It seems like Christmas is right around the corner and you’re probably already busy decorating, buying gifts and getting ready to send out Christmas cards and ecards–but when you finally have the time to sit down and write them out it’s pretty easy to get writer’s block. Well, since today is Christmas Card Day, we just wanted to help you get started. Just click here and you’ll be directed to our blog that’s filled with lots of ideas for things you can add to your Christmas cards or at least help you get started with your own ideas.
“I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it’s dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play…”
The dreidel, a four-sided top, is one of the most well-known symbols of Hanukkah (http://www.aish.com/h/c/b/Why_Dreidel.html). Actually rarely made out of clay, functional and fun dreidels are created from a wide variety of materials and some dreidels are small works of art. (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/150987)
Starting at sundown on Saturday, December 8, and continuing through Sunday, December 16, Jews around the world will be playing dreidel, lighting the menorah, singing songs, eating special foods, and observing the holiday in joyous celebration.
Menorahs are lit at sundown each night for eight consecutive nights and range in styles and motifs from conservative to whimsical. (http://www.menorah.com/catalog2/shopdisplaycategories.asp?id=32&cat=+Menorahs) A menorah must have nine holders for candles or olive oil (burned with small floating wicks) – one for each night plus an extra one for the ‘helper,’ or shamash, used to light the others. Whereas Sabbath, or Shabbat, candles are lit in Jewish homes weekly, lighting the menorah is different because it does not usher in a holy period of time but instead commemorates a significant historical episode. Therefore, Hanukkah does not bring the same kinds of restrictions as Sabbath and is not even mentioned in the Torah; the events that inspired Hanukkah occurred after the Torah was written.
Specific blessings are said upon lighting the menorah and traditional songs of praise to God are sung in the glow of the lights afterward. Usually, age-old Hanukkah tunes are used, yet updated melodies and Hanukkah-related interpretations of contemporary music are widely available. (http://www.jewcy.com/news/four-of-the-maccabeats-have-a-new-hanukkah-pop-song-parody-medley) Similarly, new versions of traditional Hanukkah recipes, like latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil, are now popular for those who are counting calories or who are conscious of cholesterol. (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/crispy_potato_latkes.html)
From night number one through day number eight, Hanukkah is a festive holiday. Although giving gifts on Hanukkah is not really mandated at all, doing so adds to the excitement of the season — as does sending Hanukkah wishes to friends and family. Send your Hanukkah e-greetings today!
You don’t have to believe in Santa Claus to believe that St. Nicholas, a well-known fourth-century bishop is the real-life model for the more modern Santa. Nicholas was born to wealthy parents in the village of Patara, which at the time was Greek, but is now part of Turkey. Even as a young boy, he was devout in his Christian beliefs and remained so his entire life.
After his parents died in an epidemic, Nicholas developed
a reputation for his generosity as he used his inheritance
to attend to the sick and the poor and to distribute small gifts to children and other villagers. Additionally, many miracles were attributed to him and as his fame and reputation grew, he was, by popular consent, acclaimed
a saint. Hundreds of churches have been built and named
in his honor across the globe.
During the Middle Ages, he became an extremely popular figure, but was largely forgotten in Europe after the Reformation. His memory was kept alive, however, in Holland where he became known as Sinterklass. Eventually, the Dutch brought their traditions to New Amsterdam (New York City) where Sinterklass became known as Santa Claus.
Today, St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6 all around the world, and in many countries is still the main giver of gifts to children and those in need. In many countries, especially Europe, children still put out their shoes before going to bed on the evening of the 5th to find them filled the next morning with small gifts and treats.
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, merchants, children, students and others in various countries.
It’s National Cookie Day and what else could be more tantalizing than that wonderful aroma of just-baked cookies? And with Christmas just around the corner, it’s a great time to be thinking about all the wonderful and delicious kinds of cookies there are to make! From traditional sugar cookies loaded with icing and sprinkles to sophisticated truffles–there’s no end to the variations you’ll find at the holidays!
From http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/cookies.htm we found that cookies were first created by accident! Bakers used a small amount of cake batter to test their oven temperature before baking a large cake. These little test cakes were called “koekje”, meaning “little cake” in Dutch.
The earliest cookie-style cakes are said to date back all the way to 7th century Persia which was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. Cooking techniques, of course, spread to other parts of the world and by the 14th century, Renaissance bakers made many different kinds of cookies and cakes. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, baking took on a good deal of importance and was handled by master craftsmen. As technology improved during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, so did the ability of bakers to make a wide range of sweets, although the basic ingredients hadn’t changed that much over the centuries.
Today, whether you whip your ingredients into drop, molded, bar, rolled or refrigerated cookies, know that you are carrying on a much loved tradition…for cookies are not only enjoyable to make but even more wonderful to eat!
Here are just a few of the great websites that feature Christmas cookie recipes and history…enjoy!http://www.foodnetwork.com/12-days-of-cookies/package/index.html http://allrecipes.com/recipe/favorite-old-fashioned-gingerbread/ http://allrecipes.com/recipes/desserts/cookies/christmas-cookies/ http://www.marthastewart.com/275013/traditional-christmas-cookie-recipes/@center/276951/christmas-cookies http://www.bhg.com/christmas/cookies/favorite-christmas-cookies/ http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CookieHistory.htm
Click here to view the bluemountain.com website where you can find a great assortment of Christmas eCards for everyone on your list!
Happy December Birthday, You Unshakable Lovers of Life
Ambitious, reliable, and with an unshakable love of freedom, the individuals born during the month of December have a wrought-iron will to turn their ideals into reality. You build a solid foundation for yourself and use that to create an empire for all of your enterprising pursuits.
If born a fiery Sagittarius, you have an insatiable enthusiasm for life and spontaneity that is visible to everyone you meet. You see the world as your oyster; not only for you, but for everyone else as well. The pearls awaiting are big, bold, and brilliant—just the way you like them! Opportunity knocks at your door so often you might as well install a peephole and stand by to keep watch. Not only do you create your own good fortune, but you also possess an earnest faith in life that continually replenishes your spirit.
If you were born a Capricorn, you are renowned for your discipline, determination, and dedication in all you do. Said to be the sign of the professional, Capricorns are also focused on reputation and public standing. Once you set about to tackle a project, you will have an unwavering sense of commitment and drive to get things done. Dependable to say the least, people look to you for your leadership qualities.
Your birthstone, turquoise, is an ancient gem whose name comes from French and means “Turkish stone,” as it was believed to be commonly traded in Turkish bazaars before making its way to Europe. Considered “the gemstone of the people,” this blue-and-green stone is said to have protective properties and can benefit one’s health, wealth, and prosperity. Ancient Egyptians used it to decorate graves, and Persians wore it on the wrists and around the neck to preserve their good health. Nowadays, it is used in making fine, ornate jewelry.
The Narcissus, December’s birth flower,
comes from the Latin form of the Greek Narkissos. Hailing from Greek mythology, he was known as the figure so captivated by his own reflection, he eventually died and became the renowned flower. Representing faithfulness and modesty, Narcissus is also said to be given to the person you value as “the Only One.”
Famous December Birthdays
Celebrate your birthday this month with these famous figures:
Steve Allen, Kirk Douglas, Ira Gershwin, Howard Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Bette Midler, Jim Morrison, Sir Isaac Newton, Steven Spielberg, Donna Summer
Important December 2012 Dates
Advent begins 12/2
Hanukkah (begins and ends at sundown) 12/7—12/16
Christmas Eve 12/24
Boxing Day 12/26
New Year’s Eve Day 12/31