slide1
Forbes
Editors’ Picks
Podcasts
Most Popular
Lists
Video

Search companies, people and lists
submit
Connect
|Sign up|Log in The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets

William Pentland
William Pentland, Contributor
I write about energy and environmental issues.
12/10/2008 @ 11:20AM
Who Owns Christmas?
In late November, Louisville, Ky., abruptly abandoned plans for a Christmas display based on the story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

It wasn’t because of public uproar, or the big green meanie terrifying small children. No, it was the cease-and-desist letter from lawyers representing the estate of legendary children’s author Dr. Seuss, threatening to sue for copyright infringement if the city went ahead with the Grinch-themed display.

“It appears these lawyers’ hearts are two sizes too small,” Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson told reporters at the time.

Same thing happened in Medford, Mass. The town narrowly escaped a copyright infringement suit for a Christmas celebration called “Jingle Bells Festival.” Medford officials agreed to rename the festival next year after Black Crow Media, a company based in Valdosta, Ga., filed a lawsuit alleging infringement.

In Pictures: A Slew Of Santa Suits
So be warned. Christmas may be a lot of things, but it’s also a boon for lawyers, as owners of some of your most beloved holiday traditions defend their intellectual property rights from all comers.

Santa Claus is a case in point. Father Christmas, a British company and owner of Santa-Claus.com, owns a trademark for “Santa Claus.” Trademark experts say that “Santa Claus” has become part of the public domain and that the trademark probably would not pass muster in a legal challenge. But apparently, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office didn’t agree. In 2000, it added the “Santa Claus” trademark to the long list of approved holiday-themed, legally recognized trademarks, which include everything from “Santa’s Elf” clothing to “St. Nick’s” beer to “Santa Claws” pet apparel.

Domain names are also a holiday legal hot spot. GlobalAccess, an obscure company located on the equally obscure Isle of Man, has owned Christmas.com since 1994. Versimedia, which also owns GreetingCards.com, has owned Hanukkah.com since 1997. P. Gordon, owner of Getaway.com and UnitedStates.com, owns Holidays.com.

And those pictures of your kids with the mall Santa? You may own the print, but not the image itself. That belongs to the individual or institution that took the photograph. Unless you shot the photograph with your own camera, making copies of a print is illegal. Unfortunately, most people only discover this when an unlucky clerk at Kinko’s or Wal-Mart refuses to create a copy without permission from the copyright owner.

Even asking for presents is in legal limbo. Much to the chagrin of computer-savvy children everywhere, a company in Florida called Channel Intelligence says it owns the rights to digital wish lists. Last week, it filed a lawsuit against half a dozen Internet start-ups alleging patent infringement, saying they had violated the patent by creating ways for users to create wish lists for products that people may want others to buy for them.

For Arthur Rankin Jr., creator of Claymation TV classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and The Year Without a Santa Claus, it’s all become a bit much.

“If I had written the Grinch story, I would let the people in Louisville use it,” says Rankin. “These days it can seem more like the Grinch who stole Hollywood sometimes.”

Rankin is trying to recover more than $2 million in royalties from Warner Bros., which he says failed to pay him contractual fees for broadcasting the holiday specials. Warner Bros. declined to comment on the case.

In Pictures: A Slew Of Santa Suits

Comments are turned off for this post.

Report Corrections
Reprints & Permissions

Inside Forbes

How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House
How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House
The secret weapon of the Trump campaign: his son-in-law, Jared Kushner
The Suburbs Were And Will Remain Real Battleground
The Suburbs Were And Will Remain Real Battleground

The Countries That Attract The Most Job Seekers
The Countries That Attract The Most Job Seekers

The Films That Flopped This Year
The Films That Flopped This Year

Real-Time Billionaires
Real-Time Billionaires

FORBES
BUSINESS INVESTING TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEURS OP/ED LEADERSHIP LIFESTYLE LISTS
Conferences
2016 Forbes CIO Summit
2016 Forbes Under 30 Summit: Jerusalem/ Tel Aviv
2016 Forbes Women’s Summit
2016 Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy
2016 Forbes Asia Forum: The Next Tycoons: A Generation Emerges
2016 Forbes Reinventing America AgTech Summit
2016 Forbes Under 30 Summit
2016 Forbes CMO Summit
2016 Forbes Global CEO Conference
2016 Forbes Healthcare Summit
Newsletters
Forbes Investor
Special Situation Survey
Forbes Dividend Investor
Forbes Premium Income Report
Investing Newsletters
Products
Forbes Magazine
Forbes Marketplace
ForbesBooks
Forbes Book Of Quotations
Forbes Five-Year Journal
The Intelligent REIT Investor
Forbes eBooks
Forbes Insights
Forbes Custom
Reprints, Permissions & Licensing
Forbes Newsfeeds
Forbes Custom Covers
Company Info
Advertise
Forbes Press Room
Forbes Careers
Contact Us
Sitemap
Forbes Councils
Forbes Technology Council
Forbes Agency Council
Forbes Coaches Council
Forbes Nonprofit Council
Forbes Legal Council
Forbes Communications Council
Forbes Human Resources Council
Forbes Finance Council
Forbes Executive Finance Council
Education
Forbes School of Business at Ashford University

2 Free Issues Subscriber Services Gift Subscription
Forbes Brazil Forbes Czech Forbes France Forbes Hungary Forbes India Forbes Israel Forbes Japan Forbes Kazakhstan Forbes Mexico Forbes Middle East Forbes Poland Forbes Romania Forbes Russia Forbes Spain Forbes Thailand Forbes Vietnam

© 2016 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.Terms and Conditions Privacy Statement Market Data by Morningstar AdChoices

Legal Law Help
A Legal Help & Law Information Resource

Home
Choosing a Lawyer
Legal Fees
State Laws
Who Owns Santa Claus?

About the Author
Nicholas Wells
Founder of
Wells IP Law

Santa Claus is an iconic figure in the United States. From the name “Santa Claus” to the likeness of a jolly fat man in a red suit, everyone immediately recognizes the famous holiday figure. As businesses start off their Christmas sales campaigns, many will use Santa Claus in advertisements and TV commercials. This leads to the question, does anyone actually own the rights to Santa Claus, and who gets the credit for creating the figure in the first place?

Santa Claus in the public domain?

Many believe Santa Claus to be part of the public domain, and with its widespread use, it is a public figure in all practicality. However, there is a British company called Father Christmas that owns the domain name Santa-Claus.com and owns a trademark for Santa Claus. What does this mean? For most companies, probably nothing, but it creates an interesting case study for a trademark lawyer.

Ownership of phrase “Santa Claus”

While the British company may own a trademark for the phrase “Santa Claus,” that still leaves the likeness of Santa up for grabs. The idea of Santa Claus can be traced to 4th Century Saint Nicholas, but what became the American image of Santa Claus is general traced to Washington Irving, who first described St. Nicholas in his book History of New York. This image was added upon by Clement C. Moore in “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The first likenesses of Santa similar to what we now recognize were first drawn by Thomas Nast, one of which was featured in Harper’s weekly magazine. These images are part of the public domain, so technically anyone is free to use them.

However, the modern version of Santa and the widespread recognition of the figure have to be attributed to the Coca Cola Company. Coca Cola hired an artist, who created the modern image, and then used the image in a wide-spread marketing campaign. Coca Cola still holds the rights to the images created for the company.

So what does this mean for a golf company wanting to portray Santa vacationing with its line of golf accessories or a disability attorney creating the company Christmas card? In general, as long as the company creates its own version of what Santa should look like, they are probably safe, since some images are part of the public domain while others are owned by individual organizations. Though, as Santa is such an iconic image, arguing originality will always be difficult.
Subscribe via RSS Feed
Net Visibilities
2016 © Legal Law Help

»
Ico flameTrump · DonaldTrump · election · Elections · Community · Republicans · election2016 · Democrats · 2016 · HillaryClinton · Media · Politics · 2016Election · ElectoralCollege · Clinton · Senate · Obamacare · hillary · Medicare · Recount · rescued · Carrier · GOP · Racism · BernieSanders · HealthCare · Environment · 2018 · Resistance · Obama
Dk logo med
Sign up Log in Help Join the mailing list
NEWS
COMMUNITY
ACTION

Search
GEORGE PETERSON Blog Stream Groups Following Profile
Who Owns Christmas?

By DirtyGreek
Wednesday Dec 07, 2005 · 9:27 AM CST
2 Comments (2 New)
0
9
RSS
TAGS
Business
Christmas
Holidays
Share this article

Did you ever wonder where Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer came from?
Under trademark laws, anyone who uses the name Rudolph with an image of a reindeer-like animal with a bright, red nose without permission is potentially violating terms of a trademark, which is currently owned and administered by Classic Media. The concern also owns trademarks to several other classic cartoon characters, including Lassie and Frosty the Snowman.
Continued in Theresmoreland and DirtyGreek Dot Org
More details:
The original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was written in verse by Robert L. May in 1939 for Montgomery Ward, a Chicago-based department store. The verse was published in a book, and given free to children visiting the store at Christmas. May’s brother-in-law, the lyricist Johnny Marks, later wrote a song using the verse. In 1964, a stop-action animation feature from Rankin/Bass Studios appeared on television and the friendly reindeer’s entry into popular holiday consciousness was complete.
More here:
1931: Haddon Sundblom, illustrator for The Coca-Cola company drew a series of Santa images in their Christmas advertisements until 1964. The company holds the trademark for the Coca-Cola Santa design. Christmas ads including Santa continue to the present day.
1939 Copywriter Robert L. May of the Montgomery Ward Company created a poem about Rudolph, the ninth reindeer. May had been “often taunted as a child for being shy, small and slight.” He created an ostracized reindeer with a shiny red nose who became a hero one foggy Christmas eve. Santa was part-way through deliveries when the visibility started to degenerate. Santa added Rudolph to his team of reindeer to help illuminate the path. A copy of the poem was given free to Montgomery Ward customers.

1949: Johnny Marks wrote the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Rudolph was relocated to the North Pole where he was initially rejected by the other reindeer who wouldn’t let him play in their reindeer games because of his strange looking nose. The song was recorded by Gene Autry and became his all-time best seller. Next to “White Christmas” it is the most popular song of all time.
As far as I can tell, no one owns the names of the other reindeer, but an interesting sidenote is that their names have changed a bit since they were first imagined. Henry Livingston’s “Night Before Christmas,” where the names of the reindeer first appear, first had the names written like so: “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen, On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;” Pretty Interesting.
We’ve learned that poor Blixem was doomed from the start. His name first changed to Blixen in McClure’s 1825 Almanac.
We’ve learned that the name Donder first appeared in Hoffman’s 1837 New York Book of Poetry, and reappeared in Hoffman’s 1840 Poets of New York.

We’ve learned that Norm Tuttle is responsible for the rhythm of the reindeer names in his 1830 Troy Sentinel Broadsheet, but that he kept the original reindeer names. His rhythm was slow to catch on, and for years it was mix and match of Tuttle’s rhythm on one line and the original rhythm on the next.

We’ve learned that Clement Moore went back to Tuttle’s reindeer rhythm, and that it pretty much stayed there after that. And we’ve learned that Moore is responsible for the change of the reindeer name to Blitzen.
Finally, it’s been said that the original names of the reindeer came from the names of the horses in Livingston’s stable.
2 Comments (2 New)
Share this article
0
9
by Taboola Sponsored Links FROM THE WEB
Find the Best Doctor to Treat Your Advanced Prostate Cancer
WebMD
3 Billionaires Say: Something Big Coming Soon In U.S.A
Stansberry Research
Congress Gives Homeowners Who Owe Less Than $300-625k A Once-In-A-Lifetime Mortgage Bailout
LowerMyBills
Dragon Home Digital Download
nuance.com
Angelina Jolie Reveals Bitter Truth About Her Divorce
The Wonder Nation
Ivanka Cannot Hide From These Rumors Any Longer
Trend Chaser
2 COMMENTS
Comment Settings
COMMENTS ARE CLOSED ON THIS STORY.

( f ) Recommend ( r ) Reply
More hints…
( p ) Parent ( o ) Open/Close ( j ) Next Unread ( k ) Prev Unread
[new] p a roberson Dec 07 · 10:00:07 AM
I learned
Dunder and Blixem
with the German variation. So do I owe anyone for copyright infringment?
Recommended 0 times
[new] Rolfyboy6 p a roberson Dec 07 · 10:32:22 AM
Donder and Blitzen Thunder and Lightning.
To answer your question: I own Christmas. Send money.

Recommended 0 times

RECOMMENDED LIST

Clinton staffer delivers uppercut to Kellyanne Conway, assailing ‘white supremacist’ Steve Bannon
325 208
David Nir

Trump’s Carrier Speech “Chilling” says American Enterprise economist
188 137
voracious
Message to MSNBC
168 222
turkmen

“There Are No Such Things As Facts” Says Trump Surrogate On NPR
288 241
ursulafaw

Part of an email chain about “respecting white fragility”
216 194
TrueBlueMajority
UPDATE x2: EIGHTY. THOUSAND. PEOPLE.
388 858
Brainwrap

Kos, Square this circle and you’ll know why you’re mad at everyone.
551 972
dano2l

Village Under the Bus 12-2-16 #StrongerTogether #StillWithHer
6 8
TheBatchelor

Diverse US Reps Form “Blue Collar Caucus” as Ta-Nehisi Coates Rejects “NonEconomic Oppression” Frame
116 166
tote

Veteran who was refused free Chili’s meal on Veteran’s Day now getting death threats
287 150
Walter Einenkel

Building A Party Of The Future Part 3: You Know Who Really Screwed You? People Like Me. Let’s Talk.
157 115
Chris Reeves

Trump petitions to block Michigan recount
143 179
VAallBlue
Promoted Links
YOU MAY LIKE
Find the Best Doctor to Treat Your Advanced Prostate Cancer
WebMD
Michael Moore Nails Every Racist, War-Mongering, Pseudo-Christian, RW Gun Extremist – In One Tweet
3 Billionaires Say: Something Big Coming Soon In U.S.A
Stansberry Research
Very interesting update today in regards to the FBI Clinton Server Investigation.
by Taboola
MOST SHARED

“There Are No Such Things As Facts” Says Trump Surrogate On NPR
Fb f logo blue 50 1008 Twitter logo blue 20

Donald Trump’s alma mater has decided to become a sanctuary for immigrants
Fb f logo blue 50 2416 Twitter logo blue 10

New congressman Jamie Raskin shows exactly the right attitude Democrats need for taking on Trump
Fb f logo blue 50 777 Twitter logo blue 90

Trevor Noah proves he’s Jon Stewart’s successor as he takes Trump supporter apart piece by piece
Fb f logo blue 50 515 Twitter logo blue 0

Mike Pence’s new neighbors are trolling him with rainbow flags
Fb f logo blue 50 360 Twitter logo blue 10

© Kos Media, LLC
Site content may be used for any purpose without
explicit permission unless otherwise specified.
“Kos” and “Daily Kos” are registered trademarks of
Kos Media, LLC.
Site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified. “Kos” and “Daily Kos” are registered trademarks of Kos Media, LLC.

Privacy Policy
Daily Kos
Front Page
Elections
Labor
Radio
Comics
RSS
About
Masthead
History
Writers
Terms
Rules of the Road
DMCA Copyright Notice
Endorsements
Privacy
Merchandise
Shirts
Advertising
Advertising Overview
Stats for advertisers
Contact
Media Inquiries
General Inquiries
Jobs

CLOSE
To all our readers in the U.S.:
Time is running out in 2016 to help Wikipedia. When I made Wikipedia a non-profit, people warned me I’d regret it. Over a decade later, it’s the only top ten site run by a non-profit and a community of passionate volunteers. Has it crossed my mind how much money we could have made if it had ads? Sure. But it just wouldn’t be the same. We wouldn’t be able to trust it. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We’re sustained by donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this right now gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. That’s right, the price of a cup of coffee is all we need. People say we live in a media environment where facts have become subjective. At Wikipedia, we reject that idea. We believe facts matter. I ask you, humbly: please help us keep Wikipedia online and growing. Thank you — Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder

One-time
Monthly*
Select an amount (USD)

3

5

10

20

30

50

100

Other
Credit Card
PayPal Amazon
SECURE TRANSACTION
Maybe later
Christmas Island
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. For other uses, see Christmas Island (disambiguation).
For the island forming part of Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean, see Kiritimati.
Territory of Christmas Island

Flag
Anthem: Advance Australia Fair

Status External Territory
Capital
and largest city Flying Fish Cove
(“The Settlement”)
Official languages None[a] Mother languages Chinese, Malay, English
Ethnic groups
65% Chinese
20% Malay
10% European
5% Indian and Eurasian
Demonym Christmas Islander
Sovereign state Australia
Government Federal constitutional monarchy
• Monarch Elizabeth II
• Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Sir Peter Cosgrove
• Administrator Barry Haase
• Shire President Foo Kee Heng
Establishment
• Sovereignty
transferred from Singapore to Australia
1957
Area
• Total 135 km2
52 sq mi
• Water (%) 0
Population
• 2011 estimate 2,072[1] (220th)
• Density 10.39/km2 (n/a)
26.96/sq mi
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Time zone CXT (UTC+7)
Drives on the left
Calling code 61
ISO 3166 code CX
Internet TLD .cx
a. ^ English does not have de jure status in Christmas Island and in Australia, but it is the de facto language of communication in government.
Christmas Island, officially the Territory of Christmas Island, is an external territory of the Commonwealth of Australia located in Christmas Island, comprising the island of the same name. It has a population of 2,072 residents, who live mainly in settlements on the northern tip of the island, including Flying Fish Cove (also known as Kampong), Silver City, Poon Saan, and Drumsite. Around two-thirds of the island’s population are Malaysian Chinese, with significant numbers of Malays and European Australians as well as smaller numbers of Malaysian Indians and Eurasians. Several languages are in use, including English, Malay, and various Chinese dialects, while Buddhism is the primary religion, followed by three-quarters of the population.

The island was discovered on Christmas Day (25 December) 1643, but only settled in the late 19th century. Its geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of interest to scientists and naturalists.[2] 63% of its 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi) is an Australian national park. There exist large areas of primary monsoonal forest. Phosphate, deposited originally as guano, has been mined on the island for many years.

Contents [hide] 1 Geography
1.1 Beaches
1.2 Climate
2 History
2.1 First visits by Europeans, 1643
2.2 Exploration and annexation
2.3 Settlement and exploitation
2.4 Japanese invasion
2.5 Transfer to Australia
3 Refugee and immigration detention
4 Demographics
5 Government
5.1 Economy
6 Culture
6.1 Attractions
7 Flora and fauna
7.1 Flora
7.2 Fauna
8 Media
8.1 Television
8.2 Telecommunications
8.3 Postage stamps
9 Transport
10 Education
11 See also
12 Notes
13 References
14 Further reading
15 External links
Geography[edit]

Christmas Island
Located at 10°30′S 105°40′E, the island is about 19 kilometres (12 mi) in greatest length and 14.5 km (9.0 mi) in breadth. The total land area is 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi), with 138.9 km (86.3 mi) of coastline. The island is the flat summit of an underwater mountain more than 4,500 metres (14,800 ft) high,[3] which rises from about 4,200 m (13,780 ft) below the sea and only about 300 m (984 ft) above it.[4] The mountain was originally a volcano, and some basalt is exposed in places such as The Dales and Dolly Beach, but most of the surface rock is limestone accumulated from coral growth. The karst terrain supports numerous anchialine caves.[5] The summit of this mountain peak is formed by a succession of tertiary limestones ranging from the eocene (or oligocene) up to recent reef deposits, with intercalations of volcanic rock in the older beds.[6]

Steep cliffs along much of the coast rise abruptly to a central plateau. Elevation ranges from sea level to 361 m (1,184 ft) at Murray Hill. The island is mainly tropical rainforest, 63% of which is national park land.

The narrow fringing reef surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard.

Christmas Island lies 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) northwest of Perth, Western Australia, 500 km (310 mi) south of Indonesia, 975 km (606 mi) ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and 2,748 km (1,708 mi) west of Darwin, Northern Territory. Its closest point to the Australian mainland is 1,560 km (970 mi) from the town of Exmouth, Western Australia.[citation needed]

Beaches[edit]

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Christmas Island has 80 kilometres of shoreline but only small parts of the shoreline are easily accessible. The island’s perimeter is embodied by sharp cliff faces, making many of the islands beaches difficult to get to. Some of the easily accessible beaches include Flying Fish Cove (main beach), Lily Beach, Ethel Beach, and Isabel Beach, while the more difficult beaches to access include Greta Beach, Dolly Beach, Winifred Beach, Merrial Beach, and West White Beach, which all require a vehicle with four wheel drive and a difficult walk through dense rainforest to access.

Climate[edit] As Christmas Island is located toward the southern edge of the equatorial region, climate is tropical and temperatures vary little throughout the months. The highest temperature is usually around 29 °C (84 °F) in March and April, while the lowest temperature is 23 °C (73 °F) and occurs in August. There is a dry season from July to November with only occasional showers. The wet season is between November and May, and includes monsoons, which are downpours of rain at random times of the day. Tropical cyclones may also occur in the wet season, bringing very solid winds, rain and enormous seas. These tropical cyclones only happen occasionally, for most of the time during the wet season is damp, subside weather.

[hide]Climate data for Christmas Island Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.6
(87.1) 31.5
(88.7) 31.5
(88.7) 31.4
(88.5) 30.0
(86) 29.4
(84.9) 28.8
(83.8) 29.5
(85.1) 30.9
(87.6) 31.4
(88.5) 31.8
(89.2) 31.2
(88.2) 31.8
(89.2)
Average high °C (°F) 28.9
(84) 28.9
(84) 29.2
(84.6) 29.2
(84.6) 28.8
(83.8) 28.0
(82.4) 27.2
(81) 27.0
(80.6) 27.2
(81) 27.8
(82) 28.2
(82.8) 28.7
(83.7) 28.3
(82.9)
Average low °C (°F) 23.6
(74.5) 23.6
(74.5) 24.0
(75.2) 24.5
(76.1) 24.8
(76.6) 24.2
(75.6) 23.5
(74.3) 23.2
(73.8) 23.2
(73.8) 23.6
(74.5) 23.8
(74.8) 23.5
(74.3) 23.8
(74.8)
Record low °C (°F) 18.8
(65.8) 18.4
(65.1) 18.6
(65.5) 18.3
(64.9) 19.3
(66.7) 18.5
(65.3) 17.9
(64.2) 18.7
(65.7) 18.7
(65.7) 18.2
(64.8) 18.0
(64.4) 18.0
(64.4) 17.9
(64.2)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 293.6
(11.559) 348.4
(13.717) 290.9
(11.453) 221.8
(8.732) 176.7
(6.957) 155.8
(6.134) 96.9
(3.815) 43.1
(1.697) 47.0
(1.85) 68.7
(2.705) 147.7
(5.815) 210.7
(8.295) 2,110.5
(83.091)
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology[7] History[edit] First visits by Europeans, 1643[edit] Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary, an English East India Company vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day, in 1643.[8] The island was included on English and Dutch navigation charts as early as the beginning of the 17th century, but it was not until 1666 that a map published by Dutch cartographer Pieter Goos included the island. Goos labelled the island “Mony” or “Moni”,[9] the meaning of which is unclear.[10] English navigator William Dampier, aboard the English ship Cygnet, made the earliest recorded visit to the sea around the island in March 1688.[9] He found it uninhabited.[11][9] Dampier gave an account of the visit which can be found in his Voyages.[12] Dampier was trying to reach Cocos from New Holland. His ship was pulled off course in an easterly direction, arriving at Christmas Island twenty-eight days later. Dampier landed at the Dales (on the west coast). Two of his crewmen became the first Europeans to set foot on Christmas Island.[13]

Daniel Beeckman made the next recorded visit, chronicled in his 1718 book, A Voyage to and from the Island of Borneo, in the East-Indies.[citation needed]

Exploration and annexation[edit]

Poon Saan in the evening

Poon Saan shops
The first attempt at exploring the island was in 1857 by the crew of the Amethyst. They tried to reach the summit of the island, but found the cliffs impassable.

During the 1872–76 Challenger expedition to Indonesia, naturalist John Murray carried out extensive surveys.[14]

In 1886, Captain John Maclear of HMS Flying Fish, having discovered an anchorage in a bay that he named “Flying Fish Cove”, landed a party and made a small collection of the flora and fauna.[9] In the next year, Pelham Aldrich, on board HMS Egeria, visited it for ten days, accompanied by J. J. Lister, who gathered a larger biological and mineralogical collection.[9]

Among the rocks then obtained and submitted to Murray for examination were many of nearly pure phosphate of lime. This discovery led to annexation of the island by the British Crown on 6 June 1888.[14]

Settlement and exploitation[edit] Soon afterwards, a small settlement was established in Flying Fish Cove by G. Clunies Ross, the owner of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (some 900 kilometres (560 mi) to the south west) to collect timber and supplies for the growing industry on Cocos. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s using indentured workers from Singapore, Malaya and China. John Davis Murray, a mechanical engineer and recent graduate of Purdue University, was sent to supervise the operation on behalf of the Phosphate Mining and Shipping Company. Murray was known as the “King of Christmas Island” until 1910, when he married and settled in London.[15]

The island was administered jointly by the British Phosphate commissioners and district officers from the United Kingdom Colonial Office through the Straits Settlements, and later the Crown Colony of Singapore. Hunt (2011) provides a detailed history of Chinese indentured labour on the island during those years. In 1922, scientists attempted unsuccessfully to view a solar eclipse from the island to test Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.[16]

Christmas Island produces the 199th most exports in the world, as of 2014. The country’s top exports include phosphatic fertilizers ($15.5M), calcium phosphate ($12M), and computers ($464K). Their top imports include refined petroleum ($6.39M), cars ($2.11M), and air conditioners ($1.07M).

Japanese invasion[edit] Main article: Battle of Christmas Island
From the outbreak of the South-East Asian theatre of World War II in December 1941, Christmas Island was a target for Japanese occupation because of its rich phosphate deposits.[17] A naval gun was installed under a British officer and four NCOs and 27 Indian soldiers.[17] The first attack was carried out on 20 January 1942, by the Japanese submarine I-59, which torpedoed a Norwegian freighter, the Eidsvold.[18] The vessel drifted and eventually sank off West White Beach. Most of the European and Asian staff and their families were evacuated to Perth. In late February and early March 1942, there were two aerial bombing raids. Shelling from a Japanese naval group on 7 March led the district officer to hoist the white flag.[17] But after the Japanese naval group sailed away, the British officer raised the Union flag once more.[17] During the night of 10–11 March, a mutiny of the Indian troops, abetted by Sikh policemen, led to the killing of the five British soldiers and the imprisonment of the remaining 21 Europeans.[17] At dawn on 31 March 1942, a dozen Japanese bombers launched the attack, destroying the radio station. The same day, a Japanese fleet of nine vessels arrived, and the island was surrendered. About 850 men of the 21st and 24th special base forces and 102nd Construction Unit came ashore at Flying Fish Cove and occupied the island.[17] They rounded up the workforce, most of whom had fled to the jungle. Sabotaged equipment was repaired and preparations were made to resume the mining and export of phosphate. Only 20 men from the 21st Special Base Force were left as a garrison.[17]

Isolated acts of sabotage and the torpedoing of the Nissei Maru at the wharf on 17 November 1942[19] meant that only small amounts of phosphate were exported to Japan during the occupation. In November 1943, over 60% of the island’s population was evacuated to Surabayan prison camps, leaving a total population of just under 500 Chinese and Malays and 15 Japanese to survive as best they could. In October 1945, HMS Rother re-occupied Christmas Island.[20][21][22][23]

After the war, seven mutineers were traced and prosecuted by the Military Court in Singapore. In 1947, five of them were sentenced to death. However, following representations made by the newly independent government of India, their sentences were reduced to penal servitude for life.[17]

Transfer to Australia[edit] At Australia’s request, the United Kingdom transferred sovereignty to Australia, with a M$20 million payment from the Australian government to Singapore as compensation for the loss of earnings from the phosphate revenue.[24]

The United Kingdom’s Christmas Island Act was given royal assent on 14 May 1958, enabling Britain to transfer authority over Christmas Island from Singapore to Australia by an order-in-council.[25]

Australia’s Christmas Island Act was passed in September 1958 and the island was officially placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 October 1958.[26]

Under Commonwealth Cabinet Decision 1573 of 9 September 1958, D. E. Nickels was appointed the first official representative of the new territory.[27] In a media statement on 5 August 1960, the minister for territories, Paul Hasluck, said, among other things, that, “His extensive knowledge of the Malay language and the customs of the Asian people… has proved invaluable in the inauguration of Australian administration… During his two years on the island he had faced unavoidable difficulties… and constantly sought to advance the island’s interests.” John William Stokes succeeded him and served from 1 October 1960, to 12 June 1966. On his departure he was lauded by all sectors of the island community. In 1968, the official secretary was re-titled an administrator and, since 1997, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands together are called the Australian Indian Ocean Territories and share a single administrator resident on Christmas Island. Recollections of the island’s history and lifestyle, and lists and timetables of the island’s leaders and events since its settlement are at the World Statesmen site[28] and in Neale (1988), Bosman (1993), Hunt (2011) and Stokes (2012).

The settlement of Silver City was built in the 1970s, with aluminium-clad houses that were supposed to be cyclone-proof, but even now a days, houses are not prepared and damages happen and roofs fly over the gardens, that’s why we provide the best roofing services on Palm Beach, find out more on my site.[29]

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami centred off the western shore of Sumatra in Indonesia, resulted in no reported casualties, but some swimmers were swept some 150 metres (490 ft) out to sea for a time before being swept back in.[30]

Refugee and immigration detention[edit] See also: Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre

Immigration Detention Centre
From the late 1980s and early 1990s, boats carrying asylum seekers, mainly departing from Indonesia, began landing on the island. In 2001, Christmas Island was the site of the Tampa controversy, in which the Australian government stopped a Norwegian ship, MV Tampa, from disembarking 438 rescued asylum-seekers. The ensuing standoff and the associated political reactions in Australia were a major issue in the 2001 Australian federal election.[31]

The Howard government operated the “Pacific Solution” from 2001-2007, excising Christmas Island from Australia’s migration zone so that asylum seekers on the island could not apply for refugee status. Asylum seekers were relocated from Christmas Island to Manus Island and Nauru. In 2006, an immigration detention centre, containing approximately 800 beds, was constructed on the island for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Originally estimated to cost A$276 million,[32] the final cost was over $400 million.[33]

In 2007, the Rudd government announced plans to decommission Manus Island Regional Processing Centre and Nauru detention centre; processing would then occur on Christmas Island itself.[34]

In December 2010, 48 asylum-seekers died just off the coast of the island in what became known as the Christmas Island boat disaster when the boat they were on hit rocks off Flying Fish Cove, and then smashed against nearby cliffs.[35][36]

In the case Plaintiff M61/2010E v Commonwealth of Australia, the High Court of Australia ruled, in a 7–0 joint judgment, that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island were entitled to the protections of the Migration Act. Accordingly, the Commonwealth was obliged to afford asylum seekers a minimum of procedural fairness when assessing their claims.[37]

As of 20 June 2013, after the interception of four boats in six days, carrying 350 people, the Immigration Department stated that there were 2,960 “irregular maritime arrivals” being held in the island’s five detention facilities, which exceeded not only the “regular operating capacity” of 1,094 people, but the “contingency capacity” of 2,724.[38]

Demographics[edit]

Christmas Island’s population pyramid, from a census in 2011, showing a large proportion of males over females.
As of the 2011 Australian census, the estimated resident population is 2,072. This does not include the highly variable population at the Immigration Detention Centre.

The ethnic composition is 65% Chinese, 20% Malay, 10% European and 5% Indian and Eurasian.[39][40] A 2011 report by the Australian government estimated that religions practised on Christmas Island include Buddhism 75%, Christianity 12%, Islam 10%, and other 3%.[41] This includes Traditional Chinese religions like Taoism and Confucianism, as well as the Baha’i Faith.[42] The cuisine of Christmas Island is mostly flown or shipped in.

Government[edit]

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Christmas Island is a non-self-governing territory of Australia, currently administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Administration was carried out by the Attorney-General’s Department[43] until 14 September 2010,[44] and prior to this by the Department of Transport and Regional Services before 29 November 2007.[45] The legal system is under the authority of the Governor-General of Australia and Australian law. An administrator appointed by the Governor-General represents the monarch and Australia.

The Australian government provides services through the Christmas Island Administration and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Under the federal government’s Territories Law Reform Act 1992, which came into force on 1 July 1992, Western Australian laws are applied to Christmas Island “so far as they are capable of applying in the territory”;[46] non-application or partial application of such laws is at the discretion of the federal government. The act also gives Western Australian courts judicial power over Christmas Island. Christmas Island remains constitutionally distinct from Western Australia, however; the power of the state to legislate for the territory is delegated by the federal government. The kind of services typically provided by a state government elsewhere in Australia are provided by departments of the Western Australian government, and by contractors, with the costs met by the federal government. A unicameral Shire of Christmas Island with nine seats provides local government services and is elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Elections are held every two years, with four or five of the members standing for election.

Christmas Island residents who are Australian citizens also vote in federal elections. Christmas Island residents are represented in the House of Representatives by the Division of Lingiari in the Northern Territory and in the Senate by Northern Territory senators.[47]

In early 1986, the Christmas Island Assembly held a design competition for an island flag; the winning design was adopted as the informal flag of the territory for over a decade, and in 2002 it was made the official flag of Christmas Island.

Economy[edit]

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Phosphate mining had been the only significant economic activity, but in December 1987 the Australian government closed the mine. In 1991, the mine was reopened by a consortium which included many of the former mine workers as shareholders. With the support of the government, the $34 million Christmas Island Casino and Resort opened in 1993, but was closed in 1998. As of 2011, the resort has re-opened without the casino.

The Australian government in 2001 agreed to support the creation of a commercial spaceport on the island, however this has not yet been constructed, and appears that it will not proceed. The Howard government built a temporary immigration detention centre on the island in 2001 and planned to replace it with a larger, modern facility at North West Point until Howard’s defeat in the 2007 elections.

Culture[edit]

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The culture of Christmas Island is unique, for people of many different ethnicities inhabit the area. The majority of residents are Chinese, but Europeans and Malays reside there as well with small Indian and Eurasian communities too. The main languages of Christmas Island are English and Chinese. Dress is usually modest, and tourists should keep a wrap, such as a sarong or pareo, on hand to cover shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops. It is common to remove shoes when entering a house and to also avoid touching anyone’s head.

Religious beliefs are diverse, but people are very tolerant of each other’s religions. The religions practised include Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity. There is a Mosque in Flying Fish Cove. With all of these religions, there are many religious festivals, such as Spring Festival, Hari Raya, Christmas and Easter.[48] Additionally, there is a Bahá’í centre on the island[49]

Attractions[edit]

Car moving across the backroads of Christmas Island
Christmas Island is well known for its biological diversity. There are many rare species of animals and plants on the island, making nature-walking a popular activity. Along with the diversity of species, many different types of caves exist, such as plateau caves, coastal caves, raised coastal caves and alcoves, sea caves, fissure caves, collapse caves and basalt caves; most of these are near the sea and have been formed by the action of water. Altogether, there are 42 caves on the island,[citation needed] with Lost Lake Cave, Daniel Roux Cave and Full Frontal Cave being the most well-known. The many freshwater springs include Hosnies Spring Ramsar, which also has a mangrove stand. The Dales is a rainforest in the western part of the island and consists of seven deep valleys, all of which were formed by spring streams. Hugh’s Dale waterfall is part of this area and is a popular attraction. The annual breeding migration of the red crabs is a popular event. Fishing is another common activity. There are many distinctive species of fish in the oceans surrounding Christmas Island. Snorkeling and swimming in the ocean are two other activities that are extremely popular. Walking trails are also very popular, for there are many beautiful trails surrounded by extravagant flora and fauna. 63% of the island is national park making it one of the main attractions to experience when visiting.

Flora and fauna[edit] See also: Birds of Christmas Island and List of mammals of Christmas Island

Robber Crab

Christmas Island red crab

Red-footed boobies

Common noddy

Brown booby
Christmas Island was uninhabited until the late 19th century, allowing many species to evolve without human interference. Two-thirds of the island has been declared a National Park, which is managed by the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage through Parks Australia. Christmas Island has always been known for its unique species, both of flora and fauna.

Flora[edit] The dense rainforest has grown in the deep soils of the plateau and on the terraces. The forests are dominated by 25 tree species. Ferns, orchids and vines grow on the branches in the humid atmosphere beneath the canopy. The 135 plant species include at least 18 that are found nowhere else. The rainforest is in great condition despite the mining activities over the last 100 years. Areas that have been damaged by mining are now a part of an ongoing rehabilitation project. The island is small and covers 135 square kilometres of land which 63% of that land has been declared National Park.[50]

Christmas Island’s endemic plants include the trees Arenga listeri, Pandanus elatus and Dendrocnide peltata var. murrayana; the shrubs Abutilon listeri, Colubrina pedunculata, Grewia insularis and Pandanus christmatensis; the vines Hoya aldrichii and Zehneria alba; the herbs Asystasia alba, Dicliptera maclearii and Peperomia rossii; the grass Ischaemum nativitatis; the fern Asplenium listeri; and the orchids Brachypeza archytas, Flickingeria nativitatis, Phreatia listeri and Zeuxine exilis.[51]

Fauna[edit] Two species of native rats, the Maclear’s and bulldog rats, have become extinct since the island was settled, while the Javan rusa has been introduced. The endemic Christmas Island shrew has not been seen since the mid-1980s and may be already extinct, while the Christmas Island pipistrelle (a small bat) is critically endangered and possibly also extinct.[52]

The land crabs and seabirds are the most noticeable fauna on the island. Christmas Island has been identified by BirdLife International as both an Endemic Bird Area and an Important Bird Area because it supports five endemic species and five subspecies as well as over 1% of the world populations of five other seabirds.[53]

Twenty terrestrial and intertidal species of crab have been described here, of which thirteen are regarded as true land crabs, being only dependent on the ocean for larval development. Robber crabs, known elsewhere as coconut crabs, also exist in large numbers on the island. The annual red crab mass migration (around 100 million animals) to the sea to spawn has been called one of the wonders of the natural world.[54] This takes place each year around November – after the start of the wet season and in synchronisation with the cycle of the moon. Once at the ocean, the mothers release the embryos where they can survive and grow until they are able to live on land.

The island is a focal point for seabirds of various species. Eight species or subspecies of seabirds nest on it. The most numerous is the red-footed booby, which nests in colonies, using trees on many parts of the shore terrace. The widespread brown booby nests on the ground near the edge of the seacliff and inland cliffs. Abbott’s booby (listed as endangered) nests on tall emergent trees of the western, northern and southern plateau rainforest, the only remaining nesting habitat for this bird in the world. Another endangered and endemic bird, the Christmas frigatebird, has nesting areas on the northeastern shore terraces. The more widespread great frigatebirds nest in semi-deciduous trees on the shore terrace, with the greatest concentrations being in the North West and South Point areas. The common noddy and two species of bosun or tropicbirds, with their brilliant gold or silver plumage and distinctive streamer tail feathers, also nest on the island.

Of the ten native land birds and shorebirds, seven are endemic species or subspecies. This includes the Christmas thrush and the Christmas imperial pigeon. Some 86 migrant bird species have been recorded as visitors to the island.

Six species of butterfly are known to occur on Christmas Island. These are the Christmas swallowtail (Papilio memnon), striped albatross (Appias olferna), Christmas emperor (Polyura andrewsi), king cerulean (Jamides bochus), lesser grass-blue (Zizina otis), and Papuan grass-yellow (Eurema blanda).[55]

Media[edit] Christmas Island has access to a range of modern communication services.

Radio broadcasts from Australia include ABC Radio National, ABC Kimberley, Triple J and Red FM. All services are provided by satellite links from the mainland. Broadband internet became available to subscribers in urban areas in mid-2005 through the local internet service provider, CIIA (formerly dotCX).

Christmas Island, due to its close proximity to Australia’s northern neighbours, falls within many of the satellite footprints throughout the region. This results in ideal conditions for receiving various Asian broadcasts, which locals sometimes prefer to those emanating from Western Australia. Additionally, ionospheric conditions are conducive to terrestrial radio transmissions, from HF through VHF and sometimes into UHF. The island plays home to a small array of radio equipment that spans a good chunk of the usable spectrum. A variety of government owned and operated antenna systems are employed on the island to take advantage of this.

Television[edit] Free-to-air digital television stations from Australia are broadcast in the same time zone as Perth, and are broadcast from three separate locations:

Broadcaster Drumsite Phosphate Hill Rocky Point
ABC ABC 6 ABC 34 ABC 40
SBS SBS 7 SBS 35 SBS 41
WAW WAW 8 WAW 36 WAW 42
WOW WOW 10 WOW 36 WOW 43
WDW WDW 11 WDW 38 WDW 44
[56]

Cable television from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States commenced in January 2013.

Telecommunications[edit] Telephone services are provided by Telstra and are a part of the Australian network with the same prefix as Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory (08). A GSM mobile telephone system[57] replaced the old analogue network in February 2005.

Postage stamps[edit] Main article: Postage stamps and postal history of Christmas Island

Postage stamp with portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, 1958
A postal agency was opened on the island in 1901 and sold stamps of the Strait Settlements.[58]

After the Japanese occupation (1942–45), postage stamps of the British Military Administration in Malaya were in use, then stamps of Singapore.[59]

In 1958, the island received its own postage stamps after being put under Australian custody. It had a large philatelic and postal independence, managed first by the Phosphate Commission (1958–1969) and then by the island’s administration (1969–93).[58] This ended on 2 March 1993 when Australia Post became the island’s postal operator; Christmas Island stamps may be used in Australia and Australian stamps may be used on the island.[59]

Transport[edit] A container port exists at Flying Fish Cove with an uncompleted alternative container-unloading point to the east of the island at Norris Point, intended for use during the December-to-March “swell season” of rough seas.

The 18-km standard gauge Christmas Island Phosphate Co.’s Railway from Flying Fish Cove to the phosphate mine was constructed in 1914. It was closed in December 1987, when the Australian government closed the mine, and since has been recovered as scrap, leaving only earthworks in places.

Virgin Australia Regional Airlines provides two weekly flights to Christmas Island Airport from Perth, Western Australia, and ad hoc charter flight from/to Jakarta organised by the Christmas Island Travel Exchange.

There is a recreation centre at Phosphate Hill operated by South Australian-based CASA Leisure Pty Ltd. There is also a taxi service. The road network covers most of the island and is of generally good quality, although four-wheel drive vehicles are needed to reach some of the more distant parts of the rainforest or the more isolated beaches on the rough dirt roads.

Education[edit] The island-operated crèche is in the Recreation Centre.[60] Christmas Island District High School, catering to students in grades P-12, is run by the Western Australian Education Department. There are no universities on Christmas Island.

The island has one public library.[61]

See also[edit] Outline of Christmas Island
Index of Christmas Island-related articles
.cx
Terrestrial globe.svgGeography portal Icône Ile.svgIslands portal Asia (orthographic projection).svgAsia portal Location Southeast Asia.svgSoutheast Asia portal Flag of Australia.svgAustralia portal
Notes[edit] Jump up ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). “Christmas Island”. 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
Jump up ^ “Save Christmas Island – Introduction”. The Wilderness Society. 19 September 2002. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
Jump up ^ “Submission on Development Potential No. 37” (PDF). Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
Jump up ^ “Christmas island”. World Factbook. CIA. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
Jump up ^ Iliffe T, Humphreys W (2016). “Christmas Islands Hidden Secret”. Advanced Diver Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-02.
Jump up ^ II.—A MONOGRAPH OF CHRISTMAS ISLAND (INDIAN OCEAN:PHYSICAL FEATURES AND GEOLOGY). By C. W. ANDREWS. With descriptions of the fauna and flora by numerous contributors. 8vo ; pp. xiii, 337, 22 plates, 1 map, text illustrated.(London : printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1900.)
Jump up ^ “Climate statistics for Christmas Island”. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
Jump up ^ “Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts – Christmas Island History”. Australian Government. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Christmas Island”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 294–295.
Jump up ^ “Digital Collections – Maps – Goos, Pieter, ca. 1616–1675. Paskaerte Zynde t’Oosterdeel Van Oost Indien (cartographic material) : met alle de Eylanden deer ontrendt geleegen van C. Comorin tot aen Iapan”. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
Jump up ^ Carney, Gerard (2006). The constitutional systems of the Australian states and territories. Cambridge University Press. p. 477. ISBN 0-521-86305-8. The uninhabited island was named on Christmas Day, 1643, by Captain William Mynors as he sailed past, leaving to William Dampier the honour of first landing ashore in 1688.
Jump up ^ Dampier, Captain William (1703). A New Voyage Round The World. The Crown in St Paul’s Church-yard, London, England: James Knapton. pp. Contemporary full panelled calf with raised bands to spine and crimson morocco title labels; crimson sprinkled edges; 8vo.
Jump up ^ “Where is Christmas Island?”. Hamilton Stamp Club. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
^ Jump up to: a b “History”. Christmas Island Tourism Association. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
Jump up ^ Walsh, William (1913). A Handy Book of Curious Information. London: Lippincott. p. 447.
Jump up ^ John Hunt. Eclipse on Christmas Island. newspaper article in ‘The Canberra Times’, 5 September 2012.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h L, Klemen (1999–2000). “The Mystery of Christmas Island, March 1942”. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
Jump up ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). “Allied Merchant Ship Losses in the Pacific and Southeast Asia”. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
Jump up ^ Cressman, Robert J. “The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II Chapter IV: 1942”. Hyperwar/.
Jump up ^ Public Record Office, England War Office and Colonial Office Correspondence/Straits Settlements.
Jump up ^ J. Pettigrew. “Christmas Island in World War II”. Australian Territories January 1962.
Jump up ^ Interviews conducted by J G Hunt with Island residents, 1973–77.
Jump up ^ Correspondence J G Hunt with former Island residents, 1973–79.
Jump up ^ Department of External Affairs in Australia. (1957, May 16): Report from the Australian High Commission in Singapore to the Department of External Affairs in Australia. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore. (Microfilm: NAB 447)
Jump up ^ “All set for transfer. (1958, May 16)”. The Straits Times, p. 2.
Jump up ^ “Kerr, A. (2009). A federation in these seas: An account of the acquisition by Australia of its external territories, with selected documents.”. Barton, A.C.T.: Attorney General’s Dept, p. 329. (Call no.: R 325.394 KER).
Jump up ^ “Mr D. E. Nickels and Mrs Nickels interviewed by Jan Adams in the Christmas Island life story oral history project”. National Library of Australia.
Jump up ^ “Christmas Island”. World Statesmen.
Jump up ^ Island Life – Christmas Island – About
Jump up ^ Main article: Countries affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
Jump up ^ Fowler, Connie (2003). “Karsten Klepsuik, John Howard and the Tampa Crisis: Good Luck or Good Management?”. Nordic Notes. Celsius Centre for Scandinavian Studies (Flinders University). ISSN 1442-5165. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
Jump up ^ http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/house/committee/pwc/christmasisland08/report/fullreport.pdf
Jump up ^ “Detention on Christmas Island”. Amnesty International. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
Jump up ^ “Savings for Labor’s Better Priorities: Close Nauru and Manus Island detention centres” (RTF download). Public release of costing. electioncostings.gov.au. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
Jump up ^ Needham, Kirsty; Stevenson, Andrew; Allard, Tom (16 December 2010). “Doomed asylum seekers’ boat not being tracked by Customs: minister”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 December 2010.
Jump up ^ “Leaders pay tribute to asylum shipwreck victims”. ABC. ABC/AAP. 9 February 2011.
Jump up ^ Hume, David (2010-11-25). “Offshore processing: has the bar been lifted?”. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
Jump up ^ Rintoul, Stuart (19 July 2013). “Pre-election surge pushes island centres far beyond capacity”. The Australian. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
Jump up ^ http://www.cidhs.cx/island-induction
Jump up ^ Simone Dennis (2008). Christmas Island: An Anthropological Study. Cambria Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 9781604975109.
Jump up ^ Parliament of Australia
Jump up ^ “Christmas Island Tourism Association – Culture”. www.christmas.net.au. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
Jump up ^ First Assistant Secretary, Territories Division (30 January 2008). “Territories of Australia”. Attorney-General’s Department. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2008. The Federal Government, through the Attorney-General’s Department administers Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay, and Norfolk Island as Territories.[dead link] Jump up ^ First Assistant Secretary, Access to Justice Division (2 February 2011). “Territories of Australia”. Attorney-General’s Department. Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011. Under the Administrative Arrangements Order made on 14 September 2010, responsibility for services to Territories was transferred to the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government.
Jump up ^ Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. “Territories of Australia”. Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2008. As part of the Machinery of Government Changes following the Federal Election on 29 November 2007, administrative responsibility for Territories has been transferred to the Attorney General’s Department.
Jump up ^ Territories Law Reform Act 1992
Jump up ^ “Profile of the electoral division of Lingiari (NT)”. Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
Jump up ^ Destination Specialist: South Pacific including Micronesia. Institute of Certified Travel Agents. 2001.
Jump up ^ Christmas Island Tourism – Culture. Christmas.net.au. Retrieved on 2014-05-25.
Jump up ^ Tierney, Beth (2007). The Essential Christmas Island Travel Guide. Christmas Island Tourism Association.
Jump up ^ Christmas Island National Park: Flora.
Jump up ^ “Parks Australia”.
Jump up ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Christmas Island. Downloaded from “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 2013-05-07. on 23 December 2011.
Jump up ^ “Geoscience Australia on Christmas Island”. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007.
Jump up ^ Braby, Michael F. (2008). The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 0 643 09027 4.
Jump up ^ “List of licensed broadcasting transmitters”. ACMA. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
Jump up ^ http://regional.gov.au/territories/Christmas/traveller_info.aspx
^ Jump up to: a b Richard Breckon, “Christmas Island’s Stamps and Postal History: 50 Years of Australian Administration”, Gibbons Stamp Monthly, October 2008, pp. 81–85.
^ Jump up to: a b Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 4th edition, 2007, pp. 104–112.
Jump up ^ “Recreation Centre”. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009.
Jump up ^ “Public library”.
References[edit] “Flora: Endemic plants”. Parks and Reserves: Christmas Island National Park. Australia Government – Dept of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
L, Klemen (1999–2000). “Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942”. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
Further reading[edit] Adams, Jan; Neale, Marg (1993). Christmas Island – The Early Years – 1888–1958. Bruce Neale. ISBN 0-646-14894-X. 96 pages, including many b&w photographs.
Allen, Gerald R.; Steene, Roger C. (1998). Fishes of Christmas Island (1 ed.). Christmas Island Natural History Association. ISBN 0-9591210-1-3. 197 pages including many photographs and plates.
Allen, Gerald R.; Steene, Roger C.; Orchard, Max (2007). Fishes of Christmas Island (2 ed.). Christmas Island Natural History Association. ISBN 978-0-9591210-8-7
Andrews, Charles W. (1899). “A Description of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)”. Geographical Journal. 13 (1): 17–35. doi:10.2307/1774789
Andrews, Charles W. (1900). “A Monograph of Christmas Island”. London
Anonymous, 1984, Christmas Island, Indian Ocean – a Unique Island. Published by a committee of present and former employees of the phosphate mining company. 60 pages including colour photographs.
Ayris, Cyril (1993). Tai Ko Seng – Gordon Bennett of Christmas Island. Gordon Bennett Educational Foundation. ISBN 0-646-15483-4. 263 pages including photographs.
Bosman, D, ed. (1993). Christmas Island Police – 1958–1983. D Bosman. 112 pages including many photographs.
“CIA World Factbook”. Central Intelligence Agency. 2002
Gray, H.S. (1981). Christmas Island Naturally. H.S. Gray. ISBN 0-9594105-0-3. 133 pages including many colour photographs.
Hicks, John; Rumpff, Holger; Yorkston, Hugh (1984). Christmas Crabs. Christmas Island Natural History Association. ISBN 0-9591210-0-5. 76 pages including colour photographs.
Hunt, John (2011). Suffering Through Strength: The Men who Made Christmas Island. ISBN 9780646550114
The Indian Ocean: a select bibliography. National Library of Australia. 1979. ISBN 0-642-99150-2
Neale, Margaret (1988). We were the Christmas Islanders. Bruce Neale. ISBN 0-7316-4158-2. 207 pages including many b&w photographs.
Orchard, Max (2012). Crabs of Christmas Island. Christmas Island Natural History Association. ISBN 9780646576428 288 pages pictorial illustration of crabs.
Stokes, Tony (2012). Whatever Will Be, I’ll See: Growing Up in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in the Northern Territory, Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. ISBN 9780646575643. 238 pages.
Wharton, W. J. L. (1888). “Account of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean”. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography. 10 (10): 613–624. doi:10.2307/1800848
Waters, Les (1992). “The Union of Christmas Island Workers” (2 ed.). St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. 170 pages including b&w photographs.
External links[edit] Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christmas Island.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Christmas Island.
Christmas Island Shire – official government website
Christmas Island Tourism Association – official tourism website
Christmas Island National Park – official website Christmas Island National Park
Christmas Island Act 1958
Christmas Island at DMOZ
“Christmas Island”. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
Christmas Island Travel Guide from Unearth Travel a creative commons travel wiki
“Australia Puts Its Refugee Problem on a Remote Island, Behind Razor Wire” – New York Times, 5 November 2009
[show] Australia-related links
[show] Oceania-related links
[show] Asia-related links
[show] Language-related links
Authority control
WorldCat Identities VIAF: 141942963 GND: 4219436-2
Coordinates: 10°29′S 105°38′E

Categories: Christmas IslandAustralian Indian Ocean TerritoriesCountries of the Indian OceanIslands of the Indian OceanIslands of AustraliaRemote islandsEndemic regionsImportant Bird Areas of Australian External TerritoriesBritish rule in SingaporeBritish Malaya in World War IIEnglish-speaking countries and territoriesMalay-speaking countries and territoriesStates and territories of AustraliaStates and territories established in 19571957 establishments in Australia
Navigation menu
Not logged inTalkContributionsCreate accountLog inArticleTalkReadEditView historySearch

Search Wikipedia
Go
Main page
Contents
Featured content
Current events
Random article
Donate to Wikipedia
Wikipedia store
Interaction
Help
About Wikipedia
Community portal
Recent changes
Contact page
Tools
What links here
Related changes
Upload file
Special pages
Permanent link
Page information
Wikidata item
Cite this page
Print/export
Create a book
Download as PDF
Printable version
In other projects
Wikimedia Commons
Wikivoyage
Languages
Afrikaans
Ænglisc
العربية
Azərbaycanca
Bân-lâm-gú
Беларуская
Беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎
Български
Bosanski
Brezhoneg
Català
Cebuano
Čeština
Cymraeg
Dansk
Deutsch
Eesti
Ελληνικά
Español
Esperanto
Euskara
فارسی
Fiji Hindi
Français
Frysk
Gaeilge
Gaelg
Gagauz
Galego
ગુજરાતી
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî
한국어
Հայերեն
हिन्दी
Hrvatski
Ido
Ilokano
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী
Bahasa Indonesia
Íslenska
Italiano
עברית
Basa Jawa
Kapampangan
ქართული
Қазақша
Kernowek
Kinyarwanda
Kiswahili
Кыргызча
Кырык мары
Latina
Latviešu
Lëtzebuergesch
Lietuvių
Ligure
Limburgs
Magyar
Македонски
മലയാളം
मराठी
მარგალური
Bahasa Melayu
Монгол
Nederlands
नेपाली
日本語
Нохчийн
Norsk bokmål
Norsk nynorsk
Occitan
ଓଡ଼ିଆ
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ
پنجابی
Polski
Português
Română
Русский
Scots
Shqip
Sicilianu
Simple English
Slovenčina
Slovenščina
کوردیی ناوەندی
Српски / srpski
Srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски
Basa Sunda
Suomi
Svenska
Tagalog
தமிழ்
ไทย
Türkçe
Українська
اردو
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche
Tiếng Việt
Winaray
Wolof
吴语
Yorùbá
粵語
中文
Edit links
This page was last modified on 29 November 2016, at 14:55.
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
Privacy policyAbout WikipediaDisclaimersContact WikipediaDevelopersCookie statementMobile viewWikimedia Foundation Powered by MediaWiki

London IP Tel. 0207 989 0501 twitter linkedin gplus-24 facebook
About Us

IP Services

Patents

Trademarks

Designs

Other Rights

Blog

Contact Us
Who owns Christmas?
Who owns Christmas?
by londonip | Dec 14, 2015 | General IP, Trademarks | 0 comments
Who owns Christmas?
Have you seen that Christmas TV ad with the moon and the telescope? No, not the John Lewis advert, the Aldi parody that’s also hitting the headlines. While the creative ‘budget’ take on the most-talked about advert of the season is not judged to be a breach of copyright due to the ‘fair dealing’ exception rule, it has got us talking about the concept of Christmas ownership.
The first watch of the festive John Lewis ad has an eagerly anticipated Christmas tradition for many. In their extravagant annual advert production, John Lewis is undoubtedly attempting to claim some ownership of the Christmas period. Another much-awaited production is the Christmas Coca-Cola advert and the company’s very particular shade of red and Santa’s costume has also come to be associated with Christmas in consumer’s minds.
You might think that Santa Claus is everyone’s favourite postman and the use of the jolly man’s name could well be considered to be in the public domain. After all, it is displayed on Christmas cards, woolly jumpers and just about everywhere else over the Christmas Period.
However, Father Christmas is registered as a trademark by a number of companies for various goods and services, including one EU trademark registration (CTM009776493) covering ‘providing an on-line retail store, or shop, connected with the sale of stationery, apparel, and music and video products’.
At least Santa is not in risk of infringing this trademark registration by delivering CDs and DVDs down our chimneys. However, if he decides to modernize his delivery methods by setting up a website then he will need to take care, although he could run an ‘own name’ defence in response to any infringement action.
‘Santa Claus’ is also a popular trademark, with 28 marks found on the UK and EU registers.
One expired registration of the mark (UK00000252818) dating from 1903 covers ‘biscuits and cakes for animals’, which was presumably to cover Reindeer treats?
Aside from trademarks, copyright is an issue for all seasons.
Whilst you’re thinking about the traditional image of Santa, you may want to think about any photographs of the kids and Santa that were included in any meet and greets set up at places like your local shopping centre.
You may own that particular photograph but if you weren’t the photographer, then you won’t own the copyright for the photo itself, so will technically infringe the photographers copyright if you reproduce it.
Moving on to the sounds of Christmas, festive songs are big money-spinners for their copyright owners, who frequently find their songs used on film soundtracks or covered by other artists. Of course, that’s all in addition to enjoying seasonal sales renaissances on paid download platforms such as iTunes.
Ownership can prove very lucrative and there’s consequently copyright controversy surrounding the much-loved Christmas track Santa Claus is coming to town.
So it can be seen that in the IP world Christmas is a time of goodwill to all… apart from anyone infringing festive IP rights!
But ‘where are the Christmas patents?’ you may ask. Check out our previous post on the top ten Christmas inventions? We’re confident you’ll uncover something you’ve not seen before – all without a telescope.
0 0 3 0
Submit a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment

Name *

Email *

Website
Submit Comment
© London IP 2014 Company No. 06855921 Registered in England and Wales

Christmas Midnight Mass

Who Owns Christmas?
A Santa Fe Memory

By Edwin Faust

It was noon by the glowing green dial of my alarm clock, but the room was dark because it had no windows, save for one sealed square of opaque glass in the bathroom and another like it, heavily curtained, that looked into the dining room of La Cocina, the restaurant behind which I rented a room on the highway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I would occasionally draw back the curtain and try to see through the milky glass into the dining room, but all I could make out were indistinct forms, shadow figures like those seen by the cave dwellers of Plato’s allegory.

The day was like most days, except that it was Christmas Eve. I was due at work in a few hours at The Quick Bite, where I was a short-order cook, and the prospect impressed upon me how dismal my life had become. There would be no Christmas cheer at The Quick Bite, which was owned by Sheldon, a Jewish émigré from New York who liked to ski and had invested his inheritance in a few properties around town so that he could be near both the slopes and his money. One thing Sheldon had not envisioned in moving West was that his daughter, having been immersed in a gentile world, would marry one of the local goyim and, later, convert to Catholicism. This misfortune marred the life he had otherwise lived with great prudence and profit, and he could not forbear to vent his rage with some frequency, even in front of the chain gang at The Quick Bite, all of whom were either indifferent or unsympathetic to his complaint. So great had his annoyance at his daughter’s tribal infidelity grown that Sheldon gave the impression he regarded Christianity as a personal attack upon his family integrity. His mood had been growing progressively darker as Christmas approached.

I switched on the small lamp on the table next to my bed and plugged in the electric coil I used to heat my morning coffee. As I sat there in the weak light, I began to wonder what sort of day it might be outside my cell, so I opened the door. It was a glorious day, such as can only be seen in northern New Mexico. The clean, crisp air of the high desert and a sky of immaculate blue gave an intimation of prelapsarian purity. There, a mile above the world, ringed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it was sometimes possible to believe that all had not been lost in the primal calamity and that our perfect nature lay just a little beyond our reach, waiting to be reclaimed.

As I closed the door and retreated into the gloom, a wave of dissatisfaction swept over me. It seemed radically wrong that I should spend Christmas Eve cleaning the grease traps in Sheldon’s kitchen, so I dressed quickly and walked around the corner of the building to a phone booth and called the restaurant. Sheldon answered. As soon as I heard his voice, I realized that I didn’t want to talk to him – ever.

“This is Ed. I’m quitting,” I said, and hung up.

So much for my job. Now what? Well, it was Christmas Eve and I found myself, for the moment, freed from the grimy toils of commercial life, so I started walking toward town, intent on joining the feast.

Santa Fe, in those days, was still a place of family piety, although it had suffered a recent incursion of refugees from the 1960s: washed-up hippies, new agers and assorted ne’er do wells – the human tumbleweed that blow across the landscape of this country, rootless, purposeless, getting caught now and again in one of the remoter outposts of civilization, as in some ragged bit of vegetation shivering in the wind of a dying world. I had blown into town that fall and had at that time few acquaintances and no genuine friends. No one had invited me to share his holiday hearth, so I sought hospitality in one of the bars that would remain open for a few more hours, for all commercial life in the town ceased early on Christmas Eve and did not resume until St. Stephen’s Day.

I whiled away the latter part of the afternoon sipping tequila and looking out on the plaza with its obelisk honoring the heroes of the territory “who fell in various battles with the savages.” The local council of Pueblo Indians had, after decades of indifference, come alive to the offence presented them by this inscription and pressured the town fathers to scratch it out and erect a plaque explaining the defacement as a corrective for the prejudice of a less enlightened age, one that regarded as “savage” that which had now become appreciated for its rich culture. As I sat there, my head and heart growing light, I watched the representatives of this rich culture squatting on blankets in front of the Palace of the Governors, where they sold jewelry and souvenirs to tourists. It was said by some that their turquoise was made of paste and their onyx the product of broken phonograph records, but the Indians had adopted their conquerors’ ancient adage of ‘caveat emptor” and local sentiment held that the small swindles they enacted on the plaza were as nothing compared to the larger injustices visited on their aboriginal ancestors. And so the tradition of mutual fraud and deceit between the races lived on.

As the light began to fade, the Indians collected their dubious goods and rolled up their blankets. The bartender sounded last call and I realized that soon I would have no place to roost. The town was shutting down, and its people, for an evening and a day, were abandoning trade for family, leaving me, who was without family, without refuge.

As the sun lowered to the hills, it poured its crimson light onto the slopes that circled the town. It was for these sunset hues that the mountains were named: Sangre de Cristo – blood of Christ. But that name was given centuries ago, when people still thought about Christ, and the natural world appeared to them as touched by Him in all its aspects and phases. Had those mountains been named in our day, what would they likely have been called, I wondered? What would Sheldon have called them? The Ketchup Mountains, I supposed, and laughed.

I walked into the plaza, which was empty now, and sat on a bench in front of the obelisk while the shadows deepened and the mildness of the day gave way to a biting frost. It had become very cold very quickly, but there was no place where I could go to find warmth, except my room, and the thought of spending the evening there alone was one I refused to consider. There was the hotel, of course. It would be open. So I walked to La Fonda, a short distance from the plaza. The bar had closed, and the restaurant, too. The lobby was empty and an idle desk clerk asked in a slightly annoyed manner whether he could help me. I told him no, and, after looking me over with a suspicious eye, he retreated to a back room, perhaps to alert security to my presence. I wanted to sit down, to remain someplace where there was light and heat and the occasional sight of another human being, even a hostile clerk, but I knew that I should leave. So I walked outside again and looked around. At the end of the street, there was the Cathedral of St. Francis. It was glowing, with flood lights trained on its adobe-colored edifice, and people going in and out of its doors.

I walked toward the building with a sense of relief and gratitude, but as I came closer, I also felt misgiving. I had not been to church for several years. What right had I to the hospitality of the cathedral on Christmas Eve? This night and this place belonged to the faithful and I had ceased to be one of them. It seemed to me that I would be committing a sacrilege were I to enter the holy precincts under false pretences. I was no worshiper, but merely someone who was cold and lonely and would not have come there had I not been shut out of my usual haunts. I hesitated. I walked around the building, looking at it from different angles. At one point, I stood in the shrubbery of the grounds, in a dark spot, and looked at the golden glow of its windows. I had a sense that this was where I should in justice remain, in some obscure vantage, enjoying only a modicum of light from a suitable distance, but I began to draw closer, almost involuntarily, and, eventually, I crossed the threshold.

It felt exceedingly odd to be inside a church again, as though I were a ghost visiting my dead past. Next to the earnest people around me, I saw myself as an imposter and, quite insensibly, feared discovery and expulsion. I had the unreasoning feeling that anyone looking at me would know that I didn’t belong, that I was a fraud, and I sought some out of the way place in which to keep myself from being discovered. Most people were making their way to the manger scene near the main altar, where a line had formed and families with little ones waited their turn to say their prayers before the infant Jesus. I found, however, off a side aisle, an unfrequented recess that held a small altar with a statue of the Blessed Mother behind it. There was a corner of shadow behind a pillar inside the recess, and there I hid myself.

The altar appeared a forgotten place and Mary’s statue unregarded and unhonored. I felt sad for her and sad for myself. As I stood there, hat in hand, staring at the image of the mother of Christ, at the mother He had given to all of us, to me, as He was dying on the cross, I envisioned the long line of my ancestors who had worshiped at such altars; who had tried in their fallible ways to be dutiful sons to this loving mother. Until I came along. I stood there, not as the last in a procession of the faithful of my family, but as one who had broken with that faith. And so I was alone on Christmas Eve, rightly so, trying to steal some warmth by an intrusion into a house I had long deserted.

Why had I deserted?

It was a question that I pondered through the rest of that long night and through the seemingly endless day that followed, as I remained sequestered in my windowless room. Even the shadow figures no longer kept me company, as the restaurant was closed. The only sound of life was the distant, muffled roar of an occasional car on the highway. I had called my family back East earlier in the day to wish them Merry Christmas. They responded with the usual solicitude about my welfare, and, as usual, I assured them I was well and would be spending the afternoon and evening with some friends.

Alone in my room, I reviewed how I had fallen away from the faith.

Many people who have left the Church are prone to create a false memory of how the break occurred. In recounting their personal histories to others, they give the impression of having conducted a careful assessment of the probable truth of certain historical claims and the practical wisdom of traditional moral precepts. They portray themselves as just judges who, having conscientiously weighed the evidence, found that they could no longer give their honest allegiance to the faith of their fathers. I have heard, and continue to hear, such recitals, much like my own erstwhile inventions. They are all fraudulent.

The first step outside the house of faith is almost always preceded by an unrepented sin. All through our young lives, we are prone to moral lapses, which we confess and vow to avoid in the future. It is quite usual for us to fail again and again in the same way; to find ourselves in the thralldom of our predominant fault, which may not be overcome in a lifetime of effort. What is important is that we keep up the combat; that we continue to hope and pray and accept our defeats without despair. It happens, however, that some of us at some juncture give up the combat. We may do so through discouragement or indolence or a strange sort of arrogance – call it the pride of life – that arises unexpectedly from some hitherto unknown corner of our soul and counsels us to lay down this burden of guilt; to quiet the carping of conscience.

We see, as though through an open door, a broad expanse outside the confines of faith. All we have to do to free ourselves is to quit our little room of cramped morality; to step outside and breathe the fresh air of a world without duty or dogma, guilt or shame. How strongly this world sometimes beckons to us, especially in youth, and how many of us have walked through that promising portal to find ourselves not the free men we had hoped to become, but strangers in a strange land, uncertain which way to turn now that all roads are open to us, for we no longer have any clear direction.

I could have excused myself for walking through that door, for my adolescence coincided with the Second Vatican Council, when the Catholic cosmos was descending into chaos. Much we had been told was absolute truth appeared suddenly doubtful. The religious order that taught at my high school was hemorrhaging, with priests deserting with increasing frequency, leaving their students to suspect they had discovered the faith to which they had pledged themselves was a fraud. All that had appeared solid was dissolving in front of me. Even the Mass was no more.

I remember awaking one Sunday morning when I was 18 and surprising myself with the thought that I would not go to Mass. I had never before considered such a thing. How strange, it seemed to me, that I should be doing so, yet, I realized that I was no longer afraid of any consequence. As I lay there, and the minutes passed and the time for reversing my decision was at length behind me, I felt as though I had become someone else. I didn’t quite know myself anymore, and the feeling was both unsettling and exciting. But I cannot say that I was not also visited with a dark presentiment, which I dismissed as a residue of juvenile fear. Still, it stayed with me, a shadow in the back of my mind that would not go away: the shadow of conscience.

That morning marked the beginning of many years of confusion and wandering. I had stepped through the door, left the room of faith, and where had my travels brought me in that supposedly free land I had entered? To a windowless room behind La Cocina and a Christmas spent in solitude and darkness.

As I said, I could have blamed the condition of the church for my falling away from the faith, but that would have been dishonest. The fact is I wanted to escape from the church’s moral restrictions. The world around me at the time – the world of the late 1960s – had entered into a kind of pagan bacchanalia – and there I was, standing apart, chaste and sober, a dutiful Catholic, unable to join the party. But I longed to join it, so that is what I did. No matter what rationale I may have fashioned and cast at the shadow of conscience that would not quit me, the truth is that I had been willful and wanton.

I think this is, with unimportant variations, how most of us fall away from the faith. Our sense of dignity before ourselves and others may require a more elevated account of our departure; some description of doctrinal doubt to raise the matter above mere passion, but that is pure fancy. It is, at most, after the fact. St. Paul’s observation holds true: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

I had started to work my way toward such conclusions that dismal Christmas in Santa Fe, but I was long inured to a fecklessness that was common among those with whom I associated and, I might say, of the world in general. I felt much as did MacBeth when he lamented: “To turn back were as tedious as to go on.” In either direction I saw before me a hopeless prospect. It seemed improbable that I should ever be good again, yet I was disgusted with my vices, which no longer even gave me pleasure but had become mere habits.

On Christmas Eve, as I stood in the shadows by Mary’s altar, my seclusion had been disturbed by an old woman who happened by, looked toward the statue and made her way to the altar rail, where she knelt, signed herself and said a silent prayer, though I could see her lips move. I imagined she said a Hail Mary. I envied the old woman. I wished that I could do as she had done, but I could not then bend my knees and say the prescribed words. “If only I could,” I thought.

It was a weak prayer, perhaps, but we never know the power of prayer. Perhaps, that night, grace began to fall on the arid ground of my soul, softening it gradually until the seeds of faith, long dormant, could sprout again.

One thing I did realize then was that Christmas belongs only to those who love and serve Christ. I was shut out of Christmas, for I was then intent upon loving and serving myself. I wanted to share in the joy of the day, but I could not. It was to take years for me to reclaim Christmas, for I had to discover something about what it means to stand around the manger.

The late Bishop Sheen once made a memorable observation. He said that every man who has been born, except one, came into this world to live. That one exception is Jesus Christ, who came into this world to die. When we look at the child in the crib at Christmas, we are looking at sacrificial love. From His first breath, His first moment, His first steps, Our Lord was moving ever closer to one place: Calvary.

Many want the joy of Christmas, but few want the sorrow of Calvary. Yet, the one cannot truly be had without the other. We cannot separate and sentimentalize one phase of Our Lord’s life. If we are to possess Him, we have to take Him in His entirety.

There is a profoundly beautiful poem by T.S. Eliot called “Journey of the Magi,” which recounts not only the physical journey of the kings to the manger, but the spiritual journey the vision of Christ began in their souls. One of the magi concludes:

I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

If we are to give birth to Christ in our souls, it seems we must die to ourselves. And so this child in the manger has come both to destroy and to create. He has come to cast His fire into the old world and consume all its ancient corruption, including that which has taken root in us, and He has come to create a new world, one where the sky is pure and beautiful as the heavens over the high desert, and where the blood of Christ spreads over the mountains and into the plains, cleansing the earth and us.
From the December 2008
Catholic Family News
MPO Box 743 * Niagara Falls, NY 14302
905-871-6292

CFN is published once a month (12 times per year)
Subscription: $28.00 a year.
Request sample copy

Home • Audio Cassettes • CFN Index • • New DVD Offer • Subscribe on line