Category Archives: Holidays

Interesting Facts About Halloween

Are you one of those Halloween buffs who goes all out every year to have a crazy party and decorations complete with ghoulish food and friends? Well, you’re not alone! According to statistics, Halloween is the second largest holiday celebration in the United States with Christmas being the first!

That seems a bit strange to me. I would guess Valentines Day or New Years’ Eve to be the second largest holiday celebration, but hey, what do I know? (Apparently not much when it comes to Halloween!)

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I was always taught that Halloween was a holiday from the underworld.  But apparently there’s more to it than that.  I did some research and found that Halloween is a celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31 which is dedicated to remembering the dead including saints, martyrs and all the faithful departed.  So, it’s not all bad.  It’s like anything….it depends on what you believe about the holiday.  It supposedly began from a Gaelic festival called Samhain in which people celebrated the end of the harvest season.  And western culture kind of twisted it into what it is today.  (Wikipedia:  Halloween).  I prefer to think of it as a day to remember my loved ones who have passed on.  Though I remember them all times, it’s a day marked to observe what their lives meant to me.  I also think of it as a harvest festival.

Here are some interesting facts about Halloween:

-Halloween celebrates the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve followed by All Saints Day on Nov. 1.  It’s all in the attitude.  What does Halloween mean to you?

-In Great Britain, jack-o-lanterns were traditionally made from turnips.  We Americans turned that over on its head (ha!) and started the pumpkin craze!

-Trick or treating started in 19th century Scotland and Ireland.  Children went door to door praying for souls or performing for money or cakes.  Similarly, in medieval times, beggars went door to door praying for souls in exchange for food.  So next time you say trick or treat, you know where the concept came from!

-Halloween is a 6 billion dollar industry!  Like I mentioned above, it’s the second most practiced holiday in the U.S.  (Things that make you go hmmmm……)

-Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween!  Yeah…this fact pretty much speaks (or screams) for itself!

-50 % of kids prefer to receive chocolate for Halloween.  (I’m right with them!  Pleeeaase hand over the heath bars….:))

-The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven in 1993.  It weighed 836 lbs!  I wonder how many pies could come out of that monster!

-According to Irish legend, jack-o-lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who tricked the devil several times and was forbidden entrance into Heaven and Hell.  So now he wanders the earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.  (Not a namesake I’d want to keep!!)

-Harry Houdini died on Halloween night in 1926 as a result of appendicitis brought on by three punches to the stomach.  Yeesh!  What a time to die!

-Dressing up as ghouls or spirits originated from the Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves so that spirits roaming the streets wouldn’t recognize them!  I guess that could technically make sense…

-The Village Halloween Parade in New York City is the largest Halloween parade in the United States with 50,000 participants and over 2 million spectators.  Huh…this is the first I’ve heard about this parade!

-Owls signify Halloween.  In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches.  When an owl was heard hooting, it was believed that someone was about to die. (Yikes!  That puts a clink into taking walks at night!)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Resources:

Wikipedia:  Halloween

Arts.Mic:  Halloween History:  13 Strange Facts On Why We Celebrate Halloween

Fact Retriever:  40 Spooky Facts About Halloween

Happy 2016!

Happy 2016 from Diamante

Another year gone….and another just begun! 2015 has been a long year for me. I can’t say I’m sorry to see most of it go…but there were pieces of 2015 I will miss. One was my grandchild’s first birthday. What a milestone that day was. It is a day I am very grateful for. I truly believe that children are blessings from God, so every birthday celebrated is indeed a marvelous blessing!

I also have fond memories of this last Mother’s Day. I received thoughtful and loving gifts from my children. I penned a poem dedicated to them late Mother’s Day night. My children have always been some of the biggest blessings in my life. For those of you that have read my life story, Breaking The Silence, you definitely understand my sentiments. It was a fight for me to have children and so their love is paramount in my existence.

I also have met many wonderful, caring people this last year through my social media sites and author program. I wish to thank each and every one of you for your contribution to my life. I am grateful for you and your kindness! God Bless each and every one of you!

2015 has been difficult but also memorable.  I am grateful for family that has been there during the times I needed them.  I am also grateful for my friends who are ready to listen when the need arises.  Thank you!  I am grateful to have you on this journey in which I find our paths mingling!  May we tarry a bit longer together!

It is my hope that 2016 is a blockbuster year for everyone! May it be one of peace, happiness and prosperity! May it bring abundance and perfect divine health to everyone!  And may it provide needed rest and relaxation!

Happy New Year!

The Sounds Of Giftmas by Rhonda Parrish

The sounds of Christmas. You know what I’m talking about. Christmas carols, jingling bells, choirs and the ka-ching of cash registers–oh wait let’s not talk about that last one LOL–Christmas has a lot of sounds, of songs associated with it. My family and I celebrate a secular version of Christmas that I like to call Giftmas, and it sounds an awful lot like Christmas!

Every evening between December 1st to the 25th we celebrate advent. For us, advent includes lighting candles, eating chocolates and listening to music. It’s a rather eclectic collection of music, but I like it:

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In case you can’t read the titles they are:
A Sesame Street Christmas
Jingle Cats
The Chieftains — The Bells of Dublin
Amahl and the Night Visitors
Christmas Through the Ages
Medieval Babes
A Medieval Christmas

Now, you’re probably thinking we picked up the Sesame Street CD when my daughter was young, but we didn’t. That one is all about me. In fact, I’m pretty sure I bought it before Danica was even born!  One Christmas song I really adore which I don’t have on a CD is White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin.  That one gets me every.single.time.

Now, this isn’t to say I don’t like the traditional songs too. Silent Night, Away in a Manger, White Christmas? Love them. Them and so many others. But right now Tim Minchin and the Sesame Street crew top my list of favourite songs of the season. What’s on the top of your list?

Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for eight years (which is like forever in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Scarecrow and B is for Broken.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in publications such as Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015) and Mythic Delirium.

Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com

The Joy Of Christmas

Resized Happy Holidays from Diamante Lavendar

**Originally posted on Fred Warren’s blog at**

 https://frederation.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/the-joy-of-christmas-by-diamante-lavendar/

Christmas has always been a special time for me. As a kid and as a “grownup”. When I was younger, I would wait for the festivities of Christmas with “baited breath”. I loved the decorations and the tree, the stockings and the carols. But the greatest thing about Christmas to me was the “feeling.”

When I was very young, I would attempt to describe “the Christmas feeling” to my parents. They never really understood just exactly what I meant. They would look at me rather vacantly and say things like, “That’s nice. I’m happy you’re happy.”

But it was always so much more than that…happiness. It was an internal glow, a peace, a feeling of goodwill among men. Of course as a child I was unable to explain these complicated emotions. But I felt them. Fully. And they made me feel more alive than I ever could have explained…until I became a “grownup”.

Christmas is more than a season. Or a holiday. To me, it’s a frame of mind…a way of living. It is truly embodying the concept of, “Peace on earth…goodwill toward men.” It is beautiful. It is invigorating. It is a newness of life and attitude.

Christmas happens any time a random act of kindness occurs. It happens every time someone pays it forward. Christmas, no matter the time of year, comes alive whenever we think of others as much or more than we think of ourselves. It comes when we extend our boundaries to include the happiness of family and strangers. In my life, the most beautiful moments that I remember are moments when I was able to make a difference…to help someone in some way. To me, that is true Christmas.

I hope that by example I am able to extend Christmas every day of the year in some sort of way. I love the notion of “being Christmas” to my family, friends, and even those I don’t know. It is a tall order, but a wonderful goal to reach toward.

Perhaps as you read this, you will find yourself considering the feeling of Christmas…perhaps even living the feeling on a day-to-day basis. I can only imagine the ripple effect of beauty that “living the feeling” could bring to all of us who find ourselves sharing this earth together. What a grand scheme of things that would indeed create!

May you feel the peace, love and joy all year long, not just this holiday season!

Guest Post by Manda Pepper! A Mishmash of Holiday Traditions!

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A Mishmash of Holiday Traditions
by M Pepper Langlinais

So here’s the thing. I started out Catholic, went to CCD until my mother got “born again” and started taking me to a much louder church. Dad was a holiday Catholic anyway, but Mom was all in on the (as she called it) non-denominational charismatic Christianity, so suddenly Christmas didn’t mean Advent and Midnight Mass. In fact, it ended up meaning a lot more time at church because Mom went Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights, and she dragged me with her.

The religious aspect notwithstanding, I grew up with some great traditions. The tree went up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Sometimes we pulled the old plastic tree out, and sometimes we got ambitious and went to get a live one. Having a live tree meant spending a large part of the season trying to keep our pets—we always had at least one dog and cat, often more—from drinking the water and that stuff you put in it to keep the tree from drying out.

Once the tree was standing, we’d put on the Christmas records (Bing Crosby, Andy Williams) and decorate. I’m an only child and very close with my parents, and holiday decorating was always a jolly time. We lived in the American South, so we didn’t have the traditional snow and cold, but Mom had grown up in Alaska and knew how to go all out with lights. Where she was from, winter meant 24 hours of darkness, so the lights were key.

We also had a very special nativity. It was from Italy, and I took great pride in getting to set it out each year. Besides the tree water, another big part of the holiday season was to keep the animals from knocking over the shepherd or chewing baby Jesus. (I’m sad to say one dog did get to the angel and, erm, clipped its wings. Our donkey also lost its ears.)

Having grandparents in Alaska had benefits. My grandfather convinced me he was a friend of Santa’s, that they were drinking buddies. So I always sent my wish list to my grandparents and would receive direct reports on what Santa had to say about it.

My birthday is the week before Christmas, too, which is a mixed blessing. There’s the fact that one can’t celebrate one’s birthday without being surrounded by Christmas carols and holiday decorations. It’s hard to feel special when everyone is celebrating. And there were always those friends who would hand you something and say, “This is for Christmas AND your birthday.” Um, excuse me? I bought you two separate presents, you can do the same, thankyouverymuch. And don’t you dare wrap my birthday present in Christmas paper either.

Also, my birthday fell at finals. And everyone was always traveling, or otherwise busy, so I never had parties.

But the up side is that my birthday does tend to be very festive. Like, there is usually a good mood around that time of year. And things are colorful, cheerful. So while I didn’t have birthday parties (still don’t), there was often a party atmosphere.

Also, my birthday is always around the time the big movies open for the holidays. All those Lord of the RingsI movies, and now the Star Wars ones . . . I can feel pretty special about that.

A few years ago I married a nice Jewish boy and had to learn how to incorporate Hanukkah into my seasonal festivities. We’ve blended things pretty nicely, I think. We decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving, just as when I was a kid. And we put up a tree but also have Hanukkah decorations. Blue and silver have been favorite colors of mine since I was young (were in fact my wedding colors), so I’m delighted to use them in my holiday color scheme. We light the menorah. We debate whether to do one big Hanukkah gift or several small ones, same as we argue whether to open one gift on Christmas Eve or wait until Christmas morning.

We have a tradition of going to Hallmark to each (we have three kids now) pick out an ornament every year. Lots of Disney princesses from our daughter, superheroes and space vehicles from our sons. Makes for a pretty eclectic tree.

No Midnight Mass. No church at all, actually, but I do bake a charm into a cake on Twelfth Night. Would decorate in holly and ivy if I could. As I get older, I lean toward embracing Yule. I’m not sure why; there’s just something about it that speaks more to me than other religious slants to the season. It’s so basic, this acknowledgement of the darkest day and the slow return of light. Something about that simplicity, when the rest of the season is so frilly and hectic, soothes me.

So at the end of the day, we’re celebrating a little bit of everything. Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, and my birthday (my husband’s, too, is December 2nd) all come crashing into December, filling it with light and noise and seemingly ceaseless activity. It’s sort of a beautiful train wreck, if there is such a thing. So that by the time it’s finished and we’re looking New Year’s in the eye, we’re breathless. Ready for it to be over. And for all things new to begin.

About the Author:

Best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories, M Pepper Langlinais is also a produced playwright and screenwriter. She holds a degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, where she interned on film sets and participated in the Shakespeare at Winedale program. She also earned a Master of Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College. M now lives in Livermore, California. Learn more about her and her work at http://pepperwords.com. Find her books at http://www.amazon.com/M-Pepper-Langlinais/e/B008FBOSPE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1. And join her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mpepperlanglinais.

You can also enter to win a couple of M’s books (among others) below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Merry Christmas! Enter My Giveaway!

Christmas Giveaway by Diamante

The Christmas season is upon us! To celebrate, I’m giving away a 14 x 14 pillow with my Infinite Beings saying on it! It’s my way of thanking you for being a follower and friend! One lucky person will win as arranged by Rafflecopter!

Christmas is the season for sharing and caring. I hope all of you are enjoying your holiday preparations and are not allowing them to frazzle you! In this busy hustle and bustle world it’s so important to take time to rest and reflect on the reason for the season.

I am grateful for another year and the new friends I’ve made. Thank you to everyone who has become a fan and follower…and a friend. I look forward to the years ahead of corresponding with you and sharing the moments and insights of life!

Even my cats are happy about Christmas! They wait for that tree to go up….so they can climb it and knock everything down! The ornaments become new toys and the lights become a challenge to unravel! Yes, tis definitely the season to be jolly! For all creatures, apparently!

I wish for the holidays to find you happy and healthy, safe and sound. May your travels be delightful and your memories be amazing!

Here’s the Rafflecopter code!  Good luck!

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