Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Christmas begins early in Germany with the season of advent. Starting 4 weeks before the big day, a wreath made of fir tree branches, or holly or other greens, is laid on a table. There are 4 candles placed around the wreath and one is lit each Sunday of Advent. A little bit about Advent, since it is an important part of the season. It begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, the Sunday nearest November 30th, and ends on Christmas Eve. If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the 4th Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of fasting and prayer, leading up to the Christmas Eve feast. There is a special tradition for children during Advent, too. It is the Advent calender. It is made up of 24 windows, one to be opened each day of Advent. In most of the Advent calendars, there is a picture to be revealed each day, but the more elaborate ones can hide little presents or candy treats.
The market places throughout Germany turn into Wonderlands. The entire area is decorated with lights and trees, the stalls sell all kinds of merchandise and there is the smell of fresh baked gingerbread mixed with the smells of the delicious sausage and other treats. It really gets you in the Christmas mood and the children are excited at the thought of the events to come.
Brits who follow tradition for celebrating Christmas in England will put up their trees precisely 12 days before Christmas, and take them down precisely 12 days after Christmas.
Each and every member of the family, by tradition, stirs the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west. This is intended to represent the honorable Three Kings. Then, the family drops a silver coin into the pudding mixture before it is cooked. The lucky person who gets the coin when the pudding is doled out, is supposed to be in line for wealth, health and happiness. if they keep the coin, that's a start toward the wealth....unless they happen to be the same family member who produced the coin in the first place, of course.
A unique aspect of celebrating Christmas in England is the Christmas cracker. These small wrapped toys are placed on the Christmas table before lunch. When pulled apart, they make a loud "pop" sound-hence the name Christmas cracker. Inside, there is usually a paper crown and some type of toy or gadget. Everyone puts on their paper crown to enjoy the Christmas lunch.
An idea for celebrating Christmas in England, is to book reservations at a pub or restaurant. Many English pubs and restaurants provide a special meal at Christmas or Christmas Eve. However, book well in advance, because it's a popular option.
Many British families take a vacation during the Christmas holidays in England. Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts tend to get booked up quickly, so plan ahead.
Celebrating Christmas in England means many days of celebrations. Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is also one of the holidays that are celebrated. Families might enjoy a meal together or enjoy a walk by the seaside.
Celebrating Christmas in England is a fun way to learn about different traditions. Just keep in mind that most businesses are closed for the holiday so buy any supplies you need well in advance for your English Christmas.
Christmas movies come in a variety of genres. From musicals, to drama, comedy to animated. Here is a list of what I think and hopefully you will to, of some of the better Christmas movies to watch and enjoy every Christmas season. Some are entertaining and meaningful, while others are just fun to watch and bring a big laugh out of you and puts a great big smile on your face. Just by looking at the movie DVD covers, you start reminiscing about your favorite parts and what the movie meant to you and how it made you feel. opping it into the DVD player with all of the excitement, just as if it were first time you've seen it.
- White Christmas (1954)- World War II ends and army buddies Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye form a song and dance team and hit the road. The end up putting on a program to help their ex commanding general with surprises for him and them.
- The Nativity Story (2006)- In my mind this is the best depiction of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. No sterile boring reproduction, this one has good acting, cinematography, and special effects (without having headliner actors and actresses in it.
- A Christmas Story (1983)-I know of no one who doesn't love this classic Christmas movie. It plays all Christmas day in the United States. It is also now a musical on Broadway directed by the man who played Ralphie as a boy. Young Ralphie desperately wants a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas but everyone that is an adult in his life discourages him that it would be too dangerous. It's a "traditional 1950's Christmas in this hilarious story as Ralphie pleads and bargains to make sure that the BB gun is under the tree on Christmas morning.
- The Santa Clause (1994)- The first one in a series of sequels is always the best. A Christmas movie comedy and heartwarming story of Santa in training with amazing images of the North Pole Workshop. Tim Allen plays the lead, Santa and does a very good job at it.
- The Polar Express (2004)- Based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg. This is one of the first computer animated movies to look more lifelike than animation in the past. It is about a little boy who has lost his faith in Santa. He ends up on the "Polar Express" train on his way to the North Pole to see Santa and the elves and to get back his belief in Santa Claus. A very exciting train ride happens on the way to the North Pole. Lots of great music in it also.
- It's a Wonderful Life (1946)- One of those "feel good" movies from the past. An essential classic Christmas movie directed by Frank Capra, starring Jimmy Stewart as George, the main character in the story. He wishes he had not been born when things around him start to unravel. George goes back in time to see what it would be like if he wasn't born.
- Elf (2003)- Starring Will Ferrell. I think one of his better movies. It starts out with Santa delivering presents in an orphanage, when Buddy (Will Ferrel) as a baby sneaks into Santa's bag and isn't discovered until he gets back at the North Pole. So he grows up as an oversized elf, but seems to not be cut out for it. He finds out he was adopted and decides to set out and find his real father who lives in New York City. This is when his different adventures begin. I very funny holiday movie. Don't miss seeing it at least once.
- Scrooged (1999)- Starring Bill Murray. He plays an executive at a major t.v. station who's lost all meaning of Christmas. It takes the funny side of a Christmas Carol, with different ghost's of Christmas past, present and future than you're probably used to. It's worth a laugh or two or three!
- A Christmas Carol (2000)- Starring Patrick Stewart (Captain Pickard from Star Trek). One of my favorite renditions of A Christmas Carol. He has also done it as a one man stage show on stage. He is one of the better actors to doe Mr. Scrooge. If you find it on t.v. or on DVD at least see it once and tell me what you think.