Blog December 2019


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Posted On: December 25, 2019

Are you having Christmas pudding?

Christmas (or Plum) Pudding is the traditional end to a British Christmas dinner.

But what we think of as Christmas Pudding, is not what it was originally like!

Christmas pudding originated as a 14th century porridge called 'frumenty' that was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. This would often be more like soup and was eaten as a fasting meal in preparation for the Christmas festivities.

Over the years, many superstitions have surrounded Christmas Puddings. One superstition says that the pudding should be made with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and His Disciples and that every member of the family should take turns to stir the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honor of the Wise Men.

During Victorian times, puddings in big and rich houses were often cooked in fancy moulds (like jelly ones). These were often in the shapes of towers or castles. Normal people just had puddings in the shape of balls. If the pudding was a bit heavy, they were called cannonballs!

Putting a silver coin in the pudding is another age-old custom that is said to bring luck to the person that finds it. In the UK the coin traditionally used was a silver 'six pence'. The closest coin to that now is a five pence piece!

The tradition seems to date back to the Twelfth Night Cake which was eaten during the festivities on the 'Twelfth Night' of Christmas (the official end of the Christmas celebrations). Originally a dried pea or bean was baked in the cake and whoever got it, was 'king or queen' for the night. There are records of this practice going back to the court of Edward II (early 1300s). The bean was also sometimes a silver ring of small crown. The first coins used were a Silver Farthing or penny.

After WW1 it became a penny bit and then a dime.



Posted On: December 18, 2019

Why the pickle ornament isn't just a cute food trend.

“A very old Christmas eve tradition in Germany was to hide a pickle [ornament] deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree. The parents hung the pickle last after all the other ornaments were in place. In the morning they knew the most observant child would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year.”

This Christmas pickle story, with a few minor variations, can be found all over the Web, in printed ads, and inside the ornament package. It says that Germans hang a pickle-shaped glass ornament on the Christmas tree hidden away so it’s difficult to find. The first child to find it on Christmas morning gets a special treat or an extra present.

The starving Civil War solider theory

The story goes that a captured Union Army soldier was starving in a prison camp. On Christmas Eve, he begged a guard for a pickle. The guard obliged, which the solider said sustained him and essentially saved his life. After returning home, the solider began the tradition of hanging a pickle on his family’s tree each Christmas Eve.



Posted On: December 11, 2019

Traditions of Christmas Bells

Bells, especially Church Bells, have traditionally been associated with Christmas for a long time. In the Anglican and Catholic churches, the church day starts at sunset, so any service after that is the first service of the day. So a service on Christmas Eve after sunset is traditionally the first service of Christmas day! In churches that have a Bell or Bells, They are often rung to signal the start of this service.

In some churches around the world, it is traditional that the largest bell in the church is rung four times in the hour before midnight and then at midnight all the bells are rung in celebration.

In the Catholic Church, Christmas and Easter are the only times that Mass is allowed to be held at Midnight. It's traditional that at both midnight Masses, the church and altar bells too in many cases are rung while the Priest says the "Gloria" (Gloria in excelsis Deo).

Having a Mass at Midnight at Christmas dates back to the early church, when it was believed that Jesus was born at midnight, although there has never been any proof of this! A lot of Churches have midnight services on Christmas Eve, although not every church will have a mass or communion as part of the service.

In many Catholic countries such as France, Spain and Italy, the midnight mass service is very important and everyone tries to go to a service.

In Victorian times, it was very fashionable to go carol singing with small handbells to play the tune of the carol. Sometimes there would only be the bells and no singing! Handbell ringing is still popular today.



Posted On: December 04, 2019

Towels For After-Swim Drying

Light colors reflect sunlight while dark colors absorb it. That absorbed light turns into thermal energy, making dark towels dry more quickly. Ideally, this gives you a dry towel rather than a damp one for your second dip of the day.

Clear Vision

Salt spray can quickly coat the lenses of eyewear. Dim vision is the result, often accompanied by eyestrain. An easy solution is a small trigger bottle filled with fresh water. Several strong squirts on the face of each lens dissolve and carry away the salt film, rendering those fuzzy numbers on instruments clear again. It's not necessary to wipe the lenses after spraying as the remaining spots of clear water will not have a large effect on vision and the fresh water quickly evaporates. Restore your vision this way without even removing the eyewear, and on a hot day you'll get the added benefit of a bit of evaporative cooling on your forehead.

Shrinking Canvas

Some types of canvas shrink when wet. If you leave the canvas exposed to dew, then try to snap it on first thing in the morning, it won't fit. Eliminate the problem by stretching it out in the sun and allowing it to dry thoroughly. Then keep it dry before putting it on. Canvas-fitting problems often result when the frame's top becomes slightly bent. Luckily, you can get canvas extensions (available from West Marine), which fit between the canvas and the snap, making an easy fit possible no matter the cause.

Water With A Handle

Carry extra water in collapsible jugs. You can fold these up and get them out of the way when they're empty. You can also use them to heat water for showers. Just leave them in the sun. Better still, cover them with a black garbage bag and they'll heat up quickly. Wash out before reusing.