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Matryoshka

  • Posted on May 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

A Matryoshka or a Russian nesting doll refers to a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. The number of nested dolls is traditionally at least three and can go up to thirty seven.
Russian nesting doll was called a Matryoshka not by accident. In the late XIX century, Matyona or Matryosha was one of the most popular girl peasant name in Russia. The root of the word Matryona derives from the Latin “mater”, meaning “mother”. Thus, Matryoshka is a symbol of a healthy and caring mother of a big family.
Modern artists create many new styles of Matryoshka. Common themes include floral, animal, Easter and Christmas collections.

Mannheim Steamroller’s Role in Christmas in America

  • Posted on March 1, 2013 at 1:03 am

Nearly everyone in the U.S. has heard of Mannheim Steamroller. Their renditions of old Christmas favorites, and their own original music, carry a unique sound that is very popular around the country. From “Deck the Halls” to “Joy to the World,” to music from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” and even music from other cultures, Mannheim Steamroller’s unique sound is a fixture on radio stations and in many houses around the U.S. at Christmastime.

Mannheim Steamroller’s initial popularity came from founder Chip Davis’ inability to land a contract with a major recording label; the band’s first incarnation recorded the Fresh Aire series (which later won a Grammy for Best New Age Recording for the album “Fresh Aire VII”). Davis instead gave these albums away to stereo retailers, who would use the music to demonstrate the quality of sound their stereos produced. With increasing numbers of people hearing Mannheim Steamroller this way, interest in them grew.

Their first Christmas album, “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas,” was released in 1984 and was a big hit. Their use of instruments like violins, mandolins, pianos, brass and more, coupled with the synthesizers, bass, drums and electric guitars more common to rock music, produces a unique sound that creates an entirely new take on old Christmas favorites, making traditional Christmas music new again.

Many famous artists, who also do renditions of various holiday songs, try to make their Christmas music sound like new, and it often seems that few succeed, despite the fact that they’re doing remakes of popular songs. Like remakes, words and general melody are difficult to change without making a mockery of the original, however, harmonies can be changed and color can be added or taken away to create a new version of the original song.

With remakes in general, though, there usually aren’t hundreds of artists all trying something different with the same few songs. Christmas music is comparatively limited, so you hear several different versions of a particular song all sounding remarkably similar anyway.

As a teacher of junior high school music in his hometown of Sylvania, Ohio, Chip Davis began adapting standard repertoire to modern times with harmonies and rhythms that would appeal more to the students of that time. He was able to create new and appealing sounds with the old, traditional classical music that was generally played by junior high and high school music ensembles at the time.

These sounds, and his ability to create music that is new from what is already so well known that it’s a tradition, are what give Mannheim Steamroller its “miniature juggernaut” status in the U.S., particularly around Christmastime. Davis’ “18th century rock and roll,” as he calls it, is an almost one-of-a-kind sound, and it resonates with a large segment of the country.

Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas music isn’t all new-age renditions of old favorites; there are a lot of Davis’ own compositions on their albums as well. Regardless of belief system or religious affiliation, Mannheim Steamroller is definitely a “steamroller” in American Christmas culture.

Glass Eye Studio Ornaments

  • Posted on March 1, 2013 at 12:13 am

We invite you to explore the beauty of the following hand blown glass collection from Seattle, Washington. These ornaments will be enjoyed over the years and have lasting value.

Visit Glass Eye Studio Ornaments on XmasOrnamentsWorld.com : http://www.xmasornamentsworld.com/Glass-Eye-Studio-Ornaments-c-9-page-1.html

Children’s Christmas Stories: Tales for Children About the Meaning of Christmas

  • Posted on November 3, 2012 at 5:46 am

Christmas Card

Children are especially enthralled with the Christmas season. To them, it’s a magical   time of decorations, presents, endless celebration and fun. It’s a time for visiting extended family or receiving visitors at home, of singing Christmas carols, and generally having a good time. One family tradition revolves around telling or reading certain stories to children that range from religious and historical depictions of the Christ child, Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men, to fanciful stories of Santa Claus and his eight tiny flying reindeer. Most of these stories have a lesson in them, as  children’s stories in general do.

Perhaps one of the most well known Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. There are many adaptations of the story to make it shorter and easier for children to understand. Most adaptations talk of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy but miserly and generally grumpy old man who thinks of nobody but himself until he receives visits from the three Christmas ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future. These ghosts show him the error of his current ways, and he essentially becomes born-again as a generous, happy older man after being made to see what he truly was.

Another children’s Christmas story is “Christmas in Seventeen Seventy-Six,” by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton. This story tells of two children whose father served in General George Washington’s army during the American Revolution, and were waiting for him to come home to celebrate Christmas with them. Christmas Day comes, but their father does not. They received gifts of apples in their stockings, along with sugarplums and a turkey for dinner, which they decided to hold onto until their father came home. He didn’t arrive until the day afterward, following the Battle of Trenton and with a small dog. The story is intended to show how, if they had not fought away from their families on Christmas Day, there may not be a free country to celebrate Christmas in later on.

A favorite religious Christmas story is the story of the night that Jesus Christ was born. “No Room at the Inn,” by Verna Parks, is a version of that story and shows Mary and Joseph looking for shelter the night that Jesus Christ was born. The innkeeper had no available rooms that night but he could put them in the stable, with the animals and no other people. The hay was fresh, and smelled very sweet, and the animals, which helped provide warmth, were munching on it as Mary went into labor. She gave birth in quiet warmth and privacy, with soft, sweet-smelling hay to lay her baby in, as though God had planned it from the beginning and the full inn was a blessing, not a curse or even an inconvenience.

It’s fun for children and adults alike to sit around the fireplace and listen to Christmas stories, and many families around the U.S. have made a special tradition out of it.

New Arrivals: October 2012

  • Posted on October 8, 2012 at 3:39 am
"Santa w. Gifts" Collection Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.1 (Austria)

“Santa w. Gifts” Collection Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.1 (Austria)

"Merry Christmas" Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.2(Austria)

"Swiss Winter" Collection Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.1(Austria)

"Teddy Bears" Collection. Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.1 (Austria)

"Christmas Time" Collection. Hand Painted Christmas Ball No.2 (Austria)

The History of Christmas Carols and Caroling

  • Posted on October 8, 2012 at 3:21 am

Christmas carols all the way through Christmas Day. There are religious carols, such as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Little Drummer Boy,” and secular carols, such as “Deck the Halls,” and “Frosty the Snowman.” But how long have carols been around, and when did they become popular?Most of the Christmas carols that the world knows today were written sometime in the 18th century, although carols themselves, as both a form of worship and art, may go back as much as a thousand years. The carol, “I Saw Three Ships,” is thought to be one of the first Christmas carols written.

Christmas celebration in general nearly ground to a halt during the Puritan era, where people believed Christmas was a holiday for quiet solemnity and not one for celebration. In fact, in Massachusetts, people who dared to actually celebrate anything on Christmas Day were fined. During this time, Christmas carols nearly disappeared also.In the 18th century, caroling and other celebrations of Christmas began to see a slight revival. Singing carols in the streets, however, was limited to groups of officials and town leaders called Waits, as they performed various Christmas carols in the streets on Christmas Eve, which was also known as “the waitnight,” because of the belief that shepherds were waiting and watching their flocks when the angels appeared the night that Christ was born. Going caroling during the Christmas season grew from the tradition of the Waits, and is still a popular thing to do both in the U.S. and in the U.K. today.

Also in the 18th century, orchestras and choirs would perform Christmas carols for the people in English cities, so that they would also have something to sing and celebrate. Many new carols, such as “Good King Wenceslas,” were written around this time to add spice and newness to the performances.

Early in the 19th century, two men, Davies Gilbert and William Sandys, published two separate volumes of ancient Christmas crols found in England. Versions of many of these carols, such as “The First Noel,” are still around today. In the 1840s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized Christmas celebrations again, and singing Christmas carols once more became popular.

Songs like “White Christmas,” and other secular carols came about in the 20th century and today are virtually synonymous with the more traditional, religious hymns. Many singing icons, like Bing Crosby and Celine Dion, along with groups like the Dixie Chicks and even groups like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller, all have their own versions of secular and traditional Christmas carols that are very popular around the world.

 Going caroling with small groups of friends and family also remains a popular activity during the Christmas season, often enhancing people’s feelings of the spirit of Christmas.

New Arrivals: September 2012

  • Posted on September 25, 2012 at 4:57 am

A beautiful Christmas ornaments collection from Austria!

How Did Christmas Trees Become a Symbol of Christmas?

  • Posted on September 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Christmas trees are such a major staple of Christmas that their image is even found on the very ornaments they’re decorated with.  They grace posters in store windows, and multiple trees full of sparkling, brightly colored Christmas balls are often found in department stores everywhere.  Rockefeller Center always features a huge, richly decorated tree, and the White House has a beautiful tree full of shiny Christmas tree decorations each year as well.  So how did the Christmas tree become a symbol of Christmas?

Modern Christmas trees can be traced back to 16th century Germany, however the tradition goes back centuries before.  Evergreen trees symbolized life to many different peoples around the ancient world, since they remain green while everything else appears brown and lifeless during winter.  Evergreen trees and branches were used in different types of winter solstice ceremonies and festivities.  In Germany, evergreen trees were placed either inside homes, or just outside the door, around Christmas as a symbol of faith that spring, and life, would return.

There is some debate about whether the Christmas tree is a Christian or pagan symbol.  Today’s Christians tend to see the tree as representing everlasting life, which is embodied in Jesus Christ.  However, for a long time Christmas trees were almost purely a German tradition, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that Prince Albert and Queen Victoria made Christmas trees popular elsewhere in the world.  They were seen as a pagan symbol, even a mockery, of the season by many Christians elsewhere in the world up until that point.

In the United States, Puritans saw trees and other decorations and festivities at Christmas as heresy, and some colonies even outlawed such practices.  When German immigrants started settling in Pennsylvania and Ohio, they brought their Christmas traditions with them, including trees and their Christmas tree decorations.  The picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert next to their Christmas tree made the trees fashionable across the eastern U.S. and through much of Europe.

The use of Christmas tree ornaments and Christmas balls on evergreen trees also have pagan origins, but there is a story about Martin Luther walking late at night, and seeing snow-covered evergreens sparkling from starlight from the heavens.  Because of that, he put candles on a tree in his home to represent heaven, the star of Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus Christ.  During Saturnalia, however, Romans kept candle-lit trees in their homes as well, so there’s also some debate about the origins of lights as Christmas tree decorations.

Christmas trees symbolize the hope and joy of the season, as their original intent was to symbolize life in both pagan and Christian traditions.  In paganism, life renews every spring and in Christianity, everlasting life is given by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior. Christmas tree ornaments can symbolize pretty much anything, as can the lights, however the trees themselves are a representation of the hope of life, regardless of beliefs.

 

 

 

New Arrivals – September 2012 (Glass Mushroom Christmas Tree Ornament from Germany)

  • Posted on September 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Just look at this adorable mushroom family!

Glass Mushroom Christmas Tree Ornament from Germany

New Arrivals – September 2012 (Glass Nutcracker Christmas Tree Ornament from Germany)

  • Posted on September 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

This mouth blown and hand-painted glass ornament has been created in keeping with the age old German family traditions. Each ornament is painted individually which makes them unique and adds some small variations to each product.

Glass Nutcracker Christmas Tree Ornament from Germany

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