Christmas cheer is in the air!

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By 2017-12-16

By Kumari

Yes, wherever you go, whatever TV channel you watch, whichever radio programme you listen to, you are made fully aware that Christmas has come and people are getting all geared for it. The good thing is that the season catches even Buddhists who are ever ready to enjoy any occasion. Those of us who had Christian school education are even more ready to enjoy the Christmas season which is essentially one of good eating and happy cheer lasting for an entire week to join up with the beginning of the new year.

This dame got thinking of the symbols of Christmas, the decorated tree laden with gifts and ole St Nicholas coming along on his reindeer-led sleigh all the way from the Tundra to distribute presents to all kids who have been good!

Symbols of Christmas
The Robin: This little red-breasted bird is featured on Christmas cards; is perched on a Yule log and is seen all over in advertisements. Kumari thought he was there as one of the few birds who stays on in temperate countries without annually migrating during winter to warmer climes. But no, the robin has other significance; postmen in Victorian Britain were nicknamed 'robins' because of their red-breasted uniforms. So-the robin on the Christmas card came to represent the postman who delivered the card. You may have also heard of the Christmas legend that says that when Jesus was on the cross a robin rested upon his shoulder and sang to relieve his suffering. Blood from Jesus' crown of thorns stained the little bird's chest. Since then, all robins were red breasted.

Poinsettias Euphorbia Pulcherrima have a rich cultural history. The tropical shrubs, which have about 100 different species and reach heights of up to 12 feet tall in their natural habitat, were known as 'Cuetlaxochitl' to the Aztecs and used to dye clothing and cure fevers. Poinsettias were also used in Aztec religious ceremonies since the Aztecs considered the colour red a symbol of purity.

Mistletoe is especially interesting botanically because it is a partial parasite. As a parasitic plant, it grows on the branches or trunk of a tree and actually sends out roots that penetrate into the tree and take up nutrients. But mistletoe is also capable of growing on its own and produces its own food by photosynthesis. There are two types of mistletoe. The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration Phoradendronflavescens is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees from New Jersey to Florida. The other type of mistletoe, Viscum album, is of European origin. The rarer oak mistletoe was greatly venerated by the ancient Celts and Germans and used as a ceremonial plant by early Europeans. The Greeks and earlier peoples thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs. It was considered to bestow life and fertility; a protection against poison; and an aphrodisiac. The custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of the Druid and other pre-Christian traditions.

Kissing under the mistletoe was first associated with the Greek festival of Saturnalia and later with primitive marriage rites. They probably originated from two beliefs. One belief was that it has power to bestow fertility. It was also believed that it was a life-giver of power. So not only would-be lovers but even politicians can stand under a mistletoe and be kissed!
Let's get our splendid tree ready, Christmas cake and pudding baked, breudher made if you are privy to a Dutch recipe and gather the bonbons and crackers for sound and sparkle.

It's just one week to Christmas!



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