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

 

 

 

Red and green are colors that are closely associated with Christmas.  Last week I shared how red became a Christmas color.  You can read that post here:  Think Red for Artisan Christmas Gifts.  This week, green, the other Christmas color, is explored mainly through the symbolism of holly, mistletoe and evergreen trees.

 

The color green and its association with the time around Christmas has a pre-Christian origin, more specifically tied to the Winter Solstice.  Evergreen plants, like holly, mistletoe and pine, spruce or fir trees have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long, dark, cold winter when life could be very tenuous.  Ancient peoples were scared of the short days and freezing nights and mistakenly believed that the Sun might disappear altogether. Evergreens reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever.  Historical records show that the Romans wove wreaths of holly to hang on their walls and doors to celebrate the winter solstice / Saturnalia. They also exchanged evergreen branches as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians would bring green date palm branches into their homes during their mid- winter festivals as a symbol of "life triumphant over death." To the ancient people, the color green represented life, nature, peace, eternity and the hope of the future.  

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.  

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