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David Moye   |   December 5, 2016   12:10 PM ET

Jesus’ birth has inspired artists for centuries, prompting them to put their own spin on the tale in ways that aren’t always historically accurate.

But lately, some Nativity scenes are provoking both shock and awe ― depending on how you feel about the Christmas story being depicted in bacon, zombies or shotgun shells.

Christian author Mark Oestreicher first collected about a dozen of his favorite weird Nativity scenes on his blog, WhyIsMarko.com. It’s since become a yearly tradition, and his collection has expanded to 70.

Check out some of the best ones below:

David Moye   |   December 22, 2015    5:40 PM ET


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Everyone knows Rudolph has a red nose but what about his eyes?


Prompted by questions from his 4-year-old daughter, Dartmouth College anthropology professor Nathaniel Dominy recently wrote a scholarly paper on how the unique properties of reindeer eyes might explain the advantage of having a very shiny nose, particularly if it produces red light.


Dominy, who specializes in primate vision, was already familiar with recent research on reindeer eyes when his daughter asked him about Rudolph's nose. Scientists in Great Britain have discovered that unlike most mammals, reindeer can see ultraviolet light, meaning white polar bears or wolves that absorb UV light would stand out more against a snowy background. Reindeer eyes also include reflective tissue that appears to glow when light hits it — familiar to anyone who's seen a pet or wild animal illuminated by car headlights. But in reindeer, the tissue changes from a golden color during the summer to a deep blue in winter.


"What happens is that at night, the animals are trying to dilate their pupils to allow as much light into the eye as possible, and because those muscles are so active, it actually blocks little valves in the eye," Dominy explained. "The pressure in the eye builds up and compresses that tissue in the back of the eye, which causes the refractive properties to change."


While that change could boost an animal's ability to spot food in the snow when daylight in the Arctic is dim and purplish, it would be a distinct disadvantage on a foggy Christmas Eve because fog blocks blue light, Dominy said.


Enter the red nose.


Of all the colors, red light travels through fog fastest, making it ideal for guiding Santa's sleigh. But there's also a downside to red noses, he warns.


Other researchers have discovered that reindeer noses have a complex system of tiny blood vessels that prevent them from freezing but also results in a loss of body heat.


"That's bad. You want to retain as much heat as possible. If Rudolph has a very bright, glowing nose, he must have an unusually rich microvascular system, and he's probably losing a ton of heat through his nose," he said. "So Rudolph, more than other reindeer, is probably risking his life by losing so much heat."


His suggestion? Skip the carrots on Christmas Eve and leave Rudolph some cookies instead.


"One way to heat your body is to burn fuel. You do that by burning fat and calories," he said. "Children should be aware of Rudolph's condition and leave high-calorie foods for him."


At the Santa's Village amusement park in northern New Hampshire, Jim Miller said Tuesday that he was unaware reindeer had such unusual eyesight and he chuckled when he heard about Dominy's conclusions. The park has a herd of about three dozen reindeer.


"I think that theory is quite good, and as anyone will notice when they visit Santa's Village, Rudolph is indoors for us because we're sensitive to that issue of him losing heat through his nose," said Miller, who gave his job title as "Santa's Helper."


Dominy's paper, published by Frontiers for Young Minds, adds to Dartmouth's special connection to the classic Christmas story. Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 book written by advertising copywriter and Dartmouth alumnus Robert L. May to drive traffic to Montgomery Ward department stores. May later left Montgomery Ward to essentially manage the reindeer's career, which really took off after his brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the song (made famous by Gene Autry in 1949), and the release of a stop-motion animated television special in 1964.


 





"What happens is that at night, the animals are trying to dilate their pupils to allow as much light into the eye as possible, and because those muscles are so active, it actually blocks little valves in the eye," Dominy explained. "The pressure in the eye builds up and compresses that tissue in the back of the eye, which causes the refractive properties to change."


While that change could boost an animal's ability to spot food in the snow when daylight in the Arctic is dim and purplish, it would be a distinct disadvantage on a foggy Christmas Eve because fog blocks blue light, Dominy said.


Enter the red nose.


Of all the colors, red light travels through fog fastest, making it ideal for guiding Santa's sleigh. But there's also a downside to red noses, he warns.


Other researchers have discovered that reindeer noses have a complex system of tiny blood vessels that prevent them from freezing but also results in a loss of body heat.


"That's bad. You want to retain as much heat as possible. If Rudolph has a very bright, glowing nose, he must have an unusually rich microvascular system, and he's probably losing a ton of heat through his nose," he said. "So Rudolph, more than other reindeer, is probably risking his life by losing so much heat."


His suggestion? Skip the carrots on Christmas Eve and leave Rudolph some cookies instead.


"One way to heat your body is to burn fuel. You do that by burning fat and calories," he said. "Children should be aware of Rudolph's condition and leave high-calorie foods for him."


At the Santa's Village amusement park in northern New Hampshire, Jim Miller said Tuesday that he was unaware reindeer had such unusual eyesight and he chuckled when he heard about Dominy's conclusions. The park has a herd of about three dozen reindeer.


"I think that theory is quite good, and as anyone will notice when they visit Santa's Village, Rudolph is indoors for us because we're sensitive to that issue of him losing heat through his nose," said Miller, who gave his job title as "Santa's Helper."


Dominy's paper, published by Frontiers for Young Minds, adds to Dartmouth's special connection to the classic Christmas story. Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 book written by advertising copywriter and Dartmouth alumnus Robert L. May to drive traffic to Montgomery Ward department stores. May later left Montgomery Ward to essentially manage the reindeer's career, which really took off after his brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the song (made famous by Gene Autry in 1949), and the release of a stop-motion animated television special in 1964.


 


David Moye   |   December 22, 2015    3:11 PM ET

A lot of our most beloved holiday traditions have some shockingly dark roots.

For instance, putting up stockings on the mantel for Christmas was originally intended to help keep women from being forced into prostitution.

Cracked.com has the details.

David Moye   |   December 3, 2015   12:34 PM ET

Christmas ads are supposed to tug at the heartstrings, but porn websites typically inspire a different kind of tugging.

Pornhub is attempting to connect those rather disparate goals with a new commercial for customized gift cards to its premium subscription service.

The ad shows a family getting together for the holidays with most of the members looking happy. That is, except for Gramps, who sits on the couch looking glum.

But the old man perks up after his grandson gives him the present he really wants: A porn subscription.

“With the holidays upon us, we wanted to provide our community with the opportunity to give the most touching gift of all to their loved ones," Pornhub vice-president Corey Price said in a press release.

The ad's message may rub some the wrong way, but Cass Anderson of Brobible.com sees merits to giving porn for the holidays.

"Nobody wants a fruit cake. Cologne is a personal choice, something a man should buy for himself," he wrote. "Those rollerblades you’re planning on buying off of eBay aren’t nearly as ironic and quirky as you think they are..."

The ad marks Pornhub's latest stunt for publicity.

Back in June, the company attempted to raise $3 million via IndieGoGo in an effort to film the firstever porn film in space. In April, the website offered to "give America wood," by planting one tree for every 100 videos viewed in its "Big Dick" category. 

And way back in February, Pornhub claimed it was developing a "Wankband" that would allow people to charge their phones while masturbating.

David Moye   |   December 1, 2015    2:09 PM ET

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- even if you're a bit weird.

Manufacturers and entrepreneurs have spent the last 11 months figuring out exactly what kind of gifts and products will appeal to kooks, nutjobs, screwballs and weirdos.

People just like you.

HuffPost Weird News has also been hard at work almost as long, narrowing down the many bizarre and wacky items available to a select few.

Whether it's ugly sweaters, bizarre Bigfoot gifts, or strange gadgets, there is something for every weirdo in your life.

 

David Moye   |   November 30, 2015   11:25 AM ET

For advertisers, Christmas is a way to get people to buy by doing whatever it takes.

One German company, Edeka, goes all out to pulling the heartstrings and yanking the chains of viewers.

It just might be 2015's weirdest holiday commercial.

 

David Moye   |   December 18, 2014   12:01 PM ET

A painting of a pot-smoking Santa has some Los Angeles residents all out of joint.

As part of its holiday decorations, San Pedro's Harbor House of Dank marijuana dispensary displayed window drawings of a kush-toking Kringle and a snowman holding a prescription bottle, CBS Los Angeles reports.

After photos were posted to Facebook, the pot shop received hundreds of blunt complaints.

Residents weren't high on the fact that the paintings were prominently displayed where children could see them, according to UPI.com.

The controversial cannabis Christmas pictures were scraped off the window on Tuesday, KSPR.com reports.

However, the pot paintings may have attracted the heat to the Harbor House of Dank.

The office of Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino told NBC Los Angeles that this particular dispensary may not be following state guidelines.

NBC reports that the City Attorney's Office and the LAPD are investigating whether the Harbor House of Dank is operating legally.


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The Ugliest Ugly Christmas Sweaters Of The Season

David Moye   |   December 8, 2014    2:11 PM ET

This is one of the ugliest Christmas seasons in recent memories -- and that's the way some clothing retailers want it.

Sales of Christmas sweaters purposely designed to be ugly are looking pretty good at this point, according to the companies that make them.

However, daring fashionistas who want to push the style envelope may want to take the advice of Tricia Eichler, the director of merchandising at AllPosters.com, which sells T-shirts that look like ugly Christmas sweaters, but without the itch.

"If you really want to be a maverick of ugly Christmas sweaters, wear one for Christmas in July," she told HuffPost. "Now that’s true pioneering."


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  |   December 5, 2014    2:25 PM ET

Christmas songs are great, but some of the messages in the carols are downright horrifying when you really stop humming along to think about them.

YourTango has uncovered the seedy underbelly of some classic carols, but be warned: you may never be able to hear "Santa Baby" again without thinking of one of those "Seeking Arrangement" websites.

Bad Santa Robs Bank By Brandishing Wrapped Gift

Michael McLaughlin   |   December 24, 2013    3:14 PM ET

A bank robber disguised as St. Nick held up a Florida bank by threatening to harm the teller with a gift-wrapped package, WPTV reported.

The thief, wearing a Santa hat, beard, white gloves and sunglasses, fled with an unspecified amount of money from a SunTrust Bank in Port Orange on Monday, WJXT reported.

The package in red wrapping paper was placed on the counter and the bad Santa passed a note implying that it contained something dangerous, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The evil Kris Kringle walked out with cash and left the package in the bank.

Police evacuated the branch and called in the Volusia County Sheriff's Office bomb squad, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal. Although they wouldn't reveal what was inside the box, officials said it was harmless, the Sentinel said.

WATCH: Christmas Folklore Takes The Season To A Whole New Level

Antonia Blumberg   |   December 23, 2013    2:32 PM ET

This might sound utterly blasphemous, but did you know that in some traditions Santa Claus is akin to a devil figure?

He rides a chariot pulled by horned creatures, rules a fantastical underworld and turned a holiday of love and charity into one of greed and materialism.. At least that's what one folklore expert describes in a conversation about bizarre Christmas traditions on HuffPost Live.

Even if we'll never know how these stories and traditions really came about, their popularity persists in communities around the globe. More in the video above.

  |   December 20, 2013    3:26 PM ET

Don’t be fooled by the festive cheer in all the Christmas songs you grew up loving. If you heard them sung in April, you’d realize just how dumb some of those lines can be.

Dumb As A Blog has attempted to isolate some of the dumbest lyrics from your holiday favorites.

Read carefully: It may change the way you listen to these songs for years to come…

David Moye   |   December 16, 2013    3:25 PM ET

Practically everyone knows classic holiday songs like "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night" and "Rudolph," but beyond those venerable ditties are a whole bunch of less-heralded carols that, in some cases, are unbelievably strange.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! plans to sing the praises of the weirdest Christmas carols ever created with a special holiday "oddcast" airing on Ripley Radio starting Dec. 23.

But it's not for everyone, warns show host Tim O'Brien.

"If you're a traditionalist, you're not going to enjoy Ozzy Osbourne singing 'Silent Night.'"

O'Brien and crew have found 16 or so weird carols, but may only play excerpts of some because, "they're just too weird to be heard all the way through."

Some of the artists whose carols will be played include Weird Al Yankovic, the South Park gang, and a teenage Jon Bon Jovi, who can be heard on the immortal Christmas classic, "R2D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

O'Brien hopes the "oddcast" becomes a Christmas tradition in its own right, but doubts these songs will be sung by caroling parties of the future.

"Well, it depends on what neighborhood you live in, I guess," he said.

David Moye   |   December 14, 2013    8:34 AM ET

When it comes to Christmas, Brandon Smith might be accused of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

But there's a good reason: He has 86 Christmas trees -- all inside his Greenwood, Ind., home.

Smith's collection has branched out into red trees, blue trees, green trees, themed trees and more than 52,000 lights. As a result, his house is about 85 degrees, according to WLS-TV.

Smith inherited his holiday spirit from his parents, who also used to deck the halls and trim the trees, as a kid.

“My parents always put up a pretty good display and I just have grown and expanded on it over the years,” he told Good Morning America, adding that many of the trees come from donations.

“It’s not uncommon for us to come home in the middle of July and find a Christmas tree on the front porch,” Smith explained. “We’ve had a lot of donations from elderly people that don’t want to put up decorations anymore, and we’re happy to take them.”

It's not easy though. There are so many trees that Smith has been forced to cram some in his bedroom. In addition, getting his holiday display ready is an arduous job that takes a month of hard work, according to KEYT-TV.

Smith doesn't just keep the trees to himself.

Every December evening, he opens his home to visitors to view his Christmas tree collection. Some years, he's seen more than 1,000 people trudge through.

"The looks on people's faces and the reactions is the best part," Smith told TheIndyChannel.com. "We've had a few people who said they're Grinches, but when they leave, they're grinning from ear to ear."

"We love Christmas," Smith said. "There’s no denying that."

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