Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Celebration and Christmas Traditions

Christmas (Old EnglishCrīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus[ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by millions of people around the world.
 A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide.Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations,is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians, and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season.
The precise year of Jesus' birth, which some historians place between 7 and 2 BC, is unknown.His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25 a date later adopted in the East.
File:Giorgione 014 crop.jpg
Birth of Jesus
 The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived, as well as the date of celebration of the southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice), with a sun connection being possible because Christians consider Jesus to be the "Sun of righteousness" prophesied in Malachi 4:2.
The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar
Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. 
For this reason, EthiopiaRussiaUkraineSerbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7; the Church of Greece and all Greek Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25.
The popular celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-ChristianChristian and secular themes and origins.
 Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift givingChristmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cardschurch celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees,Christmas lightsnativity scenesgarlandswreathsmistletoe, and holly.
Christmas Greetings
Christmas Carol
Christmas Tree
Christmas Gifts

 In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa ClausFather ChristmasSaint Nicholas and Christ kind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. 
Santa Claus with his Gifts
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
Christmas Traditions Worldwide:
Discover the origins of Christmas traditions from around the world, like the Yule log, caroling and how Christmas is celebrated  in various countries as detailed below

1. Sweden: 'God Jul!'

Most people in Scandinavian countries honor St. Lucia (also known as St. Lucy) each year on December 13. The celebration of St. Lucia Day began in Sweden, but had spread to Denmark and Finland by the mid-19th century.
In these countries, the holiday is considered the beginning of the Christmas season and, as such, is sometimes referred to as "little Yule." 
Traditionally, the oldest daughter in each family rises early and wakes each of her family members, dressed in a long, white gown with a red sash, and wearing a crown made of twigs with nine lighted candles. For the day, she is called "Lussi" or "Lussibruden (Lucy bride)." The family then eats breakfast in a room lighted with candles.
At night, men, women, and children would carry torches in a parade. The night would end when everyone threw their torches onto a large pile of straw, creating a huge bonfire. 
In Finland today, one girl is chosen to serve as the national Lucia and she is honored in a parade in which she is surrounded by torchbearers.
Light is a main theme of St. Lucia Day, as her name, which is derived from the Latin word lux, means light. Her feast day is celebrated near the shortest day of the year, when the sun's light again begins to strengthen. Lucia lived in Syracuse during the fourth century when persecution of Christians was common. 
Unfortunately, most of her story has been lost over the years. According to one common legend, Lucia lost her eyes while being tortured by a Diocletian for her Christian beliefs. Others say she may have plucked her own eyes out to protest the poor treatment of Christians. Lucia is the patron saint of the blind.

2. Finland: 'Hyvää Joulua!'

Many Finns visit the sauna on Christmas Eve. Families gather and listen to the national "Peace of Christmas" radio broadcast. It is customary to visit the grave sites of departed family members.

3. Norway: 'Gledelig Jul!'

Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. "Yule" came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

4 Germany: 'Froehliche Weihnachten!'

Decorating evergreen trees had always been a part of the German winter solstice tradition. The first "Christmas trees" explicitly decorated and named after the Christian holiday, appeared in Strasbourg, in Alsace in the beginning of the 17th century. After 1750, Christmas trees began showing up in other parts of Germany, and even more so after 1771, when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg and promptly included a Christmas tree is his novel,The Suffering of Young Werther. In the 1820s, the first German immigrants decorated Christmas trees in Pennsylvania. After Germany's Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, he introduced the Christmas tree tradition to England. In 1848, the first American newspaper carried a picture of a Christmas tree and the custom spread to nearly every home in just a few years.

5. Mexico: 'Feliz Navidad!'

In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.
In Mexico, paper mache sculptures called pinatas are filled with candy and coins and hung from the ceiling. Children then take turns hitting the pinata until it breaks, sending a shower of treats to the floor. Children race to gather as much of of the loot as they can.

6. England: 'Merry Christmas!'

An Englishman named John Calcott Horsley helped to popularize the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting in the late 1830s. 
Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations. At about the same time, similar cards were being made by R.H. Pease, the first American card maker, in Albany, New York, and Louis Prang, a German who immigrated to America in 1850.
Caroling also began in England. Wandering musicians would travel from town to town visiting castles and homes of the rich. In return for their performance, the musicians hoped to receive a hot meal or money.
In the United States and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. 
In Scandinavia, similar-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth. 

7. France: 'Joyeux Noël!'

In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means "the good news" and refers to the gospel.
In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year's Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year's harvest.

8. Italy: 'Buon Natale!'

Italians call Chrismas Il Natale, meaning "the birthday."

9. Australia

 In Australia, the holiday comes in the middle of summer and it's not unusual for some parts of Australia to hit 100 degrees Farenheit on Christmas day.
During the warm and sunny Australian Christmas season, beach time and outdoor barbecues are common. Traditional Christmas day celebrations include family gatherings, exchanging gifts and either a hot meal with ham, turkey, pork or seafood or barbeques.

10. Ukraine: 'Srozhdestvom Kristovym!'

Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family's youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin.

11. Canada

Most Canadian Christmas traditions are very similar to those practiced in the United States. In the far north of the country, the Eskimos celebrate a winter festival called sinck tuck, which features parties with dancing and the exchanging of gifts.

12.Greece: 'Kala Christouyenna!'

In Greece, many people believe in kallikantzeri, goblins that appear to cause mischief during the 12 days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1, St. Basil's Day.

13. Central America

A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, and South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.

13. Jamestown, Virginia

According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in his 1607Jamestown settlement. Nog comes from the word grog, which refers to any drink made with rum.
Christmas in Vatican City:
Christmas is one of the bigger holidays on the Italian calendar, and one of the most popular spots to be at Christmas is in Vatican City. Even if you’re not Catholic, being in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s traditional midnight mass is something to behold.  On Christmas Day the Pope delivers his Christmas message from his balcony overlooking the square.

Leading up to Christmas, there is a huge tree erected in St. Peter’s Square that gets all lit up at night. There’s also a life-sized nativity scene in the square. Nativity scenes are popular throughout Italy in the weeks before Christmas, so look for them in squares and churches well beyond Vatican City. 

The Pope’s midnight mass on Christmas Eve is held inside St. Peter’s Basilica, and there’s a big screen showing it live in the square so you can still follow along even if you’re not lucky enough to get indoors. The following day, the Pope comes out onto the balcony of his Vatican apartments, which overlooks the square, and gives his annual Christmas address at noon. 

(Source:http://thingstodo.viator.com/vatican-city/christmas-in-vatican-city/ )
Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate Christmas midnight mass at 
St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
St Peter's Basilica 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tips for Safe usage of Internet

Internet has already become an essential part of our lives.We access our banking records, credit card statements,  and other highly sensitive personal information through Internet. 

With all the benefits the Internet offers us, there are also many devastating threats in using Internet. 

The tips given below  offer you basic information on how you can be safe on Internet and enjoy Safe surfing through it. 
  1. Don't login on third party applications which require your email login details.
  2. Don't access your account through any email link as it can be risky. If the email turns out to be fraudulent then cyber criminal will have access to your account information.
  3. Don't have single password or PINs for accessing all your online accounts, this can again lead to identity theft.
  4. Don't use unsafe site that does not come with term ‘https‘. The “S” stands for secure and you should always make note of it before accessing any site.
  5. Don't click on pop-ups that says “Your Pc is Insecure”, such links can have malware automatically downloaded to your PC.
  6. Don't download free stuffs such as screen saver and those stupid smiley faces. Such things are very dangerous to your PC and you will soon notice it has turned slow then earlier. Sites like download.com are safe to use.
  7. Be careful with  phishing mails, they may create a sense of urgency as “Your Account is in Risk” or an “Unauthorized transaction has taken place” so send your account details. Remember any bank will not ask your account detail via mail.
  8. Make sure you always have updated antivirus software in place.
  9. Always check with your bank if they have any additional security for your online transactions, such as IPIN’s or Zero liability card.
  10. Always have your CC details save in real world. Do not share it with anybody via sending mails or over even on telephone.
  11. Never forget to delete the system’s cache, passwords or history, it could easily lead to identity theft and stolen bank and email information.
  12. You have won a lottery and or an IPod are the common terms used by spammers to trap you, avoid falling to such traps.
  13. Always blacklist the spammers you come across in mails without just deleting the spam mails.
  14. Don’t ever click on the Close window without logging of your account especially if you are at cybercafé for accessing Internet then you are more at risk.
  15. Always have a back up for your emails just as how you keep a hard copy of your important docs and other things.
  16. Avoid believing in those brainless “Microsoft Is Sharing Its Fortune” kind of mail, they are just spammers requiring your details to trouble you more.
  17. Always have a habit of not clicking on phishing email, the goal of phisher is to fool you for entering your details into something that actually appears to be safe and secure, but in reality is just a fake site set up by the scammer.
  18. Avoid giving your full name, home address, phone number, Social Security number, passwords, names of family members, credit card numbers online. Best is to remain anonymous and enjoy surfing
  19. Never forget to scan the attachment you receive in your mail box. Virus attacks are mostly through such attachments.
  20. Social networking sites like Face book, Orkut etc are something we cannot avoid these days, yet it is always secure to follow known person on Twitter or to add on Facebook. Don’t forget to do security check if you tend to add unknown person.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tips for Senior Citizens

I read recently  the following  interesting article by Letty Jacinto -Lopez giving very valuable tips to the Senior citizens and I share the same here:

At their 54th anniversary, my friends made a decision to distribute their
combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale, Para walang gulo

. (To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: While still alive, income

from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle
inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.

That's easy, replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the

old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.

The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each

child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It

reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing
them of the dignity they worked hard to uphold.

What went wrong?
Bad decision, said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario

. Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money. Money

received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they
worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own
sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted
by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or
convince their respective spouses to throw out good sense and filial
affection like soiled rugs, Honey, they're going to die anyway, so why
waste good money on them?

To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, keep these 10 tips in

1. Do not retire. If you're over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but

find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you

active physically and mentally. Travel and bond with true friends, play a
sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don't
loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you've become a sloppy,
listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that
you never bothered about before. Solve crossword puzzles, play Scrabble,
write your memoirs, and above all, read ...this will keep you alert and
keep Alzheimer's at bay.

2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life.

If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is

reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor or, worse, like
crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow
to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of
you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with
your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your
arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness;
you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.

3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. If you want to help

your children, do give, but not to the extent that you wipe out your life's

earnings, singing heroically not a shirt on my back nor a penny to my name.
Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of
tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your
opinion and you will be confident about yourself.

4. Don't believe your children's promise to care for you when you grow old.

Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a

sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in
their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege to
show compassion, genuine love and deep concern for their parents but be
warned that not all children think alike.

5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely

outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with new inventions, trends, music and

lifestyle including all the scams and schemes you should guard against.
Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to
channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons
you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.

6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There's

nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because

you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don't
look and smell like a corpse when you're not one yet.

7. Do not meddle in the life of your children. If they ask for your

counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their

situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you
experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to
develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street
smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read
people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own

8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy.

There's nothing more annoying than an arrogant, old fool. Welcome each day

as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.

9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just

because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a

depository of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, make growing
old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.

10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave

everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more

accepting that, sooner, not later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song
with a humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving
God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.

My observation : 

Though the author has mentioned that children are unreliable 

when it comes to inherited money, there are many children who are really taking 
care of their parents in their old age and still there are many  joint families living 
together happily. We have to appreciate such children who are not spoiled by the 
modern world.