25 Days of Christmas: Day 24 ~ Christmas Around the World, Part IV

Christmas in South America

The celebration of Christmas in South America is similar to that in Central America because of the warm climate and the religious aspect of the holiday. As with most countries of Hispanic origin, children receive gifts on Epiphany rather than Christmas; the nacimiento (creche) and midnight Mass are essential, but posadas are not as popular as in other areas.

Chile

Christmas in Chile is observed in accordance with most of the region, including the midnight Mass of the Rooster, but the gift giver here is known as BViejo Pascuero, or Old Man Christmas. Oddly enough, he has reindeer, but of course, with a significant lack of chimneys, he’s forced to enter houses through windows instead. A notable part of the Christmas meal is pan de pasqua, a bread that contains candied fruit.

Peru

Markets become very busy in the days before Christmas, offering both gifts items and decorations for the Nativity scenes, or nacimiento, that many families have. This is a time of song and music, although the Christmas Eve service is, as always, much quieter in nature. Children often receive gifts both on Christmas Day (as Santa becomes a more popular figure) and on January 6, which is the Feast of the Three Kings.

Colombia

Much of the Christmas season in Colombia begins in earnest nine days before Christmas Day, when the Novena, a prayer ritual, begins. The pesebre, or Nativity scene, is also important, with Jesus generally making his appearance on Christmas Eve. Colombia is one of the rare Hispanic countries in which children receive gifts brought by the Christ Child on Christmas Eve, not Epiphany.

Venezuela

An interesting tradition in Venezuela is “The Standing Up of the Christ Child,” or La Paradura del Nino. Accoring to the rules, the figurine of the Child must be stood up on New Year’s Day to indicate his maturity. Any Child found laying down in its manger at that time is likely to be “kidnapped” and kept in a special place of honor until the ransom is paid. Ransom is a paradura party. But before the party can begin, “godparents” must be chosen; later they lead a procession to where the Child is kept. After the godparents return the figurine to the manger setting and stand it up, children offer gifts and there is much food and dancing.

Christmas in Africa

In most African countries, Christians make up a relatively small part of the population, so Christmas is generally a lower-key affair than it is in many western countries. The emphasis is typically on charitable acts and simple presents, rather than the purchase of expensive gifts. Church services and often, caroling, are considered important. In Algiers, for example, there are a number of Catholic churches that celebrate midnight Mass, and streets are colorfully decorated for the holiday.

Ethiopia

The Christian church in Ethiopia is the Coptic church. Believers there still abide by an older calendar, which places Christmas on January 7, when people break their traditional pre-Christmas fast from milk and meat products with a meal of rice and meat.

Ghana

Christmas evergreen or palm trees are seen, and there is a Father Christmas who comes out of the jungle. Children have school pageants and there is more gift giving. Early Christmas morning, a group enacts the story of the shepherds and angels heralding Christ’s birth, traveling the streets and singing songs. This band is often rewarded with gifts.

Liberia

Oil palm trees are often decorated with bells for Christmas, with a church service attended in the morning and Christmas dinner shared in the afternoon.  It’s similar in Nigeria, where Christmas is a time to visit family.

South Africa

Christmas falls in the midst of summer vacation, so the activities are adapted to the warmer weather. Shops are decorated, streets are lit, and Father Christmas puts gifts in the children’s stockings. After a church service on Christmas Day, however, the Christmas feast is eaten outside. Depending on their cultural heritage, South Africans may also celebrate Christmas with feasts, carnivals, and parades.

(Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)

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Have we lost our mind in naming our children?

Huh??

I just heard another wacky stupid out-there baby name which was donned on another poor child by their celebrity parent(s).  I could do nothing more than just hang my head and think…what are these people doing to their children?  Do they not realize the kid will be “stuck” with it until they are of legal age and can then and only then make a formal name change?

I get it!  I understand people want their kid to be unique and different and that difference sometimes starts with their name; but if the parent(s) would give it a few years, they’ll realize their child is different and they did not need the far-fetched name after all.

I’m sure some parents are trying to incorporate some of their favorite things in life into their child’s name, while others are playing on a what would go well with their surname/family name. (As I’m guessing would be the case for “North West.”)

What about names like:

  • Robert Roberts or Robertson, I actually worked with a guy named Robert Robertson.
  • Peter Peterson
  • William Williamson
  • Michael Michaels

I wonder if on the other hand some parents trying to outdo other parents in the naming of their children? “Hey, let’s see who can come up with the most outrageous, insensible, and idiotic name for our kid.  Betcha (so-and-so) would never think of naming their kid ______!”

Interest Piqued?

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about, I’ve added the (pronunciation in brackets), should you need a little help in figuring out how it sounds.  Imagine that…needing assistance in pronouncing a child’s name.  And, sometimes the name is so out there and spelling is so “off”, that a proper pronunciation cannot be found.

  • Aleph (ah-l eh f), proud parents: Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied
  • Ickhyd (pronunciation is unknown), proud parents: M.I.A. and Ben Brewer
  • Apple (daughter) and Moses (son), proud parents: Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin (I’m wondering if Gwen & Chris are religious.)
  • Coco, proud parents: Courteney Cox & David Arquette (Really??  Coco?)
  • Phinnaeus (pronunciation is unknown), Walter, and Hazel, proud parents: Julia Roberts & Danny Moder (What did poor Phinnaeus do to you?)
  • Audio Science, proud parents: Shannyn Sossaman & Dallas Clayton (Who are these people?  I wonder if they’re connect to the field of science in any way)
  • Daisy Boo and Poppy Honey, proud parents: Jools Norton & Jamie Oliver
  • Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo, proud parents: Heidi Klum & Seal (Guess you could expect that with a parent named “Seal.”)
  • Indiana August, proud parents: Summer Phoenix & Casey Affleck (I’m guessing it is a girl and she was born (or conceived) in Indiana in August?)
  • Alabama Gypsy Rose, proud parents: Drea de Matteo & Shooter Jennings
  • Pilot Inspektor, proud parents: Beth Riesgraf & Jason Lee (Did they really mean Inspector Gadget?)
  • Fifi-Trixbelle, Peaches, Little Trixie, and Honeyblossom, proud parents: Paula Yates & Bob Geldof (Well, at least it isn’t just one kid with the odd name in the family.)
  • Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, proud parents: Paula Yates & Michael Hutchence (Now we know who is behind the strange naming of the children with this mother.)
  • Lyric Sonny Roads (son), Poet Siena Rose (daughter) & Jagger Joseph Blue (daughter..yes, daughter), proud parents: Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) & Jason Goldberg (No comment!)
  • North, proud parents: Kim Kardashian & Kanye West

Suggested Names Outside The Box Circle

In my stint of research, I  ran across some of the following names as “cool” outside of the box name suggestions for today’s kids first names.  Here are a few; no, really…these are legit and out there as suggestions.

Baby Names

Really, would someone seriously consider naming their child “Thorn?” Guess there’s no better way to let them know they’re a “thorn” in their parent’s side (well, at least until they’re eighteen, then the kid is on their own.)

How about Ember, Andromeda, Slate, or Hawk.  Really…REALLY???  Parents, before labeling your kid with a name that will make life much more difficult than it could/should be for them, please consider our society and how tough life is already…even for those who have somewhat common names.

Do you have an unusual name?  If so, please share with us if you like it or not and if you know the reason behind the name.

Winter 2014 has been brutal and its not finished with us yet!

Brace yourselves, here it comes again…maybe?

imagesThe news and internet have been all abuzz this week because of what is being said about a weather system heading toward the Northern Kentucky area next week.  According to Kentucky Meteorologist Chris Bailey, who updates the Kentucky Weather Center’s website, http://www.kyweathercenter.com, Kentuckians (and the surrounding “ians”) are in for a wild and hard weather ride next week. Some even saying we very likely could see a repeat of the “Bluegrass Ice Storm” which occurred in February 2003 and could bring up to 12-inches of snow in one day.  Below is a recap of the notorious 2003 storm.

For areas in southern Indiana and north central Kentucky, freezing rain began to occur late in the afternoon of the 15th as temperatures began to drop on what was already a dreary rainy day.  By late evening the freezing rain had changed to sleet, and varied between sleet and light freezing rain throughout most of the 16th as well.  Accumulations were that of mostly sleet with some freezing rain amounting at one to two inches in most locations.  For areas farther south in the Louisville CWA, the freezing rain prevailed throughout the 16th with little sleet, temperatures falling into the upper 20s, giving reports of an inch in ice accumulations along Interstate 64, from Frankfort to Winchester.

Most property damage for counties of southern Indiana and north central Kentucky was due to having to restore the power and clean up from the tree damage caused by the weight of the ice.  In Nelson County, for instance, about 2,200 residents wound up without power after the storm.  However, the hardest hit areas were in and around the cities of Frankfort and Lexington, where ice accumulations measured 1 ¼ inches on exposed streets, sidewalks, and branches. Here, an estimated 125,000 residents were without power for up to five days or more, trees were destroyed, branches cluttered the roads, and sections of Interstate 64 were periodically shut down during and after the storm.  A 78-year-old man in Lawrenceburg tragically lost his life after sustaining injuries from a falling, ice-covered, tree limb.  By the time the Bluegrass Ice Storm was over, 280,000 customers had their power knocked out, more than 3000 power poles were destroyed and nearly 800 transformers needed to be replaced.  The total cost to area utilities was about $47 million, with another $26 million used by local municipalities to clean up the damage.

(Found at – National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office @ http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=top10winter)

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Taking a City Down

If you live in an area that does not have the joy (rolling eyes) of experiencing annual white winters and all the crap stuff that comes with it, be glad….be extremely giddy and grateful.

Snow and especially ice can quickly take a city to its knees. In the northern states, communities depend on weather alerts and advisories from the national weather service which help local authorities gauge the impending weather and determine how safe it is for its citizens to venture from home. Unfortunately for communities which are not accustomed to this type of weather, they cannot possibly be prepared enough to deal with such weather; as was witnessed on numerous news stations showing the effects of snow and ice on Atlanta, GA. Although the city did not receive massive amounts of snow, it along with the freezing rain and ice was enough to cause havoc and bring the city to a standstill.

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You’re Kidding…Right?

This week an Atlanta news station even reported “Atlanta weather: Thousands stranded after snow, ice storm; Gov. Nathan Deal blames weather service.”

I’m not sure why the Governor is blaming the weather service and should probably take a very close look in the mirror and those around him. I live in Northern Kentucky and even I heard and knew, via news and weather channels, that the Atlanta area was the target of an impending snow/ice storm.

Personally I believe that: 1) either the government and local authorities did not have enough experience to deal with this type of situation; or 2) the government and local authorities did not take the weather advisories seriously.  I tend to believe it was the latter, why?  Because if your area is issued a “winter” weather advisory as the greater Atlanta area was at approximately 3:30 am on a weekday…why would: 1) they still allow children to be transported to school; and 2) didn’t they recommend non-essential workers to stay home?

Well, now that I think about it…they may not have enough experience to adequately deal with winter weather phenomenon’s like they experienced this week; but still that is no reason to blame others.  Man up, don’t point fingers…state that you were ill prepared, realize that crap like this happens, make it a point to educate those in critical roles in emergency preparedness and move on…knowing you are ready for the next event like this, should it ever happen again.

Next Week For Many “ians”

Weather Forecast for Tues/Wed, Feb. 4 & 5, 2014

Weather Forecast for Tues/Wed, Feb. 4 & 5, 2014

If we do indeed experience what is being said is coming our way it looks like the Tri-State of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio is in for a good foot or more of snow accompanied with sleet and ice buildup.  This means the grocery stores will be jammed packed, the essentials like bread, milk, and water will be scarce, kids will miss more snow days which have to be made up and tacked onto the end of school, extending the school year, gas prices will jump by 10s of cents per gallon overnight, some may lose power which could last days, and lastly…there will be a bunch of cranky people everywhere you look.

I say “what can we do about it?” Nothing! So, instead of getting all worked up about “a day off,” why not make some cocoa, fire up Netflix, and spend some quality time with the fam!

See ya next week when I blog about the “great storm,” (if it happens.)

Rant Alert: I’m cancelling, so NOW you want to offer me a discount?

cincyenquirer

Yesterday I decided to finally make the call I’ve meant to do for a few months. I cancelled my Thur-Sun paper delivery of the Cincinnati Enquirer as I felt paying nearly $20 a month for something I rarely made time to read (most of my news comes from online or during News broadcasts) and was too expensive for something I no longer found value.

Here’s the Rant

rant-alert11When asked during my cancellation call why I was stopping the paper delivery (not sure why it is really anybody’s business but mine), the customer service girl was informed that I was cutting unnecessary expenses and did not feel there was value in me receiving a physical copy of the daily news any longer. Customer service girl repeated that I was “cancelling my subscription because of finances.” NO! was my reply, that is not what was said and I repeated exactly what was stated the first time.

After customer service girl correctly restated the reason for my cancellation she replied with “I understand but wanted to make you aware of a really great price reduction offer that would allow you to retain your current delivery schedule at a substantial discount.” WHAT???  You mean, I can get exactly what I’ve been getting and NOW because I am calling to cancel you WANT to offer me a discount so that YOU can keep my business?  No can do! A day late and a penny foolish for The Cincinnati Enquirer.

My Rationale

Throughout most of my adult life I have been of the belief that if I am paying you for a service, and you now offer the exact service for a price lower than what I’ve been willingly paying you for who knows how long; I should automatically be offered the lower price as a gesture of thanks for my business!  Period!!

Wake Up Business Owners

Take Note: If you automatically offer give me a discount for a service/product I am already receiving from you and it is reflected in my monthly statement, Personally, I would: 1) be super stoked that my monthly expenses have been lowered and I did nothing to make it happen; and 2) feel a bit more loyalty when it comes to your company and services because you saved me money – all on your own – and nothing was required of me to make it happen!

Thoughts from a Consumer

I truly believe companies make it harder on themselves in “earning” and retaining those sometimes hard-earned customers.  Consumers are not stupid people who just throw dollars at you for your products/services. You mustcontinually” earn our business and demonstrate why we should maintain our “business relationship” with your organization.  When the time comes that we “the consumer” no longer feel your products/services are of value to us, we will move to a company, venue, or source where we will experience value in a business relationship. YES, paying a newspaper outlet for daily delivery IS A BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP; one which needs to be nurtured just like any other!

Sad truth, this who scenario has happen to me on several occasions, most recently when cancelling my auto insurance policy with one company to go with another. Why do companies not find the value in retaining customers while they have them instead of trying to keep an oily grip on them after the consumer made the decision to seek another to replace them?

In my opinion, perhaps companies should identify BMPs (best management practices) for their industry which would involve “managing” their company, and not just going along with poor business practices and or policies that do not work!  WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

Birthday Surprise Weekend (Part 1) ~ CVG Airport Security

50th BD Surprise

Oh yeah…we’ve known for many years that 2013 would mark our only surviving brother’s 50th birthday.  Although several of us tossed around ideas of what to do for a celebration, my sister-in-law sent a text saying that she’s throwing him a surprise party on July 19th.  My sister and I promptly turned to the internet and checked to see if we could afford a “last-minute” flight to Florida.  After finding airfare that fit within our budget, we quickly reserved three seats, one each for us girls and another for dad (pops).  We decided not to let anyone know we would be there and keep it as a surprise for everyone.

After waiting two very long weeks, our departure date finally arrived.  We woke early to finish some last-minute things on our to-do list, the zipped off to the airport (a full 10 minute drive), with enough time to find long-term parking, hitch a ride on a shuttle to the ticket counter, file through security, and make it to our gate.  Once arriving at the gate, we had about 20 minutes before they started boarding.

But wait, I am getting a little ahead of myself; let’s start from the beginning.

Security, Police Wanna-Be’s, Whatever You Call Them

I guess I should start with letting you know my sister “B” hasn’t flown in almost ten years as it will help you better understand her craziness.  So, it started at the security check point.  I explained to her that you all but strip (or so I sometimes feel) to pass through security.  I explained the totes that you have to put everything in them and walk through the body scanner with nothing in your hands or pockets. (Talk about deer in headlight eyes.)

I walked through the scanner first and was asked to step aside.  The TSA “woman” felt up my hair and quickly learned the bleep they were alerted of was only my hair clip.  After being cleared to retrieve my belongings, I walked over to my bag and was greeted with “Is this your bag?”  Yes, was my reply.  I was then informed that my bag needed to be searched, was asked to step over to another table with the TSA agent and was instructed not to touch the bag while it was being searched.  I said “sure thing” and stood calmly while she searched the bag, knowing I had nothing to hide.

While standing there as my bag was being searched, I looked over my shoulder I saw dad exiting the body scanner and my sister stepping in.  She was told to raise her hands above her head and assumed the “position.”  Being the goofball she is her comment was “ready for my spray tan.”  Nobody other than dad and me thought her comment was funny and I was laughing my head off while standing at the all serious search table with the TSA agent.

The Official Search

I am standing there, my carry on bag being searched and after the TSA agent opened the bag she went directly to my brother’s birthday gift which was in six parts.  As she removed one of the items, the conversation went like this:

TSA: This is a non-allowable item.

Me:  What, really?

TSA: Yes, this is what we consider “slurry.”

Me:  Slurry?  It’s not slurry, it’s Dixie Chili

TSA: Sorry, we cannot allow it on the plane.

Me:  It is in the original sealed can, not opened or tampered with.

Sister:  Can we put our name on it and pick it up when we return in two days?

TSA: Sorry, we have to dispose of it.

Me:  Yeah, we know what y’all are having for lunch.

Sister: Dixie Chili

So needless to say, brother did not get his six cans of the delicious Dixie Chili for his birthday but he thoroughly enjoyed the story and found the events at CVG Airport Security rather humorous, as we all did. (We haven’t even started the 3-day weekend and already….adventures are starting.)

tsaOn our walk to the gate dad shared with me that not only did he go though the body scanner, he also got the hands-on treatment.  To my amazement he asked the groping agent if “they were buying him dinner or at least giving him flowers.”  Gotta love the witty old man and his sense of humor.

Watch out Florida…here we come!

Check back for Part 2~The Phone Call