Monday, 24 November 2014

To Stir or Not to Stir

This week we have a British Christmas Tradition dating back to the time of Prince Albert - Stir up Sunday! Yesterday, 23 November 2014 was Stir Up Sunday.

The last Sunday before Advent is when the vicar recites the words of the collect "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people"  This is the cue that Christmas is only a few weeks away and it is time to make the pudding.  Of course nowadays the supermarkets have been reminding us that the Festive season is drawing closer for weeks and weeks!

So, traditionally families would gather together to make the Christmas pudding, each taking a turn to stir the mixture and make a wish. In times gone by a silver sixpence was added to the mix with the hope that it would bring good fortune to whoever found it in the pudding bowl. Nowadays of course, Health & Safety would have a field day with that concept!

So, do you make your own Christmas Pudding or do you just buy one of the many on offer in our shops? Or maybe, you don't like Christmas Pudding - I believe there are people who don't!

What about the Christmas Cake?  

Years ago I always made a fruit cake in late November and then "feed" it with alcohol right up until Christmas Eve. Then I would cover the cake in marzipan, eating nearly as much as made it onto the cake. The royal icing and decorations were added whilst watching an old black & white film on the TV. Ah those were the days - nowadays I don't seem to have the time!

Shall I make a Christmas Cake, or shall I buy one in?
I'd need to buy ingredients and probably a tin
There's gifts to buy and cards to write. much still to be done
Is there time to make a Christmas Cake - enough for everyone?

Perhaps I'll buy one and ice it , I don't think they would know
I could add ribbon & holly and ice a Ho Ho Ho
And when they say "It's lovely, you must tell us how its made"
I'll say "Old family recipe - can't share it I'm afraid"

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tradition or Correctness?

Over the weekend (15 & 16th November), children in Holland and Belgium have been very excited about the arrival of Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), who is a companion to Saint Nicholas according to folklore.

He arrives by boat wearing a brightly coloured costume and hands out sweets to the children. Actors who play the part, paint their faces black and don frizzy wigs.

It is said that Black Peter spies on the children to report back to Saint Nicholas who is good and who is not! He then takes part in the annual feast of Saint Nicholas on 5th (or 6th) December.

The tradition dates back to the 1800s  when Black Peter was thought to be a devil like creature. However since the turn of the 20th century his character has been softened to make him more child friendly and less frightening. It is now said that he was a Spanish or Italian Chimney sweep who had a permanent layer of soot on his body.

This year the arrival of Black Peter has sparked cries of racism and attempts were made to change him to rainbow coloured or white. Indeed the people of Gouda in Holland were so incensed by it all, that they caused a riot which resulted in 60 arrests. They wanted to make him yellow and call him Cheese Peter after the name of their town.

I find it very sad that a tradition dating back many many years has become the subject of "political correctness".  What do you think? Should it be allowed to continue or is it time to give it all up?

On a happier note Christmas looms ever closer, and I have actually started my Christmas shopping now!

 Running a Craft Supplies website, I start thinking of the Festive Season early in the year when I begin to upload items on to the website. giving everyone plenty of time to make their Christmas themed crafts. So I always think that the big day is ages away and all of a sudden it creeps up on me. Silly really, because I know what date it is - it never changes!

I will leave you this week with this Christmas thought:-

What kind of music do Elves like best?

Wrap music!

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Story of the Christmas Spider

I know Halloween is over and you all thought that you were done with spiders until next year. But I want to tell you the story of the Christmas Spider so that you will understand why you must have a spider hanging in your Christmas Tree.

On Christmas Eve, a long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year – Christmas Day.  Not a speck of dust was left.  Even the spiders were banished from their cosy corner on the ceiling and they ran to the farthest corner of the attic.

The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree. The oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone had gone to bed and then get a closer look.

When the house was dark and silent, the spiders crept out of their hiding place. When they neared the Christmas tree, they were delighted with the beauty of it.  They crept all over the tree, up and down, over the branches and twigs and saw every one of the pretty things.

The spiders loved the Christmas tree and all night long they danced in the branches, leaving them covered with spider webs.  When Father Christmas arrived, he was worried!  He loved the little spiders, but he knew the mother, who had worked so hard to make everything perfect, would not be pleased when she saw what the spiders had done.

With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, Father Christmas reached out and gently touched the spider’s webs. The spider’s webs started to sparkle and shine!  They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold.

According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas tree.  It has also become a custom to include a spider amongst the decorations on the Christmas tree.

So now you know the lovely German Folk Tale about the Christmas Spider. 

As I have lots of lovey beads in my little craft room I have been making Spiders for Christmas and you can see my efforts in my Folksy Shop here

Of course it doesn't have to be a beaded spider, maybe you can make a spider using different materials - I would love to see your ideas.

I will leave you with my favourite quote of the week 

STRESSED is just DESSERTS backwards!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Little Dragons of Ogmore-by-Sea

As you know, it was Halloween last week and Lorna and Lena the Dragon sisters asked for the night off to meet up with some friends.   On the way back they met up with their Friend Mr Ashton in Wales who told them a sad tale of some local dragons.

The Little Dragons of Ogmore-by-Sea.

With little red legs that are covered in scales
They sit in their little dark caves
A creature that’s only now found in South Wales
Watching the cold rolling waves.

On the coast of Glamorgan where nobody goes
They quietly smoulder and sit
Scratching their ears with their little sharp toes
In their den in some caves near Llantwit.

Although they are fierce they are terribly shy
And also they’re terribly rare.
And as they’re nocturnal that’s possibly why
Nobody knows they are there.

Their range is restricted by habitat loss
So now they’re found nowhere at all
Except for a churchyard in Culverhouse Cross
And the coast between Rhoose and Porthcawl.

They’re eight inches long and have leathery wings
And mouthfuls of needle like teeth.
But those who have seen them assure me the things
Are quite soft to touch underneath.

They were thirty feet long in the past so they say.
Especially some of the males,
When they preyed upon virgins but virgins today
Are rarer than dragons in Wales.

So with nowhere to live and their diet gone wrong
The dragons have grown very small
And if something’s not done it won’t be all that long
Before there’s no dragons at all.

I’m told they like cat food by people who know,
They tell me it’s just what they need
So leave them a tin on the beach when you go
Down to Ogmore to help them to breed.

 So remember, next time you go to Wales, take some Cat Food with you to help the poor little Dragons.  Lorna and Lena don't have a cat, but they know of witches who do, so they are busy contacting them.

With Halloween and half term behind us, thoughts now turn to the Festive Season. So next week will bring the first of our Christmas themed blogs.

So tell me - have you started buying presents yet, or are you a "rush round on Christmas Eve" sort of person?

Until next time .........