month, the choice is up to you. Simply reflect on what Christmas time means to you, then try to recreate that feeling and have a good time!

Five Ways to Care for Your Outdoor Christmas and Garden Statues

Christmas Night (and Saint Francis Garden) specializes in Christmas and Garden statues which are made of fiberglass and generally displayed outside the home. Any manufactured item, such as patio furniture, the siding on your house or children’s toys, when left outside in the sun and the elements, will fade, painted or not.. Direct sunlight will cause faster fading. Painted statues left in standing water or ice covered may chip. As our weather becomes more unstable, outdoor statues may be blown over or damaged by hail and wind. Statues may be knocked over by lawnmowers, pets or children.

Here are some recommendations for protecting and refurbishing your lawn statues and outdoor  Christmas decorations.

1. Tether the taller statues using flexible wire or nylon line or ties attached to fixed points such as fence posts or tent connections or a piece of re-bar hammered into the ground. Statues can be screwed onto a wood base or propped up with sand bags.  Tethering will eliminate or reduce falls caused by strong wind or vandalism. Nativity creche sets are often displayed in wooden stable which can provide some protection, particularly if the church or individual covers the front of the stable with clear unbreakable resin plastic.

Nativity protected by Stable and Clear Plastic
Nativity protected by Stable and Clear Plastic

2. If your statue has a small crack, through a fall, or has small chips coming off for any reason, we recommend repair with  a product called Marine Tex. This can be found in small repair kits purchased at

3. Extensive cracking, broken parts or holes will require repair by an expert in fiberglass use and repair. Often a technician who repairs boats or other fiberglass structures such as tanks can be found online. In some parts of the country there are artists who work in materials such as fiberglass, who may also be found online.

4. A statue with a few small paint chips may be repainted. We recommend Testors flat enamel which can be found at Be sure to purchase all the matching colors to restore the original look. Also be sure to sand the chipped areas with fine sand paper before painting.

5. If your product has faded badly or has extensive chipping, it will need complete repainting. Unless you are an artist who wants to take on the challenge, we suggest repainting in one color or a few simple colors. Go to your local paint or hardware store and ask for outdoor paint suitable for use on fiberglass. Match your colors and don’t forget to sand all the areas to be painted. Let the paint  dry completely before  trying antique finishing. If you decide to antique, pick an antique color and water it down. Saturate a cotton cloth with the antique color, squeeze out the excess paint and wipe the areas you want to add to. Immediately use a dry cloth to clean off the antique color from the adjacent areas you do not want antiqued. Do this quickly, one area at a time, before the wash dries

A carefully refurbished Christmas or Garden statue will add to the pride of ownership and display, because you have done it or supervised it yourself. It may be a way for a dedicated parishioner to do something extra for their church or a member of the community to contribute. Refurbishing will extend the life of your statues and your enjoyment of them.

Taking Your Work On Vacation

In my last blog, I raved about beautiful and interesting Panama and what a wonderful time we had. With our website we are mostly in the Christmas business. We work on the website and Christmas year round and it is hard to let go even on vacation. Since our vacation time is just before , during and after Christmas we often get to experience the way  other countries celebrate Christmas (if they do).

panama10Panama is a Christian country and the people love festivals and holidays. The truism and joke about Panamanians is that  the only thing they take seriously is their holidays. There are 14 official holidays and many more local or regional holidays. While Carnival at Easter is the largest festival, Christmas is usually marked with a festival and ,in Panama City at least, a parade with floats depicting the Nativity among other Christmas  things. Here are several pictures of the  festival and float decorations.

While we were exploring the old section of Panama City known as San Felipe or Casco Viejo, we stumbled upon the factory panama11where the Nativity and other figures for the parade floats were made. We were fortunate enough to meet a factory supervisor who is English who explained the process of carving figure from blocks of styrofoam and sealing them with fiberglass before painting and decorating. The Englishman himself was just as interesting as the factory, easily mistaken for a retired rock musician with a constant  cigarette  and the boast that a “wealthy wife” paid for his lifestyle, such as it was.

The old city of San Felipe is fascinating, with centuries old churches, refurbished buildings  housing government departments, many great restaurants and the casco-viejo-police “Tourist Police” looking like a group of New York City cops, ready to go on patrol. We will definitely return.

THANK YOU for a Terrific 2012!

Again, thank you for a terrific 2012. We are sold out of most sets and figures, just in time for Christmas. Next year we will have to stock more Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer combinations, more Nutcracker pairs, more large Santa and Snowmen, more bears and more six foot Nativities.

For 2013, we have designed and created new Santa and Snowmen, additional Nativity figures, leaping, prancing and trotting reindeer and new outdoor Husky Dog Sets. By popular demand, we will have two new Giant Camels, one standing and one resting, in addition to a giant Standing Ox, all for our 6ft Nativity. A new 66″ Tin Toy Soldier will supplement our outdoor offerings.

We plan to bring in a selection of Giant Hanging Baubles for larges spaces and a greater variety of dogs for our Saint Francis Garden website.

We will soon be showing pictures of many of the new items on our blog. Please “watch this space”

Best wishes for Christmas 2012 and a happy 2013.

The Benefits of Preparing for Christmas Early

With the summer quickly disappearing into the rear view mirror and the cool air beginning to make a sweep over the entire country, people are rushing to get fall decorations up and the shift has been made from sweet, summery fruit-flavored foods and snacks to apple spice and pumpkin flavors.

It’s a beautiful time of the year as the leaves begin to change and eventually fall to the ground, and of course the fall means one more thing: that Christmas is right around the corner, whether you want to believe it or not!

Many families begin preparing for the next Christmas as soon as the current year’s ends – and others wait until December 24th to begin preparations. But the sooner you can prepare for the holiday season, the better. Here are some benefits to starting preparations now, if you haven’t already.

More Budget for Shopping

Oh Ginger DisplayIn a tough economy like today’s, finding the money to be able to afford a wonderful holiday season can be a tough feat. The shopping, the baking, the cooking, the greeting cards…everything adds up quickly, and if you aren’t prepared, the expenses can be overwhelming.

If you start to plan for the holidays well in advance of the actual season, you’ll have the opportunity to save some money as you go so that you have a large budget when it comes time to make the necessary holiday purchases.

Take Advantage of More Sales

Getting all of the Christmas shopping done all at once might not be the best or most budget-friendly idea. Sure, there are always sales on Black Friday, but for the majority of the rest of the holiday season, prices on high-demand items are actually higher than they would be at other times throughout the year.

By preparing early, you can take advantage of sales that occur throughout the year. If your kids have a list of gifts they would like for Christmas, there’s no reason not to purchase one of them in September if you see the item on sale. Keep in mind, too, that all holiday items go on major clearance sales after the holidays pass, so perhaps the best time to start preparing for next Christmas really is the day after this year’s Christmas.

Prepare the Decorations

If you have large Christmas decoration displays, like giant outdoor Nativity sets or a life size Santa for the kids, preparing for the holidays early will give you plenty of time to get the necessary items out of storage and ready for display.

Shopping for Christmas decorations in the off-season is also much cheaper than if you were to wait until the last minute. Staple decor items like lights, Nativity scenes, wreaths and even garland can be found at specialty shops throughout the year at much lower prices than they’re set around Christmastime.

More Time to Enjoy

The last thing you want to be doing during the holidays is racing around like a maniac trying to get everything done. By making sure you’ve made all of your necessary purchases and prepared for house guests and prepared your decorations early, you’ll have already eliminated much of the stress surrounding the holidays.

That will, of course, leave you with more time to relax and enjoy the time with your family! And there’s nothing more important during the holidays than being able to enjoy the company and make memories and traditions together, so make sure you get the hard parts done early, and you’ll have nothing but a wonderful holiday season!