November 2016

Think Red for Artisan Christmas Gifts - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

 

The color combination of red and green is closely associated with Christmas - for example, Santa’s red clothing and green holly with red berries.  But how did this come about?  From ancient history to modern time, color has been an integral part of cultural awareness and even an understanding of life; it touched all members of society and conveyed deeper messages (such as, only royalty could wear the color purple).  Red and green as Christian symbolism can be traced back to Medieval Miracle Plays and rood screen painters.  The color combination can be traced to the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh stories from the 13th century.  And these stories were probably based on an oral tradition that dates back to the pre-Christian Celts many centuries before where a half-red, half-green tree figures prominently in one of the tales.  In pre-Christian times, red and green represented male (red) and female (green), strength and harmony, desire and fertility.  

Countdown to Christmas - Week 11 - Vietnam

Laughing Santas in Hanoi; photo courtesy of Crossing Travel

 

 

Christmas in Socialist Republic of Vietnam has had a tumultuous history.  Even though the traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism, Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year.  The other three religious celebrations include the birthday of Buddha, Tet the Lunar New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival.  During the French rule (1887-1954), many people in French Indochina (as Vietnam was known then) became Christians, mainly Catholics.  After the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975 and a Communist government took over, Christians celebrated Christmas very quietly in their own homes.  But, with economic reforms and more liberal policies in the late 1980’s, Christmas began to be celebrated openly again.  Even though only 8% - 10% of Vietnamese are Christians, Christmas is celebrated by all religions in Vietnam.  Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day (which is NOT a national holiday), is the most important day for parties, socializing and elaborate dinners and is a blend of many religious influences.  

Ancient Symbols in a Modern World - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Symbols have always had a great significance in the lives of humans, from pre-historic times to modern man.  Since ancient symbols are ingrained into our lives, most people don't realize these symbols are everywhere.  From the logos of modern companies (Starbucks with their mermaid), to television shows (spirals in True Detective) and movies (Legendary Pictures with their Celtic knot logo) from religious books and texts (The Bible, The Koran)  to decorations on buildings (sunbursts and dolphins), ancient symbols are everywhere.

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 10 - Latvia

Ziemassvetki mumming in Latvia; photo courtesy Vienkocu Parks

 

 

 

The Republic of Latvia is one of the three Baltic states in Northern Europe.  Despite the main religion being Christianity, many traditions survive from the ancient pagan celebrations of the Ziemas saulgrieži (winter solstice), the longest night of the year. The people of the Baltics were the last pagans of Europe, until the German crusaders arrived in the 13th century.  Over the centuries the old pagan traditions, characteristic to many Northern European countries, have blended and mixed with the Christian ones and are celebrated during Ziemassvētki, literally meaning winter festival, but also used to denote Christmas.  Since the winter solstice and Christmas happen very close together, the rebirth of the Sun Maiden is celebrated on December 25, along with the birth of the Christ Child. Ziemassvētki is a mix of ethnic, religious and modern traditions all about light coming back into life.

Christmas Gift Ideas - New Jewelry from Shadow Dog Designs

 

Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is not far behind.  To help with your holiday gift giving, I decided to showcase seven of my new necklaces and pairs of earrings along with three Christmas / winter earrings.  Each design here is one of a kind, except for the Christmas earrings.  Some designs are more boho flavored and some are more classic. So if a person on your list loves unique artisan jewelry, one (or more) of these choices will be perfect.  And, while you're at it, how about something for yourself?

Earthy Browns Abound - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Despite the grass in our back yard staying an amazing green so far into the year, I can see the slide of winter colors beginning to show up.  Pretty soon our back yard, the arroyo behind the house and the desert over all will be clothed in the many varied shades of warm earthy browns with tinges of other subtle colors.  Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . . for the brilliance of spring.

 

“Earthy Browns Abound” is the theme of this week’s “Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade.  I hope you enjoy the beautifully earthy artisan creations featured here. And, please, support handmade artisan this holiday season.