Friday, December 31, 2010
"Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right."
If you chose to be a little cultural this year and celebrate New Years in a different way, here are a couple of traditions that take place all over the world on the 31 of December.
South America - Residents all wear brightly colored underpants. Those who wear red, are hoping for love in the new year. Those who chose to wear yellow, are wishing for money.
Denmark - Many Danish leap off chairs at midnight, hoping to ban all bad spirits in the new year. They also have a very loud and destructive way of celebrating the new year- they break dishes. People throw their old dishes on their friends’ doors on New Years and the one with the most dishes outside their door, usually has the most friends.
Philippines - It is a tradition in the Philippines, that Filipinos focus on all round things. They consume round fruits such as grapes and wear clothing with round shapes such as polka dots. The round shape reminds and celebrates the roundness of coins, as they hope for prosperity in the new year.
Spain - At midnight, Spaniards consume 12 grapes and try to consume all of them by the time the clock stops chiming.
Belarus - In Belarus, unmarried women compete at games of skill to determine who will get married first in the new year. One game involves setting piles of corn and a rooster before each of the single ladies. Whichever pile the bird approaches first, is believed to be the one who is to be married first.
Germany and Austria - Germans and Austrians pour lead as a tradition, which includes using molten lead like tea leaves. The lead pieces are pour into a bowl filled with water, leading the lead to form shapes which predict what is going to happen in the new year. If the lead forms a ball it means good luck, if it looks like an anchor it means you will need help in the new year and if it’s a cross it means death.
Ecuador - Usually when you burn someone’s picture it means bad break up. However in Ecuador, the fiesta includes all the locals gathering together with pictures that represent something you do not want in the new year from the last year and burning it.
Chile - In the city of Talca in Chili, people participate in a mass on New Years Eve and then they all go visit the graveyard, to set up their chairs and wait for the year to arrive with the dead.
Puerto Rico - When it’s New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico, they throw buckets of water out the window to “clean” the old year out. They also clean their homes and decorate them, as it is supposed to symbolize the “cleaning” of the spirit.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This is the time of year when charities are in full force, trying to take advantage of the spirit of giving that is in full supply during the holiday season. Commercials are filled with reminders and ads making us aware of the poverty that exists outside our doors. Some of the ads get me choked up every single time, like Angel Tree for example. Tears usually fill my eyes as I am "taken back" to the memories of my own childhood Christmas memories.
My dad worked hard but only made about $5/hr and with a family of seven, that didn't stretch very far. So, most of my childhood, my parents depended upon government assistance, food stamps, etc. And when the holidays came they relied heavily on church donations and organizations like Angel Tree to provide the bulk of our Christmas cheer. Our parents would let us know that money was tight and we wouldn't have gotten any presents if it weren't for the church or organization who adopted our family. You might think that my parents shouldn't have said anything to us about where the gifts came from, but I'm glad my parents were honest with us. Being aware of the generosity of others affected me deeply and personally. I believe it made me a more grateful, generous adult.
When I was a little girl, I LOVED dolls. I especially loved the pretty porcelain ones. They usually have fancy dresses and the prettiest faces. I wanted to collect those more than anything, but they were definitely NOT in our price range. One of my most treasured Christmas presents came when I was about seven years old. I opened a box and found a pretty, fair skinned doll with brown hair, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood, complete with the hooded cape, but in baby blue instead of red. I knew she wasn't the expensive porcelain doll, she was only made of plastic, but she was the nicest doll I had ever owned. I loved her so much that I couldn't bear the thought messing her up by playing with her. So I immediately wrapped her in a garbage bag and put her in a safe place. As the years passed, I would take her out every now and then and play with her for a few minutes, but I always carefully wrapped her back up and returned her to her safe place. I still have her to this day. She's still wrapped in the garbage bag to this day. I still take her out every now and then and the emotions of that Christmas morning still flood my mind.
All of that to say, I don't know who my "Angels" were... but if I could, I'd want to thank them, and to be honest, that moment would probably include blubber of the worst kind, tears and snot and all. I'd thank them wholeheartedly for not only giving me the gifts they donated, but for setting the example of generosity that has changed my outlook on life.
Thank you, Angel Tree Ministries, and all who participate in giving to the less fortunate. You never know how a simple gift will impact the life of a little one. I hope to pass along that love of giving to my own children. Although, they don't know what it feels like to be hungry or go without, I hope they will be generous with the abundant blessings their life is full of.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Romans 12:9-13 NLT