Genre of the Week: The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

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There’s no place like home, both on Earth as in Heaven.  When desparation strikes, hope comes when one least expects it, even during the holidays. And in the case of this Genre of the Week, when one falls, hope lies with the next kin, one who is closest to the fallen.  Hans Christian Andersen wrote the Match Girl in 1845 while staying at the Gravenstein Castle near Sonderburg along the Flensburg Fjorde and the main theme of this short story was this symbol of hope in the face of desparation and in this case, death.

The story takes place during the holidays, towards New Year’s Eve. There, a young girl tries to sell matches to make money. She comes from a broken home and is afraid to return, fearing that her father would beat her. Shivering from cold and suffering from early onset of hypothermia, she seeks shelter in a pair of abandoned houses. There, she tries to warm up by using the matches, even though it was strictly forbidden. With each match, she sees a small light and a voice calling her name. When the flame goes out, she lights another match, and after a couple of them, the entire handful. She finds her grandmother, who had cared for her when she was little, her home, which was warm and filled with food, joy, laughter and love, and steps into that world as the flame goes out. The girl succumbs to hypothermia, but smiling because she is in a better place.

The story has been interpreted multiple times over the years by several countries. Even Walt Disney produced an animated film twice- in 1940 as part of the Fantasia series which was scrapped and as a standalone in 2006, which garnered several awards.  In Germany, there were two different films based on the story by Andersen. This one was produced by Joé in 2012:

and this film in 2013 by public TV stations RBB and ARD as part of the series “Sechs in einem Streich” (Six in one Stroke), which started in 2011 and has continued ever since. In this version, a girl (Inga) and a boy (Emil) are living in an orphanage which is run by a ruthless headmaster, who abuses children and is greedy. After coming away with only a couple Thaler, Inga gives the money to Emil and sends him to the orphanage, while Inga keeps the remaining matches and tries desperately to sell them with no avail. She seeks shelter in a home that she had lived with her parents before they died, lights the matches only to see her parents again and she eventually joins them while she perishes peacefully from the cold. The small Emil befriends the police guard named Emil, who takes pity on the kids and in the end, arrests the headmaster of the orphanage. Years later, the younger Emil takes over the orphanage and makes it great again, thanks to help from the community. The making of this latest film, which has garnered a pair of accolades already since its release is below:

The entire film can be seen here.

All of this happens at Christmas time, both as children as well as when Emil takes over the orphanage, years later.

There are many themes that can be taken away from the two film examples but it is best to allow the reader to watch them and get some impressions of his own. From the author’s point of view, the two stories follow closely to what Andersen wrote but with different situations, each one better than the other in terms of bringing hope home to those who need it.

If there is a list of stories and songs that relate to Christmas but not based on the Hallmark classics, then this one should be on the list of things to read (and filmwise, watch). It has all the elements in there that make the holiday seasons and even beyond a special one.  And hence, the Files’ first Genre of the Week for 2019.

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Holiday Genre: Schweddy Balls

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As we look back at the holiday season, I found a few genres that are worth mentioning and also worth using for the next holiday season. Our first one features a flashback to  December 1998 and the parody of National Public Radio produced by Saturday Night Live, based in New York City. Since its first show in 1970, SNL has produced some of the best parodies and series on record, making people laugh until they either cried or peed their pants. This scene comes from the NPR parody series “The Delicious Dish,” (based on the real NPR’s The Splendid Table) with a splendid name to kick off the holiday spirit. It even made the Rolling Stones Magazine’s Top 20 of SNL’s All Time Best List at Nr. 20! Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Black Friday: The Bright Side to Christmas Shopping- Guest Column by Josh Wardini

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Thanksgiving in America is right around the corner. And with that comes the turkey, football, family and friends, giving thanks for a successful year, and lastly,

HOLIDAY SHOPPING!!! 🙂

With Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, which is the start of the holiday shopping season. Running parallel to the Christmas markets that will start at the end of November in Germany, Europe, parts of the US and elsewhere, Black Friday is where families and friends line up early in the morning on the Friday after to get the best deals on gifts.

I have written a great deal about the downsides of Black Friday- namely retails taking advantages of people lining up even on Thanksgiving to enter stores at midnight- or earlier- there are some reasons and even advantages behind Black Friday.

Josh Wardini presented some facts and figures about this culture in hopes that the readers will understand the culture of after-holiday, or should I say in-between holiday shopping. This needs no further explanation as this guest writer, who is a Community Manager at Webmaster’s Jury will present you the culture and history behind this American phenomenon, something that is still unknown to people in Europe and elsehwere.

Enjoy and stay tuned, the Christmas market tour and some history are just around the corner! 😀

source: shopping.fm

 

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Genre of the Week: The Man Who Hated Christmas by Nancy Gavin

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What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? The tree? The market? Santa Claus? Presents? What aspect of Christmas do you like the most? For me, Christmas is about donating time, money and energy for a cause that is deep in the heart and one that has an everlasting effect on the community, whether it is helping out at the church on a Sunday, doing a fundraiser to help find a cure for cancer, working in a homeless shelter or even singing for money to be donated to a worthy cause. All of these we have done over the holidays because we know what it is like to either have witnessed certain events in our lives or know someone who has experienced hardships. Christmas is more about what you and heart and soul can do for others in the community and not about shopping for the largest gifts.

This is the central theme of this Genre of the Week entitled The Man Who Hated Christmas by Nancy Gavin. Originally published in the Women’s Day Magazine in December 1982, the story was based on the concept of the White Envelope in the Christmas tree, where as a gift to the family, one member donates her time, money and energy in donating to the right cause. The result was turning a sad face of a man who disliked Christmas because of the materialism involved into one who turned up the corners- way up- and hence, the project was launched, which has been going strong ever since. Gavin died two years after the story was published, but the white envelope tradition continues to this day. You can learn more about it by clicking here.  A youtube version of the story is here for you to learn why Christmas is important in ways that make that next computer, flatscreen TV and robot look like a thing to be left on the shelf. Listen to the story and then go out and do something for the community, not just this holiday season but also beyond. Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Genre of the Week: The Man Who Hated Christmas by Nancy Gavin

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What comes to mind when you think of Christmas? The tree? The market? Santa Claus? Presents? What aspect of Christmas do you like the most? For me, Christmas is about donating time, money and energy for a cause that is deep in the heart and one that has an everlasting effect on the community, whether it is helping out at the church on a Sunday, doing a fundraiser to help find a cure for cancer, working in a homeless shelter or even singing for money to be donated to a worthy cause. All of these we have done over the holidays because we know what it is like to either have witnessed certain events in our lives or know someone who has experienced hardships. Christmas is more about what you and heart and soul can do for others in the community and not about shopping for the largest gifts.

This is the central theme of this Genre of the Week entitled The Man Who Hated Christmas by Nancy Gavin. Originally published in the Women’s Day Magazine in December 1982, the story was based on the concept of the White Envelope in the Christmas tree, where as a gift to the family, one member donates her time, money and energy in donating to the right cause. The result was turning a sad face of a man who disliked Christmas because of the materialism involved into one who turned up the corners- way up- and hence, the project was launched, which has been going strong ever since. Gavin died two years after the story was published, but the white envelope tradition continues to this day. You can learn more about it by clicking here.  A youtube version of the story is here for you to learn why Christmas is important in ways that make that next computer, flatscreen TV and robot look like a thing to be left on the shelf. Listen to the story and then go out and do something for the community, not just this holiday season but also beyond. Enjoy! 🙂

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Black Friday- The Start of Christmas Shopping

Author’s Note: This is a Throwback article dating back to 2013. Black Friday is the day where Christmas shopping starts, which is the day after Thanksgiving. Yet the author has been quite critical of this tradition as you can see below. A pair of additional links that you didn’t see in the original areavices version of the article are provided at the end of the article. Enjoy! 🙂

Thanksgiving in America: A day of giving thanks. A day of spending time with family and friends. A day of feasting on turkey, stuffing and the like and watching football. A day to go shopping.

SHOPPING?!!  

Not quite. Thanksgiving is the the day before the start of the Christmas Shopping season, the day that is called Black Friday, because that is where many retailers provide the best deals for people to go shopping, so much that many of them would line up in front of the stores for hours until the doors open and people get what they are looking for.  But aside the fact that we finished celebrating our 150th Thanksgiving (President Abraham Lincoln declared the day a national holiday in lieu of the Gettysburg Address in 1863) plus the fact that the holiday is being shared with the Jewish holiday Haunakah this year, a first in at least two generations, this year’s Thanksgiving will go down in history as the holiday where people stood up to the retailers and said “No!” to shopping on that day.

While there had been a trend going in the last couple of years, where stores open in the evening of Thanksgiving, many of them, most notably Target and Wal-mart, plus some malls in America tried to open during the afternoon of this sacred holiday, at the dismay of many who just want to celebrate with friends and family. This trend goes away from the tradition I was used to, when growing up: where Black Friday started at 9:00am, in some cases (albeit a bit extreme), 6:00am.

Many people in other countries could not believe it. Some are of the assumption that it is typically American to consume around the clock. If that was the case, this whole world would be covered in plastic, and we would become the scapegoat. But deep down, the majority of Americans have stood up to the corporates, saying no to working or even shopping on Thanksgiving. Many of them look at us expats as examples and are envious. In Germany, despite having one Sunday open for shopping per month, all stores are closed on Sundays AND holidays, both religious as well as national. We close on the day of German Reunification (3 October), Pentecost weekend, Good Friday through Easter Monday, Epiphany and even on religious holidays in places like Bavaria, Saarland and Saxony Anhalt. This is just to name a good few. And there is a reason: we tend to use these days as the day of rest, going by the book in accordance to Genesis.  These are the days where streets like this one above are empty. It is unlikely that stores would be open on these days and the streets would be filled to the brim, because many of us want to spend time with family and friends, grilling food and feasting on what is typical for these holidays.

And that is why, despite attempts of the German government to provide exceptions to the rule, that we intend to keep our holidays and put the stores in check, forcing them to respect the wishes of the customers. This has resulted in Americans embracing the European culture in that aspect, for despite having 11 holidays where there is no work and the stores are closed (at least many), they really don’t have much time to spend except at the computer desk or on the road.  If we end up flocking into stores like the one below, only the corporates will be happy because of the profits, but not the Americans.

And this takes us back to Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with a bit request to the corporates. Despite your attempts to keep your business running and increase profits, you are actually losing your customers in the long run, because you do not listen to them. Perhaps you should take a look at the holidays and their true meaning. Look at what other countries are doing and how they have profited from them. Adapt to the needs of the customer. Sometimes just returning to the old tradition of having Black Friday beginning at 9:00am helps a great deal, instead of having stores open on Thanksgiving or any day.  Holidays are meant to be the Day of Rest. The Day of Celebration. The Day for Family and Friends. So before the next holiday comes along, why don’t you think about that and make the changes that satisfy everyone?

For those who want to know more about Thanksgiving, a link is provided here.

The origin of Black Friday, believe it or not, came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to move up Thanksgiving in 1942. More on that here.

Another critical article from the author on Black Friday and the desparate attempt to open stores on Thanksgiving even is here.

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Christmas and Holidays, where Peace and Goodwill Meet

Christmas and the Holidays: where peace and goodwill meet. Where differences are put aisde and family and friends reunite to talk about memories and the future. There have been some concerns recently that Christmas was becoming more based on consumption and profits, thus making some people don their Ebenezer Scrooge outfits, while the Robert Cratchits increase in numbers. One of the examples is stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving, a holiday that is considered as sacred as Christmas, instead of doing that on Black Friday at 9:00am.

And while some department stores are bucking this new trend, as seen with Nordstroms, The Home Depot, Marshalls, and Ace Hardware, there’s one store chain, located outside the US, that is taking Christmas to a more personal level. Sainsbury’s in Great Britain, in commemoration with the 100th anniversary of World War I, produced a rather heart-throbbing commercial to kick off the holiday shopping season. Here’s the video clip for you to watch:

 

And even when Britain and Germany was at war with each other, both sides took the time to put aside their differences and exchange stories and gifts, play soccer, and even learn each other’s language. Don’t you think you can do this as well? Since that time, we’ve found ways to forgive each other, break down barriers, and even help each other when in need. But we have also not forgotten what war and ignorance can do to another person. I remember a poster on one of the streets in a German community that says it all: Looking at the poor with houses destroyed through war and empty baskets with no food with the slogan- the biggest catastrophe is ignorance.

So this Christmas and this holiday season, take a few minutes of your time and do something that you’ve been meaning to do for a long time but could not because of barriers that kept you from doing so. Donate blood and/or food to those who need it. Contact someone you fell out years before but would like to make amends. Visit those whom you haven’t seen in a long time, family or friend alike. Put aside your differences and find the similarities that bring you together. Open up and learn something new from others.  Do something that others will benefit from. Only then, will you not only build bridges and break down the barriers. You and those affected will benefit a great deal.  As seen with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, both sides wanted it: the easterners because they wanted to be free, and the westerners because they wanted one Germany instead of two.  We have a lot to do but it just takes a little bit of your time to do it.

So away with the shopping carts. Go to the kitchen and prepare a great meal for those in need. They’ll thank you for that. 🙂

BTW: Sainsbury might have stolen all the awards for this advert. Well done, indeed!