Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our special Christmas program today, we:
Play some Christmas music ...
Answer a question about Santa Claus ...
And report about what many American young people want to receive as gifts this holiday season.
Tuesday, December twenty-fifth, is Christmas Day. Millions of American families will celebrate the holiday. One important part of the celebration is giving and receiving gifts. Jim Tedder tells us about some of the most popular gifts for young people this year.
Many American young people want to receive electronic gifts. At the top of the list is the mobile telephone or cell phone. A new study by Teenage Research Unlimited says thirty-one percent of Americans between the ages of twelve and nineteen already use a cell phone.
Teenagers like mobile phones because they can talk to their friends anytime they want. Parents like cell phones too. They like being able to talk to their children and to know where they are and what they are doing at all times.
Young people also like to send and receive immediate computer e-mail messages with their friends. This is called instant messaging. Now it is possible to send instant messages using mobile phones.
It is also possible to send instant messages on new devices called text phones. The Motorola company says it has already sold more than one-million text phones.Another welcome gift for Christmas this year is called a pocket personal computer. Young people can use these small computers to send and receive electronic mail, search the World Wide Web or watch a video. Students can even use this fun machine to do their homework.
One of the most popular electronic devices for young people is the video game player system. Two new video game systems are being sold this year. The Microsoft company recently released its new video game system called Xbox. The Nintendo company’s new electronic game player is called GameCube. Reports say each company expects to sell more than one-million by the end of the holiday season.
And every young person who has a video game player needs games for it. One popular game this year is a hockey game called N-H-L Hitz Two-Thousand-Two. Critics say this hockey game is fast and exciting. Another exciting video game is a racing car game called Burnout. Some experts say video game sales this year will set new records.
Santa Claus, Christmas Day
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Iran. Nima Foroud asks about Santa Claus and Christmas Day.
To understand Santa Claus, we must go back sixteen-hundred years, to the fourth century. A Roman Catholic Church official of that time, Nicholas of Myra, became famous for his many good works. After he died, the Church declared him a saint. He became a special saint for children. On the anniversary of his death each year, good children received gifts.
In the Netherlands, people told children the gifts came from Saint Herr Nicholas. In the Dutch language, his name was “Sinter Klaas.” The Dutch brought this tradition to America. Americans called the gift giver “Santa Claus”. And they included him in their Christmas celebration.
History experts say the first description of Santa Claus in the United States appeared in the poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” It was published in Eighteen-Twenty-Three.
In the Eighteen-Sixties, artist Thomas Nast drew a picture of Santa Claus for a newspaper. He drew a fat, smiling, old man with a long, white beard. Santa Claus was dressed in a red suit with white fur.
Tradition says that on the night before Christmas, Santa Claus travels from the North Pole through the air in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. He stops at each house to leave gifts for children. Gene Autry sings about him in this song.
((CUT 1:HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS))
Some Americans open their gifts the night before Christmas. Others wait until Christmas morning.
On Christmas Day, many Americans go to church or visit friends or family members. They eat a special meal. Or they help celebrate the holiday by serving meals to homeless people. But wherever Americans go on Christmas Day, they always wish each other “Merry Christmas”.
Music is a big part of Christmas celebrations in the United States. Americans enjoy all kinds of Christmas songs. Here is Shirley Griffith to tell us about a few of them.
Christmas celebrates the birth of the child called Jesus. Christians believe Jesus was the son of God sent to earth to save the world. Many Americans go to church on Christmas. They pray and sing songs in praise of Jesus Christ. One religious Christmas song is “O Holy Night.” Leontyne Price sings it here.
((CUT 1: O HOLY NIGHT))
This Christmas will not be the happiest holiday for many Americans. Thousands of people lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks in September. Here is a rather sad Christmas song about celebrating the holiday during a troubled time. Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.
((CUT 2: HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS))
We leave you now with a song expressing the wish for a happy holiday season. It is sung by the Manhattan Transfer.
((CUT 3: HAPPY HOLIDAY/THE HOLIDAY SEASON))
I hope you enjoyed our special Christmas program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson. This is Doug Johnson wishing you a very happy holiday from all of us in Special English.