Christmas is about rejoicing the festivities of the holiday season with your loved ones. The special ornamentations on this day go way back to the old times as the spirit of this day lies in the dangling bright lights, sparkling snowflake cut outs, decorative winter icons, evergreen trees of pine (or any other of the similar appearance) embellished with baubles, garlands, fairy lights, candy canes and what not!
But can you ever imagine a Christmas without the cooling sensation of mistletoe or the warm hue of sharp red poinsettia? Or the flamboyant presence of the Christmas Rose and the Christmas Cactus? The blooming abundance of flowers at this day is more than mere a decoration piece. Here are five incredible floral ideas to sprout your winter holidays into something spectacular: A bouquet to mend dissonance
If you’ve gotten into a mismatch with someone close and failed to convey good thoughts, what is more convincing than to be apologetic with a bouquet of flowers that convey a sense of warmth when all the other things fail to communicate. Use this season as an excuse to clear all the hard feelings, and that too has gone easy! Online florists take orders from you while you select the perfectly matched bouquet according to your taste. For instance, you can try Flowers for Everyone delivery in Perth to deliver bouquets from a variety of roses to wildflowers and edible flowers. The colours and the patterns of each have a meaning of their own giving you right in the feels!
You may think you’ve up used everything to fill up the space at your place, yet some corners look dull and empty. Go ahead and grab some mistletoe and holly berry sprigs, cover the window panes and doors with wreaths of fresh roses and gold dusted acorns. A few more foliage will do just well, because there is no such thing as too much flowers.
An easy way from stomach to heart
Flowers have a magical quality to appeal by sight and surprisingly through taste as well. Using edible flowers like Marigold, Angelica and Arugula is not only the in-thing nowadays, people also prefer the delicacy of their petals neatly arranged on their platter, mostly desserts. This not only gives a vibrant colour to the dish, but also looks appetizing. Moreover, it’s not necessary to use real edible flowers; butter icings, royal icings and fondants can be piped and sculptured to give an impression of flowers. Decadent Christmas cupcakes and cookies are used to celebrate this day in its best form.
The centrepiece on any Christmas dinner table is a conventional idea, but the way it speaks for itself complementing all the other items set on the table is what leaves the visitors in awe. There are endless ways to enhance floral centrepieces. You can be as creative as building a mini Christmas tree entangling twigs to form a pyramid, then inserting the flowers that commend your table cloth and giving it an extra spotlight with the tall candle sticks or mount a colourful potpourri in the centre and surround it with fresh flowers and mini candles to give it an extra booze of spring-winter amalgamation.
Alongside holiday cards and invitations
This is undoubtedly the best way to make someone’s day. Imagine your loved one waking up to your warm greetings alongside a fragrant mini bouquet. The involuntary smile is guaranteed. In similar ways, season’s greetings and invitations can be forwarded to acquaintances. Small gestures like these have a lot of influence.
Flora in nature’s prestigious abundance, gives hope, spreads joy and conveys sentiments. Therefore, it should be showcased in such a way that is fulfilling to its cause. Wait and watch them come alive these holidays.
Almost four million Christmas toys have been seized in Venezuela after authorities arrested two executives at toy distributor Kreisel.
According to officials, the toys will be distributed to the poor.
They accused the company of hoarding toys and hiking prices in the run-up to Christmas.
Last week, the government issued an order to retailers to reduce prices on a range of goods by 30%.
Business owners say the order is a populist political move, and pushing them towards bankruptcy.
According to Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, Sundde, Kreisel had stockpiled the goods and was reselling them at a margin of up to 50,000%.
Image source Twitter
“Our children are sacred, we will not let them rob you of Christmas,” Sundde said in a tweet, along with photos and video of thousands of boxes of toys.
In total, 3,821,926 toys were seized from two warehouses, and would be sold at low prices, it said.
Sundde director William Contreras said Kreisel had claimed the toys were old or discontinued. The agency also posted photos of the two executives being marched from the premises by a squad of heavily armed soldiers.
This is not the first time Venezuela has ordered price cuts on retailers, or mobilized armed units to enforce it.
In 2013, Venezuela introduced laws allowing the government to fix prices and dictate profit margins.
The same legislation limited profits to 30% – the amount often discounted in the compulsory “adjustments” enforced by Sundde at hundreds of retailers in the past week.
The same measures have been used to fix the prices of basic products such as flour, meat and bread – but supply is limited in a country where many people go hungry.
A jar of Nutella – a luxury item – can cost half the monthly minimum wage.
Venezuela’s government is becoming increasingly unpopular as the country’s economic crisis grows.
The country is rich in oil, but international oil prices have fallen in recent years.
The IMF estimates that Venezuela’s inflation – the rate at which prices go up – will hit 2,000% in 2017.
Winter is a magical time. With the hint of frost in the air, the smell of roasting chestnuts lingering on city streets, and the twinkle of Christmas lights at every corner, it is imbued with a cosy charm indoors and a glacial glory outside.
It’s a time to be indulgent. You have worked hard the whole year through, and now is the chance to finally treat yourself. Every shop window offers dazzling displays to choose from, and the Christmas presents are piling up at home.
Image source Bolsover Cruise Club
Yet sometimes the most delicious treat of all is escaping your everyday life for a while, and spoiling yourself on a sumptuous winter cruise. Here, we look at three of the best destinations for those in need of a warm weather pick-me-up…
For those in search of somewhere out of the ordinary, Chile is transcendental. A breath-taking wonderland of ethereal fjords, its waterways look like a scene taken straight from the pages of a fantasy novel: beautiful, unreal, and striking. Take an excursion into the countryside to see towering waterfalls and unspoilt landscapes stretching away as far as the eye can see, before diverting to one of the nation’s famed cities. Valparaiso, in particular, must be visited. Chile’s largest city, it spans the length and breadth of 45 undulating hills, each of them covered by an exquisitely eclectic mixture of high rises alongside quaint, brightly coloured traditional homes.
#2: The Amazon
The ultimate playground for cruise-goers, the Amazon is magnificent, massive, and meandering, and a journey down it will take you along some of the most stunning waterways in the world. Begin sailing in Brazil and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in a mecca of exotic animals and tropical birds. Macaws, toucans, and hummingbirds will fly above you as you cruise, with over 1,300 indigenous bird species to spot as you travel through the teeming rainforest. Don’t forget to embark once you reach Manaus, or else you risk missing some of the best-preserved Portuguese colonial buildings in the region, as well as charming waterside markets with all manner of delicacies to try.
#3: South Africa
South Africa is a paradisiacal winter cruise destination, and Cape Town, with towering Table Mountain looming above it, shrouded in ethereal mist, has to be one of the highlights for visitors to the area. Take a trip up in a cable car, and look down at a vista that will take your breath away. Once you’ve had your fill of the views, journey to the beautiful beach, or else explore the enchanting city itself. A jumble of green spaces and sumptuous shops, it offers the perfect complement to the wilderness you’ll discover once you venture outside of its boundaries.
What are you waiting for? Contact a company like Bolsover Cruise Club today to book your journey of a lifetime.
Christmas is celebrated by more than 160 countries but each one has its own traditions and unique festivities. Here are five places which enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in style.
The tradition of the Christmas tree originated in Germany, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best countries to celebrate the holiday. The main event is actually Christmas Eve where all presents are exchanged. The country is also famed for its Christmas Markets which run during the month of December with stalls selling decorations, hand crafted gifts and a selection of tasty treats and drinks. If you’re visiting, be sure to try stollen, a popular fruit bread, which is smothered with an indulgent layer of marzipan.
South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, offers an authentic Asian Christmas with dazzling light displays and decorated trees on every street corner. With its chilly climate at this time of year, there’s even the possibility of snow. Many of the locals celebrate throughout the month of December with endless parties and events to attend. There’s also a great Christmas market in the neighborhood of Sinchon where you can find unique gifs for your friends and family.
You won’t find much snow here but you can be guaranteed an enjoyable and once in a lifetime experience. The period coincides with the school summer holidays but that doesn’t stop the Australians from getting in the festive spirit. From Christmas gift wrapping to carol singing and twinkling light displays, it’s a traditional celebration that doesn’t hold back. On the big day and Boxing Day, many people visit the beach and trade in the traditional turkey dinner for a seafood feast.
Christmas is a very popular celebration on this Caribbean Island where family and friends come together to laugh, exchange gifts and drink far too much rum punch. A Christmas Day Breakfast is customary which often includes salt fish, fried plantains and boiled bananas. The evening meal often features curried goat, chicken, rice and peas. Another festive staple is the Jamaican red wine and rum fruitcake which is both boozy and delicious.
This holiday isn’t celebrated in a religious sense but remains a commercial spectacle with traditions taken from the west. Nonetheless, it’s a great time of year to visit the country, especially for a romantic getaway. Christmas Eve is Japan’s answer to Valentine’s day, where couples walk hand-in-hand and enjoy an intimate meal. On Christmas Day, a recent and unique trend has become very popular. Many families eat fried chicken from KFC, having to order days in advance to secure their Christmas bucket.
We all love spending Christmas at home but it may be worth trying something unique and taking a festive holiday. Tesco could help. It’s a great chance to enjoy a new culture and likely to be an unforgettable experience.
As spring and summer end, it’s time to break out your creativity and get ready for the upcoming holidays with new decorations. It’s not an easy task if you want your decorations to stand out and be memorable. Gear up by taking a look at these four decorating tips to get you through the fall and winter.
Halloween is really a holiday for kids, so get them involved in the Halloween decorating. Go to a pumpkin patch to handpick a pumpkin for your front porch. If your kids are a little older, let them carve a nice jack o’ lantern face on the front. Next, pull out the paper and start crafting Halloween decorations for your home. It’s easy to make spiders, ghosts, witches, and other cutouts to place around your home. Remember to have fun with Halloween because snow is not too far away and your kids will start spending a lot more time indoors.
The point of Thanksgiving is to get your family together for good food and company. Therefore, base your decorations around your food because that’s what everyone is looking for. For instance, create a beautiful table centerpiece surrounded by candles or buy lovely placemats or dinnerware specifically for Thanksgiving. If you’re worried about a budget for Thanksgiving, focus entirely on the food as your decorations. For instance, make leaf-shaped sugar cookies and place them on a tray near the entry of your home. It will be the first thing everyone sees.
When Christmas comes around, all you see is red and green decorations. Challenge yourself with a new color palate this year. There’s no reason why you can’t use frosty blue or royal purple to decorate for the holidays. Also, don’t waste your money on expensive Christmas decorations. Instead, make your own or buy some inexpensive strands of Christmas lights and ribbon. Then, string them all over your home to create a festive look. Ribbon and lights look great along a banister or over a fireplace mantel. If you’re looking for rope lights, ChristmasLightsEtc.com has some inexpensive options.
There’s not much time between Christmas and New Year’s, so it makes sense to decorate to accommodate both holidays. You’ll save yourself time if you avoid the Santa decorations and instead opt to use snowflakes, pinecones, and other items that fit with a winter theme. Then, you can just take down the Christmas tree and leave all your other decorations up to be ready for New Year’s. Of course, you’ll probably want to add something sparkly to finish the look before guests come over to help you reign in the New Year.
These are just a few ideas to get you going with your holiday decorating. Use your creativity to make your home beautiful and festive. There are no limits, so try to do something different this year.
The Montgomery County Board of Education in Maryland voted 7 to 1 to scrub Christmas and other religious holidays from its published school calendar without disturbing the days off.
Montgomery School Board member Rebecca Smondrowski was flooded with angry messages after Tuesday’s decision. She had supported a proposal to strip Jewish and Muslim holy days from the calendar and offered an amendment to remove Christmas and Easter, too.
A day later, Rebecca Smondrowski stood by her decision and stressed that students would still have the holidays off; only the calendar presentation would change. The idea, she said, was to reflect that schools were not being closed for religious observances but because of high absenteeism among students and staff members on those days.
School Board Vice President Patricia O’Neill said she’s confident that the board made a good decision.
“It seems we’ve made multiple religious groups mad, but I believe we did the right thing,” she said.
The Montgomery County Board of Education in Maryland voted 7 to 1 to scrub Christmas and other religious holidays from its published school calendar
“And we’re in good company. Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun – all are silent in calling out Christmas; they call it winter break.”
Montgomery’s School Board vote to eliminate calendar references to religious holidays followed an earlier request by Muslim community leaders to give equal prominence on the calendar to the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha.
Muslim leaders had for years requested that Montgomery’s schools be closed for at least one of the two major Muslim holy days. They had not succeeded, but in the 2015-2016 academic year, Eid al-Adha falls on the same day as Yom Kippur, which is a day off in Montgomery. So Muslim leaders asked for equal billing on the calendar.
Montgomery County officials note that state law requires school closings for days surrounding Christmas and Easter.
The decision to close schools for Jewish holidays goes back to the 1970s, officials say, although there has been some dispute about how high absenteeism would be on those days.
Pope Francis was visiting the parish of St. Alphonso Maria dei Liguori, in the district of Justine, on the outskirts of Rome when an onlooker placed a baby lamb over his neck.
The pontiff was at the site to spend the afternoon of the Epiphany festival there where parishioners had set up a special nativity scene.
More than 200 people took part in the re-enactment, wearing period costumes and playing the parts of villagers, artisans and street sellers. People lined the sides of the road leading to the church and watched from rooftops and balconies of surrounding buildings.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis greeted each of the participants and many of the parishioners who attended.
One special guest lay waiting in a small hut: a 2-month-old baby named Francesco, who had been baptized that morning and played the role of Jesus in the pageant.
Pope Francis visiting the parish of St. Alphonso Maria dei Liguori in Rome’s outskirts
A woman dressed as a shepherd placed the small lamb on Pope Francis’ shoulders. Children sang a Christmas song and gave the pope a bouquet of red roses.
At the end of his visit, Pope Francis talked about the importance of a new year beginning with Jesus, who stays by everyone’s side to overcome evil. He asked everyone to pray for children who would be born in 2014 and for all grandparents, who he said are the source of wisdom.
The priest who organizes the parish’s live Nativity scene each year said he had invited Pope Francis just a few days earlier and the pope had accepted immediately.
“The pope was so happy. He told me <<Keep it up. Don’t get discouraged>>,” Father Dario Criscuoli told journalists.
According to the Vatican newspaper, the priest said Pope Francis told him” “Surely to put something like this together you have to be crazy, but that’s OK; God likes some things that are crazy.”
Delaney Brown – the terminally ill girl who received support from thousands of Christmas carolers outside her home over the weekend – died early on Christmas morning, her family said.
On December 21st, thousands gathered outside Delaney Brown’s home in eastern Pennsylvania to fulfill her wish for a huge holiday singalong.
Delaney Brown, 8, of West Reading “passed away quietly with her loving family by her side”, family spokesman Christopher Winters said in a statement Wednesday.
Last Saturday night, the crowd cycled through holiday favorites such as Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells and ended with a chorus of Happy Birthday to the girl, who turned 8 on Friday, The Reading Eagle reported.
Delaney Brown received support from thousands of Christmas carolers outside her home over the weekend
Shortly after the caroling began, the family’s Facebook page showed a picture of Delaney Brown giving two thumbs up with the text: “I can hear you now!!! Love you!”
Delaney Brown – whose nickname was Laney, – was diagnosed in May with a rare form of leukemia. The community held fundraisers to defray the cost of her medical expenses.
An update posted on Christmas Day on the “Team Laney” Facebook page said: “My heart breaks right now. Our little angel on earth earned her pink glittery angel wings in heaven. She took her last breath at home in her bed at 3:10 surrounded by all her family and friends. I miss her so much already.”
“Laney was a wonderful, kind, and loving child, who brought so much joy to our lives,” the family said.
“Even as her illness progressed, Laney never stopped having faith, she continued to smile in spite of her pain, and she showed more concern for all of us than for herself.”
President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember troops serving far from home and embrace the spirit of the season and give back in his annual Christmas message.
“Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays,” Barack Obama said in a pre-recorded message with first lady Michelle Obama by his side.
“But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family.”
President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember troops serving far from home and embrace the spirit of the season and give back in his annual Christmas message
Barack Obama urged people to celebrate Christmas with service by volunteering at a soup kitchen, buying gifts for kids in need or organizing food and clothing drives.
“For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us – to love our neighbors as we would ourselves; to feed the hungry and look after the sick; to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper,” the president said.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Barack Obama says the values Jesus taught can spur Americans of all faiths to be better parents, friends, neighbors and citizens.
First Lady Michelle Obama echoed the message, saying: “So as we look to the New Year, let’s pledge ourselves to living out those values by reaching out and lifting up those in our communities who could use a hand up.”
UPS acknowledged getting swamped by the seasonal cheer and failing to deliver thousands of orders in time for Christmas.
“The volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity in our network,” UPS spokeswoman Natalie Godwin said in a statement.
Now, even as the company is lionized on the holiday cover of Bloomberg Businessweek for making “dreams come true”, customers are streaming online to pummel the shipping giant.
For some of the customers the void under the tree came despite days of phone-and-Web wrangling with UPS customer service. In Houston, the Amaya family toggled between tracking their package online and waiting by the door for UPS to arrive. But after 10 days and two delays, they finally gave up hope.
Christmas is about more than just stuff, many posters acknowledged, but even some of the smaller, more symbolic gifts of Christmas got lost in transit.
“UPS understands the importance of your holiday shipments,” the company said in a Christmas Day statement on its website.
“However, the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed.”
UPS acknowledged getting swamped by the seasonal cheer and failing to deliver thousands of orders in time for Christmas
Amazon.com, one of UPS’s biggest clients, cited UPS’s “failure” in an apologetic email to customers Wednesday morning. UPS itself is on a condolences tour, telling NBC in a statement that only “a small percentage” of packages were affected and pledging that most of these will arrive by Thursday.
The last time a significant number of UPS packages were late for Christmas was 2004, when an ice storm crippled Worldport, the UPS distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, in the run up to the holiday. Back then employees ended up manually loading packages for days, and surprising revelers with Christmas Day deliveries. This year the company declined to call its workers in for holiday service.
It’s still unclear where the UPS network broke down, and the company has declined to specify the size of the problem. But Bloomberg Businessweek detailed the challenges likely to have stymied Santa’s corporate helper this year – and spotlighted the man who may take a fall for the year’s mishaps.
Scott Abell is known as “Mr. Peak” to the brown-shirted faithful, and he spends his whole work year outlining the company’s holiday delivery plans, scrambling hundreds of planes and thousands of trucks from his office at Worldport.
Beyond icy weather, which reportedly hampered UPS distribution hubs, the company was likely squeezed by a smaller window for holiday shopping and a record number of e-purchases being pushed through at the last minute. There were just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the same time, there was the continued growth of online shopping, which not only facilitates last-minute gifting but often rewards it with deeper discounts.
Online spending jumped 9%, to $37.8 billion, between November 1st and December 15th, according to the online research firm comScore, and retailers expect overall holiday sales to be up nearly 4%, exceeding $600 million.
UPS anticipated delivering 132 million bundles in the week before Christmas, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, and to meet that wave of holiday cheer, Scott Abell organized 55,000 part time workers, 23 extra planes and what amounts to a second fleet of delivery trucks.
A last-minute decision by one of UPS’s clients – reportedly Amazon.com – dumped additional packages into the system last weekend, but Scott Abell doubled the number of shifts at Worldport, still hoping to stay ahead. It wasn’t enough.
Scott Abell usually heads to Florida in January to play golf and decompress after the madness of the holidays. When he returns, the 31-year veteran of the company gathers his lieutenants for a special lemon session, detailing all that could have gone better in the weeks before.
Florida police officers stepped in to donate presents to a family whose Christmas gifts and dog were stolen Monday.
Tampa police say burglars broke into Melody Russell’s home, stole her two children’s gifts from under the tree and snatched the family’s puppy.
Melody Russell, a 33-year-old property manager, said the thieves broke in to her home northeast of downtown Tampa while she was at work Monday. She came home to find the back door open, all presents under the tree gone and Honey, their 12-week-old Shih Tzu, missing.
Florida police officers stepped in to donate presents to the family whose Christmas gifts and dog were stolen
Her two children, 7-year-old Marissa and 5-year-old Marcus, were at her sister’s home when the burglary happened. Marissa cried for a half hour when Russell broke the news about Honey.
“My kids are so in love with that puppy,” she said.
The white and tan puppy did not yet have a microchip, Melody Russell said.
Melody Russell said she had bought a handful of modest gifts for each of her children – Nerf guns and slippers and Ninja turtle toys.
“Typical Christmas stuff,” said Melody Russell, who is a single mother.
Tampa Police are investigating the case – and they also tried to save Christmas for the Russell family.
Melody Russell said that after the officers wrote their reports and processed the crime scene at her home, she sat in the living room, praying to God for strength. It was 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve, she said, and the phone rang.
It was a Tampa Police officer, telling her that he and his entire squad were coming to her house with gifts.
When police dispatchers and Squad 204 heard about the theft, they quickly chipped in to buy Marissa and Marcus presents.
“Every single one of them had gifts in their hands,” Melody Russell said.
Pope Francis celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass since becoming pontiff St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
The pontiff once again preached the importance of acceptance and humility, qualities he has demonstrated continually in his first nine months as head of the Catholic Church.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” Pope Francis began, quoting from Isaiah, a book of the Bible that includes prophesies foretelling the birth of Jesus.
Pope Francis has sought to change the image of the Catholic Church as a judgmental, lavish, inflexible institution since his election in March.
On Monday, he made a Christmas visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict and asked him to pray for him.
In Christmas Eve’s Mass, Pope Francis reiterated the importance of reaching out to the downtrodden, using the shepherds who were the first to hear of Jesus’ birth as an example.
“They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast,” he said.
“We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable,” he said in thanks to God and also a clear indication of the humility he encourages his flock to emulate.
Before Christmas Eve Mass, Pope Francis personally placed a baby Jesus doll in a replica of a manger, a custom usually performed by an aid
In his address to Vatican administrators on Saturday, Pope Francis said holiness was a practice of “deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers,” as he urged the cardinals, bishops and priests to avoid gossip.
Before the Mass, Pope Francis further inspired meekness, when he personally placed a baby Jesus doll in a replica of a manger, a custom usually performed by an aid.
The 2 1/2-hour Mass was the first of many services Pope Francis will lead during the holidays. On Christmas Day, he will deliver a “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the basilica’s balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis will also hold mass on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and another on January 6, for the feast of the Epiphany or “Three Kings’ Day”, celebrating the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus.
Honey Boo Boo and her family say they aren’t going to let thieves dampen their Christmas display in McIntyre, Georgia.
The family is now using their celebrity status to help needy families.
The Thompson family has been setting up a light display at their home for years – long before they became household names from the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Visitors are encouraged to donate what they can to help those in the community. This year they’ve already collected 5,000 cans and more than $18,000.
Honey Boo Boo and her family say they aren’t going to let thieves dampen their Christmas display in McIntyre
Over the weekend, the family discovered more than 50 bulbs missing from the display. They suspect it was nothing more than souvenir hunters.
Honey Boo Boo’s family vows that the theft won’t stop them from lighting up the city and helping those in need. The display runs through Christmas Eve.
Crowds of pilgrims and tourists have begun to gather in the biblical town of Bethlehem to kick off Christmas Eve celebrations.
The nearby Church of the Nativity sits on the spot where the Bible says Jesus was born.
The number of visitors to Bethlehem has been steadily rising in recent years as peace talks to resolve the Middle East conflict have resumed.
Crowds of pilgrims and tourists have begun to gather in the biblical town of Bethlehem to kick off Christmas Eve celebrations
Despite the erection of Israel’s separation barrier with the West Bank, which appears as a high concrete wall around the town, three gates have been opened for Christmas to allow the Christmas procession led by the Latin Patriarch coming from Jerusalem to enter the city.
In Vatican City, Pope Francis has made a Christmas visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict, 86, and said he found his predecessor looking well.
Pope Francis, who was elected in March, spent about 30 minutes with Pope Emeritus Benedict in an ex-convent on the Vatican grounds where the former pope has been living since he stepped down earlier this year, the Reuters news agency reports.
Combine the salt, sugar, eggs, milk, and butter in a blender until well mixed. Add the flour and blend until smooth. Let the batter chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
When you’re ready to cook, heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat, then blend the batter once more. Drop a few tablespoons of batter in the pan, tilting and rotating the pan to spread the batter uniformly over the bottom.
Cook until the underside has slightly browned and bubbles form on the top of the crepe, then flip the crepe and cook until the other side has slightly browned.
As you cook them, stack the finished crepes on a warm dish, then, when you’re ready to eat, let everyone fix them to their liking. Makes approximately 20 crepes.
The worst weather will focus on the days prior to Christmas as millions of travelers take to the roads and skies in the US and southern Canada.
According to AAA, 94.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday season, spanning December 21st to January 1st.
Most of the travel troubles will be caused by a single storm system forecast to affect much of the Central and Eastern states on Saturday and Sunday.
The storm this weekend will bring a wide variety of weather ranging from temperature extremes to heavy snow, ice, flooding rain, fog, severe thunderstorms and the potential for tornadoes. Major airport hubs from Dallas to St. Louis, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and New York City.
Another dose of snow will sweep inland over the Northwest to the northern Rockies on Monday.
The main storm this weekend will begin to put down snow across the northern Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma on Saturday.
The worst weather will focus on the days prior to Christmas as millions of travelers take to the roads and skies in the US and southern Canada
As the storm rolls out, heavy snow will develop later Saturday over central Kansas and will continue along a northeasterly path Saturday night and Sunday through northwestern Missouri, central and southeastern Iowa and Wisconsin, much of northern Michigan and across central Ontario, southern Quebec and northern New Brunswick.
Portions of the central Plains, Upper Midwest and southeastern Canada could be on the receiving end of a foot (30 cm) of snow. Ice and a wintry mix is also another concern for travelers with the storm from part of central Oklahoma to southern Michigan, southern Ontario, along the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, northern upstate New York, northern New England central and southern New Brunswick. Enough ice can accumulate in part of this area to bring down trees and power lines.
The snow and ice could bring vehicles to a crawl or possibly shut down portions of I-29, I-35, I-70, I-80 and I-90 in the US, and highways 2, 20, 40 and 401 in Canada.
On the southeastern flank of the storm from central and coastal Texas to southern New England, drenching rain will fall. Some of the rain will be heavy enough to cause flooding.
Episodes of dense fog could also be a player in slowing ground travel and causing flight delays, especially from around the Great Lakes to the Northeast.
Farther south, there is the risk of damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes from parts of central Texas to the southern tip of Indiana Saturday and Saturday night, with the risk of locally severe thunderstorms farther east on Sunday.
A cold front associated with the storm system will push showers and thunderstorms to the Atlantic Seaboard late in the weekend. Downpours, poor visibility and locally gusty winds could cause travel delays during this time from Boston to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta Sunday afternoon and evening.
Until then, much of the area will bask in record-challenging warmth. Prior to downpours late in the weekend, fog could be a problem for a time from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston Saturday. Gusty winds could be an issue at some airports in the Northeast on Sunday.
As the Northern Hemisphere tilts 23.5 degrees away from the sun on December 21, winter will officially be here.
While the occasion might not sound like cause for celebration, the winter solstice is the source of many festive traditions.
Solstice means “standing still sun” in Latin since the sun seems to remain in the same spot throughout the day. It’s believed the tradition of celebrating the solstice started with the fear that the fading light of the sun wouldn’t return unless people kept watch and celebrated throughout the night.
One tradition observed in Northern Europe during the winter solstice was to burn a Yule log all night. What was reason for the nightlong fire? To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events. The log’s ashes were then collected and saved, because people believed they had medicinal uses and could guard against evil.
While we use the winter solstice to mark the beginning of winter, during pre-medieval times Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans regarded the solstice as the end of the winter season. Their reasoning? Following the shortest day of the year, the days actually start becoming longer. They would have a feast to celebrate, which often included a Yule log cake.
As the Northern Hemisphere tilts 23.5 degrees away from the sun on December 21, winter will officially be here
In ancient Rome, the winter solstice was observed with a festival called Saturnalia. Servants would dine with their masters and a mock king would be elected to oversee the festivities. To mark the occasion, schools would close and people would parade through the streets.
While Stonehenge was built for the summer solstice, Newgrange in Ireland was made for the winter solstice. At 10 a.m. when the sun is brightest, rays of light shine through its dome’s small passageway – the only time when engravings on the wall called the Triple Spiral become illuminated without artificial light. Fun fact: Newgrange is older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, built around 3200 B.C. during the neolithic period.
The winter solstice may be the darkest day of the year, but it’s not usually the coldest. Since oceans are slow to warm and cool, they still maintain some of the warmth of summer in December. The coldest days of winter usually follow a month and a half later.
It’s believed that the December 25 date of Christmas was derived from the winter solstice. Eastern churches traditionally celebrated Christmas on January 6 (what’s known as the Epiphany). As Christmas celebrations moved west, early church leaders attempted to attract pagans to Christianity by adding Christian meaning to the winter solstice celebrations. These December celebrations eventually became the new date for Christmas.
In a video filmed while making Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas, Si Robertson gets a little emotional while sharing his favorite Christmas memory.
“We lived in a farming community. The hands that drive the tractors. . . they don’t make a lot of money,” Uncle Si Robertson recalls.
“Daddy had fell off an oil rig, broke his back and was not working.”
Si Robertson, 65, grew up in Vivian, Louisiana, with six siblings. When his mother, Merrit Robertson, was asked by a wife of one of the farmhands what she was getting the kids for Christmas that year, she said there wasn’t going to be a Christmas due to the lack of income.
Si Robertson gets a little emotional while sharing his favorite Christmas memory
“Two weeks later, [the woman] comes back and hands mama an envelope,” Uncle Si recalls.
“It was something like $500 or $600 in an envelope with <<Merry Christmas>> on it for the kids.”
“That’s my favorite Christmas memory,” Si Robertson adds, appearing to get a little choked up.
“This is people that didn’t have much, giving a lot. Which is what Christmas is all about: giving.”
Duck Dynasty stars returned to TV for a Christmas special and proved themselves to be a triple threat when they showed off their acting skills at their church’s nativity play.
“Considering the talent involved, it’s borderline miraculous [we pulled off the play],” Jase Robertson said.
Even the Robertson’s youngest brother Jep, who has terrible stage fright, managed to remember his one line.
However, Uncle Si Robertson, who played one of the wise men, insisted on calling frankincense “franken scents.”
“Everybody knows that <<franken>> is a prefix,” Si Robertson explained.
“Like <<franken stein>> and <<frank and beans>>.”
While the nativity play, which featured the entire family, went on fairly smoothly, the episode focused on what the Robertson family does best: hunting.
“Well every Christmas, it seems like my house is invaded by yuppies,” said Phil Robertson as he prepared to go hunting for the family’s Christmas dinner.
Duck Dynasty stars showed off their acting skills at their church’s nativity play
“All they do all day long is decorate and talk.”
Before Phil Robertson could head out to hunt, Miss Kay and Jessica insisted he take them hog hunting.
“In the spirit of Christmas and in the spirit of the American West, we say y’all get your camo on,” he told them before quickly regretting his decision to let the women join him.
“If the yapping keeps up there won’t be a hog coming within a mile of us,” Phil Robertson complained. Failing to get Jessica and Miss Kay to stay quiet, Phil devised a plan to trick them into acting foolish.
He told them to scream for the pigs to come while walking in a circle and bending close to the ground. After several minutes of this Phil couldn’t hold back his laughter and the jig was up.
But there was no harm done as Phil soon after shot a pig for their Christmas dinner. He enlisted the help of Jessica who was not too happy to help her father-in-law drag the pig back to the truck.
“I’m a better pioneer woman [than Jessica],” Miss Kay said.
“I’ve been helping cleaning and carrying hogs since I could carry and clean hogs.”
Meanwhile, Willie Robertson was searching for the perfect present to get his wife Korie after she admitted he was not the best gift giver. In previous years she received a Snuggie and a bedazzled clutch.
Determined to make this year different, Willie Robertson took the advice of younger brother Jep and had a family portrait framed.
Satisfied his gift would make an impression on his wife, Willie Robertson was disappointed when brother Jase turned up with the same gift for his wife Missy.
Despite the minor setback, both wives loved their gifts and Willie was happy to save the “camo pajamas” he bought Korie for her birthday.
Alan Robertson also made an appearance on last night’s episode sporting some new scruff. The former minister led the family and the church in a prayer after the nativity play.
Passengers aboard two WestJet flights from southern Ontario to Calgary in November got their holiday gift wishes granted as they flew across Canada.
Before boarding, passengers were invited scan their boarding passes that allowed them to talk with a virtual Santa who asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Hidden cameras recorded their gift requests.
Passengers aboard two WestJet flights from southern Ontario to Calgary in November got their holiday gift wishes granted as they flew across Canada
Items on lists included trains and dolls from the kids, but some passengers asked for things such as a snowboard, a big-screen TV –even a Samsung Galaxy phone.
While the plane was in the air, over 150 “merry WestJetters” acted as Santa’s elves, rushing out to stores and nabbing the items on the passengers’ lists, according to a release from the Canadian-based WestJet.
By the time the flights landed four hours later, the 250 unsuspecting passengers were greeted by a festive display at baggage claim and were handed gifts they had asked for.
In Duck Dynasty’s upcoming hour-long Christmas special, airing on A&E on December 11 at 10 p.m. ET, Phil Robertson takes Miss Kay and Jessica for a hunting trip to catch a hog for the family’s Christmas dinner.
Phil Robertson takes Miss Kay and Jessica for a hunting trip to catch a hog for the family’s Christmas dinner
However, the family patriarch immediately regrets that decision.
Duck Dynasty Christmas special will also include the Robertson gang performing a live nativity play in their church. Fortunately, they’ve got the beards to play Joseph and the three wise men.