Broadcast: December 20, 2002
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
(THEME) This is Doug Johnson. On our special Christmas program today, we play some Christmas music by Brooks and Dunn...we answer a listener’s question about how Americans celebrate Christmas … and, report about the one-hundredth anniversary of a popular American toy.
Teddy Bear Anniversary
Americans give and receive many gifts during the holiday season. One gift for children has remained popular for many years. It is the teddy bear. Shep O’Neal explains.
The American-made teddy bear celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary last month. In November, nineteen-oh-two, President Theodore Roosevelt made news when he refused to shoot a young bear while on a hunting trip. A cartoon of the incident appeared in newspapers.
Morris and Rose Michtom of New York City saw the report and made a small bear from a piece of cloth. They called it Teddy’s Bear and put it in the window of their store. Soon, the huge public demand for the bears helped their store expand into the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. At the same time, the Steiff toy company in Germany was making toy bears for sale. The company also called them Teddy’s bears.
An American toy company official saw the bears in Leipzig in nineteen-oh-three and ordered several thousand to sell in the United States. Soon, the popularity of these bears spread around the world, and the toys became known as teddy bears. And they have been popular ever since. Some experts say the teddy bear is the most popular toy ever produced.
Mental health experts say teddy bears represent good things about people. Children love to play with them and even talk to them. These experts say that teddy bears can help children who have been hurt or scared. Some American police departments keep teddy bears in their police cars. Officers give them to children who have suffered in accidents or fires.
One American group sends teddy bears to needy children around the world. Operation Teddy Care was started in nineteen-ninety-five by Barbara Moran and her husband Bob Baker. They asked people in their city, San Francisco, California, to give bears to send to the children in Kobe, Japan after the huge earthquake there.
A local newspaper and radio station did stories about their appeal. Operation Teddy Care sent ten-thousand bears to Japan. The group has also sent teddy bears to children in areas of conflict in Europe.
Teddy bears are not only popular with children. Adults love them too. Some people collect them and will pay a lot of money for them. What is the most money ever spent on a teddy bear? In nineteen-ninety-four, someone paid one-hundred-eighty-thousand dollars for a historic bear produced by the Steiff company in nineteen-oh-six.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Mongolia. Amarkuu Ayulguisaikhan asks how Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is December twenty-fifth. But Americans who celebrate the holiday begin preparing long before that. They buy gifts for their families and friends. Many make their homes look special for Christmas. They put colorful lights in the windows and on the outside of their houses. They put branches from evergreen trees on the doors and tables. Almost every home where Americans celebrate Christmas has one important decoration — a Christmas tree. Some people cut down an evergreen tree themselves. Others buy one already cut. They put the tree inside the house. Then they cover it with lights and small objects made of glass, metal, paper or wood.
Tradition says that a kind old man called Santa Claus travels to every house on the night before Christmas. He leaves gifts of toys and clothing for the children. Family members leave gifts covered with pretty paper for each other under the tree. Some Americans open their gifts the night before Christmas. Others wait until Christmas morning. They may go to church or visit friends and other family members. They may eat a special holiday meal. Or they may take part in holiday activities for sick or homeless people.
Christians celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. Americans of other religions generally do not celebrate Christmas. However, many send holiday cards or gifts to their Christian friends. Some Americans do not observe Christmas as a religious holiday, but they decorate their homes with lights and a tree. Whatever Americans do at this time of the year, they usually wish each other “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”.
Brooks and Dunn Christmas Album HOST:
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn are the members of one of the most popular country music groups performing today. Brooks and Dunn have sold more than twenty-million record albums and have had at least eighteen hit records. This year, the group released a special album of Christmas music. Mary Tillotson has more.
The new Brooks and Dunn Christmas album is called “It Won’t Be Christmas Without You.” It includes eleven songs about the winter holiday. One example is this famous song, “White Christmas.”
Brooks and Dunn include some new holiday songs on their album. One of these is sung by Kix Brooks, “Santa’s Coming Over to Your House.”
Most of the songs on the new Brooks and Dunn Christmas album are traditional. We leave you now as Ronnie Dunn sings one of these songs. Some people know it as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Others call it “The Christmas Song.”
This is Doug Johnson. 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 Glen Matlock. And our producer was Paul Thompson.