Monday, December 31, 2012

My Half Century Birthday

If you're a regular reader of When Kate Blogs, you know that this isn't much of a personal blog as it is a location for writing samples and tidbits of information that I think are interesting enough to share.

This December has been a bit different in that while traditions and history have been mentioned, I've included more about my personal life than usual, and I've wondered why?

I just celebrated fiftieth birthday this month. As a child, a 50th birthday didn't occur to me. As a teen, my lifestyle and bad choices did give very good odds on making 25, forget 50. But things profoundly changed for me in 1984.

The more days that pass, the more amazed I am that I'm still here. All things considered, I am beating some serious odds. But then aren't we all.

I'm grateful that you have taken some time to read When Kate Blogs. I do so appreciate the clicks and comments. Some comments have become conversations which have turned into long-distance friendships via the internet. I consider myself blessed.

If you like what you read here, and you'd like to connect, here's how:

I'm looking forward to it. ;)

May you have an excellent 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


A Germanic tradition, the hanging of the stocking predates the Christianization of Europe. The Norse story of Odin’s horse called ‘Sleipnir’. Sleipnir is the best of all horse and the child of Loki. In the lore, the eight legged horse is ridden to Asgard & Hel.

Local custom celebrating the Sleipnir’s travels included admirers leaving stockings full of carrots, grain and sugar for Sleipnir. After passing by and enjoying the food, Sleipnir would leave small gifts or candy in return.

After the religious change in German & Sweden, the tradition lived on with the Christian version of Saint Nicholas traveling by eating cookie and milk left by children, then filling stockings with small gifts and candy.

Christmas stockings have increased in size with the standard sized stocking fitting a large giant’s foot. The challenge for Saint Nick or any helper who would fill them is to fine just the right small gifts. Fun trinkets, silly toys and some yummy candy bring smiles to those pulling the boodle from the sock.

Our Christmas morning celebration includes the surprise of filled stockings each year. Our particular stockings were lovingly made by grandma and are cherished by our young ones. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Since ancient times, the circle symbolizes protection. When made into a wreath the circle hung on the door protects the household and brings good tidings to those who are invited to enter.

Traditional wreaths of the Mediterranean are made from laurel. Laurel wreaths are also fashioned into head wreaths as a symbol of achievement. Often athletes, generals, gladiators and politicians were adorned with a wreath to commemorate their victory and show their status.

Harvest wreaths of Northern Europe were created from straw. Straw wreaths were  part of the autumnal celebration which included burning of straw icons during the harvest feast or fair.

As Christianity moved across Europe the wreath was transformed into an educational props by German Lutherans. The familiar circle symbol came to represent the everlasting life of Christ in the Advent wreath. 

During the Victorian period wreaths were incredibly popular with the floral display communicating message through the Language of the Flowers. Remembrance Day, Valentine’s Day, May Day and Christmas Day were among the ‘must hang a door wreath’ days of the year.

When you hang wreaths on  your door, does it have a meaning? 

Monday, December 10, 2012


Historians agree it was the Germans who first decorated trees during the Christmas holiday. 15th century glassblowers created baubles to hang on the evergreens.

With the family tradition of decorating trees for Christmas, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert brought the German tradition to England in the 18th century. So it wasn’t long until America too decorated Christmas trees with hand blown glass and other ornaments.

By the 20th century, five and dime stores stocked box sets of Christmas ball ornaments. More elaborate hand cast ornaments featured Santa, reindeer and icicles.

21st Century ornaments include traditional Christmas motifs as well as cartoon characters and sports players. Quirky cultural additions such as a pineapple, a chili or a pickle have found their way onto many Christmas trees.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ye Olde Tree Tradition

The tradition of an evergreen entering the house for the blessings and celebration of the season predates the common era. The scent of the pine tree fills the senses with an uplifting feeling that brings smiles and anticipation of the holiday times.

While my family of origin had holiday traditions, when I started my own family I took the time to analyze the good and the not-so-good of holiday traditions. I kept what I liked, what worked & brought happy thoughts to mind. Then I built new traditions with my spouse and children as they've grown.

Times have been tough so this year is the first in several that we've had a tree in our house. It was so delightful to bring this lovely little tree into the house and devise a way to include the best of the best memories and wishes for the coming year.

We support the tree farmer, the tree yard and young delivery man wishing only that we could have offered them more than what they asked, for the joy their work has given us already far exceeds the price & tips we gave. After the holiday, we will donate the tree to be recycled into mulch for common areas.

What traditions have you incorporated into your holiday celebrations?