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Countdown to Mother's Day - Handmade Gifts - Week 2

 

 

Julie and Blu of Blue Morning Expressions are once again hosting the popular "Mother's Day Countdown” on their BluPrint blog.  Last year's Mother's Day Countdown 2016 was a resounding success so a 2017 version, which started last week, is up and running.  Mother's Day will be here before we all know it!  Now is the perfect time to start browsing gift ideas and buying that perfect gift(s) for your Mum.  Any one of the handmade (many of which are one of a kind) and vintage items shared this week are perfect.  Visit the shops of the artists featured and buy Mum something that was handmade from the heart or that will re-live as a vintage piece.

Countdown to Mother's Day - Handmade and Vintage - Week 1

 

Julie and Blu of BlueMorningExpressions are once again hosting a wildly popular "Mother's Day Countdown” on their BluPrint blog.  Last year's Mother's Day Countdown 2016 was a resounding success so a 2017 version is up and running.  Since Mother's Day will be here before you know it, now is the perfect time to start thinking about and buying a gift(s) for your Mum.  Browse the handmade and vintage shares for this week, visit the shops of the artists featured and buy Mum something that was handmade from the heart or that will re-live as a vintage piece.

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.

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