Friday, December 30, 2016



    There are many traditions on New Year's.  One of the most famous is the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of midnight.  But who wrote this song and why do we sing it?  This is a question many people do not know it, it has just become part of tradition.  The song was originally written in 1790 by a Scottish poet by the name of Robert Burns.  Many of the lyrics from the first verse and the chorus are strikingly similar to a 1711 poem by James Watson.  The song really took off in 1929 when bandleader Guy Lombardo began broadcasting this song on his radio broadcast on New Years Eve.  The song quickly spread throughout the British Isles.  As people emigrated to the United States and other countries, they took with them the song as a custom of singing "Auld Lang Syne" with them.
   Here are the lyrics to Robert Burns' song with translation to some words you may not know.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne!
We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne!
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp, and surely I'll be mine,
And we'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes, and pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd sin auld lang syne.
And there's a hand my trusty fiere, and gie's a hand o thine,
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught, for auld lang syne.


auld lange syne-times gone by
be-pay for
dine-dinner time
guid-willie waught-goodwill drink
morning sun-noon
pint-stowp-pint tankard


    As the old year ends and the New Year approaches, it's fun to recall all your wonderful memories!  Some people capture them with photos.  Other families capture them in scrapbooks.  But, there is another fun way to save those memories!  Celebrate the New Year and preserve a record of your particular time in history by making a time capsule.  You, your family and friends, can make this part of your New Year's Eve celebration.

   The History of the Time Capsule

   Oral histories and paintings are ways that we preserve some visual record of our pasts.  However, the art of making time capsules dates back to ancient times.  Consider the Pyramids, the Terra Cotta Warriors of China, and the temples of ancient Babylon.  These ancient wonders were intentional preservation's which show the world the wonders of these ancient civilizations.
   In our more modern times, time capsules, serve as messages to future generations about our governments, technology, and humanity.  For the 1939 World's Fair, Westinghouse Electric wanted to create a time capsule that would preserve its contents for 5,000 years.  In that time capsule, Westinghouse placed a deck of cards, alarm clock and toothbrush.  Nearly thirty years later, in the 1964 World's Fair, another time capsule was buried, and it contained contact lenses, a ball point pen and a plastic heart valve.  Today, civic groups, religious communities and scientists used time capsules.  It's not uncommon to place time capsules signifying important events or the construction of buildings.

Making Your Time Capsule 

   For your time capsule, you will need something that is sturdy, and non-biodegradable.  Plastic, metal or even heavy duty rubbers will serve you purposes.  You can find these items around your home, at your local thrift or office supply store.  If you want something large, think metal safes with combinations locks or even this plastic jars with metal lids.  An old metal coffee can works for most.  If you want something small, thin craft eggs used for Easter or Plastic pencil cases.

Time Capsule Items

   Once you pick your capsule, its time to decide what you want to put in it.  You may want to remember specific events in history.  For these things, put newspaper or Internet articles sealed in plastic baggies.  For more personal events, like births and weddings, put a memento from the event.  A knitted bootie or garter will serve nicely.  For memorable parties or milestone events, you can place photographs, movie tickets, programs, toys and even receipt.  You can even let your inner geek free by placing technology in your time capsule.  Think of Cd's, DVDs, and old cell phones.
   Don't put anything in your time capsule that could damage the other items or decay over time.  While you might think Aunt Ruth's fruit cake could survive the nuclear holocaust, it might not be an appropriate item for your time capsule.  Avoid foods, wood, wool or other perishables.

   Also, you, your family and friends can add personal notes about what makes them thankful or what's important to them today and what their hopes are for the future.  Bigger than resolutions, you may want to offer a special prayer for those who may find and open your capsule in the years to come.

Filling and storing your Time Capsule

   Whether it's part of a family activity or a party, set a time to fill and put away your time capsule.  Have everyone add an item.  Once filled, seal your capsule with glue, tape or other method of keeping air out of the container.
   Once sealed, either store your capsule in an out of the way place or bury it.  If you opt for burying your time capsule, make sure you create a map showing where you have buried your time treasures.


Opening the Capsule

   Depending on what time you have set to open your capsule, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years, make plans to remember the date.  And, when that time comes, be ready to share and remember all the wonderful ways the world and you have changed.
   So, that old acquaintances, or events for that matter, creating a time capsule is a wonderful way to ring in a new year or decade.  For your next New Year's celebration, consider having fun by preserving a bit of your personal history.


   If you have ever seen the elaborate floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade, chances are you have wondered where all those flowers come from and how the floats are made.  The building of a Tournament of Roses Float involves hundreds of people over a year long process that begins in February.  The main structure, including elaborate hydraulic systems to operate the mechanical features of the float, is created by professional float builders, but the final application of flowers is completed primarily by volunteers just like you and me.

Float Design Begins in February

   The process begins with a meeting between the sponsor who commission the float and the people in charge of building it.  Float building companies generally design and build several floats for different clients.  Designers develop a detailed sketch that incorporates the client's wishes with the parades theme.  Once approved by the sponsor, the sketch is refined and hand colored.  The floral director then chooses the floral material to represent the overall design.  Flowers and other natural materials are chosen for both color and texture to create the illusion of living people and props.


Flowers Cover Every Square inch of Rose Parade Floats

   The rules of the Rose Parade stipulate that flowers or other natural plant materials (that have grown, are growing, or will grow) cover the entire surface of the float.  Flower blooms, moss, seeds and pods, bark, live or dried leaves, grains and vegetables selected to cover the float must be used in their natural state and cannot be dyed.

Floral Directors Calculate How Many Flowers Are Needed

 m  Experienced floral directors easily calculate the needed amount of each material by using coverage formulas for the individual plants or organic material used.  These amazing directors can quote from heart the number of roses or Gerber daisies it takes to fill one square foot of area on a parade float.

Ordering Begins in April

   Beginning in April, vendors from around the world begin receiving orders for flowers to be delivered prior to the completion of the float in late December.  One float may require between 400 and 500 varieties of flowers and millions of individual blooms.  Many are specially grown to meet the needs of the float they will be used on. Flowers must be ready to go and delivered within a one-week window prior to the parade, with some arriving the morning of the parade.

Flowers Arrive in Refrigerated Trucks in December

   Refrigerated trucks begin arriving in Pasadena the week of Christmas and place the flowers in refrigerated tents that may cover half of a football field.  Each float-building company operates one or two of these tents and stores flowers in buckets or on racks, with the flowers for each float sectioned and marked ready to go to the individual floats.  About 10 days prior to the parade, flowers are moved to float-building barns.


Giant Paint by Number Picture Directs Float Assembly

   The base of the float is sprayed with a polyvinyl shell and painted to resemble a paint by number picture to indicate which plant material should be placed in each area.  Builders follow the pattern to fill in areas with the appropriate material.

Volunteers Get to Work Completing the Float

   Volunteers from all across the nation do much of the manual work of assembling the floats.  Volunteers are assigned specific jobs to match their skill level.  First time volunteers may spend the day cutting flowers or removing individual petals.  More experienced volunteers work on more intricate details of the float.  Volunteers begin at the top and work their way to the bottom.  The most intricate details are left to last, often completed within hours of the parade.  Volunteers complete the base last to avoid damage from workers as they work on other areas.  Roses and blooms that require water rest in vials of water, attached to the base.  Other less fragile flowers are attached to wire stems and inserted into floral foam.  Some materials, like individual flower petals are glued in place to create the desired effect.  Dried flowers may be blended to a fine powder and used for shading.

Long Hours Complete the Work on Floats

   The work of assembling the float is long and difficult.  It take 60 volunteers working 10-hour days, 10 days to complete a float.  Once completed the float leader inspects the float for any errors and gives the final word that the float is ready to go.

Floats Take a 12 Mile Journey to the Parade Site

   Floats are then towed to the parade route in Pasadena.  The journey is a mere 12 miles long, but it takes anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to transport the floats to the parade site.  Float leaders generally pack an assortment of each material used on the float in the event that damage occurs on the way and make last minute repairs prior to parade time.

Beginning Again

   After the parade and the announcement of next year's theme, sponsors commission new floats for the upcoming year.  Old floats are stripped to the chassis and the process begins again as new visions are put to paper and designs of elaborate creations are set in motion for the year long journey to the next Tournament of Roses Parade.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


   On December 31, 2011, people all over the world will welcome in the New Year watching the 2011 Time Ball drop in Times Square in New York City or by dropping objects like pickles and acorns to pursue prosperity in 2012. Many celebrations focus on time balls to calculate and welcome the New Year. Other towns and cities across the country drop a variety of items, according to local tradition or just plain tradition. Talbot, Maryland will feature a Crab Drop at its first night celebration, Mobile, Alabama will drop a twelve foot moon pie at its New Year's Eve celebration, and Atlanta, Georgia, will drop an 800 pound peach at its celebration to ring in 2012.

Image result for 2011 TIMES SQUARE BALL

The 2011 Times Square Time Ball

The Times Square ball that will drop on December 31, 2011, measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11, 875 pounds and is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles of varied sizes. The crystals produce millions of vibrant colors and countless patterns, and the New Years Eve celebration at Times Square produces millions of excited spectators to count down and welcome the New Year.

New Years Eve Celebrated in Times Square is a Century Old Tradition

   People celebrated New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it took until 1907 for the tradition of the New Year's Eve Ball to begin. In 1907, the first New Year's Eve Ball which measured five feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds descended from the flagpole on top of One Times Square. Jacob Starr, a young immigrant metalworker, built the ball from iron and wood and lit it with one hundred 25 -watt bulbs. For most of the Twentieth Century, the company that Jacob founded, Artkraft Strauss, lowered the ball every year.
   The New Year's Ball has descended every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, when officials cancelled the ceremony because of the wartime dimming of New York City lights. Despite the absence of a ball, crowds still congregated in Times Square and welcomed the New Year with a minute of silence. After that chimes rang from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower, a continuation of earlier Trinity Church celebrations where crowds gathered to "ring out the old, ring in the new."


Ball Dropping Symbolizes Time Passing

   The idea of a ball "dropping" to symbolize time passing goes back into the mists of time far distant from Times Square to Greenwich, England. The English installed the first time ball on top of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. The time ball would drop every afternoon at one o'clock so that the captains of nearby ships could accurately set their chronometers which were essential to navigation.
   After the time balls had proven themselves at Greenwich, about 150 of them were installed around the world. The United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. carries on the tradition. Every day at noon a time ball descends from the flagpole. In Times Square every year a time ball descends on the stroke for midnight to symbolize the coming of the New Year for over one billion excited people around the world.


People Drop Everything from Pickles to Acorns to Welcome the New Year

   Millions of people watch the time ball drop in New York's Time Square and millions more watch more unusual items drop to welcome in the New Year before their eyelids close over the New Year.
   Mount Olive, North Carolina, is celebrating its thirteenth annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop on December 31, 2011, at the corner of Cucumber and Vine Streets. The New Year's Eve pickle descends the Mount Olive Pickle Company flagpole at 7 p.m. midnight - that's 7 o'clock EST-which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time. Festival organizers say "that way we are official, we shout Happy New Year! and we don't have to stay up until midnight!"
   Since 1992, Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, has earned its title, "The City of Oaks," by literally dropping an acorn as a symbol of new beginnings every New Year's Eve. The 2011 Acorn Drop marks the 20th Anniversary of Raleigh's First Night New Year's Eve Celebrations and the Acorn Drop. The acorn weighs approximately 1,250 pounds and measures about ten feet, and instead of investing in a gigantic acorn storage unit 364 days of the year, the town of Raleigh proudly displays the acorn in Moore Square. Then on New Year's Eve, technicians transport the acorn by crane to participate in the midnight count down.

   Eastport, Maine, is ringing in the New Year with its seventh consecutive year of New Year's Eve festivities with the Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop. To honor both the United States and Canada, the first drop will be a Canadian maple leaf to honor Eastport's Canadian neighbors and then a giant sardine will be dropped at midnight to commemorate the regions historic sardine fishing and canning past.

Crowd waiting for ball to drop

Pittsburgh Raises the Ball

   Pennsylvania has numerous towns and cities that drop a variety of objects to welcome in the New Year. Hummelstown drops a lollipop. Duncannon drops a sled, Richland drops a cigar, Steelton drops an entire steamroller and Frogtown, a frog.
   In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a 1,000 pound ball titled "The Future of Pittsburgh," will ascend 74 feet at midnight on December 31, 2011, to the top of Penn Avenue Place as people count down the passing of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. Organizers of Pittsburgh's First Night. Family celebration decided to raise the ball instead of dropping it as a symbol of Pittsburgh's revitalization and the hope of a Happy New Year and prosperous future.
   But no matter where a town drops an item or if it is a peach or a pickle, the sentiment is the same, "Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!"


Float from the early years

Float from recent years

   This uniquely American event began as a promotional effort by Pasadena's distinguished Vally Hunt Club.  In the winter of 1890, the club members brainstormed ways to promote the "Mediterranean of the West".  They invited their former East Coast neighbors to a mid-winter holiday, where they could watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun.  The abundance of fresh flowers, even in the midst of winter, prompted the club to add another showcase for Pasadena's charm; a parade would precede the competition, where entrants would decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms.  The Tournament of Roses was born.
   "In New York, people are buried in snow", announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting.  "Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear fruit.  Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise"!

Queen and her court today
Queen and her court from years gone by


    During the next few years, the festival expanded to include marching bands and motorized floats.  The games on the town lot (which was re-named Tournament Park in 1900) included ostrich races, bronco busting demonstrations and a race between a camel and an elephant (the elephant won).  Reviewing stands were built along the Parade route, and Eastern newspapers began to take notice of the event in 1895, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed to take charge of the festival, which had grown too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle.

Band picture from recent years
Band picture from years past

  The Tournament of Roses has come a long way since its early days.  The Rose Parade's elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world.  Although a few floats are still built exclusively by volunteers from their sponsoring communities, most are build by professional float building companies and take nearly a year to construct.  The year-long effort pays off on New Year's morning, when millions of viewers around the world enjoy the Rose Parade.

Grand Marshall, Bill Cosby

Grand Marshall of Parade, Richard Nixon


    The most famous ball in America will make it's decent into Times Square this December, ringing in more than just another "Happy New Year"! among fellow Americans.  While it may be the largest New Year's Eve Ball ever to grace New York City.  It may also be the most eco-friendly ball as well.  The new ball is 20% more energy efficient than the previous one, which will make it a sure crowd pleaser for the many Americans who are becoming more eco-conscious.  At 12 feet across and 11,875 pounds, the ball will be the largest ball to drop in Times Square since the beginning of the tradition.  It also contains 2,668 Waterford Crystals and 32,256 LED's, which make the ball capable of producing more than 16 million colors and several billion patterns.  It will be the most beautiful and breathtaking New Year's Eve Ball to date.  But where did the idea for the ball come from?  Who started this tradition, and when was the Waterford Crystal introduced into this famous past time?

the ball from 1978

The History of the New Year's Eve Ball and the Waterford Crystal

   In 1907, Jacob Starr created a giant ball combining wood, iron, and one hundred 25 watt light bulbs.  The New Year's Eve Ball would become known as one of the most famous tributes tot he New Year in American history.  Weighing in at 700 pounds and stretching 5 feet across, the new tradition was born.  The first ball was used every year until 1920, when it was replaced with a 400 pound wrought iron ball.  From the twenties to the mid fifties the ball remained unchanged.
   Unfortunately, during World War II, the New Year's Eve Ball did not make its usual descent to earth.  In 1942 and 1943, the ball remained unlit in fear of war time enemies attacking.  However, in 1944, the famous New Yorker returned to it's beloved place high atop Times Square.

2000-2007 ball

   In 1955, the ball was replaced yet again for a third time to a smaller, 200 pound aluminum ball.  While the ball was lighter in weight, it was no less famous and no less elegant, and this ball reigned until the 1980's.
   1981 brought a new decade for the ball, while the original ball itself was not actually replaced, the light bulbs, were replaced with red ones.  The pole from which the famous ball dropped was painted green-all of this was done to simulate a "Big Apple".  This was being done to promote the "I Love New York" campaign-more famously known today as the "I heart NY T-shirts, coffee mugs and so forth that we see today.  The ball was returned to its famous bright white bulbs in 1989, at the end of the campaign.

    Aside from a few colored light bulbs and a new paint job, the New Year's Eve Ball remained the same for 40 years.  In 1995, the ball was all but brought into the new century.  It was updated to an aluminum skin with strobe lights, rhinestone gems and more-all generated by computers.  This was also the beginning of the true Waterford Crystal that we know and love today.
   For the millennium, the ball was completely designed.  Aside from the ball that will grace New York's Time Square this December, the ball form weighed in at over 1,000 pounds-making it the largest in both weight and width (at 6 feet across).  It contained a mixture of 168 halogen bulbs and 432 light bulbs of red, green, blue, yellow and white-which were all used in different "Hope" campaign themes.
   This famous New Yorker has been around for over 100 years and will be making its drop from 475 feet above Times Square.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


 Most people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like---jolly, with a red suit and a white beard.  But he didn't always look that way, and Coke advertising actually helped shape the modern day image of Santa.
   2006 marked the 75th anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa Claus.  Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit.  Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on their advertising.

1931 Coke Santa Ad

 Before the 1931 introduction of the Coke Santa Claus, created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall.  Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.
   Through the centuries, Santa has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf.  He has worn a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin.  The modern day Santa is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries.

Santa Claus, 1936

  The Civil War cartoonist, Thomas Nast, drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union.  Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red.  Though some people believe the Coca-Cola Santa wears red because that is the Coke color, the red suit comes from Nast's interpretation of St. NIck.
   The Coca-Cola Company began the Christmas advertising in the 1920's with shopping related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post.  The first Santa ad used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.

Santa, 1937

   At this time, many people thought of Coke as a drink only for warm weather.  The Coke Company began a campaign to remind people that Coke was a great choice in any month.  This began with the 1922 slogan "Thirst Knows No Season", and continued with a campaign connecting a true icon of winter---Santa Claus---with the beverage.
   In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke.  The ad featured the world's largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo.  Mizen's painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.

Santa, 1938

 Archie Lee, the D'Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coke Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic.  In 1931, The Coke commissioned Michigan born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus--showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa, as Mizen's work had portrayed. him.
   For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore's 1822 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas", or what it's commonly known to day as "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  Moore's description of St. Nick led to an Image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human.  For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa-an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.

Haddon Sundblom, 1931

Haddon Sundblom, some 30 years later


  From 1931 to 1964, Coke advertising showed Santa delivering (and playing!) with toys, pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, playing with children who stayed up to greet him and raiding the refrigerator's at a number of homes.  The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coke advertising in magazines, store displays, billboards, posters, calendars, and even plush dolls.  Many of those items today are popular collectibles.
   The Coke Santa made its debut in 1931, in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others.  The instantly popular ad campaign appeared each season, reflecting the times.  One ad even featured Santa in a rocket!

Santa, 1941

  Sundblom continued to create new visions of Santa through 1964.  For decades after, Coke advertising has featured Santa's image based on Sundblom's original works.
   These original paintings by Haddon Sundblom are some of the most prized pieces in the art collection of the Coke Company's Archives Department, and have been on exhibit around the world, including at the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo and the NK Department Store in Stockholm.

Santa, 1951

   The Coca-Cola Santa has had a powerful, enduring quality that continues to resonate today.  Many of the original paintings can be seen on display at "World of Coca-Cola" in Atlanta, Ga. or touring during the holiday season.

Did You Know?

   People loved the Coke Santa images and paid such close attention to them, that when anything changed, they sent letter to The Coke Company.  One year, Santa's large belt was backwards.  Another year, Santa appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus.

   In the beginning, artist Haddon Sundblom painted the image of Santa using a live model-his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman.  When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom, used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror.  After the 1930's, he used photographs to create the image of St. Nick.

   The children who appear with Santa Claus in Haddon Sundblom's paintings wee based on Sundblom's neighbors.  However, the neighbors were both girls, and Sundblom simply changed one to a boy in his paintings.  He also used the neighborhood florist's dog, a gray poodle in one of his paintings, but painted the animal with black fur. To make the dog stand out in the holiday scene.

Santa, 1953

     The image of Santa Claus has appeared on cartons for bottles of Coke since 1931, when artist Haddon Sundblom first created his version of St. Nick.  Early cartons completely covered the bottles of Coke--almost as if they were inside a box--and had a handle at the very top.  The carton itself was created--and patented--by the Coca-Cola system.  Introduced in 1923, it allowed people to take home more bottle of Coke.
   The Coke Polar Bear stars with Santa on the 2006 advertising for the U.S. Hispanic market.  The Coke Polar Bear was introduced in 1993 as part of the "Always Coca-Cola" campaign.  The first commercial featuring the bear showed was called "Northern Lights" and showed a group of bears watching a "movie" (the Aurora borealis) and drinking from bottles of Coke.

Santa and Spriteboy

   The "Sprite Boy" character, who appeared with Santa and was used in Coke advertising in the 1940's and 50's, was also created by artist Haddon Sundblom.  Though the Coke Company does have a drink called Sprite.  The Sprite Boy character was not named for the beverage.  Sprite Boy's name came because he is a sprite--an elf.  Sprite Boy first appeared in ads in 1942, while the drink Sprite was no introduced until the 1960's.

   In 2001, the artwork from Haddon Sundblom's 1962 original painting was used as the basis for an animated TV commercial staring the Coke Santa.  The ad was created by Academy Award-winning animator Alexandre Petrov.


 This year I thought it would be nice to see what we are all eating on Christmas day – so I am going to start the ball rolling by telling you what people in various nations will be eating.  This will be a nice way for us to all get to know the nicer details of Christmas.

Eastern Europe
708Px-Wigilia Potrawy 554

   In the areas of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (e.g., Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania), an elaborate and ritualised meal of twelve meatless dishes is served on the Eve of Christmas (24th December). This is because the pre-Christmas season is a time of fasting, which is broken on Christmas Day. As is typical of Slavic cultures, great pains are taken to honour the spirits of deceased relatives, including setting a place and dishing out food for them.
   A traditional Christmas meal in the Czech Republic is fried carp and potato salad. This tradition started after excessive increase of fishpond cultivation in the Baroque era. Many households also prepare a great variety of special Christmas biscuits to offer to Christmas visitors. These preparations take place many days and weeks prior to the feast and take a long time to decorate with the remainder usually ending up on a Christmas tree as a decoration.


   On Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), the extended family join together for a succulent dinner around the turkey, stuffed with ground beef and peanuts and decorated with fresh slices of pineapple and cherries; roast potatoes and apple sauce. The desserts include marzipan and assorted bowls with raisins, almonds and the panettone, accompanied by a cup of thick hot chocolate. At midnight, a toast is made, and good wishes and hugs are exchanged. A designated person runs to put Child Jesus in the Nativity scene. Then, the family members take their seat in the dinning room while singing Christmas Carols.


Joulupöytä (translated “Christmas table”) is the name of the traditional food board served at Christmas in Finland, similar to the Swedish smörgåsbord. It contains many different dishes, most of them typical for the season. The main dish is usually a large Christmas ham, which is eaten with mustard or bread along with the other dishes. Fish is also served (often lutefisk and gravlax), and with the ham there are also laatikot, casseroles with liver and raisins, as well as potatoes, rice, and carrots. The traditional Christmas beverage is either alcoholic or non-alcoholic mulled wine (glögi in Finnish).

Gb Roast Turkey

   In English Canada, Christmas dinner is similar to that of its colonial ancestor, England, as well as to its neighbour the United States. Traditional Christmas dinner features turkey with stuffing (dressing), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables and plum pudding for dessert. Eggnog, a milk-based punch that is often infused with alcohol, is also very popular around the holiday season. Other Christmas items include butter tarts and shortbread, which are traditionally baked before the holidays and served to visiting friends, at various Christmas and New Year parties, as well as on Christmas day.
   Other ethnic communities may continue to use old world traditions as well. For example, a Ukrainian Canadian family may eat a traditional Christmas meal of 12 meatless dishes, or may simply add perogies to a westernized meal. In French Canada, traditions may be more like those of France.


Gl Ggekstrakt

   In Denmark the traditional Christmas meal served on December 24th consists of either roasted pork, goose or duck. This is served along with potatoes, red cabbage and plenty of gravy. It is followed with a dessert of rice pudding, often with an almond hidden inside, the lucky finder of which is entitled to a present referred to as the almond gift. Traditional Christmas drinks are Gløgg (pictured above) and traditional Christmas beers, specially brewed for the season. These usually have a high alcohol percentage.


   Christmas dinner in The Netherlands is a bit different from customs in neighbouring countries. One typical Dutch tradition is that of ‘gourmet’. This is an evening long event where small groups of people sit together around a gourmet-set and use their own little frying pan to cook and season their own food in very small portions. The host has prepared finely chopped vegetables and different types of meats, fish and prawns/shrimps. Everything is accompanied by different salads, fruits and sauces. The origin of gourmet lies most likely in the former Dutch colony Indonesia.
   The Dutch also enjoy more traditional Christmas-dinners, like roast beef, duck, rabbit, pheasant or roasted or glazed ham. This generally served with different types of vegetables, potatoes and salads. In recent years, traditions from Anglo-Saxon countries have become increasingly popular, most notably the UK-style turkey. Pictured above is the Dutch version of Santa Claus.


Christmas Table


   In France and some other French-speaking countries, a réveillon is a long dinner, and possibly party, held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning “waking”), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond. Common dishes include goose or duck liver (foie gras); oysters; smoked salmon; lobster; roasted duck, goose or turkey with chestnuts and stuffing; and, for dessert, a traditional christmas cake called “La Buche de Noel” (Christmas log), a cream cake that comes in different flavours (chocolate, hazelnut…) and which has the shape of a log. The beverage served is traditionally Champagne. In Provence, the tradition of the 13 desserts is followed: 13 desserts are served, almost invariably including: pompe à l’huile (a flavoured bread), dates, etc.

New Zealand
Gb Pavlova

   The Christmas customs of New Zealand are largely identical to the United Kingdom due to its status as a former British colony, the ethnic Caucasian population being almost exclusively British or Irish in descent, and the still pervasive British cultural influence on the country courtesy of constant movements of people between New Zealand and the UK. Christmas dinner consists of roast turkey, roast vegetables, stuffing (or dressing, as it is known in North America), cranberry sauce. Alternatively, roast ham may be offered as a main course and lamb is also very popular.
   One important exception from British dinner is the absence of goose, as it is not raised in New Zealand and the government prohibits importing foreign meat products. Desserts are almost without exception mince pies or Christmas pudding (or plum pudding) and brandy butter, inherited from British practices. Enjoyment of non-British Christmas foods, such as stollen from Germany, Bûche de Noël from France, and panettone from Italy, was virtually unheard of in New Zealand until the late 1990s and is still extremely rare today. Due to New Zealanders celebrating Christmas in the summer, it is also common to barbecue, and eat seasonal fruit such as cherries and strawberries. Pictured above is a Pavlova – a typical New Zealand meringue based pudding often served at Christmas (and throughout the year).

United Kingdom
Roast Goose Apple Stuffing

   Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom (and Commonwealth nations) is usually eaten in the afternoon. Dinner in the United Kingdom and in Ireland usually consists of roast turkey or roast goose (although duck is common alternatives depending on the number of diners), sometimes with ham or, to a lesser extent, pork; roast potatoes; vegetables (usually boiled or steamed), particularly brussels sprouts; stuffing; chipolatas or pigs in blankets; cranberry sauce; with dessert of Christmas pudding (or plum pudding) and brandy butter.
   In England, the evolution of the main course into turkey did not take place for years, or even centuries. At first, in Medieval England, the main course was either a peacock or a boar, the boar usually the mainstay. After the French Jesuits imported the turkey into Great Britain, it became the main course in the 1700s.
   A common tradition in the United Kingdom is to use the turkey’s wishbone to make a wish. Two people pull opposite ends of the wishbone until it breaks, with the person holding the larger fragment of the bone making a wish. The dessert of a British Christmas Dinner is almost always Christmas Pudding. Mince pies, a Christmas Cake or a Yule Log may also be eaten.

United States of America
Pumpkin-Pie01 High

   Many Christmas customs in the United States have been adopted from those in the United Kingdom, although customs from other European countries are also found. Accordingly, the mainstays of the English table are also found in the United States: cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing or dressing, corn, squash, and green beans are common. Dessert often reflects the ethnic background of the participants, but examples include pumpkin pie (pictured above), marzipan, pfeffernusse, sugar cookies, panettone, fruitcake, apple pie, carrot cake, oreo pie, and mince pie. Ham or roast beef is often served instead of turkey, particularly since turkey is the mainstay at dinner for the American holiday of Thanksgiving in November.
   Regional meals vary: Hawaii has Turkey teriyaki, Virginia has oysters and ham pie, and the Upper Midwest includes dishes from the predominately Scandinavian backgrounds such as lutefisk and mashed rutabaga or turnip. In the Southwest, especially New Mexico, a traditional Christmas dinner might include posole, tamales, empanaditas (mincemeat turnovers) and biscochitos.