Tag Archives: Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas New Zealand Style

Pohutukawa tree

I read and enjoyed this post from Judy at A Daily Thought.

Our friends at Wikipedia tell us

“In England in the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. In Tudor England, Twelfth Night itself was forever solidified in popular culture when William Shakespeare used it as the setting for one of his most famous stage plays, titled Twelfth Night. “

Then I thought I would share with those of you in other parts of the world the New Zealand version of Twelve Days of Christmas.  By the way did you know that traditionally the first day of Christmas was Christmas Day, so the twelfth would be January 6th the day in which all decorations were removed from the house?

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

Pukeko

Pukeko

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas
….
and so on, until…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five – big – fat – pigs!
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming

pois dancing

Traditional pois dancing

Definitions

Pukeko = type of bird found in NZ
Ponga Tree = a fern tree that grows in NZ
Kumera = a yellow sweet potato with a purple inside core
Piuspius = a skirt made from strips of flax. They look like hula skirts. They’re worn by the Maori (indigenous people of NZ) during certain dances and special celebrations.
Haka = war chant/dance
Pipis = small shellfish
Puha = a type of sow thistle that is eaten as a vegetable in NZ
Pois = Maori word for ball – they’re two balls on the end of two ropes and they’re twirled around making patterns during some Maori dances
Huhu = a small edible grub or beetle found in NZ.

This is a funny version of the 12 days – please watch and listen to it.

Here in New Zealand we have Boxing Day as a National Holiday.  Boxing Day is the day following Christmas Day, when traditionally, servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their  employers; this was known as a “Christmas box”.  We also have the 2nd day of January as a holiday but of course, shops are only closed for Christmas Day and January 1st so many retail workers don’t enjoy these days off.

So there you have even more  useless information to store in your head.  But perhaps if you play Trivial Pursuit over the holiday period some of this may come in handy.

It just leaves me now to say to all of my friends out in the blogosphere may you have a Happy and Safe Christmas wherever you are celebrating it and a New Year filled with all that you wish for.

Happy Holidays

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Another View of Christmas

“An eye for an eye
will make us all blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi

After all the cheerful Christmas posts I have been writing and reading, I remembered this video – Happy Christmas (War is Over) from John Lennon.

Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980 and so it is obviously many years since he sang this song but  what has changed?  War is still being raged around the world; people are dying; children are being maimed; people are starving; people are being punished for their beliefs; bombs are still being manufactured by countries who deny this; prisoners are being inhumanely treated….  Will we ever learn?

And compare that video with the words of Imagine

YES JUST IMAGINE
Wouldn’t that make for a Very Happy Christmas

Santa ‘s Getting Tough

I heard this on a local radio show yesterday.  I thought it worth sharing with you.Santa gets tough

Abbotsford police in British Columbia, Canada, have sent this card to all the local criminals.  It’s gone out to all known prolific offenders, gang members and drug dealers to encourage them to make a law-abiding New Year’s resolution.

The card features the force’s Police Chief as Santa dressed in tactical gear with the accompanying message ‘Which list will you be on next year?’: ‘You are always only one choice away from changing your life’.

An additional greeting continues: ‘We believe it is never too late to make a better choice for your life.  ‘For the sake of your family & for your own sake, consider 2013 the year you choose a new & better life.  ‘Make your New Year’s resolution now! We’re here to help.’ There’s even a phone number they can call.

The Christmas greeting hasn’t gone down well with everyone though and several complaints have been posted on the police Facebook page.

As for effectiveness? Word is, police are well on the way to halving Abbotsford’s crime since 2008 by 2013 and  Canada’s ‘murder capital’, is becoming one of the safest cities in the country. Looks like it’s working.  So what do you think?

And how many days, hours and minutes until Christmas Day – To see how long where you live click here.  It’s 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes, 17 seconds  and counting

And for no good reason except that I sometimes, well quite often,  have trouble parking and think some assistance would be helpful I am sharing here the Spanish version of car parking – hilarious

And now girls take a look at this Christmas gift list just to make sure you get what you want.  Leave it in a prominent place so that he can’t miss it.  And you fellows take note too.

Wish list

or, on second thoughts, you might want to read my recent post – You Bought Me What!
Here ends yet another scrappy post  today.

You Bought Me What

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Has your nearest and dearest (who should know better) ever bought you really awful gifts for Christmas?

Twice it happened to me – and I guess that’s not bad in 41 Christmases. It was our first Christmas; very newly wed having been married in November.  Christmas 1957 in London  – Christmas Day dawned and we went to my parents’ house to celebrate with the rest of the family.  Everybody passed presents and I was presented with a large, beautifully wrapped box by my new husband.

I couldn’t wait to open it…It contained a Sunbeam Mixmaster.

sunbeam mixmaster

A household appliance as a present did not feature high on my list of gifts I would like to receive.  My DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) really couldn’t understand my disappointment.  My mother and sisters thought I was so lucky.  But that was the first and last time a household appliance featured on any gift list.  Mind you the gift worked hard and well for many years.

Fast forward 1972 to Wellington, New Zealand.  The children were still at home and as was our tradition we all sat around on Christmas morning with coffee and croissants and opened our gifts.  One of our traditions was that the children took it in turns to give out the gifts.  My daughter presented me with (again) a beautifully wrapped gift and when I opened it there was a silver goblet nestled in amongst tissue paper.  One of my pet hates was and still is silver goblets.  I have always hated drinking from them.

silvergobletHaving matured some since 1957, I smiled as graciously as I could as I accepted the gift.  My DYS was sitting, face wreathed in smiles as he watched me open it.

Another round of gifts and I was presented with another box, slightly different in shape but still beautifully wrapped.  I opened it.  Oh no – a matching silver goblet sitting in a bed of tissue.  My face must have told everything on my mind, because my small son couldn’t help himself and told me to be careful with the tissue.  And then, nestled in the tissue was a beautiful gold necklace.  Maybe the goblets came as a free gift with the necklace but …..  We have all laughed about that gift and it has become one of the tales that gets trotted out each Christmas.

Have you ever been given a gift that you wished you hadn’t received?  Let me know.

And here’s a song that many of you (read most of you) will not have heard. 

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.  Author Unknown

Christmas bells

Just Thinking About Christmas

Santa at the beach

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is still strange after 40 plus years living in New Zealand.  I have told of how the first Christmas we were here my then 7-year-old daughter, asked in her piping Scottish accent “When is it going to snow Mummy”.  That first Christmas we had a fantastic summer.  All the promises that were made in the coloured brochures provided to us by the NZ High Commission in London proved to be true.  Long lazy days at the beach but at Christmas?

Even after all these years setting up a tree with lights and putting decorations around the house still doesn’t feel quite right.  And reindeer – where’s the snow?  Another vexing question for my daughter and her younger brother all those years ago was how would Santa get here if the reindeer didn’t bring him?  And more importantly, would he know that they had moved from Lenzie in Dumbartonshire, Scotland to Auckland, New Zealand?  And of course, there was no chimney – so how would he get in?

That first Christmas, the day dawned hot and humid and of course, having been brought up in the Northern Hemisphere I did the traditional dinner with all the trimmings.  Everybody ate in their bathing suits.  Another strange thing for us to contemplate (and add to the list of strange things.

Things went back to normal when we lived in Montreal and Christmas was once again in the winter.  And if you have ever been to Montreal in the winter you will know that there was no shortage of snow.  And there were two chimneys in our house so that solved the problem of access and the snow solved the reindeer question but by this time my children were 9 and 7 and Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as English and Scottish children knew him then) was relegated to the arena of fairies and fairy tales.

But now we are used to the upside-down seasons and accept that it will be warm and hopefully sunny on Christmas Day.  My son will no doubt cook a barbecue and we will relax on a patio with a cold drink in hand, surrounded by family and friends.

And as I write this post on Saturday, December 8 at 1pm I find that there are only 16 days 10 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds to Christmas.  Is that sufficient time to do all the things on my Christmas To Do List?   Well, it will have to be.

What Do I Want For Christmas

Pohutakawa tree

Pohutokawa, NZ Christmas Tree
Image via Wikipedia

Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree
for me.
been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Always at this time of the year, I have a flashback to Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby”  She doesn’t want much.  Apart from the sable and the convertible above, she asks for a yacht, a platinum mine, a duplex and checks, Christmas decorations from Tiffany’s and a ring.  Well a girl has to know what she wants.  And of course, this is all in fun.  Watch and listen here.

But what do you want for Christmas?  Last year Katie at k8edid put her wishes in a very clever verse.  So what is it that you want for Christmas, apart that is, for world peace and everybody being well housed, fed and clothed?

And what do I want for me?  Well, I really don’t want any more ‘stuff’.  I have spent the past two and half years clearing it all out and now find that it is perfectly possible to live with so much less ‘stuff’.

  • What I want is the love and friendship of my children, their spouses and their children
  • I would like to keep the level of health that I now enjoy
  • And while keeping my old friends, I would like to meet some new ones.

What do I want for others?

Boys planting

  • What I particularly want is for all children in the world to find a happy and safe place to grow up in, knowing that they are loved, respected and cared for so they may grow up to be happy, well-rounded young people.
    Here in New Zealand we have a dismal record of child abuse.  I should like this to be addressed here and all around the world.
  • I would like all children to know a world where they are not surrounded by war, bombs and deprivation
  • I should like all children to have enough to eat, fresh water to drink and clothes to keep them warm
  • For the adults –
    • Of course, peace and security
    • Love and friendship
    • Good health
    • The freedom that we enjoy to express their beliefs openly without fear of reprisal

So what do you want for Christmas ?  For my friends of the Jewish faith please forgive my ignorance if I ask whether you exchange gifts at this time of the year – Hanukkah; and I address the same questions to my Muslim friends and any Buddhists or other religions who might read my blog.

Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you have a happy time shared with family and friends.

Happy Holidays

 

Christmas Again!

holly

“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!”
Nursery rhyme and Christmas carol (frequently sung as a round)

Well Christmas with all the excitement and busyness is almost upon us.  No doubt you are looking forward to many parties and celebrations culminating in a special time with your family and friends.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of the facts and fallacies surrounding Christmas as we now celebrate it.

Did you know?

  • Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was the catalyst for the reinvention of St Nicholas into the jolly, fat image of Santa we now know?
  • Also invented by Moore, Santa’s travels are invariably connected to reindeer.  In the poem they are pictured charging through a winter sky complete with strong, elaborate horns.  But in winter reindeer lose their horns so are Santa’s reindeer all female or are they castrated males?
  • Moore omitted to tell us that St Nicholas was Turkish.  He was real and was born in Patara, Turkey.  He was an early Christian and in the 4th Century he became bishop of the district of Demre where some of his bones can still be visited.  Little fact is known of him, only oral legends relating to his goodness and kindness to children.
  • Another poem, this one by Frank Baum (who wrote The Wizard of Oz) told that Santa lived in a valley called Ho Ho Ho.  American marketers quickly picked up on the poem and Ho Ho Ho became Santa brand’s catch cry.
  • The song Jingle Bells never mentions Christmas and has no connection to Christmas.  It was originally composed for America’s Thanksgiving festival in 1857.
  • Nobody knows when Jesus was born or died. For many centuries people in the northern hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day and the turning point in the long, often hard, cold winter.  Some 300 years after Jesus’ (guessed at) death date, Pope Julius I announced that 25th December would be the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  As Christianity spread around the world, this date took over the existing festivities and became “Christmas”.  The word Christmas didn’t come into being until 1032 AD.
  • The bible doesn’t say that three kings visited the baby Jesus but refers to “Wise men from the east”.  They may well have been astronomers (they did follow a star) or Zoroastrian priests and the fact that the three gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are mentioned is the possible basis for assuming there were three visitors.
  • And the gifts they brought.  Gold and Frankincense would be acceptable but in ancient times Myrrh was very expensive and used in embalming dead bodies and was burned at funerals to disguise the smell of bodies that hadn’t been embalmed.  Why would it be brought to a newborn child?
  • And everybody’s favourite – Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.  There have been 14 versions of this story.
  • Four Calling Birds in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Originally it was four colly birds, colly being the ancient word for black (as in collier and coal) so colly birds were black birds.  As time went by colly fell out of use and didn’t make sense so people started saying four calling birds.  This doesn’t make sense either.
  • Decorated evergreen trees have been part of December celebrations in Europe for many centuries reminding everyone that spring is just around the corner.  The decorated Christmas tree became accepted in the UK when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the children were depicted in the “Illustrated London News” standing around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
  • The use of X as in Xmas is not at all invalid or disrespectful.  The word Christ was never part of Jesus’ name, it is a title assigned by later worshippers in Greek meaning ‘the anointed one’.  In ancient Greece the letter chi was written with a symbol very like an X and the title assigned to Jesus was Xristos and was frequently abbreviated to just X.  So writing Christmas as Xmas has been considered acceptable for some 1000 years.  Note early publications were charged by the number of letters so using X in Xmas was encouraged.
  • The wassail ritual was an ancient pre-Christian custom of drinking a toast to the sun after the northern mid-winter approximately 25 December and hopes for a bountiful harvest in the coming warmer months. Hence the song ‘Here we come a-wassailing’ was a gathering of friends drinking a toast.  “Waes hael” in ancient English means “Be healthy” and the usual drink was a mixture of spices, apple juice and eggs.  (Give me a G&T any time).
  • Christmas was cancelled in England in the 1640s when Puritan law forbade churches to open on Christmas Day and banned home decorations, celebrations, carol singing and the creating of Nativity scenes.  December 25 was declared a day of everyday work and fasting.  The outraged populace made Christmas observances in secret until the Monarchy was restored in 1660 and King Charles II restored Christmas.
  • And finally, a horse named Santa Claus won the Epsom Derby in 1964.

So there you have my list – as my son always says I have a fund of useless information.  Enjoy it anyway.

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Charles Dickens.

Related Posts

Another Six Word Saturday

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

One More Sleep: Santa’s Here Tomorrow

So now I would  like to wish you all a very, very Happy Christmas. Thank you for reading and following my blog; thank you for your kindness and your friendship which has developed and grown over the preceding months.

  • May you be with those you love and love those you are with.
  • May your memories of those who cannot be with you be warm and loving,
  • May the true spirit of Christmas descend into this warring world and may peace be known and felt around this world.
  • May all your wishes come true or if not all of them, then most or some of them.

Happy Holidays

Song From Heaven

Carol singers

Are the children singing Christmas carols where you live?  They are here and even after all these years, Good King Wenceleslas sounds just wrong sung in the middle of summer.

I then got to thinking about some of the other Christmas hymns/carols we sing.  Do you know the story of Silent night?

We are told that on 24 December 1818 in a little village in the Austrian Alps, Father Joseph Mohr sat alone in his study reading the Bible.  A knock on his door summoned him up into one of the higher Alps to christen a boy child born that day.  He returned to his home and noticed that the hillside was alight with candles of the faithful going to Midnight Mass.  It is recorded that with the birth of the child and the lights in the valley, he felt as if a true Christmas miracle had come to pass.

Apparently, following the church service he returned to his study and tried to put down what had happened and how it had affected him.  By morning he had a poem and on Christmas Day his friend, Franz Xavier Gruber, a music teacher put the words to music.  That day in church the priest and the teacher sang the hymn unaccompanied as the organ was once again out of order.

In the village was a family of four children who sang together all the time and this new song quickly became a favourite.  In the next few years it was heard in the surrounding valleys as their parents were glove-makers and travelled to the fairs.

After hearing the children singing to entertain themselves while at the fair in Liepzig, the Director General of Music in the Kingdom of Saxony, invited them to attend a concert in the Gewandhaus (the ancient guild house of the drapers of Leipzig).  After the concert the Director General of Music, rose and invited them up to the stage.  They sang the hymn that Father Mohr had written following which there was complete silence before rapturous applause broke out. Presumably the children then sang the rest of their repertoire.

The King and Queen were in the audience and requested to receive them.  They asked the children to come to the castle to sing their song.  So on Christmas Eve in 1832 in the Royal Saxon Court in Pleissenburg Castle, at the end of the Christmas services, the four young Strasser children sang:

“Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!”

And this song, composed by a humble village priest in a tiny village in the Austrian Alps has gone on to become one of the best known and best loved carols to be sung at Christmas all around the world.

Happy Holidays

The Pohutakawa Tree

Pohutakawa tree

Image via Wikipedia

“I think perhaps I’ll never see
A more magnificent  tree
Than our pohutakawa on display
With gorgeous blooms each Christmas Day.

Those dangling roots in search will cling
To cliff or rocks or anything
And nature put this gem so long ago
Where other trees just couldn’t grow.

Thus in pohutakawa’s ancient past
A gene had formed to make it last
And claim today triumphantly
That it’s New Zealand’s Christmas-tree.”

When noodling (my elder sister’s word) around thinking about what to write today’s post on, I came across this poem.  I don’t know the author but it was in a collection of New Zealand poems on http://homepages.xnet.co.nz/~hardy/poetryNewZealand.html.

The Pohutakawa is regarded as our New Zealand Christmas tree and the Maoris say that if they produce plentiful blossoms then we shall have a good summer.  This year, summer has been late in coming but has now arrived.

So happy Christmas to all.  And by the way, for those interested, I have a new cast on today that looks like Santa’s boot.  Loads of fun in the orthopedic department today – everybody was in holiday mood.  And the good news was that I was in and out, x-rayed, new cast and all in just over one hour!  Whoo hoo.

Santa boot

I have many more attractive shoes!