Results tagged “Christmas traditions” from PlanetGreen.org

Birdseed Christmas Ornaments

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chickadee.jpgMaking birdseed Christmas ornaments is supposed to be a simple kids’ craft. Of course, it has been elaborated, so that you are supposed to use cookie cutters, add ingredients to the birdseed, and bake them in the oven. But the old-fashioned way is much quicker and easier.

This craft had been on Mom’s to-do list for a long time. We had a bird feeder, but that was year-round. When we finally made them, we used ice-cream cones as our base, covered them in peanut butter, and rolled them in birdseed. Then, we attached threads and hung them outside on the bottlebrush. Within two hours of sitting in the sun, the peanut butter had melted off the ice-cream cones, taking the birdseed with it. Perhaps blue jay.jpgthis ought not to be attempted in places with a warm
climate or on unusually hot days.

Pinecones can be used rather than ice-cream cones, but the scales should be open instead of closed so that there is plenty of space for putting the peanut butter and birdseed. The best substitutes for peanut butter are honey or vegetable shortening.

These ornaments attract the same kinds of birds as a regular feeder. The standard species include cardinals, chickadees, sparrows, warblers, mockingbirds, blue jays, etc. If you do this regularly, migratory birds may also put you on their list of rest stops!

O Christmas Tree: The Holly and The Ivy and Other Christmas Plants

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Holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, poinsettia and pine probably are in your house this holiday season. Here are some interesting things about these plants:

Amaryllis is planted as a bulb. It has red, pink, or white flowers that bloom just after the leaves reach their greenest point. It originated (strangely for a Christmas plant) from the Cape of Good Hope. They need little nourishment, and will grow in peat moss or pebbles. 

Poinsettia.jpgPoinsettias' bright red petals are actually leaf bracts. If you look, you will most likely see a small bunch of yellow flowers. How did it become a Christmas tradition? Here's how the story goes:

A Mexican maiden had no money to buy a gift, so an angel appeared and told her to gather some of the weeds that grew abundantly by the road. She did and left them in front of the altar. They then bloomed into the first poinsettias. The star-shaped leaves are said to have been symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem, and their red color represents sacrifice.

Untitled-1.gifMistletoe was considered to have magical healing powers by the Druids, so they hung it at wintertime. The Scandinavians made it out to represent peace, relating the plant to their god Frigga, who was goddess of love. And that is how the tradition originated of kissing under the mistletoe. But, when  the Church banned mistletoe because it was apparently a heathen custom, some farmers suggested using holly instead. Holly has therefore become another trademark of Christmas. 

Trees, as you might already know, came through Martin Luther and St. Boniface. The Norse people thought their god Thor lived in a tree. St. Boniface cut down the so-called Tree of Thor to undermine this myth, and he found a fir growing in its branches. He then decided to take the fir home. Martin Luther, however, decided it would be a good idea if those trees were a Christmas celebration. He saw it as an alternative to the traditional Catholic nativity scenes. And that is how they came around to be Christmas symbol.

Surprisingly, every Christmas plant has an interesting historical story behind it. 

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