Archive for December, 2015

New Years Eve Traditions From Around The World

December 29, 2015

Many New Year customs that we take for granted actually date from ancient times. This year, ring out the old and ring in the new with a New Year tradition—or two!

1. Belarus

On New Year’s in Belarus, single women place piles of corn on the ground in front of them, and then a rooster is set loose. The first woman whose pile of corn the rooster approaches will be the next to get married.

2. Brazil

In Brazil, partiers wear white on New Year’s to scare away bad spirits. Brazilians also jump over seven waves — one for each day of the week — while making seven New Year’s wishes. Those who aren’t near the beach jump three times on their right foot. Brazilians also offer a tribute of flowers to Iemanja, the goddess of water.

3. Bolivia

In Bolivia, people will cook a coin into a cake. The person who finds the coin while eating the cake gets good luck in the next year.

4. Chile

Chileans looking to make a lot of money over the next year will eat a spoonful of lentils on New Year’s Eve. In the Chilean city of Talca, locals will spend the night in the cemetery with their dead relatives.

5. Colombia

Want to spend the next year traveling? Do as the Colombians do: walk around the block once with your empty suitcase.

6. Denmark

Danes throw dishes at the front doors of their close friends. It’s considered lucky to have a lot of broken dishes at the foot of your door at the end of the night, as it’s a sign of a lot of friends.

7. Ecuador

In many South American countries (also Bolivia, Venezuela, and Brazil) you’re supposed to wear colorful underwear on New Year’s Eve. Wear yellow undies if you want to make lots of money next year, and red undies if you want to fall in love.

8. El Salvador

An hour before midnight, Salvadorans crack open an egg into a glass of water. They let it sit as the year changes, and then the next morning, they’ll try and interpret the shape of the egg, and what it might foretell in the New Year.

9. Estonia

Traditionally, Estonians try to eat seven times on New Year’s Day, to ensure strength and plenty of food in the New Year.

10. Finland

Similar to El Salvador’s egg tradition, Finns throw molten tin into a glass of water, and then try to interpret the shape of the tin as an omen for what will happen in the New Year.

11. Germany

Germans watch the British comedy sketch Dinner For One every New Year’s. The sketch is so popular that its catchphrase, “Same procedure as every year,” has now entered the German lexicon.

12. Ireland

Single women in Ireland sleep with a mistletoe under their pillow on New Year’s in the hopes of finding a husband in the next year.

13. Italy

In Rome, divers jump from the Cavour Bridge into the Tiber River. The tradition started back in 1946.

14. Japan

In Japan, people dress up as the zodiac animal of the upcoming year (2015 is the Year of the Sheep), and attend a temple where the bell is rung 108 times — a lucky number.

15. Panama

Panamanians like to burn effigies on New Year’s of anyone famous. The idea is that the effigies — called muñecos — are representative of the old year, and you are burning them to move on.

16. Peru

Residents of Chumbivilcas Province in Peru celebrate the festival of Takanakuy. The festival — which happens on December 25 — involves dancing and, most notably, fighting. People will get into fistfights to settle old beefs so that the slate is clean when the New Year rolls in.

17. Philippines

In the Philippines, it’s considered lucky to eat round foods on New Year’s. This is because round shapes are supposed to represent coins — so eating a lot of round foods means you’ll make a lot of money in the New Year. Children in the Philippines will also jump up and down as the New Year rings in, in the hopes that it will make them taller in the coming year.

18. Romania

Romanians participate in a 2,000-year-old tradition where a young man dresses up in a bear costume and dances around to scare off bad spirits.

19. Scotland

Possibly the best (and least safe) celebration is Hogmanay, in which residents swing fireballs around their heads. The fire is said to bring sun and purification in the New Year. Scots also partake in “First-Footing,” where the first person to step over the threshold of a home brings good luck. Tall, dark men are the most lucky; red-haired and blonde men and women are less lucky. First-footers are also supposed to bring whisky and bread into the home.

20. Serbia

In Belgrade, it’s tradition for an Eastern Orthodox priest to throw a crucifix into the icy waters of the Danube. The first person to dive in and retrieve it will be blessed with a healthy year.

21. Siberia

In Siberia, divers cut a hole into the ice on Lake Baikal and dive to the bottom of the lake with a tree trunk to “plant a tree” at the bottom of the lake.

22. Spain

At midnight, Spaniards try to eat a single grape for each toll of the bell at midnight.

23. Thailand

In Thailand, for April’s Southeast Asian New Year, people throw buckets of water on each other, and smear each other with talc.

24. United States

The most universal tradition in the United States is have someone to kiss when the New Year rolls in at midnight. The tradition is very nice if you’re in a relationship, but can be super depressing if you’re not.

25. Vietnam

In Vietnam, “Little New Year” is celebrated on January 23 in honor of the Kitchen God. Because the Kitchen God is said to ride to heaven on a carp to report on each family on the day of the festival, families keep a bowl of carps set aside as they eat a meal and decorate the Kitchen God’s altar.


Great Plants To Give As Gifts

December 22, 2015

Christmas Cactus – So named because they bloom at this time of year, the Christmas cactus is a great gift for the succulent lover in your life. Their blooms are red and they prefer a cool, sunny location.

Christmas Fern– Many ferns are used as natural indoor air filters. The Christmas fern is native to North America and stays green all year round. It makes an attractive house plant and can easily be planted outdoors. Its defining feature is of course its verdant leaves, since ferns don’t flower.

Cyclamen– Cyclamen thrive and bloom in cool weather. I see them more and more often here in Southern California as a winter flower. They also make good house plants. They are comparatively short plants and their flowers are quite unusual.

Orchids– Orchids are becoming one of the most popular indoor plants because of their graceful appearance and minimal maintenance requirements (that is a subjective statement, I know). They are increasingly available in different sizes and colors and make an elegant plant gift.

Traditional Holiday Plants From Around The World

December 8, 2015

Holly, ivy, mistletoe and other festive foliage was originally used during the pre-Christian times in order to ward off evil spirits, celebrate new growth and help rejoice the Winter Solstice Festival. These plants have been associated with the Christmas period ever since and are still used to decorate our homes today.

Ornamental holly berries are used in both wreaths and table centerpieces every Christmas. These particular berries are produced by 400 species of holly, which grow in the wild all around the world. Holly trees and shrubs are smooth-barked and boast delicate flowers, plump red berries and leathery, shiny leaves.
Whether you choose to hang garlands of holly from the roof, the walls or the mantelpiece, it’s guaranteed to add Christmas cheer and a little color to your home.

Mistletoe has been a symbol of peace, love and goodwill for as long as we can remember. The ritual and tradition of hanging mistletoe around our homes at Christmas time has been a pre-Christian tradition for many years, whilst the custom of kissing under the mistletoe continues today in many countries during the festive time.

Poinsettias a shrub native to Mexico – the locals call it ‘Noche Buena’, which means Christmas Eve. The plant’s connotation with the festive season began 400 years ago.
Legend has it a young girl who was too poor to provide a Christmas gift for baby Jesus was encouraged by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside. These weeds later transformed into Crimson ‘blossoms’ and have been popular Christmas decorations in North America and Europe ever since.

Ivy is specie of festive foliage, often used in wreaths and table centerpieces. A simple Christmas wreath fashioned from ivy, holly, red ribbons and other greenery will add vibrancy and color to the home. Some choose to hang wreaths from their doorways, whilst others will place them above their mantelpiece for decoration.

Christmas rose
A traditional favorite; the Christmas rose boasts an abundance of pure white flowers that often age to a color of pretty pink in the winter months. A vase brimming with red and white roses and wonderfully scented blooms makes for a gorgeous festive display, especially when teamed with gold foliage.

Not There Plant Care

December 1, 2015

Going out of town for the holidays? Unless you have some really great neighbors or relatives, there will come a time

when you need to know how to care for your plants while you are away. And sometimes, even though you are home, you just get busy and forget to water. There are several easy ways to help care for your plants when you can’t be home or when you don’t have time for routine maintenance.  Start by evaluating your plant and learning what its specific needs are. Plants vary greatly. There are cacti and succulents that go weeks without anything but light. Other plants may need water almost daily.

• Give the plants a thorough soaking just before you leave. Submerge the whole root system in water until air bubbles stop coming to the surface.
• Make sure your plant is growing in a good soil mix.

  • Leave a little
  • There are several designs of self-watering containers. They have a water reserve at the bottom of the pot that can water the plant root as needed. A good self-watering container can provide water for several weeks at a time.

Providing Light
• You can increase the amount of natural light available to your plant by making sure the drapes are wide open and the plant is as close to the window as possible. In winter, keep the plants at least a few inches away from the cold glass. Also, make sure one plant isn’t being shaded by another. If you’d rather not leave your drapes open, you can use artificial lights. Wash the windows regularly – It can make a significant difference in the amount of light that comes through to your plants.

General Tips
• If it will only be a short time, simply water and move the plant to a shadier area.
• Plastic pots dry out less quickly than clay containers.water in a saucer under your plant. This isn’t a good practice on a regular basis, but it won’t hurt once and a while.

Enjoy your trip and happy holidays from our family to yours!

%d bloggers like this: