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The Quick 10: Winnie-the-Pooh Particulars

It was 83 years ago this week that A.A. Milne's classic Winnie-the-Pooh first hit bookshelves everywhere. Even if you think Disney's Pooh is passé (I myself am not a fan), you have to admit that the original story is a classic. Here are a few facts about one of the world's most famous bears.

pooh1. All of the animals portrayed in the story were inspired by Christopher Robin Milne's (A.A. Milne's son) stuffed animals, except for two: Owl and Rabbit, whom Milne and illustrator Ernest Shepard created to round out the menagerie. Sadly, Christopher Robin lost the Roo stuffed animal (the baby kangaroo) in an apple orchard in the 1930s, so it's not with the display of original plush dolls (pictured).
2. It's kind of surprising that as many of the stuffed animals lasted as long as they did "“ not only were they well-loved by Milne's son, but they were also apparently well-loved by the family dog. I can tell you that if my dachshunds had gotten a hold of those they would have ripped all of the stuffing out of them and then turned the "carcass" inside out, so we should be thankful that the Milnes didn't own wiener dogs.

3. There's been some speculation over the years that Pooh's last name is Sanders, as in "Winnie-the-Pooh Sanders," because he has the name "Sanders" written over the door of his house. As far as we know, this isn't true. After stating the Pooh lived under the name of Sanders, the book clarifies, "It means he had the name over the door in gold letters and Pooh lived under it." Most experts take this to mean that the previous resident was named Sanders and merely left his mark on the abode. We don't know who the mysterious Mr. Sanders was; however, there is one unconfirmed explanation: a real-life man by the name of Frank Sanders had a printing press that printed some of Milne's work and was a friend of the man who illustrated the Pooh books.

russia4. Winnie the Pooh is a pretty big deal in Russia "“ he starred in three animated short stories in the late "˜60s and early "˜70s - but he looks much different than both the animated Disney version and the version illustrated by Ernest Shepard. That's the Russian Pooh to the left.
5. Winnie-the-Pooh is the original spelling. Disney took out the hyphens when they made their animated series. Obviously those were huge successes, thus the spelling without the hyphens became more commonly known.

6. A first edition Winnie-the-Pooh book can go for anywhere from $700 for a book in decent condition to nearly $5,000 for a "presentation copy" signed book.

7. Hundred-Acre Wood is a real place in England. It's based on a place called Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Many of the landmarks found in the Pooh books can be found there, including Poohsticks Bridget, Galleon's Lap (called Gill's Lap in real life), Roo's Sandpit and Heffalump Trap. In fact, in 2001, a 10-year-old boy took the "fake" map drawn by Ernest Shepard and navigated his way around Ashdown Forest for a documentary.

8. Winnie-the-Pooh has been released in many languages, including Esperanto and Latin. The Latin version (Winnie ille Pu) actually made it on to the New York Times bestseller list in 1960, making it the first-ever foreign language book to make it to the list. To this day, it's the only Latin book that has ever charted.

NPG x36166, Christopher Robin Milne9. The real Christopher Robin didn't much appreciate his fame. When he went away to school, his schoolmates taunted him and recited passages from his father's stories to him, which made the younger Milne quite embarrassed of his association with the tribe of stuffed animals. He later wrote an autobiography about how difficult his life was, saying, "It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame". Maybe it's because my father has never written one of the most beloved children's books of all time about me, but to me, Christopher Robin's statement sounds a little, um"¦ selfish? Spoiled? Ungrateful? What do you think?

10. You can read about how Winnie-the-Pooh got his name here (and about a few other children's lit characters that had real-life counterparts). The original Pooh bear was purchased at Harrod's and was named Edward Bear.

Are you a fan? Or are you totally sick of the Pooh overload Disney has forced down everyone's throats in recent years? Whether you love the pudgy guy or would rather see him develop a nasty honey allergy, let us know in the comments.

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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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.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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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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