Christmas Magic

Not that long ago, Christmas was only one day… December 25th. People didn’t put up their trees until the night before and shopping didn’t start until around the 20th. Forget about stores advertising about sales and buying quickly.

Movies that illustrate this are:

“A Christmas Story” set in 1939

“Love Finds Andy Hardy” set in 1938

Then families started celebrating two days, the 24th and 25th to make the two sides of the family feel included. Trees were still freshly cut and dried out too quickly to allow them to be put up much earlier than the 21st. This fit with the Pagan celebrations of Yule, where they often decorated with ‘hanging of the greens’ ceremonies.

People started moving further away from one another that meant they needed to start their Christmas shopping a little earlier in order to mail them across the country or travel to visit in an attempt to get the whole family home for Christmas. Still decorating was limited to two weeks before Christmas.

A time came that stores started realizing that the major portion of their income came in the weeks before Christmas. They started making a big deal on the day after Thanksgiving. Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to make the Christmas selling season longer by making Thanksgiving a week earlier. The idea bombed.

A movie that illustrates this is:

“A Miracle on 34th Street”

Friday was reserved as the kick-off day for the Christmas season. Stores hired people to work late Thanksgiving night for the grand unveiling of the Christmas decorations on Friday morning. Santa arrived at the malls after he had traveled down 34th Street in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We still had the division between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What happened? Now Christmas items started showing up in some stores in August. Decorations were for sale with Halloween costumes and the stores started their Christmas decorating in mid-November. Santa had already been at the malls for two weeks!! On TV there were shows dedicated on how to survive Black Friday!! It was like boot camp for shoppers! Sales that never happened until Dec 26th were advertised a month earlier.

Jewish families felt like they had to compete with Christmas, giving more and more gifts than the traditional 8 that normally is given to children on Hannukah.

While I’m not a Christian, I still believe that the Christmas season is meant to be about family, love, appreciation, warmth, and light. It’s never meant to be about gross commercialization. Even in the original movie “Miracle on 34th Street”, they talked about selling simply to make a profit, and that was almost 60 years ago.

Then the pandemic hit, and rules and traditions changed drastically. Families were quarantined and had to stay home, and parents needed to come up with ideas for a Christmas version of the staycation. Most stores were closed but Amazon and online shopping took over. Many of us put up our Christmas trees early so the lights could bring joy during a dark time.

I used to be one of those who had a strict rule about not putting up Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving. My daughter usually ignored me and put her small Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving day. Eventually, we started putting all of the big trees and outside lights up right after dinner on Turkey day.

It’s been a rough two years and a lot of people feel the need for more and earlier.

There has been a lot of discussion, posts, and articles about decorating early.

Christmas these days is more than just one day, or two… it is a combination of many holidays that range from St. Nicholas Day to Santa Lucia Day to Winter Solstice and Yuletide. Why can’t Thanksgiving just be one of these daily holidays?

Thanksgiving isn’t going away or being ignored. It’s just now going to be part of the holiday season. Putting up a Christmas tree on November 1st doesn’t “cancel” Thanksgiving. A lot of people are now realizing that the traditional Thanksgiving traditions are a bit singular and racist, that it’s only the holy and pious Christian Pilgrims who counted and who included the so-called “savage” Indians to their feast, forgetting that the Wampanoag Natives provided the majority of the meat to the dinner.

As a descendent of several lines of Pilgrims, I know that the Pilgrims were not as perfect that many Christians want to believe. The Pilgrims didn’t create a Christian nation in the United States, but they did inspire the ideas that are part of the US Constitution; freedom of religion, a government representative of all of the citizens, and three branches of government. Those things need to be honored as well, and the Pilgrims not to be idolized.

Thanksgiving is no longer just turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, none of which were at the original “Thanksgiving”. Now they can include Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Japanese, Chinese, Scandinavian, British and French traditions and foods. While Thanksgiving is considered an American and Canadian holiday, those immigrants (and we all are immigrants, the only true Americans are the Native Americans) whose roots extend to other countries are importing their own spin on things.

There are good reasons to put up Christmas trees and lights earlier than usual:

It Could Make You Happier

Christmas Desserts (start baking earlier)

It’s Getting Cold (and Dark)

To Enjoy Them Longer

You’ll Have Somewhere to Take Christmas Card Photos

Singing Christmas songs, carols, and hymns

I watched the movie “November Christmas”. It’s one of my favorites and it doesn’t hurt that Sam Elliott is in it. I noticed that a lot of us are having November Christmases this year. Between the agony of the elections and the fears of the pandemic, we are exhausted and need some joy, some color, and some light. I’ve been reading that people are already putting up Christmas trees and listening to Christmas music and I’m doing the same. The Tribe put up their lighting display earlier than normal. I was so ready for this year to be over and if an early Christmas can make things better, I’m all for it. Normally, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving but not this year. This year Thanksgiving will be a part of Christmas. ~ November 2020

2021 wasn’t much better than the year before. We still have Covid surges to worry about. Trump followers waged an insurrection. I became a widow after my husband suddenly died. I moved to the otherside of the state. But I still watch “November Christmas” and once again, Thanksgiving, for many of us, will be part of Christmas. ~ November 2021

12 Days of Christmas

I posted a rather long article about the truth of this Christmas song that religious people love to say it’s all about their religion, but it’s not.

ADOPT A GRANDPARENT FOR CHRISTMAS.

VISIT A NURSING HOME, REHAB, ASSISTED LIVING, OR RETIREMENT HOME. SEND CARDS AND/OR FLOWERS, A GIFT, SHARE A MEAL, TAKE A GROUP TO SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS.

ADVENT CALENDARS

When I was a kid, my great-aunt, Auntie Emma, bought all of her grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews German paper Advent calendars. They probably cost a dollar each at the time, but for us they were magic. Opening each door each day before Christmas and it was ours alone and didn’t need to be shared with our siblings; another rarity. I am ordered a similar one from Amazon for $6. The Nutcracker Advent Calendar has little books, one for each day of the month, that are designed to hang on the tree. I have a small tree with white lights that these little books would be displayed surrounded by my Nutcracker collection. My dream advent calendar is this one from the Griswald’s Family Christmas in a Christmas Vacation. But it’s kind of outside my price range.

Here are some other ideas that have goodies behind the doors.. everything from candy to candles to booze. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/g4911/christmas-advent-calendar/ and https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/g29613883/alternative-advent-calendars/

I love these ideas for Advent Calendars, especially the first one with the wooden drawers:

Because there are so many choices in Christmas activities, events, and traditions, I’m going to post them alphabetically, unless they are time/date sensitive.

Aluminum Christmas Tree

My grandmother had one, complete with the color wheel.

Appetizers

Christmas Queso https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/christmas-queso-2267884

Roasted Mixed Nuts

Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/shrimp-pineapple-skewers-2267893

Aromatherapy

Great Holiday Blend

5 drops Myrrh
5 drops Cedarwood Himalayan
6 drops Orange
5 drops Frankincense

This holiday blend of Frankincense and Myrrh has a warm, rich, spicy aroma. Add the oils to a glass bottle and mix well by rolling the bottle in between your hands. Use in an aroma lamp or electric diffuser.

http://www.aromathyme.com

SWEET SMELLS OF CHRISTMAS

3 bay leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 c. whole cloves
2 slices each of lemon and orange

Simmer to fragrance your home.

BLANKETS AND AFGHANS

Bling and Glam Ornaments

BOTTLEBRUSH TREES

BOWS

BREAKFAST FOR CHRISTMAS OR YULE MORNING

Farmhouse Breakfast

Ham and Cheese Omelets

Hash Browned Potatoes with Onion

Oven-baked French Toast
1/3 cup butter
6 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 slices thick white bread

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Have one oven rack in the lowest position and
the other in the middle.
Grease two cookies sheets with one tablespoon butter each.
Lightly beat eggs; stir in milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Dip bread in egg mixture, coat both sides.
Place 6 slices coated bread on each sheet.
Dot with butter.
Place a sheet on each rack.
Bake 15 minutes, switching pans once, until bread is golden brown.
Dust with more powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam.

Sunrise Orange Juice
Make orange juice really special.
Freeze cranberry juice cocktail into ice cubes, then fill your juice
pitcher and glasses with cranberry cubes before adding freshly-squeezed
orange juice.

BRITISH ANCESTRY CHRISTMAS

Yorkshire Pudding

BUBBLE LIGHTS

Remember Bubble Lights? You can still get them and now they come in clear too. I have several strings of ones in different colors, but I’ve rarely used them. Maybe sometime I’ll do an old-fashioned tree using my smallest tree with these bubble lights, silver tinsel, my oldest glass balls, strings of popcorn, dried orange slices…

CANDLES

CERAMIC CHRISTMAS TREES

I keep seeing ads for retro ceramic Christmas trees “just like grandma had”. Well, I’m a grandma, and I not only have one, but it’s one that I made myself. That was in 1975 and it still works as well as it did back then. The base has a music box that plays Christmas songs.

Christmas Fashion

Christmas Gift Ideas

 Acrylic Paint Set https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EVJ8Q0Q

Bamboo Charging Station https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095PLSNWH

Bluetooth Shower Speaker https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IGUUYTI

Car Emergency Kit https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FKMM9GD/

Heated Car Blanket https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006A1PGDE

Holographic Nail Powder https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081JVWBXT/

Identity Protection Roller Stamps Wide Kit https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074MGBXLS/

Lighted Vanity Makeup Mirror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076Q9XDN4

Little Book of Life Skills https://www.amazon.com/dp/1538751704

Matte Liquid Eyeliner Eyeliner Pen  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006HCJXBM/

Menu Planner Notepad https://www.etsy.com/listing/547886878/gold-meal-planning-notepad-weekly-meal

Mermaid Blanket https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LWL5IXF/

Smead Cascading Wall Organizer https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BC67LD5/

SoundBot Bluetooth Beanie https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0785GH9HK

Soap Gift Set https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WN43AYE

Sparkler Studs https://www.etsy.com/listing/1130639539/sparkler-studs

 Square Glass Jars https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F8VGZQZ/

Tiny Planetarium https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/tiny-planetarium-see-the-stars-by-nick-perilli

Veggiespize Spiral Slicer https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KOWGZJE

Weekly Meal Planning Pad https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UM42QBU/

Christmas Plants

Amaryllis

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Tree (live)

Cyclamen

Frosty Fern

Norfolk Island Pine

Orchid

Paperwhites

Poinsettia

Rosemary

https://www.countryliving.com/gardening/g3869/christmas-plants/

CHRISTMAS TEA

I’ve always loved to go to a high tea. And I’d love to host a high tea myself someday. This would be my menu.

Tiny Cups of Tomato Basil Bisque Soup
Mini Cheese Quiche
Pasta Salad with Christmas Tree Shaped Pasta
Broccoli Salad
Fruit Salad with Whipped Cream
Savory Cream Puffs with Chicken Salad Filing
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Tuna Salad Tea Sandwiches
Cucumber Christmas Tree Shaped Sandwiches https://www.teatimemagazine.com/christmas-tree-tea-sandwiches-recipe/
Scones with Lemon Curd, Raspberry Jam, and Devonshire Cream
Tiny Cream Puffs with Custard Filling
Frosted Gingerbread Cupcakes
Fruitcake Slices
Christmas Petits Fours
Christmas Cut out Cookies
Princess Cream Cheese Brownies
Russian Teacakes
Pecan Tassies
Divinity
Fudge
Assorted Teas with decorated sugar cubes

Christmas Toy Drive

CHRISTMAS TRAIN SET

My grandfather worked for the railroad.

I remember the miniature train village at the Seattle Center inside of the Food Circus.

I remember the Christmas window display at JC Penney’s of the miniature train set. If you put your hand against the handprint, you could make the train run or stop.

I grew up wanting a train set of my own when I was a little girl, only to be told that train sets were only for little boys, not little girls, how about a doll and dollhouse.

Yes, I wanted those too.

After I grew up, I bought my own damned train set and now I have that and a large miniature village AND a dollhouse AND lots and lots of dolls. Don’t ever tell any little girl what they can’t have!!!

Trains Under the Christmas Tree: Remembering Electric Trains of Christmas Past

CHRISTMAS TREES

Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. But, Christians feel that Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. What they don’t say is that Germans called these trees “Paradeisbaum” (Paradise Trees).

St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. This oak tree was not just any oak tree, it was Thor’s Oak (also known as Donar’s Oak), a hallowed tree for the locals. This tree stood near the village of Geismar (today part of the town of Fritzlar) in northern Hesse, and was a main point of veneration of the Germanic deity known among the West Germanic Chatti tribes as “Donar”(High German: Donner = thunder) and to northern Germanics as Thor. In 723, and in a fit of rage, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. This marked the beginning of the Christianization process of the non-Frankish tribes of northern Germany. St. Boniface, (was known at the time as the Anglo-Saxon missionary Winfrid) felled the great tree to convey the superiority of his cult over theirs. According to Christian recounts, “a great wind” fell the tree, splitting into four pieces, exposing a new seedling. While this was dismissed as a myth, the symbolism of this is the death of Paganism and the birth of Christianity in the region. Winfrid did, however, use the wood of the oak to build a chapel in Fritzlar.

Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles, if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one crisp winter evening around the year 1500, composing a sermon, he was awed by the beauty of a group of evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. He was struck by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles. Christian recounting says he lighted the candles in honor of Christ’s birth.

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. Some counts say that the tradition started with the Hessian troops during the Revolutionary War. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’ second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. Even as late as 1851, Henry Schwan, a Cleveland pastor, nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. In the mid-1850’s, President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869) arranged to have the first Christmas tree in the White House. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.

The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition. It was President Calvin Coolidge (1885-1933) who started the National Christmas Tree Lightning Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.

Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn’t sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape then wild ones.

Put up one, or two, or eight. There are so many choices. At one time families went out in the woods to cut down a fresh tree, usually just days before Christmas, since trees dried out so quickly in a fire-warmed home. Later, families went to a Christmas tree farm or lot, again, just days before Christmas. These days, many trees are now artificial and can be purchased just about any time of the year and put up whenever the family chooses. Trees use to be only green (fresh) until silver aluminum trees came out in the early ’60s. Later fresh green trees were flocked white or pink or spray painted. Now you can buy artificial trees in every color including black and purple which allows to some fantastic designer trees.

CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATING TIPS

CHRISTMAS TREE SKIRTS AND COLLARS

CHRISTMAS WITCHES

Harry Potter

Samantha from Bewitched

Gillian from Bell Book and Candle

COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS WORLDWIDE CANDLE LIGHTING MEMORIAL SERVICE

The Compassionate Friends Candlelighting Memorial Service

“Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the annual Worldwide Candle Lighting (WCL), a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. TCF’s WCL started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance and has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held, and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes, as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died and will never be forgotten.”

We’ve done this every year since 2000, after my daughter died. Now I will light two candles. Three… one for my husband, one for my daughter, and one for a baby son I never had a chance to hold.

We also will be holding a virtual candle lighting for those who would prefer to attend virtually. We will have four programs in the

Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Register below for your time zone.”

“Every year you are invited to post a message in the Remembrance Book which will be available, during the event, at TCF’s national website. The Remembrance Book will be open to post a message Wednesday, December 1st, through Monday, December 13th. Photos can be posted on our Worldwide Candle Lighting Facebook page.”

WCL

DECORATING: PINK/BLUSH/ROSE GOLD

DECORATING: UNUSUAL

Even my house protector Gargoyle gets dressed up for Christmas.

DECORATING: WHITE, GOLD AND SILVER

DINNERWARE

FIREPLACE AND MANTEL DECORATIONS

FRONT DOOR DECORATIONS

FROZEN

Cream cheese igloo and olive penguins, the 4th picture of one that I made for a Christmas party in 1996.

GERMAN ANCESTRY RECIPES

These are an old German holiday cookie….

White Pfeffernuesse Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup chopped candied citron
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour with baking powder, cinnamon,
nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at
high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add
citron and lemon peel, beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add
flour mixture, beating with a wooden spoon until smooth. Refrigerate
for several hours or overnight. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2
inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until
set but not brown. Remove and cool completely on the rack. Before serving,
sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
Source: McCall’s Holiday Baking and Entertaining, 1982

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS

Ghosts of Christmas Spell

It is appropriate that Larentia, the Roman mother goddess of friendly ghosts, was honored today. Traditionally, December is a time when ghosts are active. All we have to do is think of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to understand this. As the year draws to a close, it is time to honor our ancestral spirits and any friendly spirits that have taken up residence with us. Prepare the following sachet to protect your home and to welcome friendly spirits. In an attractive scrap of fabric tie up a pinch of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, one crushed bay leaf, and a tablespoon of dried orange peel. Tie it up with a green ribbon, and leave it near a window, or put a pinch in an old shoe and leave it on your porch; a place where house spirits frequently dwell. End by lighting a green candle and saying: “Friendly spirits alone are welcome in this place. Come in
peace, or come not at all. As I will, so mote it be.”
By: James Kambos

GIFTWRAPPING

Gingerbread

Lemon-Topped Gingerbread

Photo by u042eu043bu0438u044f u0427u0430u043bu043eu0432u0430 on Pexels.com

I made this every Christmas for my kids, they didn’t care for gingerbread cut-out cookies, but they loved the gingerbread cake. The lemon topping is like lemon curd and then we topped both with whipped cream. It’s still a favorite of mine.

Lemon-Topped Gingerbread

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Lemon Sauce (below)

LEMON SAUCE
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 325°.
Spray loaf pan, 8 1/2 × 4 1/2 × 2 1/2 inches, with cooking spray.
Beat all ingredients except Lemon Sauce in medium bowl with electric
mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.
Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
Pour into pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out
clean.
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.
Serve warm or cool with Lemon Sauce.

LEMON SAUCE:
Mix sugar and cornstarch in 1-quart saucepan.
Gradually stir in water.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and
boils.
Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Serve warm or cool.

HISTORY

I have had people tell me that I am biased against other religions, which isn’t at all true. I am biased against other people demanding I have to accept, embrace and respect their religion as they see it; that I need to be just like them, or else I will forever burn in hell as a heretic. I object to religions teaching their followers stories based on lies or fantasies. We celebrate Santa Claus during Christmas, but very few people believe those stories to be true. Yet, Christians insist that the stories about a virgin birth (and only their’s) are true and God-ordained. If Christians (primarily) would learn the theology and history about their religion, and especially Christmas and other holidays, and could still embrace their faith, there just might be peace and love and acceptance.

The History of Christmas https://moondancepages.com/christmas-history/

Krampus

“December 5, Krampusnacht, is the night of the Krampus, Yuletide Beast, who is Santa’s partner in Germany and some other places.” ~ Selena Fox”

On Krampusnacht, December 5th, men dressed as Krampus drink a bunch of alcohol, run through the streets, and frighten children. Often, they chase delinquent children around and hit them with sticks.

The Krampus costume is traditionally made up of a hand-carved wooden mask and a suit made from sheep or goat skin. Cowbells are worn around the wearer’s hips. Costumes can be pretty pricey in Europe, and now they’re usually made with less expensive materials, like faux fur and face paint.

The folklore of Krampusnacht goes back at least a thousand years. The origin of Krampus is mostly unknown, but most anthropologists agree that the tradition is pre-Christian, going back to pagan mythology. Traditionally, St. Nicholas and Krampus appear together, working as a team. St. Nicholas rewards the good children, while Krampus punishes the naughty ones. Today, Krampusnacht is celebrated in many places across Europe, and has even become popular in the United States. In 2013, over 200 Krampuses participated in Austria’s first ever annual national Krampusnacht. In Clintonville, Ohio, on December 5th of 2015, the first Krampus parade was held and the residents have begun to make it a regular tradition. On both the west and east coasts, in Seattle and Philadelphia, other Krampus parades are held to signify the beginning of the Christmas season.”

La Befana

“The tradition of La Befana may predate Christianity, though it has adapted to Christian culture. The name may be a derivative of Bastrina, after the Sabine/Roman goddess named Strina. But others maintain it derives from the word “epiphany,” and they hold that the Magi stopped by La Befana’s home on their way to visit Jesus.

According to legend, the Magi invited her to come along on their journey, but she declined, saying she had too much housework to do. After they left she changed her mind. But it was too late. She couldn’t find them, and she never found her way to the baby Jesus.”

Luminarias

Ceremony of Angel Lights
© 1996 by Silver Ravenwolf

You can perform this ceremony at any time during the year. If you are
Christian, you may wish to perform it around Christmas. If you are Wiccan,
you may choose Candlemas (February 2) or Yule (December 22 this year,
1999). Those of the Jewish faith may prefer Hanukkah. However, if you
like to do things outdoors, then Summer Solstice would be an ideal time.

Supplies Needed:
20 lunch-size paper bags
20 votive candles
A pair of scissors
An angel pattern
Sand or non-flammable cat-litter (at least one cup per bag)

Trace the pattern of an angel on each paper bag, then cut out the angel. Put one
cup of sand/cat-litter in the bottom of each bag. Place the candle on top of the
sand. Arrange the bags so they make a path to the alter-ten on either side.

The theme of this ceremony is to learn to walk with the angels. The officiator
of the ceremony goes through first, lighting each candle, then lighting the
illuminator candles on the altar (altar candles). As each candle is lit, he/she
says:

Guardian angel, take my hand, I am ready.
Angels of air, creating words and thoughts
Spreading the sweet air of wisdom with each candle flame
I walk with you on the path of light-
Out of darkness and into the radiance of the spirit.
I now guide the way.

Each person follows after, saying:

Guardian angel, take my hand, I am ready.
Angels of air, creating words and thoughts
Spreading the sweet air of wisdom with each candle flame
I walk with you on the path of light-
Out of darkness and into the radiance of the spirit.

Stop at each set of candles and ask for some sort of help, or say something
that carries an expression of honor and joy. For example, you could say: “I
seek wisdom,” “I thank the Goddess for my health,” etc. You need not make the
requests or say the words of honor aloud. Only Divinity and the angels need
hear. When each individual reaches the altar, he or she should perform some
sort of devotion, then step aside.

When everyone is finished, the officiator of the ceremony walks balk down the
path, extinguishing each candle. At the end of the path, he or she says:

Guardian angel, thank you for walking with me.
Angels of air, stay if you like, go if you must.
May I always walk with you on the path of light-
Out of the darkness and into the radiance of the spirit.
Hail and farewell.

He or she then hands the angel candles to those who participated in the
ceremony, so that they may take them home and use them on their altars.

MEDIEVAL CHRISTMAS

Camlann’s most popular banquet offering of the year:

Join us in sharing the warmth and splendor of a 14th century Christmasse, with First Foot crossing the Christmas Threshold; presenting the salte; slicing trenchers, toasting to “Wassail!” and “Drinke Hail”; and lighting the Yule Candle.

Trumpets announce a procession of servers bearing the magnificent bors hede and platters laden with wondrous victuals. In all, the three hour feast will include 12 dishes served in three courses, as gaily clad minstrels entertain with medieval Yuletide carols and story songs accompanied by the lute, percussion, and bells.

Seating is limited to 42 guests per night. Reservations are taken by order of postmark. Medieval clothing is encouraged, but not required. You may arrive early to rent attire at our Clothier Shoppe. This and our Scribe’s Shop (with unique holiday gifts) will open from 5:30 to 6 pm.

Yule Menu

.Cours i

WASSAIL (Ypocras, a spiced wine for toasting)

TRENCHER BREAD (thy plate)

ONIONS Y-BAKED

FENBERRY PYE (meat & fenberries)

ROSTE PORK – BOURBLIER DE SANGLIER (pork roast in wild boar sauce)

AMIDON TRIED (Almond Pudding)

TABLE WINE – MUSTE (spiced juice)

.Cours ii

MINCES (steamed greens)

EGREDOUCE (sour & sweet beef and onions)

ROSTE FYSSH – CRUSTADE OF EERBIS (salmon stuffed with greens & herbs)

ALMOND FRITTURS

TABLE WINE – MUSTE

Cours iii

SALAT (fresh herbs and greens)

GEES Y-FARCED IN SAUCE MADAM (fruit-stuffed roast goose)

CRUSTADE LOMBARD (Italian custard)

FRESH FRUIT & CHEESE

WHOLE SPICES (to refresh the palate)

TABLE WINE – MUSTE

http://www.camlann.org/yule.htm

MERINGUE KISSES

1meringuekisses

MERINGUE KISSES
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla or 1/4 tsp. almond extract
1-2 drops red or green food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheets with foil. Beat egg whites with a rotary beater or electric mixer at moderate speed until foamy; stir in salt and cream of tartar, add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and food coloring, if you wish to tint meringue a pastel color. Beat hard at highest speed until meringue is glossy and forms peaks that stand straight when beater is withdrawn.

Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets, leaving surface peaked or smooth into rounded caps. If you prefer, pipe meringue through a pastry bag, fitted with a medium sized plain or star tip making each kiss about 1 1/2 inch diameter.
Bake 35-45 minutes, until creamy-white and firm. For crisp kisses, turn off oven and let kisses cool in oven 2-3 hours without opening door. For chewier kisses, lift foil and kisses to wire rack to cool. Peel kisses from foil, using a spatula to help loosen, if necessary. Store airtight. 20 calories per cookie. Yield: 3 1/2 dozen.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
Scald the cream; while barely simmering, stir in the corn syrup and butter, just until melted.
Turn off heat. Stir in chocolate and cocoa powder, leaving (about 5 minutes) until chocolate has melted. Stir gently until smooth.
Refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours, stirring occasionally until mixture is of a spreadable consistency.

Mincemeat Pies

Mince pies are descended from Christmas pies, which contained a variety of meats as well as fruit and spices.

Christmas pies were very much bigger than the tiny mince pies we eat today. One pie is recorded as having among its ingredients; a hare, a pheasant, a capon, two rabbits, two pigeons, two partridges, the livers of all these animals, as well as eggs, pickled mushrooms and spices. Sometimes these pies could weigh as much as 220 lbs. with iron hands to hold them together while they were baking.

Jack Horner was steward to the Abbot of Glastonbury, and he had to take a pie to King Henry VII as a present from the Abbot. Under the crust were the title deeds of twelve manors sent to the Kind in the hope that he would not pull down Glastonbury Abbey. It is said that King Henry received only eleven deeds. What happened to the missing deed? That well known nursery rhyme lives on to remind us.

Christmas pies used to be oblong or square in shape. They came to be called ‘crib pies’ because they were similar in shape to the manger. These were forbidden by Oliver Cromwell at the same time as he also forbade Christmas in the mid-seventeenth century, especially those that had a little pastry figure to represent the baby Jesus placed on top. Christmas was re-instated when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, by which time the pies had become round and the pastry “Jesus” had disappeared forever. These came to be known as mince pies and contained ingredients similar to the ones we use today.

As time went on, mince pies became smaller and smaller. Another name for them was ‘wayfarers’ pies since they were given to visitors during the Christmas holiday. It was thought to be lucky to eat twelve mince pies in twelve different houses during the twelve days of Christmas to ensure a happy twelve months for the year ahead.

http://www.christmas-time.com/ct-mince.htm

Mom’s Lime Jello Salad

My mom made this every Thanksgiving and Christmas

Lime Jell-O Mold

2 small pkgs. lime Jell-O

24 marshmallows

1 large can crushed pineapple

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 cup chopped nuts

Dissolve Jell-O in water. Add marshmallows and melt in pan over low heat on the stove. Let cool until thick. Add pineapple, drained. Whip cream and fold in the above mixture. Add nuts and chill.

MOVIES

Lemon Drop Kid

Pocket Full of Miracles

Bell, Book and Candle

I watch Bell Book and Candle at Halloween but technically it’s a Christmas movie because it’s set at Christmastime. Maybe I’ll watch it again sometime before Christmas.”

In the late 1950s, during the Christmas holiday season, Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd, a free spirit with a penchant for going barefoot, is bored, a little depressed and restless in life. She admires her new neighbor, publisher Shep Henderson, who lives above her rare African art store and ground floor apartment. When Shep arrives upstairs and unlocks his own front door he discovers Gillian’s aunt Queenie rummaging around in his living room. She also lives in the building and has her own curiosity, because he’s recently moved in and she seems to want to know more about him by studying his belongings. Her excuse is that she came in to shut his window as it was snowing outside.

Gillian takes revenge by using her Siamese cat and familiar, Pyewacket, to cast a love spell on Shep, who becomes immediately enamored with Gillian. She will use him more as a pseudo boyfriend and close companion, as witches, according to the film’s plot, cannot (or unusually rarely) fall in love.

Shep then is compelled the next morning, after staying up all night talking and canoodling Gillian out on the town, to visit Merle at her apartment to break up suddenly with her on the day of the marriage. Gillian eventually realizes that with Shep’s total obsession for her and proposal of marriage, she must make a choice, as, in the film’s plotline, witches who fall in love lose their supernatural powers. Months later, with Gillian moping and realizing that she had indeed fallen in love with Shep for real, she is too proud to confront him. Pyewacket turns up at Shep’s office, climbing through his open window to find him too in an irritable mood, also unhappy about his life in general. Capturing Pyewacket in his wastepaper basket, he returns him to Gillian’s store and discovers she has lost her magic powers because she can now cry (witches apparently cannot cry unless they are in love and have lost their powers).”

When I worked at Sun Coast Video, Christmas Vacation played on the video monitors non-stop for a week, but it’s still one of my favorites…
Of course, you all know that the kid who plays Rusty is Leonard on The Big Bang Theory.. right?

I own copies of most Christmas movies, so I watch those on DVD or Bluray, although some are still on VHS courtesy of Sun Coast videos and my employee discount. I’m not sure I brought home much money that year.

It’s a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story
White Christmas
Holiday Inn
The Santa Clause (all three)
White Christmas
Santa Claus the Movie
Jingle All The Way
Last Holiday
Surviving Christmas
Noel
Christmas Vacation
Home Alone 1&2
The Christmas Gift (John Denver)
November Christmas
Scrooged
Scrooge (Albert Finney)
Miracle on 34th Street (three different versions
Polar Express
The Grinch
Prancer
he Ref
The Bishop’s Wife
The Preacher’s Wife
All I Want for Christmas
George Balanchine’s Nutcracker


Babes in Toyland (Annette Funicello)

On my 11th birthday, I was treated to a day at the movies to see Babes in Toyland. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.


One Magic Christmas
The Man Who Came To Dinner
Meet John Doe
Charlie Brown Christmas
Ice Age Christmas
Muppet Christmas Carol
Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol
Christmas Comes to Willow Creek
Christmas Visitor (set in Australia)
Eloise at Christmastime
The Gathering
The Homecoming: A Christmas Story
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
The Man in the Santa Claus Suit
A Mom for Christmas
The Night They Saved Christmas
A Smoky Mountain Christmas

MULLED CRANBERRY BREW

1 pint cranberry juice
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1/2 lemon peel, cut into strips
3/4 quart (1 bottle) Burgundy wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Syrup can be made ahead. Combine cranberry juice, water, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Strain.

Combine syrup with wine and lemon juice; heat, but DO NOT BOIL. Serve in preheated mugs with a sprinkling of nutmeg. The syrup can be made ahead, kept in the refrigerator, and combined with the wine and lemon juice before serving.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

The Night Before Christmas in Seattle
by Sue Carabine
Written in 1999


“Twas the night before Christmas
Up in the Northwest
And the folks in Seattle
Were feeling their best.

Kids urging their parents, saying,
“Hurry, be quick,
Or we’ll miss that great
Christmas Parade of the Ships.”

We must hang our stockings,
And Nick’s cookies must bake;
Please, let’s get going
Or he’ll have none to take.”

So mamas and papas,
Finished up what they’d started,
And soon left behind
A forlorn Pike Place Market.

This was, after all,
A most heavenly season,
And they’d let their kids have
What they wanted… within reason!

Most people’s hearts
Were as light as a feather,
And not many were giving
Much thought to the weather.

There had been a light rain
For most of the day
And now snow was blowing
Across Elliott Bay.

The snowflakes got bigger
As the storm spread inland,
And couples snuggled close
As they walked hand in hand.

Dads teased their youngsters with,
“Oh, dear, no!
Maybe Santa got stuck and
His reindeer won’t go.”

Now as we all know,
Nothing stops old St. Nick,
And the routes that he travels
Are most carefully picked.

As he headed up north
And flew over Rainier,
He saw the beautiful lights
Of Seattle appear!

The reindeer were cruising
Just as fast as they could,
Their most favorite folks lived
In this neck of the woods.

Then all of a sudden
Visibility was gone,
And the number of miles
Santa saw ahead: None!

Where was the Kingdome
And Discovery Park
He stared and he squinted
But things were so dark.

To Dasher and Dancer
He yelled out, “Whoa!”
But before they had time
To begin to go slow.

Something strange had appeared
Right there in their path,
And if Nick’s hands had not
Been so full he might laugh.

The last thing he remembered,
He’d flown by a seagull,
And now here he was, stuck
Atop the Space Needle!

He pushed and he pulled
And he twisted… no luck.
On this night before Christmas
Stuck 600 feet up!

What was he to do,
There was no time to delay.
His children would suffer
If he didn’t get on his way.

Well, not only was Nick
In this dire predicament.
But below in the restaurant
The mayor pulled a ligament.

He was there with his family and
Some of his friends.
When they heard a loud crash
And were spinning on end!

The revolving restaurant
Was out of control,
The chef hanging on for dear life,
The pour soul!

Well, no one was hurt,
Except for their pride,
Some even confessed
They’d enjoyed the thrill ride.

Now when they’d slowed down
And reached normal pace,
Removed gravy from their hairdos
And egg from their face.

They heard a loud yelling
From way up on high
Went out to the deck
And gazed up at the sky.

They couldn’t believe what
Had happened to Nick,
And when they thought of the kids,
Well, it just made them sick.

Something had to be done
And done right away,
They yelled back up to Nick
and that this to say:

“Don’t worry, dear Santa,
We’ll all go for help,
Try to stay calm and please,
Rudolph, don’t yelp.

“We’ll find a way to remove
You from there;
You looks so ungainly
Stuck up in the air.”

So the mayor of Seattle said
He would take charge,
And use KOMO News 4
To Address the public at large.

Santa needed some help
From all who were around,
From Lake Washington
Out toward Puget Sound.

The guys at the navy
Shipyard making merry
Said they’d like to help,
As did those on the ferry.

Then the mayor, well, he heard
From Pacific Science Center,
‘Cause the brilliant nerds there
Said they would be mentors.

So they put forth a plan
That they knew just might work,
And the mayor, when he heart it,
Felt quite a perk!

A call was then placed to the
Boeing Airport folk,
Who at first when they listened
Thought it was a joke:

Santa Claus stuck with his
Reindeer up high
On Seattle’s Space Needle?
They laughed till they cried.

But they got in the spirit with
All the strength they could muster
And soon had adapted
Two very large thrusters.

They were quickly transported
Out to the Space Needle,
Then the thrusters were hoisted
to Santa who wheedled

Then onto his sleigh
Just as quick as a wink,
And he laughed and he giggled
And felt in the pink!

But, alas and alack,
That didn’t quite make it…
A little more power
Was needed to shake it.

So they turned to plan B,
With paper and pen,
Listed the names of
The tall and strong men.

Now, there in Seattle
Are heroes galore,
Among them are sportsmen
Whom all fans adore.

The Sonics, the Seahawks,
And Mariner’s too,
If they helped unstick Santa
‘Twould be quite a coup!

A ladder they’d build
Made of men strong and tall,
To reach up and push Santa,
Sled, Reindeer and all!

The Seahawks as foundation,
The Mariners climbed next,
One the top were the Sonics;
They shoved, but were vexed.

The crowd was so sad,
And a small child who stood by said,
“Please let me help push
St. Nick to the sky.”

So he climbed to the top and yelled,
“All push on three,”
So everyone counted
As loud as could be.

Then with one final effort to the
Heavens the sleigh soared,
The crowd and the athletes and
Child, how they roared!

And the most thankful Santa
Called back in delight,
“Merry Christmas, dear Seattle,
A most grateful Good Night!!”

NORWEGIAN TRADITIONS

Rib Roast with Crackling

1.3 kg loin of pork with ribs
salt
pepper
300 ml/5 1/2 fl. oz. water or stock
mustard
Score the rind and saw through bones at two and a half-inch intervals. Rub the roast with salt, pepper, and a little mustard and refrigerate for two days. The roast should be steamed to make the meat juicy and the rind crisp. Lay the roast rind side down in a flat pan. Add 50 ml/2 1/2 fl. oz. of water. Cover the pan with tinfoil. Place the pan at the bottom of the oven and steam for 20 min. at 375°F/200°C. Remove foil. Put a rack on top of the pan and place the ribs on the rack rind side up.
Place the pan on the lowest rung and roast at 350°F/175°C for about an hour for plain ribs and 1-2 hours for ribs with the loin. Do not baste. You will get a crispier crackling by turning up the heat to 500°F/275°-300°C towards the end. Never leave the oven unattended when the rind begins to blister and pop. Serve with rib fat, boiled potatoes, Norwegian spiced cabbage, apple wedges, prunes, and stirred lingonberries. Cold ribs are also served with lefse on the Christmas buffet table.

NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING NOT EVEN A MOUSE

Mice Cheese Balls

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 C (8 oz) pepper jack cheese, softened-or use whatever cheese you like
1 1/4 C finely chopped smoked almonds
julienne carrots for tails
32 sliced almonds, toasted, for ears
hot pepper jelly for serving, if desired
crackers for serving
Mix the two cheeses.
For each mouse: Shape 2 Tblsp into a mouse-ish body.
Roll in chopped nuts.
Add tail and ears.
Cover and chill at least two hours.
Serve with crackers and hot pepper jelly.

MISTLETOE

NUTCRACKER

ORNAMENTS

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS (RAK’S) FOR CHRISTMAS

Give a senior the ‘gift’ of seeing Christmas lights

Invite a niece or nephew over for tea and sympathy

Donate to Habitat for Humanity so next year someone will have a home for
Christmas

Arrange for a family conference call on Christmas Day

Anonymously mail money to someone who needs it

Adopt a senior citizen or grandparent.

Donate to the needy – money, clothes, food.

At the onset of colder weather, donate warm clothing, blankets, etc. for the homeless.

Invite a bunch of friends, family and neighbors to go Christmas Caroling
and end up back home for hot chocolate.

Take a small Christmas tree, a Christmas wreath, or grave blanket to the grave of a family member who died.

Visit a nursing home and take homemade cookies and little gifts to the residents.

Make a dedication on a local radio station to all those who smiled at strangers that day

Volunteer to answer phones for a suicide hotline

RECIPES I LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS

Broccoli Salad

2-3 brunches of fresh broccoli
1/2 sweet onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup bacon, crumbled
Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Make the dressing first, whisk the sugar into the mayonnaise, and then add the vinegar. Refrigerate while you make the salad. Cut up the broccoli into small flowers. I usually discard the stems, but if you like that part, cut those up too. Chop the onion, either thick or fine. Mix the broccoli flowers, onion, cheese, bacon bits, and sunflowers. Add the dressing and mix together. This salad actually takes better the next day, so I usually make it ahead of time. You can also add raisins or green grapes. Some people add Mandarin orange slices or chopped apples. For Christmas, you can add red onion and craisins to reflect the red and green color theme.

Cranberry Meatballs

*A family favorite..we make them often and often double the batch!

Meatballs:

2 lbs ground beef

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1/3 cup dried parsley

2 eggs

2 TB soy sauce

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/3 cup catsup

2 TB dried minced onion

Mix all ingredients well and form into meatballs..cocktail sized. Place on a jelly roll pan or 2- 9″ x 13″ baking dishes. 

Sauce:

1 – 16oz can cranberry jelly roll

1- 12oz bottle chili sauce

2 TB brown sugar

1 TB lemon juice

Blend together. Pour over meatballs. Bake at 350* for 30 mins. * I then put these in a warm slow cooker for serving.

 http://autumnearthsong.com/…/winter-solsticeyule…/

Russian Teacakes Cookies

1 cup butter, softened (not margarine)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 and 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butter, the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and vanilla extract together. Add the flour, salt, and nuts and mix until the dough holds together. Shape the dough into 1″ balls. Place about 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, but not brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Roll cookies in powdered sugar while warm, then cool. Roll the cookies in powdered sugar again. Traditional Christmas cookies.

https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/russian-tea-cakes

Or make them into snowmen cookies:

https://inthevintagekitchen.com/tag/russian-tea-cakes/

Le Reveillon

“Le Reveillon can be confusing to those outside France as it is the French name for the eve of both Christmas and New Years Day. Here, we are looking at the food of the New Year celebrations and like their counterpart, are rich and celebratory, but not that difficult to achieve if you want to recreate and the traditional feast.

The most traditional of French New Year’s food at le Reveillon, includes foie gras, oysters, and plenty of wine and Champagne, among other indulgences. Most often, it’s an elaborate meal, yet with a little preparation and careful planning, the same flavors and ingredients can be enjoyed in a more streamlined, modern fashion.”

Because I either can’t or won’t eat some of these things (foie gras and oysters), I came up with my own menu for a Le Reveillon feast.

Charcuterie Board

French Onion Soup

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/french-onion-soup-recipe2-1947434

Coq au Vin

https://www.thespruceeats.com/classic-french-coq-au-vin-recipe-1375539

Duchess Mashed Potatoes

https://www.thespruceeats.com/make-ahead-duchess-mashed-potatoes-3059685

Broccoli Gratin

https://www.thespruceeats.com/broccoli-gratin-recipe-1375703

Green Bean Amandine

https://www.thespruceeats.com/green-beans-amandine-482825

Frisée Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/frisee-salad-with-warm-bacon-vinaigrette?

Triple Chocolate Mousse

https://www.thespruceeats.com/triple-chocolate-mousse-recipe-1375116

French Opera Cake

https://www.thespruceeats.com/opera-cake-recipe-1375077

Bûche de Noël

https://www.thespruceeats.com/chocolate-buche-de-noel-recipe-1375025

Croquembouche

https://www.thespruceeats.com/a-classic-croquembouche-recipe-1375168

SANTA CLAUS

This picture was taken more than 50 years ago, that’s me and my friend sitting on Santa Jack’s lap (student) at our high school.

ST. NICHOLAS DAY

Be sure to hang your socks tonight for St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas to fill; tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day. Or use your shoes, or boots, or wooden clogs.

I started this tradition when my kids were little (our Dutch and German ancestry).

My kids hung stockings twice, on December 5th and again on December 24th. For St. Nicholas’s Day, they got an ornament for their own little Christmas trees in their room, oranges, candy canes, little red net bags of gold foil-covered chocolate coins, real coins, film for their cameras (remember those days?), and a craft kit.

They also received one gift.. it either was a hand-me-down from me or a handmade gift. One year, my son got the old stereo system that I had used in my office (turntable and speakers), and my daughter got a pearl necklace that had belonged to my grandmother and a teacup that was once my grandmother’s.

“Cleaning shoes and boots was today’s task, because tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day, Nikolaustag. Feast day for Heiligen Nikolaus, the inspiration for Santa Claus.

Tonight Sankt Nikolaus will visit children who have left a polished shoe or boot by a door, or window, hoping they find it filled with small gifts in the morning. A reward for good behavior.

His assistants differ from region to region and country to country in appearance, behavior and name, but have one thing in common … no resemblance to a cute Christmas Elf. Knecht Ruprecht and Belsnickle in some German areas, Krampus in Alpine Regions of Bavaria and Austria, Schmutzli in Switzerland, among others, are not exactly the stuff of dreams, they are the ‘Bad Cops’, meant to “whip children into being nice”, to ‘Good Cop’, and patron saint of children, kind-hearted Nicholas in his bishop’s robes.

But there was a St. Nicholas, and what was Nikolaustag. Here is the story … http://bit.ly/2KVm9MZ

SNOW COCOA

Snow Cocoa

2 cups whipping cream
6 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz pkg white chocolate chips.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Heat on low for 2-2 1/2 hours or until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Stir well to blend.

SNOWGLOBES

Do you have a snowglobe?

SNOW AND SNOWFLAKES

Create an online snowflake:

http://snowdays.me/preview/

SNOWPEOPLE

STOCKINGS

TABLECLOTHS, TABLE RUNNERS, AND NAPKINS

TABLETOP TREES

THROW PILLOWS

TV CHRISTMAS EPISODES

Bewitched

Bewitched: A Vision of Sugar Plums
First aired: 12/24/1964

Seven year old Tommy, who lives in an orphanage, is happy to spend Christmas with Gladys and Abner Kravitz. Six year old Michael, also an orphan, derides Tommy’s belief in Santa Claus. When Samantha and Darrin bring him home for the holidays, their efforts to get Michael to share in the festivities of the season fail. After Michael admits that he would believe in Santa Claus if he really existed, Samantha takes Michael and Darrin on her broom-stick to the North Pole, where Michael meets Santa Claus. Later, back at home, Darrin and Michael awake. Although both feel they have dreamed the trip, Michael now believes in Santa Claus. Gladys overhears Michael tell Tommy he has met Santa Claus. When she tries to pin Tommy down, he denies that Michael has ever mentioned it. Mrs. Grange, the director of the orphanage, comes to the Stephens home with George and Sarah Johnson. At the Kravitz home, both Gladys and Abner, who are about to return Tommy to the orphanage, express their wish to have someone like Tommy permanently. When Michael leaves with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Samantha and Darrin know Michael has found two loving parents.
Writer: Herman Groves
Director: Alan Rafkin
Guest star: Alice Pearce (Gladys Kravitz), George Tobias (Abner Kravitz) , Kevin Tate (Tommy Becker), Sara Seegar (Mrs. Grange), Bill Daily (Mr. Johnson), Gerry Johnson (Mrs. Johnson), Cecil Kellaway (Santa Claus), Bill Mumy (Michael)

WINDOW DECORATING: PAINTING, FROSTING, AND CLINGS

WINDOW DISPLAYS

I remember Christmas shopping around downtown Seattle and part of the appeal was going to each of the big department stores to see their window displays.

Now Penney’s is gone, Frederick and Nelson’s is gone, The Bon Marche/Macy’s is gone… I remember back when there was also MacDougal’s and I Magnin’s and Jay Jacob’s and Sear’s.

Is this now the end of an era? Kids will never see the toys of their dreams in a store window and wish and hope to get one?

WINTER SOLSTICE

Here Comes The Light

There are two ways of spreading light; to be
The candle or the mirror that reflects it.
~ Edith Wharton

In ancient times, as the days grew shorter and darker, people became increasingly anxious and depressed, fearing that the sun was dying. Without the sun, whom they worshipped as a god, people knew they would perish. In order to coax back the source of their warmth, Light, and abundance they created midwinter rituals, culminating in a great festival at Winter Solstice, on or about December 21-22, the longest night of the year. The women would gather greenery to decorate dwellings and prepare elaborate communal feasts. The men would light huge bonfires; in the bright glow of the flames representing the energy of the sun, they would hold revels with music and dance.

Today, celebrating the Winter Solstice is becoming very popular. For people who don’t feel comfortable with organized religion or even with exploring an individual spiritual path, honoring the festivals of the natural world fulfills a deep, primordial need to connect with a Power greater than humanity, no matter what the Power is called. Women reviving the ancient feminine traditions celebrate the Solstice as the birthday of the Great Mother. Ecology-minded people, such as many Native Americans, honor the sacredness of their connection with the Earth. Women who have interfaith marriages and can’t make a choice between celebrating Hannukah and Christmas often view the Winter Solstice as a neutral holiday the whole family can celebrate.

One meaningful way to celebrate the Solstice is to consider it a sacred time of reflection, release, restoration, and renewal. Zsuzsanna Budapest, a leader in the Goddess movement, believes the interval of the Winter Solstice is the ideal time to reach out to those from whom we feel estranged. In The Grandmother of Time; A Woman’s Book of Celebrations, Spells and Sacred Objects for Every Month of the Year, she reminds us that “Every so often, we want to make a clean beginning and must therefore atone for the past. I don’t mean we have to feel guilty; just the opposite. When you send out your greeting cards, send some to people with whom you are not on good terms or to those with whom you have quarreled. Just say, ‘Hey, let’s forget our bad times. Blessings to you.’ Each time you share forgiveness, somebody else will forgive. To make sure your forgiveness card is not misunderstood, which might make things worse than better, she recommends rubbing the cards with lavender buds or including them in the envelope. The card will offer a heavenly fragrance, surely the sweet scent of reconciliation.

It really doesn’t matter whether we reflect the Light through our
authentic gifts or whether our authentic calling is to spread it. What matters is that tonight the world is dark, cold, and bleak. Your flame burns so brightly. Share your love and warmth with others. Watch the Light return.

by Sarah Ban Breathnach,
Simple Abundance,
copyright 1995

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice.

Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return. Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits. In Northern Europe, the ancient Germanic people tied fruit and attached candles to evergreen tree branches, in honor of their god Woden. Trees were viewed as symbolizing eternal life. This is the deity after which Wednesday was named. The trees joined holly, mistletoe, the wassail bowl, and the Yule log as symbols of the season. All of which predated Christianity.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death. They used mainly date palms, but all palm trees are considered evergreens.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. Replicas of Bacchus, (a fertility god) were placed on the boughs, and 12 candles in honor of their sun god. The mid-winter festival started on the 17th of December and often lasted until a few days after the Solstice. The Greeks decorated an evergreen tree to worship their god Adonia, who allegedly was brought back to life by the serpent Aessulapius after having been slain. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.

YULE LOG

History Of The Yule Log

The Yule Log began as a pagan ritual in the time of the Druids, when peasants would light a large log on the darkest day of the year, “Winter Solstice”, to keep evil spirits away.

Legend has it that the logs burned through the “longest night”, while the peasants waited for the sun to rise again.

The ritual changed into a Christian tradition, which has become closely associated with Christmas, as a symbol of “new light over darkness”.

—Liz Goff

YULETIDE

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