Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some Funny Christmas Clips

Here's a few Funny Christmas clips...

Santa's Flamenco Dance

Merry Christmas - Fun With Santa

You can see more funny clips here

Christmas Online Games

Beware - the World Wide Web is being taken over by online games!!! On Christmas, here's a few to liven up your moments...

Slingshot Santa

Santa Snowboards

Friday, September 15, 2006

Christmas Mistletoe-Is it Love during Christmas

A lot of hearts are joined and cherished underneath the mistletoe and it all adds to the joy and fun of Christmas and the holiday season.

During the early times, before technological advancements made themselves known to us, people made it a point to visit each other for company and fellowship, specially during the holidays. A common custom at Christmas was to place a sprig of mistletoe above the door frame or hang it from the ceiling of the home. But with the passage of time, people started using mistletoe in all aspects of Christmas celebrations, be it in the wreaths or home decorations or the decoration of the Christmas tree and gift wrapping.

The mistletoe was also considered to bestow fertility and life. It acquired a reputation of being both a protection against poison as well as an aphrodisiac. For it's supposedly mystical powers, mistletoe has played the pivotal role in many folklores. One such is associated with the Goddess Frigga and the story ends with a decree that who ever stands underneath the humble mistletoe, no harm would befall on them. Only a kiss as a token of love would come their way.

Decking the halls with boughs of holly is absolutely the perfect thing to do for a Christmas decoration. But for some real holiday cheer, mistletoe wins hands down ! Nicknamed as holiday revelry, kissing under the mistletoe has been a 'fun' Christmas ritual for years. Though the pagan significance has been overshadowed by the 'fun' tag, the custom still goes strong. All Lovers wishing to send Christmas cards for the Holiday Season can check our these Greetings cards which are free to send.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Inverted Christmas Trees:Inverting Tradition or Mere Consumerism

Christmas trees are generally triangular .Is this a law that needs to be strictly followed? Perhaps not. Christmas trees are no longer just a symbol of Christianity but a “product” in the era of todays consumerism. So, now we can put up trees whenever they are available in the market and can hang them in an upside down position.

People have already started liking the topsy-turvy Christmas trees. These kind of trees are popularly known as “inverted trees”. They were in high demand during the last Christmas shopping season. The trend started in 2003. Holiday shoppers like these new inverted trees as they can see the ornaments better because they don't get hidden behind the branches.

It would be wrong to claim this trend a modern one. Puritans are quite furious with whatever is going on to secularize Christmas. The argument is – the tip of the Christmas tree should point towards the Heaven but in this case it is pointing towards Hell. Hence, the upside down position is sacrilegious. The liberals give out a powerful counter argument on this issue. Why the same trend was not considered sacrilegious in 7th century? Yes, here we have a big question mark. A monk from Devonshire traveled to Germany with a triangular shaped fir tree to spread the message of The Holy Trinity of God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Almost in every houses the trees were hanged upside down from the ceiling as a sign of Christianity for the next five centuries.

The Middle age trend faded away under the the influence of conservatism. But one should not forget that present is always a reflection of the past. The inverted trees are generally artificial ones. The question is then why it is becoming so popular?

Shopping Stores are happy as the inverted trees take a little space and so they can be well accommodated in departmental stores. Moreover they are free from fire hazards. The customers are also going for artificial inverted trees as they can be used for years and are definitely less expensive. In modern days when one cannot devote much time and energy on nurturing the Christmas trees. Even children get the scope of decorating them with bigger gifts and ornaments which generally do not go well with natural trees. As the lower portion of the inverted Christmas tree is spacious, so the gifts can be well displayed.

They are popularly called “holiday trees” in U.S. and Canada to give the essence of winter holiday season without any religious connotation. The conservatists have attacked the men of “war on Christmas” on this score. Common folks are not sure whether inverted trees are sacrilegious or not. In order to avoid the controversy many of them are buying the inverted Christmas trees along with the so called traditional ones as the second option. All these prove Christmas tree is no longer a religious icon but a consumer product which has been modified to suit the temperament of modern life style.

Christmas Tree History

Christmas Trees can be artificial or natural. For natural trees, Silver Fir, Norway Spruce, and Noble Fir and Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas, Scots and Stone Pines are widely used in North Europe and North America. But artificial trees are more convenient and more popular as they are less expensive.

In U.S. 70% of the trees are artificial. Modern artificial Christmas trees were first produced by the companies which made brushes. Initially the trees were made with pig bristles, plastic bristles, dyed pine green color, or twisted wires.

But the people dealing with environmental issues are not very satisfied with all the new things coming up as PVC trees are highly toxic. The experts opine that the dust or leaves from the trees should not be eaten or inhaled. Polythene trees are less toxic but more expensive than PVC trees.

Christmas tree decorations underwent several changes. In 16th century Christmas trees were decorated with roses which are generally associated with Virgin Mary. Paper roses, wafers, nuts, lighted candles, and sweets were the popular decorative items for the trees in 17th century. Till mid 19th century cookies, chains of popcorn, raisins, nuts and pretzels were used but in the later half of the century toys, bells, garlands and paper decorations were the most popular decorative items. Stars, angels, or flags were placed at the top of the tree. It was the Germans who provided the variety of ornaments to the world market ranging from butterflies, stars to miniature musical instruments.

The first known decorated Christmas tree was the one at Riga in Latvia in 1510. Georgian kings from Germany brought the first Christmas tree to England. The Royal Court was not following the custom of putting up Christmas trees at that point of the time. It was the Germans who started the tradition in 16th century with the pyramids of wood ornamented with evergreens and candles.

The popular story goes like this- It was a winter evening in Germany around 16th century. Martin Luther King was mesmerized by the sight of the glittering stars in the sky through the tree branches. He tried to explain his experience to his family. He took a small fir tree from the wood and brought it indoors and decorated it with candles. This is how the trend of decoration began.

The whole concept is based on the idea – evergreen trees are magical symbol of life. They remind us of the spring sunshine. Candles and electric lights are used as decorative items so that the light of spring can overshadow the darkness of winter.

Selection of Christmas trees is considered to be a great art. It is an annual tradition which marks the official start of this season. Otherwise there is temporary retail lot in shopping centers and discount stores.

Christmas trees had a long journey from the date of Martin Luther King till today. From religious icon the trees are transformed into a product of the growing Christmas industry. So, wait for more experiments!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Types of Christmas Trees

Listed below are some of the more popular Christmas tree types available around the world, collected from ChristmasTree.Org

The Arizona Cypress...

is a steeple shaped tree with a pale-green to gray-green color. The leaves are extremely tiny and quite plentiful. They lay close to the branchlet surface in a scale like arrangement and are about 0.1 inches long.
The bark is thin and delicate with a reddish brown color. It splits into strips along the length of the tree.
The cones are spherical in shape and woody. They mature in two years. Tiny yellow flowers are visible in the fall of the year. Heights of 80 feet and trunk diameters up to 3 feet have been recorded. The
Arizona cypress has a pleasing aroma.

Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado blue spruce, or blue spruce, is an attractive tree often used for Christmas trees or as ornamentals, particularly in the eastern United States and Europe. It is the official state tree of both Colorado and Utah. The species generally reaches a height of 65-115 feet at maturity with a diameter of 2-3 feet. It has a narrow, pyramidal shape and cone-shaped crown. As trees become older, they often take on a more irregular appearance. While blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it is long-lived and may reach ages of 600-800 years.
Blue spruce is finding increasing popularity as a Christmas tree as a result of its symmetrical form and attractive blue foliage. The species has an excellent natural shape and requires little shearing. Additionally, needle retention is among the best for the spruces. Its popularity as an ornamental leads many consumers to use blue spruce as a living Christmas tree, to be planted after the holiday season.

Balsam Fir

Balsam fir is a medium-sized tree generally reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1-1 1/2 feet in diameter. It exhibits a relatively dense, dark-green, pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like tip.
As a Christmas tree, balsam fir has several desirable properties. It has a dark-green appearance, long-lasting needles, and attractive form. It also retains its pleasing fragrance. Nine to ten years in the field are required to produce a 6-7 foot tree.

Canaan Fir

Canaan (pronounced "Ka-naan", with emphasis on the last syllable) is a relative newcomer to the Christmas tree market. It has many similarities to both Fraser and balsam firs in growth and appearance. Bracted balsam fir is found from Labrador to Ontario, and from the coast of Maine to the higher mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. Because of the similarity of Canaan fir to the other eastern firs, its uses are similar, although inaccessibility of stands limits the amount of wood which can be harvested.

Douglas Fir

Douglas-fir is not related to the true firs.
This wide ranging species grows from 70 to 250 feet tall. The branches are spreading to drooping, the buds sharply pointed and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough and dark brown. The cones open in the late summer to disperse the seeds and will continue to hang on the trees through the fall. The Douglas-fir has been the major Christmas tree species used in the
Pacific Northwest since the 1920's. During the following 40 years, nearly all trees were harvested from forest lands.

Norway Spruce

Norway spruce is one of the most important species on the European Continent. More than 100 forms and varieties have been named. Although not native to the Western hemisphere, the species and a number of its varieties are commonly planted here, particularly in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States. The species has a reddish bark, giving it the nickname of "red fir", which flakes off in scales as the tree matures.

Scotch Pine

Scotch or Scots pine is an introduced species which has been widely planted for the purpose of producing Christmas trees. It is an extremely hardy species which is adaptable to a wide variety of soils and sites. As a Christmas tree, it is known for its dark green foliage and stiff branches which are well suited for decorating with both light and heavy ornaments. As a Christmas tree Scotch pine is known for its excellent needle retention and good keepability and holds up well throughout harvest, shipping and display. . It resists drying and if permitted to become dry does not drop its needles. When displayed in a water filled container it will remain fresh for the normal 3 to 4 week Christmas season. Like all natural trees it is readily recyclable and has many different uses following the Christmas holidays.

Virginia Pine

The Virginia pine's needles occur in pairs. They are twisted and range from 1.5 to 3" in length. They are relatively short when compared to those of other pines.
Virginia pine has been the staple for the Christmas tree industry in the south since its inception. But in prior times it was not considered to be commercially significant to the forest products industry. Cones begin forming in about the fifth year. They are about 2 inches long and are protected by quite prickly scales. Pollination occurs in early June and cones mature in late September to early November of the following year.

White Spruce

White spruce is a medium-sized conifer found in northeastern United States and throughout Canada. It is the state tree of South Dakota As a Christmas tree, white spruce has excellent foliage color, short stiff needles and a good natural shape. Needle retention is better than some of other spruce species White spruce has a cone-shaped crown, and when grown in the open develops a conical crown which extends nearly to the ground. This habit along with the spreading branches give it a nice appearance for use as an ornamental.

Christmas Decorations

In the Western world, rolls of paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. Common motifs include Christmas trees, holly, poinsettias, mistletoe, swags, wreaths, Santa Claus, the Nativity, angels, carolers, nutcrackers, toy soldiers, sleighs, sleds, drums, drummer boys, bows, reindeer, Christmas tree ornaments, gingerbread people and gingerbread houses, candies, stars, snowflakes, snowmen, and penguins.
Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments. The interior of a home may be decorated with garlands and evergreen foliage, particularly holly and mistletoe. In Australia, North and South America and to a lesser extent Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.Since the 19th century, the
poinsettia has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus.

Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well. Christmas banners may be hung from street lights and Christmas trees placed in the town square. In the U.S., decorations once commonly included religious themes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Being On Santa's List !

Send This As An Ecard

Do you know the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”? The song says, “He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.” This song tells about who's making it into the naughty or nice list! As kids, we have always been worried about the list that our name was going into. The parents had a sure stop way of stopping all pranks by saying that the more mischief that we got into, the greater were our chances of making to the naughty list!

The feeling of Christmas, the evergreen, the bells, the hollies, the mistletoe, the food and above all Santa have been such an integral part of us ever since we have been kids. Of all of the above Santa tops the list every time and Santa's list is something to look forward anytime. The exact origin of Santa's list and of being in Santa list is not exactly known. The tradition of Christmas is generally associated with the idea of gift giving and exchanging and some of the gifts were said to be given by Santa. It was a special privilege to be on Santa's special list ! The concept of a jolly old man giving gifts on Christmas comes from St. Nicholas, a bishop from the fourth century. He was later renamed as Santa Claus or St. Nick. The idea of hanging a stocking also stems from this belief as it was considered that being good gave you the advantage of getting the best of gifts from Santa.

So, what are the advantages of getting into Santa's list ? You don't even want to start counting them. You get all the Christmas goodies to yourself, you get the best gifts underneath the tree, you get to open the gifts first and you do get bonus points for the next year. (Ok, I made that up). But it really does not matter, does it ? Being nice throughout the year is hard ( I know, I am yet to make the list )but telling every one later that you made it... is the icing on the Christmas cake. But hey, what are the things that you have to do to be naughty or nice ? It's simple really, for being naughty, all you have to do is play pranks to the hilt, make life miserable for your siblings, stealing the lion's share of the cookies and generally be too much for your mum to handle. And to be an angel, you have to be good, mind you... really good. Minding your manners, being polite and studying hard will do for the time being. The rest depends all on Santa you know !

It's nice to know and see that with all the modernization in our lifestyles, we still have a firm belief in the miracles of Christmas and of Santa. We like to believe that we have him watching over us, watching over our kids and what better than these age old traditions to make sure that we mind our manners ! The delightful traditions of Christmas leading all the way to the holiday spirit, the feeling of family and the feeling of togetherness is something we look forward to every year and this feeling is reinforced more by the image of the jolly, chubby old man in the red suit with a gift sack slung over his shoulder !

So get ready for Christmas and all it's merriment, of the jingle of the bells tied on the reindeer's neck, of Santa coming through the chimney and the excitement of being “Naughty or Nice” by sending all your loved ones and friends, cool greeting cards on Santa List Day from sites such as

Christmas Facts and Figures

Here are some informative facts and figures taken from US census bureau.

Christmas Trees Cut for Christmas:

Number of Christmas trees cut around the country in were 20.8 million .These trees were located on 21,904 farms spread out across 447,000 acres. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics).Download this

Christmas Tree ornaments from China :

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2005 were $561 million. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($69 million worth) during the same period.

Cities in US named Christmas:

Population of Christmas, Fla., an unincorporated town. (Source: American FactFinder).Other places whose names are associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 1,659 in 2004); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,201); Santa Claus, Ga. (238); Noel, Mo. (1,476); and — if you know about reindeer — the village of Rudolph, Wis. (418). On top of that there is Snowflake, Ariz. (4,836); Dasher, Ga. (822); and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss., and Mount Holly, N.C. (Source: American FactFinder)

Imports from Christmas Island: The value of U.S. imports between January and August 2005 from Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii were 291,085. Perhaps some of these were “Christmas gifts from Christmas Island

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Top Christmas Movies

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer(1964):
This classic made-for-TV movie premiered in 1964 and it's been delighting generations of kids ever since. Its popularity is so lasting that you can buy plush-toy versions of the characters. You probably saw this film when you were a child, but if not, it tells the story of Rudolph, a reindeer with a nose that light up. He's looking for a place where he belongs. After some searching, he finds that place leading Santa's sleigh. Special guest appearances by the Abominable Snowman and the misfit toys make this movie extra-special. More...

Buy This DVD

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town(1970):
This movie (made with the same stop-motion animation as Rudolph) is also a holiday favorite. It's about Kris Kringle — the man who becomes Santa Claus — and how he brings toys to children in a town that has outlawed them. Kris is helped by an adorable penguin who wears a striped scarf. Along the way, he meets the future Mrs. Claus and they get married. But what really makes this a classic is the fearsome Winter Warlock's transformation into a compassionate wizard with the wonderful song "Put One Foot In Front of the Other."

Buy This DVD

A Christmas Carol:
Whether you like the 1984 version starring George C. Scott or the 1976, 1977, 1999, or 2000 version — a remake seems to come out every year — this is a holiday classic. Based on a story by Charles Dickens about an old miser named Scrooge who learns compassion when three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve. This makes a great holiday movie because it's thrilling and it has a nice message. You may want to choose a version you're familiar with, because some representations of the Ghost of Christmas Future can be pretty scary.

Buy This DVD

How the Grinch Stole Christmas:
The original 1966 animated classic is the only version that does justice to Dr. Seuss. In it, the Grinch (a non-human Scrooge) tries to ruin Christmas for the Whos in Whoville by stealing their presents, trees, and holiday treats. Of course, the Grinch has a change of heart and finds love and friendship with the Whos. Boris Karloff is the excellent voice of the Grinch. Kids will be enchanted by the whimsy and wonder — and by the Grinch's pet dog.

Buy This DVD

It's a Wonderful Life:
What holiday movie list would be complete without this 1946 Frank Capra classic, starring James Stewart? It wasn't originally intended to be a Christmas movie and the plot summary may sound grim: a man about to commit suicide during the holidays because he's financially ruined is stopped by an angel who shows him what life would be like if he'd never existed. It's shown on TV about 200 times during the holiday season, which obscures the fact that it's a charming movie — part romance, part pathos, and a celebration of life.

Buy This DVD

Friday, September 08, 2006

Christmas In Germany

In Germany, the St. Nicholas Day celebration of December 6 is similar to the Christmas celebrations of the English. Apart from wishing each other a ‘Froehliche Weihnachten’ or ‘Merry Christmas’, the Christmas customs and traditions of Christmas vary from one region to another in Germany. The St. Nicholas Day is primarily a day reserved for the young ones to have fun and get pampered in gifts. After this, the actual Christmas gift-giving kicks off at the Christmas Eve night. Gifts are usually kept under the Christmas tree and people enjoy a traditional roast goose in their Christmas meal. The Weihnachtsmann (a look-alike of St. Nicholas) brings gifts on Christmas and sometimes these are brought by the Christkind (a fairy child often like baby Jesus).

Italian Christmas

Christmas begins December 1 in Italy and the Christmas season lingers for three full weeks. Children go singing carols and reciting Christmas poems from house to house. People decorate the Christmas evergreen. In the week ahead of Christmas, the kids spruce up as shepherds, playing pipes and go from door to door singing and reciting. They are given money to buy Christmas presents for themselves. A day before the Christmas Eve, Italians celebrate with a strict feast, which is followed by a meal comprising of a light Milanese cake called 'panetoni' and chocolate. They wish each other ‘Buon Natale’ (Italian for ‘Merry Christmas’).

Christmas Around The World

Christmas around the world is not the same .Every country has its own traditions and own cultural aspects This is precisely because Christmas observances are not the same throughout the world. However with the basic sense of happiness, well-being and prosperity prevailing everywhere, Christmas celebration varies considerably from place to place.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Best of Santa Claus Movies

Santa Claus (1985)

Release in 1985. It was the last major fantasy film, produced by the Paris-based father-and-son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Released in North America on November 27, 1985 by Tri-Star Pictures, the film was a straightforward, nondenominational attempt to explore the mysteries of Santa Claus, the key objective being to answer some of the most basic questions many children have about Santa: How do his reindeer fly? How did Santa and his wife make it to the North Pole? How does he manage to go up the chimneys?
The first half of this film, set hundreds of years ago, shows how the old man who eventually became Santa Claus was given immortality and chosen to deliver toys to all the children of the world. The second half moves into the modern era, in which Patch, the head elf, strikes out on his own and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who wants to corner the market and eliminate Santa Claus . More about this movie can be found here

Santa Claus is coming to Town(1970)

The story of how Santa Claus came to be is brought to life through the magic of stop-motion animation in this Christmas-themed production for the family. A friendly postman explains how friendly Kris Kringle a foundling taken in by a family of toymakers, took it upon himself to bring some happiness to the children of Sombertown, despite the grumpy opposition of Burgermeister Meisterburger and the Winter Warlock Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town was directed and produced by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr., who created another popular animated story of the season, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

Santa Vs Snowman (3D ) 2002

Santa vs. the Snowman is a half-hour computer-animated short, created by O Entertainment and produced by Steve Oedekerk. Originally made as a television special, the film was later presented in IMAX 3D theaters during the holiday season of 2002 and 2003. It was released on DVD by Universal Studios. The package included 3D glasses, and the program offered optional 2D or 3D viewing. Despite three bonus features including an interactive game narrated by Oedekerk, the DVD lacked any kind of featurette or commentary. The film featured the voice talents of Jonathan Winters, Ben Stein, Victoria Jackson, Marc Decarlo, and David Floyd.More..

Origin of Santa Claus

Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, or simply Santa is a gift-giving figure in various cultures who distributes presents to children, traditionally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to the Santa Claus character. The popular American form Santa Claus originated as a mispronounciation of Dutch Sinterklaas, which is a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas).
Santa Claus is a variation of a European folk tale based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas, a bishop from Myra that is now present-day Turkey, who gave presents to the poor. His charity became legend when a man lost his fortune and found himself incapable of supporting his three daughters, who would not be able to find husbands as they lacked doweries. This man was going to give them over to a life prostitution, however St. Nicholas provided them with gold, enabling them to retain their virginal virtues and marry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Christmas Celebrations in United States

The United States of America integrates different elements from different places in its Christmas celebrations. The Christmas tree tradition comes from Germany, parades from Latin America, carols from the English and Australians, Santa Claus from the Europeans and more. Apart from the general celebration with feasting, caroling, decorating and gift-giving, each family in the US has their individual Christmas celebrations. And even the traditions vary from one place to another within the US. In Washington DC for instance, there’s this central celebration with lighting of the tree on the Ellipse. Here you’ll find one big tree (which represents the nation) and other smaller trees (standing for other states). In New Orleans, caroling is the focus of Christmas—thousands throng the Jackson Square each year on Christmas to have a huge group/ community caroling around big bonfires lit along the river Mississippi. The oldest city in the US, St. Augustine, Florida, has the whole of the city lit up in white lights on Christmas. No lights except white are allowed on Christmas. Then again, many Americans love to hit Hollywood, California to treat their eyes to the annual Parade of Stars, while others entertain themselves at Christmas concerts or caroling festivities in and around the cities.

In the South Western part of America, one Christmas day custom is to light the pathway to their doors with ‘luminaries’, which are paper bags or lanterns with designs cut on them and candles placed inside to give out a glow of good tidings all around. In some parts of the States, people even spend Christmas attending Church services on Christmas Eve or in the morning of Christmas. Churches are often wonderfully decorated on Christmas with poinsettias, Christmas evergreens and Nativity scenes. Get-togethers with friends, folks or sweetheart are quite common in the States on Christmas, and are often followed by a sumptuous traditional Christmas dinner comprising of roasted turkey/ goose, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, fruitcakes, plum puddings and more.

Religious Christmas Traditions

With all the boisterous celebration of Christmas staying fine, Christmas is still observed as a chiefly religious holiday for many people across the globe. It is the time for soul-searching, spiritual renewal, silent prayers, reading out quotes from the Bible, seeking religious blessings and wishing joys and good tidings to everyone for the days to come. The ceremonies are much toned down in a religious celebration of Christmas. Carols and hymns are sung in the churches and in homes, funds are raised for a good cause, volunteer works are conducted and people visit friends, neighbors and dear ones’ places for get-togethers and traditional Christmas meals. The air’s filled with a sweet peacefulness and warmth. A sense of joy and well-being reverberates all around. People wish each other peace, prosperity, happiness and a very ‘Merry Christmas’.

The religious customs and traditions of Christmas begin with Advent (the day when Jesus Christ’s birth was anticipated). This is around early December. Customs and traditions of this religious celebration include Advent carols and calendars, sometimes also candies and other goodies for the children. Midnight mass or a Mass of the Nativity, featuring Christmas carols, prayers and hymns, are usually held on the Christmas Eve and on the Christmas Day.

Common Christian Traditions

In Christian countries, Christmas has become the most significant holiday of the year, economically speaking. Christmas is celebrated for a span of twelve days following December 25 in the United Kingdom. This twelve-day Christmas tradition is marked by huge celebration and feasting and ends on the Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany. This custom of elongating the Christmas celebrations is gaining popularity by the year. Christmas celebrations begin weeks before the actual day in the United States and the United Kingdom to lengthen the shopping season of Christmas and also to allow more time for meetings and greetings.
The countries celebrating Christmas on December 25, call the day before ‘
Christmas eve’ and the day after by varying names. Some like Germany, Poland call it the Second Christmas Day, some Commonwealth countries call the day after Christmas ‘Boxing Day’ while the Irish and Romanians call it St. Stephen’s Day. Some pagan Christmas customs and traditions have been incorporated by some Christian missionaries into their celebration of Christmas.

Christmas Customs and Traditions

The Christmas holiday abounds in interesting customs and traditions. Some of these Christmas customs and traditions are wholeheartedly religious, while others are secular and relaxed. Some countries also have a national flavor in their customs of Christmas. So evidently, the customs and traditions of Christmas are neither singular nor homogenous all over the world. These keep varying from region to region, and from country to country. Popular Christmas traditions such as the exchanging of gifts, decorating the Christmas tree, the Yule log, the holly bough, the kissing under mistletoe etc are more or less common to all places.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Christmas Trivia

The holiday of Christmas is incomplete if you miss out on the following interesting tidbits and Christmas trivia. Like all trivia, the Christmas trivia here are equally gripping.Heres a few of them

The Twelve Days of Christmas: The Twelve Days of Christmas refers to the twelve days between the Christmas Day (December 25) and the Feast of Epiphany (January 6). Tradition has it that this is the time taken by the Three Wise Men (the Magi) to reach Bethlehem to see the babe in the manger, Jesus.
Mistletoe: Mistletoe is a plant hung on the doorway of every American household during Christmas. The mistletoe symbolizes love, having been closely associated with Frigga, the Scandinavian’s goddess of love. It’s from this that the convention of kissing under the mistletoe originated.

Hanging Stockings: The practice of hanging stockings over the fireplace on Christmas Eve comes from England. The legend of St. Nicholas has it that the latter was a kind saint who was believed to have left gifts of gold coins in the stockings of three poor maidens, who badly needed the money for their wedding dowries. They hung their stockings to dry over the fireplace, and to their great surprise, they found bags of gold in them the next morning. Following this, children kept hanging Christmas stockings over the fireplace on Christmas Eve in the hope that Santa would drop gifts and toys in them !

Christmas Carols: The first carols are said to have been sung by angelic choirs at Christ's birth. St.Francis of Assissi is also accredited as the 'Father of Caroling'. The word 'carol' comes from the Greek 'charaulein', a Greek dance, later replaced by song. By the 17th century, caroling was restricted to Christmas time, and now, it’s customary for kids to go caroling in groups from door to door, singing favorites such as "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and many more ! Holly Boughs: The boughs of holly are another very important symbol of Christmas. These are red berries with thorny leaves. To the Christians, the holly berries symbolize Christ's blood and the sharply pointed leaves stand for the thorns in His crown. Henceforth, the holly became part of the Nativity tradition.

The Nativity Scene: The Nativity Scene includes the scene at Bethlehem, when Jesus was born. The manger, the swaddling clothes, the bright star in the sky, the shepherds surrounding baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men (the Magi) form part of the scene. The Poinsettia: Poinsettias are beautiful winter blooms, native to Mexico. They've been named after the first US ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who brought the plant from its land of origin to America. Since the beginning of the 19th century, poinsettias have come to be associated with Christmas.

Eggnog: Eggnog, a very popular Christmas drink, is prepared by mixing cream, milk, sugar and beaten eggs with some kind of liquor. This has a close connection to the Christmas holiday, and on Christmas Eve, it's fairly common to spot groups of people eggnogging at their neighbors' and friends' places. People also gather round the Christmas tree, drinking eggnog and then move from house to house caroling. The Yule Log: The yule log is a huge log used to light up big fires during festive celebrations. It originated in Europe, where it used to be placed in the hearth and continued to burn throughout the year, till it turned into ashes. Bringing in the yule log was as much a custom during the Christmas holidays as was decorating the Christmas tree. The yule log is generally placed in the fireplace. It’s from this yule log that Christmas also came to be known as 'Yuletide'.

Origin of Christmas

Do you know where the word ‘Christmas’ sprang from ? Christmas is derived from the words ‘Cristes Maesse’, meaning Christ's Mass. It is also sometimes referred to as Xmas. This ‘X’ in the word stands for ‘Xristos’, and means Christ in Greek. Xristos Mass is shortened to Xmas. However, this shouldn't be looked upon as a move to bump off Christ's name from Christmas. It’s simply another way of referring to Christmas. So wish a 'Merry Christmas' to your loved ones and dive into celebrating the holidays !

Why Christmas is Celebrated on 25th December

Now ever wondered why Christmas is celebrated on December 25 ? Is it the day when Jesus Christ was born ? Well, nobody knows for sure exactly when Christ was born. There had been a lot of dispute over fixing December 25 as Christmas. In the 2nd century A.D, Hippolytus claimed this day as Christ's birthday. Then January 6 was declared by the Eastern Church as the day of His birth. Finally, in 350 A.D, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Julius I, fixed December 25 as the official day for Christmas. This date, the day of the winter solstice, was wisely chosen with the intention to outweigh the popular pagan Roman holiday of Saturnalia.
Jesus Christ's coming to this world was predicted by the prophets years before His birth. The Old Testament has in it, over 300 such prophecies. And, you'll be truly surprised to know that all of these proved true—from Christ's miraculous birth, His sinless life, His atrocious death to his astounding resurrection.

Christmas Recollections Last year

My eyes behaved lazily, taking twists and turns, as the clock struck twelve...there was light all over. It had become my usual time of getting up due to my late night shifts. Mom had opened the windows of my room allowing my sweet dream bid me goodbye and those dreamy eyes could not tolerate the belle dance of the flushing curtains .I had no plans to get to my toes at least for the next half an hour. There was breeze outside and I could feel the chill of it on my bare arms. Summer has just ended and Autumn was on its way...and if Autumn is here can Winter be fat behind...this very thought was making me enjoy my Christmas, way before hand. A day when life seems to be so very different,a complete roller-coaster. A day when there is no work but only fun and party. I was already on my way to make it the most happening one,as I usually do.
Still in my sleepish sense of mind I reeled back my thoughts to the hullabaloo of the Christmas celebrations of the previous year. Preparations had started two weeks ago and there was lots of excitement in the air. Lots of shopping and planning for the big day. Ordering for cakes, new clothes,curtains,gifts,cards,Christmas tree...the list was endless. With a perfect two weeks planning the day had finally arrived. It was midnight and I was getting dressed up for the Christmas eve mass.It was supposed to start at 12 and Benny had promised to pick me up on his way to the church. Punctuality was an unknown word to him so we got to see the church at about 11.50, trying to forcefully sneak into a row where I caught the, not so acceptable glances of some elderly members . I had no other option, than to ignore those looks and somehow fit myself among those healthy odd looking people. However Benny was not spared of my usual curses for being the architect of all the suffering I was wittnessing.We usually have high masses on days of occasions which are quite different from the normal ones.The church was beautifully decorated with streamers all over.Stars were at the paramount of glory and there was the beautifully decorated crib with life size statues of Jesus,Mary,Joseph...the Camels,Shepherds...gosh the beauty of it was amazing. The altar was beautifully decorated with fresh flowers, the fragrance of which was falling heavy on the long standing piece of art. The church echoed to the melodious tune of the carols. After the mass, it was time to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and the joy of it could be seen on all faces. When the wishings kissings, and conversation was at its zenith, somebody announced the Christmas eve dance. All attentions were rolled in that direction as that was one of the most awaited events. Every one made their ways to the hall room.In there the atmosphere was awesome with no lights but just the one from the mirror ball high up in the ceiling.

I was rolling around on my bed in excitement, with the least realization that my thoughts of the previous Christmas had slipped into my dreams from reality but I enjoyed every bit of it.I was still in no mood to rise from my bed so I decided to plan out my forthcoming Christmas lying there itself.
Christmas means a lot of things to different people . But for me Christmas means catching up with Friends and Family ...talking about things we like and enjoy and of course having a good time together and savoring the Holiday spirit.
So with Christmas on its way, I hope that you guys are going great guns with your Christmas plans. Do share your experiences with me too.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Christmas Candles

Hope you remember about the Christmas party I had mentioned in my last blog . So how are your plans going ? I am sure you are going to rock all of them, but while you do all this you better not forget about the candles, which is enough to make your party the most memorable one.
Whenever I look at a candle it has always made me wonder about its lifestyle. It burns and burns giving us all its light, keeping darkness to itself but still it has no regrets. But whatever it may be, we still enjoy every bit of its beauty.
With Christmas on its way the markets are sure to get flooded with a variety of candles in different shapes,sizes,colors...some with red ribbons,some with white,blue,green...the lovely flowers on some and those green leaves all around...there are many with the face of Jesus and some with the Christmas tree. On last Christmas I managed to get some beautifully designed ones, in the shape of alphabets.It was am amazing set of candles.
The very look of them are so mesmerizing that you just don't feel like burning it and even when burnt...the aroma takes you into a completely different world.
In all these preparations and merry making lets not forget the actual significance of the candle. A candle lit every week on the advent wreath reminds us of the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, the light actual of the world.
Hope I manage to get some good ones this time. Do inform me if you guys come across a good one.