Counting on Christmas Statistics > the holidays by the numbers

So you have read our post Counting on Christmas Statistics which goes back to December 19, 2006. We have been asked to provide any latest statisctics, if these were available, so here we are with the latest [if additional details are released, we will update this post].

It’s in the Mail > 19 billion > Number of cards, letters and packages the U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2008. The busiest delivery day was expected to be December 17, with more than twice as many cards and letters being processed as the average on any given day.

Rush to the Stores > $28.2 billion > Retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2008. This represented a 40 percent jump from the previous month (when retail sales, many holiday-related, registered $20.2 billion). No other month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large.

Other U.S. retailers with sizable jumps in sales between November and December 2008 were book stores (95 percent); clothing stores (32 percent); jewelry stores (125 percent); radio, TV and other electronics stores (38 percent); and sporting goods stores (62 percent).

14% > The proportion of total 2008 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the percentage was 18%.

23% > The proportion of growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) through August 31 to November 30, 2008. Thanks to the holiday crowds, inventories plummeted by 25% in December.

Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoe-shine parlor in a barber shop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.

$24 billion > Value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2008–the highest total for any month last year.

16,670 > The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2007. These businesses, which employed 268,328 workers, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Their sales: $199 billion, of which 44.6% were attributable to e-commerce. California led the nation in the number of these establishments and their employees, with 2,493 and 32,971, respectively.

If you’re not sure where to do your shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2007, there were 155,371 clothing and clothing accessories stores; 10,116 department stores; 9,515 hobby, toy and game shops; 30,920 gift, novelty and souvenir shops; 23,756 sporting goods stores; 27,484 jewelry stores; and 10,635 book stores across the nation. The figures shown are for locations with paid employees.

Christmas Trees and Decorations > $410 million > The gross earnings of Christmas tree farmers in 2007.

$109.3 million > Sales by Christmas tree farmers in Oregon in 2007, which led the nation.

$470.3 million > The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($28.6 million worth) during the same period.

Where the toys are… made > 94 > Number of establishments around the country that primarily manufactured dolls and stuffed toys in 2008; they employed 1,641 people. California led the nation with 17 locations.

683 > The number of locations that primarily produced games, toys, and children’s vehicles in 2007; they employed 10,708 workers. California led the nation with 112 establishments.

$3.2 billion > Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2007.

$4.3 billion > The value of U.S. toy imports including stuffed toys (excluding dolls), puzzles and electric trains from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts. These include roller skates ($30 million), sports footwear ($120 million), golf balls ($31 million) and basketballs ($29 million). China leads Canada as the leading supplier of ice skates ($12 million versus $5 million), with Thailand ranking third ($4 million).

Holiday names > Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,212 in 2008); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,314); Santa Claus, Ga. (250); Noel, Mo. (1,608); and, if you know about reindeer, the village of Rudolph, Wis. (412) and Dasher, Ga. (849). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,673) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C.

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa > 50.4% > Proportion of the nation’s spuds produced in Idaho and Washington in 2008. Potato latkes are always a crowd pleaser during Hanukkah.

$1.3 billion > The value of product shipments of candles in 2002 by the nation’s manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebrations.

New Year’s Eve and Day > 79,389 > The estimated July 1, 2008, population of Champaign, Ill., a place whose name alone may get you into a celebratory mood.

$475 million > U.S. manufacturers shipments of effervescent wines (including sparkling wines, such as champagne) in 2002.

More than 308 million > The nation’s projected population as we ring in the New Year.

Source > U.S. Census Bureau.

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Happy Kwanzaa > Updated

Please Note > this post has been moved to our Festive Spirit blog and you can access this and other related posts at >

http://festivespirit.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/happy-kwanzaa/

http://festivespirit.wordpress.com

A Multicultural Calendar

December 15 through January 6 > PUERTO RICO: NAVIDADES. Traditional Christmas season begins mid-December and ends on Three Kings Day. Elaborate nativity scenes, carolers, special Christmas foods and trees from Canada and the United States. Gifts given on Christmas Day and on Three Kings Day.

December 26 through January 1 > KWANZAA. American black family observance created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga in recognition of traditional African harvest festivals. Seven-day festival stresses unity of the black family, with a harvest feast (karamu) on the first day and a day of meditation on the final one. “Kwanzaa” means “first fruit” in Swahili.

January 1 > GREECE and CYPRUS: SAINT BASIL’S DAY. Saint Basil’s or Saint Vassily’s feast day observed by Eastern Orthodox Churches. Special traditions in Greece and Cyprus, include serving Saint Basil cakes, called Vasilopitta, each of which contains a coin. Feast day observed on January 14 by Orthodox Churches using the Julian calendar such as the Russian Church.

January 1 > NEW YEAR’S DAY > ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING OF ELLIS ISLAND. Opened on this date in 1892. Over the years, more than 20 million immigrants were processed through the stations. Island was also used as a point of deportation as well. In 1932 alone, 20,000 people were deported from there. Closed November 12, 1954 and declared a national park in 1956. Reopened as a museum in 1990.

January 1 > HAITI: INDEPENDENCE DAY. National holiday commemorating the proclamation of independence in 1804. Haiti, occupying the western third of the island Hispaniola (second largest of the West Indies), was a Spanish colony from its discovery by Columbus in 1492 until 1697. Then it was a French colony until independence was declared in 1804.

January 6 > GREECE and CYPRUS: THEOPHANY of the Eastern Orthodox Church is observed in Churches using the Gregorian calendar (January 19 in Churches using the Julian calendar). This feast day celebrates the manifestation of the divinity of Jesus at the time of His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.

January 6 through February 20 > CARNIVAL SEASON. Secular festival preceding Lent. Time of merrymaking and feasting before the austere days of Lenten fasting and penitence (40 weekdays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday). Depending on local custom, the season may start anytime between November 11 and Shrove Tuesday. Celebrations often include theatrical aspects such as masks, costumes and songs. Observed traditionally in Roman Catholic countries from Epiphany through Shrove Tuesday.

January 6 > EPIPHANY OR TWELFTH DAY. Known also as Old Christmas Day and Twelfthtide. On the twelfth day after Christmas, Christians celebrate the visit of the Magi, the first Gentile recognition of Christ. Epiphany of Our Lord, one of the oldest Christian feasts, is observed in Roman Catholic Churches in the United States on a Sunday between January 2 and January 8.

January 6 > ITALY: LA BEFANA. Epiphany festival in which the “Befana,” a kindly witch, bestows gifts on children, toys and candy for those who have been good, or a lump of coal or a pebble for those who have been naughty. Festival begins on the night of January 5 and continues with fairs, parades and other activities.

January 6 > THREE KINGS DAY. Major festival of the Christian Church observed in many parts of the world with gifts, feasting, last lighting of Christmas lights and burning of Christmas greens. Twelfth and last day of the Feast of the Nativity. Commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Neb (Kings or Magi) to Bethlehem.

January 7 > RUSSIA: CHRISTMAS OBSERVANCE.

January 8 > GREECE: MIDWIFE’S DAY OR WOMEN’S DAY. Honors midwives and all women. On this day, women stop their housework while the men do all the chores and look after the children.

January 17 > MEXICO: BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS AT THE CATHEDRAL. Church of San Antonio at Mexico City or Xochimilco provides best sights of chicken, cows and household pets gaily decorated with flowers. (Saint’s Day for San Antonio Abad, patron Saint of domestic animals.)

January 17 > POLAND: LIBERATION DAY. Celebration of 1945 liberation of the city of Warsaw from Nazi oppression on this day by Soviet troops. Special ceremonies at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw’s Victory Square (which had been called Adolf Hitler Platz during the German occupation).

January 17 > SAINT ANTHONY’S DAY. Feast day honoring Egyptian hermit who became the first Christian monk and who established communities of hermits; patron Saint of domestic animals and Patriarch of all monks. Lived about AD 251-354.

January 20 > FIRST OF MUHARRAM. Islamic New Year.

January 29 > ASHURA: TENTH DAY. For Shia Muslims, commemorates death of Muhammad’s grandson at the Battle of Karbala. A time of fasting, reflection and meditation. Jews of Medina fasted on the tenth day in remembrance if their salvation from Pharoah.

February 14 > VALENTINE’S DAY.

February 18 > CHINESE NEW YEAR.

February 19 > BEGINNING OF EASTERN ORTHODOX LENT.

February 21 > ASH WEDNESDAY.

April 8 > GREEK ORTHODOX EASTER.

The holidays explained

Posted On December 13, 2006

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Reitz Home Museum dresses up

Reitz Home Museum dresses up to reflect world of holiday traditions

Evansville’s Reitz Home Museum, built in 1871, has long ruled as the stately queen of the grand dowagers in the city’s Historic District, and Victorian Christmas tours through the house have been a tradition for 26 years.

According to executive director Tess Grimm, during the holiday season thousands of people pass through the glowing stained-glass doors of this well-preserved Victorian home to get a glimpse of what Christmas may have been like for the Reitz family that lived there in the late 1800s. But this year visitors are in for a surprise, because Grimm has put a new twist on the tradition.

“Celebrations Around the Globe” is this year’s theme, and Tri-State residents will learn how cultures around the world celebrate Christmas and other holidays that are an integral part of their heritage. Each room will represent the traditions of a specific country, and as a result, the Reitz Home will be a mosaic of celebrations that includes Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year as well as examples of various European Christmas traditions.

Grimm wanted to include Evansville’s growing international community in Reitz Home holiday festivities, so she invited some of its members to assist local decorators with the home’s holiday transformation and encouraged them to incorporate some of their native countries’ traditions.

When Bushra Saqib, a Pakistani-born Muslim, was asked to help decorate Christina’s Bedroom, she was delighted at the opportunity to share some of her customs with the community. She says in an age when Muslims are increasingly associated with terrorism, she was pleased to have the chance to “present the beautiful side of Islam.”

For Muslims, Eid ul-Fitr is the most celebrated holiday of the year. It marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and the beginning of a joyous three-day feast. Wearing new clothes at Eid is a time-honored tradition, and Saqib is organizing a display of festive, hand-embroidered dresses that are often worn for the occasion.

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Color-blind yuletide

Posted On October 17, 2006

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Color-blind yuletide. You may observe Christmas, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, but everything looks a bit like a Hanukkah celebration to 8 percent of the male population. For people with red-green color blindness, an estimated one in 12 men, only blues and yellows are visible as vivid shades, while reds and greens appear brownish and murky.

“Red-green color vision defects are not that rare,” said Arthur Bradley, a professor of optometry at Indiana University. “The term ‘color blindness’ is used to describe limited color vision, usually with respect to reds and greens. Blue-yellow vision is very rarely affected.”

While the acres of highly colorful red and green decorations in shops, homes and offices nationwide may appear monochromatic or washed-out to people with limited color vision, the Jewish winter festivities won’t change greatly in their eyes. Hanukkah decorations often incorporate blue and white, the colors of Israel, and gold colors may be present in the menorah and other traditional motifs. These blues and yellows look much the same to people with red-green color vision defects as to those with normal vision, but fruitcakes, holly, and red and green Kwanzaa candles all appear to be a shade of brown.

Gazing at decorations may not present a practical challenge but preparing the holiday meal is undoubtedly more difficult for people who cannot distinguish reds and greens, Bradley said. “Judging when meat is cooked is a challenge for people with color vision defects,” he said. “Determining the ripeness of fruit and vegetables is another problem.” Selecting an outfit, interpreting traffic signals and following sports on television are other color-vision challenges that may affect festivities, Bradley said.

Although color blindness is common among men, very few women have the condition. “There are several different types of color blindness, but nearly all are much more common in males, because the genes coding the condition are recessive on the x-chromosome,” Bradley said. “Men have only one x chromosome and women have two, so if a man inherits the gene he will be color blind, but a woman will not unless she inherits it from both parents.”

Upload your own photos to http://www.vischeck.com to see how they appear to someone with a color vision defect.