Monday, December 19, 2011


This diy comes form www.misscutiepiegoes80s.blogspot.com. Very cute and unique.

Printable vintage style christmas tickets

Hi all!
I'm slowly recovering from my flue.
Been sick for almost 3 weeks and I can't wait to get back
to my normal life again.

Meanwhile I want to share something a bit different with
you all. These tickets were inspired by old vintage photos,
Christmas cards and all around Christmas spirit.

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They are ready to be printed (in a high photo quality for the
best result) cut and used on your paper scrap layouts,
Christmas cards, gifts and altered projects.

All I ask in return is that you link back to this blog
if you post your finished projects online.
This way more people can find their way here and
download the tickets :)

Download Vintage Style Christmas Tickets
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To make your tickets more personal use the edge of your
scissors to distress the edges and for an aged look use a
bit of fluid chalk around the edges.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I would love to see what you come up with so please if you
use the tickets leave me a little comment or send me an
e-mail at the80sme@gmail.com

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


   This recipe comes from www.bravetart.com .  A change of pace than your average egg nog recipe.   Probably better to consume and enjoy as well.  Good luck!

Egg Nog Shake ·  (serves 4)

I originally shared this recipe for my column on Serious Eats. You can read more about the terrifying ingredients found in a McDonald's Egg Nog Shake, but I’ll give you the short story: there are thirteen ingredients in the cherry alone. Not kidding.
So, skip the drive through and make something you don’t have to be scared of.
What gives this egg nog its distinctive flavor is chopped, not grated, nutmeg. Whether with pre-ground nutmeg from the jar or freshly grated as needed, most people only use nutmeg in its smallest form. Now imagine if you only used garlic that way in cooking. No sliced garlic. No whole cloves smashed open. No chopped garlic. No minced garlic. Only garlic paste.
Yeah. More than vampires would die in the aftermath, that’s for sure. Used like that, garlic would often overwhelm rather than enhance many dishes.
Same thing here. Grated nutmeg is…great. But sometimes too intense. Chopping it releases the same flavor, but in a much more gentle way. Meanwhile, a little bit of cinnamon steeped into the base rounds out the flavor and delivers spot-on McDonald’s perfection.

McDonald's Style egg nog shake

Egg Nog Shake

12 ounces whole milk
8 ounces heavy cream
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped; seeds reserved
1 cinnamon stick, about 3” long
3 whole nutmegs, roughly chopped
3 ounces egg yolks (from about 4 eggs)
7 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt (use only 3/4 teaspoon for authentic McDonald’s sweetness)
2 ounces Frangelico
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Mix-In
12 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces brown sugar
Optional: 4 Maraschino cherries
Especially awesome with Molasses Ginger Cookies (gluten free)
In a medium pot, bring the milk and cream to a simmer together with the vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg. When the mixture simmers, shut off heat and cover. Steep one hour.
Meanwhile whisk the sugar gradually into the egg yolks. It’s a lot of sugar, so don’t dump it in all at once or it will be difficult to incorporate. Whisk in the salt.
Return dairy to a simmer and fish out the vanilla bean and spices (don’t worry if any nutmeg chunks slip past; you’ll strain them out later). Use a spatula to scrape out the heavily flavored cream from inside the vanilla pod.
Temper the hot cream into the egg yolks, one ladle-full at a time. Then whisk the egg mixture back into the cream. Turn heat to medium low. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all along the bottom of the pot to avoid curdling.
Normally, ice cream recipes entreat you to cook until the mixture is “thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon,” but with this recipe, that’s harder to judge. Instead, cook until a thermometer registers 145° F. If you’re more cavalier about these things, just cook until it is extremely hot to the touch.
Immediately shut off the heat and strain the custard through a sieve and into a large bowl. Discard any bits of nutmeg that remain. Stir in the Frangelico and vanilla extract. Cool in an ice bath and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; about six hours.
Shake it up
To make it a proper “shake” you’ll need to super-cool the mixture and fluff it up a bit. The best way is to do this with an ice cream machine. Process the chilled ice cream base in ice cream maker just until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes; you want it just a little softer than soft serve. If you don’t have a machine, you can skip this step. Your shake will have a thinner body, but will still be delicious.
While the shake base churns, combine the brown sugar and whipped cream in a medium bowl. Whip on medium speed until the cream holds stiff peaks. Transfer about four ounces to a pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip. Set aside.
Shut off the ice cream maker and pour or scoop the thickened base into the bowl of whipped cream. Fold gently with a rubber spatula to combine. If you’d like to add some extra booze, now would be the time.
Pour the shake into four glasses and top each with a swirl of whipped cream and a Maraschino cherry. Put some Molasses Ginger Cookies on the side and consider your halls decked.
Happy Holidays!


  Christmas celebrations in Puritan New England (1620–1850?) were culturally and legally suppressed and thus, virtually non-existent. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders. English laws suppressing the holiday were enacted in the Interregnum, but repealed late in the 17th century. However, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration had gained cultural ascendancy in New England, and Christmas celebrations continued to be discouraged despite being legal. When Christmas became a Federal holiday in 1870, the Puritan view was relaxed and late nineteenth century Americans fashioned the day into the Christmas of commercialism, liberal spirituality, and nostalgia that most Americans recognize today.

The Puritan view of Christmas

   In Puritans at Play (1995), Bruce Colin Daniels writes "Christmas occupied a special place in the ideological religious warfare of Reformation Europe." Most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans, he observes, regarded the day as an abomination while Anglicans, Lutherans, the Dutch Reformed and other denominations celebrated the day as did Roman Catholics. When the Church of England promoted the Feast of the Nativity as a major religious holiday, the Puritans attacked it as "residual Papist idolatry".
   Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas, Daniels writes, calling it 'Foolstide' and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it for several reasons. First, no holy days except the Sabbath were sanctioned in Scripture, second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration (Cotton Mather railed against these behaviors), and third, December 25 was ahistorical. The Puritan argued that the selection of the date was an early Christian hijacking of a Roman festival, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to a pagan custom.  James Howard Barnett notes in The American Christmas (1984) that the Puritan view prevailed in New England for almost two centuries.

   Stephen Innes in Creating the Commonwealth (1995) writes that the Puritan calendar was one of the most leisure-less ever adopted by mankind with approximately 300 working days compared to the 240 typical of cultures from Ancient Rome to modern America. Days of rest in the New England calendar were few, Innes writes, and restricted to Sabbath, election day, Harvard commencement day, and periodic days of thanksgiving and humiliation. Non-Puritans in New England deplored the loss of the holidays enjoyed by the laboring classes in England.

Christmas in Puritan New England

   The Plymouth Pilgrims put their loathing for the day into practice in 1620 when they spent their first Christmas Day in the New World building their first structure in the New World – thus demonstrating their complete contempt for the day.
A year later on December 25, 1621, Governor William Bradford led a work detail into the forest and discovered some recent arrivals among the crew had scruples about working on the day.  Bradford noted in his history of the colony, Of Plymouth Plantation:

"On the day called Christmas Day, the Governor called [the settlers] out to work as was usual. However, the most of this new company excused themselves and said it went against their consciences to work on that day. So the Governor told them that if they made it [a] matter of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed; so he led away the rest and left them."
When the Governor and his crew returned home at noon they discovered those left behind playing stool-ball, pitching the bar, and pursuing other sports. Bradford confiscated their implements, reprimanded them, forbade any further reveling in the streets, and told them their devotion for the day should be confined to their homes.
Massachusetts and Connecticut followed the Plymouth colony in refusing to condone any observance of the day. When the Puritans came to power in England following the

File:Cotton Mather.jpg
Cotton Mather

execution of King Charles I, Parliament enacted a law in 1647 abolishing the observance of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide.  The Puritans of New England then passed a series of laws making any observance of Christmas illegal. A Massachusetts law of 1659 punished offenders with a hefty five shilling fine.


   Laws suppressing the celebration of Christmas were repealed in 1681, but staunch Puritans continued to regard the day as an abomination. Eighteenth century New Englanders viewed Christmas as the representation of royal officialdom, external interference in local affairs, dissolute behavior, and an impediment to their holy mission.
   During Anglican Governor Sir Edmund Andros tenure (December 20, 1686 – April 18, 1689), for example, the royal government closed Boston shops on Christmas Day and drove the schoolmaster out of town for a forced holiday. Following Andros' overthrow, however, the Puritan view reasserted itself and shops remained open for business as usual on Christmas with goods such as hay and wood being brought into Boston as on any other work day.

The examination and trial of Father Christmas (1686)

   With such an onus placed upon Christmas, non-Puritans in colonial New England made no attempt to celebrate the day. Many spent the day quietly at home. In 1771, Anna Winslow, an American schoolgirl visiting Boston noted in her diary, "I kept Christmas at home this year, and did a good day's work."
   Although Christmas celebrations were legal after 1680, New England officials continued to frown upon gift giving and reveling. Evergreen decoration, associated with pagan custom, was expressly forbidden in Puritan meeting houses and discouraged in the New England home.  Merrymakers were prosecuted for disturbing the peace. The Puritan view was tenacious. As late as 1870, classes were scheduled in Boston public schools on Christmas Day and punishments were doled out to children who chose to stay home beneath the Christmas tree.  One commentator hinted that the Puritans viewed Santa Claus as the Anti-Christ.
   In the aftermath of the American Civil War, Christmas became the festival highpoint of the American calendar. The day became a Federal holiday in 1870 under President Ulysses S. Grant in an attempt to unite north and south. The Puritan hostility to Christmas was gradually relaxed. In the late nineteenth century, authors praised the holiday for its liberality, family togetherness, and joyful observance.  In 1887, for example, St. Nicholas Magazine published a story about a sickly Puritan boy of 1635 being restored to health when his mother brings him a bough of Christmas greenery.
One commentator suggested the Puritans had actually done the day a service in reviling the gaming, dissipation, and sporting in its observation.  When the day's less pleasant associations were stripped away, Americans recreated the day according to their tastes and times. The doctrines that caused the Puritans to regard the day with disapprobation were modified and the day was rescued from its traditional excesses of behavior. Christmas was reshaped in late nineteenth century America with liberal Protestantism and spirituality, commercialism, artisanship, nostalgia, and hope becoming the day's distinguishing characteristics.





Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree? In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.
Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.
The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.

Luther's tree

Christmas Markets

   In the mid 16th century, Christmas markets were set up in German towns, to provide everything from Christmas presents, food and more practical things such as a knife grinder to sharpen the knife to carve the Christmas Goose! At these fairs, bakers made shaped gingerbreads and wax ornaments for people to buy as souvenirs of the fair, and take home to hang on their Christmas Trees.
   The best record we have is that of a visitor to Strasbourg in 1601. He records a tree decorated with "wafers and golden sugar-twists (Barleysugar) and paper flowers of all colours". The early trees were biblically symbolic of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden. The many food items were symbols of Plenty, the flowers, originally only red (for Knowledge) and White (for Innocence).


   Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time real silver was used, and machines were invented which pulled the silver out into the wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century.

The First English Trees

   The Christmas Tree first came to England with the Georgian Kings who came from Germany. At this time also, German Merchants living in England decorated their homes with a Christmas Tree. The British public were not fond of the German Monarchy, so did not copy the fashions at Court, which is why the Christmas Tree did not establish in Britain at that time. A few families did have Christmas trees however, probably more from the influence of their German neighbours than from the Royal Court.

Decorating a Victorian household

   The decorations were Tinsels, silver wire ornaments, candles and small beads. All these had been manufactured in Germany and East Europe since the 17th century. The custom was to have several small trees on tables, one for each member of the family, with that persons gifts stacked on the table under the tree.

The Victorian and Albert Tree

Victoria and Albert tree

   In 1846, the popular Royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were illustrated in the Illustrated London News. They were standing with their children around a Christmas Tree. Unlike the previous Royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at Court immediately became fashionable - not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The English Christmas Tree had arrived!
   Decorations were still of a 'home-made' variety. Young Ladies spent hours at Christmas Crafts, quilling snowflakes and stars, sewing little pouches for secret gifts and paper baskets with sugared almonds in them. Small bead decorations, fine drawn out silver tinsel came from Germany together with beautiful Angels to sit at the top of the tree. Candles were often placed into wooden hoops for safety.

Mid-Victorian Tree

   In 1850's Lauscha began to produce fancy shaped glass bead garlands for the trees, and short garlands made from necklace 'bugles' and beads. These were readily available in Germany but not produced in sufficient quantities to export to Britain. The Rauschgoldengel was a common sight. Literally, 'Tingled-angel', bought from the Thuringian Christmas markets, and dressed in pure gilded tin.
   The 1860's English Tree had become more innovative than the delicate trees of earlier decades. Small toys were popularly hung on the branches, but still most gifts were placed on the table under the tree.

   Around this time, the Christmas tree was spreading into other parts of Europe. The Mediterranean countries were not too interested in the tree, preferring to display only a Creche scene. Italy had a wooden triangle platform tree called as 'CEPPO'. This had a Creche scene as well as decorations.
   The German tree was beginning to suffer from mass destruction! It had become the fashion to lop off the tip off a large tree to use as a Christmas Tree, which prevented the tree from growing further. Statutes were made to prevent people having more than one tree.
   Just as the first trees introduced into Britain did not immediately take off, the early trees introduced into America by the Hessian soldiers were not recorded in any particular quantity. The Pennsylvanian German settlements had community trees as early as 1747.
   America being so large, tended to have 'pockets' of customs relating to the immigrants who had settled in a particular area, and it was not until the communications really got going in the 19th century, that such customs began to spread. Thus references to decorated trees in America before about the middle of the 19th century are very rare.
By the 1870's, Glass ornaments were being imported into Britain from Lauscha, in Thuringia. It became a status symbol to have glass ornaments on the tree, the more one had, the better ones status! Still many home-made things were seen. The Empire was growing, and the popular tree topper was the Nation's Flag, sometimes there were flags of the Empire and flags of the allied countries. Trees got very patriotic.

   They were imported into America around 1880, where they were sold through stores such as FW Woolworth. They were quickly followed by American patents for electric lights (1882), and metal hooks for safer hanging of decorations onto the trees (1892).

High Victorian Trees

   The 1880's saw a rise of the Aesthetic Movement. At this time Christmas Trees became a glorious hotchpotch of everything one could cram on; or by complete contrast the aesthetic trees which were delicately balanced trees, with delicate colours, shapes and style. they also grew to floor standing trees. The limited availability of decorations in earlier decades had kept trees by necessity to, usually table trees. Now with decorations as well as crafts more popular than ever, there was no excuse. Still a status symbol, the larger the tree - the more affluent the family which sported it.
The High Victorian of the 1890's was a child's joy to behold! As tall as the room, and crammed with glitter and tinsel and toys galore. Even the 'middleclasses' managed to over-decorate their trees. It was a case of 'anything goes'. Everything that could possibly go on a tree went onto it.
   By 1900 themed trees were popular. A colour theme set in ribbons or balls, a topical idea such as an Oriental Tree, or an Egyptian Tree. They were to be the last of the great Christmas Trees for some time. With the death of Victoria in 1903, the Nation went into mourning and fine trees were not really in evidence until the nostalgia of the Dickensian fashion of the 1930's.

The American Tree

   In America, Christmas Trees were introduced into several pockets - the German Hessian Soldiers took their tree customs in the 18th century. In Texas, Cattle Barons from Britain took their customs in the 19th century, and the East Coast Society copied the English Court tree customs.
   Settlers from all over Europe took their customs also in the 19th century. Decorations were not easy to find in the shanty towns of the West, and people began to make their own decorations. Tin was pierced to create lights and lanterns to hold candles which could shine through the holes. Decorations of all kinds were cutout, stitched and glued. The General Stores were hunting grounds for old magazines with pictures, rolls of Cotton Batting (Cotton Wool), and tinsel, which was occasionally sent from Germany or brought in from the Eastern States. The Paper 'Putz' or Christmas Crib was a popular feature under the tree, especially in the Moravian Dutch communities which settled in Pennsylvania.

The British tree in the 20th century

   After Queen Victoria died, the country went into mourning, and the tree somehow died with her for a while in many homes. While some families and community groups still had large tinsel strewn trees, many opted for the more convenient table top tree. These were available in a variety of sizes, and the artificial tree, particularly the Goose Feather Tree, became popular. These were originally invented in the 1880's in Germany, to combat some of the damage being done to Fir trees in the name of Christmas.

   In America, the Addis Brush Company created the first brush trees, using the same machinery which made their toilet brushes! These had an advantage over the feather tree in that they would take heavier decorations.
   After 1918, because of licensing and export problems, Germany was not able to export its decorations easily. The market was quickly taken up by Japan and America, especially in Christmas Tree lights.
   Britain's Tom Smith Cracker Company which has exported Christmas goods for over three decades, began to manufacture trees themselves for a short while.
   In the 1930's There was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas cards all sported Crinoline ladies with muffs and bonnets popular in the 1840's. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top. But wartime England put a stop to many of these trees. It was forbidden to cut trees down for decoration, and with so many raids, many people preferred to keep their most precious heirloom Christmas tree decorations carefully stored away in metal boxes, and decorated only a small tabletop tree with home-made decorations, which could be taken down into the shelters for a little Christmas cheer, when the air-raid sirens went.
Large trees were erected however in public places to give morale to the people at this time.

   Postwar Britain saw a revival of the nostalgic again. people needed the security of Christmas, which is so unchanging in a changing world, as one of the symbols to set them back on their feet. Trees were as large as people could afford. Many poorer families still used the tabletop Goosefeather trees, Americas Addis Brush Trees were being imported into Britain, and these became immensely popular for a time. But the favourites were still real trees. The popular decorations were all produced by a British manufacturer, Swanbrand. and sold by FW Woolworth in Britain. Translucent plastic lock together shapes, Honeycomb paper Angels, 'glow-in the -dark icicles; also Polish glass balls and birds In South Wales, where real trees were often difficult to find in the rural areas, Holly Bushes were decorated.
   The mid-1960's saw another change. A new world was on the horizon, and modernist ideas were everywhere. Silver aluminium trees were imported from America. The 'Silver Pine' tree, patented in the 1950's, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with coloured gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree.
Decorations became sparse. Glass balls and lametta created an 'elegant' modern tree. Of course, many families ignored fashion and carried on putting their own well loved decorations on their trees!

   America made a return to Victorian nostalgia in the 1970's, and it was a good decade later that Britain followed the fashion. By the at first this was a refreshing look, and manufacturers realising the potential created more and more fantastic decorations. Some American companies specialised in antique replicas, actually finding the original makers in Europe to recreate wonderful glass ornaments, real silver tinsels and pressed foil 'Dresdens'.
   Real Christmas Trees were popular, but many housewives preferred the convenience of the authentic looking artificial trees which were being manufactured. If your room was big enough, you could have a 14 foot artificial Spruce right there in your living room, without a single dropped needle - and so good that it fooled everyone at first glance. There are even pine scented sprays to put on the tree for that 'real tree smell'!
The late 1990's tree has taken the Victorian idea, but with new themes and conceptual designs. The Starry Starry Night Tree, The Twilight Tree, The Snow Queen Tree.....


   'Tis the season to get creative with your gift wrapping. Here are five secrets that will make your packaging extra special this holiday season.

1. It's not just what's on the inside that counts:
The best wrapping says something about what's hidden inside. Of course you don't want to give it away, but the best presents under the tree are the ones that pique your giftee's curiosity. Select gift wrap and embellishments that hint at what you're giving. Look for colors, textures, and patterns that tell a story and make your friends and loved-ones excited to see what's inside.

2. Gift toppers need not be store-bought:
A quick survey around your home will yield ample gift topping solutions. Why not use Baker's Twine to tie an old cookie cutter atop a gift for the epicurean on your gift giving list? An extra ornament or two can be strung on with Luxe Ribbon for a festive look that will delight anyone.

3. Think outside the box...literally:
Add a little mystery to your gifts by wrapping them up inside unexpected containers. A clean old coffee or nut tin makes a perfect receptacle for all sorts of gifts. Cover the outside with patterned paper or wallpaper remnants and you'll have a gift inside of a gift!

4. Forget store-bought wrap:
Create your own gift wrap using old newspapers, mismatched sewing patterns, fabric remnants and more. Waxed and parchment papers from your kitchen drawer can be layered together or with printed paper with lovely results.

5. Make a great impression:
Stamps are an easy and fun way to add a special touch to gift packages. Customize tags and cards using a stamp that your recipient will love. Repeat the stamp pattern multiple times on gift paper for one-of-a-kind wrap, or even try stamping a sheet of plain gift wrap with a celery stalk dipped in paint for a floral motif that is sure to impress.


   This comes from www.craftaholicsanonymous.net .  Make a batch of these and you'll surely add them to the list of cookies you need to make for that next party or cookie exchange. Enjoy!

Peppermint Pretties {a Christmas Cookie recipe}

contrary to popular belief…..i do know how to bake…..a little bit. i will be the first to admit my kitchen skills are not so hot. {huge understatement} but there’s always something about this time of year that makes me want to dust off the cookbook and give it a go. and this is the new christmas cookie recipe i tried this year….
christmas cookies

the recipe calls them Peppermint Meltaways. but that’s a bit on the dull side for these lovely little peppermint cookies. so i decided a new name was in order. so i called them Peppermint Pretties! and yes, i have to say it…. they are kinda pretty, don’t ya think? these deliciously light morsels melt in your mouth and dance their way down with a peppermint kick. yum!

Peppermint Pretties {adapted from Taste of Home Quick Cooking, 2009}
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch


1 oz cream cheese, softened {recipe calls for 2 T butter here, but this family loves cream cheese frosting}
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

Cream Butter and powdered sugar together. Beat in extract. Combine flour and corn starch and gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Using a small cookie scoop, place on greased cookie sheet.. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden.
For Frosting: Beat cream cheese until its fluffy. Add powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies. Makes 2 dozen cookies.
***this recipe does not use any eggs***

christmas cookie recipe


   Christmas Day in Ireland is December 25.
   Here the Christmas celebrations last from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to as "Little Christmas". Christmas in Ireland is a religious as well as a festive occassion. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom and hence, Christmas traditions here echo those of the western countries.
In preparation for Christmas, Irish families bake Christmas cakes, puddings and mince pies. Mantelpieces are decorated with flowers (such as holly) and ornaments. A popular tradition here, as in other western nations, is hanging the mistletoe in a doorway and to kiss under it. Before the holidays, families give gifts (usually money) to all those who provide service to them throughout the year, such as the plumber or the milkman.

Chirstmas shoppers

Homes are cleaned and often whitewashed, as a means of purification. Christmas trees are set up and decorated with tinsel, colourful lights and a star or an angel on top. Many kids recieve an Advent Calendar which have slots for each day in December, each of them containing a chocolate treat.
   On Christmas Eve, all the extended members of Roman Catholic families in Ireland come together and attend the Midnight Mass. In windows of individual homes, lighted candles are placed to signify symbolic hospitality for Mary and Joseph. The candles are usually red in color, and decorated with sprigs of holly. Traditionally, Irish women bake a seed cake for each member of the house. They also prepare three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year's Day and the Twelfth Night.

Oconnell Street in Dublin

Christmas dinner in Ireland consists of almost the same foods as Thanksgiving with the main dishes being turkey, ham, cranberry sauce and the like. The more traditional Irish dishes include spiced beef (spiced over several days, cooked, and then pressed) to be served either hot or cold. Dessert is usually composed of mince pies, Christmas pudding, and brandy or rum sauce.
   During Christmas, everyone in Ireland wishes another "Nollaig Shona Dhuit" meaning "Merry Christmas" in Irish-Gaelic language.


   FIRST MENTION OF FEAST OF NATIVITY ON 25th DECEMBER: Possibly the earliest mention of a special feast for the Nativity on the 25th December is in the Philocalian Calendar in the year 354. This does refer back to earlier information from 336. However, in 388, St Chrysostom wrote that the observing of the festival of the Nativity (on December 25th) was not yet ten years old.

*WHEN CHRISTMAS CAME TO BRITAIN: The first records show that St Augustine came to Britain with his missionary monks from Rome, and on Christmas Day 598 it is said that he baptised more than 10,000 English people in the Christian faith.
*According to the Venerable Bede in his History of the English Church, the legendary King Arthur was crowned by St Dubricius on Christmas Day, somewhere very close to this date.
*In the year 816, the Council of Chelsea enforced the observance of Christmas on December 25th in Britain. This date was formerly called 'Mothers Night, a vigil in honour of the re-birth of the new sun, so it had been deemed easy to replace it with the birth of the Son of God. /

*PEACE AND GOODWILL: During the reign of the Saxon King Ethelred 991-1016- a law was made that the season of the Nativity should be a time of peace and goodwill, when all strife must end.
*WHEN THE NATIVITY BECAME 'CHRISTMAS' Until c1170, the festival was always referred to as 'In Festis Nativitatis' Or 'Natalis' The Feast of the Nativity. The anglicised 'Christes-Masse' did not appear until after the Norman invasion.
* WHEN CHRISTMAS WAS BANNED: Christmas became the chosen time for coronations, decrees and all manner of important events. The Reformation brought about by King Henry VIII (mid-16th century) brought this all to a stop. In 1644 the puritan parliament first sat on Christmas Day setting a trend of 'no Christmas', in 1645 they had declared Christmas a working day. Christmas actually was banned! Anyone found making Christmas pies was in severe trouble, and often arrested as an example to others.

   At this time also all the customs began to die out, because anyone found celebrating was similarly chastised. Priests were in hiding, and few people managed to attend the old 'Christe-Masse.'. No 'Waits' sang in the streets; people were compelled to work on Christmas Day, and there was no feasting or decorating of houses or streets.
*CHRISTMAS REVIVED: After the restoration of the King (Charles II) in 1660, things got better, but after over 100 years of reformation and puritan restraint, many of the old customs were not restored in their former style. Mostly, it was country people who held onto them, and although there was an element of the 'Christmas of Olde England' in Georgian England,( as you can read from the extract of CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIAN ENGLAND), for many townspeople the customs were just not there. It was not until the Victorian scholars began to research into old documents, and talk to ancient characters in villages and hidden areas of the North of England etc where things changed more slowly, that the old customs were to be practiced again. Sadly many of the symbolism and reasons behind the christianised versions of these customs was lost, a fact particularly obvious in the custom of KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE - THE KISSING BOUGH.