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An Interfaith Voices Christmas Special
December 21, 2017
Some Christmas audio treats: We listen to Handel's Messiah and explore its deep religious meaning, and learn the real story behind St. Nicholas of Myra, AKA Santa Claus.

 Balthasar Denner - National Portrait Gallery | Wikimedia
The Enduring Power of Handel's 'Messiah' December 21, 2017
You know it’s Christmas when you hear Handel’s Messiah, an 18th century oratorio best known for the 'Hallelujah' chorus. What you might not know is that its words are taken from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, covering the entire story arc of Jesus as the Christian savior – from the prophecy that he would be “be born of a virgin”, to his cruxification and ascension into heaven.

Ellen Harris, a professor of music Emeritus at MIT and author of George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends

The final bars of the "Hallelujah" chorus, from Handel's manuscript.
aleksapetrov | wikimedia
Nicholas of Myra: The Real Santa Claus December 21, 2017
He’s known for employing magical elves, keeping tabs on who’s naughty and nice, and dropping presents down chimneys. And there's actually some truth to all the folklore – well…not so much with the elves. The real Santa Claus was actually St. Nicholas of Myra, a humble man born around the third century. Theology professor Adam English told us his story in 2012.

Adam English, author of The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra
LadyDragonflyCC - >;< | flicr
Rebecca Sheir, Closet Christmas Junkie December 21, 2017
Bing Crosby, Barry Manilow, Mariah Carey--if they've got a Christmas song, Rebecca Sheir is listening. She's Jewish, so naturally she loves all things Christmas, from cats singing Jingle Bells to spoons made of candy canes. But she's got some serious questions about all the mall hoppers buying their "favorite things."

Rebecca Sheir, host of WBUR's podcast for kids, Circle Round