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Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 7 - Peru

Traditional Peruvian Nativity; photo courtesy of Serrv - Creating Connections

 

 

 

Christmas traditions in Peru date back to 1535 to when the country was pillaged by the Spaniards (although the native Quechuans in the Andes have always maintained a strong cultural identity). Due to the huge Spanish influence, the majority of the population practices Catholicism to this day.  Peru is south of the equator so December is actually the first month of summer.  Since the first day of summer comes just shortly before Christmas, on December 21, Christmas decorations with a snow motif is somewhat peculiar to most people (unless you live in the highlands of the Andes, of course).  This is why the traditional Santa Claus, dressed in heavy red coat, pants, hat and boots  and hat, is not much of a tradition in Peru.  Additionally, the Peruvian government banned Santa Claus in 1972 because they believed that he was a depiction of western capitalism, greed and an anti-Christian myth.

All Creatures Great and Small - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Anyone who has spent even a small bit of time around me knows that I love animals, animals in all shapes and sizes and colors and temperaments.  Even the so called “icky” ones are admired since they have a role to play in the complex balance of Nature.  One of my favorite all time books is “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot, where the theme for this post was lifted.  And, after all my work with and around animals, my favorite quote in the book is this:  “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”  So very true!!!

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 6 - Iceland

Jólasveinarnir (Yule Lads) - photo courtesy of Iceland 24

 

In Iceland, Christmas (called Yule or Jól) festivities start at 6 pm on Christmas Eve, December 24th, and last until Twelfth Night (Epiphany, January 6th). In the high north, Christmas is linked to ancient traditions related to the winter solstice, called Yule.  Celebrations took place on a full moon during the time of year when the day was shortest. Not much is known about how the feast was celebrated then except that Icelandic chieftains were in the habit of inviting scores of people to Yule drinking and eating feasts.  Later, Yule was superseded by the celebration of the birth of Christ with the coming of Christianity around 1000 AD.

What a Spooky Halloween, Deux! - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

Halloween is just around the corner.  Small goblins, vampires, fairy princesses and superheroes of all sorts will soon be appearing at your doors!  In honor of this spooky holiday, I browsed the studios of Indiemade artist friends to find orange and/ or black handmade items that are perfect accessories for your Halloween costume.  And there is even something for your best four-footed friend!   Enjoy these selections:

Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 5 - Portugal

 

In Portugal, Christmas is celebrated with festive fun, but since it is a predominantly Catholic country, there is also much solemnity to the holiday.  A family Christmas tradition is setting up the presépio (nativity scene), the representation of Christ's birth in the stable at Bethlehem. While some families keep the creche simple, displaying only the Holy Family, many set up elaborate scenes, including the Three Kings, shepherds and the sheep, angels, other animals, lakes (made with mirrors) and hills (made with stones, moss, and clay).  The materials used to decorate the presépio are traditionally collected by the children.  A few days before Christmas Eve, the Baby Jesus is taken out of the manger.

 

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