Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas trivia - Boxing Day

The last one in this series - I have enjoyed bringing these posts to you again this year - slowly over the last few weeks I have become engrossed in the traditions and history of this time of year.  I hope you are all having a wonderful day with your family today.

In English-speaking countries, the day following Christmas Day is called 'Boxing Day'. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their 'alms boxe' (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues today - small gifts are often given to delivery workers such as postal staff and children who deliver newspapers.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve -

Wednesday : Christmas Eve:

These are the lyrics to one of my all time favourite songs. "I Believe in Santa Claus" If the spirit of Christmas leaves you for a moment and you temporarily forget what this celebration is meant to be about just hum this to yourself and think of the words.

Merry Christmas Friends

I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe there's always hope when all seems lost
And I believe in Santa Claus

I believe in Santa Claus,
I'll tell you why I do
'Cause I believe that dreams and plans and wishes can come true
I believe in miracles,
I believe in magic too
Oh I believe in Santa Claus
and I believe in you

I believe in family, in country and in smiles
I believe in turnin' negatives to positives in life
I believe in lookin' farther up the farther down we get
I believe when someone hurts us we should forgive and forget
And I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe love should prevail at any cost
And I believe in Santa Claus

I believe in saying what you mean and meaning what you say
I believe a better attitude can make a better way
And I believe in viewing life as a journey that we're on
And lookin' at our troubles as another stepping stone
And I believe that everything in life is what it's meant to be
I believe there is a God somewhere although he's hard to see
I believe I am so therefore I should do all that I can
To be a better piece in the puzzle of God's plan

And I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe there's always hope when all seems lost
And I believe in Santa Claus

Let the little children sing it
I believe in Santa Claus,
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus,

I believe in Santa Claus
Let the whole world sing it with us
I believe in Santa Claus,
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe in Santa Claus,
I believe in Santa Claus
I believe theres always hope when all seems lost
And I believe in Santa Claus

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Christmas in Japan

Shimai Tenjin - 25 December Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto The last festive market of the year at this large shrine in north-west Kyoto.

Kotohira-gu Shukiku - Late DecemberKotohira-gu Shrine, Kagawa PrefectureShinto shrine festival featuring kemari, a ceremonial game of kick-ups said to be a forerunner of soccer.

Namahage - 31 DecemberOga Peninsula, Akita Prefecture An ancient folk tradition still observed in villages all over the peninsula in which young men dressed in frightening namahage costumes visit the homes of children to warn them not to be lazy in the coming year.

Christmas Trivia - the 12 days of Christmas

The twelve days of Christmas refers to the period from Christmas Eve until the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. 

Traditionally from the first Sunday in Advent (yesterday for those whose spirituality doesn't include church or mass) you decorate your home with candles, decorations and prepare food so that on Christmas Eve the culmination is a feast and the putting up of the Christmas Tree the crowning glory of the four weeks preparation. 

tree then stays up until the feast of the Epiphany January 6th - 12 days.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA: The Tradition of the "gift"

The story of the wise men

After Jesus was born, wise men came to look for Him, from an area which is now in either Iran or Saudi Arabia. Although they are often called the "Three Kings", the Bible does not say how many there were, or that they were kings. Three is only a guess because they brought with them three gifts.

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

They were certainly men of learning - probably today we would call them philosophers or scientists. They had seen an unusual new star in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a special king. (The star they saw was probably a exploding "supernova" and is known from astronomical records.) They followed the direction of the star and eventually found the place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were staying.

To bring honour to the child, they brought rich gifts: gold, frankincense (a resin which burns with a beautiful smell), and myrrh (plant oil with a very strong sweet smell). These gifts tell us in pictures three key things about Jesus:

Gold: a gift fit for a King

Frankincense: burnt in worship of God

Myrrh: a sign of mortal human-ness - it was used to bury the dead

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Misteltoe

Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Trivia - why Poinsettias ?

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Kwanzaa

Doctor Maulana Karenga, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach, California, created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a holiday celebrated by millions of African-Americans around the world, encouraging them to remember their African heritage and consider their current place in America today. Kwanzaa is celebrated fom December 26 to January 1 and involves seven principles called Nguzo Saba: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). In the Kwanzaa ritual, seven candles called Mishumaa Saba are placed in a Kinara, or candleholder, which is then set upon the Mikeka, a mat usually made of straw.

Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself - Kwanzaa - is a Swahili word meaning "fruits of the harvest."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Rudolph !!

The Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company, department store operators, had been purchasing and distributing children's coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customers for several years. In 1939, Montgomery Ward tapped one of their own employees to create a book for them, thus saving money. 34-year old copywriter Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in 1939, and 2.4 million copies were handed out that year. Despite the wartime paper shortage, over 6 million copies had been distributed by 1946.May drew in part on the story "The Ugly Duckling" and in part from his own experiences as an often taunted, small, frail youth to create the story of the misfit reindeer. Though Rollo and Reginald were considered, May settled on Rudolph as his reindeer's name.

Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the storySadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward's corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May's financial security.May's story "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry's wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Christmas Stocking

Ever wondered why you hang a Stocking for Christmas??

According to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls' plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman's house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Saturnalia

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn held on December 17 of the Julian Calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms - gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days."

In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.
Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects. The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius's work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of SOl Invictus, the "Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun," on December 25.

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the  Roan Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs may have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Strangest Christmas Tradition ever - Christmas Trivia

This fairly new "tradition" comes from Catalonia...............................Glory me ...what next?

This tradition is a much-loved element of the Christmas celebration in Catalonia, despite its somewhat obscure beginnings.

A caganer -- or "pooper" -- is a small figurine of a person squatting down with lowered pants (or raised skirt) to answer nature's call. They have been around since the 17th century and can often be found hiding in an obscure corner of a Nativity scene.
Some say that the figurines originally became popular among farmers who believed -- quite practically -- that the caganer's "offerings" would make the soil rich and productive for the coming year. 

In somewhat vaguer terms, the Web site for the Association of Friends of the Caganer -- an organization founded in 1990 to celebrate the caganer tradition and which boasts 60 members spread across the world -- states that the figures were meant to add "a human side to the representation of the mystery of Christmas."

The Wikipedia entry mentions how the caganer might represent "the equality of all people" because "everyone defecates" or it may be meant to reinforce that "the infant Jesus is God in human form." (Hence the Pope figurine I guess...)

Young children in Catalonia still play a Where's-Waldo-like game that involves searching for the caganer in the Nativity scene arrangement. According to the Friends Web site, the caganer is "placed under a bridge, behind a haystack or otherwise discretely hidden" as it "would show a lack of respect" to have him near the arrangement's manger scene.
The original el caganer is a wooden or clay figure of a peasant wearing the traditional floppy red Catalan cap with a black band (barretina) and smoking a cigarette or a pipe. But the figure's popularity has led to a massive expansion in the range of defecating figurines.

Relaxative Holiday Mirth

The other scatological element of the traditional Catalan Christmas is the Tió de Nadal, which roughly translates as "Christmas log." Also known as the Caga Tió, or "pooping log," this character is a 30-centimeter (one-foot) log hallowed out on one end. In recent times, the other end of the log has been given a smiling face, topped with a miniature version of the barretina and propped up on two stick legs.

Starting on Dec. 8, which marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception holiday in the Catholic tradition, the log is "fed" small amounts of candies, nuts, figs or torrons -- a local type of nougat -- every night and sleeps under a little blanket. On Christmas Eve or Christmas day, depending on the household, one end of the log is put in the fireplace and ordered to "poop."

To hasten and encourage the log's symbolic bowel movement, children sing special songs and beat it with sticks, yelling "caga tió!" Someone then reaches around the log and under the blanket to bring forth a gift that is then shared by the group.

Of course, if the revelers are still hungry, then can always go to their local pastry shops, which have sweets shaped like feces on offer during the holiday season.

And you thought Uncle Bert was embarrassing at Christmas - imagine what he would say and do with this tradition in the offing??????

Until tomorrow


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Holly

When we were in the UK it was amazing to see these growing.  Such a beautiful shrub - and the leaves are glossy and shiny....

In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. 

Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.

Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.

Until tomorrow


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Trivia - The Jesse Tree

This is a popular Advent tradition ( well if you are catholic/christian although I believe in some Jewish sects there is also a similar thing for hannukah). A jesse tree named after the father of David is a tree that is decorated gradually throughout Advent with symbols or pictures of biblical persons associated with the coming of Jesus. This includes among others Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph and Mary. The creation of a Jesse Tree serves as a reminder of the preparatory nature of the Advent season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Trivia: The Christmas Tree

Whether you are into fibre optic ultra modern styles, the smell-fantastic-drop-needles-everywhere-for-two-weeks live ones, or an interesting collection of twigs - there would be a Christmas tree in almost every home......

16th-century Germany fir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies, and colored paper. In the Middle Ages, a popular religous play depicted the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden -- the Paradise Tree. The play ended with the prophecy of a saviour coming, and so was often performed during the Advent season.

It is held that Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned trees with light. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home

The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert from his native Germany. The famous Illustrated News etching in 1848, featuring the Royal Family of Victoria, Albert and their children gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle, popularized the tree throughout Victorian England. Brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, the Christmas tree became by the late 19th century.

Our Christmas tradition is to buy each child a decoration every year (and after many arguments with my siblings over the years I write them down in a book each year - which in itself becomes  record of Christmas - when the older boys moved out they took their with them for their tree - I also buy one for the family - so there are still some left on our tree !! This year we get to buy one for our Granddaughter Harper and continue the tradition my mother started.

Until tomorrow


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Trivia: The Christmas Card

A form of Christmas card began in England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. The first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry found himself too busy in the Christmas season of 1843 to compose individual Christmas greetings for his friends.

He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley for the illustration. The card featured three panels, with the center panel depicting a family enjoying Christmas festivities and the card was inscribed with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You"

So in this world of technology is the Christmas Card dead?  I love to receive a handwritten note from a friend or a client, I think it brings us all a little closer.  To think that in this world where communication really is as simple as the tapping of a few keys that someone takes the extra moments to write something and mail it - well there is something very special about that.

Until tomorrow


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Trivia: Candy Canes

UGH Candy Canes - this is one part of Christmas I could live without - the kids pockets are full of these sticky sweet things - they end up stuck to everything.  But perhaps my friend Julie has a good solution........

 Candy Cane Biscuits fresh from the oven of my friend Julie

It was not long after Europeans began using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe.
According to the National Confectioner's Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack's brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew.More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ's purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Trivia: Who the heck is Santa Claus???

Today is the feast of St Nicholas  - so it is time to talk about the big guy.....................yup Santa Claus............

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas' popularity throughout Europe.

His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop's mitre.

In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity. 

After the Reformation, European followers of St. Nicholas dwindled, but the legend was kept alive in Holland where the Dutch spelling of his name Sint Nikolaas was eventually transformed to Sinterklaas. Dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace, and Sinterklaas would reward good children by placing treats in their shoes. Dutch colonists brought brought this tradition with them to America in the 17th century and here the Anglican name of Santa Claus emerged.In 1822 Clement C. Moore composed the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, published as The Night Before Christmas as a gift for his children. In it, he portrays Santa Claus:

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Other countries feature different gift-bearers for the Christmas or Advent season: La Befana in Italy ~ The Three Kings in Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico ~ Christkindl or the Christ Child in Switzerland and Austria ~ Father Christmas in England ~ and Pere Noël, Father Christmas or the Christ Child in France. Still, the figure of Santa Claus as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit described in Moore's poem remains with us today and is recognized by children and adults alike around the world.


So is the jolly old elf inside us all out and about and spreading good cheer this week....? I hope so this is such a lovely time of year if you can forget the stress and just live in the moment - take the time to enjoy the little things and let go of stuff that takes your time away from those you love.

Until tomorow 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Trivia: The Nativity Scene

From the early days of the Church, believers painted scenes of the birth of Christ beginning in the catecombs. These scenes became a staple of Christian life and carried on through the years. In the time of St. Francis of Assisi, the images had taken a new form: faithful Catholics would set out mangers in front of their local church, but these mangers were often jeweled and made of gold to represent who they held. St. Francis marvelled at this and felt that the people were forgetting the humble, poor birth of our Lord Jesus.

So in 1223, St. Francis created the first living Creche in a small cave in Italy. On Christmas eve he gathered with others to act out the Nativity scene in all it's impoverished glory. This re-enactment is credited as the first Creche (which is French for "manger") and from that point forward the creche was designed in a more realistic way by depicting a stable scene.

A creche traditionally includes two animals: an ox and a donkey. These were the two animals participating in St. Francis' creche because he wanted to allude to Isaiah 1:3 which states "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand."

Another important consideration is that the shepherds and the wise men shouldn't be at the creche together. These days, we tend to simply sit all the players out and leave them there for the season. However in many countries they add and remove characters based on the day. So for example, the manger should be empty until Christmas day. The next day shepherds show up. But not until early January do the wise men show up (by which time the shepherds have returned to their duties). And the nativity should stay up until February 2nd, which is the feast day of the Presentation of the Lord.

And your thought whacking out the nativity scene was the easy part of Christmas decorating!!!~

Until tomorow


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Trivia - The Christmas Cake

Hmmm as the title suggests i need to make our Christmas cakes (yes cakes plural my lot love them)  I have already made the ones for the client gifts and they will start making their way to the recipients in the coming days.

Feasting has always been a big part of every celebration throughout time - but just where did the idea of the Christmas Cake come from ?  Read on......

Christmas cake is an English tradition that began as plum porridge. People ate the porridge on Christmas Eve, using it to line their stomachs after a day of fasting. Soon dried fruit, spices and honey were added to the porridge mixture, and eventually it turned into Christmas pudding.

In the 16th century, oatmeal was removed from the original recipe, and butter, wheat flour and eggs were added. These ingredients helped hold the mixture together and in what resulted in a boiled plum cake. Richer families that had ovens began making fruit cakes with marzipan, an almond sugar paste, for Easter. For Christmas, they made a similar cake using seasonal dried fruit and spices. The spices represented the exotic eastern spices brought by the Wise Men. This cake became known as "Christmas cake."
Christmas cakes are made many different ways, but generally they are variations on classic fruitcake. They can be light, dark, moist, dry, heavy, spongy, leavened, unleavened, etc. They are made in many different shapes, with frosting, glazing, a dusting of confectioner's sugar or plain.

The traditional Scottish Christmas cake, also known as the Whisky Dundee, is very popular. It is a light crumbly cake with currants, raisins, cherries and Scotch whisky. Other types of Christmas cakes include an apple crème cake and a mincemeat cake. The apple crème cake is made with apples, other fruit, raisins, eggs, cream cheese and whipping cream. The mincemeat cake is made with traditional mincemeat or vegetarian mincemeat, flour, eggs, etc. It can also be steamed as a Christmas pudding.

All Christmas cakes are made in advance. Many make them in November, keeping the cake upside down in an airtight container. A small amount of brandy, sherry or whisky is poured into holes in the cake every week until Christmas. This process is called “feeding” the cake.

In Japan Christmas cake is a frosted sponge cake with strawberries, chocolates or seasonal fruit. It was an expression that to call women over the age of 25 "Christmas cake," meaning that they are out of season, as the cake is after December 25th. Now the age is raised to 31, linked to toshikoshi-soba, a noodle dish eaten on December 31st.

In the Philippines Christmas cake is a yellow pound cake with nuts or the traditional British fruitcake. Both cakes are soaked in brandy or rum, a palm sugar syrup and water. Rosewater or orange flower water is usually added. The cakes have a long shelf life, usually lasting many months. Sometimes they are eaten the following Easter or Christmas.

I love the smell of Christmas cakes baking and the plum pudding in the crockpot.......But if you don't have time to cook one support the Lions Club and buy one of theirs

Until tomorrow 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Trivia - Hanukkah


This year Hanukkah began on November 27th and continues until December 5th

Commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrians. In 168 BC, members of the Jewish family Maccabee led a revolt against the Greek Syrians due to the policies of Syrian King Antiochus IV which were aimed at nullifying the Jewish faith. Part of this strategem included changing the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - to a Greek temple complete with idolatry. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jews won victory over the Syrians in 165 BC and reclaimed their temple.After cleansing the temple and preparing for its rededication, it was found there was not enough oil to light the N'er Tamid, an oil lamp present in Jewish houses of worship which represents eternal light. Once lit, the lamp should never be extinguished.

A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil -- enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah - an eight branched candelabra - is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs.The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration's proximity to the Christmas season.

Trivia continues tomorrow -


Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Trivia Day 2: Advent

I posted about advent calendars - I hope you got yours ready .. but exactly what is Advent?

The word Advent is from the Latin word Adventus which means "coming".

Advent with a capital A usually refers to the "coming of Christ into the world" or to the liturgical period preceding Christmas.

In the 8th century Advent was observed not as a liturgical celebration but as a time of fast and abstinence.

In the 9th Century the Catholic Church designated the first Sudnay of Advent the beginning of the Church year.

On each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day in Roman Catholic Churches and many other Christian Churches - an Advent candle is lit as part of the weekly mass.

Watch out fore Christmas Trivia every day until Christmas Eve.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hello - My name is Angela and I am addicted to Bon Bons.....

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA:    Crackers / Bon Bons

The story of the Christmas cracker is really a testament to one man's ingenuity and determination. Tom Smith was a confectioner's apprentice in London in the early 19th century. On a trip to Paris in 1840, he admired the French sugared almond bon-bons, wrapped in coloured tissue paper, and decided to introduce them in London. These bon-bons were popular, but not quite as Smith had hoped.

For seven years he worked to develop the bon-bon into something more exciting, but it was not until he sat one evening in front of his fireplace that his great idea came to him. Watching the logs crackle, he imagined a bon-bon with a pop. He made a coloured paper wrapper and put in it another strip of paper impregnated with chemicals which, when rubbed, created enough friction to produce a noise. He knew that bangs excited children (and were said to frighten evil spirits) - and the mottoes and poems he inserted inside the crackers amused adults.

The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque, but “cracker" soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties were introduced to the market. The other elements of the modern cracker, the gifts, paper hats and varied designs, were all introduced by Tom Smith's son, Walter Smith, as ways of distinguishing the company from the many copycat cracker manufacturers which had suddenly sprung up.


One of the nicest stories told by the staff of Tom Smith is that of the gentleman who sent a diamond ring and a ten-shilling note, with a letter requesting that a special cracker be made with the ring inside, as a proposal to his ladylove. Sadly, the gentleman did not remember to include his address! Maybe the engagement never happened, because he did not get back in touch with Smiths, and the ring, together with the money and the letter are still kept by Smiths in their archives.

Christmas for me always begins with buying the Bon Bons for the Christmas table - the tree can be up the presents can be bought but it just isn't Christmas until I have those Bon Bons.

The bon bons for me "set the scene" - this is when the present wrapping, table setting colour scheme is decided and announced to the family ( and yes they do think I am nuts - but as he song says "A little bit crazy is alright").

I have been known to buy Bon Bons and then see some I like better and buy them and change the theme for the year....resulting in a storeroom that may or may not hold a stash of Bon Bons from "Christmas past".

I looked this year - well I opened the door of the storeroom and none jumped out at me so I bought these.....

And because they aren't quite the Lime and White/Silver I have in mind I am adding this to them with name tags.  

More Christmas Trivia tomorrow