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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.

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 9 - Fiji

Photo courtesy of fijiislands.com

 

 

 

The Republic of Fiji is a South Pacific island country located approximately 1,300 miles to the northeast of New Zealand. One of the most economically prosperous countries of the South Pacific region, Fiji has become a favored vacation spot, and is perhaps best known for its year-round tropical weather.  While some parts of the world are celebrating a white Christmas by making snowmen and cooking hot dinners with all the trimmings, Christmas in Fiji is a different experience entirely. The warm and sunny weather means sand rather than snow.  Traditional lovo cooked meats and seafood are prepared all over the island.

Christmas Holiday Shopping Guide, Red and Green - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

How many are with me in thinking that Christmas gets earlier each and every year?  It has a tendency to sneak up on a person until, like today, it suddenly starts hollering at you:  CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE!  Yikes!!!  So I decided it was time to start sharing handmade items from artist friends that will make perfect Christmas gifts. And to make it even better, many of these beauties can be worn way past the holiday season, many even all year long.  

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 8 - Luxembourg

Chreschtmaart in Luxembourg City; photo courtesy of visitluxembourg.com

 

 

The Grand-Duche de Luxembourg is a very small independent country in Europe; it is just a little smaller than the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Germany is located to the east, France to the south, and Belgium to the west.  From the beginning of December, streets and store windows in all major cities are richly decorated and lighted.  Large Chrëschtbeemchen (Christmas trees) can be found most public squares.  Outdoor Chrëschtmaart (Christmas markets) can be found throughout the country.  From wooden huts that are set up in town squares, a wide variety of locally produced arts and crafts, such as candles, nutcrackers, Christmas tree decorations and manger scenes, are sold.  Glühwein, a popular spiced wine served hot in special mugs, is a regular part of the menu at Christmas markets all through Europe.  Foods to be purchased may include various soups (with or without Mettwurscht, a local sausage specialty), crepes, fresh bakery goods and Lëtzebuerger Grillwurscht, another type of sausage.  Concerts are given in bandstands and on special stages set up for the Christmas markets. Local bands, brass quartets, string trios, choirs, and soloists all contribute to the holiday atmosphere.  To get an idea of the beauty of the Christmas market in Luxembourg City, check out this short video: Luxembourg Christmas market . (My bags are packed!)

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