Archive for October, 2010

What You Might Not Have Known About Your Artificial Christmas Tree

No Comments »Written on October 16th, 2010 by
Categories: Christmas Blog

The artificial Christmas tree as we know it has been a long time in development. There can be no denying the fact that is has a lengthy history which predates the surge in popularity that it experienced in the late part of the last century.

The very first variations of the artificial Christmas tree were made before plastic was a regularly used material like it is today. Early German artificial trees were made from goose feathers which had been dyed green. Although the idea was probably very novel, it’s fair to assume that the effect wasn’t very realistic. Early artificial trees had fake red berries on the end of branches which doubled as candle holders, this was before the introduction of electric fairy lights. Early artificial trees were often made from aluminium or wood, but today’s versions are almost always made entirely from plastic. But the plastic in question is increasingly either recycled, recyclable or both.

As is true of other types of fake trees or plants, improved technology and manufacturing expertise has led to the production of increasingly realistic models. Today’s artificial Christmas trees are more realistic than ever, with some even using genuine bark from real trees to make the stem. Undoubtedly this improvement in realism is behind the growth of the artificial Christmas tree’s popularity throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Artificial trees are the subject of huge debate every year, with many arguing over the environmental credentials of the fake versions. Despite the fact that using a fake tree saves a real tree from being cut down every year for a number of years, the fact that the manufacturing process is harmful remains. Still, a modern artificial tree which is recyclable and which is used repeatedly over a number of years is not as environmentally damaging as some people might believe.

The two most commonly cited reasons for using an artificial Christmas tree are convenience of not having to buy a new one each year and cost. And although in some areas of the real or fake debate it’s hard to decide which wins, there is no question here. For the price of a real Christmas tree which can be enjoyed only once, you could buy a quality artificial Christmas tree and enjoy it for many years to come.

Make a Christmas Video to Preserve Your Holiday Memories

No Comments »Written on October 13th, 2010 by
Categories: Christmas Blog

Most families take pictures to remember the good times in their lives. These images are taken, developed or viewed online and then stored away. Taking snapshots of your Christmas moments is a good idea, but they can’t capture the sounds and animation of the holidays. Making a Christmas video is a great way to capture these moments. It will not only give you years of enjoyment, but you can also send a copy of it to family who couldn’t be with you to celebrate the holidays.

Today digital recorders are affordable, lightweight and small enough to carry with you just about everywhere.
They’re also easy to connect to your computer, so once you capture your video, you can save it to your computer and enhance it with fonts, background colors, online scrapbook pages and more. You can also share your videos online now quickly and easily on sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

camcorderYou can capture the entire family in your video simply by placing it on a tripod and letting it run. Just make sure that whichever room you use has adequate lighting and is neat so you don’t have a very cluttered background. Make sure your video recorder has an adequate battery supply. Always keep extras on hand during the holidays.

You can record each event for Christmas – from the visiting to the opening of gifts to the sharing of holiday meals. You may also want to try interviewing each family member and have them share their favorite holiday memory from both past and present Christmas celebrations. Have them talk about what traditions mean the most to them – this is a good way to pass those traditions down to the next generation. Later you can save each type of video (interviews, meals, gift opening) as individual files or compile them into one edited masterpiece of your entire holiday season.

Years from now you’ll be able to look back at these videos and remember all the good times your family shared at Christmas.

Santa Advent Calendar

No Comments »Written on October 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Christmas Blog

Many historians and anthropologists agree that the history of christmas trees begins in post-primeval times, just as agricultural societies were developing across the globe.  Christmas did not exist. It was simply, in one culture or another, a pagan celebration of the winter solstice.  The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year which usually occurs on the 22nd or 23rd of December.  The boughs of evergreen trees were brought indoors to protect inhabitants from the evil spirits that could cause starvation and illness. Santa Advent Calendar

Ancient peoples also scattered evergreen boughs over their floors, doors and around the windows. In fact, the tradition of hanging an evergreen garland comes from the tradition of hanging evergreens over the mantelpiece to keep witches, ghosts and spirits from traveling down the chimney and into the house. 

Evergreen boughs were also used to keep away illness. Scents such as pine, juniper and balsam are still used by aromatherapists today to fend off illness and winter depression. Unique Christmas Decorations

Even the ancient Egyptians were thought to play a role in the history of christmas trees. Of course there were no evergreen forests in ancient Egypt but during the solstice they filled their homes with palm rushes to protect themselves from evil and celebrate the return of their Sun God Ra.

European and Mediterranean cultures also have episodes in the long saga that is part of the history of christmas trees. On the solstice, known as Saturnalia, the Romans decorated their homes with evergreen boughs. This honored the God Saturn whose domain was agriculture. Further north, the Celtic Druids used evergreens on the darkest day of the year to symbolize eternal life. These trees were not decorated as we know them today. They were not much more decorative than the famous Charlie brown christmas tree.  This is because the function of these evergreen boughs was more protective than celebratory.

By the 12th century indoor trees were brought inside. Nobody is sure why but originally Christmas trees were hung upside-down from ceilings at Christmastime. This was a popular custom in Central Europe. The upside down tree was seen as both as a symbol of Christianity and a pagan symbol. At that point Christianity was not wide spread and the tree may have been a nod to both pagan and Christian traditions. Winnie The Pooh Christmas

It is widely believed that the history of the Christmas tree as we know it began in  Germany in the sixteenth century. However few people realize that the tree was not brought inside and that in fact, the first decorated christmas tree was a pyramid made of wood. These German indoor pyramids were decorated with boughs and candles. Often jars of pickles were set on the steps.  The pyramid shape was not a direct inspiration from ancient Egypt but rather, the triangular shape was thought to represent the three points of the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The person credited with adding lighted candles to a real tree is Martin Luther – a German Protestant reformer who lived in the mid 1600s. The legend is that he was inspired to do so by the sight of stars in the night sky peeking through the limbs of an evergreen while he was on a walk.

The next big development in the history of christmas trees was tinsel. Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time, tinsel was made of real silver and it tarnished easily thanks to the smoke from the christmas tree candles. Silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century when it was replaced by aluminum.

The history of christmas trees was non-existent in America until about the 1840s. They were sometimes displayed as curios in traveling sideshows. The christmas tree decorating ritual was considered sacrilegious for most of the 17th and 18th century.  It was seen as a mockery of the sober celebration of the birth of Christ. In fact in 1659, people were fined for hanging decorations. This law continued until the 19th century when the tradition was brought more into common practice by German and Irish immigrants to the United States.  The practice was also made more acceptable when Queen Victoria decided to make a right side up floor-to-ceiling xmas tree part of her décor in 1846.

One difference between European customs and American customs seemed to be that Europeans were more inclined to decorate their trees with food, cookies and candies (and even pickles!)  whereas Americans were more into glitzy decorations. Also the European christmas trees tended to be shorter (three to four feet in height) while the Americans preferred their trees to be sky-high.  Both cultures however enjoyed decorating their trees with garlands of popcorns and electric lights.

In the 1950s America saw the advent of the first artificial christmas trees. This event was celebrated by Charles M. Schulz famous fable about the Charlie brown Christmas tree. In this fable Charlie Brown is told by Linus, Lucy and Shroeder to go out and find the biggest flashiest aluminum tree to use as a decoration for their Christmas play. Instead Brown falls in love with the most pathetic tree ever and finds the true meaning of Christmas. You can buy a replica of this type of tree which is often called the “pathetic charlie brown christmas tree” online.  True to the original cartoon, the tree boasts just one red Christmas ball ornament on a single bare limb.

The argument about which is better – a fake christmas tree or a real christmas tree still rages on today. The most recent development in the history of Christmas trees is the return of the upside down christmas tree, which is disapproved by the church just as it was in the sixteenth century. If history keeps repeating itself the next trend we will see in xmas trees is the ancient wooden pyramids that served as artificial trees in pagan times.