The Quick 10: Juniors, IIIs and IVs

alec1. Alec Baldwin is really Alexander Rae Baldwin III. Before he was a big star, he went by "Alex."
2. Tom Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. His parents divorced when he was 12, though, and he dropped the last half of his name.
3. Lon Chaney, Jr., wasn't really a junior. He was just billed that way in order to capitalize on his father's success. His real name was Creighton Tull Chaney.
4. Hank Williams, Jr. Same situation there "“ his real name is Randall Hank Williams, but he goes by Hank, Jr., to honor his dad. Hank III "“ really Shelton Hank Williams "“ is a simiar situaiton.
5. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Jr. (Franklin and Eleanor's daughter). Yep, women can have the designation, too, but it's pretty rare. Most women who are named after their mothers have a different middle name, and thus there is no need for the "junior." But when the names are exactly the same, a junior can be added to lessen confusion on legal documents and the like.

6. Jimmy Fallon is actually James Thomas Fallon, Jr.
7. Eddie Vedder was born Edward Louis Severson III. His parents got divorced when he was only a year old, though, and he took his stepfather's name "“ Mueller. He took his mother's maiden name, Vedder, when he dropped out of high school during his senior year and moved to Chicago.
8. Robert Redford's full name is Charles Robert Redford, Jr.
depp9. Johnny Depp was born John Christopher Depp II. This is slightly unusual because most people opt for "junior" instead of "II," but there's no legal reason it can't be II. Lots of times when families do this, it's because they don't want their children to get the nickname of Junior. Is this a cheap excuse to put up a picture of Johnny Depp? ...maybe.
10. Vincent Price was a junior. His father, Vincent Leonard Price, Sr., was the president of National Candy Company. His grandfather made the family millions when he invented and sold "Dr. Price's Baking Powder," which was the first cream of tartar baking powder.

Are you a junior? Or a III? Or something even more? We don't have any names that run in the family, so I'm unsure of how the whole thing works. Do you sign the "junior" part when you're writing checks and stuff, or can you just ignore it if you want? Share your story in the comments.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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