Fortunately the Muses have finally come back from an extended vacation (just in time) and I have been busy creating quite a few new necklaces and pairs of earrings. Many designs have a definite boho flair and some are supremely elegant. With the spring arts festival season quickly approaching, my handmade jewelry stock definitely needs to be replenished. There will be many more new jewelry listings in the coming weeks.
I have always been fascinated with words, especially when it comes to colors. Just how many different words are there to describe a color? But one person “blue” is not always another person’s “blue.” My husband is a good example. This past weekend we were at Lowe’s looking at paint chips: yellows, blues and greens. DH’s definition of any shade or tint of blue, whether it is a pale baby blue or a dark navy blue, is “blue.” I, myself, am much more exacting most of the time. So, if I see “cornflower blue,” I will call it that.
Time seems to rush by so quickly these days. Wasn’t it just Christmas and now we are already in February? What happened to January? Despite a month blasting by, I have been very busy making and listing new earrings and necklaces, many with a boho flair and some a bit more traditional. All the handmade jewelry featured here are one of a kind designs - you will be the only person in the universe wearing that particular design (unless you have an evil twin in an alternate universe!). Many of the earrings and necklaces use creations by artist friends from around the world. Any of these will make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift, a birthday gift, a Mother’s Day gift or a “just because” gift to a loved one . . . or to yourself.
Since purple is a fairly rare color in nature, an almost magical aura has been associated to it throughout human history. The first historical record of a purple dye, called Tyrian purple, indicates that it began to be manufactured in the Phoenician city of Tyre in the eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BCE. The dye was extracted from the glands of several types of shellfish, but especially the Murex brandaris. The process to extract the dye took about three days. Thousands of putrefied, crushed shellfish were left to bake in the sun. Salt was then added and the mash of glands were boiled down. (Can you imagine the overwhelming stench of the process!!!). It took about 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye, barely enough to dye a single garment the size of a Roman toga. In 301 A.D. during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, one pound of purple dye cost 150,000 denarii or around three pounds of gold. This is the main reason the purple color was reserved for emperors or individuals with titles of royal authority.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)