Boxing Day

Boxing DayIn Britain, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas that is 26th December. In some countries it is the first week day after Christmas. It is the day the Christmas box is opened and its contents shared among the poor.

In olden days, a clay or a wooden box was a container in which people placed their gifts and alms. There are many stories associated with the origins of Boxing Day. One of them is that on Christmas day, a box was placed in the church for collecting money. This box was opened the next day and the money collected was distributed among the poor. Read more..

Christmas Markets in Germany

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN GERMANY-04Germany is the home of many age old Christmas traditions. Germany is also famous for its Christmas markets which are set up in every town, village and city from the mid of November since the 15th century. These markets uphold the traditional Christmas spirit. The Nativity Scene is reconstructed. The streets are lit and decorated accordingly and choir singing can be heard. The festive atmosphere literally sweeps you off your feet. There are stalls selling artistically made handicrafts like nut crackers, wooden stars, glass balls and other novelties and Christmas ornaments. Besides Christmas related objects, mouth watering delicacies like grilled sausages, baked apples, chestnuts and ginger bread biscuits are sold. To beat the winter frost mulled wine is also sold. Bernkastle-Kues is one place famous for the Christmas markets. The town is better known for its unique architecture.

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN GERMANY-02The true medieval market is set up in the town of Esslingen. Here you will find history re-enacted with musicians, entertainers, fire jugglers, peddlers and dancers for your entertainment besides some 180 stalls selling Christmas souvenirs. Hamelin is another place known for its Christmas markets set up in the middle of the town. Main attractions of the town are the 11 meters high Christmas Pyramid. The famous Hochzeitshaus (Wedding Hall) is cloaked as a huge brightly lit advent calendar. The glassblowing works of Hamelin however hold the major attention as people of all ages children included make their Christmas baubles under the supervision of the glassblowers. The Christmas cruise on the Weser River is another show stealer.

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN GERMANY-03The Christmas markets of Heidelberg spread over seven squares are just like a scene from the fairytales. To really get into the true mood of Christmas, you can take the guided tour of the town. Alternately you can have fun at the ice skating rink.

You can see Christmas concerts in the town of Lubeck with its five brick built churches. 4 markets are set up in this town to celebrate Christmas.

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN GERMANY-01There are many places in Germany worth visiting for their Christmas Markets. Although Christmas Markets are now being set up in other countries as well but the magic and charm of the German Christmas Markets is unparalleled.

Christmas Traditions

Some age-old Christmas traditions are still being followed, but very few people know about their origins or how they got associated with Christmas. Some interesting Christmas traditions are as follows:

xmas-traditions-11. Kissing under the Mistletoe

An age old custom of Christmas is that whenever a man and woman meet under mistletoe they kiss. The man then plucks a berry. When the last berry is gone kissing stops.
Mistletoe is a poisonous parasitic plant which remains green even during winters. Mistletoe was considered sacred by the people before Christ. It was supposed to have medicinal qualities and supernatural powers. Kissing under the mistletoe is a Scandinavian custom. The Scandinavians associated mistletoe with their goddess of love Frigga and all those who kissed under it had a happy and prosperous year.

xmas-traditions-22. Christmas Tree

Setting up a fir tree as a Christmas tree started in Germany. Later it spread to the whole of Europe and then in 1800s America. The custom of decorating a Christmas tree also commenced in Germany.

3. Christmas Dinner

The main dishes of a traditional Christmas dinner are roast turkey and plum pudding. The turkey is filled with stuffing and then roasted. The Christmas pudding contains dried fruits and is said to have originated in England.

4. Christmas Carols

Christmas carols are songs based on the theme of Christmas. In the 12th century St.Francis of Assini introduced Christmas carols to the church. The word carol is derived from a French word “caroler” which means dancing around in a circle. These songs express joy and happiness and are very popular among Christians. The carol “Silent Night” is especially popular. A Christmas is not complete without carols.

xmas-traditions-35. Christmas Stockings

Children hang stockings by their bedsides or the fireplace on the eve of Christmas. Santa Claus is supposed to fill these stockings with toys and other gifts the children have asked for. This tradition began with Saint Nicholas a kindhearted pious person who loved to help people while remaining anonymous. One day he climbed to the roof of a house and slipped a purse of money down the chimney to help a girl. The purse landed in the girl’s stocking which she had put out to dry.

Thanksgiving Day

thanksgiving-2As the name suggests, Thanksgiving Day is a day to thank the Lord for His bounties. It is basically a harvest festival. Thanksgiving Day is mainly celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. It originated in the U.S. in the early 17th century when colonists and Indians joined together to celebrate a good harvest after a harsh winter of starvation and adversity. Over the years the festival gained importance and Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. Realizing the significance of Thanksgiving Day, in 1941 the U.S Congress declared it a National Holiday. In Canada, it is celebrated on the 25th of October.
Thanksgiving Day is a joyous occasion and is celebrated with lavish dinners, bringing family together and colorful parades.Thanksgiving Day is a time for family get-together and an elaborate meal is prepared for this occasion. thanksgiving-1Roast

Turkey is the main item on the menu followed by pumpkin pies and lots of fruits.
A lively feature of Thanksgiving Day is the colorful parades that take place in major cities in the U.S. like New York, Miami, San Diego, Chicago and Phoenix. Animal-shaped Helium-filled balloons, beautifully-decorated floats with unique themes and vibrant colors and live bands are the main attractions of the parades. Thousands of people gather on the streets to watch the parades and many others watch on T.V. On Thanksgiving Day people sit back and enjoy time with their families.

Christmas Gifts for Men

Gone are the days when men dutifully accept utility items (socks, sweaters, shirts, and lighters) as Christmas gifts. Men today expect exciting gifts from the women they have spoiled all through the year. To show your appreciation and express your love for that special man in your life, choose something truly exciting this year.
When shopping for Christmas gifts for men the options are unlimited. This makes picking up the right gift a difficult task. As his wife/girlfriend you must be aware of his interests and hobbies and choose a gift accordingly. If your man is a movie freak get him copies of his favorite movies.

christmas-gifts-men-2

For the electronic gadget lover you can choose the latest cell phone, digital camera or a camcorder. For the well-groomed type, a pair of designer cuff links, watch or a silk tie will do. A men’s cologne and a spicy after shave also make a great gift. A leather wallet is also a good choice, however, if you have a limited budget then go for an artificial leather wallet.
Gifts are your way of expressing gratitude and telling a person that you really understand them. A gift of his liking will not only be special, it will be memorable too, and he will always cherish it.

Christmas Gifts for Women

christmas-gifts-women-1Christmas Gifts for Women

Christmas is the time to tell those dear to you how much you love them and how important they are. What better way than a Christmas gift? Choosing the best Christmas gift for the special lady in their lives is what men dread the most. Women are difficult to please. Admit it. They are bound to nag if you give them a juicer to replace the broken one. Try to find a gift for them and not for the house.

christmas-gifts-women-2It is better to choose a gift that appeals to the lady’s interest; this will show how well you know her and that you truly understand her. Believe me that is a gift itself.
Whatever gift you intend to buy, the internet is the best place to do some research. Various sites will guide you in selecting a proper gift as well as update your meager knowledge about the latest fashions. Among some of the things women like most are hand bags/purses, especially a designer hand bag. Choose one to fit her lifestyle. For a working woman and mothers of young babies, stylish yet roomy bags will do. For party goers, a sleek purse is a perfect choice. . christmas-gifts-women-3

Cosmetics, especially from a renowned brand, are guaranteed to bring a happy smile. Perfumes and other perfume related accessories make a great gift too, however, when choosing one keep her personality in mind.
Jewelry makes the best gift any day and for any age. Though diamonds can get you a lot more than smiles, diamonds are expensive and not within everyone’s reach. Lucky for you, artificial jewelry is available in many designs and the price range is more affordable.

Christmas Gifts for Kids

xmas-gifts-kids-1 Christmas Gifts for Kids

It’s Christmas time and parents are worried what gifts to get for their children. Here are some ideas to guide you.
The best Christmas gift for children, whether girls or boys and no matter what age, is computer games. When you choose a video game for your kids make sure that in addition to the fun factor they have educational value. Computer games come in many varieties. There are action games, riddles and quizzes and board games. Among these you can find mind challenging games which the kids actually enjoy. They provide fun and at the same time provides exercises for the brain.xmas-gifts-kids-2

If your child collects action figures then the latest G I Joe figure will make a nice gift. A Barbie doll with accessories will make your little princess happy. As children love to play dress up games and have a rich imagination, costumes like superman and ninja warrior are ideal for boys while girls will love a fairy costume.
For the active ones a sports kit like, a mini scooter, a bike, a skate board and ski shoes are an ideal choice depending on the sports they like.xmas-gifts-kids-3

Build it yourself kits and Lego’s will never go out of fashion.Teenage girls can be given make up kits, cell phones, cool hand bags and jewelry. Boys will love a designer T-shirt, cell phone, IPod and a mini laptop. The best gift for a teenager however remains a credit card. Teenage credit cards come with parental control so you do not have to worry about misuse.Whatever you give your child, the gift of love and attention still tops the list.

xmas-gifts-kids-4

Decorating a Christmas Tree

christmas-treeDecorating a Christmas Tree

The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree goes back to the 16th century when Christmas candies were used as decorations by the Germans. The Christmas food later gave way to candles, bells, glass balls, light bulbs and many other glittering ornaments.
Decorating a Christmas tree is one of the most enjoyable activities at Christmas. The decorations used to depend upon the country and the type of tree used. Conifer trees make the best Christmas trees and live Christmas décor such as pine cones look great on a real Christmas tree. In places where fir trees are not available, synthetic trees can be used along with artificial décor. No matter which tree is used, the real fun lies in decorating it.

To add color and brightness, strings of small bulbs are wrapped around the tree (make sure that each bulb is working before stringing it). The color scheme of the decorations should match the color scheme of your room. Among some decorations commonly used are garlands, glass balls, tinsel, ribbons etc. You can make some of your own decorations to give your tree a personal touch. When placing the ornaments, ensure that they are evenly spread and are not placed only on the edges; this gives the tree a fuller, better look. Place the expensive delicate ornaments on the top branches well out of reach of little children. The top of the tree can be decorated with either a star or an angel.
The best part of decorating a Christmas tree is that you get to spend time with your family. Decorating is not easy, but with the help of little hands it becomes more of a family bonding than a ritual. After all, Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones.

Santa Claus

santa-claus-1Santa Claus

Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, is perhaps the most popular Christmas figure among kids. He is a stout, jolly old fellow with a white beard who wears a red suit. He lives at the North Pole. Santa Claus brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. Children write to the Santa telling him what gifts they want for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus gathers all the toys on his sleigh which is driven by a team of reindeer as he rides across the sky. Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer leads the team and is Santa’s favorite. Santa slips down the chimneys of houses and places the toys in stockings by the beds of children. In some shopping malls or parties for children someone usually dresses up as Santa Claus and gives gifts to the children.

santa-claus-2The fictitious character of Santa Claus is based on a real life person Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a kind-hearted but rather shy person who loved helping people. Once to help a girl in need, he slipped a purse full of gold coins down the chimney which incidentally landed in the girl’s stocking that had been placed by the fire for drying. This is reportedly the beginning of the tradition of placing gifts in stockings.

It’s Christmas Time!!

christmas-1It’s Christmas Time!!

As November ends, the preparations for Christmas pick up. The streets and malls are decorated with colored lights and have a festive look. From the first week of December, people start decorating their houses and yards. Multicolored ribbons, paper and plastic decorations and lights are seen everywhere. The Malls stay open late into the night and are crowded with shoppers. Special Christmas sales make purchasing accessible for many. The air is filled with excitement and Christmas carols are on everyone’s lips.Most families set up their Christmas trees by mid-December. Christmas trees are a central aspect of Christmas as most festivities are centered around it. Decorating a Christmas tree is a family affair. Many decorative ornaments are available in the market, though some people prefer to make their own decorations. The gifts are kept under the tree a night before the big day.
On the night of 24th December, a Midnight Christian Vigil is held in churches shortly before midnight. It is followed by a Midnight Mass.christmas-2

In some places the Midnight Mass is held in the early morning on Christmas day.
The rest of the big day is spent exchanging gifts, meeting friends and relatives. The Christmas dinner is the highlight of the day. Turkey and Christmas pudding are the main dishes for many.christmas-3


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