Word of the Week: Genomics

As in: “Largely unheralded among the juggernauts of particle physics and genomics, countless little investigations using cheap, often home-made apparatus provide an unceasing flow of surprises about the world” (Ball, 2013, p.410). 

Ball, P. (2013). Curiosity: How science became interested in everything. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

For definitions of genomics, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.




A History of Santa Claus

Santa Claus developed from religious traditions and secular Christmas practices. The character’s earliest influence is the fourth-century Turkish Christian bishop St. Nicholas who was known for being a kind and generous man. For example, there is a well-known story that St. Nicholas saved three daughters from being sold into prostitution by supplying them with dowries so they could secure husbands.

St. Nicholas died in the mid-fourth century and December sixth became his feast day. Into the Renaissance, parents celebrated St. Nicholas Day by giving their children gifts. St. Nicholas was given qualities that resembled the Norse god Odin; an old man with a white beard who could fly and who encouraged children to practice moral behavior. St. Nicholas remained a popular saint throughout Europe until the Protestant Reformation of the mid-1500s, when changing religious attitudes discouraged Christians from honoring saints.

The Dutch, however, never stopped appreciating St. Nicholas. To continue honoring him, they invented the character of Sinterklaas, whose name was the Dutch nickname for St. Nicholas. Men dressed up as Sinterklaas by donning the robes and mitre and distributing candy and other treats to children and the poor. Dutch families  and friends gathered to celebrate the saint on the night of December 5, the day before St. Nicholas Day. Children would then leave their shoes by the fireplace so that Sinterklaas would leave presents in them by the next morning.

These Sinterklaas traditions arrived in the United States, particularly in the New York region, by the late 1700s as it was settled by the Dutch. It was in the United States that St. Nicholas started to modernize and transform into what he would become, the Christmas character known as Santa Claus, with this name being derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas.

Christmases in early America were raucous, alcohol-driven celebrations and were not accommodating to children. In the early 1800s, several American writers and other figures were determined to reinvent Christmas as a family holiday, and used the Dutch St. Nicholas traditions to produce the Santa Claus figure.

These efforts included: Washington Irving’s book History of New York (1809) that described St. Nicholas as a man wearing a three-cornered hat and red waistcoat, smoking a pipe, and flying through the air in a wagon delivering presents to good children. The 1821 poem “The Children’s Friend” brought the emerging Santa Claus into modernity by describing a man dressed in furs carrying a birch rod (that could be used to punish disobedient children) and sitting in a sleigh being pulled by a reindeer. Clement Clarke Moore composed the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known as “The Night Before Christmas” that  described a fat, jolly Santa Claus who rides a flying sleigh.

Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, was responsible for standardizing the image of Santa Claus in Harper’s Weekly in the late 1800s. Nast portrayed Santa Claus as an obese, white-bearded, Caucasian old man wearing a red suit and furs and smoking a pipe. Nast images of Santa showed him carrying a sack full of toys and indicated Santa Claus could be contacted by writing to the North Pole.

Santa Claus was modernized once more in the early 1930s, when the Coca-Cola Company sought a realistic Santa image for one of its magazine advertisements. The company employed illustrator Haddon Sundblom to create the image. This Santa Claus first appeared in a 1931 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Later advertisements depicted the Santa figure delivering toys, reading a child’s letter, and visiting with children who waited for him to arrive at their home.


Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2016, “Santa Claus.”

Nast, Thomas Harper’s Weekly, 1881.

Word of the Week: Caïque

As in:

“Nicholas’ marine influence spread throughout the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the Adriatic, into the Black Sea and latterly across the oceans. Trading ships and caïques took his name or hung his icon in the cabin, honoring it with a burning lamp” (Seal, 2005, p.33).                                

Seal, J. (2005). Nicholas: The Epic journey from saint to Santa ClausNew York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.

For definitions of caïque, consult the Oxford English Dictionary

The Cardinal Cushing Library Staff wishes you a merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season. To celebrate by curling up with this book or others like it, visit our display on top of the reference shelves.


Word of the Week: Pluralist

As in:

“Chang identified himself  as a pluralist in his approach to human rights; he sought to bridge East and West, individual and collective approaches to human rights” (Normand & Zaidi, 2008, p.155). 

Normand, R. & Zaidi, S. (2008). Human rights at the UN: The political history of universal justice. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

For definitions of pluralist, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

December is National Human Rights month in commemoration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

You can read more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through Credo Reference.



Word of the Week: Outcropping

As in:

“We were a small outcropping of that great undersea world of the church that American Catholics, and non-Catholics, appreciate as the teeming environment where the church lives out the Word in deeds” (Campbell, 2015, p.135). 

Campbell, S. & Gibson, D. (2014). A nun on the bus: How all of us can create hope, change, and community. New York, NY: HarperOne.

For definitions of Outcropping, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.









Word of the Week: Kinship

As in:

“We identified the history and formation of urban American Indian communities, institutions, and families, where urban American Indians are grounded in place, kinship, ceremony, and purpose” (Martinez, Sage, Ono, Smith, & Nordstrand, 2016, p.154). 

Martinez, D., Sage, G., Ono, A., Smith, D. L., & Nordstrand, P. (2016). Urban American Indians: Reclaiming native space. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.library.emmanuel.edu:2048/lib/emmanuel/reader.action?ppg=117&docID=4619971&tm=1503168623009

For definitions of kinship, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.





Word of the Week: Autonomy

As in:

“A long-term dream does not have to be realistic or even specific. It may reflect the desire to work in a particular field or to travel throughout the world. Maybe the dream is to have professional autonomy or a certain amount of free time.” (Sandberg & Scovell, 2013, p.55).

Sandberg, S., & Scovell, N. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

For definitions of autonomy, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

History of Native American Heritage Month

In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants names (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.


“About National Native American Heritage Month.” Library of Congress. https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/.  (accessed on November 16, 2017).


Word of the Week: Stalwart

As in:

“It is difficult for modern Americans to fully understand the risks and sacrifices that Washington and the other Founders willingly accepted in order to mount a successful revolution. Today, a common perception of this epic struggle is that of a unified rebellion sweeping across 13 colonies with great spirit and boundless enthusiasm; a boisterous time of skirmishes, raids, and rallying cries during which most, if not all, of the period’s stalwart citizenry were active participants in the noble cause.” (Rees & Spignesi, 2007, p.39). 

Rees, J. C., & Spignesi, S. J. (2007). George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

For definitions of stalwart, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.




Word of the Week: Vanguard

As in: “Black World War II and Korean War veterans represented the vanguard of grassroots civil rights leadership in the war against white supremacy and social oppression during the 1950s and 1960s” (Cox, 2013, p.74).

Cox, M. S. (2013). Segregated soldiers: Military training at historically black colleges in the Jim Crow South. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.library.emmanuel.edu:2048/lib/emmanuel/reader.action?ppg=74&docID=1092476&tm=1503165756340

For definitions of vanguard, consult the Oxford English Dictionary.