Friday, 4 November 2016

Christmas Stocking Fillers # 2


For Christmas I bought my Auntie
A brand new wooden leg
I didn’t have it specially made
No I just got it off the peg
You may say it’s not a nice gift
Or even that it’s a killer
It wasn’t her main present though
It was just a stocking filler


At mid-day in Finland, the 'peace of Christmas' is broadcast on national radio and TV from the Finnish city of Turku.

SILENT NIGHT - Music and lyrics written by Joseph Mohr in 1818

Silent night Holy night
All is calm all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born;
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.


In Rome a monk living about 530 ad
A mathematician and an astronomer
Was given the task of calculating
And reforming the Christian calendar
In essence to pin point with all precision
The date of Jesus Christ’s birth exactly
A miscalculation was discovered later
He was four years out unfortunately
Christ was born on January the sixth
According to the scholarly Egyptians
The date of Christ’s death was thought
More important to the early Christians
Rome selected Christ’s birth date to be
On the twenty fifth day of December
To coincide with the old pagan festivals
Like that of Mithras and Saturnalia
The sixth of January is Christmas day
For the apostolic church from Armenia
But it’s the following day that’s Special
For the Orthodox Church of Russia


4 Large eggs
2 floz. Jamaica Rum
8 oz. Granulated Sugar
8 floz. Un skimmed Milk
8 floz. Single Cream
1 pint Whiskey

Separate the eggs and then beat the yolks and whites separately before pouring them into a bowl together.
Add other ingredients and mix well then pour into a suitable container for serving.
Keep Refrigerated until ready to serve and sprinkle with nutmeg.


There is a legend suggesting that Martin Luther
Who was a sixteenth century religious reformer
And founder of the Protestant church in Germany
Was the first to put candles onto a Christmas tree
It’s said he was walking home one winter’s night
When he noticed the stars were shinning bright
And through the tree’s he saw the twinkling light
And he was so impressed by this majestic sight
When he returned home he set up his Christmas tree
Decorating it with lighted candles for all to see


A very common saying amongst children a hundred years ago was "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings".
This was made famous in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" starring James Stewart.


In the nineteenth century
At Christmas time
The old queen, Victoria
Gave, to her senior staff
And closest friends
A specially commissioned
Victorian Christmas pie
An extraordinary example
Of culinary magnificence
The pie consisted firstly
Of a woodcock
Small and plump
Which was then stuffed inside
A well hung and gamey pheasant
Which in its turn
Was stuffed inside
A fat corn fed chicken
As if this was not enough
The chicken itself was then
Stuffed into a huge Turkey
Until Finally
The great weight of fowl
Was placed upon a dish
And surrounded by special stuffing
And baked beneath
The richest pastry crust


In medieval England the Lord of Misrule played a major part in the Christmas festivities.
He led the many holiday activities and wielded real power even over the King.
The Lord of Misrule was appointed by the King and his nobles to reign for the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The chosen man was usually had wisdom enough not to abuse his position of power when dealing with the nobility and when instructing the mummers, a traveling band of rowdy players, whom h controlled out on the streets.
Much of the custom surrounding the Lord of Misrule and the Mummers had parallels with the Roman Saturnalia, during which masters and slaves changed places, with general rowdiness abounding.
The Mummers were a rowdy traveling band of players who roamed the streets in costume performing plays, songs and generally doing as the Lord of Misrule bad them.
While mainly being restricted to the streets they would at times burst into churches and disrupt services and generally carouse around.
They would perform classic Mummer's plays and like carolers, would often perform in exchange for Christmas goodies.
When the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell came to power, they banned the Lord of Misrule and the Mummers.
Although the monarchy restored many of the Christmas traditions outlawed by Cromwell, the Lord of Misrule and the Mummers remained outlawed and never again enjoyed the freedom and popularity they had in medieval England.


The winter solstice was considered an important point of the year by the German and Celtic tribes as they held their chief festival of Yule which was to commemorate the return of what they called the burning-wheel (the sun).


Saturnalia was a period of the year that was one of great festivity for the pagan Romans.
The four day celebration of Saturnalia began on December 17th with the feast of the god Saturn, the Roman deity of seed and sowing.
"The Roman Saturnalia was characterized by processions, singing, lighting candles, adorning houses with laurels and green trees, giving presents."
Many of these have passed into modern day Christmas celebrations.
A major part of the pagan Saturnalia festival was ritual turning everything upside-down which abolished for a short while the distinction of ranks, a reversal of all order and dignities where slaves were served by masters, soldiers served by their officers, a tradition which is still carried out today in the British armed forces.


A major part of the Romans pagan Saturnalia festival, the ritual turning everything upside-down and the temporary loss of the distinction of ranks, a reversal of all order and dignities where slaves were served by masters, soldiers served by their officers passed on into the British Christmas celebrations.
It was probable a remnant of the roman culture left behind when the great empire first shrunk and then fell.
The custom was carried out to great lengths at Christmastime in England during the middle Ages.
It was customary to appoint a "Lord of Misrule" or an "Abbot of Unreason" or even the 'Lord of Merry Disport' who presided over the blasphemous foolery and this appointment was normally made by a significant noble.
However in England an 'Abbot of Misrule' was chosen in every large household though in Scotland it was an 'Abbot of Unreason'.
During the thankfully short term of the festival he was the master of the house.
The church hierarchy frowned upon this Blasphemy but had to put a brave face on it.
Church leaders would certainly not approve of the fact that it was quite customary even for the clergy to indulge in the paganism.
Thankfully the early Puritans who witnessed the jolly antics of the grotesque fools abolished the practise, the only good thing they ever did, and when the puritans lost their power the practise was never revived.
There is still a tradition within the British Armed forces and the Metropolitan Police service where the lower ranks are served Christmas dinner by the officers but that is all that survives.


“White Christmas” made in 1954 and Directed by Michael Curtiz is crammed full with Irving Berlin classics, among them "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," "Sisters," "Blue Skies," and of course "White Christmas."
The story itself is fairly uncomplicated which concerns Two talented song-and-dance war-time buddies (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) who team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business.
One winter, they join forces with a sister act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) and trek to Vermont for a white Christmas.
The only fly’s in the ointment is that there is no snow and the Inn is run by their old army general who's now in financial trouble.
The story then follows the main stars in their attempts to rescue the situation.
The film is a must see.


Many of the Pantomime plots we see in the popular productions today were based on traditional folk tales such as Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood.
These stories were collected and retold by the French writer Charles Perrault and they were published in 1697 in a book called 'Mother Goose's Fairy Tales'.


Sadly my parents have gone now my Dad when I was only twenty one and my Mum 15 years later but they live on in my memories especially at Christmas.
I know that for many Christmas is a nightmare time of year but for me I only have the very best memories of it and many of them.
My dad always said after he’d finished decorating the living room, the odour of emulsion still noticeable “there will be no drawing pins in this ceiling come Christmas”. Of course come December the ceiling was covered with garlands, bells, stars, foil drops with baubles at the end, balloons, snow men, angels and Santa’s.
Picture were removed and replaced with something more festive, like huge stars or fresh holly and Strings were strung along the walls for the cards to hang on them.
In one corner on a table stood Santa Claus with his cotton wool beard and red crepe paper suit all the more exciting as we children knew he was stuffed full with sweets.
In another corner stood the tree, a tree of epic proportions so tall that the top 14 inches has to cut off in order to get the fairy on. Every branch was full to breaking point with countless baubles, parcels, bells, crackers and tinsels of every colour and beneath it the ever growing pile of presents.
With the decorations being My Dad’s field of expertise it was left to my mum to come into her own with everything else.
She would remove the curtains and nets and either replace them with clean or wash and return the originals.
Everything would get the spring clean treatment the sideboard would be adorned with the best linen runner and all the tables would have their own festive doily.
The fruit bowl was filled to overflowing with bananas, Satsuma’s or tangerines and another one of Brazil nuts, almonds, hazel nuts and walnuts.
There was even a Chamber pot decorated with sprigs of holly on the sideboard full of Christmas fare. Smaller bowls would appear over the Christmas period containing peanuts or dates or sugared almonds or chocolate raisins.
Come the day itself presents were placed by the chair that the recipients were sitting in, when we were younger obviously our presents mysteriously arrived at the foot of the bed in a pillowcase left for the purpose but as we got older we joined the adults for present opening.
Mums gifts were always piled so high she always had to sit on the sofa in order to fit all her presents on the seat next to her.
She always still had half of them left to open long after the rest of us had finished.
This was the time for us younger family members to examine our gifts more closely while my dad would sit smiling sagely in his chair puffing on his pipe.


Christmas was celebrated on December 25th.for the first time.


Despite the general awfulness of the Christmas song there are however always exceptions to the rule and I have a short list of personal favorites.
Without exception all my choices not only include the song but the best performer of that song and so in no particular order here is my second selection.

“The Christmas Song” written by Torme and Wells and sung by Nat King Cole

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some
Mistletoe helps to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa’s on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies
On his sleigh
And every mother's
Child is gonna spy to see if
Reindeer really know how to fly

And so, I'm offering this
Simple phrase to kids from
One to ninety-two
Altho' it's been said many times
Many ways
“Merry Christmas to you”


Belgium is one of the few countries who celebrate more than one Christmas tradition within its borders.
In Dutch-speaking Flanders, great musical and colorful parades greet St. Nicholas as He and his assistants arrive in November by boat, train, or on horseback to get ready for his feast day on the 6th of December.
On December 5th, St. Nicholas' Eve, children put their shoes or small baskets at the fireside or by the door with carrots and sugar lumps for the saint's horse.
They believe St. Nicholas and Zwarte Piet ride on horseback over the rooftops, dropping gifts down the chimneys.
In French-speaking Wallonia St Nicolas comes, as well, where he is often riding a donkey accompanied by Père Fouettard, as in France.
In the towns and villages close to the German border the more Germanic tradition is followed
In which he travels with a white horse or donkey and is accompanied by Ruprecht.
But all three have in common that by the morning shoes have been filled with chocolates, cookies, fruit and toys.


The "Twelve days of Christmas" are the 12 days that separate Christmas day, December 25, from Epiphany, on January 6.


In one of the wealthier districts of Edmonton the residents try to out-do each other by decorating the outsides of their homes, not much different from any other place you might think, however the competitive nature of the streets occupiers has reached the point that the street has become known as "Candy cane Lane."


1533 Erik XIV, king of Sweden 1560-69
1553 Henry IV, 1st Bourbon-king of Navarre, France
1724 Franz Maria Ulrich Theodosius Aepinus, in Rostock, German physician/physicist
1732 Jean-Claude Trial, composer
1740 Franz Xavier Schnitzer, composer
1770 John Clarke-Whitfield, composer
1797 Heinrich Heine, Germany, poet and lyricist
1810 Clark Mills, American sculptor
1819 Edwin George Monk, composer
1893 Curt Jurgens, Munich Germany, actor
1910 Van Heflin, Walters Oklahoma actor
1925 Dick Van Dyke, West Plains Missouri, actor
1929 Christopher Plummer, Toronto, actor
1930 Robert Prosky, Philadelphia, actor
1948 Lillian Board, England, 400m runner
1951 Robert Lindsay, Ilkeston England, actor
1952 John Francombe, English national hunt jockey
1957 Steve Buscemi, actor
1967 Jamie Foxx, comedian
1981 Chelsea Hertford, actress


The Christmas cactus, native to Brazil, is a popular winter-flowering houseplant which come in a wide variety of colors from red and purple to pink and cream.
The Christmas cactus has no symbolic or religious connection to Christmas as other flowers do,
its only reason for being called the Christmas cactus is that it is in flower over the Christmas period.


Chanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem during which a special eight-branched candelabrum is slowly lit over eight days.


December 8th has been observed as a Roman Catholic feast in commemoration of the Immaculate Conception since 1854.
It was in that year that Pope Pius IX made an official declaration that the term "Immaculate Conception" refers to neither the conception of Jesus nor to a virgin birth.
Pope Pius IX further decreed the term "Immaculate Conception" refers to a specific doctrine of Roman Catholicism decreeing that the Virgin Mary was preserved free from original sin by divine grace from the moment of her conception.


Drake's Island lies in Plymouth Sound, just south of Millbay Docks.
there was once a chapel on the Island that was originally dedicated to Saint Michael and the island was originally named as St Michael’s Island and that is how it first appears in the records when, it was transferred from the Valletort family to the Priory at Plympton in 1135.
The chapel was re-dedicated, to Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors at a date unknown.
In 1549 the chapel was demolished in order to build Hoe fort the Island.
Then in 1583 Sir Francis Drake was made Governor of the Island at a time when ownership of the Island passed from Plymouth to the state.
After this the island ceased to be St Nicholas Island and has ever since been known as Drakes Island.

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