Wednesday, March 15, 2017

VIPKID Teacher- the best job ever!

I knew it has been a long time since I have written on here.  SO much has happened too!  Internet was sketchy in Rockport TX and we got a wee bit busy in Lake Corpus Christi and now we are in Waco TX for about a month.  I started a new job with VIPKID.  It is the most amazing company and is one of the fastest growing educational companies in China.

I have been with VIPKID for the 57days and 79 classes taught so far. I have taught 56 kids, some of them are "mine" now. 2 girls and 3 boys choose to call me their teacher. I have had two sign up because of trials. I work 2 - 2.5 hours a day, 5-6 days a week and work Central Standard time. If you are a late night person, the weekends are built for you. Since China is 13 hours ahead of us, it is their day when we are evenings. I use a teacher portal and they also use Chrome. I have a broadband wifi card that I use and it works very well. We travel everywhere and I can teach from any location. I teach ages 4 -12 for 25 minutes a lesson. The lessons are on powerpoints and the planning is done for you. I go through the lessons the night/day before to be familiar with them.
 If you are a teacher and you would like to make up to $22 an hour, one on one teaching w/o a union or someone telling you what to do, this is a job for you. If you have a bachelors degree in anything, are excited and can be excited about life in general, this job is for you. If you want a second job and you are all those I listed, this job's hours are EST, 6-10 a.m. M-F and 9 pm- 10 a.m Fri--Sun. CST subtract an hour, MST -2, PST -3. You choose the hours you want to work and the times, pick up some simple things like ABC cards, a few props- reward type magnets or stickers and put magnets on the back, maybe a puppet (kids will talk to a puppet before an adult sometimes). Apply here. What do you have to loose? You have everything to gain! If you are a male, they are very popular in the classrooms, just like in America, men are huge role models.


This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580

"This is from a current teacher who went to China to see the VIPKID offices, meet the staff and more.
Her name is Kristie: First, VipKid is an unbelievably vast company.  Almost an empire, with nearly 2,200 employees in four offices throughout Beijing.  The team that backs you up and supports your work is, hands down, the most incredible group of people I have ever known.  There is a commitment and a vision that we only see the surface of.  Cindy Mi is driven, passionate, and relentless.  What often seemed arbitrary rules as a teacher is insanely forward thinking.  VipKid is a bit like Google 5 years ago. 
There are a few things I will never say again and a few things that may be helpful to take away.  Never, for a single moment, think you are not appreciated.  First, EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING, is focused on YOU.  Person after person took time to ask me how they can help us.  This team works 24 hours/day 365 days a year so you can do your job.  Every word you write, every class you teach, every feedback you give, every student you teach, every ticket you submit matters….ALOT!

They are entire teams of creative and curriculum designers.  Did you know that Dino can lasso bandits?  Seriously, most awesome game ever!  They take such pride in their work.

I have a fantastic BS detector. There is no BS when it comes to their commitment to teaching.

I realized after my visit to the head offices that I will never be that cool again!  It was a bit like being Elvis with the paparazzi.  Everyone wanted to take a selfie.  There are probably more selfies of me in China than the sum of all pictures taken of me in my lifetime.  Did you know that you are a HERO?  The Chinese Lead Teachers watch my videos, they know my name, they know my students.  The know every one of my kids.  I guarantee that they know your name too.  The marketing team knows you.  Their love for their students and respect for you, as teachers, is heart-breakingly sincere.  Next time I am struggling to focus teaching a class I think I will remember that the CLT’s have pictures of me with their students on their phones.  They take time away from the annual party just to ask me how they can better serve their parents and help their students.

To your students you are almost godlike.  One of my kids remembered the street my hotel I mentioned in passing three weeks ago and searched hotel after hotel to find me.  He is 11 and way too cool for school.  He cried when I left.  Parents teared up trying to convey what we mean to their kids.  They talk about us.  They remember us.  Their grandparents and aunties knows us.  They know nearly everything you have ever said.  They cry about their drawings and fear, more than anything in the world, that they are not good enough.  Like many of us.  They have an almost paralyzing fear of disappointing you.  To them, you are larger than life.  I do not deserve this but I know I will work harder to.

I will never again say or even think that I work hard.   I promise, I don’t.  I don’t know what hard work is.  Working at VipKid in Beijing is not a job; it is a lifestyle.  I have the highest work ethic I know and I cannot hold a candle to the teams in Beijing.  Even 95 classes a week to get to Beijing is nothing compared to their ordinary schedules.

I will never say it’s unfair again.  The company you work for is relentless.  This company is built on personal accountability and responsibility.  If it gets screwed up it is ALWAYS your fault.  You can be comforted, at least a little, knowing that this is the culture of excellence.  
I have come to see ‘fault’ differently.  It is more that you failed to create the circumstances for your success.  Own up, fix it.  The standards are even higher on a corporate level.  Knowing we all strive to meet them inspires me to be better than I think I am.

If we have failed in some way it is all our fault.  In that way, VipKid succeeds in the end.  If I can share anything with you it is this, just stop making excuses.  After seeing the commitment and determination from every bottom to the top, working here means I am willing to try to meet that standard of excellence.  I am willing to strive to be better than I thought I was to be a part of something that is so much more than me.

Everyone will reach out a hand to help, but if you are unwilling to be the very best we have plenty of competitors who will not expect as much from you.  Nor will they give as much back.

You have likely never worked for a teacher management team or teacher quality team as single-mindedly focused on your teaching experience.  They never sleep.  When they do, they have the same nightmares about meeting the standards as we do.  They will spend a 16-hour day babysitting us only to go back to the office to babysit you.  You will never again have advocates like this.  They only want you to succeed.

YOU ARE HEARD.  YOU ARE LISTENED TO.  Somewhere, across the sea, Leslie is empathizing with you and cheering you on.  She is like your own personal cheerleader!  Bryan is working to get it right and Andrew is fighting for you and with you every day.  Daniel, cool and collected, somehow makes it all work.

Just in case you missed it, THEY HEAR YOU!  They hear you shouting 6,200 km away.  Trust me.  They can tell you every word I have ever written and yours.  Just like us, there is no handbook telling them what to do.  There is no road map where we are going.  Just like us, they are simply trying to find the way in a very, very complicated system.  Know that even though they cannot respond, your concerns are important.  Things take time.  This a monstrous beast of a process.

Another humbling realization for me is that my world is very small.  Compared to the people around me in my daily life, I am well-traveled, educated, and worldly. I learned my perspective is limited by my experience.  I have never quite felt so, well…. Minnesotan.

Your coworkers are the most incredible people I have ever met.  They have seen, done, and experienced things I can only dream of.  Their knowledge is vast.  I am sure that Jonathon has travelled around the world three times by now.  Yet, he never ceases to delight in each new experience, in each new encounter.  His eyes light up like a kid in a candy store when he has an opportunity to talk to kids.  Mark is loving and compassionate.  Is little wonder that he manages to make kids feel safe all the way from Manilla.  He is a man of integrity and always has a kind word.  If I come to know just a fraction of the world he has seen I will have become a much wiser person.

I so envy and respect Daniel C so much.  He is so bold.  He is living the life most of us have dreamed of.  He is seeing the world and meeting it head on.  Daniel D. is simply incredible.  His passport looks like an ADHD kids stamp collection.  He has seen and done it all and figured out just how to really ‘live the dream’.  He has perspective and insight to be admired.  Lauren is a survivor and a fighter.  Someday I hope to be as cool and wise as these five are.  I better get started, I have a lot of time to make up for.

My take away is that so much of what is written on the forum (including my own) is written from the perspective of a very, very small world.  It is easy in our little comfy neighborhoods to make sweeping conclusions about what is right and wrong half a planet away.  Often those assumptions are made and sealed before the question is even asked.  Reach out to your teachers, they are the most insanely talented and educated group on earth.  Reach out to your advocates.  You have so many.  Have an open mind about things that you are so very certain of.

This company never quits.  Never rests.  Never stops.  When we ask if we can constantly expect ‘glitches’ and problems, the answer is simple.  YES.  The day that everything goes perfectly, all is right and well in the world, and everything works just as it should be the day that VipKid stops.  This is the last day you will have a job.

If you are looking for this, there are many competitors you can turn to.  You may get a few years of work out of them before they go out of business.  Don’t look for it here.  To stop is to lose.  In meantime, the epic journey you are a part of means that the seas will never be entirely calm and will be, and seems catastrophic some days.  This company never stops, never quits, and never sleeps.  To work here is push yourself farther than you thought you could go.

My words are so inadequate and my thoughts still whirling.  I am awed.  I am conflicted I am humbled.  I am moved.  I am confused.  I am inspired.  I am profoundly changed.  I am deeply, deeply grateful."    
This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580

A VIPKID Teacher.
Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 
This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580
A special Visit to VIPKID in Beijing China.
What if Kids interviewed the VIPKID teachers?
Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 
What is the impact of VIPKID teachers? 
Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 




This is Nancy Taylor, she is awesome!


Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 
This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580
This is Stephanie, she has been at VIPKID for a year.  She is also a trainer.  

Please use my link and not Stephanie's or the ones in the videos. 


This is Hope!  She lives in Austin.
Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 

This is Paul Blake, first time I have seen this video.



This is a video that she is a "Nomad", like us.  We live and breathe new adventures.

Please use my link and not the ones in the videos. 

This is the best job I have ever had.  Seriously, I have had a lot of jobs working with kids, but this one rocks!  You can be goofy, imaginative, have fun and be serious.







 This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580

 This is my referral number. If you should decide this is for you, please use this and my name, Janette M. https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=3084580

It's about learning, doing, having fun!  The furrbabies know when we do school, they are usually under the table or close by.
What do you need to do this?  1 year of in classroom or homeschool teaching, a Bachelor's degree in anything!, and time to teach!  You need to know how to have fun and interact with a child.  You will need to engage them first thing.  Classes are 25 -28 min. long and you are on the entire time.  You can not eat or drink while you are in class or use the restroom.  The hours are whatever you make them. 
How long is each class?
Each class is guaranteed 25 minutes of active teaching time. After that, teachers may take a few minutes to leave comments. The total time commitment is 30 minutes per class, not including preparation time. 3 minutes are allowed for possible tech problems before a class is cancelled.
How does scheduling work?
Teachers must enter their weekly availability one month in advance. Teachers’ weekly schedules are sent out each Saturday at 10AM Beijing time. Teachers can be booked for classes during the week, no less than 24 hours in advance. VIPKID encourages all teachers to check their emails and their schedule in the system daily.
What hours should teachers be available to teach?
In order to maximize the number of classes you could get scheduled, we recommend you to be available for at least 7.5 hours (15 time slots per week at 30 minutes per time slot) during Beijing peak times. The following tends to be the most requested time periods in Beijing time: Monday-Friday 6-10pm, and Saturday-Sunday 9am–10pm. We do not require teachers to work full shifts; but having availability during the times mentioned above could ensure a higher possibility of being booked by our students.
Is there a maximum number of hours a teacher could teach?
VIPKID sets no limit on how much a teacher teaches during peak and non-peak time. Teachers have 100% control over their schedule. However, non-peak times are not popular amongst our students as they are not available for classes.
Please also be advised that it can take up to a month to get a relatively steady stream of classes, as students and parents get to know and try new teachers. VIPKID makes no guarantee that a teacher will have a steady stream of classes.
What is the payment?
As an independent contractor, your payment or “service fee” is calculated on a per-class basis (scheduled in 30-minute slots) and is composed of a minimum pay between $7-9 + incentives. Your minimum pay will be determined by your demo class performance, while incentives by your monthly class participation and completion as a VIPKID teacher.
Pay Rate Per 30-minRemarks
Minimum Pay USD 7-9This is decided based on your credentials and demo lesson performance.
Participation Incentiveup to USD 1This is based on showing up on time and teaching the lesson according to schedule.
Finished Class Incentiveup to USD 1This is based on the number of classes you finish in a month. We use this to assess your teaching quality. If more students continue to book with you, you are rewarded.
Total per 30-minUSD 7-11
Total per 1 hourUSD 14-22
How much tax do I have to pay?
VIPKID teachers are independent contractors and responsible for their own taxes in accordance with their individual tax jurisdictions or state laws.
When and how will teachers be paid?
Teachers are paid through direct bank deposits between the 10th and 15th of each month.
When renewing a contract, can teachers qualify for a raise?
Teachers will be re-evaluated for a raise at the point of renewal.
How long is the contract? Can teachers take breaks during the contract?
VIPKID signs 6-month contracts with applicants who pass their screening process. Please inform VIPKID 2 weeks in advance if you want to take time off during your contract.
Becoming a Teacher
How many students do I teach in each class?
All VIPKID classes are one-on-one to ensure we meet 100% of each student’s needs.
Do I need to prepare teaching materials?
No, VIPKID curriculum team has already designed materials for every class. However, teachers must prepare for class by reviewing the class materials beforehand. Teachers may preview class materials in the classroom on the teacher portal 6-12 hours in advance.
Do teachers need to communicate with parents?
No, VIPKID office staff will communicate with parents.
Do teachers always teach the same students?
No, teachers teach any student who books their class.
Do classes take place on Skype or another platform?
VIPKID has developed its own education platform to facilitate our one-on-one classes.
What does teaching with VIPKID look like?
Check out our , where current teachers share their experience. Here’s a  about Kate’s first day with us.
Interview
Where does the interview happen?
The interview happens on our portal at  After you book an interview, on the day of your interview, you can enter the classroom one hour before the interview to test your equipment before it starts. Make sure you test your equipment beforehand, as we are also evaluating your equipment to see if your internet connection is able to maintain a 30-min smooth connection with a server in China.
Why is the interview and demo so important?
The interview is very important as it, along with your qualifications, decides whether or not you will be accepted to work with VIPKID and it will determine your base service fee (payment).
What do I need to display in the demo lesson?
You will need to display how well you are able to explain activities to a foundation level student, how you are able to elicit complete answers from the student, your ESL teaching skills and your time management. Also, be prepared for the slides as it is very obvious if you never looked at them and could result in failing the application process in some cases.
Getting Started
Can I apply if I don't have a Bachelor's degree?
VIPKID is very strict on applicants’ education level and requires applicants to have at least a Bachelor’s degree. We require this because our customers care about our teachers’ education level. They look for VIPKID because they trust we have teachers that meet their criteria. VIPKID cannot offer one thing to customers and make exceptions to applicants who do not have a Bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately, we cannot accept applicants without a college degree.
Where do I have to live in to be eligible to work for VIPKID?
Even though our platform enables remote work, it is only stable in a few parts of the world. As of now, we can only work with teachers who are located in the USA (including Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, East and Southeast Asia. As soon as we are able to have a more stable connection in other parts of the world, we will update this FAQ.
What is the application process like?
Applicants pass through five stages before becoming VIPKID teachers
1. Submission of Resume:Send us your resume, so we can screen for basic requirements and teaching experience.
2. Interview + Demo Class:Join us for a 30-min session where you showcase your teaching skills to a VIPKID recruiter.
3. Introduction to Teaching:Watch videos to learn about the VIPKID technology, standards and curriculum.
4. Mock class:Practice teaching a full-length class with one of our VIPKID teachers.
5. Sign Contract and Upload Docs:Send us your information so we can create a profile for our VIPKID students and their parents to get to know and to book you.
6. Full-Fledged VIPKID Teacher:Put your timeslots on your portal so that VIPKID students can start booking you. Get ready to teach!
I cannot sign up on the website! What should I do?
Here are some things you can try
1. Refresh the page
2. Clear your web browser cache.
3. 
Switch browsers. Our website should work optimally on Chrome, but it can be picky. Try with other browsers.
4. 
Try to connect to the internet from another server or another computer.

In case you try all these options and still encounter problems, email us. Our email is 
There are no interview slots available. What should I do?
Interview slots are available 3 days in advance. In case you are unable to have your interview during the available times, check back on the following day at 10pm EST as more slots are added at that time. Since interview slots are limited, make sure you attend the interview you schedule.
How long is the contract for?
We require a 6-month minimum commitment from our applicants. The contract can be renewed.
The website is having some technical issues. What should I do?
Please take a screenshot of the problem you are having and send to teachvip@vipkid.com.cn.
What equipment do I need?
1.A desktop or a laptop with a webcam (our platform does not work on phones or tablets yet).
2. A headset with microphone
3. Chrome browser
4. High-speed internet

What are the hours?  
W/DST M-F            Fri/Sat/Sun.
EST  6-10 a.m.        9 p.m- 10a.m.
CST  5-9 a.m.          8 p.m- 9 a.m. 
MST 4-8 a.m.          7 p.m. -8 a.m.
PST  3-7 a.m.          6 p.m.-7 a.m.
For Winter hours- you would fall back an hour with this as well. 

Check out their blog. http://blog.vipkid.com.cn/


Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas

Christ-mas!

We all have our own history of Christmas; how we grew up celebrating this time of year.  Winter Solstice is celebrated Dec. 22, the longest night/shortest day of the whole year! 

Before Jesus, there was just the winter solstice and it was celebrated.  Even after Jesus died on the Cross, his birth was not celebrated yet.

What memories do you have of Christmas?  Which ones are you making now? 

I believe we need to give credit to those who write better than me and this is one.

So, if you have ever wondered what Christmas is all about, let's dig into this using The History of Christmas at http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/before_christ.htm

I will copy and paste it here. 
History of Christmas - Before Christ?
Winter holiday - before ChristThe middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight. In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.
The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.
In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.
Saturnalia - In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun.
Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year. In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.



Birth of Jesus History
Birth of JesusIn the western world the birthday of Jesus Christ has been celebrated on December 25th since AD 354, partly to replace the pagan worship that was commonplace in those days. However, we can be fairly sure that Jesus wasn't actually born on that date.
The Bible tells us that shepherds were staying out in the fields overnight when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8), but in that part of the world it would have been far too cold at night to do so in December. What is more likely is that He was born in the Spring, perhaps between March and May. Whatever the time of year, it is virtually impossible to identify the actual date.
This situation is further complicated by the fact that the Christian scholar Dionysius Exiguus was asked by the Pope in AD 525 to calculate new cycles for fixing the date of Easter. However, he decided to base his calculations on the date of Jesus's birth. Unfortunately, it wasn't discovered until the 9th century that he got it badly wrong, by which time it was too late to change the calendar.
He fixed the birth in the year 1 BC or AD 1 (Historians apparently can't agree which.) and beganJesus birth counting from the latter. But both earlier and later scholars agreed that Jesus was born at an earlier date. Indeed, it was eventually established that Herod the Great died in Spring of 4 BC. If Jesus had been born at the start of AD 1, as we currently have it, then Jesus would have been born some 4 or 5 years after Herod died. There is no way of accurately establishing the actual date of his birth, but it is most likely to have been between 5 and 6 BC.
The important thing is that he was born, and his nominal birthdate of December 25th seems as good as any to celebrate his birth and his message. It also a wonderful catalyst for enjoying the precious and simple pleasures of being, if only for a brief time, close together in the warm familiarity of friends and family, renewing relationships and sharing memories.

Nativity History
A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, andnativity South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.
Over two thousand years ago a young woman by the name of Mary lived in the small town of Nazareth. Mary was to be married to a carpenter named Joseph. She was unaware of the significance of her life until one day an angel sent from God appeared before her. The angel Gabriel had good news for Mary. She had been chosen by God to have a special baby. The baby was to be God’s son and she would name him Jesus. Mary told Gabriel she would do whatever God asked.
Not long after the angel’s visit, Mary and Joseph were married. Together they made a long journey to Bethlehem where Mary was to have her baby. When they arrived in Bethlehem they did not have a place to stay because the inn there was full. The kind innkeeper told them he had a stable where the animals lived that they could stay in for the night. Jesus, God’s Son, was born that night. Mary wrapped baby Jesus in a small cloth and placed him in a manger of hay.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, gathering their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel from God appeared before them in a bright light. They were afraid but the angel reassured them. He said he has brought them good news that will bring great joy to all people. He told them that the Son of God has been born today in the city of Bethlehem. The angel told them that they will recognize Him by this sign; he will be wrapped snugly in cloth, lying in a manger.
The shepherds hurried to go to see Baby Jesus. When they found him in the stable in Bethlehem, they were filled with great joy at the sight of God’s Son. They kneeled before the baby and worshipped him. After seeing the baby, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and that the angel appeared to them and told them that Jesus was God’s Son and to be Savior of the World.
The same night far away in the East, wise men were traveling on their camels when they noticed a very strange bright star in the sky. They knew that this star meant that the King of the Jews, the One who would save the world had been born.
During the time that Jesus was born, a very mean king by the name of Herod ruled the land. The three wise men decided to go to the king to learn where they could find this special baby: the King of the Jews. When King Herod heard this, he got very worried as he thought this new king might take his throne away. King Herod called a meeting with all of the other important people in the area and asked them to find this special child so that he too, could worship this special baby.
King Herod told the wise men to go and find this child. After they had spoken to the King, the wise men left to find the baby. They did not know where to find the baby, but at night they followed the star in the east. They followed the star until they found the very place the star hung over in Bethlehem. When they finally arrived, they were excited and happy. They found baby Jesus laying in Mary’s arms and they kneeled down and worshipped Him.
The wise men brought gifts for Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Mary thanked them for bringing the gifts for Jesus and the wise men left to find a place to sleep for the night. As they were sleeping, they each had the same dream . The wise men were warned by an angel not to go back to King Herod and tell him about where they found the Jesus as King Herod had intended on killing him.
The wise men returned to their country without going to see King Herod. Soon after, Joseph also had a dream where an angel told him to take Mary and the Baby Jesus to Egypt as King Herod was to order to have Jesus be killed. They left Bethlehem for Egypt immediately. When the wise men did not return to King Herod, he ordered that baby boys in Bethlehem be killed. They never found Jesus as he was safe.
History of Old Christmas Day
Until the time of Julius Caesar the Roman year was organized round the phases of the moon. For many reasons this was hopelessly inaccurate so, on the advice of his astronomers, Julius instituted a calendar centered round the sun. It was decreed that one year was to consist of three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days, divided into twelve months; the month of Quirinus was renamed 'July' to commemorate the Julian reform. Unfortunately, despite the introduction of leap years, the Julian calendar overestimated the length of the year by eleven minutes fifteen seconds, which comes to one day every on hundred and twenty-eight years. By the sixteenth century the calendar was ten days out. In 1582 reforms instituted by Pope Gregory XIII lopped the eleven minutes fifteen seconds off the length of a year and deleted the spare ten days. This new Gregorian calendar was adopted throughout Catholic Europe.
 Protestant Europe was not going to be told what day it was by the Pope, so it kept to the old Julian calendar. This meant that London was a full ten days ahead of Paris. The English also kept the 25th of March as New Year's Day rather than the 1st of January. By the time England came round to adopting the Gregorian calendar, in the middle of the eighteenth century, England was eleven days ahead of the Continent.
A Calendar Act was passed in 1751 which stated that in order to bring England into line, the day following the 2nd of September 1752 was to be called the 14th, rather than the 3rd of September. Unfortunately, many people were not able to understand this simple maneuver and thought that the government had stolen eleven days of their lives. In some parts there were riots and shouts of 'give us back our eleven days!'
Before the calendar was reformed, England celebrated Christmas on the equivalent of the 6th of January by our modern, Gregorian reckoning. That is why in some parts of Great Britain people still call the 6th of January, Old Christmas Day.


King Herod
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, thereKing Herod came wise men form the east to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he that is born Kind of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, "In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, ‘And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’"
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced and exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense , and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream saying, ""rise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt
Christmas history in America : see also Santa Claus in America
In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebratedearly american christmas - winter holiday in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. 
The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.
An outlaw ChristmasAfter the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

Washington Irving reinvents Christmas It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.
Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended—in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.
Before the Civil War
The North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as on the question of slavery. Many Northerners saw sin in the celebration of Christmas; to these people the celebration of Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season. Not surprisingly, the first three states to make Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.Early Christmas & Santa engraving

In the years after the Civil War, Christmas traditions spread across the country. Children's books played an important role in spreading the customs of celebrating Christmas, especially the tradition of trimmed trees and gifts delivered by Santa Claus. Sunday school classes encouraged the celebration of Christmas. Women's magazines were also very important in suggesting ways to decorate for the holidays, as well as how to make these decorations.

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopped for the Christmas season. Since that time, materialism, media, advertising, and mass marketing has made Christmas what it is today. The traditions that we enjoy at Christmas today were invented by blending together customs from many different countries into what is considered by many to be our national holiday.
An overview:
1600's: The Puritans made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas' name. People were not allowed to exchange gifts, light a candle, or sing Christmas carols.
17th century: Dutch immigrants brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas.
1773: Santa first appeared in the media as St. A Claus.
1804: The New York Historical Society was founded with St. Nicolas as its patron saint. Its members engaged in the Dutch practice of gift-giving at Christmas.
1809: Washington Irving, writing under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, included Saint Nicolas in his book "A History of New York." Nicolas is described as riding into town on a horse.
1812: Irving, revised his book to include Nicolas riding over the trees in a wagon.
1821: William Gilley printed a poem about "Santeclaus" who was dressed in fur and drove a sleigh drawn by a single reindeer.
1822: Dentist Clement Clarke Moore is believed by many to have written a poem "An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicolas," which became better known as "The Night before Christmas." Santa is portrayed as an elf with a miniature sleigh equipped with eight reindeer which are named in the poem as Blitzem, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer, and Vixen. Others attribute the poem to a contemporary, Henry Livingston, Jr. Two have since been renamed Donner and Blitzen.
1841: J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a "Criscringle" outfit and climb the chimney of his store.
1863: Illustrator Thomas Nast created images of Santa for the Christmas editions of Harper's Magazine. These continued through the 1890's.
1860s: President Abraham Lincoln asked Nast to create a drawing of Santa with some Union soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy had a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army -- an early example of psychological warfare.
1897: Francis P Church, Editor of the New York Sun, wrote an editorial in response to a letter from an eight year-old girl, Virginia O'Hanlon. She had written the paper asking whether there really was a Santa Claus. It has become known as the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter. 4
1920's: The image of Santa had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight, jolly man dressed in a red suit with white trim. 5
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. 6
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.
1993: An urban folk tale began to circulate about a Japanese department store displaying a life-sized Santa Claus being crucified on a cross. It never happened.
1997: Artist Robert Cenedella drew a painting of a crucified Santa Claus. It was displayed in the window of the New York's Art Students League and received intense criticism from some religious groups. His drawing was a protest. He attempted to show how Santa Claus had replaced Jesus Christ as the most important personality at Christmas time. 7


References:
Barbara G. Walker, "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Harper & Row, (1983) Pages 725 to 726.
"St. Nicholas of Myra," The Catholic Encyclopedia, at: www.newadvent.org/cathen/11063b.htm
"Father Frost," at: www.bobandbabs.com/
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," at: www.stormfax.com/virginia.htm
"The Claus that Refreshes," at: www.snopes.com/cokelore/santa.htm
"Rudolph," at: www.snopes.com/holidays/xmas/
"R Cendella Gallery - Theme: Commentary," at www.rcenedellagallery.com
"St. Nicholas of Bari (Fourth Century)," Catholic Information Network, at: www.cin.org/nichbari.html
History of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar (which is November-December on the Gregorian calendar). In Hebrew, the word "Hanukkah" means "dedication."
The holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews' 165 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus, the Greek King of Syria, outlawed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. In 168 B.C.E. the Jews' holy Temple was seized and dedicated to the worship of Zeus. Some Jews were afraid of the Greek soldiers and obeyed them, but most were angry and decided to fight back.
The fighting began in Modiin, a village not far from Jerusalem. A Greek officer and soldiers assembled the villagers, asking them to bow to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig, activities forbidden to Jews. The officer asked Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to take part in the ceremony. He refused, and another villager stepped forward and offered to do it instead. Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked and killed the soldiers. Mattathias' family went into hiding in the nearby mountains, where many other Jews who wanted to fight the Greeks joined them. They attacked the Greek soldiers whenever possible.
About a year after the rebellion started, Mattathias died. Before his death, he put his brave son Judah Maccabee in charge of the growing army. After three years of fighting, the Jews defeated the Greek army, despite having fewer men and weapons.
Judah Maccabee and his soldiers went to the holy Temple, and were saddened that many things were missing or broken, including the golden menorah. They cleaned and repaired the Temple, and when they were finished, they decided to have a big dedication ceremony. For the celebration, the Maccabees wanted to light the menorah. They looked everywhere for oil, and found a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night, thus commemorating the eight-day miracle
 
Christmas festivities from around the world have varied greatly over the centuries with  everyChristmas traditions around the world country, region and ethnic group establishing their own diverse set of customs and traditions.
*Danes eat Christmas dinner at Midnight on Christmas Eve
*Brazilians leave their shoes outside their doors (not because they smell)
*Australians go to the beach!
*Ukrainians eat a 12 course meal!
*In France Christmas is called 'Noel'
*Many Finns visit the sauna on Christmas Eve.
*Knecht Rupprecht, Pelznickle and Ru-Klas may visit Germans.
*Sinterklaas, St. Nicholas - rides a white horse in Holland.