LaserTagPro Milwaukee

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Walgreens: BOGO FREE Photo Calendars plus FREE Shipping


Walgreens is offering Buy 1 Get 1 Free Photo Calendars + Free Shipping with the coupon code: CALBOGO at checkout through December 31st.

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: United States



"Merry Christmas!"

And, of course, we could not skip the traditions that all of us here in the United States use to celebrate this joyous and blessed holiday!  Feel free to make comments and let us know...how do YOU celebrate this holiday?

Contemporary 'Santa Claus' was born in the United States - thanks to a myriad of artists, writers, legends and the evolving nature of our country at the time. 'Santa Claus' is claimed to have been the Dutch word for St Nicholas, Sinterklaas. Although the Dutch had brought him with them in the 17th century, he did not become an important person at Christmas until the Novelist Washington Irving put him in a novel that he wrote in 1809. This first Santa Claus was still known as St. Nicholas, he did smoke a pipe, and fly around in a wagon without any reindeer, but he did not have his red suit or live at the North Pole, he did however bring presents to children every year.

In 1863 He was given the name Santa Claus and bore the red suit, pipe, and his reindeer and sleigh.

Now Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the United States, because of the variety of nationalities which have settled in it.

In Pennsylvania, the Moravians build a landscape, called a putz - under the Christmas tree, while in the same state the Germans are given gifts by Belsnickle, who taps them with his switch if they have misbehaved.

Early European settlers who brought many traditions to the United States. Many settled in the early days in the South, these settlers would send Christmas greetings to their distant neighbors by shooting firearms and letting off fireworks. In Hawaii this practice is still in use as under the sunny skies, Santa Claus arrives by boat and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors.

In Alaska, a star on a pole is taken from door to door, followed by Herod's Men, who try to capture the star. Colonial doorways are often decorated with pineapple, a symbol of hospitality.

In Alaska, boys and girls with lanterns on poles carry a large figure of a star from door to door. They sing carols and are invited in for supper.

In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously when the President presses a button and turns on the tree's lights.

In Boston, carol singing festivities are famous. The singers are accompanied by hand bells.

In New Orleans, a huge ox is paraded around the streets decorated with holly and with ribbons tied to its horns.

In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas is kept up. This is a ritual procession and play representing the search of Mary and Joseph for a room at the inn. Families play the parts and visit each other's houses enacting and re-enacting the drama and, at the same time, having a look at each family's crib.

In Hawaii, Christmas starts with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship, a ship bringing a great load of Christmas fare. Santa Claus also arrives by boat.

In California, Santa Claus has been known to ride in on a surf board.

In America the traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey with vegetables and sauces. For dessert it is rich, fruity Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Mince pies, pastry cases filled with a mixture of chopped dried fruit.

The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas with the exchange of gifts and greetings and with family visits. For many, the day begins on Christmas Eve with the Midnight Mass. At Christmas it snows in many states, so dinner is usually eaten indoors. Dinner usually is roast turkey, goose, duck or ham served with cranberry sauce, then plum pudding or pumpkin pie followed by nuts and fruit.

American homes are decorated with holly, mistletoe and branches of trees, most have a Christmas tree hung with electric lights, tinsel, baubles, strings of popcorn and candy canes.

In Colorado, an enormous star is placed on the mountain, it can be seen for many kilometers around, while in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a star is lit in early December.

Polish Americans on Christmas Eve spread hay on their kitchen floor and under the tablecloth to remind them of a stable and a manger. When they make up the table for dinner two extra places are set up for Mary and the Christ Child in case they should knock at the door to ask for shelter.

In Philadelphia, a procession called a mummers parade runs for a whole day with bands, dancers and people in fancy dress.

There are two homes for Santa Claus in the United States one is in Tirrington, Connecticut, where Santa and his helpers give out presents. The other home is in Wilmington, New York, where a village for Santa and his reindeer is located.

In Arizona they follow the Mexican traditions called Las Posadas. Families play out the parts of Mary and Joseph searching for somewhere to stay. They form a procession and visit their friends' and neighbors' homes where they admire each family's Nativity crib. In parts of New Mexico, people place lighted candles in paper bags filled with sand on streets and rooftops to light the way for the Christ Child.

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: France

"Joyeux Noel!"

In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase "les bonnes nouvelles," which means "the good news" and refers to the gospel. In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year's harvest.
On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find that sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys have been hung on the tree.

Nearly every French home at Christmastime displays a Nativity scene or creche, which serves as the focus for the Christmas celebration. The creche is often peopled with little clay figures called santons or "little saints." In addition to the usual Holy Family, shepherds, and Magi, the craftsmen also produce figures in the form of local dignitaries and characters. The craftsmanship involved in creating the gaily colored santons is quite astounding and the molds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Throughout December the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix.

The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means "Christmas Log." The cake, among other food in great abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le reveillon. Le reveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters and pat de foie gras. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine.

In Southern France, a log is burned in people's homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day. A long time ago, part of the log was used to make the wedge for the plough as good luck for the coming harvest.

French families used to have a Three Kings Cake with a bean hidden in it. Whoever found the bean in their slice was made King, or Queen, for the day. In France the children go out to look for the Kings, taking gifts of hay for the camels.

Another name for this day is Twelfth Day. It is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which used to be one long holiday. It was the last night of the Feast of Fools before the Lord of Misrule had to give up his crown and become themselves once again.

In France it is a time for the whole family to come together at Christmas time to holiday and worship. On the eve of Christmas beautifully lit churches and cathedrals, ring out Christmas carols with the church bells.

Once dinner is over and the family have retired to bed, they leave a fire burning and food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary calls in. Children leave their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth for the Christ Child or Pere Noel to fill. In the north of France, children are given gifts on December 6, which is St. Nicholas' Day, instead of Christmas Day. The adults give each others presents on New Year's Day.

French children set out their shoes in hopes that le petit jesus will fill them during the night with small gifts.


*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Japan


"Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto"

Christmas was introduced in Japan by the Christian missionaries, and for many years the only people who celebrated it were those who had turned to the Christian faith. But now the Christmas season in Japan is full of meaning and is almost universally observed. The story of the Child Jesus born in a manger is fascinating to the little girls of Japan, for they love anything having to do with babies. In the scene of the Nativity they become familiar for the first time with a cradle, for Japanese babies never sleep in cradles. Many western customs in observing Christmas have been adopted by the Japanese.

Besides exchanging gifts they eat turkey on Christmas Day, and in some places there are even community Christmas trees. They decorate their houses with evergreens and mistletoe, and in some homes Christmas carols are sung gaily. In Japan there is a god or priest known as Hoteiosho, who closely resembles our Santa Claus. He is always pictured as a kind old man carrying a huge pack. He is thought to have eyes in the back of his head. It is well for the children to be good when this all-seeing gentleman is abroad. New Year's Day is the most important day of the whole calendar in Japan.

On New Year's Eve the houses are cleaned thoroughly from top to bottom, and are decorated for the morrow. When everything has been made clean and neat, the people of the house dress themselves in their finest clothes. Then the father of the household marches through the house, followed by all the family, and drives the evil spirits out. He throws dried beans into every corner bidding the evil spirits withdraw and good luck enter.


Thanks, The History of Christmas!

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Iran


Christmas in Iran is known as the Little Feast. For the first 25 days of December, a great fast is observed, during which no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is eaten. It is a time of peace and meditation; a time for attending services at the church. When the fast is over, the feast is begun, for plenty of meat is prepared for the Christmas dinner.

Christmas Eve is the last day of the fast. Almost before dawn on Christmas Day, the people attend Mass to receive Communion and it is not until they have received this Communion that they are permitted to break fast.

The boys and girls of Iran have never heard of Santa Claus, so they do not exchange gifts at Christmas. But they do receive new clothes, which they proudly wear all during the happy Christmas week.

A dish eaten for Christmas day is a kind of chicken stew called 'harasa'. It is cooked in large quantities and lasts several days.


Thanks, The History of Christmas, for the information in this post.

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Norway


"God Jul!"

Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. "Yule" came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

Traditional Christmas customs include Nisse, a gnome or an elf guarding animals. It is said in Norway that Nisse can have goat-like features. Children get bowls of a certain type of porridge ready for him - if they don't, he will play tricks on them.  The idea is a very old one and was most likely known by the Vikings. In earlier times during Christmas in Norway, one person dressed in goatskin (carrying a goat's head!) would come to the Christmas celebration unannounced and act as if they were dying shortly afterwards.  It did not take long for Christians in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia) to associate the goat with the devil. They then used it only during celebrations and were later forbidden these customs by the church and government. A much tamed-down form of the tradition remains to this day.


At 4:00 p.m. all work comes to a halt on Christmas Eve in Norway. Everyone bathes and puts on new clothes to greet the season. The largest sheaf of grain is hung out for the birds to make their Christmas merry, too. Christmas dinner begins with rice pudding with a lucky almond hidden in it for someone, and a bowl is also set out for the barn elf so that he will continue to watch over the animals and not turn mischievous. A Christmas pig provides most of the meat dishes. Traditionally the Norwegians kept the season bright with a Yule log. It literally formed the center of the celebration since it was frequently an entire tree that could only partly fit into the fireplace and so extended well out into the middle of the living room. As it burned it would be pushed farther into the fire to provide continuous light and warmth through the whole Christmas season.

The Christmas tree is taking the place of the Yule log today. The popularity of Santa Claus has resurrected an ancient Norse figure called Julesvenn. In ancient times he would come during the feast of Jul to hide lucky barley stalks around the house. Now he comes on Christmas Eve to bring gifts to good children. After Christmas Day is past, children indulge in a custom much like trick or treat. It is called Julebukk and children wear costumes and go door to door asking for goodies.


*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Germany


Christmas preparations often begin before December 1st. Many Germans set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys.

Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.

Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.

On December 6 is Nikolaustag, St. Claus day. A shoe or boot is left outside the door on Dec.5 with hopes the following morning you find presents, if you were good - or, unfortunately a rod if you had been bad.  Since much of Milwaukee was made up of Germans as Milwaukee was developed, we were lucky enough to keep the St. Nick tradition going strong.  It continues to be celebrated throughout Milwaukee every year.  It is fascinating to us to have learned that many other places across the United States have never heard of St. Nick's night!

In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.

It is the Christkind who brings the presents, accompanied by one of its many devilish companions, Knecht Rupprecht, Pelznickle, Ru-Klas, or one of the other monstrous playmates created by this nation, which is known for its fairy tales.

Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing.  The custom of trimming and lighting a Christmas tree had its origin in pre-Christian Germany, the tree symbolizing the Garden of Eden. It was called the "Paradise Baum," or tree of Paradise. Gradually, the custom of decorating the tree with cookies, fruit and eventually candles evolved. Other countries soon adapted the custom. Charles Dickens called it "The Pretty German Toy."

In Germany they lay out advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.

The traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child's messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents.

In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables. 


The Christmas tree, as we know it, originated in Germany. It has a mysterious magic for the young because they are not allowed to see it until Christmas Eve. While the children are occupied with another room (usually by Father) Mother brings out the Christmas tree and decorates it with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, cars, trains, angels, tinsel, family treasures and candles or lights. The presents are placed under the tree. Somewhere, close to the bright display are laid brilliantly decorated plates for each family member, loaded with fruits, nuts, marzipan, chocolate and biscuits. When all is ready a bell is rung as a signal for the children to enter this Christmas fantasy room. Carols are sung, sometimes sparklers are lit, the Christmas story is read and gifts are opened.

In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.


Ever heard of the "German Pickle Glass Ornament?"  Turns out that most people in Germany have never heard of such a tradition!  Click here to read more about that.

Thank you, The History of Christmas, for all of the invaluable information that you provided to help me with this post!

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Ireland

"Happy Christmas!"
Ireland, like most countries, has a number of Christmas traditions that are all of its own. Many of these customs have their root in the time when the Gaelic culture and religion of the country were being supressed and it is perhaps because of that they have survived into modern times.
  • The candle in the window:  The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas eve is still practiced today. It has a number of purposes but primarily it was an symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they travelled looking for shelter.
  • The Laden Table:  After evening meal on Christmas eve the kitchen table was again set and on it were placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveller, could avail of the welcome.
  • Decorations:  The placing of a ring of Holly on doors originated in Ireland as Holly was one of the main plants that flourished at Christmas time and which gave the poor ample means with which to decorate their dwellings.  All decorations are traditionally taken down on Little Christmas (January 6th.) and it is considered to be bad luck to take them down beforehand.

The Gaelic greeting for 'Merry Christmas' is:
'Nollaig Shona Duit'
......which is pronounced as 'null-ig hun-a dit'.




St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony is to ask for money 'for the starving wren', that is, for their own pockets.
Thank you, The History of Christmas, for this little tidbit!

My mother's side of the family has a very deep Irish seeding.  Growing up, my mother always placed candles in her windows around Christmastime.  In my home we follow the tradition of taking the tree down on "Little Christmas," but not because of the Irish tradition.  I oftentimes like to extend the Christmas season a little longer...and, to be honest, I get a little lazy!  Now I finally have a reason for my laziness :)

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Look! We are elves!







*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Heading to Walmart on 12/26, check out when they open!

FYI:
Walmart will be open at 6am on 12/26.
A great time to stock up on end of the season items like Christmas lights!






*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Did Santa bring you a Wii for Christmas?



$8.98 shipped!

We have had a Wii for a while now and it seems like our batteries just get sucked dry.  We could really use this!  Not only would it save us money because we wouldn't need to replace batteries all the time but it would also be more eco-friendly!

Tanga Good-Till-Gone Deal



*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Mexico



Feliz Navidad!

Here is the way some people celebrate Christmas in Mexico!

On Noche Buena, December 24, everybody goes to Misa (mass) de Noche Buena which is at midnight.   After the Mass, everyone goes to their respective homes to have dinner with family and any friend who does not have a family is always welcome to be part of a family celebration, and most important of all to place the Baby Jesus in the manger in the Nativity scene.
The presents are not received on Christmas, for Christmas is a celebration of Life of Our Savior.

The New Year's Eve, there is a Misa de Gallo, (Rooster's Mass) that takes place at midnight also. Some families go to church earlies to give thanks for all the blessings received during the year.

The children's celebration of receiving presents is not until January 6th, "el día de Reyes", the day of the Kings, or the Wise Men Day. It is the Magi who brought the presents to the Baby Jesus, thus, they bring the toys to the boys and girls who have been good. The children place their shoes by the window, so the Magi place the present in the shoe. If the present is bigger than the shoe, it will be placed next to it. Many children get a new pair of shoes for a present.

Lately, these traditions have been modified.  With the North American Free Treaty Agreement, known as NAFTA, Christmas is now celebrated the American style, with Santa Claus, the meals and presents, mostly among the afluent people. Others take trips to sky resorts in the United States or Europe, or travel to touristic places within Mexico.

All the education institutions are on vacation during the holidays, they do not get back to school until after January 6th. Also, the government offices and the other institutions connected with the government close during those two weeks.

*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Christmas Around the World: Poland

A few Christmas traditions my family celebrates since my grandparents were first generation Polish Americans are:


Breaking of the Christmas Wafer (Oplatek)
You can purchase Oplatek usually at church around the holidays, it comes in a envelope which usually has a picture of a religious scene inside are flat wafers that have religious scenes imprinted on them.  The wafers might be white, pink or blue.


At Christmas and Easter we break a chunk of the wafer off and then go around to the other members of the family and they take a little piece of your wafer, while you are breaking the wafer you are wishing them a Merry Christmas. :)





Festival of Stars
You can now do this in some churches, you can also do this at Holy Hill.
You are walked/told the Nativity Story.
My family remembers participating in this when they were children, it is becoming a "lost art" around town.  

We of course have our own holiday traditions.  We also Polish Christmas Carols.



*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!

Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)







*Please support this site by using the links provided. *
Don't miss the freebies, coupons, and discounts! Subscribe Now! Check us out on Facebook to find more deals and extra giveaways!
 

Blog Design By Lucky Girl Design Studio © All Rights Reserved. | Copyright © My City Mommy LLC 2009 All Rights Reserved