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Celebrate Winter Magic

If you’re planning a stay in an Amsterdam hotel over the festive season, you won’t want to miss the city’s annual Winter Magic celebrations.

From mid-December to early January, the city’s famous canals are lit up with plenty of Christmas spirit as the boats are decorated for the holidays with coloured lights and ornaments.

Events get underway during the second weekend of December, when Winter Magic events are officially opened.

Festivities – which have become a Christmas staple in the Dutch city – include a holiday sing-along canal cruise that passes through Amsterdam before finishing at Rembrandt Square. Everyone is welcome to participate – and you can rest assured that many songs will be sung in English!

If you’re staying in Amsterdam hotels during the week of Christmas itself, you won’t want to miss the spectacular Christmas Canal Parade. This event is a warm and friendly celebration of the city’s diverse cultural population – find a canalside spot on the parade route and you’ll be in for a treat!

Every night of Winter Magic sees a group of decorated boats convene on the Amstel, so even if you can’t make the Christmas Canal Parade, you’ll still be treated to a colourful display during your stay in Amsterdam.

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Jewelry For The Holidays

All over the world there is hardly anything that people enjoy more than celebrating holidays. We all wait for those special times when we can take a day or two off from work, decorate our homes, and gather with family and friends, and eat to our hearts content. These are the happy times in our lives that we all live for and are one of the true meanings of life. Enjoyment!

Some of us take these celebrations a little more seriously than others. In fact, some of us start the celebrating process and preparations a little ahead of time. The things we wear play a big part in milking our enjoyment potential for all its worth. From shirts and hats to the jewelry we wear for these events are all a part of celebrating, and why not?

Jewelry for the holidays has become very trendy in recent years. You are able to find so many different items for almost every holiday known. Christmas probably has the largest selection to choose from. Pins and brooches to wear during the Christmas season have been popular for a long time, but earrings, pendants, bracelets, and watches are worn every where now. Santa Clause, nativity scenes, Christmas presents, Christmas trees, Christmas wreaths, and the baby Jesus are some of the symbols specifically for the Christmas holiday.

Minoras are popular jewelry items worn in the Hanukkah season. Although winter itself is not a holiday, other jewelry items such as snowmen, sleds, and snowflakes are cute pendants, earrings, and pins that are given as presents but can be worn throughout the cold season.

Halloween probably runs a close second to Christmas as far as jewelry goes. Little ghost, witches, pumpkins, black cats, spiders, and all sorts of spooky things are made into different jewelry pieces for this fun filled holiday. Everyone from office workers to moms at PTA meetings like to do a little dress up for Halloween. On the actual night of Halloween, costume parties are great places to wear those skeleton earrings and spider pins.

 

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Halloween – A Retailer’s Goldmine

A trip through the shopping malls this past week showed me why… I saw everything from strings of lights shaped like pumpkins or skeletons, to large yard decorations, to t-shirts, and even children’s warm gloves. And that’s in addition to the racks and racks of candy, the costumes, the face and hair paint, and all the paper goods for serving up refreshments and decorating the house with cardboard cut-outs and streamers.

We also saw some pretty wholesale Christmas costumes items – such as serving platters, ceramic cookie jars, and hammered metal pumpkins.

When I was a child, this holiday was all about kids and candy. Now adults want to get in on the fun, so the adult costume industry is cashing in. The week-end nights closest to Halloween see costume parties in homes and costume contests in night clubs and bars across the country.

It began as a pagan holiday called Samhain . October 31 is the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice – a time for crossing from summer to winter and beginning the “Wheel of the Year” anew.

This is when the people celebrated the bounty of the harvest and asked for strength to get through the coming winter. It was a time to let go of the old and welcome the new.

In the earth-based religions, it is also a time to acknowledge death as a part of life, and to honor the dead. At this time the veil between this world and the next was believed to be very thin – making this the time when it might be possible to communicate with those in the spirit world. The ancient Celts believed that this then was the time to invite the family’s ancestors home, and many of those who practice the earth based religions still set out favorite foods and cherished items to welcome those ancestors to their gatherings.

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Get a Free Halloween Party Planning Guide

Easy Halloween Party Planning Ideas…you won’t have any nightmares trying to plan your Halloween party when you read our Halloween party planning guide. It will be sweet dreams all the way.

It can get rather hectic when you are planning a party, but we have some great party tips and ideas for you, so don’t worry. Everything is going to work out just fine. You will learn the steps of party planning and you will find lists of the party supplies you will need with a time table to tell you when you should do them. Our guide will keep you organized and that’s half the battle.

Pick your party theme, pick the time and date of your event and finally choose a location to have your party. You will find no nonsense party food ideas and some easy recipes to help you prepare the meals. You can also find tips on food menu planning to make your party food choices easy.

Party decorating? Not a problem when you have a party supply list right in front of you. Check off what you have, and you can still see the party decorating items you still need.

Party activities…what’s a party without anything fun to do? Get some good craft project ideas, find some fun party games to keep your little guest busy and entertained the whole party through. There are even ideas on how to let the kids make their own party favors.

Find a guide just for help planning Halloween parties. Whether it’s a movie party or a costume party, you will find all the planning help you need to have a fun, successful party. Find scary recipes, fun Halloween party supplies and lots of fun game suggestions. Everything you need to plan your party including a time frame, a shopping list and decorating ideas.

There are several party guides for you to choose from so whether you are celebrating a birthday. a princess, a Handy Manny party or a holiday, like Halloween or Christmas, you will find the right party guide for you. Everyone is going to think you are a professional party planner when you start coming up with tips and ideas for everyone.

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Halloween Scrubs to Make Your Holiday FUN!

Do you work in a stuffy office that won’t allow you to dress up in a costume that one fun day out of the year? Well worry not, because now you can partake in the fun by wearing a variety of Halloween medical scrubs suitable for most any office. Offered by the name brand manufacturers you have come to know and love, in a chic, fashionable, and fun variety; Halloween scrubs are guaranteed to put a smile on any bosses or co-workers face.

By the time AD 43 rolled around, the Romans had conquered the Celtic territories and attempted to instill Christianity into their beliefs. One means of doing so was to put an end to the “Festival of Samhain” and to begin “All Hallows Eve.” This change would eliminate the sacrificial offerings to the dead, and instead focus solely on the celebration of honoring the dearly deceased.

Halloween, often referred to as All Saints Day, was originally a day of celebration of life and death. Of Celtic origin, the Festival of Samhain took place on November 1st – the New Year – and marked the end of summer and the beginning of the cold and dreary winter. The Celtics believed that on the eve of the New Year, the ghosts of their deceased would return to roam the earth. In celebration of this blessed event, the Celts would offer sacrifices and burn crops as a means to appease the spirits. The Celts would also dress up in “costume” by wearing the heads and skins of various animals.

Annual fall festivals were commonplace by the time the of the mid 1800’s, and by combining English and Irish traditions, Americans began to dress in costume and visit from house to house requesting food and money.

 

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Halloween Is For Grownups

Once upon a time in our collective distant memory – or maybe just on TV, which is more or less the same thing – October meant apple cider, jack o’ lanterns, and small children in witch hats toting pillow cases full of candy. Now we know fall has arrived when temporary Halloween stores start popping up in every empty storefront in America – which, in these dismal times, means pretty much everywhere. Go into one of these stores and you will see costumes that can only be described as sexy (unless you prefer the more colloquial “skanky”): sexy nurse, sexy pirate, sexy vampire. On other, less fishnet-heavy rows, you’ll find prisoner costumes, superhero unitards, Freddy Krueger masks, and wigs. Lots and lots of wigs: hippy, Elvis, afro. A few years ago, you could even buy a Kate Gosselin wig.

Another way to know that Halloween is approaching: the newspapers (now that they’re all online, perhaps we should call them “newspapers”) will start running their adults-won’t-grow-up editorials. You know what I’m talking about. Halloween is for children. But now Halloween has become a [fill in the blank with a big number] dollar industry because adults are dressing up. And you know why adults are dressing up? Because they want to be children!

To this, I say, Pfft. Every year on one night in late October, I send my children away and throw an adults-only Halloween bash that some call the party of the year and others, on attending for the first time, tell me is the best party they’ve ever been to. You know why my party is the best? Because there’s no competition! In the darkest depths of suburbia, my Halloween party seems to be one of the few get-togethers that doesn’t involve Round Table pizza, sports trophies, or a Costco veggie tray. Months ahead of time, friends, neighbors, and… whoever else is on the guest list (which has frankly gotten a bit out of control) will ask me if I’ve set a date so they don’t schedule anything else. Sometime around August, people start finalizing costumes.

A friend once gave me sage party advice: As long as the food is good and the bathrooms are clean, nothing else really matters. The first time I threw my Halloween party, I – along with some friends armed with power tools – filled my yard with over twenty-five jack o ‘lanterns. Now I settle for two or three. (Have you ever tried disposing of twenty-five jack o’lanterns in a warm climate? Not pretty.) I’ve accumulated plenty of decorations over the years, but the real scenery is costumes. Queen Elizabeth. Andy Warhol. Kate Gosselin. Sexy pirate. Another sexy pirate. The food is always good. More to the point, the alcohol is plentiful. One time a cub scout leader dressed as Courtney Love stayed in character for the entire evening. Another year a baseball coach disguised as Richard Simmons led an exercise class. “Richard” felt embarrassed after the fact. “Courtney” did not.

 

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Halloween Traditions – Old and New

The commercialization of Halloween in the United States did not start until the 20th century, beginning perhaps with Halloween postcards (featuring hundreds of designs) which were most popular between 1905 and 1915. Dennison Manufacturing Company, which published its first Hallowe’en catalog in 1909, and the Beistle Company were pioneers in commercially made Halloween decorations, particularly die-cut paper items. German manufacturers specialised in Halloween figurines that were exported to the United States in the period between the two world wars.

There is little primary documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween in the United States or elsewhere, before 1900. Mass-produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1930s, and trick-or-treating did not become a fixture of the holiday until the 1950s.

In the 1990s, many manufacturers began producing a larger variety of Halloween yard decorations; before this a majority of decorations were homemade. Some of the most popular yard decorations are jack-o’-lanterns, scarecrows, witches, orange string lights, inflatable decorations (such as spiders, pumpkins, mummies and vampires), and animatronic window and door decorations.

Halloween is now the United States’ second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating; the sale of candy and costumes are also extremely common during the holiday, which is marketed to children and adults alike. According to the National Retail Federation, the most popular Halloween costume themes for adults are, in order: witch, pirate, vampire, cat and clown. Each year, popular costumes are dictated by various current events and pop culture icons .On many college campuses, Halloween is a major celebration, with the Friday and Saturday nearest October 31 hosting many costume parties.

The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of American adults planned to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children planned to go trick-or-treating.

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Halloween History And Christian Life

The word comes from an abbreviation of “All Hallows Eve.” This is the night before All Hallows (All Saints) Day, when the Church honors the past (dead) Christians. All Saints Day is also known as the day Martin Luther nailed his protest of the Catholic Church and began the Protestant movement. There have been different dates for All Saints Day. It’s commonly believed that November 1st was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations and festivals in order to more easily assimilate these cultures into the Church, just like the dates for Easter and Christmas celebrations. It’s this assimilation of festivals that makes Halloween a confusing holiday.

When All Saints Day and the pagan festivals were combined, the rituals and customs were also combined. Wearing costumes, ghosts, witches, carrying lighted ornaments to represent spirits, the whole trick-or-treat thing, harvest parties, etc. got combined over the centuries with what had been a somber event in the Christian calendar. Some of these rituals had been sacrifices to pagan gods before the pagans were Christianized. And there’s the rub! Christians, who have no problem with the Christmas Tree or Easter Egg (pagan rituals), seem to draw the line when it comes to the Halloween pagan rituals and customs…particularly those involving the dead.

Actually, All Saints Day and Halloween share the idea of honoring the dead…they just differ on the methods. Many of the pagan rituals include tributes to the dead. That’s probably why ghost costumes and tombstones have become Halloween classics. I don’t understand the discomfort many Christians have with the idea of spirits being everywhere, or of spiritual life beyond physical death…it’s the cornerstone of Christianity as taught in the Bible. Why would we be so frightened of what’s on the other side of death? Many are so afraid, they keep their children from participating in the fun of Halloween.

Once, early in my Christian walk, I believed it was a sin to have anything that had represented a belief in any power but God. I got rid of 4 leaf clovers, horseshoes, totem poles…symbols of pagan gods…so these things would have no power over me. After I grew a little in Christ and read the Bible a little more, It hit me…nothing has power over me because Christ is in me. In fact, by thinking these things had power, I was giving them the very power I opposed.

It’s the same with Christians and Halloween. Carving pumpkins, setting up witch statues, wearing ghost costumes, going to people’s doors to collect treats…all of these rituals are mere games as long as we don’t make anything more out of them. As a Christian, the most powerful being in all eternity lives within you. There is no power that can harm you. I’m not denying that evil spirits exist but when we Christians live in fear of them, we’re giving them power they don’t have.

 

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Evaluating and Selling Jewelry

I’ve been working in the pawn broking industry for a bit now, and as part of my everyday
job I have to evaluate and Cheapest Christmas costumes. With that in mind, I’ll be giving you an idea of
what you can expect from pawn shops, as well as reasonable charges when selling
privately.

(You’ll also learn how much you may have gotten ripped off when you bought your
girlfriend that “gold” necklace last Christmas.)

Precious Metals: What they’re worth to the world
The mainstay of the jewelry industry is precious metals: gold, silver, and platinum being
the most popular. All have their own benefits and all have their respective drawbacks.

Before we start, you should know that many websites, sellers, and buyers price metals
by the Troy Ounce, and I’ll be referring to value by the gram, since most jewelry isn’t
going to weigh more than a few grams. For ease of reference: 1 Troy Ounce = 31.109
grams.

Silver is a beautiful metal, strong for settings and full pieces alike, and is relatively
cheap compared to the other metals. A quick way of identifying silver is to look along the
inside of a ring, or along the clasp/end of a necklace or bracelet. What you’re looking for
is a little number like “.925” or “.999.” This is the percentage of silver versus other
metals that are in your item. Sterling silver, one of the most common types, is made up
of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

Current prices for silver are at about $0.18 per gram. I would expect to sell a weighty
silver chain necklace (about 30 grams) for about $10 if you’re being fair. Since we know
that stores aren’t fair, you can usually get away with selling them for about 2.5 to 3 times
that amount. As a pawn broker I tend to avoid buying silver at all, mainly because I can’t
sell it as readily, and also because I can’t give the customer enough money to make it
worth their while.

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Easter In England – A Family Affair

Easter is the most important event in the Christian calendar but in the multicultural society of England it is appreciated by both Christians and non-Christians for the two day Bank holiday it brings. Unlike the two days our government allows us in which to celebrate Christmas, the Easter holidays never bring us a disappointing mid-week break, they always provide us with a four day weekend. A cause for celebration indeed!

Easter arrives quietly, no fanfare, no three month long advertising campaign like the one preceding Christmas costumes. We aren’t urged to eat too much, drink to much, party too much, or do anything at all too much. We are permitted to relax and enjoy family life. There is no pressure to overspend on gifts for everyone from our nearest and dearest to the neighbour’s dog. Compared to the excesses promoted in the name of Christmas, the consumption of chocolate eggs seems a small indulgence.

In England, Easter is the official start of the gardeners’ year and also the time when all DIY enthusiasts, as if driven by some primeval urge, embark upon ambitious projects. If you are not interested in gardening or DIY, you have four whole days free to enjoy as you wish.

Easter is really too early for gardeners to be chancing the lives of tender plants but it is hard to resist the lure of the first real sunny days after the long grey winter. Amateur gardeners take bedding plants from the hothouses and thrust them into soil that’s far too cold to encourage growth. The experienced gardeners won’t gamble on frost free conditions and content themselves with planting the less decorative but frost-proof seed potatoes and onions. Gardening at Easter is an anxious time because the English weather is reliably unpredictable and even the most dedicated gardener is likely to encounter showers heavy enough to dampen his enthusiasm and drive him indoors for a chocolate egg break.