Origins of Christmas Traditions

Though it would be interesting to share with you all, a History of Christmas, I thought it rather fitting to learn the origins, or the stories behind some of the traditions we find ourselves repeating year after year. I am from a fairly young country, and we are yet to find our own identity when it comes to Christmas Traditions, so we tend to follow the same example as that of the British Settlers, who arrived in Australia in the 1700’s. Unlike our ancestors from the Northern Hemisphere, we don’t celebrate Christmas in the Winter, but in the scorching heat of the Summer, so there is very little use for Stockings, and Winter Jumpers in our parts, there are also no naturally grown Christmas Conifer Pine Tree’s, as our bush is harsh, and hardy, so our Gum Tree’s are marked with the black ash, left behind from the last bush fire it survived. We embrace traditional Christmas Culture, despite having a different climate, and being heavily culturally influenced by our larger and older ancestors, and perhaps one day, our own traditions of Family Picnic’s at the Beach or lunch under the Air-conditioning, could be perhaps more embraced by the commercial culture that surrounds us. But seen as that is not happening anytime soon, I thought I would do a little research into a few questions I wanted answered, about some Christmas Traditions we still currently include. So please continue reading, to learn through a brief summary, about the origins of Christmas traditions.


Origins of the Christmas Stocking

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There are many different versions of the story of the Christmas Stocking, but they all seem to include the same characters, a wealthy man named Nicholas, another Male Figure (usually a father, but sometimes an Innkeeper and other times a Butcher), and Three Children (the gender varies depending on the story). The most popular version of the Story goes; That a poor widower (who unfortunately goes unnamed) whom has 3 daughters, grew increasingly worried about their futures, as he didn’t have enough, or no wealth to offer as a wedding dowry to future marriage prospects for his daughters. It is said that Nicholas, an only son of wealthy parents, whom had no one else to share his fortune, decided he would surprise the widower, and every year for three years at Christmas time, he would drop a bag of gold into the widowers home, so that the father could have a dowry to present at the time of marriage for his three daughters. Different articles suggest that it was a chimney that Nicholas would use, but the most popular theory is that the gold was supposed to be placed on the floor, but because it was so dark, Nicholas made the mistake of dropping the bag of gold into one of the daughters socks drying by the mantle piece as they were sleeping, thus the tale of the Christmas Stocking. There are more gruesome tales of butchery, and theft, although I think this depends on where you are hearing the tale.


Origins of the Christmas Card

have a very merry christmas greeting card

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With the ever-growing wonder of technology, and the popularity of sending each other a message directly from our mobile phones via one of the many social media platforms available to us worldwide, it is a curious thought as to why we still enjoy the sending and receiving of a Christmas Card. It is said that the Christmas Card originated in the United Kingdom in 1843, by Sir Henry Cole, because he was too busy to write his family and friends a formal Christmas greeting, so instead sent them a card, portraying a happy family, sharing in charitable acts, with the words “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You”. While it was created originally by a male, and then expanded into a business, before it became a Christmas Tradition, Christmas Card Sales now tend to be focused towards female customers, and if you browse the many platforms used for online businesses you can find or even customise your very own Christmas Cards.


Origins of the Christmas Sweater

dachshund dog wearing a red sweater

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While I have never in my life sent or received or thought about wearing a knitted Christmas Jumper, due to the temperature in our parts during Christmas time, I did always wonder where the tradition came from? I found out it was popularised in the 1980’s due to British television shows portraying extravagant Christmas Jumpers being worn, and has since turned into a common joke known as the “Ugly Christmas sweater”, in fact it was the most popular result that kept appearing during my research on this topic. It is also a possibility that they became a tradition, due to the heavy knitted sweaters worn during the winter, which also happens to be Christmas time in the Northern Hemisphere. I wanted to know if the Christmas Sweater, was something given as a gift further back than the 1900’s, and the furthest I could find was sweaters worn as skiing jumpers, which became popular in Hollywood due to famous actors wearing them on film. As someone who idealises a winter Christmas due to advertising in my country, I was fairly disappointed to learn the Christmas Sweater was nothing but a fashion symbol, but I hope it is a fashion symbol that continues to amuse us for many centuries to come.


Origins of the Christmas Carols

people standing inside church

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Nobody asks why, but we all associate Christmas with Christmas Carols, even though some of us enjoy the merry songs all year through, others would have away with them if they could. The Christmas Holiday is celebrated around a similar time to the pagan holiday “Winter Solstice” and the early church wanted to create a Christian Holiday to celebrate at the time of the pagan celebration, not necessarily because it was the time of birth of Jesus. There were plenty of songs and traditional activities done at this time, and Christians would mirror this, instead focusing on celebrating the birth of Jesus. It goes to say that Christmas Carols originally were about Jesus’ Birth, and the whole event surrounding it, but now they have a more casual tone, adopted from the Victorian Era, this was known as Wassailing, and Wassail was a form of Mulled Wine, thus linking it to festivals and winter celebrations. There was once a time where I couldn’t enjoy Christmas carols, it was the saddest time of my life, but slowly and surely, I was able to enjoy them again, and the past is there to remind me about the joy singing a Christmas Carol can bring.


Flying Away… 

I hope you enjoyed this post… I am about to board a flight to Hong Kong, and then another to the United States of America, 36 HOURS OF TRAVEL! I will see you again next week with another blog post, as I rush off to board my flight! Below you can find some references I used for my research, in case you wanted to do some further reading on these fun Christmas traditions.


References:

Forbes, B. (2007). From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus, In Christmas: A Candid History (pp 67-96) Berkley; Los Angeles; LONDON: University of California Press

Parachin, Victor M (2010) Stories behind our Christmas Traditions. The Priest, 66 (12), (pp 20-23)

Brown, Ellen F., Christmas, Inc: A Brief History of the Holiday Card, Arts & Culture, JSTOR DAILY (2015) https://daily.jstor.org/history-christmas-card-holiday-card/

http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/fashion-beauty/fashion-features/christmas-jumpers-where-did-the-tradition-first-come-from-11364119882147

Cooper, B. (2008). Christmas Carols. In Whiteley S. (Author), Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture (pp. 88-97). Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r1xq8.10

 

 

 

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Considering Online Studies? Here are 7 Things that Might be Helpful to know…

I have recently reached the end of my first semester as an Online, Mature-Aged, Undergraduate, Theology Student, Full-Time, and as I haven’t posted anything this month, I thought I would share my experience with you. This particular post might interest you if you are contemplating pursuing studying and are considered a mature-aged person or school leaver interested in pursuing full-time studying at an Undergraduate Level as an Online Student. I won’t be able to share with you my final grades, as I haven’t received them, but I will be able to share with you some information on my struggles and also the benefits of online studies, outlining 7 Things that I will be implementing in my second semester that starts in February 2019, after the Summer Holidays! I am not expecting excellent final grades, and do expect to have to re-attempt 2 of my units (as I didn’t realise I had signed up for 3rd Year and Masters Level Units, a very silly mistake!), but hopefully if you stay up to date with my blog posts, there might be a change with my grades in the future, and I look forward to continuing to share my experience with you. So please enjoy reading through these 7 Things to Remember when Considering Online Studies.


#1 Communication

“The Single Biggest Problem in Communication is the Illusion that it has Taken Place”
-George Bernard Shaw
woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

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As an online student it is important to open the lines of communication between yourself, your lecturer, coordinator or the teachers assistant, as soon as it is possible, and maintain communication between yourselves throughout the whole semester while studying online. For my particular University, each unit that I studied, listed a different Subject Co-Ordinator, Lecturer and Teachers Assistant, and I mostly spoke to the Teachers Assistant regarding everything I had a question for. However, the problems I had with this was because there was no face-to-face interaction with anyone, I often didn’t ask questions when I found something difficult to understand or if I had issues with my assignments. This is not to say I should have pestered them with every issue I had, but it is very easy as an online student to feel a separation between yourself and your school, while still being apart of the community of a particular university. Also, if you consider yourself a procrastinator, and decided to leave your assignments until the last minute, and chose to ask for an extension on the day your assignment is due, and this is your first interaction between yourself and the person assisting students in this course, this will be their first impression of you.


#2 Lectures

“A Good Teacher, like a Good Entertainer must first hold his audience’s Attention, then he can teach his lesson”
-John Henrik Clarke
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Lectures will be online, All of them! This may sound easy, because the positives are, that you will be able to watch the lectures for your unit in your own time, and you will be able to re-watch them in case you didn’t quite understand something. However, because you have your own time to watch them, it can become quite easy to choose something more enjoyable to do rather than watch your lecture, because you have no one to be accountable to. So it is important when considering online study that you are aware that in order to get the most out of your course, and to apply yourself to your assignments, that you schedule in time to watch your lectures, and try your best not to fall behind. In my University, the unit co-ordinator, lecturer and teachers assistant are notified if you have or haven’t attended your online lecture, and while nobody is reminding you to watch it, you will be graded on your attendance in your final grade. If you are a Mature-Aged Student (over the age of 21), welcome to a time where you are reminded that the young ones are probably miles ahead of you when it comes to attending classes, and even though you are suppose to be the example, it is most likely going to be a surprise to you, how much work and effort you have to put in. So try not to leave your lectures until the last minute, it is irresponsible on your part, regardless of your age, as the teachers do not know your lifestyle, so it is up to you to schedule the time in to watch them (mostly talking to myself here, hehe).


#3 Assignments

“One of Life’s most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn’t do our homework, that we are not prepared”
– Merlin Olsen
blur close up focus gadget

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One of the biggest mistakes I have made this semester, is NOT starting my assignments immediately after I received them. This is something I failed in myself, regardless of the grade I received, if there is something I am going to implement into my study routine for next semester, it is to immediately start researching for assignments, and to just start writing. Whether it is 200 words a day or x2 resources a week, writing a draft, writing outlines, reading through all the materials I require for my assignment, editing, final drafts, and finalising the assignment. If you are interested in study routines, and look forward to learning about and following along with other people’s study routines then this is something for you to look forward to on my blog in the near future, especially with the new semester in February. Also, complementary to the communication topic if there is any questions you need answered in regards to your assignments, it is important to get them in early, it shows that you are using your time well, and the impression you give off to those marking your unit, or teaching you really matters, especially as an online student, as you don’t have any face to face interactions with your teachers, so you will have to remind yourself to do this.


#4 Study Space

“A plant is the most cliché thing, but a little bit of green has a great effect on happiness. Being at a cubicle all day is not pleasing, but a little life on your desk can give you a little life, too”
– Bobby Berk
macbook pro on desk

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Whether you choose to study at home on your laptop or computer or choose to study at the library, or even outside, it is important to have a study space prepared before you start your course. Choose where you are most inspired, for myself, I need to be sitting at a desk facing the wall, because I am prone to daydreaming if there is too much open space in front of me, and facing a wall allows my focus to be limited, and solely on my lessons and/or assignments. However, regardless of being easily inclined to daydream I have to be near a window, because fresh air and bright light keeps me inspired, and greenery through plants, brightens my mood, when work becomes monotonous. Also having a tidy desk, and neat and clear reminders help me to focus on prioritising tasks. One thing I will be investing in, for the next semester is a whiteboard/ pin board to hang on my wall directly behind and above my computer, to allow me to view my tasks easier, as well as a wall calendar and clock to keep me productive. Also having a pen and paper to scribble on is helpful, in case you need to note any important thoughts down, that you feel you might forget. If you are interested in online study, put some thought into how you like to study, and think about the times when you’re most productive, and try to incorporate those aspects into your study space.


#5 Diet and Lifestyle

“I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true!”
-Audrey Hepburn
woman in black leggings while walking on brown road

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Just because someone want’s to become an Online Student, does not mean that your schedule or the workload is any different to a student who attends university on campus. For myself, I know I am too old now to be living off of Nasi Goreng Packet Noodles, Coffee and Diet Shakes, and still have energy to last me all day and night, in fact my lifestyle has drastically changed since that of my first few adult years out of teenage hood, which makes complete sense if you’re almost 30. If you are a “mature-aged” person looking to become a student again, but you are worried about having to give up your lifestyle, and whether you have enough time to do everything, then pre-planning would be my suggestion. If you enjoy cooking fresh food for your family, then prepare your meals in advance, and leave them in your fridge and freezer for you to eat during the week, and if you are the chef in your household, at least you know that everyone will be prepared for meals, in case you have little to no time to cook due to an assignment or deadline that needs to be finalised. Also you are probably going to be sitting in a chair for majority of your day as you listen to lectures, attempt assignments and write out notes, so do not substitute any form of exercise for this. Exercise will keep your brain awake, and renewed, so going for a walk, or doing stretches, or just standing out in the sunshine will be of great help to you as you study, and allowing your blood to move around your body, will improve your mood, and allow you to feel refreshed. It will also help your back, shoulders, neck, calves and all from seizing, or blood clots forming from lack of exercise. If you are someone who doesn’t know much about human biology or has no interest in it, I suggest you educate yourself on the basics, as general knowledge, so that you are aware of how important it is to value your health and not wait until it is too late, especially when becoming an online student.

I have a diploma in beauty therapy including massage, hot stone therapy, weight loss, skin care, hair removal, essential oils and more. I am not a healthcare professional, so anything I have said in the above paragraph, regarding physical health should be consulted by a professional GP before pursuing. 


#6 Finance

“You see, only one who wanted to find the stone – find it, but not use it – would be able to get it, otherwise they’d just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life”
– Professor Dumbledore
working business money coins

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When it comes to money, I have no tips or tricks to give to you, in the future I might, but for now I don’t. The advice I can give though, is to have your finances in order before you start studying, so that this area does not become an area you are worrying about, or continue to worry about. You don’t need the stress of money hovering over your mind, distracting you from your assignments or work. If you are financially stable, and enjoy the luxuries of money, then you probably have more advice to give than I do, but if you are someone who is studying so that you can change careers, follow your dreams or find better employment, because you are not enjoying what you are currently doing, then my advice would be to have this sorted before you start. Some practical advice might be to save every time you receive you’re salary, or put a significant amount away for emergency funds, and write your personal financial budget up for the whole semester, not just the month, but the whole semester. If you are prepared for the whole semester, then you can track your progress, because the months roll by very fast when you are studying online, and you won’t even realise it.


#7 Planner

“Plans are nothing; Planning is everything. In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Finally, Organisation and Planning, is probably the most important point out of all 7 listed. There are so many organisation and planning blogs, tutorials, videos and pictures out there, it can seem overwhelming to find the right style that suits you, if you haven’t already got one. But whatever style you are frequently using, in regards to planning and organisation, you need to get a much more efficient one. Regardless of your lifestyle investing in something that will remind you of homework, and a schedule might be a good idea. For myself, I tried the bullet journal method this semester, and I will list in order the system I used:

  • Cover Page
  • Contents Page
  • Year in View
  • Contact Information
  • Yearly Goals
  • Yearly Financial Budget
  • Extra
  • Season – including the months of this season
  • Trimonthly Budget
  • Month
  • Month View in Calendar Blocks
  • Monthly Expenses, Goals and Important Dates
  • Weekly Views
  • Repeated the above until the Year was complete
  • Student Planning Section
  • Unit Title, Code, Contact Details for Lecturers, Award Points, Unit Overview
  • Important Unit Outcomes, and Rules for Assessments
  • Assessments in a Table Format: Assessment Number, Name of Assessment, Date Due
  • Weekly Lecture Topics in a Table Format: Week, Lecture Topic, Mark if Watched
  • Grades in a Table Format: Assessment Number, Name of Assessment, Percentage of Course Grade, My Grade
  • Above Repeated for the rest of the Units
  • Health Section (did not commit to this part)

Did this method work for me? Yes and No. It took a very long time to plan and create this journal, too long I’m afraid, and I will not be using this method for next semester. It did however, help that I wrote all the most important information down for my courses, and the due dates, and drew out calendars, and marked all the due dates in, to avoid any confusion when I received important emails and notifications from teachers about assessments, I also used tabs and colours to separate the sections to make everything easier to find. Next Semester I have already invested in a new planner, as seen above, it is by Mossery Co, specifically designed for Students to plan their courses and life, and because everything is already set out for me, it will be easier to fill in, plus it’s personalised! I also want to try using the calendar blocking method, and using a pin board/ whiteboard as reminders of important dates not to be missed. But all this is to come in the near future if you stick around!


Final Notes…

christmas ornaments on christmas tree

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I am looking forward to bringing you along on this study journey with me, and I hope you enjoy it too. Christmas is fast approaching however, so I will be taking a break from studies for a short while, and looking to post some Christmas Related posts. I will be travelling to America in 2 weeks time, for majority of December, and I am looking forward to creating blog posts for you, from there, hopefully I will be able to share some footage and photos with you of my travels as well, as I created a You Tube Channel, specifically so I could share videos to this blog. I am also currently finishing a very popular book series off, one that many have read before, and posting my review shortly, so be on the lookout for that too.

Thank You Kindly, Emma Bee xx

 


November Life Update

This will be a short and very casual post, as I have only one day left in November and I thought it important to share a post, but also, I have managed to create a schedule for December, now that I have more time! Hopefully I can keep up the habit! But this is mainly because I am very excited to share with you all my Christmas Adventures in America, when I fly out on the 9th of December!

Upload Schedule:

December 2nd / Studies /  Considering Online Studies? Here are 7 Things that Might be Helpful to know…

December 9th / Misc / Origins of Christmas Traditions

December 16th / Books / The Christmas Secret Book Review

December 23rd / Blog / “Themed – Untitled” Christmas Blog Post Part 1

December 30th / Blog / “Themed – Untitled” Christmas Blog Post Part 2

There will No Poetry Post in December, and instead of December Life Update, it will be a 2 part Christmas Blog Post. For those in the Northern Hemisphere and depending on your time zone, these posts will most likely be going live on the Sunday Morning, for those in the Southern Hemisphere it will be Monday Morning. The category “Misc” was put there, as I haven’t thought of a Category yet for this type of post. Also December 23rd and 30th might be a bit late, but I will try to keep it on schedule. I am testing this schedule method mostly for myself, to see if I can handle this amount of posts, as I would like to be more committed in the New Year with Blogging :)!

I apologise for the no poetry post, but if I find a place to put some poetry in, I will definitely try for Christmas, but I would like to try and stick with the schedule, so as not to overload anyone’s inbox with post notifications, as I’m sure there will be plenty of posts for everyone to read this coming month :)!

Side Note: I have been having incredibly vivid dreams lately, and I’m not sure why, but they have been fascinating. I can’t share too much about them, but hopefully you will read more about them in the future.

I hope you have a great weekend, and talk to you soon!

Emma Bee xx


October Life Update

I apologise for the lack of posts this month, in case I haven’t told you, I am currently studying a Bachelor Degree of Theology. I started studying it when I was younger, I first did 2 years of Bible College, studying a Diploma in Christian Ministry, and then before I started my Bachelors Degree, I studied a trade and qualified in Beauty Therapy, as well as starting a CERT IV in Mental Health. But I started my Degree in Theology a long time ago, before I became unwell, and unable to perform duties that others depended on me for. Once I became unwell I had to stop all forms of studying and work, but that is a story for another day! Now that I am able to start studying again (and almost 30, mind you), I have been busy writing essay’s on witchcraft and watching lectures on biblical hermeneutics!

Studying is my favourite thing to do, academics is not a particularly strong area for me, in fact I’d say I was pretty average in academics and stronger in the creative arena, but Theology for me has always been an area I have been extremely fascinated in. My heroes were Indiana Jones, and Evelyn O’Connell from The Mummy, I was always fascinated in the adventures they went on, and how they knew so much about Ancient Histories and Mysteries… they, to me, were Encyclopedias of Knowledge, able to hold their own in a Class Room or a Library, and not only that, they loved life and adventure, they were both sides of the coin, both the home body and the thrill seeker. A lot of my associations would typically not think I have a lot of depth to me, and would often think of me as someone with ‘not a lot going on upstairs’. I completely understand this perspective, on the surface it can be all eyelashes, and curls and makeup. Maybe that is intentional? Maybe my hope is to deceive my associations, with appearance? Ultimately my hope is not to deceive anybody at all, but sometimes I think I honestly kind of like being underestimated.

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Anyway, enough talk about that, in between doing my essays and listening to my lectures, I have also been brainstorming and trying to restructure my blog. I have been trying to do this for a few months, but I wanted to get a good idea of what type of blogs I wanted to write. I notice 2 types of people, some enjoy my poetry and dreams, and others have followed because I was hoping to start posting Christian content in relation to my degree. As well as a section for monthly updates, and a new layout. I am still working on it, but I have given myself a deadline, by the end of the year and beginning of the new year, after I have finished exams (and more assignments). I will also still deliver on poetry, because I think the more I post, the more I become confident in my writing, even if it’s not so good. The days I typically would like to post on, are Sundays, so we will see how everything goes, and post another update soon!

Finally, I have been really excited, because all of my daydreaming has
been20181028_1610021613780532.jpg taken up with choosing paint colours and trying a new bedroom make over (cue eyelashes, curls and makeup side of me)! Sage green has been something I have been mulling over for a while, I tried a few swatches on my walls, along side Natural White and Vivid White. I spend a lot of time daydreaming about this, so to finally hand in my essays, and take the time to look at paint colours, was really exciting for me! I also purchased some new plants, x2 Aloe Vera Plants, x1 Zebra Plant and x1 Mini Cactus (which keeps pricking me! Ouch!) I am also trying to sell, a lot of items! So that I can raise money to do the makeover for my room, on my eBay page! Hopefully I can get things sold, but it takes a while.

Final Notes:
I have been researching the “slow fashion, sustainable living and minimalism” lifestyle,20181028_16110325312320.jpg and I am hooked. I have always been someone that typically follows the rules of these lifestyles, since I was young, and I have learnt what works for me and what doesn’t, for example; I can never fully commit to a minimalist lifestyle, but I can try to maintain a clear space, I enjoy nature and I enjoy fresh air, but I also love books, and sentimental items that I can pass down to the next generation of my family. I purchased a magazine, which I have seen on the shelves of the News Agents for years, but I finally made the decision to purchase it (cost $13.95AUD), and I didn’t regret it! It isn’t a magazine, and it isn’t a journal, it is a mix of both, and it is an enjoyable read, and provides plenty of information when it comes to all three of these lifestyle adjustments! It is worth purchasing as it is a quarterly book, so it is filled with research on how to make more conscious life style purchases.

Finally, I was going to share my opinion on the new Sabrina (CAOS) Netflix series, but I think I will end it with a verse from Philippians:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:38 (MSG)

May the rest of your October be safe and blessed,

Emma Bee xx