On tonight’s jingling episode of After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio, 9-11pE on Thursday nights with co-hosts Joel Sturgis and Eric Olsen, we talk weird Christmas customs, traditions, and legends from around the world with Yuletide expert Gerry Bowler, author of the classic The World Encyclopedia of Christmas and Santa Claus: A Biography. In the first hour of the show, we’ll cover the paranormal news and chat amiably as is our custom.
Among the bizarre Christmas topics we cover with Dr. Bowler are the pooping log of southern France and northern Spain; the caganer, a little peasant pooper in Catalonian nativity scenes; werewolves and Christmas; Christmas witches good and bad; kidnapping the baby Jesus; Mari Lwyd, the party animal horse skull of Wales; the astonishing mutation of Santa Claus; mistletoe; the Yule log; and much more!
Gerry Bowler was born in Saskatchewan, Canada to well-meaning parents who supplied him at an early age with sets of encyclopedias bought on the installment plan from supermarkets that invariably ceased selling them before the family had reached the letter “H.” Superbly grounded in subjects beginning with “A” to “G,” Gerry was raised on a diet of beatings at recess from classmates who regarded him as an insufferable little smartass. He survived the educational process by developing a sense of humor and a keen eye for the nearest exit, eventually earning a Ph.D. in History from King’s College, London.
Dr. Bowler’s writings range from academic texts on sixteenth-century Europe to musings on the relationship of Aristotle to professional wrestling. He has published articles on Wayne Gretzky, the Spice Girls, television evangelists, and Emperor Charles V. He is the only historian whose work is included in both The Encyclopedia of the Renaissance and The Encyclopedia of Popular Culture.
His interest in things Christmassy began when he was invited to a party and was asked to bring a little quiz on the subject. This innocent request turned into 25 years of research and a desire, bordering on the pathological, to learn everything there was to know about Christmas: its history, customs, superstitions, songs, foods, movies, art, advertising and literature. The fruits of this labor can be seen in The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, Santa Claus: A Biography and, coming out in 2016 from Oxford University Press, a study of the 2,000 years of the wars against (and for) Christmas.
Gerry lives in Winnipeg with his wife Karen; there they raised three daughters for whom he ensured the family encyclopedia always reached to “Z.”
READ MORE “WEIRD CHRISTMAS”:
Werewolves of Yule
Mari Lwyd – The Party Animal Horse Skull of Wales
Krampus – The Rise of the Anti-Claus
Talking Krampus with Novelist Richard Kadrey on After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio
The Yule Log
The Macabre Adventures of St. Nicholas
Santa Claus and the Magic Mushroom
Midnight Syndicate on After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio
Midnight Syndicate Brings Spooky Sensibility to CHRISTMAS: A GHOSTLY GATHERING
SCROOGED Should Be On Your Christmas Horror List
by Gerry Bowler [McClelland & Stewart]
by Paul F. Grendler [Charles Scribner & Sons]