A Little Holiday Trivia
The Holidays – A TIME to Create Your Family Traditions
Regardless of where you live or how old you are, holiday time and Christmas memories from your childhood have a special glow about them. Perhaps you remember a special gift you received or gave to someone special. Christmas ornaments and decorations, the songs you play and sing, the family celebrations and even opening your presents all create lasting memories and traditions.
Family holiday celebrations are different for everyone… It’s a special time and usually includes laughter, joy and love that just come with the spirit of Christmas. Families around the country look forward to recreating those memorable moments when they gather together.
One of my favorite childhood memories of the holidays was, Christmas eve dinner. We lived in Montauban, France, and my parents worked in the medical field. At least one would have to work at the hospital on Christmas Eve. We didn’t live close to other family, so the “big” family dinner gathering was never part of our planning. To compensate for their absence, my parents would allow my brother and I to choose whatever we wanted to eat. Serge, my brother, would have a full plate of oysters and other sea food with Soda (!!!). I, on the other hand, would have mussels and French fries. For dessert, we would have the traditional ‘’ bûche de noël’’. This “tradition” may sound a bit out of the ordinary, but our time together was something we looked forward to – even if the family was not all together we were very happy and grateful for the “tradition” we enjoyed on Christmas Eve. My mother was dedicated to preparing and providing us healthy meals all year round. Truth be known, we were never able to choose what we wanted to eat. We ate what was served on our plate. Christmas Eve represented a time that my brother and I bonded, we were free to choose “our favorite meals”, but most importantly, it was a meaningful time we cherished every year.
If your family doesn’t have a special Christmas tradition, consider creating your own. Create your own wonderful memories that your children and grandchildren will want to keep in the family for years to come.
Merry “Early” Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!!!
The Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. It was common for the Germanic people to decorate fir trees, both inside and out, with roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles. While coming home one dark winter’s night near Christmas, he was struck with the beauty of the starlight shining through the branches of a small fir tree outside his home. He duplicated the starlight by using candles attached to the branches of his indoor Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19th century. It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1820’s.
Acccording to legend, a kindly nobleman grew despondent over the death of his beloved wife and foolishly squandered his fortune. This left his three young daughters without dowries and thus facing a life of spinsterhood.The generous St. Nicholas, hearing of the girls’ plight, set forth to help. Wishing to remain anonymous, he rode his white horse by the nobleman’s house and threw three small pouches of gold coins down the chimney where they were fortuitously captured by the stockings the young women had hung by the fireplace to dry.
It was not long after Europeans began using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. It wasn’t until around 1900 that they were decorated with red stripes and bent into the shape of a cane. They were sometimes handed out during church services to keep the children quiet. One story (almost certainly false) that is often told about the origin of the candy cane is as follows:
In the late 1800’s a candy maker in Indiana wanted to express the meaning of Christmas through a symbol made of candy. He came up with the idea of bending one of his white candy sticks into the shape of a Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols of Christ’s love and sacrifice through the Candy Cane. First, he used a plain white peppermint stick. The color white symbolizes the purity and sinless nature of Jesus. Next, he added three small stripes to symbolize the pain inflicted upon Jesus before His death on the cross. There are three of them to represent the Holy Trinity. He added a bold stripe to represent the blood Jesus shed for mankind. When looked at with the crook on top, it looks like a shepherd’s staff because Jesus is the shepherd of man. If you turn it upside down, it becomes the letter J symbolizing the first letter in Jesus’ name. The candy maker made these candy canes for Christmas, so everyone would remember what Christmas is all about.
The Hebrew word Hanukkah is spelled in English in a number of ways: Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hannukah and Khanuka are just some of the options. Hanukkah is the most generally accepted spelling.
This year Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 1 and ends on December 9th.
A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. It is used during Hanukkah to play a popular children’s game. A game similar to the dreidel game was popular during the rule of Antiochus. During this period Jews were not free to openly practice their religion, so when they gathered to study Torah they would bring a top with them. If soldiers appeared, they would quickly hide what they were studying and pretend to be playing a gambling game with the top.
A “Gelt” is a Yiddish term for “money.” Giving gelt is an old and cherished custom, especially at Hanukkah. Hanukkah gelt can be savings bonds, checks, or even small chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Whatever a person’s source of Hanukkah gelt, the tradition is always the same–put some of your abundance in a “tzedakah” box and share your good fortune with the needy or for a worthy cause.