Are you thinking of buying a real Christmas tree this year? There is something very festive about going out and picking a real tree, spinning it around to check that it has a nice shape, with lots of lovely pine smelling branches!
A Real Tree
You can buy a real tree in a number of ways, cut off to place in a stand at home. Cut and attached to a wooden base, or fresh in a pot. Whichever you choose, you want to ensure you have a fresh tree.
It should look a lovely bright green colour.
If you give it a gentle shake, no excess of pine needles should drop off.
It shouldn’t have a bare trunk or branches.
If it is potted, inspect the root ball – to make sure it is not too dry or compacted. (more…)
In the UK this years Autumn Equinox takes place on Tuesday 22nd September at 2.31pm. Of course, as you know in the northern hemisphere it marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn. It marks the point at which the sun illuminates the northern and southern hemispheres equally.
This autumnal period is also associated with harvest, and harvest festivals. The Harvest Moon is a full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox period. The light this moon provided was used by farmers to work long into the night to bring in crops from the fields.
The Autumn Equinox increases the chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis in northern hemisphere latitudes, otherwise known as the ‘Northern Lights’.
Pagans have three harvest festivals throughout the year, Lammas, Samhain and Mabon (which is the second). Mabon celebrates a plentiful harvest and a need to give thanks for abundance. It remembers that the bounty of Mother Earth should be celebrated and shared both literally and spiritually. (more…)
Easter is another key date that is celebrated in the Christian calendar. Unlike Christmas Day, when the event is celebrated on the 25th December every year, Easter Day is dependent on the full moon between the 22nd March and 25th April. This isn’t just a one-day celebration; it is a seven-day event, with the key days being Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and of course Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday has been and gone, but plays a significant part in Holy Week as it is when Jesus arrived on a donkey to Jerusalem and palm branches were being thrown at him. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, which is coincidently today and was Jesus’ last super with his Apostles, before his crucifixion. This is when Jesus broke some bread, handed it to his disciples and said “this is my body which is given for you”. Red wine was also shared between the Apostles and was a symbol of Jesus’ blood. Both the bread and the red wine are iconic symbols and represent the Holy Communion we know today. (more…)
Did you know that in the UK more flowers are sold for Mothering Sunday than for Valentine’s Day?
Mother’s Day wasn’t thought of until 1907, when Anna Jarvis from West Virginia held a memorial two years after her mother’s death and then campaigned for a recognised holiday in America. In 1914 she was successful and the national holiday is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May. In the UK the day is referred to as Mothering Sunday, it is a Christian holiday and as such is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
Anna’s desire for the day was that it was not celebrated as a collective day, but that each family celebrated ‘their’ mother. It has become traditional to give cards and flowers, but also chocolates and perfume too. (more…)
Mabon is another term for the Autumn Equinox, it was used in mid-20th century, and is believed to derive from a Welsh folklore figure – Mabon vab Modron. To the Romans he was called Maponus and he was associated with music and poetry but also hunting.
Celebrations of this time focus on harvesting crops; wine was prevalent and the theme was one of justice and balance. Fittingly then, it is Libra (justice scales) that dominate this period astrologically speaking. Constellations Taurus, Ursa Minor, Pegasus and Cassiopeia are also seen in the night skys. (more…)
Book Reviews – 4 to choose from:
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
Marilyn and David have four children, all daughters raised in the 1970’s, fast-forward to them being adults, and their parents can’t understand why they are not well-adjusted happy people. Each one is struggling in their own way, their difficulties being as unique as they are. But for each of them the overriding struggle is finding a lasting love that lives up to the happy-ever-after their parents have. But things get worse before they get better, one of the daughters gave up a child for adoption, when that person tracks them down it impacts the whole family. The book explores the dynamic and sometimes fraught relationships between parent and child and sibling to sibling. (more…)
If you think about the Christmas period, it is just jam-packed with traditions. Most likely you have incorporated many of the traditions that your parents had in their homes when you were growing up.
But sometimes doing Christmas, or just the season in general the exact same way that you have always done, can be a bit anti-climactic, and for the women it can often be a stressful and exhausting time.
So, why not try shaking up your old traditions:
• Why not try setting out something different for Santa and the reindeers. If you don’t like mince-pies, carrots and sherry – then make it brandy and cookies, or chocolate and gin/tonic!
• If you always open your presents before breakfast, then why not extend the suspense and open them after the Queens speech… (more…)
I have to confess that I love sending cards, whether it is birthday cards, thank you cards, new home cards or Christmas cards. I like everything about the process, the occasion it is celebrating, picking a card that suits that person, and sending it off with good wishes.
But the advent of modern technology, has meant that more and more people rely on electronic communications to send their good tidings. There are some good reasons for this, environmentally there is paper and card, some of which can’t be recycled, postage costs, as well as the time and effort it takes, when we are ever increasingly feeling crunched for time. (more…)
As I write this article England is in the throes of what can only be described as a heat-wave. It’s the glorious weather we can only dream about, and plenty of us pay good money each year to ensure we get some by holidaying abroad. But somehow when you are working, and trying to sleep at night, it’s all not so funny. So how can you thrive during summer rather than just survive?
Heat exhaustion is not just a possibility in foreign climes, it can happen just as easily at home… Typical symptoms are nausea, dizziness, cramps, thirst, tiredness, headache and even a fast pulse. It is caused by the body losing too much water and salt, through sweating, either due to extreme heat or maybe from playing sport in very hot weather. To guard against it happening, ensure that you stay well hydrated, try to eat more water rich foods in your diet (think cucumber and watermelon), and stay out of the sun during the height of the day between 11am-3pm, and seek shade where possible. If you do get caught out, then remove unnecessary clothes, lie down, get into as cool a place as possible, drink water, and try and cool the skin. (more…)
1st – St David’s Day
St David is of course the patron saint of Wales, the 1st celebrates both the life of the saint and Welsh culture, but interestingly the saint is also celebrated in Canada and the USA. Not that much is known about St David, it is thought he lived to be 100, but texts about him only appeared 500 years later. So, some of his story may be true, others may just be legends. He was known to have founded several churches and a monastery, and he went on to become an archbishop, eventually he was canonised.
2nd – Full Moon – Worm Moon
At this time of year, a full moon is known as a worm moon, as a result of early Native American tribes seeing this as the time of year that earthworms would appear due to the ground softening. But it also has other names: Full Crow Moon, Full Crust Moon, Full Sap Moon and Lenten Moon. (more…)