Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


Fairy places, fairy things
fairy woods where
the wild bee wings.
Tiny trees, for tiny dames.
These must all be fairy names.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas




From; The Buzzing Bee

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Its Not Christmas for me without Dickens..




Merry Merry to all, As a child and as a adult it is just not the Christmas season without the works of Charles Dickens. I Love the novels, as they sweep me away to a world that is so colorful and descriptive. . It lets you enter their world and make you feel as if you are really there..
The movies of course. I love the old black, and whites the best!! The actors character explorations in those movies are superior to any of the present days redo's as far as I am concerned..
I have blogged some history, and biographic info here for you about Dickens that I thought was interesting.. Please enjoy..


Happy Christmas
Bee

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English Victorian era author wrote numerous highly acclaimed novels including his most autobiographical David Copperfield (1848-1850);Charles Dickens has probably had more influence on the way that we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual in human history except one.


At the beginning of the Victorian period the celebration of Christmas was in decline. The medieval Christmas traditions, which combined the celebration of the birth of Christ with the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia (a pagan celebration for the Roman god of agriculture), and the Germanic winter festival of Yule, had come under intense scrutiny by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell. The Industrial Revolution, in full swing in Dickens' time, allowed workers little time for the celebration of Christmas.
The romantic revival of Christmas traditions that occurred in Victorian times had other contributors: Prince Albert brought the German custom of decorating the Christmas tree to England, the singing of Christmas carols (which had all but disappeared at the turn of the century) began to thrive again, and the first Christmas card appeared in the 1840s. But it was the Christmas stories of Dickens, particularly his 1843 masterpiece "A Christmas Carol", that rekindled the joy of Christmas in Britain and America. Today, after more than 160 years," A Christmas Carol" continues to be relevant, sending a message that cuts through the materialistic trappings of the season, and gets to the heart and soul of the holidays.

Dickens' describes the holidays as "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys".

This was what Dickens described for the rest of his life as the "Carol Philosophy. Dickens' name had become so synonymous with Christmas that on hearing of his death in 1870 a little costermonger's fruit and vegetable) ( girl in London asked, "Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?".

Some of Dickens Novels;

A Christmas Carol
The Pickwick Papers
Great Expectations
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished novel




unique glitter graphics

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bah Humbug! The Importance of Christmas Stories?








How did A Christmas Carol evolve into a classic -- and why does it still emotionally touch thousands every year?
Of all the Christmas stories, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is undoubtedly second only to the Nativity story in terms of historical and literary significance. Ever since its publication, readers have returned to this story in droves, finding comfort and joy in the story of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his conversion to the fullness of Christmas joy through the Christmas spirits of the Past, Present, and Future.
Scrooge
A Christmas Carol is so famous that the word "scrooge" has come to define a miser or killjoy even in non-English speaking countries. Rarely do Christmas stories reach so far and have such a significant impact. An interesting note is that people seem more interested in the pre-conversion Scrooge. Most of the novel tells of his transformation, but the word is never used in that sense in popular language.
"Ebenezer" is actually a Hebrew name which literally translates to "stone of help." Many people have interpreted the name in different ways, and legends abound as to where Dickens gathered the surname Scrooge -- including the notion that he misread the word "meal" for "mean" on a tombstone and stole the man's name.
Themes
Like many Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol has themes far beyond that of Christmas. Dickens was extremely concerned with the social and economic status of the poor in his time. In fact, a famous legend tells of Dickens challenging a doctor to walk through the poorest district of London without becoming ill. The man laughingly took the dare and wound up making it ten feet.
When we think of Victorian times, we don't realize the incredible poverty hidden behind the upper and middle class veneer. Many Victorians also preferred to sweep those individuals under the carpet, and Dickens used Scrooge as an embodiment of that attitude.
It doesn't take much effort to see the importance of A Christmas Carol as a literary work -- after all, it has influenced countless spin-offs, parodies, and tributes -- but even a quick reading also reveals the social and historical significance of this most famous of Christmas stories.
Years to Come
It seems clear that Dickens' immortal tale won't be going anywhere fast. Already there have been dozens of film, television, and stage interpretations, and more are scheduled for the near future. So never fear. This most beloved of Christmas stories looks like it's here to stay!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Legends About Silent Night



There are obscure Christmas legends, and then there are the legends almost everyone remembers. Silent Night is a Christmas carol that has evoked a powerful response, and people seem compelled to shroud it with stories and mystery.

Some Facts

These are the facts we know for sure about Silent Night despite the various stories surrounding the famous Christmas carol.
--An Austrian priest by the name of Father Josef Mohr composed the original lyrics to Stille Nacht in German.
--An Austrian headmaster, Franz Xavier Gruber, composed the melody, which differed slightly from the version we use today.
--Mohr wrote the song in 1816, but it wasn't performed until Christmas Eve of 1818 at the Nicola-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria.
--Gruber's original melody was written for guitar.

The Myths

Out of these simple facts came many Christmas legends of Silent Night. Including some of these myths and some legends where the truth is simply unknown.
--The organ broke and Gruber and Mohr quickly composed the melody for the song on guitar instead;
Truth: The first mention of this legend doesn't occur until 1909, long after the song's debut.
--The carol was performed to a magnificent reception, but promptly forgotten. In 1825, an organ repairman found the long-lost manuscript and brought it to the attention of the public once more.
Truth: Mohr and Gruber published several versions of the song throughout their lifetimes.
--Mice ate through the organ bellows, necessitating the use of the guitar.
Truth: There is no evidence of this, just like the other organ myth. Some have theorized that Gruber used his guitar just because he was looking for an excuse to play it in church. Unlike many Christmas legends, this one might actually be true.

Silent Night in War

Silent Night has had a profound impact on people around the world, and the Internet gives you access to many soldiers from a variety of battles who found peace in its melody.
The most famous, of course, is the temporary truce shared by German and American soldiers during the Christmas of 1914.
Unlike many Christmas legends, this story has been downplayed, not exaggerated, as years passed. Military officials disliked the truce, and they doubly disliked the fact that soldiers on both sides refused to resume firing at one another for some time afterwards.But while Silent Night was the song that started soldiers on both sides singing together, the following days saw soldiers playing soccer, exchanging gifts, and meeting behind enemy lines, all in the name of Christmas.
So while many Christmas legends are silly, sentimental, or just plain nonsense, keep in mind that not only are some true, but that they can be the most inspiring of all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Traditions: The Advent Calendar



The Advent calendar is one of our most beloved Christmas traditions, right up there with trimming the tree and laying out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. But where does it come from -- and in our busy 21st century world, where is it going?

In the Beginning

The term "Advent" is actually a religious term referring to the four weeks leading up to Christmas (or the "advent" of Christ). That means Advent usually doesn't begin on December 1st but at the end of November. In practical terms, though, people have used December 1st as the beginning of their countdown for over three hundred years.
People have always enjoyed having something to look forward to, and even before the frenzied commercialism of gift giving, Christmas was a season to remember, and Christmas traditions helped people count down the days. As early as the 17th century, families would mark chalk lines on the walls to give themselves a visual reference as to how many days remained until the holiday.

Oh, Those Victorians....

We often associate Christmas traditions with Victoriana with good reason. Christmas really enjoyed itself in the 19th century! Long before Queen Victoria's husband brought the German tradition of the Christmas tree to England, German families had marked the days to Christmas with wreaths, pictures, and various other physical actions.
In fact, it was shortly after the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, when the first Advent calendar was actually printed commercially.

Now and Beyond

Of course, most people nowadays associate Christmas traditions with getting something, and that's why so many Advent calendars have chocolate treats hidden behind their doors. There have been many criticisms of these modern Advent calendars, which some believe buy too strongly into commercial Christmas and move away from what is essentially Advent.
Other countries have opened their own Christmas traditions to countdown. In Scandinavia, for example, there is actually a television show that begins on December 1st and ends on the 24th. These shows give the entire country a method of counting down to Christmas together.
But for the true Advent calendar, the place to be remains Germany. Many communities transform buildings in their towns (or in one memorable case, a town hall with twenty four windows) into living Advent calendars, with beautiful Christmas scenes illuminated one by one as the days to Christmas pass by. Most believe that the Advent calendar originated in Germany, but like so many Christmas traditions, it has spread to the entire world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweet Treats Can Bring Some Good Christmas Luck.




Ever wondered if you should pay attention to those Christmas food superstitions? Is there a simple yet traditional dish you can whip up and throw a little luck into the mix?




Let's not Mince Words


Do you like mince pie? (NO) Never had it? Mince pies were once known as mincemeat pies. The actual meat is left out of the now completely sweet British Christmas pastry filled with dried fruit. You should give it a try if you want to encourage luck in the New Year.
There's more than mince in mince pie. Eat as much mince pie as you can from the start of Christmas Eve until the end of the Twelfth night to bring heaping amounts of good luck into the New Year!
Put away that knife! An important note to make regarding Christmas food superstitions and mince pie is that cutting it will slice through your luck in the upcoming year. Better to just pick up and bite right into these delectable sweets.
Prefer using a utensil while gaining good luck? Here's another Christmas food superstition that requires a wooden spoon to mix the good luck into your treat.



The Proof is in the Pudding

Traditionally, all people in the household must stir the pudding with a wooden spoon and view the bottom of the bowl three times. Make a wish with each swirl. Even the youngest baby partakes to help to ensure the entire household prosperity in the coming year. Much like wishing on a star, however, you cannot reveal the content of your wish until it comes true.
Finally, a silver coin, a thimble and a ring are dropped into the pudding before serving. Christmas food superstitions dictate that the recipient of the coin on his Christmas dinner plate receives luck, whoever gets the thimble gains in prosperity, and finally the ring represents a wedding in the future.
For Christmas dinner here are a couple of lucky notes to make for your luck's sake. Make sure you set the table for an even number of people even if you have an odd number of guests (just make sure to round up, not down). Stay at the table until everyone's finished, because leaving early brings bad luck (doesn't that one sound like something your mom made up?).
.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Nutcracker




How did The Nutcracker come to be one of our most beloved Christmas traditions?


It's one of the newer Christmas traditions, but it's still had time to become near and dear to our hearts. Every year, usually at the beginning of December, many families attend the only piece of ballet or live theatre they'll see all year: The Nutcracker.




But how did The Nutcracker become such a popular tradition? What sets it apart from other Christmas stories and makes it special? And where, exactly, did it come from?




The story itself is quite old, and the one we see onstage isn't even the original, but a popular adaptation by the French author Alexandre Dumas, best known for writing The Three Musketeers. Once the story made the leap (no pun intended) from page to stage, though, history was in the making.




From the Ashes of Disappointment...




Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian composer also known for the 1812 overture, composed The Nutcracker as his final and least satisfying ballet, taking on the project with a marked lack of enthusiasm.
How ironic that it should become one of the most beloved Christmas traditions of the twentieth century while many of the composer's other works fell by the wayside!
The ballet premiered in Russia in 1892. The famous "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," now well known for its lilting, somewhat exotic melody, made Tchaikovsky the first composer in history to use the celesta, an instrument similar to a group of tuning forks. Most people thought the instrument too subtle for symphonic use.



First Russia, Then the World!



The Nutcracker didn't exactly make an instantaneous leap from Russia to the archive of American Christmas traditions. In fact, not until 1944 did an American ballet company decide to perform the entire ballet. But that year the San Francisco Ballet took on the task, performing the ballet as an annual tradition.
But it was George Balanchine who really started The Nutcracker on the road to Christmas traditions. In 1954 he choreographed the ballet for a New York company, and not a year has passed since when the ballet wasn't performed in New York City.
Balanchine was the first to have the roll of Clara danced by a child, necessitating a much simpler choreography. By the late 1960s, other ballet companies across North America had jumped on the bandwagon, enthusiastically performing The Nutcracker to a receptive annual audience.
One wonders whether the ballet's great posthumous success would have changed Tchaikovsky's opinion of his final ballet, but unfortunately he died in 1894, long before The Nutcracker became one of the nation's most beloved Christmas traditions.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Historical Christmas Stories: Yes, Virginia!



If you love historical Christmas stories -- or even if you don't -- you can probably finish this sentence: Yes, Virginia, there is a....
The most famous of all historical Christmas stories has to be ;
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. -->>And better still, the story is true.

In spite of the fact that almost everyone has heard of such historical Christmas stories, surprisingly few people know the full tale behind them. It's kind of like going Christmas caroling and discovering you don't actually know more than the first verse of your favorite songs. Most people don't know more than the most basic of Virginia's story.But that basis is incredibly famous.
An eight-year-old girl, doubting the existence of Santa Claus, wrote a letter to the New York Sun in 1897 and received a public answer in the form of a now-famous editorial entitled ;
"Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus."
Virginia
Virginia (actually Laura Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas) wrote to the New York Sun after her "little friends" told her there was no such person as Santa Claus. Interestingly, that phrase -- "little friends" -- has caused many to question the authenticity of the story, as some argue that no eight year old child would ever use that phrase.
In 1998, though, the original copy of the letter appeared on The Antiques Roadshow and received professional authentication (receiving a value, incidentally, of about $50,000).
Virginia went on to become a school teacher and died in 1971.
The Author
Like most historical Christmas stories, this one has an author -- or in this case, an editor. Francis Pharcellus Church was a war correspondent during the American Civil War, an assignment which took a serious toll on his stores of hope, joy, and faith in humanity.
No one expected much from Church's editorial -- in fact, they placed it seventh on the editorial page beneath an article about chain less articles. The editorial, however, became a symbol of belief for a generation and who would have known all generations thereafter.
In the years since, Church's article has become the most reprinted editorial ever, and has found a permanent home in the heart of many Americans.
Like so many historical Christmas stories, this editorial touches on meaningful philosophical issues like the Christmas ideals of belief, faith, and hope.

Monday, December 08, 2008

UPDATE ;HARRY POTTER


Hi to all you Potter fans.... While putting up my Christmas tree yesterday I was watching ABC family cable TV station. It had a all day Potter movie marathon.. During commercial breaks they showed previews of the new movie " Half Blood Prince" And it gave a movie date release of "July 17th" 2009.. So hopefully this date will stick this time!!!!


Anyway thought you would want to know???


Hugs & pumpkin juice


Bee

OH Christmas Tree , Oh Christams tree

With Christmas & Yule's fast approach, And -->I just put up my tree yesterday. I thought I would blog a little info on the Christmas tree. It is such a part of the traditional Christmas festivities and such a center piece. My tree is artificial.. I walk in the woods the week before Yule, and find a proud grand fir, and ask for a a small sampling of his beautiful branch's so I may smell the scent of Christmas past, and partake in a small way in the celebrations of the ancients....

Happy Hoildays
Bee

Traditions: Christmas Trees

The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost 1,000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.


Top ten christmas trees sold in the united states .


Voted #1 - Fraser Fir
Voted #2 - Douglas Fir
Voted #3 - Balsam Fir
Voted #4 - Colorado Blue Spruce V
Voted # 5 - Scotch Pine -
Voted #6 - Eastern Red Cedar -
Voted #7 - White Spruce -
Voted #8 - Eastern White Pine -
Voted #9 - White Fir or Concolor Fir
Voted #10 - Virginia Pine

( Where I live in the Pacific NW--> it is; Douglas fir, Blue spruce, Grand fir and Noble fir.)


CHRISTMAS TREE TRADITION HAS ANCIENT ORIGINS

King Tut never saw a Christmas tree, but he would have understood the tradition which traces back long before the first Christmas.
The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrive, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.
The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a fest called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life.
Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.
Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.
The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio.
But the custom spread slowly. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home.
The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.
Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn't sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape then wild ones.

CHRISTMAS TREE HISTORY

Did a celebration around a Christmas tree on a bitter cold Christmas Eve at Trenton, New Jersey, turn the tide for Colonial forces in 1776? According to legend, Hessian mercenaries were so reminded of home by a candlelit evergreen tree that they abandoned their guard posts to eat, drink and be merry. Washington attached that night and defeated them.
The Christmas tree has gone through a long process of development rich in many legends, says David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture, with the Springfield Extension Center.
Some historians trace the lighted Christmas tree to Martin Luther. He attached lighted candles to a small evergreen tree, trying to simulate the reflections of the starlit heaven -- the heaven that looked down over Bethlehem on the first Christmas Eve.
Until about 1700, the use of Christmas trees appears to have been confined to the Rhine River District. From 1700 on, when lights were accepted as part of the decorations, the Christmas tree was well on its way to becoming a tradition in Germany. Then the tradition crossed the Atlantic with the Hessian soldiers.
Some people trace the origin of the Christmas tree to an earlier period. Even before the Christian era, trees and boughs were used for ceremonials. Egyptians, in celebrating the winter solstice -- the shortest day of the year -- brought green date palms into their homes as a symbol of "life triumphant over death". When the Romans observed the feast of saturn, part of the ceremony was the raising of an evergreen bough. The early Scandinavians were said to have paid homage to the fir tree.
To the Druids, sprigs of evergreen holly in the house meant eternal life; while to the Norsemen, they symbolized the revival of the sun god Balder. To those inclined toward superstition, branches of evergreens placed over the door kept out witches, ghosts, evil spirits and the like.
This use does not mean that our Christmas tree custom evolved solely from paganism, any more than did some of the present-day use of sighed in various religious rituals.
Trees and branches can be made purposeful as well as symbolic. The Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives a pleasant aroma of the forest. The fact that balsam fir twigs, more than any other evergreen twigs, resemble crosses may have had much to do with the early popularity of balsam fir used as Christmas trees.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

First Christmas without Harry


Christmas without Harry ?

Wow, this is the first Christmas when I was not enjoying a new book, or movie from our dear J.K. Rowling story "Harry Potter".. It will not be the same. Although I am reading "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" (I just got my copy yesterday.) But I really wish I had a movie.. Funny how one gets use to something, and all of the sudden there is a hole in the festivities because it is missing..

I am really enjoying the new edition to the Harry Potter collection.

But I miss Harry very much !!


Sparkling Christmas lights.


Bee :^)

Monday, December 01, 2008

The first Christmas Card


The first known Christmas card is printed on the front cover with a date of 1843. The original was in muted colours, hand painted, printed and sold for 1cent each (5p) - a lot of money in those days. Despite the date on this card, encyclopedia's say that Christmas cards were first sold in 1846!By the 1860s the idea of sending cards had caught on as they were able to be produced much more cheaply with the invention of less expensive colour printing. The first Christmas cards had lace and flowery borders, but then they changed to more familiar designs. The robin became very popular as were Victorian snow scenes, religious pictures, holly, Christmas trees etc. Many similar scenes are reproduced in our cards today.
Thought this was interesting..
Hugs a lots of sparkling Christmas cards to all
Bee