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Christmas is Almost Here! - Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade

 

 

What more can I say, but “Christmas is almost here!”  Today I’m sharing some beautiful holiday cheer, many of which are one of a kind items, from a bevy of talented Indiemade artists.  I hope you enjoy these creations, any of which will make a perfect Christmas gift for that special loved one.

Countdown to Christmas - Week 12 - Wales

The Mari Lwyd entering a bar as part of Christmas celebrations in Llantrisant; photo by visitwales.com

 

 

 

Y Nadolig (Christmas) celebrations in modern times in Wales are similar to the celebrations in the rest of Great Britain. Several days before Christmas, a small tree (sometimes artificial) is hung with lights, ornaments and trinkets. Paper decorations and streamers often lavishly decorate the rooms of the house. Gifts are exchanged on Christmas Day. The Christmas meal traditionally consists of roast turkey with all the trimmings, a wide array of vegetables, followed by a Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.  BUT . . . it is the older traditions that are the most interesting to me, some of which are still practiced, some of which are making a comeback and one, thankfully, that has fallen by the wayside (for obvious reasons, as you will see). As with all traditions, the same tradition can be different in different parts of the country. I chose my favorite to share here.  

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.  

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.

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.

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