Celebrations Around the World


Disney World

The Magical Origins of Christmas

You may or may not be surprised to find that many of the routines and the decor of Christmas go back to traditions that were laid in long before the birth of Christ. Three hundred years after Christ’s resurrection the Roman emperor Constantine saw a vision of a cross superimposed upon a sun and he decided to convert to Christianity. He introduced the Edict of Toleration of 313 AD and changed the world, opening the way for Christianity to go mainstream.

It was Constantine who endorsed the first celebration of the birth of Christ and selected the date of 25th December, whereas the true birth date was unknown. That Christ was born was important,his new message of love was supremely important, not the particulars of the time and the date of when actually born. In other words what he stands for and his spiritual message transcends the birth.

In the play, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Tevye, the lead character says that if we abandon the security of our customs, we will be shaken and unstable like a Fiddler on the Roof.

Life for Christians before Constantine had not been pleasant with many slaughtered for their faith, held up to ridicule in places like the Coliseum where they were fed to the lions and tortured.  You can be a purists and protest that some of our Christian traditions go back to pagan times, and think that this demeans our faith but then you would be missing what is important about Christianity.  The soul of a religion lies not in its trimmings and trappings yet it is these trimmings and trappings that make us feel safe. Constantine understood and so he was able to change the world.

Besides Christianity there are other religions that celebrate at this time of the year. It is a time of love and it behooves us to extend tolerance and affinity honoring their traditions and celebrations even if we do things differently. It is amazing to see the commonality, that exists between different religions. Note how they all incorporate candles into their rituals.

Chanukah/Hanukkah

Jewish family celebrating with candles

This Jewish celebration begins at sunset on Tuesday, December 20th and ends at sunset December 28, 2011. It is the story of when the Jews evicted the Syrians-Greeks from Israel, and restored the temple. Apparently when the priests were ready to relight the temple menorah they could find only one jug of oil, enough for only one day. Miraculously the oil burned for seven full days by which time they had processed the necessary pure oil which took seven days to make.

This Jewish story also honors Hannah and her sons who were loyal to HaShem. They refused to pray to Zeus and were all three beheaded; not a way to win historically. Her and the son’s integrity is to be commended.

Ramadan

mosque lighhouse and new moon

This is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar which lasts 29 or 30 days and this is when participating Muslims refrain from eating. There is much celebrating when they finally break the fast.

Fasting is embraced as a cleansing nutritional action in many early religions, and has been adopted in America by the Wellness Movement.

 Kwanzaa

candles and fruit

This tradition from Africa goes from Christmas for seven days through to the New Year. I like this tradition and am comfortable with it for it comes out of Africa where I was born.

The celebration continues for seven days each day a spiritual truth being emphasized.

  1. Unity – (Umoja) To strive for unity in family, race community and nation. (First day and so on)
  2. Self-Determinism – (Kujichagulia) – Rise to a point of cause in your life, and name yourself, speak for yourself, and create for yourself.
  3. Responsibility – (Ujima) Maintain affinity and understanding and peace within your sphere of influence.
  4. Co-operative Community – (Ujaama) Give help to others, and make the problems of your brothers and sisters your own and give them help.
  5. Purpose – (Nia) Support a single group or nation and work to restore its greatness.
  6. Creativity – (Kuumba) Leave everything around you more beautiful and beneficial than before you came along.
  7. Faith – (Imani) Believe in the higher power.
Whatever your family religion, whatever your ritual, the creative homemaker can elevate the Christmas ceremony for her family, and make it a time filled with warmth and love and help family members to find the truth that lies above the ritual.

Quote for the Month
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

~ Hamilton Wright Mable ~

A Story to Read to Your Grand Children . . .

The first episode of Yum Yum Purr

Yum Yum Purr

Yum Yum is popular in the petting zoo where all the animals stay together and support each other as one big happy family.

When his mother was taken to the BIG ZOO and never seen again it was Kanga the kangaroo who found the abandoned itsy bitty thing and put the shivering little monkey into her pouch to keep him safe and warm.

xx

Kanga would normally have gone to Hehaw, her donkey friend, to ask him what to do, or to Elevated, the giraffe, who held a loftier viewpoint. Instead she went to consult with Babuum. Babuum is a performing baboon. Mostly he is gone from the petting zoo, with his concertina and barrel organ. This was one time, one time luckily, when he was back at the petting zoo. Although a tiny monkey with white tufts of fur on his face and a bright blue butt was a far cry from the big and ponderous baboon, Kanga felt they were sort of, kind of from the same species. So she went to Babuum for help.

Babuum, although not a lion nor an elephant had respect and clout in the petting zoo. He asked Domino the squaw to summon all the animals into the clearing at the bottom of the garden. The two elves Hit and Miss came also, but they were not invited. They and Koala clung to the branches of the old oak tree, the elves keeping tabs on the proceedings so they could report back to the fairy kingdom.

It was gratifying that even the domestic animals from the big house came down. Mackie, the mongrel was best friends with Elevated. He was often found fluttering around Elevated’s long legs. So his presence was not surprising.

That the pedigreed Maman, the Siamese cat and her litter of three kittens were in attendance was indeed surprising. They werre rarely seen at the bottom of the garden.

Billy the goat was missing, He was taking advantage of their absence to eat their food. Petunia the pony was being groomed, fancy ribbons put in her hair for the next weekend’s visiting kids. Sneak the snake was there, not that you would know. He made sure he was not seen.

All the other animals were present at the meeting.

The rooster and the hens, the pig and the piglets, and the ducks had all waddled on down. The three sheep were there. They liked Babuum and cheered everything he said.

Hehaw was there, Kanga was there and Elevated, the Giraffe was there on lookout. Yum Yum (although he had not yet been named) was still in Kanga’s pouch.

Babuum started the meeting with a drumroll. He didn’t have the barrel organ to crank, but he did have his concertina. He was wearing his top hat to give importance to the meeting.

“The good news is we have a new animal who joined us at the petting zoo. That is good. That is always good! But he is very little and has been taken from his mother, taken far, far too soon and there he is, Kanga has been looking after him.” Yum yum’s tiny face peeked out from the pouch and then dived down under.again.

“We have to decide what we are going to do,” Babuum said simply..

Each of the animals had something to say. Many lamented the loss of the mother and deplored life in THE BIG ZOO where freedom was restricted and animals put away in a cage. They had heard about such things although it was far removed from their little life, where for the most part they were free to roam around the garden. They were only herded up to the paddock when special tours of children came to the hotel above.

Kanga piped up to say that the little monkey had stopped shivering. Everybody cheered. The sheep cheered. The rooster crowed and the chickens clucked.

Hehaw proposed that Kanga continue to care for him. He said it was a good thing Kanga had done. The little monkey liked her and felt safe with her. She should keep him.

Babuum went round again letting each animal have his say. All said good things about Kanga. Most welcomed the new little monkey and while they said he couldn’t yet understand them, they loved him and accepted him in the petting zoo..

“I welcome the new little monkey,” Domino said, “We need to give him a name.”

“That can come later,” said Babuum.

“I am not so sure,” said Elevated slowly, I think Kanga did a wonderful thing to find and care for the monkey, but I do not think Kanga should keep him.”

In great surprise all the animals reacted. The hens clucked the ducks quacked, and Dobbin neighed.

Babuum said, “You surprise me Elevated. You are good friends with Kanga and you must know she is the kindest animal in the zoo.”

“That she is,” said Elevated from his lofty giraffe height. “I have one thing to ask you Babuum. How is Kanga going to feed this little monkey?”

“Heeouw,”  said Heehaw. “None of us thought of that!”

There were long faces all around and nobody said anything for quite awhile.

“How does one feed an itsy bitty monkey?” asked Mackie

“Meow, excuse me,” said Maman the Siamese cat hesitantly. While to all the other animals she had always seemed haughty, the truth was this elegant, French cat was actually shy. She was also kind. “I will take him to the big house and raise him with my kittens,” she said.

“But he is safe and happy with Kanga.”

“Kanga can visit with us. She can visit often. At the house the dear little thing will get milk. We will need some human help if he is to survive.”

“That does seem to be necessary,” said Babuum slowly.

“I am sure there will be help from the humans and the children,”  continued Maman, Comment? What is it you all theenk?”

“You are very kind,” said Kanga. “I do not think he will survive without your help. He is very little.”

“Mais oui!” said Maman.

“Merci Beaucoup, Maman,” said Babuum inclining his head so the top hat nearly fell off.

In this way it was decided.

So this is the story of how Yum Yum got his name, spoiled rotten at the big house where all the visiting children fought to feed him.

It was how he was also happy. He had two families, where he would cuddle with Maman and kittens during the night and in the day he could visit with Kanga.

It was also where he got his one obsession.

More than anything in the little petting zoo, more than the big house itself, more than THE BIG ZOO, more than the whole big wide world, there was one thing Yum Yum wanted and didn’t have.

What Yum Yum wanted more than anything was the ability to purr. He wanted to be able to purr just like his itty-bitty kitten sisters.

But that is the subject of the January story.

Stay tuned…

 

Let the Holiday Festivities Begin!

Holiday Decorating Tips

(Why do we write these blogs?)

christmas tree and snow flakesChristmas Decorating Tips for you.

For working women it seems there is not enough time in a day to decorate for the season, take care of the boss and still go out and have some fun!

We need, we want, we demand a quick, quick, and easy solution!

  • Fill large tubular vases or long wine glasses with red cranberries to add a beautiful splash of Christmas red to your dining area. Add Poinsettias to virtual vase as an option. (after you have added water).
  • Take some small household, clear glass bottles or old glass vases. Throw some holiday-colored drops of paint inside, shake it up and the paint will splatter inside to look like a modern piece of art. Decorate with a fancy ribbon and voilà, you have some unique holiday decorating!
  • Pick a short craggy branch from a tree. Spray paint it silver. You can stand it in a glass vase or hang it from the ceiling above your dining table and drop tinsel balls from it.
  • For a daughter or granddaughter put a Poinsettia on the mantel and arrange some Holiday dolls bought at a Picture Lady Holiday Boutique around the Christmas flowers. It adds a festive touch and can be set up in less than half an hour.
  • All you need now to set the Christmas mood is Fragrance Candle Lamps from Picture Lady. We recommend Apple Cinnamon Aroma Oil. It fills the house with Christmas cheer and sets the mood for the holidays!  Oh so quick & easy!
  • We suggest you get your Christmas Pictures and stocking stuffers from the Picture Lady Five Dollar Fun Table.
  • Take two or three little Christmas pictures (depending on the size of the wall) and hang them on the wall. String yarn from picture to picture and add your Christmas Cards in a loop from one picture to the next.

To tie the holiday decorating all together it is a good idea to select a theme. Here are some popular themes:

  • Angels (Great selection at a Picture lady Boutique)
  • Rustic – don’t omit the candles or the gold painted pine cones and the scent of pine
  • Modern and/or abstract – add colorful shapes on solid poster board. Instead of florals suggest you put colored tissue in your vases.

ackaging pictures

Christmas Decorating One thing you absolutely DO NOT WANT TO DO. Don’t wrap your pictures in Christmas paper unless you want your house to look like a fast food restaurant!

 Quote for the Week

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!

 Hamilton Wright Maple