Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa Claus, Stockings and Chimneys

There are many names this time of year; Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Old Saint Nick, Father Christmas, but where did Santa come from and why does he come down the chimney instead of knocking on the door?

It is said that Santa Claus was a true individual, known as Saint Nicholas, a Bishop from Asia during the fourth century. Saint Nicholas was a son of a wealthy family and inherited his family fortune at a young age upon the death of his parents. Nicholas was a kind individual who helped the poor and in secret shared his wealth with the less fortunate.

It is a story about St. Nicholas that the tradition of hanging stockings on the fireplace is born. It is said that a very poor man had three daughters that were unable to marry because he could not provide a dowry for them.  (A dowry was a payment made to the groom on the day of the wedding to marry daughters. They included money, furniture, jewelry and anything valuable.) St. Nicholas heard of the man’s misfortune and decided to help the family.

While he did not deliver his gift the Santa Claus way of climbing down the chimney, he did drop a bag of gold down the chimney. The following morning the man found the bag of gold where it landed, inside a stocking that had been hanging by the fire to dry. With this money the man’s oldest daughter was able to marry. St. Nicholas repeated this for the second daughter in secret but the man wanted to know who was delivering these gifts.

The man waited by the chimney every night to see who was bringing the gold to his daughters. When the man caught St. Nicholas, he was asked not to tell anyone the name of the person bringing the gold, but the word was spread about St. Nicholas and from that point on, anytime a gift was left in secret it was said to be the work of St. Nicholas.*

( )
Images from: and 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Candy Canes and Christmas

What are holidays without those delicious sweet treats? Nearly every holiday has a corresponding confection that seems to go hand in hand. Easter has chocolate bunnies and Peeps™, Valentine’s Day has gourmet chocolates, Halloween is a candy company’s dream and Christmas is for candy canes.

Unlike most candy, candy canes were designed with a purpose and even their shape and color has special significance. During the 17th century people began to decorate their trees with fruits and sweet treats. One such treat was a straight white stick. It was the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany who first bent the straight stick into the hook we know today. In 1670 he bent the stick to the shape of a shepherd’s staff. He also gave out these confections to children during the nativity services in order to pacify them through the long service. From Germany this tradition spread and eventually made its way to America by 1847.

By this time these canes were decorated with sugar roses. It would not be until almost the 20th century that the red stripe would be added to the canes. Along with the stripe, peppermint and wintergreen flavors were added to enhance the flavor. While many companies have expanded on the flavors of candy canes, the original peppermint and wintergreen are still favorites today.*

Friday, December 5, 2014

Caring for Your Poinsettias

Remember when caring for your poinsettias that they are a tropical plant. They are accustomed to the tropical climate of Southern Mexico. There are a few things to know about caring for these tropical plants:

·         - They like direct sunlight. It is ideal to keep your plants in 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. But take care to keep them from getting too close to cold windows.

·      -   Keep them in temperature from 65-75 degrees F during the day and no lower than 55 degrees at night. They like the slightly lower temperatures at night.

·         -Water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch. Water until the excess water drains from the plant. Do not let the plant sit in this excess water.

·         -Make sure your plants are not in the path of a warm or cold breeze from radiators, windows or open doors. This breeze will hurt the plant and any direct contact with too high or too low temperatures will hurt the plant as well. Do not let your plant touch a cold window.*

Follow these few tips and your poinsettias should last long past the holiday season.