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.
- 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.
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
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.
- 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.
Pfeffernüsse, 2012, The Chic Brûlée, http://thechicbrulee.com/2012/11/30/pfeffernusse/
Pfeffernüsse, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pfeffernusse
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.
- 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.
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
“Have a very merry Christmas and fun handing out Christmas cards!” – from Ten Random Facts.
- ‘Christmas cards’ are also known as ‘holiday cards’ and traditionally have greetings, commonly “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.
- Christmas cards are traditionally exchanged during the Christmas season and are often posted or given out as early as November.
- Printed Christmas cards were first produced by the Englishmen, Sir Henry Cole with artwork by John Horsley, in 1843, partly to make use of the new, cheap, postal service.
- Christmas cards originally depicted the season of spring, typically flowers, unlike the Christmas designs now found on cards.
- American Louis Prang significantly increased the popularity of Christmas cards, notably introducing the cards to America in the 1870s.
- Christmas cards are typically bought singularly or in packets of two or more, and can be found in supermarkets, department stores, newsagents and other shops, and they can also be purchased through charities to help raise funds for their organisation.
- In 2005, residents of the United States sent 1.9 billion Christmas cards, and in 2008, the British sent nearly 670 million cards, although in the past decade their has been a decrease in the number of cards purchased, due to the higher costs of postage, cost of cards, economic climate, availability of e-cards and the use of email and social media.
- Christmas cards are traditionally made of card (strong paper), but more recently electronic cards have been designed and are generally cheaper.
- Christmas cards are commonly collected by many people, and Queen Mary’s (1867 – 1953) collection of cards is owned by the British Museum.
- Of the 1000 Christmas cards that were printed for Sir Henry Cole, only 10-12 have survived the centuries, one of which sold in 2001 for £22,500.
If you would like to buy some Christmas cards depicted in the photograph, visit Imagine Make Believe.
Christmas Card, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card
Copper J, The History of Christmas Cards, Why Christmas, http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/cards.shtml
An important Christmas flower: poinsettia.
- Poinsettias are decorative plants, from the family Euphorbiaceae, the family of spurges.
- Poinsettias are small trees or shrubs that grow from 0.6 to 4 metres (2 to 13 feet) in height, and have large leaves.
- The scientific name of poinsettias is ‘Euphorbia pulcherrima’, and they are also known as ‘lobster flowers’ and ‘flame-leaf flowers’ and there are over 100 varieties of the plant.
- Poinsettias are native to Central America and Mexico and can be found in forests, which is their natural habitat.
- Poinsettias are a popular, symbolic Christmas plant, as they resemble the colours of Christmas, typically being red and green coloured.
- Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not dangerously poisonous, although the sap can cause sickness if consumed and an allergic reaction can occur for some people if they touch the sap.
- Poinsettias are primarily green, although the bracts, that are often mistaken as the flower, come in various colours, and different varieties can be found in red, orange, pink, white, pale shades and white shades, as well as speckled and multicoloured.
- Poinsettia flowers are generally small, clustered, and yellow in colour, centred in the middle of the bracts.
- Poinsettias are popularly grown indoors and although they are often incorrectly believed to lack survival outside, they can be grown outside all year round, as long as they are not exposed to frost.
- ‘Poinsettia’ is named after Joel Poinsett, who was a politician, physician and botanist, and the first United States Minister to Mexico.
Poinsettia, 2013, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poinsettia
Poinsettia Facts, 2013, University of Illinois Extension, http://urbanext.illinois.edu/poinsettia/facts.cfm
The second day of Christmas…
- Traditionally, Boxing Day is the first day following Christmas, the 26th December.
- Boxing Day is a public holiday in many countries.
- The term ‘boxing’ in the word Boxing Day has no particular history but there are many theories.
- Boxing Day was originally the day when servants and tradesman were given gifts from their masters or employees, also called the Christmas Box.
- On Boxing Day, South Africa and Australia usually start a separate test cricket match.
Test Cricket on Boxing Day
- On Boxing Day there are normally big shop sales, most notably in Britain, Canada New Zealand, and Australia.
- Stampedes, injuries and sometimes deaths have occurred during Boxing Day sales.
- Many other sports matches start on Boxing Day, including a famous yacht race, football (soccer in Australia), and ice hockey tournaments.
- Although fox hunting is banned in the UK, it remains to be a popular sport on boxing day.
- Boxing Day is celebrated in many of the Commonwealth countries, as well as some not part of the Commonwealth.
Boxing Day 25 December 2012, Wikipedia,