Christmas Around the World – Part 1 of 3

mexicoOver the recent years, I have been learning new Christmas traditions and rituals in other parts of the world, particularly the UK. In one of my recent posts, I talked about Christmas crackers which was something new to me. Growing up in California, Christmas was a totally different thing. For one, we didn’t have snow unless we went up to the mountains and the ski resorts, so our holidays were usually perfectly sunny and clear or gray and rainy. With my dad being from Mexico and having spent a Christmas one year with his relatives, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with tamales until midnight on Christmas day when we got to open our presents. Then after the births of my nieces and nephews, we started doing Christmas presents late in the day instead of the morning because we waited for my oldest sister to arrive from her husband’s family’s traditions. We switched up the days we did Christmas. Some years it was Christmas Eve, other years it was Christmas Day. Usually it depended on the circumstances of my oldest sister.

In today’s post as a part of my holiday series, I’m going to talk about traditions. My family doesn’t have an entirely regular tradition but at least we all try to get together for the holidays. I’m trying to incorporate more tradition into my life, like eat tamales, try to watch A Christmas Story and Elf at least once a year, and to try something new, like the Christmas Crackers which the nieces and nephews really enjoyed.

MinceWhile people in the US have their own traditions and customs, the British have something a little more different. The British call Santa Claus “Father Christmas” who will leave presents in stockings or pillow cases at the ends of the beds, by the beds of the children, or by the fireplace in homes. Instead of the standard milk and cookies left out for Father Christmas, he gets a nice brandy and mince pie. Letters are written to Father Christmas but instead of being put to the post, they are tossed into the fireplace where the smoke is drifted to Father Christmas so he can read them. The people of Britain also send Christmas cards, buy gifts, sing carols. The Queen delivers a Christmas Day message to the Commonwealth broadcast from her home reflecting on the year gone by.

cakeAnother thing the British and Americans have in common is that nearly everyone bakes and eat goodies for the holidays. While the Americans make Christmas cookies, fudge, and peppermint bark, the British celebrate the holidays with mince pies, Christmas puddings, and the Christmas cake. Today I will talk about the mince pie.  In the US, these are relatively unknown but huge in Britain. A mince pie nowadays consists of candied peels, vine fruits like currant and sultanas, which is a type of raisin in Britain, and apples inside a pastry crust. These are the most common ingredients inside the mincemeat. You can enjoy them hot or cold and you can either make them yourself (a lovely recipe here on our very own blog and get the mincemeat here or even try these.

Mince pies originally had various chopped meats in them, hence the name mincemeat pie. It is believed mince pies were made to use to use up leftovers in the 16th century in order to keep the meat supply going but over the years, the recipes have been adjusted to what people know today. The pies were originally oblong in shape to represent the cradle of the Christ but they are round today and the meat has been omitted.

Next time I will discuss Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.

~CD

Christmas Flags

With the holiday season officially here, it’s time to start decorating your home. Although most people think about how their home will look at night, lit up with Christmas lights, keeping your home looking festive during the day is important, too. One of the best ways to keep your home looking festive is with a Christmas Garden Flag. These Garden Flags are available at unbeatable prices from the United States Flag Store website and are made of the highest quality materials, too. Here are just a few of the beautiful Christmas flags available this holiday season.

The Christmas Village Winter Flag is a beautiful way to decorate your home for the holidays. The flag features a beautiful, quaint village scene complete with snow-covered ground, a decorated Christmas tree and a night sky. At the bottom of the flag is the text, “Peace on Earth,” written in script font. This flag is designed for vertical display and measures 12.5 inches by 18 inches. Order one of the beautiful flags to day for just $10.99. The design is also available in a mailbox cover and as a banner flag.

The Moonlight Santa Flag is another beautiful way to decorate your home for the holidays. After all, nothing depicts Christmas Eve for a child more than the scene on this flag. The flag features Santa on his sleigh riding through the night sky with his eight reindeer leading the way. The flag also includes the text “Merry Christmas” written in script font. Order this classic 12.5-inch by 18-inch flag today for just $10.50.

The Christmas Tree Garden Flag is a sure way to bring holiday cheer to your outdoor decor. This classic garden flag features a decorated Christmas tree filled with presents underneath. In the background is a fireplace adorned with stockings. This flag is a great deal at only $5 each!

Looking for more Christmas Garden Flags? Visit the United States Flag Store website for the complete selection!

Christmas Flags

Thanksgiving is almost here, and before you can think twice, you’ll be decorating your house for Christmas. Why not get started on your decorations shopping early with the U.S. Flag Store’s beautiful selection of Christmas Flags? All of the U.S. Flag Store’s Christmas Flags are vibrantly colored and beautifully appliquéd and embroidered. Christmas flags are made from the best quality polyester are made to withstand winter weather. Flags are designed meticulously and individually tested for quality and durability.

If you’re looking for Christmas trees or greens, the U.S. Flag store has a beautiful selection of tree and poinsettia flags. The Woodland Tree Christmas Flag, for example, includes an image of an outdoor Christmas tree, complete with presents underneath, snow in the background, and mistletoe overhead. The Poinsettia Topiary Christmas Flag features a poinsettia plant in a Christmas tree design. The bright red and green colors stand out beautifully on the flag’s black background.

If you enjoy whimsical flags, the U.S. Flag Store will not disappoint. Sure to be a holiday favorite, the Winter Pal’s Greetings Decorative Banner Flag features four cartoon characters—a reindeer, a snowman, a penguin, and polar bear—donned in winter hats and scarves in front of a red and green background. The Santa Christmas Flag features a “Ho, Ho, Ho!” written in candy canes, an adorable Santa image and bright white snowflakes on a black background. This cute flag is sure to put you and your neighbors in the holiday spirit!

When you’re browsing flags, be sure not to miss the BreezeArt Penguin and Pal Banner Flag. This adorable snowy flag features a chubby penguin—dressed in a Christmas hat and scarf—holding a miniature Christmas tree in a pot. The penguin’s pal, a little red bird, sits on the very top of his hat.  Best of all, this great design is available in a smaller garden flag and magnetic mailbox cover.

The U.S. Flag Store’s Christmas flags are a great way to display your Christmas and holiday spirit. Order yours today!

Winter Decorative Flags show Holiday Spirit

By Kristi Ries

It’s that time of year again: evergreen wreaths hang on doorways, homemade cookies are baking and fireplaces are aglow all across America. There’s a chill with a scent of chimney smoke in the air, and freshly cut evergreens can be found atop minivans everywhere.

In the throes of winter, the darkest and bleakest months of the year, countless Americans venture out to adorn their lawns and houses in a festive display for the season. Neighbors crane their necks to see intricate light patterns and tall nutcracker cut-outs; elaborate decorations offer an excellent excuse for long holiday joyrides after dark to see lights, reindeer, sleighs and bright candles on a winter’s eve.

Such decorations have become a personal expression of pride in one’s home and in celebration of various religious holidays. Colorful lights and nativity displays, menorahs in windows and garland on doorways are just another way to welcome friends and loved ones to your home during this especially chilly time of year.

As people struggle to untangle last year’s Christmas lights, they might also consider another type of decoration this winter: holiday flags. You can hang a 3D Santa banner flag to honor the wonder of Old Saint Nick; a red poinsettia flower and the words “Seasons Greetings” invite all to share in the joys of the season. You can herald in the Christmas holiday with a trumpeting angel, or display banners of a Christmas tree, a jolly snowman or the Three Wise Men. Hannukah begins this Friday, December 11 at sundown, and several elegant Hannukah flags showcase a Dreidel, the Star of David and a menorah to celebrate the eight-day Festival of Light.

Easy to hang and available in a range of designs, these jubilant flags make a great statement outside your home. They’re also a great gift for your friends and family.

Once these joyous occasions have come to a close, there are still more colorful ways to brighten up the season. Snowflake flags are great all-purpose winter greetings for your snow-covered yard, and New Year’s flags are the perfect way to show you’re ready to ring in 2010! Consider adding one to the beauty and warmth of your home today.