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Christmas Eve Magic

Traditionally, families celebrated around a beautiful table set with crisp linen, sparkling crystal and fine silverware, which meant a lot of ironing and polishing. Modern families have revised these customs to fit a more relaxed style of entertaining. Even the time-honoured Christmas dinner of turkey with all the trimmings has been tweaked. The groaning board has been replaced with lighter fare that is every bit as tasty. But the warm Yule atmosphere still reigns supreme with the soft glow of candlelight, garlands on banisters and mantelpiece, piles of gifts under the tree and tantalizing aromas wafting throughout the house.


The true meaning of Christmas, today as in days of old, isn't about good food and drink...and gifts; it's about creating a climate of love and peace where young and old can share their hopes and dreams. It's about spreading happiness and good will. It's about laughter and high spirits and, yes, a bit of indulgence. It's about creating a memory with a personal touch. It's magical!


Holiday Colours

Red and green are the colours of Christmas. Use them as grace notes or in big splashes or mix them with white, gold or silver. Set them off with lights, choosing the type and brightness with care because they help set the mood. Soft electric lighting and candlelight make a home cosy and inviting. Scented candles perfuming the air with cinnamon, orange or vanilla are a lovely touch but should never be used on the table where they could mask the rich aroma of the food and wine. Finally, a small candle-powered angel carousel will enchant the children. Light the candles and watch the angels go round striking the chimes.


O Christmas Tree!

A Christmas tree can feel short-lived and a chore to dispose of in January when it's dropping its needles, but it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it! A tree decorated the Sunday before Christmas will still look good by little Christmas (January 6th). Decorate it with ribbons, popcorn and cranberry strings and colourful balls. Did you know that ornamental balls originated in Moselle in Eastern France during the 19th century? Back then, people hung their trees with fruit. Due to a poor harvest, there weren't enough fruit in 1858. Glass blowers, for which the region is known, decided to make silvery glass balls. Ever since, families have treasured these beautiful decorations, packing them away in tissue paper and handing them down from generation to generation.

 


Christmas Gifts

Some people rip the wrapping off their presents without a thought to the effort that went into it. Still, a beautiful wrapping job shows you care––and the wonder in a child's eyes at the sight of the tree surrounded by colourfully wrapped boxes makes all the work of wrapping worthwhile! Don't forget the "stockings hung by the chimney with care" filled with candies, fruit and small stocking-stuffers, gadgets and trinkets that were squirrelled away or bought at the last-minute.


Christmas Around the World

Christmas is a time of sharing. So why not start a fun tradition of sharing traditional Christmas dishes from other countries? Enjoy strudel like the Austrians, savour Brazilian codfish, indulge in caviar from Russia, serve turkey with Mexican mole sauce and traditional French chestnut stuffing. Then finish the meal with an English plum pudding. A delectably unique experience that will certainly ignite lots of chatter around the holiday table.


Visions of Sugar Plums

Sweets are one of the delights of Christmas for children. Borrow a custom from Provence, known as Thirteen Desserts, to help them wait for Santa's midnight visit. This striking string of desserts is fairly easy to prepare. Fresh fruit (pears, apples, oranges, mandarins, grapes) are followed by a mix of dried fruits and nuts representing the robes of the various mendicant orders who live off alms-walnuts and filberts for the Augustinians, raisins for the Dominicans, almonds for the Carmelites or white friars, and figs for the Franciscans. Stuffed dates and figs called hermits are delicious. Then come dark and white nougat, calissons (lozenge-shaped sweets made of ground almonds), truffles and orangettes (chocolate-covered strips of candied orange peel). And last but not least are the chocolate and orange cakes and the sweet flat bread flavoured with aniseed and orange water. These can be replaced with fruitcake, plum pudding, doughnuts and mincemeat pie and the crowning touch… a beautifully iced Yule log!

Merry Christmas!

 


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