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Origins Of Popular Christmas Traditions

The word Christmas comes from the Old English words, Cristes maesse, which means “Christ’s Mass.” Christmas was probably first celebrated in AD 336 in Rome.

The evergreen Christmas tree tradition began in Germany around AD 700, and then moved to England and on into America through Pennsylvanian German immigrants. People probably started decorating Christmas trees in the 16th century after Martin Luther first put candles on the Christmas tree.

Mistletoe, sharply-pointed holly leaves, symbolic of Christ’s crown of thorns and the red berries of drops of his blood has been used as a house decoration for thousands of years.

The term Yule dates from early Anglo Saxon celebrations of lengthening daylight after the winter solstice. It is a term derived from the Middle English Yollen, which means to “cry aloud.”

Santa Claus, based on Saint Nicholas, was a bishop of Myra in Lycia (Turkey) and attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Mr. Nicholas had a wonderful reputation for kindness and generosity. Legends grew of miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy people. The Christmas stocking tradition originated from a legend that Mr. Nicholas left gold coins in the stockings of three poor girls who needed the money for wedding plans and saved them from a life of prostitution.

The modern view of Santa Claus, his sleigh, reindeer, chimney and all else associated with him comes largely from the poem “The Night before Christmas,” written for his family in 1822. The poem was widely reprinted in magazines and newspapers. The red suit Santa wears is from Saint Nicholas’s traditional bishop’s robes.

The famous “Rudolf” appeared when the Montgomery Ward Stores gave away 2.4 million copies of a booklet called: “Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer,” in 1939. The booklet was written by Robert May from their advertising department. The song, a musical version of the poem, is now second only to White Christmas in popularity.

Irving Berlin wrote the song “White Christmas,” for the Holiday Inn film in 1942. It was sung by Bing Crosby. It had become the best-selling song of all time by the end of the Second World War.

The Nutcracker, a beloved ballet, created in 1892 and introduced to North America in the early 20th century by Russian touring companies. It has been performed by the world’s most prestigious dance companies, been on television, and adapted across North American providing numerous performances. The NYCB’s Nutcracker was seen across the continent when televised n the late 1950s. It has become a meaningful ritual for many Americans.

Source: Gold S, Chenoweth E, Rotella M, et al. NUTCRACKER NATION: How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World (Book). Reed Business Information / Reviews; 2003:69. Available from: MAS Ultra - School Edition, Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 10, 2008.

William Reville D. The evolution of Santa Claus and other Christmas traditions. Irish Times [serial online]. December 22, 2005. Available from: Newspaper Source, Ipswich, MA. Accessed August 10, 2008.

Simple Bachelorette Party Ideas

Bachelorette parties are the bride-to-be's opportunity to let herself go and enjoy the sheer bliss of being single for the last time. Put aside the worries of the wedding plans and just have a great time. Here are some bachelorette party ideas that can help you make it a blast for the bride-to-be.

Going dancing and drinking is, of course, a great way to whip up a nice bachelorette party. Whisk the bride off to a hopping nightclub and find a place that has a special theme night. Dressing up is fun for everybody. It is great fun to make utter fools of yourselves at parties like these. Karaoke bars are exceptional in that capacity. Getting up on stage and singing your favorite songs is laugh-out-loud entertainment. Get the whole group up there and let everyone know who the bachelorette is!

Gorging on junk food, dancing and drinking alcohol is one way of enjoying a bachelorette party but a different idea might be a relaxing trip to the day spa. Exfoliated elbows and clean pores are worth all the effort. Choose a spa that offers a wide spectrum of services like massages, mud wraps, makeovers and manicures. This is a wonderful stress reliever and the bride-to-be will be very appreciative. Relieving all the tension from the wedding plans will be just what she needs. Even for the organizer this is a good way to relax and to give the bridesmaids and the bride a restfull yet memorable bachelorette party. Top off the day with dinner at a nice restaurant.

Organizing fondue parties that make the most mess is a good way to let go. The shared pots of creamy melted cheese or chocolate encourage laughter, gossip and other small talk, and that is what you want to do right? You can do this at home if you have the equipment and the time to chop the vegetables, meat and fruits or you can reserve a big table at a fondue restaurant. Don't let the calories that you are consuming bother you, at least not this night. Let yourself go and enjoy the party. Messy fun makes for the best bachelorette parties.

Not only are you celebrating being single for the last time but celebrating being a child for the last time is also a great bachelorette party idea. The bride-to-be and a group of her friends are given clues and treasure maps for a scavenger hunt. The prize can be something like a bottle of wine or gift certificate for a massage or nice dinner. You can also play the juvenile games that you used to enjoy while you were a kid. Use a friend's house or garden and be as creative as you dare.

With the wedding fast approaching the brides thoughts are centered around her future. One of the best bachelorette party ideas is to have your fortune told. You can visit a tarot card reader or a psychic. It incites lots of giggles and gossip. If your friend, the bride-to-be is a lady (so to speak) and favors the old English ways then you can set up a Victorian-style tea party with all the fundamentals like scones, finger sandwiches, fancy cakes, hot tea and lace doilies. You can have the party at a friend's home or in a fancy tearoom if you are willing to indulge.

Evenings at the theater or a road trip are also some great bachelorette party ideas. You can have the party at a theme park or a water park. Go rock climbing, biking or anything that she likes to do. Organize a great party and enjoy your friend for the last time as a bachelorette.

Christmas Tree Tradition Through The Ages

Decorated evergreen trees are a beloved symbol of the Christian holiday of Christmas. However, history tells us that conifer trees were worshipped by various societies long before Christians caught on to the idea.

Ancient Egyptians were one of the first known civilizations to treasure the conifer. When the winter solstice arrived, the Egyptians used to move green date palm leaves inside to symbolize life over death. When Romans celebrated their winter solstice festival, Saturnalia, they decorated their homes with greenery and lights as a way of giving thanks for a good season and praying for another upcoming season of plenty. It is also said that the Druids used evergreens in their winter solstice rituals. They positioned evergreen branches over doors to ward off evil spirits and prevent them from entering their homes.

The evergreen tree’s association with Christianity dates back about 500 years ago to the early 16th century. As the story goes, St. Boniface was traveling through the woods of what is today northern Germany, when he came across a group of pagans that were worshipping an oak tree. St. Boniface was so angered by this that he cut the oak tree down. It is said that in the oak tree's place, a conifer tree grew almost immediately. In amazement, St. Bonifice declared that this was a divine symbol of the Christian faith, and from that time forward, conifer trees began to be associated with Christianity. Eventually, German people began to bring coniferous trees indoors at Christmastime and decorate them with candles to celebrate the holiday. We offer many Puerto Vallarta Villas and Condos for sale or rent in Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita, Conchos Chinas, Mismaloya, Puerto Nuevo, Marina Vallarta and more!

When Prince Albert of Germany married Queen Victoria of England, he brought his German tradition of the Christmas tree to England. The first year he was in England, he obtained a fir tree and had it decorated for his family. The people of England were so impressed by this, that the idea caught on rapidly, and soon everyone in England wanted their own "Christmas tree" in their homes.

This custom slowly spread to the new world. Originally, the Puritans who founded our country banned Christmas worldly celebrations. In 1851, a Cleveland minister allowed a Christmas tree in his church and nearly lost his job because of it. During that same year, the tradition became part of the free market economy when a farmer named Mark Carr harvested and hauled two sleds of evergreen trees to New York City. In spite of the Puritans' early resistance to the tradition, the idea of Christmas trees flourished in the United States. By 1900, one in five American homes had a Christmas tree. Christmas tree farms sprang up and farmers could barley meet the demand.

In 1890, a man by the name of F.W. Woolworth introduced to the United States the idea of decorating a tree with glass ornaments. Blown glass ornaments had long been a tradition in Europe. From 1870 to the 1930s, Germans made the finest glass ornaments of that time. German glass blowers were reported to have had nearly 5,000 different molds for variations and different styles of Christmas ornaments. At the turn of the century, there were over one hundred small glass blowing shops in Europe that were all producing Christmas ornaments. Today there are only two German glass-blowing factories that are capable of producing the precision required for popular ornament collections such as Christopher Radko.

The popularity of the Christmas tree continues to grow. The National Christmas Tree Association reports that in 2006, over 28 million live Christmas trees were sold in the United States. The use of an evergreen tree has become such a traditional symbol of the holiday season that it sometimes transcends religious boundaries. Today, many non-Christians choose to display decorated evergreen tree in their homes during the month of December. Today, artificial Christmas trees have also become a popular choice for many families, which has even spawned a debate over which is better: real versus artificial. Whatever your choice, decorate it well and enjoy it; you are taking part in a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

Irish Winter Traditions

The journey of winter is upon us; and travelling through the celtic countries, where Yule, New Year, Hogmagog, Christmas and the Winter Solstice have uniquely interlaced over time; each finding its own way to stand on the edge of nature while she sleeps. And so, over the coldest of seasons, her peoples have sought to connect the old and the new through song and dance, the death and rebirth of a new year!

Winter Solstice
While the Solstices were not as important to the ancient Irish as the major fire festivals; Lughnasadh (August 1); Beltane (May Day, May 1); Imbolc (February 1- Bridgit); and Samhain (November 1, Halloween), they were none the less celebrated. Of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the Winter Solstice was the most important, since it marked the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day. Many cultures celebrated this time to commemorate the birth of various gods. The Winter Solstice falls between two major fire festivals Samhain (sow-an) or Halloween and Imbolc.

In Newgrange, County Meath, there is an ancient tomb covered with beautiful artwork, which remains in darkness for much of the year. The double spiral on this site is one of the symbols which can be seen at the Newgrange site. Once a year, on the Winter Solstice, the tomb fills with light to reveal the beautiful artwork on the walls. While it seems best to leave its origins to the historians, there is no doubt that the ancient Irish considered this day important.

It also marked "The Shortest Day" or "The Darkest Midnight" and was cause for celebration, since - once the shortest day has passed, it meant the journey toward Spring could begin.

Going Door to Door
While the tradition of "caroling" and going door to door to sing for ones neighbors is only done during the Holiday Season in recent years. In times gone by, it was common to carol from door to door for many of the major festivals. It is thought that certain tunes were found particularly useful for this tradition.

The album "To Warm the Winters Night" celebrates this tradition. A dance entitled "The Horn Dance" was performed from All Souls to the Twelfth Night in hopes of bringing in the luck for the New Year! In many of the Celtic cultures, the tradition of going door to door and caroling or the idea of procession was common. All Souls Night or Samhain (sow- an) has come down to us as Halloween, when going door to door is still part of our culture.

"The Horn Dance" comes from Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire. Eight men danced through the village with antler horns on their heads in order to "bring in the luck" for the New Year. The tradition still continues in Abbots Bromley. This dance is thought to have its origins in Pre-Christian Fertility Rites.

The Kylemore Carols
The Kylemore carols are a beautiful collection of Christmas carols from the village of Kylemore. In the depths of harsh winter, a reminder of sacred celebration invests these haunting old melodies, many of which are sung to this day in Kylemore and elsewhere. For a sample of "The Darkest Midnight," arguably the most well-known and loved Kylemore Carol, see track number six on the album To Warm the Winter's Night.

Yule & the Yule Log
Yule marks the rebirth of the suns power. It is yet another symbol of death and rebirth - going from the darkness into the light. For many, Yule runs from before the Solstice until New Year's Day. Many people associate Yule with the "Yule Log," a piece of wood decorated with evergreens, mostly holly and candles. Holly was another ancient symbol for the Irish; it was thought to hold special properties, since it was "neither tree 'nor bush".

Little Christmas
Traditionally Yule ended on January 6th. The Christian Calendar celebrates "Little Christmas" on January 6th also. During my childhood, this was the day that the decorations were taken down and yet another turkey was cooked to mark the end of the season.

December and the Sun Gods
December marks the celebration of many solar "saviors" and Gods, usually on December 25th. Many of them have the word "Light" in their titles. They include, Baal, Dionysus and of course, Jesus Christ.

The Mummers
While the origin of the mummers remains unclear, they were still a vital part of Irish tradition up to the present century. The "Straw Boys" or "Mummers" dressed in disguise, often using straw to cover their faces, and went from door to door. They usually requested and received food or money or some token of gratitude for their "performance." This tradition was particularly strong in the North of Ireland. County Armagh has long been associated with mummers.

Hunting the Wren
The tradition of Hunting the Wren was originally associated with pagan ritual. Historically, a wren was captured and was though to bring luck for the new year. In modern times, the tradition of "hunting the wren" involves musicians who go from gathering to gathering playing music on "St. Steven's Day" (December 26th), and "passing the hat."

How To Host A Low-cost, No-stress Dinner Party

Entertaining friends and family in your home is a much bigger undertaking than many people realize. While it may seem like a more "low key" option than going out, in reality there are a lot of things that go into a successful dinner party it's no wonder that a host can easily get carried away and spend more money than intended. To help combat this trend, read on for five tips to help you plan an entertaining, original dinner party without overspending.

Keep it small.
Often times, people go overboard when planning dinner parties especially during the summer season and the holidays. You can prevent this by limiting your guest list to a number that will fit comfortably into the space you have (comfortably being the operative word). A good rule of thumb is to only invite as many people as can be seated around the table (without cramming extra chairs in the corners). If youâ're determined to have a larger guest list, you might consider skipping dinner in favor of appetizers and cocktails.

Keep it simple.
Avoid the temptation of going all-out gourmet for your dinner party it's extremely expensive and highly unnecessary. Instead, pull out your cookbooks or do some online searching. There are plenty of web sites that have full menus prepared, which can be searched by occasion, main ingredient, or any number of other identifying factors. And you're bound to find something that will be both delicious and cost-effective.

A good goal to have is to make your event a reflection of you. You want your guests to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves don't worry about impressing them with fancy caviar or overpriced champagne. Odds are your guests will appreciate a relaxed, well-executed get-together more than a stuffy, ultra-glam event, anyway. India Travel city is set of information about India which will give guideline for traveling in India. You can see how to travel in city, nearest tourist places and culture of city in India.

Embrace technology.
As mentioned previously, there are literally hundreds of online recipe and cooking forums. With just a little bit of research, you can find a wealth of great ideas for easy, delicious appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts and even cocktails (or mocktails for the non-drinking set always keep your guests in mind!).

Another great technological tool is the evite. Forget spending money on invitations and postage spend a little time designing a unique invitation online and send it out to your guests with a click of the mouse. Plus, evites allow you to make updates if needed, add guests, and monitor your RSVP list easily and conveniently.

Two words: pot luck.
A great way to limit the stress of planning and orchestrating a dinner party is to unload some of the responsibility. Consider asking guests to pitch in by bringing an appetizer, dessert or beverage to share. This allows you to focus on the main dish, while ensuring everyone will have something to munch on that they will genuinely enjoy. It's a good idea to coordinate who is bringing what so you don't end up with an unbalanced table, but it will save you a lot of work (and money).

Decor: less is more.
If you're determined to attach a theme to your dinner party, be careful not to go overboard. Choose a theme that can be visually represented without a lot of work or extra spending on props. With a little creativity small, simple decorations can easily create the overall effect you are trying to achieve, and won't break your budget for the event. If you aren't going the themed route, stick to simple items like fresh cut flowers and candles to create an enjoyable atmosphere that's both aesthetically pleasing and comfortable.

Remember, the goal of your dinner party should be to bring together a group of people you want to spend more time with, and to treat them to delicious food, entertaining conversation and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. With a little planning, hosting a no-fuss, inexpensive, but still wildly successful dinner party will be a piece of cake.

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