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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WHAT PROMPTED THE WISE MEN TO TRAVEL SO FAR???






   I have been seeing a great many Christmas articles lately and there is a question that should be answered at this time of year.  What did the "Three Kings" see?  A common Question to be sure and it does tickle the mind for Christians that believe something came to pass, that could not have been ordinary.
   So where do we start on this small exposition?  Let's start with the Kings.  We know them as Kings however, they were not really "Kings", they were scientist priests, well versed in astrology and were most honored by the ruling class of that time and place.  The word "king" was used by the Christian writer Tertullian in 120 A.D. when speaking of the priests as Magi.  What made these men so important during the time of Christ's birth was their ability to interpret the celestial heavens, in particular, heralds.









   Because the Magi found prognostic events within the night sky, the Hebrews of that time and place found this constituted a form of divination and thus, was considered pagan and could never have been acknowledged by their God, Yahweh.  Therefore, the Magi must have come from outside the Hebrew country and according to the bible, they came from the east (Mathew 2:1).  The Magi were Hellenists or Greek and therefore would have come from the east to the Judea countryside, just as the bible state correctly.
   The Magi used calculations that took into account the orbital mechanics of the solar system and constellations afforded by the sky.  That is, where a certain planet or constellation would be in the future.  This form of astrology was vastly different from the simplistic observational positions the Babylonians used.  Did they see a star or predict one?  No.  They did not.  So what happened to generate such a willingness to travel vast distances to a specific location searching for a specific individual?  They studied planetary motion, not a people or a place.





Night sky Constellations




   Remember the herald?  2,000 years ago the stars that individuals and the Magi saw at night were constant in their count and placement within the sky.  For this reason they were given shapes and those shapes took many forms.  We know them today as the zodiac and because some constellations passed over certain countries and lands, they took the meaning of those countries and lands.
   The constellation known as Aries had the symbol of a Ram and related to Syria, Idumea and Judea.  In 6 A.D. the area of Judea was placed under Syria.  Prior to,  it was independent.  Therefore, any person seeking council from the zodiac would have used the sign of an Aries or Ram for its portents.  Additionally, because Judea was Incorporated with Syria and Herod was the King of Syria and Palestine, his astrologers would have also been monitoring that same constellation.  The Magi could predict where certain signs would be and this was most revealing one morning.





Constellation of Aries
  




   Genesis 1:14 states, "And God said let there be lights in the firmament....let them be for signs".  The Ram in this particular sign is a lamb, not fully grown as yet.  The lamb means to reign, have dominion or government.  Additionally, the ram considered was also crowned with a circle.  The most ancient name for this animal was "Baraziggar" or the "sacrifice of the righteousness.  This alone would not have induced the Magi to travel so far, so what was the importance?  It is, I believe, that the observation seen by the Magi was so statistically unbelievable that  its occurrence had never happened or would never happen again.  They had to be in wonder and awe beyond belief.  All the planets that represented a king using Aries as the sign would have: the sun, Jupiter and Saturn in it.  No big deal, it occurs every sixty years.  The second point regarding a royal birth for consideration was the placement within the sky.  Another point is whether the sign is ascending in the east or setting in the west as well as what signs are in procession.  There is also a consideration of where the rising signs are located, meaning if their locations in the sky are closer  to the horizon or at the highest point in mid heaven during their observation, all of this is very significant.











   The sun and moon have their role to play as well.  The sun is considered to be of the most regal signature (Sun: King, moon: Queen) and have five planets that attend it because of that issue.  The last piece of this puzzle was exaltation.  This can be defined as the planetary location within a specific sign.  Example: If the Sun were in The Aries.  This would give impetus to the Sun's power in regal stature.  Bright lights were important also.  If Jupiter was seen as a bright light in a certain sign, which would lend importance to the overall signature event.
   On April 17, 6 B.C., the morning sky must have rendered the Magi into an unbelievable state.  Was there a star, no?  In the morning sky, was an unfolding event so rare as to defy anything they had ever seen or could hope to ever see.











   Aries was in ascendant, rising over the eastern horizon.  All seven planets were in that Judea sign.  This get better.  When the Aries was in the mid heaven position, all seven planets were also in the Judea sign.  Continuing, the Sun was in exaltation within the sign of The Aries at dawn and mid heaven along with both ruling planets of Jupiter and Saturn.  The guardians of the sun being Jupiter and Saturn, proceeded immediately before the rising dawn.  This was not all.  The attendants of the moon (Queen), Mercury and Mars were there as well.
   The Magi had to be stunned on April 17, 6 B.C., someone of incredible significance was born, or about to be born in Judea.  Probabilities of this magnitude "defy statistical quantification".  The statistical alignments of seven planets in a specific orbital location, in front of specific stars that are moving through space and light years away at a specific point in the rotation of earth, all in motion and with different orbital mechanical probabilities, defy its occurrence.  Yet, that is what happened.
   That is why the Magi were compelled to travel to a distant location they were not aware of.  Also, they were indeed guided by a planetary source but it was not just one star.

SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS HISTORY AND TRADITIONS!!!


Map of Scotland


Flag of Scotland




 

   In Scotland, Christmas is known as Nollaig Beag, which means "Little Christmas".  The date for Christmas was one of the many holidays chosen to take the place of a pagan holiday.  Instead of pagan winter solstice festivals.  Christmas was celebrated.  Christmas was celebrated as a primarily religious festival during ancient times, and continues to remain a primarily religious celebration today.  Christmas was celebrated in Scotland until the Reformation.  The celebration of Christmas was banned in Scotland in the 1600's.  Protestantism had spread throughout Scotland, and Christmas was considered a Catholic holiday.  Prior to the Reformation, Scots did celebrate New Years' Day, called "Hogmanay", which included many characteristics of Christmas.  Hogmanay is still a more important holiday in Scotland today than Christmas.

Scottish Christmas Traditions, Decorations, and Foods

The Scots have always had a belief in the supernatural through the ages.  These beliefs probably come from ancient pagan beliefs and traditions.  One Scottish tradition is to keep their Christmas fires going all night long on Christmas Eve.  If you didn't keep your fire burning continually, unwanted spirits would supposedly come down the fireplace and into your home, bringing bad luck.  The tradition of the Yule log is also practiced in Scotland at Christmas time.  During the summer a log is cut and dried.  Usually Yule logs are cut from birch or rowan trees.  On Christmas Eve, the dried log is brought into the house.  The Yule log is circled around the kitchen three times.  The Yule log celebrants make a toast to the log, and place it in the fire to burn Christmas Eve night.  On Christmas morning, people looked at the ashes in their fireplace.  If there was a foot shaped ash, it was used to tell the future.   If the foot shaped ash faced the door, someone was predicted to die within the coming year.  If the foot shaped ash faced toward the inside of the house, a new arrival was expected within the coming year.









   Lighting a candle at Christmas and placing it in a window was intended to guide a stranger to warmth and safety.  Furthermore, the lit candle in the window at Christmas time symbolized lighting the way for the traveling Holy Family.  Bonfires are also a part of the Christmas celebration in Scotland.  People dance around these bonfires.  Of course, bagpipers play their haunting melodies, as well.
   Christmas decorations include hanging evergreen branches.  Colors used in decorating for a Scottish Christmas include the colors and patterns of tartans.  Traditional Christmas carols, like "The First Noel" are sung, as well as such Scottish carols as "Taladh Chriosta" and "Bottom of the Punch Bowl".










    Some Scottish traditional festive foods that are appropriate for both the Christmas and Hogmany seasons are Selkirk Bannock, Venison Stew, Scottish Shortbread, Scottish Blackbun, and Dundee Cake.  The Sellkirk Bannock is a traditional Scottish fruit cake made for the Christmas season.  The Sellkirk Bannock was originally made by a bakery in Selkirk.  It is a festive cake make of flour, sugar, raisins and fruit peels.  Selkirk Bannocks are a specialty cake made for other special occasions and festivals as well as being a special Christmas treat.  Blackbun is a very rich cake made of fruit, almonds, spices and flavored with whiskey.
   A wee dram of Scotch whiskey, of course, is frequently served to family and friends at Christmas time as well as during other celebration throughout the year.










   Modern Scottish Christmas

   The ban on Christmas was lifted in the 1950's, because Christmas was not openly celebrated for about 400 years, it is not celebrated by the same elaborate means that it is celebrated in other countries.  Modern celebrations of Christmas have been influenced by the media and traditions from other countries, such as the United States.  Scots can be found eating a turkey dinner similar to that eaten by people in America on Thanksgiving.  The Scots have been tree lovers since the Druids of ancient times, so pine trees are decorated at Christmas time, as well.  And everyone loves a present, so gifts are now exchanged at Christmas time in Scotland.  Santa has made an appearance and has become a part of Scottish Christmas tradition's in recent times.  According to sources, Christmas lists to Santa are put in the fireplace fire.  When they turn to smoke, they go up the chimney to Santa.  One modern Christmas tradition that Scotland shares with the rest of the United Kingdom is that many Scottish people watch the Queen's Christmas speech on the television every year.





LED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS VERUS TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!

 
 
 
 

   There has been a big question many of us have faced during recent Christmases.  LED (light emitting diode) or traditional (incandescent) lights?  LED and traditional lights have been sharing the Christmas light market for several years now, and that has made many people unsure of what the differences are between LED and traditional lights.  Why are LED lights becoming so popular, and why do traditional lights still manage to hang on to a large share of the Christmas light market?

LED Versus Traditional Lights

   While both LED and traditional Christmas lights offer their own types of benefits, it can be difficult to make a decision during the holiday season as to what type of Christmas light will work better for you and your home.  Let's compare some of the pros and cons of LED and traditional Christmas lights to make the decision a little easier.

Led Christmas Lights: Pros

   LED Christmas lights "burn" cooler.  Since LED Christmas lights don't really get hot, they don't pose as much of a fire hazard to the home as traditional lights, which feel warm-often hot-to the touch.
  
   LED Christmas lights shine with brighter, bolder colors than traditional Christmas lights.

   Depending on the model, LED Christmas lights use far less energy than traditional Christmas lights.  In fact, the average set of LED Christmas lights use 90% less energy than traditional Christmas bulbs.

   With an advertised typical bulb life of 30,000-50,000 hours, LED Christmas lights can last years, even decades.  Theoretically, using the bulbs only 1,000 hours a year (41 straight days) means you could get 50 years of service from your LED Christmas lights.  If that is the case, you may never need to replace your string of LED Christmas lights in your lifetime.










Traditional Christmas Lights: Pros

   Traditional Christmas lights have a "warm" glow, they don't look as stark and bright as the LED Christmas lights, and therefore have a "softer" appearance that many people prefer.

   Traditional Christmas bulbs do not cost as much to buy as LED Christmas lights, and usually come in longer strings.

   Because the bulb and the color-dyed glass are usually assembled as one component for incandescent Christmas lights, it can be a little easier to replace bulbs on a string of traditional Christmas lights.










LED Christmas Lights: Cons

   LED Christmas light cost more-sometimes 5 times as much or more, than traditional lights.

   LED Christmas light bulbs sometimes burn out by the many, not by the individual bulb.  That means an LED Christmas light failure could mean half a string or more not working.

   Some LED Christmas lights that are socketed (and replaceable) have been known to rust.

   LED Christmas light "flicker".  Non-rectified LED Christmas light go on and off at a rate of 60 hertz, whereas "rectified" LED lights run twice as fast, at 120 hertz.  While you will probably notice the flickering on the non-rectified 60 hertz lights, the rectified 120 hertz LED lights flicker so quickly that you will not be able to actually notice.









Traditional Christmas Lights: Cons

   Traditional Christmas lights can get very hot to the touch, sparking a fire.

   Traditional Christmas lights consume much more energy than LED Christmas lights, that also means a higher carbon emission output than found with LED Christmas lights.  Because of a higher energy bill to run traditional Christmas lights versus LED lights, incandescent Christmas bulbs cost much more to run than today's LED Christmas lights.

   Traditional Christmas lights bulbs tend to last about 5,000 hours-a fraction of the advertised lifespan for LED Christmas lights.

   Traditional Christmas lights don't look as bright as LED Christmas lights.









   As you can see, LED and traditional Christmas lights each present their own sets of pros and cons.  While LED's may be much more energy efficient and brighter than traditional lights, the upfront cost and potential problems with corrosion and/or light bulb replacement issues may have an effect in outweighing the benefits.  Traditional lights, on the other hand, present a certain warmth and familiarity that makes them still worth pursuing, energy costs and longevity issues may play against the notion that traditional lights will suit your needs.
   In the end, it may benefit you to conduct a little trial and error.  If you are new to LED lights, why not pick up a set or two and try them out for yourself.  See if you like the appearance of the lights, the feel of the cool bulb, and the overall ambiance the LED Christmas lights provide.

CHRISTMAS IN IRELAND!!

 
 
 
 

   Christmas in Ireland includes several Christmas traditions that have been adapted around the world.  The hanging of holly, candles in the windows, and whitewashing the house are a few Christmas traditions involved in celebrating Christmas in Ireland that go back to the early years of Ireland.
   Using holly growing naturally in Ireland during Christmas time.  Because of the availability, even the poorest of families could deck their homes to celebrate Christmas in Ireland.
   To this day although Christmas trees decorated with tinsel and ornaments are common, the tradition of using holly at Christmas still stands and the Christmas tradition has spread around the world to include many parts of the world having "Hanging of the Greens" festivities prior to Christmas.





 
 
 
 

   A candle in the window is another Christmas in Ireland tradition seen around the world.  The single candle placed in the window of homes originated to welcome strangers and the Holy Family to their homes.  A home without a candle in the window on Christmas Eve in Ireland was the same as the innkeeper in Bethlehem who said there was no room at the inn and turned Mary and Joseph away.  Burning candles have been replaced by electric or battery operated artificial candles for safety reasons, but a single candle in the window is still commonly practiced in Ireland and other countries.
   Whitewashing homes has pretty much been forgotten but years back it was a Christmas in Ireland tradition.  Houses, farms, and out buildings wee scrubbed and whitewashed before Christmas as a way to purify the places in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.  Today while many rural areas still whitewash out buildings, the major cleaning just before Christmas in Ireland is mainly in readiness for friends and family visiting during the holidays.





 
 
 
 

   Today Christmas in Ireland includes midnight masses attended by many, leaving stockings or sacks out for Santa to leave children gifts, and large meals of ham, turkey or goose with all the fixings.  The tradition of women baking seed cakes has almost been forgotten.  There would be an individual cake or mince pie for each member of the family, a large cake for the Christmas meal, and a cake or pie for Santa.  On Christmas Eve in Ireland it is customary to leave a carrot out for Rudolph also.
   Christmas in Ireland traditionally started on December 8th with Christmas decorations being put up and gift shopping.  The Christmas season in Ireland continues after Christmas with St. Stephens Day (also known as Boxing Day).  This traditions was originally the day when collection boxes were collected and distributed to the needy families in the area.  Today this is more a day of football and horse races or resting after family gatherings on Christmas day.





Inside the Dublin Mall




   Christmas in Ireland celebrations continue until the Epiphany which is January 6th and also known in Ireland as "Little Christmas" in traditional Irish homes.  This was the day the men of the house took over the household duties and the women were given a day off-this tradition is not followed much these days, although there are many women around the world who would love to see this tradition brought back.
   While it has not been verified, some say the familiar Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas" may have originated in Ireland.  It was during the time when Catholicism was banned in Ireland as well as England.  As a way to continue teaching their faith the song had meaning other than the seemingly silly list of gifts.

  • The "twelve drummers drumming"--the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.
  • The "eleven pipers piping"--The eleven faithful apostles.
  • The "ten lords a leaping"--the Ten Commandments.
  • The "nine ladies dancing"--the eight Beatitueds.
  • The "seven swans a swimming"--the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven Sacraments.
  • The "six geese a laying"--the six days of creaton.
  • The "five golden rings"--the frist five books of the Old Testament, better known in the Catholic Faith as the Pentateuch.
  • The "four calling birds"--the four Gospels....Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • The "three French hens"--Faith, Hope and Charity, the three greatest theological virtues.
  • The "two turtle doves"--the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.
  • The "a partridge in a pear tree"--the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
  • The "my true love"--symbolizes God.






Monday, December 5, 2016

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS CARDS!!






   Christmas cards are one of the most popular holiday traditions we have today.  They are mailed out all over the world to friends, family and acquaintances during the holiday season every year.  They are available in any size, shape or color imaginable, and with a countless variety of thoughful messages.  However, some may be interested in learning about the history of Christmas cards and how they came to be so popular in our society today.
   The custom of sending greeting cards dates back to Ancient China.  In order to celebrate the New Year, the ancient Chinese delighted in sending messages of good will.  Early Egyptians utilized papyrus scrolls to send their greeting.  New Year's tidings were being produced in Germany as early as the 1400's.









  The origin of the Christmas card is in England.  They are a product of boys practicing their writing skills.  The boys would practice by making cards for their parents.
   The history of Christmas cards goes all the way back to the year 1843, where the very first Christmas card on record was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole.  The illustrations, which depicted a family, including a small child, enjoying wine together, was created by the artist John Calcott Horsley.  The Illustration, and the concept of the Christmas card itself, create a fair amount of controversy.  However, one thousand of the cards were reproduced, and each one sold for one shilling.  This was how the Christmas card came into being.





1st Mass Produced Christmas Card




   Most Christmas cards come in religious themes, though they can also come in themes ranging from modern art to humorous and anything else imaginable.  Surprisingly enough, the earliest Christmas cards were not often designed with a religious theme.  The designs typically depicted cheerful colors and floral art to symbolize a celebration of the coming spring.  The history of Christmas cards seems to have been mostly about the promise of hope.
   Another interesting tidbit in the history of Christmas cars relates to the first royal Christmas card, and the royal family has continued the tradition of producing one each year, typically in the form of a seasonal family portrait.  American president Dwight D. Eisenhower, is also known to be a "first" in sending out Christmas cards, as he issued his Christmas card in the year 1953.





1961 Presidential Christmas card exterior

1961 Presidential card interior























Other Tidbits of Interest About Christmas Cards

  • In the U.S., Louis Prang produced the first commercial Christmas cards.  He was a German immigrant, who in 1856, started a little lithographic business close to Boston.  He is considered the creator of the greeting card industry in the U.S.  More than 5 million card were being produced by 1881.  His cards gained increasing popularity through the 1890's.  Prong stopped producing greeting cards when cheaper imports came onto the market.
  • Today's Christmas cards can be bought as singles or in large boxes.  Individual cards are usually sent to somebody special, while the boxed ones are very helpful for your more general Christmas mailing list.  The majority of holiday cards are sold in box form.
  • In 2006, 2 billion people in the U.S. sent cards.
  • That means, 85% of people in the U.S. mailed cards in 2006.
  • Approximately 33% of the holiday cards purchased each year contain a religious message.
  • About a third of all annual greeting card sales are related to the holiday season.










  • Christmas cards are the most popular cards of any season.  Christmas cards account for 60% of all card sales.  A distant second is Valentine's Day at 25%.
  • The U.S. is home to approximately 3,000 greeting card publishers.
  • "Merry Christmas" is the preferred text for 54% of holiday card purchasers.  "Season's Greetings", is liked by 12%, and "Happy Holidays" is preferred by 21%.
  • When it comes to deciding which boxed card to buy, 56% of us take the decision based on the variety of cards available, and for 63%, price is the most influential factor.  Shopping with online distributors can easily satisfy both conditions.  Unlike a typical store, they can display more cards without space limitations.










   Many people are now becoming very environmentally conscious when it  comes to sending out their Christmas cards.  Every year, with millions of cards being bought, they are read once and then thrown away.  However, there are now receptacles in place for recycling these paper goods.  Several companies are even selling cards which are made only from recycled materials.  Another great way that people are utilizing for giving out Christmas cards that are environmentally friendly are with E-cards.  With E-cards, one can send out as many cards as they could possibly need over the Internet, eliminating any paper waste and saving the cost of stamps.  In addition, E-cards are often free.  If the past history of Christmas cards is any indication, no matter which type of card one chooses to send, the card industry is still going to be booming for years to come.

DAZZLE YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOUR POINSETTIA EXPERTISE!!!






   Are you a trivia buff?  If so, perhaps you'd be interested in knowing a little bit more about the poinsettia plant you buy every Christmas season.  This knowledge should really impress your friends and family at the holiday dinner table.
   Did you know that the poinsettia's main attraction is not its flowers, but its leaves?  The flowers of the plant are the yellow clustered buds in the center.  The colored leafy parts are actually bracts or modified leaves.
   Red is the most popular color, accounting for roughly tow thirds of all sales nationwide, followed by white, pink, marble and peppermint candy.   Poinsettia's also come in a variety of other shades of salmon, apricot, yellow and cream.  There are also unusual speckled or marbled varieties like "White Glitter".  New varieties are introduced yearly with even more variation in height and colors.










   How many poinsettias do you think are sold each year?  Would you believe over 5 million!  In Canada, Poinsettia's accounted for one third of sales of all flowering potted plants.
   Because of the plants dislike of traveling long distances, there are growers of poinsettias in  almost every state and in Canada they are in every Providence.
   In the wild, the poinsettia can reach heights of 12 feet with leaves measuring six to eight inches across?  It is actually a small tropical tree belonging to the Euphorbia plant family.  Its botanical name is Euphorbia.  A native of southern Mexico, the poinsettia blooms in December and has been used in that country to decorate churches for centuries.










   In the 14th to 16th centuries, the Aztecs used the poinsettia leaves to dye fabric for clothing and the sap for medicinal purposes, including to help control fevers.  They also considered the red color a symbol of purity, and so poinsettias were traditionally part of religious ceremonies.
   Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, an amateur botanist and first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, introduced the plant that became known as the poinsettia to this country.  He discovered a shrub with brilliantly colored red leaves growing by the side of the road in Taxco,Mexico.  In December 1828, he sent cuttings home to his plantation in Greenville, South Carolina.
   However, most botanists at that time dismissed the poinsettia as a weed.  Fortunately, Poinsett continued to study and breed this plant in his greenhouse, sharing plants with his horticulturist friends.  It soon gained acceptance as a holiday plant, despite its very short bloom time.  It wasn't until the 1960's that researchers were able to successfully breed plants to bloom more than just a few days.





Some painted poinsettia's




   True or False?  The poinsettia is a poisonous plant.  If you answered false, you're correct.  The plant has been tested repeatedly and cleared of this charge by the National Poison Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and the American Medical Association.  The POINSINDEX Information Service reports that even if a 50 pound child consumed more than 500 poinsettia bracts--the amount tested in scientific experiments--the consequences would not be fatal.  Even at this high level, no toxicity was found.
   However, this doesn't mean that poinsettia's are meant to be eaten.  If ingested, this plant can cause stomach irritation and discomfort.  Cats and children also may choke on the fibrous parts, so be sure to keep these plants out of their reach.  The sticky white sap also may cause skin irritation for some people.










   Do you know the best way to prolong the life of this Christmas plant?  Avoid hot or cold drafts, keep the soil moist not soggy, and place in a room with sufficient natural light and temperatures of around 60 to 70 degrees F.  Water when the soil begins to dry.  Once the leaves begin to wilt, it's too late.
  Above all, protect it from exposure to wind or cold on the way home from the garden center.  Poinsettia's are highly sensitive to cold temperatures and even a few minutes of exposure to 50 degree or lower temperatures will cause them to wilt.  But when care for properly, poinsettias usually will outlast your desire to keep them.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS CANDY CANES!!!






   Candy canes are a traditional Christmas treat.  There are many interesting facts about candy canes that many people know little or nothing about, however.  For example, did you know that it is possible to find candy canes at other times of the year than Christmas.  Here, we will take a much closer look at some interesting facts about candy canes.

History of the Candy Cane

   During the 1400's, it is rumored that the candy cane was invented by French priests.  When it was first invented, the candy can did not have any curves. It was also called a peppermint stick at this time.  The candy cane was originally a straight stick.
   One little known fact about the candy cane is that it was not originally invented with red stripes.  It was not until the mid 1900's that candy canes with red stripes appeared in Sweden.
   The curvy shape of the candy cane is credited to a choirmaster who worked at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.  It is believed that he bent the peppermint sticks to look like the canes that shepherd's used.  he gave the newly bent peppermint sticks to children to keep them quiet during performances.
   Other sources credit the bending to a candy maker in Indiana.  It is rumored that he also decided to add three red strips to the candy cane which were meant to represent the Holy Trinity.
   Some people believe that the reason the peppermint sticks were bent into their curvy shape was so they could look like a "J", for Jesus.
  Most people in Europe did not begin putting candy canes on their Christmas trees until the 1700's.  This tradition, which is very popular today, did not hit the United States until sometime during the 1800's.










Candy Cane Flavors, Colors and Sizes

   Although the candy cane is traditionally peppermint flavored, many colors and flavors are constantly being developed in order to increased the overall appeal of candy canes.  One of the most well known colors of candy canes to date is rainbow.
   Some of the different flavors of candy canes,  which are available today, include blueberry, pina colada, strawberry, cinnamon, spearmint, raspberry, cherry, mocha, bubblegum, orange sherbet, chocolate mint, and cherry.
   Candy canes that have been designed to taste like other forms of candy have also been invented.  Some of these include Jolly Rancher flavored candy canes, Starburst flavored candy canes, Life Savers flavored candy canes and Sweet Tart flavored candy canes.
   There are also a variety of different sizes of candy canes.  Mini candy canes and the candy canes that we are used to seeing are two of the different sizes.
   The largest candy cane that has been made to date was 36 feet 7 inches long in 1998.





Candy cane shot glasses





Other Facts About Candy Canes

   More than 2 billion candy canes are sold between November and December.
   There are many different uses for candy canes.  Some people use candy canes to decorate their trees, while others add candy canes to hot chocolate, ice cream and various other desserts.
   The smell of candy canes is known to work like aromatherapy.  Many people believe that it makes people feel calm or happy.
   Candy canes, though high in sugar, only contain 50 calories.  They also have no fat or cholesterol.
   National Candy Cane Day is celebrated on December 26th.  This is a good time to indulge in candy canes of all flavors, colors and sizes!
  

HISTORY AND FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS SEALS!!

Seal 2010

Seal 1931





Seal 1981




   It all began in 1907.
   In the early 20th century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the U.S.  Physicians were experiencing the first signs of success treating tuberculosis in special hospitals called sanatoriums, and one of those facilities had fallen on tough times.  The tiny Delaware sanatorium would have to close its doors if $300 dollars could not be raised to save it.  One of its doctors explained the plight to his cousin, a Red Cross volunteer named Emily Bissell.  Bissell was a veteran fundraiser, and she soon came up with a plan based on one that had worked in Denmark: She would design and print special holiday seals and sell them at the post office for a penny each.

 
 
 

Seal 1907



Emily Bissell

 
 
 
Expanding Mission

  The tradition continued and grew year after year through World War I, The Great Depression and Word War II.  As the American Lung Association's mission expanded to include research-into other respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, more people began to send Christmas Seals.  And as the American Lung Association stepped up to protect children and families from pollution and cigarette smoke in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's, America continued its support each year by supporting the Christmas Seals tradition.



Seal 1926



Seal1912



Seal 1953

Seal 1979

Seal 1961



 
 
 
A Bigger Battle.

   Today, the American Lung Association fights a bigger battle than ever before.  From important research on lung cancer and asthma to the fights against the dangerous poisons in air pollution and secondhand smoke, the American Lung Association's crucial mission is still largely supported by Christmas Seals.



Seal 1949

Seal 1918

Seal 1972


Seal 2004



 
   Each year, millions observe the tradition of sealing holiday cards and packages with that year's special seal.  And each year, your Christmas Seals donation supports the important fight against lung disease being waged every day by the American Lung Association.
   If you are interested in purchasing some Christmas seals or just want a look at all of the other Christmas seals, you can go to Christmas seals.org. They are not very expensive either, for a sheet or 56 they are $10 dollars.