Christmas Traditions: Caroling
In Denmark, they have a tradition of holding hands and dancing around the Christmas tree while they sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve.
What are carols?
Well, the English word "carol" comes from the Greek word "choros" translated "dancing in a circle" and the French word "carole" translated "a song to accompany dancing."
Christmas carols are songs about Jesus and the time of his birth. Sometimes they are sung while dancing or walking.
In England, carolers would go from house to house singing carols to neighbors and friends. Some carolers sang on the street corners.
In the Curtis house, we have a tradition of caroling each December some time the week before Christmas. We carol through our neighborhood, singing one or two songs at each house. Sometimes we carol alone and sometimes friends join us. It is a special time each year.
Afterward, we come home and eat cookies and drink hot chocolate. Occasionally, we invite neighbors to come back and join us.
Would you like to try caroling in your house?
Tips to Make Caroling Easy & Fun
Christmas Tradition: Decorate Cupcakes
Everyone has their special Christmas traditions. We do lots of baking at Christmas time, even washing off the dusty rolling pin to make cut-out sugar cookies.
With the cupcake craze, we decided to add a new tradition: Christmas cupcakes!
Cupcakes are so easy to make, easy to decorate, and easy to serve.
We like to make decorating the cupcakes festive, so we use tubes of frosting to try all kinds of fancy touches and then use sprinkles or colored sugar. You can also go simple with the frosting and make little faces or designs on the cupcake tops with candies.
Start with 1-2 dozen baked cupcakes in paper liners.
Pass out one cupcake per child. Give them frosting and decorations.
When they are finished with one cupcake, they can make another one.
Finished cupcakes go on another platter.
Christmas cupcakes make a lovely addition to any Christmas buffet, a special dessert after Sunday dinner, or a festive treat at a Birthday Party for Jesus.
he holidays are here once again and it's time to attend parties, plays, cookie swaps, and decorate the Christmas tree.
What will you wear?
Should you buy something new?
I go shopping every year for a new holiday look. Where do I shop? In my closet!
Each season brings new trends and, best of all, old styles come back in style. I love that!
The fur-collared shirt that seems so dated the rest of the year can seem festive at the holidays.
Adding a touch of sparkle, pairing red and green together in a new way, or throwing a red jacket over a pair of jeans and T-shirt goes a long way in looking festive this season.
In the picture I have on a loose white blouse and black slack, a normal everyday outfit, but once I add the Christmas vest--tada! I have a Christmas outfit.
Adding gold and silver shoes, jewelry or scarves can also perk up an ordinary outfit during the holiday season.
Anything furry, fuzzy, velvet, sparkly, sequined, glittery, or shiny looks festive. Plaids, especially predominately green or red plaids, always say "Christmas."
Somewhere in your closet, there are treasures waiting for you to find them. Then you can mix and match them with clothes you wear everyday to create a brand new holiday look.
Mix Red & Green
Decorate for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and to be honest, by the time it arrives, I will already be decorating for Christmas. Yes, I go all out for Christmas, but I don't completely forget decorating for Thanksgiving.
I mainly focus on decorating the table for Thanksgiving dinner.
Years ago, I made my mother a very long Thanksgiving tablecloth and with the same fabric, I made myself some napkins with my serger.
I have now inherited the tablecloth which matches my napkins. This makes our table festive when it's my turn to host the holiday meal.
I put a cornucopia in the center with gourds and fall leaves. Or I use a basket of pine cones, gourds, and fall leaves. Another idea is a flower arrangement in yellows, reds, and oranges.
That is super-simple, but definitely gives us the Thanksgiving feel.
Sometimes the children and I do Thanksgiving crafts like a thankful tree or making our own Thanksgiving placemats. Oops I almost forgot the pine cone turkey crafts. All of these make cute additions to the table.
Here are some ideas for decorating from our house to your house.
Our American Heritage: Puritans
The Puritans wanted to purify their nation's church, the Anglican Church, or Church of England.
To the Puritans of the 17th Century, the new Church of England was too much like the Roman Catholic Church they had broken away from during the Reformation. They also saw corruption in the leadership and immoral living. To the Puritans, obedience to the Lord Jesus was the most important thing. Their ideas of freedom would fuel the independent spirit and love of liberty in America.
John Winthrop (1588-1649), a devoted Puritan, left England in 1630 to create a godly commonwealth in the New World. John had a beautiful vision of a colony completely centered around Jesus and His Word, a City on a Hill.
A wealthy Puritan lawyer, he was creative in his financing and founding of the colony. First of all, the New England Company was granted land between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers. A year later, this company received a royal charter and a name change: Massachusetts Bay Company. The group of Puritans who were moving to the New World became stockholders and bought up all the stock. You had to be going to the New World to own stock. So the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the only colony in the New World that was not subject to a board of trustees or governors back in England. Isn’t that neat? In 1630, John led a group of settlers to the mouth of the Charles River—Boston was born!
Before boarding the ships, Puritan Pastor John Cotton preached to the departing folks. His sermon, "God's Promise to His Plantation," urged the departing Puritans to be a shining light in the New World, preach the Gospel to the Native Americans, obey the Lord, make the Lord their strong tower, and enjoy the blessings of God who has sovereignly led them to settle in a new land.
Eleven ships sailed from England with their flagship Arabella in the lead. These ships carried almost 1,000 Puritans along with livestock, possessions, supplies, and food.
What Puritans Believed
Party Planning Basics
Celebrations always seem to include good food, sweet drinks, singing, and dancing!
One way to celebrate is to throw a party.
Throwing a party can be intimidating. Don’t worry, though. They key is planning. The planning process involves asking and answering lots of questions.
Answering these questions helps you think through what you are hoping to see happen at your party.
Are you ready?
Party Planning Begins with Basic Questions
Why are we having this party?
What are we celebrating?
What is the occasion?
This might be your son’s graduation from high school, your husband’s fortieth birthday, or Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection!
When? Where? When?
Next, we decide the date, time, and location!
Choose where the party will be and when. Will it be at your house? Is there enough room at your house?
Who or What is the Party For?
Is There a Guest of Honor?
A special occasion such as a wedding, graduation, or birthday will have a guest of honor. A seasonal party usually will not.
If there is a guest of honor, let him/her play a large role in deciding the menu, theme, decorations, and guest lists. If it is a surprise, try to keep the guest of honor’s likes and dislikes in mind.
Theme & Decorations
What will the theme be?
How will we decorate?
When my friend, Sarah, had her twenty-first birthday, she had a 1950’s Party complete with root beer floats, malted milk shakes, and cheeseburgers. We all dressed up and it looked like the cast of the old television show, Happy Days, had invaded my house.
Choose a theme or at least a color scheme right at the beginning. We have used Western themes (cowboy hats, rope, bandanas, cowboy songs), Hawaiian (pineapples, coconuts, tropical isle décor, island music), Mexican (sombrero, Mexican flags, music), and Teddy Bears (with teddy bears EVERYWHERE!).
Different holidays and seasons bring their own themes and colors. Christmas colors are red and green or burgundy and dark green. Easter colors are lavender, mint green, yellow, soft pink, and powder blue. St. Valentine’s Day colors are reds and pinks with lots of hearts, lace, and roses. Thanksgiving colors are orange, brown, dark greens, gold, and beige.
So many events on your calendar this holiday season.
What should you wear?
One thing I like to do is to look inside my closet with new eyes. Can I mix a shiny top, pretty blazer, and a comfortable pair of jeans to make a new outfit? Can I add a scarf to a dress or shirt with slacks to create festive attire?
Here are some great ideas for different holiday events. The key is to use these ideas as a springboard to create your own outfits with a festive flair. Sparkly earrings and chunky jewelry can add a whole new look.
Even adding a pair of holiday shoes can add some sparkle.
Have fun dressing up for the holidays!
Thanksgiving at Grandpa's
Decorating the Christmas Tree
Our American Heritage: Pilgrims
The pilgrims gave us Thanksgiving and the Mayflower Compact. That in itself is enough, but they also modeled for us courage to stand on our convictions, no matter the price. Risking life and limb, they traveled to the New World and, as they say, the rest is history. Did you know that the pilgrims on the Mayflower were actually a local church from Scrooby, England?
I am writing this in November with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Planning Thanksgiving menus, trying out some new recipes, and pulling out the special Thanksgiving tablecloth are all things that will happen this week. It's the time of year where everyone talks about pilgrims.
Most people don't even know who the pilgrims are and some people think that know who they are, but have their facts confused.
I thought it would be fun to talk about the pilgrims today. Maybe you have never heard their whole story. I hope I will whet your appetite today to learn more about the pilgrims.
In 1517, when Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the Whittenburg Door, the truth of salvation by grace through faith, not works, was rediscovered. The Reformation had begun! These old truths spread like wildfire through northern Europe and made their way to England. As some people studied the Word of God now available to read in English, they felt conviction to worship God in a more simple way, to elect their church leaders, and to live a simple, pure life. This group of people were know as Separatists because they felt they could not worship in the Church of England because of the pomp, ceremony, and fallen lifestyle of some of the church leaders and members so they separated. They formed their own congregation, meeting in Scrooby Manor, the home of William Brewster.
Hiding Out in Sherwood Forest Like Robin Hood
My dear friend Aisha just got married and had a lovely ceremony and reception.
We had a blast dancing, eating good food, and celebrating their new life together.
In another blog, I'll tell you all about the wedding, but in this one, I just want to tell you about the decorations.
The lovely Shabby Chic decorations were created and set up by my young friend Marielle. At 17, she is already a gift artist and creative decorator. She turned attic and thrift store finds into lovely treasure that were a delight to my eyes.
I am so impressed with Marielle's work that I have to share these decorations with you so that you can do them for your own or a loved one's wedding.
I hope these beautiful wedding decorations will inspire you to seek out treasure in your attics or nearby thrift store and come up with some just-as-amazing wedding decor as Marielle did.
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