Ghost of Christmas Past, John Leech

Speaking of supernatural beings abroad on Christmas Eve, what about the big man himself? Father Christmas, Santa, Saint Nick. Why do we hang a stocking out for him? Because, according to legend, Saint Nicholas heard about three sisters who were forced into a life of prostitution to earn enough money to eat, so he tossed three coins down their chimney to help them out, which landed in the girls’ stockings drying on the hearth.

Father Christmas as a jolly old man with a white beard was indeed thought to be based on St Nicholas, who can be traced back to Asia Minor in about 350 AD (around the time Pope Julius was fixing the date of Jesus’s birth), and somewhere along the way he got mashed up with other folklorish characters, including Kris Kringle from 19th-century German tradition.

Read more about the history behind Christmas traditions at The Folklore Society.

Now on to today’s politics reads:

This interview with Rudy Giuliani is wild. Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel.

It was early in the afternoon on Sunday, December 8, and Giuliani had just returned from Ukraine, where he said he was looking for information to undermine the case to impeach his client, President Donald Trump. [….]

Over a sweater, he wore a navy-blue suit, the fly of the pants unzipped. He accessorized with an American-flag lapel pin, American-flag woven wallet, a diamond-encrusted pinky ring, and a diamond-encrusted Yankees World Series ring (about which an innocent question resulted in a 15-minute rant about “fucking Wayne Barrett,” a journalist who manages to enrage Giuliani even in death).

The Holly King, the spirit of Yule

In addition to being the president’s free personal attorney, Giuliani, who is 75, is an informal White House cybersecurity adviser and a high-priced cyber-security contractor. In one hand, he clutched three phones of varying sizes. Two of the devices were unlocked, their screens revealing open tabs and a barrage of banner notifications as they knocked into each other and reacted to Giuliani’s grip. He accidentally activated Siri, who said she didn’t understand his command. “She never understands me,” he said. He sighed and poked at the device, attempting to quiet her….