Krampus: The Christmas Devil

For visitors looking out of their shuttle’s window on early December ski transfers, Geneva’s streets may reveal an old Alpine tradition: Krampus, the Christmas devil, is afoot. Naughty children should beware of Krampus – according to legend he may drag them down to Hell for their misbehaviour.

St. Nicholas’ Sinister Companion

The tradition of St. Nicholas – otherwise known as Father Christmas or Santa Claus – delivering presents to boys and girls who have been good throughout the year, is widespread across the continent and beyond, in the regions colonised by European countries. But few places speak of St. Nicholas’ sinister companion, Krampus. While St. Nicholas hands out the presents, Krampus punishes the bad children. This often involved throwing them in the basket on his back and carrying them down to the fiery pits of Hell. This could be a bit of a scary tale for some kids newly arrived in the region, or those heading out to the country for a week or two-week stay on their ski transfers. Geneva, and many other parts of the Alps believe in the traditions and legends of Krampus, so if you visit at Christmas, be prepared fro some awkward questions!

A hideous long tongue

Depictions of Krampus are hardly pleasant. The demonic figure is typically portrayed with black fur covering his entire body. His face combines features of human and beast – most hideous is his long, pink tongue, which often extends hungrily towards small children. He might be naked or clothed, but he almost always carries a basket on his back – a ready vehicle for transporting naughty children to Hell.

Krampus in the Streets

Watch out, for if you and your family are on early December ski transfers, Geneva’s streets may be home to Krampus. If they know the tale, if the shuttle lingers too long at a light, any naughty children may grow fearful. It is unlikely, however, that they are in danger of going to Hell. A tradition has developed in the countries that believe in Krampus – especially Austria, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland – for young men to dress as Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly on the 5th. This takes place in both major centres, like Geneva, and remote rural communities; many young people in the latter compete in Krampus events.

The costumes are made with considerable effort by the young men. They typically consist of handcrafted wooden masks (Larve), sheep’s skin and horns. Once attired, they roam the streets, frightening children with rusty chains and bells. In some places, usually rural, this extends to whipping people with birch rods. While a lot of people on their ski transfers, Geneva-bound or outgoing, find this tradition peculiar, it’s just a regular, harmless December tradition in these countries.

Similar figures

And Krampus is not alone: similar traditions exist, giving St. Nicholas a companion who deals with the bad children, so it is not just children on ski transfers, Geneva who need to watch out. In France, Le Père Fouettard (French for ‘The Whipping Father’) dispenses lumps of coal or floggings – or both! – to the naughty children of France. Meanwhile, the Belsnickel of south-western Germany is a more benign version of Krampus. He is merely a man dressed like Krampus who leaves coal or switches in naughty children’s stockings. He is even associated with positive tales, like that of giving a poor man gold to pay the dowries of his three daughters.

What to Do Right During the Christmas Season

Across the nation, the most prominent decoration in a home is the Christmas tree and Christmas costumes, and one of the tree’s most pronounced features are the lights. Some will choose a stately static white over bright blinking colors, but it is truly a matter of personal preference. If a fresh tree is not an option there are many excellent artificial options, some of which are pre-strung with lights. This can be a great advantage for families with young children as well as the elderly.

There are truly as plethora of options when it comes to decorating the tree. Generally, you will get the best results if you choose a theme and adorn the tree accordingly, carrying similar design elements throughout the home. Traditional ornaments made from pewter, brass, wood and glass are always a tasteful addition. Many families take great pride in ornaments hand made by children. Additionally, making ornaments can make a great holiday tradition and keep the kids occupied! There are still other traditions that use gingerbread men and candy canes to decorate a tree, although they are best used as short-term decoration. It is always a good idea not to overdo it, after all this is the holiday season.

After the tree, you still have the rest of the house. Wreathes on doors and candle lights in the windows can make for a lovely sight. Or maybe you’re more the dancing Santa in the doorway kind of family. No matter what your choice, remember to have fun and enjoy time with your family because that is the real meaning of the holidays.

Garland and ribbons offer a more subdued seasonal decoration when compared to lights and candles. Vintage children’s toys also make an excellent addition, and can be dressed in costume to reflect the theme of the home. Another favorite for children of all ages is the hanging of stockings on the mantle. Traditionally filled with fruit and small baubles by parents on Christmas morning., stockings make a great way to show and appreciate each family member’s individuality, as well as the perfect place to put the batteries for that remote control car!

Naturally, seasonal decorating must include some religious elements; after all, it is a spiritual holiday. A classic nativity scene, star or cross a top the tree, all can be incorporated into the home décor and solidify a seamless holiday theme. These elements seem more tasteful when approached with a less is more attitude. Remember, this is a wonderful time for all people, and not focus on our differences.

Let’s not forget everyone’s favorite holiday decorations, food! Sugar cookies baked in the shape of Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and bowls full of candy are all great additions to the seasonal decorations of the home. Many families have traditions of children baking cookies or some other treat (often inedible), and are a source of rich traditions as well as many embarrassing stories to be retold at future holiday gatherings. If the children in your family are too young to cook, decorating cookies or cupcakes also makes for a fun, imaginative activity.

There are far too many holiday decorating ideas to cover here, but hopefully you’ve gotten some good ideas, and are on your way to a beautifully decorated home this holiday season. With all the options and excitement surrounding the holiday season, and the fevered pitch decorating can reach, we must be careful not to lose focus of the things that really matter, family, friends, and fun. If you keep these three things in perspective, I am certain you will have a wonderful holiday season!

Sell Your Wedding Dress and More to Earn Quick Christmas Cash

Check the back of your closet. Go ahead, do it. What do you see? If you’ve ever been a bride or a groom, a bridesmaid or groomsman, or even just a wedding guest, chances are you’ll find a graveyard of formalwear, accessories, gifts and maybe even a wedding dress in there. These are items you’ll probably never use or wear again. And they have value. Your wedding dress may even be worth more today than what you paid for it when it was purchased.

The market for gently used wedding dresses and recycled wedding items is booming. Millions of engaged couples on a budget are scouring the Internet right now, searching for great deals on wedding attire, accessories and decor. You’ll find them on specialized wedding resale sites like RecycledBride.com, where wedding buyers and sellers connect.

So what can you sell, and how much is it worth? Here are some quick wedding resale guidelines:

  • Wedding Dresses – Sell your wedding dress for about half of what you paid for it if it’s an older style or non-designer name brand. If your wedding dress is by Vera Wang, Melissa Sweet, or any other high-end designer, you can usually sell it for about 75% of its retail price. Have a vintage or antique wedding dress that’s still in good condition? Look for similar gowns on the Internet and price yours comparably. Any gown that you’re selling online should be professionally cleaned before you ship it to the buyer.
  • Shoes – Bridal shoes and formal men’s and women’s shoes can be resold if they don’t have stains or damage. If they’ve been worn, you should sell them for about half their retail value.
  • Jewelry – Preowned wedding jewelry is a popular choice for budget brides. Costume jewelry should be priced at about 50% off its retail value. Fine jewelry made of gold, platinum and gemstones can be sold for just 10%-15% off their market value. This applies to used engagement rings and preowned wedding rings as well. And since durable materials like diamonds and gold often increase in value, you may just find that your ring is worth moree today than when it was purchased.
  • Wedding Gifts – Who hasn’t received a few wedding gifts that just sit in the closet, taking up space? Maybe you were the lucky recipient of two toasters, or a china set that you never end up using, or a vase that doesn’t go with your decor. Sell these items for 65% of their current retail value, or 75% if you still have the original packaging.
  • Wedding Decorations – Votive candle holders, centerpiece vases, aisle runners, lanterns…all of these items can be reused by couples who are planning weddings right now! Ask for 50% of the decorative item’s retail value, and make sure to determine who will pay for shipping costs before closing the deal with a buyer.

Make sure to take well-lit photographs of everything you’re selling, and to describe your items in detail for buyers. Selling your wedding stuff is easy and fun, and you’ll watch your Christmas gift fund grow in no time!

Don’t Forget Your Cat This Christmas

After you’ve planned for the in-laws and the cousins, the children and the needy, give a care to the four-legged friend who loves you.

If you’re looking for some gift ideas for your cat this Christmas, look no further than to cat furniture. While catnip and other treats may be tasty, these gifts can lead to obesity and health problems.

Cat trees, on the other hand, are a great way to help the little guys (big guys!) enjoy the holiday with the rest of the family. Plus, they’ll continue to benefit through the rest of the year.

Cat trees can offer much-needed outlet for exercise for many indoor cats. The textured surfaces, resting platforms, enclosures, and dangling add-ons provide hours of enrichment.

Cat tunnels are another fun way to tap into your cat’s natural instincts. These flexible tunnels are easy to store; the unique material makes them resistant to snags while creating an intriguing sound that encourages play.

When looking for a cat tree, consider the height of the room you’re going to place the piece in. If traffic flow is a concern for you, then avoid buying a tree that borders your comfort zone – you won’t be happy leaning around it. Also consider the overall footprint of the unit. They can be large and bulky so even if you have enough floor space, think hard to determine if the unit is going to overpower the room.

Another nice touch during the holiday is to include your pet on your Christmas costumes. While it may not be feasible to take the animal to the portrait studio, often its’ easy to find a photographer who is willing to visit your home for little to no extra charge. Consider this fun idea – dress your cat in a Christmas head piece or costume and have your photo taken together !

Jewelry The Best Present For Christmas

From prehistoric times, humans have liked to adorn themselves, even if only with baked clay beads; so much so they could later exchange gold for cheap glass beads. This means that people have a penchant for beauty, and perceive jewelry as an embodiment of beauty. Nowadays, when the jewelry production has become a sophisticated industry with products made of real silver, gold and precious stones, the fact it is an expression of beauty does not need any further supporting evidence. That is why offering jewels as gifts for Christmas, though by no means original, would surely please any receiver.

Of course, to offer something you know it gives pleasure in general is just a prerequisite for a successful gift. You have to know the likes and dislikes of the receiver, its taste and personality so that to be able to choose best. Some people prefer silver over gold, some people like certain colors while dislike others, some want sets or would like a perfect match when it comes to the bangles, necklaces and rings they wear. And some may be even so particular as to wear only studs or clip-on earrings, finding hoop earrings too inconvenient for their long or curly hair. But given that we usually offer gifts to our loved ones, the right choice shouldn’t be that difficult. In the case of jewelry, costume jewelry in particular, it would help also to be familiar with the clothing of the intended receiver. No matter how perfectly her eyes would match, for instance, that sumptuous amber necklace you would like to offer her, if the evening dress she intends to wear at the Christmas party is violet, maybe your necklace will remain in its box for a while. Naturally, you can settle for black diamond or mother of pearl, white and black matching usually any clothing color.

If, on the other hand, your intended receiver is a man, don’t worry: you can as easily get a gents ring of gold or white gold and the stone of your (his) choice. Or a pair of gold cuff-links for his bridegroom suit, if his wedding party is to take place in the holiday season, or any famous brand watch with a silver or gold watchband.

So the world of jewelry is by no means limited to gender or age for that matter. There are special pieces for boys, there is plenty of body jewelry for teenagers of both sexes, as well as there are subdued scarf clips for your grandmother or lockets (with your picture in) for your young future bride.

Therefore, whether you are a small business and are planning to purchase wholesale jewelry for Christmas, when demand is increasing, or you are an individual looking for pleasing your family by buying them jewelry gifts, the market may meet the most demanding requirements, in terms of both quality and amount.

Best Buy Thanksgiving Friday Sales and Ad Papers to Be Released in November for Costumers

With Halloween 2010 just around the corner many people are already thinking about some great Christmas gift ideas but they want to save as much money as possible by getting a sale or deal on this product. Some of these individuals will likely wait until Black Friday to get an amazing discount on an electronic item such as a TV, computer or digital camera. Being patient and waiting for the ad paper to come out is very difficult but it tends to be the case that Best Buy Thanksgiving Friday sales will be released through the ad paper at least one week before Black Friday.

Before making any final decisions and heading out on Black Friday it is always smart to consider looking ahead at some of the ad papers that have been leaked on the Internet. Almost all major retailers offer some type of discount on the Friday after Thanksgiving so it is important to map out your adventure as there will be millions of people out and about looking to save as much money as possible. With the economy greatly struggling and the unemployment rate very high it will likely be the case that people are even more interested in saving money for 2010 Christmas gifts.

While Best Buy is one of the largest electronic retailers in the United States it is very important to recognize that there are many other retailers that will have great deals and sales after the Thanksgiving holiday. Most of these companies will release some type of ad paper which will help customers better understand what products will be greatly discounted for that one specific day. Remember that it tends to be the case that many of these products are only available for a set number of hours and it is always important to get in line early rather than waiting until the last minute.

It also tends to be the case that many of these major retailers sell out of these items very quickly. By waiting until the afternoon to check out some of these great deals it could be the case that you are missing an opportunity to save quite a bit of money on your 2010 Christmas gift ideas. Unfortunately, it tends to be the case that people have to get up very early, sometimes before 6 AM, to have any opportunities to get their hands on some of the hot items that will likely be desired by many people during Christmas this year.

Halloween Skeleton – Find the Best Skeleton Props and Costumes for Halloween

When one mentions the imagery of skeleton bones, it is not unlikely to immediately associate the suggestion with Halloween. After all, when else are we most likely to come in contact with skeleton props such as Halloween skulls and skeleton decorations wholesale Christmas costumes ?

Skeletons are so often presented to us on this holiday that we often forget that they were originally intended to frighten people, reminding them of the end we all face. Certainly the idea of fleshless human bones walking about is easily understood as to how it became a popular decoration on the day we dedicate to the dead – Halloween.

However, when it comes to death, many other cultures around the world believe that to pay homage to or celebrate the dead is neither sad nor frightening. Instead, for many of them, it is to recognize the ancestors of the past as a positive and glorious celebration of their once lived lives and influence.

In the Brittany region of France, All Souls Day is a day in which people head to the cemeteries in order to pray for the souls of their ancestors. They do this at a place known as the “Place of Bones”. Here, the remains of people passed on many years ago are found laid to rest together inside a single tomb. The living who seek out the site to visit, wander along the entrance holding out their hands to the rows of skulls so that they may touch the bones. By doing this, they believe they stay connected to their ancestors of so long ago.

In Mexico, a holiday similar to what we know as Christmas is called the Day of the Dead. If you happen to be in Mexico at this time, you won’t see what we might normally consider a Halloween skeleton but you will see a bevy of cheerful street vendors happily selling brightly decorated and colorful toy skeletons adorned in outfits you might otherwise find on dolls. At first, they may seem like rather morbid toys for children to an American. However, in Mexico this is all done in good fun as a ritual used to honor their ancestors.

Similarly in China, the Ghost Festival is held in anticipation of the spirits and ghosts of the dead that are said to come out amongst the living. While it is highly unlikely that you will see anything resembling a Halloween skeleton costume, according to the Chinese, you could come face to face with a real an actual ghost! Something most likely considered far more chilling than a few plastic Halloween skulls lining someone’s driveway.

The Native Americans celebrated death because of their deep belief that death was merely the beginning of the soul’s entrance into the Spirit World. After the person died, they would honor the remains of the person passed on with gifts, food and herbs in order for their spirit to take with them on their journey into the afterlife.

Now that you know a bit more about symbolic bones, you have a little secret. The next time Halloween rolls around and the little one in tow is frightened by a dusty Halloween prop of empty eyes, calmly tell them what a wonderful and positive symbol so many cultures regard skeletons as.

Cosplay Costumes – All The Information That You Require

Children really love to dress up in weird and funny costumes when it comes to a party where they are required to dress up differently. There are various well known companies that are manufacturing the different trendy costumes that you can purchase according to your requirements. The full form of Cosplay is costume play and it basically consists of costumes that are designed to imitate the fantasy movie characters, cartoon characters, animals and myriads of other creatures. If you want to get the right look then it becomes very essential for you to select the appropriate costume.

In this article, I would basically like to provide you some excellent tips that would surely help you in selecting the best option.

1. Selecting a good character
If you are going for a Cosplay show then it is very important for you to first select the character whose costume you would like to adorn. For choosing the perfect character there are various essential things that you need to keep in mind. According to your personality and facial features you can go for a character that most resembles you.

2. Purchasing the costume
Once you have carried out all the research that you need to do for the costume, your next step involves purchasing the most suitable costume. You can look through various different shops as well as online outlets to select for accessories and costumes that would match with your character. If you want you can also join the latest Cosplay forum as this would really help you to seek the advice of other cosplayers. If your budget does not allow you to purchase expensive costumes then you make your clothes at home also. You will see that costumes made at home would surely fit you in the most efficient manner.

3. Increasing popularity of the costumes
The Cosplay costumes are gaining immense popularity all around the world. The costumes are greatly liked by children as well as adults but there are not many stores in the market that can provide good options to the customers. One great way to purchase the costume of your dream is to contact the online stores. They would surely provide you a wide variety of assorted items and accessories that would be perfect for the character that you want to play. You can also get some great discounts during the off seasons.

Spending a Delightful Christmas in Provence

Many adults are probably all so used to the modern American and British Christmas that is all the more becoming digital and virtual. Anyone who craves for a real traditional Christmas should consider having Christmas in Provence, France. This is a Christmas festivity that is more connected to humanity and nature, with some very little influence of our digital inventions. France is mostly a Catholic nation and hence the entire Christmas and New Year festivities hold a very special place in the hearts of the French people.

True to these sentiments, Christmas in Provence is celebrated for a whooping thirty-five days, starting from the fourth of December to the sixth of January the following year. The feast of St. Barbe marks the beginning of this season and it is observed by the planting of lentil or wheat germ in three small containers covered with moist cotton wool, and come Christmas Eve, the healthy sprouts are decorated with ribbons. The legend behind planting these miniature seedlings is to symbolize bumper harvests and favorable weather in the coming year. Tourists and travelers can fully savor this experience in the rental homes set in the Sablet village area of Provence.

Natives in this region switch into the full Christmas spirit after this Feast. There is the exchanging of gifts bought at the Christmas markets which are famed for their traditional crafts and foods. On the twenty-fourth, a feast called Gros Souper is observed as people await the midnight mass. This is a light seven course meal characterized by vegetables and sea food and which is meant to honor the seven sufferings of Mary. This meal is also accompanied by thirteen desserts (Treize) which symbolize Jesus and the twelve disciples.

Though throughout the year regular church attendance is not strictly observed, wholesale Christmas costumes in Provence sees many if not all natives attend mass on Christmas Eve to receive communion. There is so much pomp and color in the village churches some of which are centuries old. The congregations say mass but no sermon is preached. This makes way for the Nativity or the reenactment of the birth of Jesus Christ. The scene is truly reminiscent of the original manger complete with live animals (sheep), straw, wooden pitchforks, reapers, and actors clad in costumes handed down over several generations. The play concludes at around two in the morning.

Planning a Christmas Wedding

If you choose to get married around Christmas there are plenty of ways to make sure your special day goes the way you want it while still not clashing with the season. Do you like carols? You can choose all your favourites at a church wedding at this time of year! But even if you’re having a civil ceremony there is no reason you can’t incorporate Christmas-style theming even if you can’t involve the festival directly since it is religious in nature.

Don’t forget that a lot of people make plans over Christmas so you might want to send invitations extra early, even as much as three or four months in advance if you can. To stand the best chance of getting all your guests, consider sending out “save the date” cards as soon as you have booked your venue.

Hanging the Stockings

While we wouldn’t recommend curly-toed elf costumes or jolly red santa outfits, there is still no reason why you can’t incorporate a bit of Christmas spirit into your wedding outfits. You could go for a bolero or wrap to keep the chill off, and add some fake fur embellishments for a really luxurious feel. Don’t be tempted to go for a very warm dress though, as you might need to cool down a bit once you start dancing at the reception so having the option to take off your winter warming clothes will be preferable.

Traditional Christmas colours are reds, golds and rich greens. These can be used as is or for spot colours on plainer outfits; ribbons and flowers for bridesmaids, ties or waistcoats for groomsmen or pageboys. If you’re worried about the weather, go prepared with a nice parasol-style umbrella in matching colours!

Decking the Halls

Winter and Christmas weddings are greatly complemented by decorations of ivy and berries, and plenty of candles in rich, warm colours. Don’t forget to check with your venue to make sure you’ll be allowed to have candles, though.

That said, make sure you work with the existing colour schemes of your venues to make sure your wedding doesn’t clash. If the reception hall has pink carpet, you probably want to steer clear of a heavy red theme as it will end up looking strange! You can work both with and around colours for your reception. If the venue has hints of rich colours like reds, golds or deep greens then it will complement a traditional yuletide theme easily. But you can just as easily go for a “winter wonderland” style snow and ice theme if the venue is decorated with cooler blues, purples or whites.

Stuffing the Turkey

Ideally you will probably be serving a roast turkey or goose with all the normal trimmings for a Christmas wedding dinner, followed by either a Christmas pudding or an iced fruit cake, perhaps with some brandy butter sauce. There’s nothing to stop you from going for something a little more unusual, however. For a slightly different spin, how about having a separate turkey on each table so guests can help themselves, or serving mince pies instead of mints, or serving mulled wine and eggnog rather than champagne and coffee? You can even break entirely with traditional foodstuffs and go for a party-style buffet; theme the tables and plates with your main colour scheme and serve the right finger foods and there’s no reason why people won’t tuck in – just don’t forget to have a vegetarian option on offer.

While fruit cake is normally associated with Christmas, there is nothing wrong with having a decorated sponge cake (you can even ice it to the same theme) or a chocolate cake (how about a giant chocolate log wedding cake?) so don’t feel constrained if you don’t like fruit cake. A croque-en-bouche presented to match your wedding theme can make a breathtaking centrepiece, and for the truly unconventional you can even have savoury fillings in the profiteroles.

Choosing the Tree

Your florist can advise you on flowers in the colours you want which will be available during the Christmas season. Why not have a Christmas tree decorated with the same colours as your main theme (or several, if your venue is large)? Don’t forget that prices can go up as flowers become more popular over the holiday season, so if budget is an issue you could consider an alternative such as poinsettias (normally red, but you can get them in cream and pink), mistletoe and of course holly branches. Gypsophila in particular makes a lovely “garnish” style flower, especially in a bouquet.