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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 06/03/13

Monday, June 3, 2013

CHRISTMAS TREE TYPES, A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE WHEN YOU GO TO BUY YOUR NEXT TREE!

There can be a big difference between different types of Christmas trees. Some are not available in some areas and so where you live may be a factor in determining the types that you get to choose from. For example Noble or Douglas firs are most popular in the Pacific Northwest whereas in North Carolina and Fraser Fir are more common. However if you order by mail order then you can pretty much choose whatever you like.






Colorado Blue Spruce

This is one of the most popular trees among people who want living Christmas trees. The color can be blue but is more likely to be silver or gray. It grows in a conical shape naturally and so there is little need for pruning it. It tends to grow in Southern Canada and Northern USA but it can usually be found in most nurseries or retail tree lots.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noble Fir

The Noble Fir has strong branches and stays fresh for a long time. The needles can look silvery although they are blue/green in color. It can be used to make wreaths and other decorations because the branches are so strong.






 

Douglas Fir

This is one of the most popular Christmas tree in the USA. It tends to be grown in the Pacific Northwest and is shipped all over the country and even to Asia. It has a pyramid shape and smells sweet.








 

 

 

 

 

Norway Spruce

This is a conical shaped tree which tends to drop needles easily so needs to be keep very well watered. It is dark green in color.





 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Pine

This tree has short soft needles and stout woody branches and is conical in shape. It is good for holding ornaments but the dark green needles can turn yellow in late fall which means it needs a tree colorant to keep it green. It is popular though and was originally the main tree for offer in the south east USA.


 

Eastern White Pine

This tree has a really nice cone shape and soft needles. It is blue or silvery green in color but the branches are not that strong so heavy ornaments do not work that well. The tree can turn yellow if it is old and so tree colorants may need to be used. It does not have much of a smell and therefore is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.







Arizona Cypress

   This tree is commonly found along the east coast of south and south west areas of USA. It tends to be in cut-your-own places and has a lovely smell. It is tall and thin and and is pale green or gray green.








 

 

 

 

 

Scotch Pine

The color can vary quite a bit from bright green to dark green and even sometimes a blue green color. The branches are strong so great for hanging heavy decorations and the needles do not drop very much. It stays fresh for a long time. It also has a nice conical shape.







Eastern Red Cedar

   This tree can dry out quickly which is why it tends to be sold at cut-your-own farms. It has a pretty cone shape and the colour varies from dark green to purple.








Fraser Fir

This is a strong tree which can hold heavy decorations and it grown in North Carolina. Its strength means that the branches are often used to make wreaths and other decorations. It keeps its needles well and they are dark green or even blueish on the top and silvery underneath. It has a nice smell and it is for this reason as well as the nice color which makes it one of the most popular trees.







Leyland Cypress

This tree is not fragrant and is often used as an ornamental landscape plant in England and South East USA. However, it has recently become more popular as a Christmas tree in this area of the USA. It is dark-green to gray in color and is a cone shape.










Balsam Fir

This tree is a pyramid shape and dark green. The needles tend to stay on the tree for a very long time and it has a nice smell. It is very popular in Canada as well as North USA.

CHEESE ROLLING FROM STILTON, ENGLAND!



    Cheese Rolling has become an annual event in Stilton and every May Day hundreds of villagers and visitors make their way to the main street to watch the teams battling for the honour of being called the "Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions".

Stilton History and The Cheese



The Bell Inn, where the rolling starts!



Ancient Stilton

    No one knows who lived here first - the earliest finds date from the time of the Roman occupation and are probably associated with the road that runs from London to the army fortress at Lincoln, which the Saxons later called Ermine Street.
    For centuries this road seems to have been little used, the important route was the east-west road, Fen Street and Church Street, which is why our oldest building, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, is found away from the main road that now exists.






    Stilton gets three mentions in the Doomesday Book of 1086 as three landowners, the King, the Bishop of Lincoln and Eustace held land here. The Great North Road had become a busy thoroughfare by the fifteenth century and Stilton was a well-known staging post; at one time there were 14 inns or ale houses for a permanent population of around 500 to 600 people. While most earned their living from farming, an analysis of the 1841 census, taken just before the long distance coach trade all but disappeared to be superseded by the railway, showed that occupations directly connected to the coaches were important too.







Village Pubs &  The Cheese

    All four of the present inns have very ancient origins, even though their buildings have been changed and modernised several times. We owe our famous cheese to the coach trade. Any Stiltonian can relate tales of visitors asking "where is the cheese made?...", only to be told "‘in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire".
    The most widely accepted explanation is that the cheese came down to be sold at one of the coach stops in Stilton, perhaps The Bell or The Angel. As early as 1722 Daniel Defoe (the author of "Robinson Crusoe") ate some here and mentioned that the village was already famous for its cheese. The recipe was passed down through the Beaumont family of Quenby in Leicestershire. By 1830 a former housekeeper at Quenby, Elizabeth Orton, made cheese in her farmhouse. Her daughter married Cooper Thornhill who kept The Bell Inn and he sold the cheese. He was famous (or infamous) as a larger-than-life character who long held the record for riding to London and back.








Modern Stilton

    Today, all Stilton cheese is factory made, but still only in the three counties with milk produced locally. It takes a gallon of milk to make one pound of cheese and a lot of skilled hard work is still needed. Each cheese matures for 3 months after which the blue veins appear naturally as oxygen is allowed to enter through holes pierced by stainless steel needles. A whole cheese weighs 15lb.



One of the officials watching a race



    Stilton’s dependence on the main road has been its undoing twice; in the middle of the nineteenth century when the railway line passed to the east through Holme and Yaxley, and in 1959 when the present A1 Stilton by-pass was opened. The village became a ghost village; The Bell actually closed and fell into disrepair and other businesses also disappeared. In 1962 Tom McDonald of The Talbot and Malcolm Moyer of The Bell, aided and abetted by telephone engineer Fred Linstead who provided a telegraph pole, cheered up their drinkers by organising the first ever Cheese Rolling along a course outside the present Post Office on Easter Monday.





A Little History On The Cheese Roll

How did it start?

    It would be nice to be able to say that the event is "as old as the village" or that it's origins have been lost in "the mists of time" but really no one knows how far back the tradition of rolling the cheeses goes. Midway through the Twentieth Century, when the village had turned into rather a quiet place having been by-passed by the A1 and the inns and businesses had seen a big drop in their trade, a landlord of one of the pubs decided to revive an ancient tradition. Or so he told everyone! He could be seen rolling a Stilton Cheese along the road outside his pub. People came to stand and watch and eventually joined in. And so the sport began - again.








The Rules

    It was originally run on Easter Monday and there was not a lot of uniformity to it to begin with. It seems a piece of wood in the shape of a Stilton Cheese was produced, a starting line drawn up somewhere between the The Stilton Cheese Inn and The Talbot and the finish line was outside The Bell Inn. Brave teams of Stilton men would then vie to roll the cheese to it's finish and, after the ensuing scramble, and many tussles and spills, the team that ended up steering the cheese to the finishing line would win! Nowadays, the starting point is always outside The Bell Inn and The Angel and the finish is a line drawn at the cross roads between the bottom of Fen Street and Church Street. The contestants are teams of 4, either all men or all women and each team member has to roll the cheese at least once during it's flight. It's a knockout competition with quarter's, semi's and a grand final.







Fancy Dress

    Some of the teams wear fancy dress for which there is a good prize and it all adds to the colourful scene. We would like to say that the sport has become more genteel over the years but we still get the tumbles and spills as in former days. The friendly rivalry grows during the competition as each team passes through to the next round so we end up with some very competitive finals!








    The prizes are always the same, a Whole Stilton Cheese and beer for the men and a Whole Stilton Cheese and wine for the ladies. But, of course, the main prizes are to be the winners of the coveted Bell Cup for men or the WI Cup for the ladies and to go down in history as 'Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions'. For more information about next years Cheese Rolling or to obtain an entry form contact the organisers

FLORES DE MAYO FROM THE PHILIPPINES!









    Flores de Mayo (English: "Flowers of May") is a Catholic festival held in the Philippines in the month of May. Lasting for a month, it is held in honor of the Virgin Mary. The Santacruzan refers to the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo, held in honour of Reyna Elena and Constantine finding the True Cross in Jerusalem.
       The name is derived from Flores, the Spanish word for "flowers". Also known as "Flores de Maria" ("Flowers of Mary") or "Álay" (Filipino for "offering"), the term refers to the festival as a whole. It was believed that "Flores" (short term for Flores de Mayo) originated in 1865 from the town of Malolos, Bulacan, when the young girls would make a floral offering to the Virgin Mary in the parish church.













    In the Bicol region, especially in the locality of Barangay Sabang in Naga City, the Flores de Mayo is held every Wednesday and Saturday of May. It is headed by the Legion of Mary, Praesidium Cause of our Joy, with the last day called as "katapusan". The ritual is started with the rosary, with every decade followed by Spanish Marian songs.
    The traditional "MARIA" with its respective meaning is said after the recitation of the Spanish Salve and the litany. After the ceremony, simple snacks are given to the children who attended the devotion. Alabasyon is the term for the prayers sung in honour of the Holy Cross.














    In the Tagalog region, this custom and celebration started after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and after the publication circa 1867 of Mariano Sevilla's translation of the devotional "Flores de Maria"("Flowers of Mary"), also known by its longer title "Mariquit na Bulaclac na sa Pagninilaynilay sa Buong Buan nang Mayo ay Inihahandog nang manga Devoto cay Maria Santisima" ("Beautiful Flowers that in the Meditations in the Whole Month of May are Offered by Devotees to Mary Most Holy").

The Sagala

    A Sagala is a religio-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns, and even in small communities throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colourful aspects of this festival, the pageant depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured in major sagala. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love, and romance.














    Prior to the Santacruzan, a novena is held in honour of the Holy Cross.
    The procession itself commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Reyna Elena and her son, the newly-converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Constantinople, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.

Order of the processionThe participants of this colourful pageant would follow this typical arrangement:


  1. Matusalém (Methuselah)- bearded and bent with age, he is depicted as riding a cart and looking preoccupied with toasting some grains of sand in a pan over a fire. This is a reminder that everything in this world is passing and will end up like the dust which he is toasting.
  2. Reyna Banderáda (Queen with a banner)- a young lady dressed in a long red gown carrying a yellow triangular flag. She represents the arrival of Christianity.
  3. Aetas Represents the animist Filipinos who have settled the islands prior to Christianisation by the Spanish.














  4. Reyna Móra (Queen Moor) - Represents the Filipinos who converted to Islam, which arrived in the Philippines two centuries before Christianity.
  5. Reyna Fe (Queen Faith) - symbolises Faith, the first of the theological virtues. She carries a cross.
  6. Reyna Esperanza (Queen Hope) - symbolises Hope, the second theological virtue. She carries an anchor.
  7. Reyna Caridád (Queen Charity)- symbolises Charity, the third theological virtue. She carries a red-coloured heart.
  8. Reyna Abogáda (Queen Lawyer) - the defender of the poor and the oppressed, she wears a black graduation cap, gown (toga), and carries a large book. She may also be a representation of Mary, Helper (Advocate) of Christians.














  9. Reyna Sentenciada (Queen Sentenced/Convicted) - has her hands bound by a rope, she stands for the Early Christians, especially the virgins, who were martyred for the faith. She is accompanied by two Roman soldiers.
  10. Reyna Justicía (Queen Justice) - a personification of Mary as the "Mirror of Justice", one of her titles in the Litany of Loreto. Her attributes are a weighing scale and a sword.
  11. Reyna Judít (Queen Judith) - represents the biblical widow Judith of Bethulia who saved her city from the Assyrians by slaying the cruel Holofernes. She carries the head of her victim in one hand and a sword in the other. She is also known as Infanta Judith.














  12. Reyna ng Sába (Queen of Sheba) - represents the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his wisdom, power, and riches. She carries a jewelry box.
  13. Reyna Éster - the Jewish queen of Persia who spared her people from death at the hands of Haman through her timely intervention with King Xerxes. She carries a scepter.
  14. Samaritána (The Female Samaritan) - The woman with whom Christ spoke to at the well. She carries a jug on her shoulder.
  15. Veronica The woman who wiped the face of Jesus; bears a veil with three imprints of the face of Jesus.
  16. Tres Marias (The Three Marys)- each Mary holds an attribute associated with her:
a. Mary of Magdala - a bottle of perfume;
b. The Virgin Mary - a handkerchief;
c. Mary, the mother of James - a bottle of oil.













  17. Marian - each figure in this group alludes to a title of the Virgin Mary or to a figure associated with her.
a. "A-V-E--M-A-R-I-A" - eight "angels": girls all wearing long white dresses and holding a letter from the word "AVE MARIA".
b. Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess) - a shepherd's staff.
c. Reyna de las Estrellas (Queen of the Stars) - a wand with a star.
d. Rosa Mystica (Mystical Rose)- a bouquet of roses.
e. Reyna dela Paz (Queen of Peace) - a dove.
f. Reyna de las Profetas (Queen of the Prophets)- an hourglass.
g. Reyna del Cielo (Queen of Heaven)- a flower; accompanied by two little "angels".
h. Reyna de las Virgines (Queen of the Virgins) - a rosary (or a lily); also escorted by two little "angels".
i. Reyna de las Flores (Queen of the Flowers) - a bouquet of flowers.














  18. Reyna Eléna (Queen Helena) - the last member of the procession, she represents Helena of Constantinople who found the True Cross; this is alluded to by her attribute, a small cross or crucifix that she carries in her arms. This considerably prestigious role is usually awarded to the most beautiful girl participating in the pageant. In some communities, the identity of the woman who will portray the Reyna Eléna is kept a secret until the day of the procession.
a. Constantíno - the escort of Reyna Eléna; traditionally a young boy representing the Emperor Constantine.
    The procession is accompanied by the steady beat of the rondalla, playing and singing the Hail Mary ("Dios Te Salve"). The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and sing the prayer as they go along.














    After the procession, there is a pabítin that serves as a culminating activity for all the children to enjoy. A Pabítin is a square trellis to which goodies (candies, fruits, small trinkets, etc.) are tied with strings. This trellis in turn is tied to a rope and is suspended on a strong branch or pole. Children then gather under the trellis as the it is slowly lowered. They then jump as high as they can to try to pick the goodies while someone jerks it up and down repeatedly until all the goodies are gone.
    It is customary for males attending the Santacruzan wear, to the traditional Barong Tagalog and that the females wear any Filipiniana-inspired dress.