Christmas Tree Topper

These Christmas tree topper facts will top off your brain.

  • Christmas tree toppers are Christmas decorations that are typically positioned at the very top of a Christmas tree.
  • Christmas tree toppers are varied in appearance, but are generally shaped as an angel or a star.
  • Christmas tree toppers are often made of glass, plastic, or metal, but they can also be made of fabric, paper or the like.
  • Christmas tree toppers are sometimes fitted with Christmas lights, typically those made of plastic.
  • Christmas tree topper stars are symbolic for the Star of Bethlehem, while the angel represents Gabriel the Angel, as well as the Heavenly Host, all of which are part of the story of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Tree topper

Star Tree Topper
Image courtesy of Flickr
  • During the later 1800s, the Union Jack was a popular Christmas tree topper, although more recently finials, Santa, ribbons, rosettes, crosses, owls, and even pineapple shaped ornaments can be seen on the top of Christmas trees.
  • In England, in the mid 1800s, Queen Victoria popularised the German tradition of Christmas tree toppers, and the first known topper of the Queen’s was an angel.
  • ‘Christmas tree toppers’ are also known as ‘tree-toppers’ and ‘treetoppers’.
  • Besides decorating trees, Christmas tree toppers can be used as centrepieces, as well as house decorations.
  • Christmas tree toppers can be easily bought from stores during the Christmas season, or they can be handmade, and sometimes they are family heirlooms.
Bibliography:
Tree-topper, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree-topper
Tree Topper Information, 2009, Christmas Tree Topper.com, http://www.christmastreetopper.com/category/info/

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Bauble

Hang these facts in your brain like baubles on a Christmas tree.

  • Baubles are, typically, Christmas tree decorations that are common and cheap, although collectible ones are available and some stores do have expensive options.
  • Baubles are generally shaped as a sphere, often plain or frosted, shiny or one-coloured, but any design can be manufactured.
  • Baubles were first invented in Germany, in Lauscha, notably by Hans Greiner, who first manufactured them in the late 1840s.
  • Baubles have their history in fruit and nut shaped glass, the shape eventually changing to become a spherical shape.
  • Queen Victoria brought the bauble tradition from Germany to Europe in the mid to late 19 century, while American F.W. Woolworth became rich by being the main importer of the decoration in the USA, in 1880.

Bauble, Gold, Shiny, Flash, One, Spherical, Christmas Tree, Hanging, Plastic, Ten Random Facts, Val Laird

Bauble
Image courtesy of Val Laird
  • Modern baubles are typically made of plastic, which allows cheaper manufacturing and makes them affordable for everyone, although glass baubles are still commonly available.
  • The first baubles, are said to have originated from the idea of blown egg shells, that could be hung on Christmas trees.
  • Baubles were originally quite expensive as they were hand-crafted and made of glass, and were therefore only for the rich.
  • Although Germany was the top producer of baubles before the World Wars, America became the top manufacturer after World War II.
  • Antique baubles from countries such as the Czech Republic have high values, as they are typically made from quality glass and are rarer than industrial decorations.
Bibliography:
Christmas Ornament, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_ornament
Coope L, Christmas Baubles through History, 2010, http://ezinearticles.com/?Christmas-Baubles-Through-History&id=4837006

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Food Hamper

Food to last you a week: a food hamper.

  • Food hampers are typically a basket, bag or box of food, but the contents are not restricted to food items, and are often given as gifts in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other western countries.
  • A ‘hamper’, derived from the old French word ‘hanepier’, meaning ‘a case for goblets’, in British English, means ‘a basket for food’.
  • Food hampers were traditionally a wicker basket full of items, and baskets were used because they were a lighter weight material than other options, like wood, available at the time.
  • Food hampers are often given as a gift to family or friends, or by businesses to their workers, although historically they were often given to those who were poor, or under financial difficulty, and this is often still the case.
  • Food hampers are usually given to the recipient in person, even if to a stranger; so this generally limits the size of the hamper.

Food Hamper, Christmas, Wicker Basket, Pudding, Chocolate, Sweets, Ten Random facts, Gift ideas

  • Shops typically sell custom or ready-made food hampers, particularly during occasions such as Christmas.
  • Food hampers are commonly given away as competition prizes, particularly raffles or competitions hosted by retailers.
  • Throughout history, food hampers were commonly given by the rich, to the workers of the household, as well as to those in need.
  • It is said that food hampers originated in France, and by the 1100s they were seen in England, but they only became popular for gift giving in the mid to late 18oos.
  • Popular edible additions to food hampers include wine, occasion-related foodstuff, crackers, coffee, chocolate, lollies or other long-lasting items.
Bibliography:
Hamper, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamper
Hurst M, The History behind Christmas Hampers, n.d, Christmas Spirit, http://christmasspirit.soup.io/post/251403767/The-history-behind-Christmas-hampers

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Pfeffernüsse

Delicious pfeffernüsse cookies, perfect for Christmas.

  • Pfeffernüsse are cookies that are made of flour, sugar and spices, often pepper, and sometimes ground nuts.
  • Pfeffernüsse are generally believed to be of German origin, although some people believe they are a Dutch cookie known as ‘pepernoten’, however, a number of Scandinavian countries have their own recipes of a similar named and tasting cookie, which is probably the main cause for confusion.
  • ‘Pfeffernüsse’ are also known as ‘peppernødders’, ‘pfeffernusse’, ‘peppernuts’ and ‘pebernødder’.
  • Pfeffernüsse are popularly and traditionally eaten during holidays, particularly at Christmas or during the Christmas season.
  • Pfeffernüsse were traditionally eaten at special feasts in Germany, Netherlands and Belgiums on the 5 and 6 of December, and are similar to the German ‘lebkuchen’, a type of gingerbread.

Pfeffernusse, Christmas Cookies, Peppernut, Ginger, Pepper, White, Brown, Broken, Oval, Snow, Ten Random Facts, treat, Aldi

  • Pfeffernüsse are sometimes bitter due to the spice combination, so are often coated in powdered sugar (icing sugar).
  • Pfeffernüsse are traditionally very hard and firm once cooked, so they are typically dunked in liquid prior to consuming.
  • Pfeffernüsse are typically ginger-coloured, with a snowy white coating, and home made cookies are best left to develop their flavours and soften for a few days before being eaten.
  • Pfeffernüsse are among the biscuits with the least amount of fat, as they generally lack butter and oil, although recipes vary greatly, and some do use butter.
  • Pfeffernüsse are generally shaped as round balls or drops, and can be often purchased from supermarkets and other shops, although these are usually soft cookies.
Bibliography:
Pfeffernüsse, 2012, The Chic Brûlée, http://thechicbrulee.com/2012/11/30/pfeffernusse/
Pfeffernüsse, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pfeffernusse

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Wrapping Paper

Without wrapping paper, what would you do?

  • ‘Wrapping paper’ is also known as ‘gift wrap’ and in the early 1900s it was known as ‘gift dressing’.
  • Wrapping paper is used to attractively hide the content of presents using anything from paper to bags to boxes.
  • Wrapping paper is commonly held around the gift and taped to itself with pressure-sensitive tape and embellished with ribbon and ribbon bows.
  • Wrapping paper was first recorded in Ancient China, dating back to 100BC, and was probably used for protecting items from damage, rather than to hide its contents.
  • Thick, decorative wrapping paper was often used by the wealthy in the 1800s to cover gifts, and in the early 1900s, plain red, white or green tissue paper was commonly used to wrap Christmas presents.

Wrapping Paper, Merry christmas, red, white, silver, Teddy Bear, Brown, Angel, four, Sheets, Ten Random Facts, Gift wrap

  • In 1917, Rollie and J.C. Hall, founders of the greeting card company Hallmark, sold out of tissue paper in their retail store in the lead up to Christmas, so they supplied customers with fancy coloured envelope linings as an alternative, which were extremely popular, and this caused decorative wrapping paper to be quickly added to their line of products.
  • Wrapping paper is sometimes reused, but is usually discarded, and in the United States alone, 3.6 million tonnes (4 million tons) of the paper and shopping bags from the Christmas season is sent to the rubbish dump, and accounts for 4/5 of the extra waste in that period.
  • Decorated paper is the most common type of wrapping paper, although historically, fabric wrapping cloths, known as ‘furoshiki’ in Japan and ‘bogaji’ in Korea were typically used, and these, as well as other fabric wrappings and reused paper from various sources, are sometimes used as an environmentally friendly alternative.
  • Up until the early 1900s, brown paper was typically used as wrapping paper for gifts and purchased goods.
  • People spend large quantities of money on wrapping paper; an estimated $2.6 billion in the United States, every year.
Bibliography:
Garber M, Wrapper’s Delight: a Brief History of Wrapping Paper, 2012, The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/wrappers-delight-a-brief-history-of-wrapping-paper/266599/
Gift Wrapping, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_wrapping

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Bethlehem

Luke 2:11 NIV Bible ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David [Bethlehem] a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’

  • Bethlehem is a religious city located in Palestine, in the West Bank, in the Middle East, and it has a large proportion of Christians and also Muslims.
  • ‘Bethlehem’ is also known as ‘Bēt Lahm’, ‘Beit Sahur’, ‘Ephratah’ and ‘the City of David’, as well as many other names, and the name has at least two different meanings – in Hebrew, ‘house of bread’ and in Arabic, ‘house of meat’.
  • Bethlehem is the city of Jesus Christ’s birth, and is one of the oldest Christian settlements.
  • The first known reference of Bethlehem is in a 1400 BC dated letter, involving the King of Egypt and King of Jerusalem of the era.
  • Bethlehem has seen much unrest in its history, with opponents taking over the city a number of times, and it was occupied by the Romans in 132 AD, and later Muslims from 637 AD.

Bethlehem City, Town, Middle East, Palestine, Jesus' Hometown, modern, birds eye, panorama, Ten Random Facts, Flickr

Bethlehem
Image courtesy of David Poe/Flickr
  • Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been evident for a century and so the control of Bethlehem was in Israel’s hands for some time, however the city has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority since 1995.
  • Bethlehem has a population of approximately 25,000 people, and a fifth of those live in the original area of the city, known as the ‘old city’.
  • Temperatures in Bethlehem range, on average from 5 to 30°C (41 to 86°F), and June to September are generally dry months, while November to January are generally the wettest.
  • Bethlehem accommodates approximately 2 million tourists annually, with the industry supplying 65% of the city’s wealth.
  • Bethlehem saw its first female mayor in 2012, Vera Baboun, who was previously a headmistress and lecturer, and is the home of 135 schools, 100 of which are government schools operated by the Palestine Authority.
Bibliography: Bethlehem, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlehem
Mor L, Bethlehem History, n.d, Holy Land Network, http://www.holylandnetwork.com/bethlehem/bethlehem.htm

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