Wednesday, December 3, 2014


  Christmas is all about gifts, snow and Santa Claus. However, there are certain facts about the holiday that you don’t know and probably wouldn’t even want to!

1. The Myrrh Tree
    Everybody is aware of the fact that Jesus received myrrh as a gift from the magi which is basically tree sap that is dried out. What people don’t know is that the first myrrh tree came into being because Myrrha was indulging in sexual activities with her father and once her father realized it, he tried to kill her. However, she escaped and was turned into a tree.

2. The Defecating Caganer
    Every nativity set consist of Mary, Joseph and their baby Jesus. The family is often surrounded by animals, shepherds and other figures. In places like Italy and Spain, one figure will be that of the caganer who will be placed away from the manger and will be seen defecating.

3. Saint Nicholas
    Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, is known to have brought three children back to life. These children were staying with a butcher who murdered and pickled them. He then tried to serve the meat as pork but good old Santa came by and resuscitated the poor children. There are several paintings of Saint Nicolas wherein some children will be seen standing around in tubs- now you know why!

4. Christmas Used to be Banned
    During 1659 to 1681, the holiday was not celebrated in Massachusetts and was banned. This is because it was believed that 25th December was not a day to be celebrated as God had not mentioned it in the Bible.

5. Knecht Rupercht and the Christmas Cat
    Knecht Rupercht is among the many companions of Saint Nicholas. He is known to punish those who have been bad by taking them to a forest in a sack and eating them. Another legend says that if you do not buy new clothes on Christmas, the Christmas Cat will come and eat you alive.

6. The Caga tió
    The Caga tió is a tree which is native to the Catalonia region. It has a hollow log which is fed by the local families after which it is covered with a warm blanket. On Christmas day, these families come together and sing songs while they beat up the poor tree. The tree then throws up figs, candy and nuts.

7. Wassailing
    Wassailing is the term given to those who knock on doors and sing traditional Christmas songs. The hosts then give them some cookies and warm milk. However, many people don’t know that the original wassailers were aggressive and would forcibly enter homes and compel the hosts to give them food. If you find this difficult to believe, just go through the lyrics of We Wish You a Merry Christmas-
”Now bring us some figgy pudding, We won’t go until we get some”

8. Mari Lwyd
    This is basically the skull of a horse covered with ribbons and bells. It sits atop a stick and is carried around under a sheet. It has green glass instead of eye socket and its jaw has the ability to ‘snap’ at those who pass by.

9. Leo V
    In 820, Leo (the Byzantine Emperor) was at the alter on Christmas Day, praying when some conspirators headed by Michael the Amorian tried to assassinate him. The poor emperor gave in and Michael was made the emperor.

10. The Coventry Carol
    The Coventry Carol originated in the 15th century and is quite popular even today. The song was first sung in a play called “The Pageant of the Shearman and Tailors”. The song talks about King Herod who asked all male infants to be killed.


This comes from www.afieldjournal.blogspot.com . Gool Luck.

O Christmas Tree

This year, Green Valley Christmas Trees kindly treated me to a mail-order tree to decorate and share with you here. I chose a 4 ft Fraser Fir and it's just stunning, even at this small size. I love the neat definition of the branches in this particular type of tree. I knew it deserved some first rate trims. I decorated it with some store-bought finds as well as 32 handmade ornaments (whew!), in five styles (one of each is pictured below). I know, Christmas day has come to a close, but I wanted to provide templates and brief/informal tutorials just in case you'd like to try these next year.
Click the photo above for a larger view.

The Felt Pinecones, were inspired by my mom's friend Denise who made little brown ones to top off a woodsy s'mores kit. I also used Suzonne Stirling's tutorial for Family Circle as guide (she has a much tidier method for transferring the pattern to the felt, and other great tips). Here's how I made mine: Gather the template, scissors, a pen, felt, fabric glue and a wooden skewer. Use the template to trace and cut 6 small, 8 medium and 12 large felt pinecone layers. Then stack them on the skewer in the following order 1 S, 3 M, 12 L, 5 M, 5 S. Stagger the points to make the pinecone look realistic and dab a little glue between some of the layers to help secure it - especially top and bottom layers. Trim away excess skewer. Form the point of the pinecone by pinching it at the bottom and securing with glue. Finish the top by cutting a felt circle about the size of a nickel. Poke a hole in the center and thread ribbon through for hanging. Attach to pinecone with glue.

For the Paper Cone, download the template and trace onto patterned card stock. Cut out, then score and fold along the dashed lines. Glue closed using the tab and let dry. Decorate with desired trims. For mine, I sewed a crepe ruffle from a party streamer (this makes a great garland as well; set your machine to the longest stitch and it should gather as you sew). I also added velvet ribbon, a wired pom pom handle and holly leaves made from cut paper, velvet flocking powder and a bead.

The little putz-style Church Ornaments are my absolute favorites! The template I used is from the Little Glitter Houses site (scroll to the bottom of the page for the church). I scaled the template down a bit in order to make it appropriately sized for an ornament, and used thin white cardboard and Tacky glue to construct them. Poke a hole in the roof of the steeple and thread with a loop of string for hanging before completely assembling. Also, cut an "X" with a craft knife in the back wall of the church, so you can poke a light through when you hang it. I free-handed the windows and cut them out with a craft knife, adding window frames cut from card stock as well as a door. The rest is just painting, glittering and decorating. For the pipe cleaner wreath, bend a pipe cleaner over on itself and twist it together, then wrap around a circular object to give it its shape, and glue to church. Cover the seam with a bow.

For the Glitter Ice Skates, I used watercolor paper because it's sturdier than card stock, and I happened to have a pad of it that was going unused. I find it works well though. Using the template, cut two skate shapes and one blade for each ornament. Glitter the skates with iridescent white glitter and the blade with silver glass glitter (I gave the blades a coat of silver paint and let it dry first). Once the glitter is dry poke holes through one side of the skate with a sturdy pin and sew on "laces" with silver embroidery floss and a needle. To complete the ornament glue together the two skate shapes with the blade and a loop for hanging sandwiched in between. Place under a heavy book or clamp together with clothespins as it dries. As a final touch, glue on a 1" pom pom as shown.

For the Glitter Leaf, use the same method as the ice skate. The leaf shape is provided on the template. Cut two and glitter the sides that will face out (leaves are not symmetrical). You can give them a base coat of paint the same color as the glitter if desired. String a loop of ribbon through a bead before gluing between two glittered leaf shapes. Clamp and let dry.


    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.