Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 10 Holiday Symbols and their Meanings

Top 10 Holiday Symbols and their Meanings

The Candy Cane according to 4 references in Wikipedia originated in Germany, when a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany wished to quiet the children during the Living Creche service asked a local candy maker to design sweet stick to hand out to the children.  To tie the meaning into the service he asked that a hook be added at the top to remember the shepherds that paid a visit to the baby Jesus.

Cologne Cathedral
 The Wise Men Melchior (Persian), Caspar (Indian) ,and Balthasar (Arabian) all were scholars.The Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral, according to legend, contains the bones of the Three Wise Men. The gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Christmas Tree tradition also seems to be referenced in Wikipedia to have begun in Germany. Tradition also states that trees should not be decorated until Christmas eve, a tradition always held in my home growing up, so it is Irish too. I have read, the evergreen tree referenced as eternal life.

Love Park, Philadelphia, PA 203

An angel on top of the Christmas tree signifies the Angel Gabriel and his message to Mary and the angels message to the shepherds that Jesus was born.

The ceremony of the lighting of the tree at St. Pete's Square will take place on 19 December at 4.30 p.m. The tree is from Passo dell'Abbate, in the Italian province of Fabrizia, Calabria. The tree has a double trunk. Pope Francis celebrated his 78th birthday on December 17th.

The Nativity scene, "creche", "manger" is first credited to St. Francis Assisi. He created the first one in 1223 in Greccio, Italy. The Nativity scene at St.Peter's Square this year is Entitled “Il Presepe in Opera” (“The Nativity Scene in Opera”) and composed of around 25 life-size terracotta statues, it is a gift from the “Verona for the Arena” Foundation and will be inspired by the operatic works for which the city is famed, with the intention of promoting Italian opera throughout the world.

The Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi photo courtesy of Lauren Fiebert

The earliest documented case of kissing under the mistletoe dates from 16th century England, a custom that was apparently very popular at that time, according to wikipedia.

The Poinsettia  plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico,"according to Wikipedia", where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Christmas Star also known as the Star of Bethlehem was a bright light in the sky said to have lead travelers to the place where Jesus was born.

A  holly wreath with its prickly edges is said to represent the crown of thorns placed upon Jesus Christ's head during crucifixion and the red berries signify drops of blood. The Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ were bought by Louis IX from a Venetian at acquired them from Latin Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople according to the church website.  It is preserved today at Notre Dame de Paris.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 10 Upcoming December Events This Week

Now through January 5 Christmas Bird Count click on the link 
for contact information near you.

December 16 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Read letters from those that were there.. I particularly like the one Everything was "Swell".

December 16  Hanukkah began and ends December 24.

December 18 is International Migrants Day.

December 19 Annual March In of the Continental Army Commemoration at Valley Forge Location: Visitor Center/Muhlenberg Brigade | Map Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Fee Information: free Contact Phone Number: 610-783-1099  This annual event commemorates their arrival and determination to persevere against insurmountable hardship and difficult conditions during their 6-month encampment. Join us this December 19th and experience an evening in Valley Forge. Take a candle-lit guided walk to the Muhlenberg Brigade huts where you'll encounter a living continental camp. Warm up in the Visitor Center with 18th century music, refreshments, and more!  Weather dependent event.

December 19 and 20 The Rock School presents 1776 The Nutcracker at the Merriam Theater.

December 20 Jingle and Mingle with Santa 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Santa returns to Franklin Square in Philadelphia to pose for photos and collect wish lists. FREE

December 21 First Day of Winter. and the weather is.....high of 39F and low of 31F with a 70% chance of showers.  What type of showers depends on where you are located.

Now through - December 30, 2014 Fairmount Park’s Historic Mansions will,
once again, be decked out for the holidays during the annual Historic Houses
of Fairmount Park Holiday Tours.  The tours, a cherished Philadelphia tradition
will feature six of the park’s treasured charms Cedar Grove, Laurel Hill Mansion,
Lemon Hill, Mount Pleasant, Strawberry Mansion, and Woodford Mansion – 
festively decorated to create a stunning holiday experience. 'The Charms of 
Park Holiday Tours’ presenting sponsor is the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

Now through January 4, 2015 Yuletime at WinterthurTimed Yuletide Tour reservations are required for both Members and nonmembers. Members are free. Purchase tickets online or by calling 800.448.3883.

Check each festivity link before you go, in the event of a weather related change and to verify time of event.

If you have not started your holiday shopping, you may want to start now.  For those other over achievers, I am sure you can find one package to wrap or ribbon to twirl.  I am not sitting in judgement, I am in awe of those that have it so together.

Be careful of phishing emails and phone calls from credit cards companies saying your account has been put on hold and to please call. Call the number the back of your credit card "NEVER" give information about your account in an email always verify if it is a legitimate request by calling your bank and or credit card company NOT the number on the email.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 10 Celebrate Covered in Chocolate Day

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Covered in Chocolate Day

Some of my favorites 






Butter Creams



Peanut Butter


Monday, December 15, 2014

Top 10 Days Till Christmas

On the 10th Day till Christmas, I have to make a list of ten. I must make a better effort to edit and check it twice with red pen. I just hit send, Oh No!

On the 9th Day till Christmas,  I have so many places to go, I hope the weather is with me and it doesn't snow.

On the 8th Day till Christmas, I have to shop at Acme, 1 more green stamp to go.  The 8" Open Non Stick Skillet is mine and I will throw in mistletoe.

On the 7th Day till Christmas, I have to pace myself and go slow, I have one more week to go.

On the 6th Day till Christmas, I am going to sit down by the fire's glow and watch a heart warming Christmas show.

On the Fifth Day till Christmas, I go into decision mode. Do I want to fight the crowds on the road? The answer is no, that doesn't make me want to chant ho, ho, ho.

On the Fourth Day till Christmas I must bake cookies to go and hide them from the elves but mostly from me self. I will wrap tight and label for Uncle Joe.

On the Third Day till Christmas I must plan the big meal and bake. Turkey is for Thanksgiving, Fishes for the Italians. What will this Irish gal make? I still don't know for heaven's sake.

On the Second Day till Christmas, I have to watch my weight but once I weigh in at weight watchers, bring on the cookies, it is time to celebrate!

On the Night Before Christmas, I get down on my two knees and pray.  I pray for peace even though it sounds cliche and I pray for all those who will have tears on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Top 10 Trains for Christmas

HolidayLights Express December 12 thru December 30 no scheduled event December 24 and 25. Friday and Saturday 5, 6 7, 8, and 9 p.m. departures, during the week 5,6,7 and 8 p.m. Starting December 19 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Greenbank Station in Wilmington, DE.

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania Garden Railway on display now thru January 4 10 a.m. - 4p.m. located at 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118. Special events Friday Night Lights 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. check website for specific dates and ticket information.

Santa Express West Chester Railroad in West Chester, PA dates December 13, 14, 20, 21 at 11a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.Additional 5 p.m. departures on Dec 13, 14, 20, 21. and a special Christmas Tree Train December 14 at 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Ride to Wiggins Tree Farm in West Chester to pick out your Christmas Tree.  Click on each respective link for more detailed information.

New Hope and Ivyland North Pole Express. I love their website.  The music put you in the mood and it snows! You hav to click on the Buy Now tab to see available dates and times.  Hint the closer we get to Christmas the more this is sold out.

Strasberg Railroad ride through Amish country. All Aboard the Santa Paradise Express and The Night Before Christmas  Check the website for available dates and times or call 1-866-725-9666.

Wilmington and Western Railroad SantaClaus Express, Saturdays and Sundays between Now until Christmas DEPARTURE TIMES: 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED . Adults: $18 Seniors (60+) $17, Children (2-12) $16, Children (under 2) Free.
Holiday Lights Express  December 12 thru December 30 no scheduled event December 24 and 25. Friday and Saturday 5, 6 7, 8, and 9 p.m. departures, during the week 5,6,7 and 8 p.m. Starting December 19 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Greenbank Station in Wilmington, DE.

 A Brandywine Christmas at Brandywine River Museum, part of this event is the Brandywine Railroad Museum, now through January 4, 2015. It takes seven people six days to  build it each year.  Watch them do it at the link!  Inspired? Get out your trains and go to Brandywine to get ideas and enjoy. There is a Breakfast with the Trains on December 13 but unfortunately this event is sold out.  Put it on your list for next year. It sounds like fun!. Admission $12, Adults; $8 seniors (65+); $6, students with ID and children ages 6-12.  Free for children under 6 and Brandywine Conservancy members.  Audio Tours, $3.  Check the Brandywine River Museum website for additional special events.

Longwood Gardens Garden Railway through January 11 free with regular garden tours, weather permitting. Buy before you arrive, Timed-Tickets must be purchased for garden tours. Five locomotives and more than 45 different engines rumble across bridges, through tunnels, and amid water features.

National Toy Train Museum in Paradise, PA Scheduled holiday hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday during December along with additional days December 29 and 30. Admission: Under age 6 Free, Children (6 to 12) $4, Adults (13 to 64) $7.00, Senior Citizen Discount (65+) $6.00 Family $22.00 (2 Adults and 3 or more kids;   or 1 Adult and 4 or more kids), Season Pass (per person) $21.00, Group rates available on request (April 1 to December 31)  Closed January 1 - March 31. Directions.

Trains at the Grange In Havertown November 30, December 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 and January 3, 4, 10, 11. Visit the Model Train Display in the Carriage House. Admission is free to the Model Train Display. Mansion Holiday Tours also available $5 Adults and $1 for Children (see the room full of Santa's and the room full of Snowmen in 3-D).