Friday, November 19, 2010


   With Thanksgiving a little less than a week away, it means that alot of us start to think more about Christmas.  We start to think about what theme or decorations that we're going to put up and how its all going to look.  Also we've got to start thinking about putting the lights up onto the house and anywhere else that you want them to go.  Just think of how many trips we're going to take up into the attic to bring down all of the boxes filled with Christmas decorations (by yourself most of the time, because everyone else disappears during this fun filled time).
   One of the main items that we ponder on the most though, is the Christmas tree.  Whether it's an artificial tree or a real one.  The Christmas tree is usually the focal point of your inside the house Christmas decorating. Most of what we decide to do with the tree and how it gets decorated, coinsides with  what the rest of your Christmas theme or  decorating style on the inside of the house.  The Christmas tree is the showcase item, with all  of its glistening lights and the different ornaments that you love and adore.  The only thing that can turn this art piece into a nightmare is choosing a bad tree.

Picking out your Christmas Tree

   There are two ways to go about picking your tree, one is to  go to the nearest Christmas tree lot or big box store (Walmart, Home Depot, Kmart) or you can load up the family in the car and go to a Christmas tree farm near you and cut your own.  If you're rushed, go to the local big box store, but take your time and look around, don't just grab the first one on the way to the register.  If you have children, the only way to go is to cut your own. Load the family up in the family up and make an outing of it, with sandwiches, cookies, hot chocolate and probably a change of close (things have a tendency to happen when you're in the outdoors, when it's muddy or snowing.  When you're around evergreen trees,  sap has a tendency to stick to just about anything and everything you touch.  Wiping it  off on your clothes makes it worse,  when you get back in your car and you're ready to leave sap has tendency to stick to the seats and other upholstered pieces in the car, and is a bear to get out, so bring some glove for everyone to wear.
    Whatever way you go, try to make it a fun outing.  It's not all that hard to avoid a bad tree, when you take the time to look over the tree like you would pick out clothes or furniture.  Just remember,  after picking that special Christmas tree, that you want to have plenty of room for your ornaments, lights, and all the other things that make your tree special.

   You should take some measurements of where you want  the tree to go and how much room you have around it, before you go and make sure to write them down.  You should know how high your ceilings are before you put the saw to your Christmas tree, because once it's cut it's pretty much yours.  Once you get the Christmas tree home, it often has the magical powers of growing from the time you left where you purchased your Christmas tree until the time you reach home (it must have sucked in all the wind that blew through it on the way home).  You should select a tree that is one foot shorter than your ceiling height because you need to remember you will probably be adding a tree topper to it.
   One of the best ways to see how healthy the tree is to grab a handful of needles and pull gently on it, you want to do this especially if you're buying the tree already cut (no telling how long the trip was to get to the lot from that tree farm out of state,  and if they have been sitting for a long time in the elements.  Loosing alot of needles tells you that the tree is very dry and it won't last more thank a week or two.  Also if you're cutting your own tree, look at it from all angles, especially if it's surrounded by other trees.  Look over it for bare spots and missing branches.  The needles should bend not break.

   You will want to shake or bounce the tree to check for losing needles, and it also kind of cleans the tree of leaves, bugs,  and other debris that may have accumulated inside of the tree where you can't see.  A few needles will always fall off a tree once it is cut due to the shock factor.  Fewer needles will fall from a fresh-cut tree versus a tree that has been cut.
   The tree trunk will need to have at least six to eight inches of trunk on it below the last branches, so that the tree can be properly placed in the stand and stand up straight.  Don't forget, before putting it in the stand that you should cut off at least a half inch off  of the bottom of it.  When the tree was cut at the farm or when you  cut it down sap starts leaking out of the bottom to cover up and seal up the cut.  The new cut will make it so when the tree is up in the stand it will drink up the water, so it will last longer.

Vintage Christmas tree lot

   The Caring of your Christmas Tree at Home and Safety Issues  

   One you get the tree home and and after you've cut that 1/2 inch off of the bottom of it, if you don't plan on putting the tree up right away, get a plastic bucket and fill it with water and put the tree in the water filled bucket until you're ready to install the tree into the stand.  This will keep the sap from covering the cut and will help the tree to take in some much needed drink.  Make sure any stand that you're going to be using for the tree, can hold at least a gallon of water.
   Check the water level of the tree everyday, especially the first two or three, because that's when it seems to take in the most. Make you to keep the level above the bottom of the tree, if it gets below the bottom the tree may sap back over,then you would have to take the tree back out of the stand and recut it, also watch out for adding too much water to  your tree.  It may even be a good idea to keep a towel hidden under the tree just in case water does get spilled.

City tree lot today

  As long as your fresh Christmas tree is kept with an ample supply of water, it presents little if any fire hazard.  Do not place your Christmas tree near a fireplace, heater vents or any other source of heat.
   You should use only UL-approved Christmas lights for your tree and nonflammable decorations too.  Also turn off Christmas tree lights when leaving home or going to bed to reduce the risk of fire.



   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.