Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Onwards and Upwards, Happy New Year!

   As we leave 2013 behind us and move into 2014, we look back and reflect on how our year has been. 2013 was not my best year, neither was it my worst. And for some of you, it wasn’t yours either. Nevertheless, a new year is upon us. At the end of each year we look forward to what is ahead of us and hope that what is behind us has taught us how to be better, and how to live better.
  We find ourselves new looking into that light at the end of the tunnel of 2013. Leaving the past and looking toward the future, with hope for the coming year. Hope for what the unknown might bring, and as long as we have hope we can keep moving on. "Hope guides me. It is what gets me through the day and especially the night", I remember this quote for a movie I watched ages ago, and it is the truest words I can think of tonight. So we will take those lessons we have learned and apply them to the New Year. We will Do better and Be better and be thankful for having the chance to do so. I will leave you with a favorite poem tonight. The poem describes a young man passing through a town bearing the banner "Excelsior" (translated from Latin as "ever higher", also loosely but more widely as "onward and upward"), ignoring all warnings, climbing higher until inevitably, "lifeless, but beautiful" he is found by the "faithful hound" half-buried in the snow, "still clasping in his hands of ice that banner with the strange device, Excelsior!"
This poem always remind me to keep moving forward, keep climbing, Onward and upward.

Excelsior! Happy New Year!

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

His brow was sad; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath,
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

"Try not the Pass!" the old man said:
"Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!"
And loud that clarion voice replied,

"Oh stay," the maiden said, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!"
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,

A traveler, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Unique New Years Traditions Worldwide.

It is almost that time again. Time to usher out the old and ring in the new. Some will be sharing a kiss at midnight and drinking champagne. Some will be at party's watching the ball drop and singing Auld Lang Syne. All of this followed by eating all of the lucky food on New Years day ( greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, ect...) . But what about other traditions around the world. Here is a list of New years traditions from around the globe.

1. Chile
Chileans families celebrate the New Year with deceased members by setting up chairs next to their graveside.This is a way to include all family members in the New Year's festivities for eternity.  

2.South Africa

In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out the window. Look Out Below!

3.The Philippines 


It has been long noted that most culture's have found something to be inherently sacred about circles. But in the Philippines is most poignant during the start of the New Year. From wearing polka dot designs to stocking up on round fruits, eating grapes (12 exactly), and tossing coins around a pan as they march around the house, Filipinos keep everything round for the New Years. They do this because it's believed to bring good luck to every one in the home.

4. Denmark

Throughout the year, Danes save their old dishes only to throw them by the dozen at the doorsteps of family friends on New Years. In theory, the bigger the pile of broken dishes you find on your door steps, the bigger pile of friends you have. 

They also stand on chairs and then jump off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck. 


5. Colombia

Hoping for a travel-filled year, residents tote empty suitcases around the block.


 6. Central and South America


In many Central and South American countries, the color of your underwear can either bring in love or money in the new year. Bolivia is perhaps most known for the tradition of wearing bright yellow undies to increase fortune for the the new year. In Mexico, red is most popular for bringing in love and happiness after midnight.  


7. Finland
It’s a longtime Finnish tradition to predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, and then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring shape means a wedding in the New Year; a ship forecasts travel; and a pig shape signifies plenty of food. 


8. Scotland


During the New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced all over Scotland. The custom dictates that the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck (whiskey is the most common). The Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies, most notably in the small fishing village of Stonehaven, where townsmen parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles overhead (supposedly symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year.


So that is my top 8 New Years traditions from around the globe.  What special traditions do your family and friends uphold during this festive holiday?  






Friday, December 6, 2013

Do you give Handmade for Christmas?

This is my dilemma every year. Should I make something for someone or not. For one it is what I do for a living, I am a craftswoman and an artist. However some people just are not very appreciative of handmade gifts be it crochet, sewing, a painting or jewelry. I tend to buy straight out of the store for most of the people I know because, in my experience I get "the look" when I give handmade.You know the one I mean, the "oh so your being cheap this year look", even if it is made well or even if the materials were costly. Most of the time those gifts I give like that end up never seeing the light of day again after Christmas. I am always amazed with I sell the same items to enthusiastic customers that others snubbed there noses at getting as a present. Granted saying that I am sitting here making a scarf to send to someone for Christmas. I will not give up, I will continue to make for a few and buy what I can afford for other. Do any of you have this problem, I would love to hear about it.