StatCounter

Monday, December 30, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S - BUT WHEN?



                                  HAPPY NEW YEAR!   
 
                                             
 
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2014.  

I thought I’d check my Wikipedia and find out the history of New Years. So for those who don’t know, like me, here’s some interesting information on New Year’s.

New Year’s Day we hang our new 2014 calendars. The New Year of the Gregorian calendar, similar to the Roman calendar, the one commonly used throughout the world, falls on January 1(New Year's Day). There are numerous calendars that remain in regional use that calculate the New Year differently.

The order of months in the Roman calendar was January to December since King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC. Until 1751 in England and Wales (and all British dominions) the new year started on March 25 – Lady Day, one of the four quarter days (the change to 1 January took place in 1600 in Scotland).  Since then, January 1 has been the first day of the year.

During the Middle Ages several other days were variously taken as the beginning of the calendar year (March, 1 March 25, Easter, September 1, December 25).

In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and the UK,  January 1 is a national holiday.

With the expansion of Western culture to many other places in the world during recent centuries, they have adopted the Gregorian calendar and the 1 January date of New Year has become global, even in countries with their own New Year celebrations on other days (such as Israel, China and India). Many in the countries where Eastern Orthodoxy predominates celebrate both the Gregorian and Julian New Year holidays, with the Gregorian day celebrated as a civic holiday, and the Julian date as the "Old New Year", a religious holiday.

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about the beginning of spring. The exact date can fall any time between January 21 and February 21 of the Gregorian calendar.

The Vietnamese New Year most times is the same day as the Chinese New Year due to the Vietnamese using Chinese calendar.

The Tibetan New Year falls from January through March.

The new year of many South and Southeast Asian calendars falls between April 13 1nd 15, marking the beginning of spring.

I do make goals and I posted them in my previous post. Do you celebrate New Year’s? If so, do you celebrate January 1st or do you celebrate on another day? Do you make resolutions or goals? I’d love to hear from you.
                                                  

 

Friday, December 27, 2013

MY WRITING - PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE


Welcome back to our Round Robin. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and if you lost power that it’s back on.

We have two topics this time. The first is what have I learned from writing? This is an interesting one. I’ve been writing for a long time. What have I learned? About my writing – no matter how many times I edit, there’s always a mistake.

You can’t do it alone. You need a team, whether it’s the publisher or your team as an indie author.  A copy editor and a cover artist are essential.
And I never quit learning or trying to make every story better. Every book helps me learn a new aspect of the craft of writing. My latest book was one that had been published and I learned how to tighten the story (and cut 15,000 words).
I’ve also leaned that writers are the most supportive group of people I know. They are there to answer questions, critique your work, help with promotion and share their own experiences. If they can do anything to help you become successful, they’re there. Writing can be a solitary pursuit, but with these people to help it’s not a lonely one. And they are wonderful friends.

And the second is my goals for 2014. This is always interesting thing for me. I do write goals, not just for writing but for all aspects of my life; my health and fitness goals, my personal goals, my writing goals and my career goals (okay those could be the same but I separate them).  One of my goals is to eat healthier, read labels and eat more vegetables. Another one is to meditate, try to relax and focus more. I want to publish 6 books this year. I have two finished that I got my rights back. I have a novella I’ve finished. I have two books that are almost finished I want to complete. Once I have them all published I have this great idea and plot I want to write. (Wish me luck.) And one last goal is to learn more about marketing, and Goodreads. All these can continue after 2014.

 


If you have any goals you’d like to share, or if you have any comments on mine, I’d love to hear them.


 
 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

BOXING DAY - Sales or?







My 5 Secrets isn’t here today. I gave the authors the day off to enjoy Christmas. But they’ll be back next Thursday.

Christmas is now over and today is Boxing Day. Other than returning the unsuitable gifts do you know where Boxing Day originated?

I thought I knew about Boxing Day and the English tradition, but I checked Wikipedia to make sure my information was correct.

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen receive gifts from their bosses or employers, known as a "Christmas box". Today, Boxing Day is habitually known as the holiday that occurs on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malta and some other Commonwealth nations. In Australia, Boxing Day is a federal public holiday.

The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin, is unknown. In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

In feudal times in the United Kingdom, the lord of the manor would 'pay' people who worked on his land in the past year with boxes practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. These were often distributed on the day after Christmas Day.

Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the church collection boxes to poor parishioners.

In Canada, yes, remember I’m Canadian and it’s a holiday. It gives people he chance to hit the Boxing Day Sales (the opportunity to stand in line from very early hours of the morning to get a good deal) or it’s an opportunity to watch hockey games. In some provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario are not open on Boxing Day, so the sales start on December 27th.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a Happy Boxing Day.

Comments welcome and don’t forget to check back this Saturday. The Round Robin group will be posting about what we’ve learned from writing and what our goals are for 2014 ad further into the future.
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 
It's Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas.
Are you ready?
 
I'm sitting writing this, looking out at my neighbor's lights. He's done a beautiful job and I get to enjoy them.
I have traditional Christmas songs playing in the background. I've shopped for gifts and dinner.
I'm thankful for this past year. I have my health. My husband and family are healthy. I have wonderful friends.
I have donated to several of my favorite charities. I donate all year long, but I give extra at this time of year.
And I give donations in people's names as their gifts. People appreciate this. I am warm and have food.
I'm a very lucky person.  I've written three books this year and they will all be up for sale before the end of the year.
 
I have so much to be thankful for. I'll be in touch with family and friends which will be the highlight of my day.
 
For some people, it's Santa, reindeer, gifts, the Christmas tree and stockings, dinners with turkey and pies and overeating.
 
For others it's the birth of Christ in a stable, because his parents were poor and had no home for his birth.

It's the Star and the wise men. It's the joy of the season.

For some, it's another day.








What is Christmas do you? What makes it special? Once again, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Merry Christmas , Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah and A Joyous Christmas Solstice.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

5 Secrets (What No One Knows About My Book)


Our guest author today is Qwillia Rain, who is going to share some tidbits about the writing of her book that no one knows--until today.
Qwillia was born in California but raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1992 she moved from Vegas to Anchorage, Alaska where she earned my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
She left Alaska in 2003 and took the Al-Can to Montana where she earned a Master's Degree in Educational Technology.
2006 saw another move to North Carolina.  She’s still in NC, but the temptation to move is there...She doesn’t think the wanderlust will ever go away.
A little trivia about Qwillia:
She was born on a Friday the 13th (it's always been a lucky day for her...except in1989)
Favorite color is green (forest or emerald are the best but kelly and lime have their places)
She's been changing the endings of stories to what she want them to be since she was three
She's been writing romances since she was twelve
The first romance she read was Zabrina Faire's Lady Blue
She prefers steak to pasta and potatoes to salad
Her characters actually talk to her (and no...She's not schizophrenic! Weird and crazy yes, schizoid no.)
 

 In A Lover's Silence

1) Years ago, when I lived in Alaska, I was a bill collector--which some people know, but In A Lover's Silence was my "what if" book after I read a credit bureau report for a man I was attempting to collect a debt from and discovered the multiple names and social security numbers on the report. After I talked to a fellow collector who was a former police officer from Texas, my imagination took the idea of identity theft several steps further, just like my character, Wynne Smith.
2) In A Lover's Silence actually started out as a story about the search for a person missing from the US Marshal's Witness Protection Program. While researching the Witness Protection Program, I discovered some very interesting things about the US Marshal's Service and the FBI, including the fact that US Marshals are often assigned to offices in locations they're personally familiar with, that they can be loaned out to various law enforcement agencies to assist in investigations, and that no one knows the identity of the Witness Protection officer in each of the offices.
3) When I came up with the idea about a serial killer who targets exotic dancers and has begun stalking his next victim in Alaska, I didn't know that there had actually been a serial killer (Robert Hansen) in Alaska who abducted exotic dancers and prostitutes, flew them out to the bush to stalk them like prey before killing them.
4) I started writing the book in 1996, but it wasn't until 2006 that I was able to finish it. I actually wrote 105 pages in a week to complete it.
5) Only a few people know that the book was originally contracted for publication with an e-publisher, but was not released because the publisher closed its doors one month before the book was supposed to come out.

 

Blurb from: In A Lover's Silence

Alaskan bill-collector Wynne Smith has a problem. Actually, she has two. The first is sexy, six-foot, Deputy US Marshal, Seth Vassar, fresh off the plane from Dallas, Texas and looking for answers to a five year old murder investigation. The by-the-book marshal doesn't take no for an answer any more than Wynne likes to let a puzzle go unsolved.

Which leads to her second problem. A serial killer intent on making Wynne pay for destroying his next work of art.

Now Wynne has to guard her heart against a man she knows is going to leave her while she tries to keep one step ahead of a maniac.

In a game this deadly, her only hope lays In a Lover's Silence.


You can Qwillia at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Qwillia-Rain-Fan-Page/234065069968987
Twitter: @Qwillia
Blog: http://authorqwilliarain.blogspot.com

Thanks for checking Qwillia Rain and her secrets. If you have any comments or questions let us know. Qwillia Rain will be around to answer your comments
And don’t forget to check back next week to find out even more Secrets.


Monday, December 16, 2013

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW - OH NO!

Where will you spend Christmas this year? Will it be cold and snowing or maybe sunny and warm?
Are you traveling to be with family in the cold north or heading south for a week of palm trees and sun?
I've done both.
I'm Canadian, so we're used to a snowy, white Christmas. The only part of Canada that doesn't have snow is Victoria and Vancouver. I've lived in Alberta and the British Columbia Interior - winter is cold with snow.
We put up the outside lights, the Christmas tree, and decorate inside the house. I hung Christmas cards and started Christmas baking weeks before. I baked my own Christmas cakes. (Until a woman in our area bakes them sells them - and ships them. They're that good.) I sent out Christmas packages of cookies and cake to people who didn't bake or lived alone. I mailed lots of Christmas cards and stood in lines to get stamps. We hung stockings (and Santa always came). I cooked Christmas dinner for family. On Christmas Eve we opened one small gift.
We skated on the lake, went x-country skiing, drank hot chocolate and played Christmas music.
I loved it - except maybe the really cold days.


 
 
Now, my family don't make it home for Christmas, for a variety of reasons. (Like my daughter has three dogs, two cats, two rabbits and a hamster se finds it difficult to leave). So we've become snowbirds. We spend Christmas in San Diego with our two dogs. We put up Christmas lights on our motorhome, have a mini-mini tree and I play Christmas music. No stockings. I wear shorts and capris, sit outside in the sun and enjoy the southern, warm Christmas.
I send Christmas cards out in November before we leave and send email cards just before Christmas. I don't bake (because I'd eat it.) I cook a turkey breast for Christmas dinner. Sometimes we share the meal with our neighbors. I spend a lot of time on the pone with family.
Do I miss the house and tree and decorating ? Sometimes, but I love not being cold and bundling up in layers with scarves. And not slipping and sliding on icy sidewalks and roads.
And I do miss the Christmas cake.
 
 

 
So tell me where you spend Christmas and why you love it there. What's the best thing about your Christmas?
 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Secrets (What No One Knows About My Book)

Our guest author today is E. Ayers, who is going to share some tidbits about the writing of her book that no one knows--until  today.

E. Ayers is an Amazon best-selling author in Western Romance and she also writes contemporary romances. When she least expected it, she found her prince charming and married him five weeks later. She uses that heart-warming passion as a basis for all her books, because she believes everyone needs someone to love.


 

A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming

 1: When I sat to write A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming, I didn't think of it as anything other than a little Christmas story. Considering it was Christmas story, what better time to think about all those wonderful family values? And I certainly didn't consider it a western. I didn't write westerns! After completion, I was told I had written a sweet western. But it was just a Christmas story!
2: A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming spent over seven months on the best selling western lists on Amazon.
3: I knew nothing about the Crow tribe when I started writing the story other than there are some very handsome men in some old photos and the reservation is located directly above Wyoming. I knew almost nothing about the tribe when I finished the story. Oh, did that change!
4: I've known several folks tied to the news programs. They don't have a life. The broadcast company owns them. Their hair is cut, colored, and styled according to the company. The company tells them what they will wear, etc. Any free time they have is controlled. They are an image and it must be protected at all times.
5: The success of this book triggered off the series of Creed's Crossing, Wyoming, and the diary of Clare Coleman mentioned in A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming prompted my foray into historical westerns. That diary will also be available soon. My short story A Christmas Far From Home in A Sweetwater Springs Christmas with Debra Holland uses the grandson of Clare Coleman. As I was writing that story, I realized I had another, A Rancher's Woman. It should start appearing at the e-stores next week.
 
My sweet little western A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming has become the catalyst for so many other stories. Available separately, it is also part of the boxed set, Christmas on Main Street by the Main Street Authors. That's 11 Christmas books by your favorite best selling authors for one low price. (Guess who is a Main Street author?)

 BLURB from A SNOWY CHRISTMAS in WYOMING

A Native American cowboy and a national TV news anchorwoman have nothing in common except for their pasts. Is love preordained? An old diary from when Jessie and Clare Coleman settled on the land in the 1840's provides a history of their life. But tucked between the pages is an unrequited love between Clare Coleman and a tall Native American. Does love and land come full circle? In this season of giving, will fate reach through time to give a gift of love?

Andy Coyote settled into the job as foreman on the Coleman ranch. He's got custody of his thirteen month old daughter and the situation is perfect for both of them until Caroline Coleman returns home for Christmas and one of the worst blizzards in years hits the area. He's forced to accept Caroline's help to move a herd of cattle and mixed in it are several head from another ranch in the community. Cattle rustling still happens.

Caroline Coleman has her dream job as a Washington, D.C., news anchor for a national broadcast, but home is in Wyoming on her family's ranch. She has everything that money can buy, but the things that she really wants can't be purchased. Raised with solid, hard working, family values, she knows her life in the spotlight isn't real. She wants a man who appreciates the ranch, loves her for who she is and not what she is, and she wants a family of her own. And she doesn't like the idea of Andy Coyote taking advantage of her grandmother.



To Buy A SNOWY CHRISTMAS in WYOMING go to 
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B006B3IOIK; for Christmas on Main Street (boxed set) go to
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00GCPPALG
B&N: http://ow.ly/rEG4K Apple: http://ow.ly/rEGoH
Smashwords: http://ow.ly/rEIFj; for Sweetwater Springs Christmas go to Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00G06W3SA

You find E. Ayers on these links:
www.ayersbooks.com
Twitter: @ayersbooks
Blog: authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com
 
Thanks for checking E. Ayers and her secrets out. If you have any comments or questions let us know. E. Ayers will be around to answer your comments.
And don't forget to check back next week for another of our 5 Secrets.


 

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Charity Giving - Do You?

I don't know about you, but a lot of places I shop ask if you'll contribute to a charity when you're paying for your purchases. I usually say no. Not because I don't believe in the charities, but if I hit that store three times in a week, they ask me every time. Besides, I have four or five charities that I regularly support during the year. Yes, I send extra donations during the Christmas season. The food bank, for example, needs more money then to help families. As do other agencies that support families, children and even animals.
One of my charities that I support is called Critter Care.
It is a non-profit organization that supports wild animals, in particular those that are injured. Also abandoned animals, usually as a result of their mothers being shot by hunters. Two years ago they ended with 12 black bear cubs - which costs a lot of money to feed.
Once the animals are healed or can manage on their own Critter Care releases the animals back into the wild.
They d not allow visitors routinely, so the animals don't get used to people.
You can check this group a out at their website. http://www.crittercarewildlife.org/index.php
And no, I am not asking you too donate money to them.

This organization is participating in a contest to win money to help out their animals. Aviva is giving away money to the groups who finish in the top 10. You can check Aviva out at www.avivacommunityfund.org

Critter Care made it through the semi-finals and they're now in the finals. We've got them up to 16th place, but they need help to get to 10th place. There are three days left to vote. If you could vote for the next 3 days we might be able to help them and the animals they care for.r a worthy cause and help injured, and abandoned baby wild animals.

It's Christmas Charity, without donating money

Here's how to vote to help them:...
Step 1:        Login into www.avivacommunityfund.org
Step 2:        Register providing your email address & a password. Skip this  step if you are already registered from Round 1.
Step 3:        Sign-in, and in the search field, key Critter Care.
Step 4:        Click on Critter Care box and Click “VOTE NOW”.
Okay, that's my charitable request.

What about the rest of you? Do you donate through the year? Do you donate at Christmas? Do you prefer not to donate? What do you think about the request for money every time you check out of a store?
I'd love to hear you thoughts on Christmas charity.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

5 Secrets (What No One Knows About My Book)

Here's our next author, Amber Skyze, to share her secrets about the writing of her books that no one else know - until today. 

From a very young age Amber Skyze began making up stories–the only child syndrome. While telling tall tales to her friends she never dreamed of putting words on paper. In fact, if anyone told her she’d write when she grew up, she’d have laughed.
It wasn’t until raising children and reading all those romances that she decided–hey, I can write these. HA! Easier said than done.
When not crafting hot, steamy tales, this New York transplant now resides in Rhode Island with her husband, four children (who force her to work a day job), and three dogs.
She currently writes for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and is self-published.
Here are her secrets about her book - GOING FOR BROKE.

 

1.       I’ve never been to Vegas, but the story is set there.
2.       I’ve only stepped foot in a Casino twice in my life.
3.       The hero is named after a The Young & the Restless character.
4.       I’m always insecure writing the sex scenes.
5.       I’m jealous of the heroine Holly’s confidence in business dealings.
BLURB from GOING FOR BROKE:

A night of hot sex wasn’t what Holly Perkins was looking for when she came to Vegas, but that’s exactly what she find with Deacon Burke.

When the two business tycoons learn they’re after the same goal – ownership of the Pleasure Palace, things heat up.High Stakes, Lust, Loss and a battle to the end. Who will walk away with All or Nothing?
To buy GOING FOR BROKE go to http://www.ellorascave.com/going-for-broke.html
You can follow Amber on these links:
Thanks for checking out Amber and her secrets.
If you have any comments, or enjoyed this post, let me know.
 
 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Calendars - What Do You Know?

You buy it for your kids every year. They love it and thinks it's fun and a good way to count the number of sleeps until Santa comes. But do you really know what the Advent Calendar represents?
I don't, or didn't until I researched this article. And yes, I bought them for my children, too.
The definition from the dictionary says it is a piece of card incorporating small numbered flaps, one which is opened on each day of Advent to reveal a picture appropriate to the season. (So, I'm not sure where that puts the Star Wars Advent Calendar:))
So back to Wikipedia and the web, where my research says Advent come from Latin (don't most of our words) and that it means 'coming.' Centuries ago Christians felt they needed more than one day to celebrate Christ's birthday, so they could meditate on it, prepare for it and teach their children the significance of Christmas.
Originally the Germans counted down the first 24 days of December by drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning December 1. There are several stories about when the actual Advent calendar was produced.
Some say as early as 1831, others the early 1900's. The during the Second World War they were discontinued because cardboard was rationed. They restarted in 1946.
The traditional calendars often consist of two pieces of cardboard and take the form of a large rectangular card with 24 "windows", one for each day leading up to Christmas. One is opened each day leading up to Christmas, revealing an image, a poem, part of the nativity story or a small gift. Some calendars are strictly religious, others can be anything and can come in many various sizes and forms. 
In Denmark an adventkalender only has four gifts which are opened on each Advent Sunday leading to Christmas.
The Advent Calendar is very popular with children, but many feel it has lost it's true Christian meaning.
Do you use an Advent Calendar? Is it tradition is your family? I'd love to hear from you.





Friday, November 29, 2013

5 Secrets (What No one Knows About My Book)


I'm trying something new today. I thought it might be a fun post and people might be interested in a few tidbits about a book. Things no one else knows, until now. Behind every book there are stories that never get told. How did the writer find the plot; why that setting; back story on some of our heros; are the characters based on someone they know - and why. 

So I'm going to bring you a new author each week, who is going to share five secrets about their book that no one else knows. Check back every Thursday to read about a new author and their unknown stories about their book. I'll also be sharing information about the actual book.

Today, I'm using myself as the guinea pig. I'm starting off with 5 secrets about my book, HUNTED. You will not know these things even if you buy the book and read it.

1. HUNTED became an idea many years ago, in Victoria, BC. I was staying at the Empress Hotel. It is over a hundred years old and a beautiful building. I love the hotel. I was standing in the elegant lobby, on it's grey marble floor and looked up at the mezzanine. I wondered if anyone would ever hide up there, behind the marble railing, with it's wide columns, and watch the lobyy to see someone come into the hotel. The idea intrigued me and I started to write a scene.

2. I decide to have Maggie in the Witness Protection Plan. It made sense to me, and to the plot. I was told no way would anyone in Witness protection would ever be crooked. I debated changing that part, but I thought - we have crooked law enforcement officers in every profession, why not in Witness Protection. Then I read a story where Witness Protection people were charging people to get into the program and selling their locations to the highest bidder. So, yes, it was fiction, but I wasn't totally out to lunch.

3. A year ago I was going through my written novels, not all are finished, and realized I had set four of them in small towns in Montana. I decided to make them all into a series and sat down and wrote sketches for Duster and set them all there. Then I made the heros all brothers. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. HUNTED became the first in that series.

4. HUNTED was not the original title. When I started writing it, and it was a secret baby type story, I called it My Life, Your Baby. I could never come up with a good title, no matter how hard I tried. My Life, Your Baby never felt right and it didn't give any feeling abut the actual story. Eveyone said I needed to change it - but to what? When I was planning the series it came to me, and HUNTED felt right.

5. I love animals. I love I try to add a dog to my stories. I have two Shiba Inu's. Their pictures are on my site. They ar my inspiration for animals. For HUNTED I added a merle, Australian cattle dog. You'll also find dogs in my other stories, too.

And if you read HUNTED you now have some background you wouldn't have known before.

BLURB FROM HUNTED

Staying alive wasn't Maggie McGonagall's first concern. Her first concern was to convince the man she hadn't planned on ever seeing again, to accept and protect a son he didn't know about. And she had to do it quickly before the hit men found her and her son again. They'd already attempted to kill her three times. She was running out of time. Once Matt was safe, hopefully she'd figure out how to keep herself from getting killed.

Cody Hawkins came runnig when the woman he wanted to forget called him for help. He'd never quit loving her, but could he help her and walk away?

When he found out the trouble she was in and someone was trying to kill, he decided to kidnap her and her son. He took them back to Duster, Montana where he felt he and his family could protect them. Witness Protection hadn't been doing a good job, so far. But could he keep her alive and convince her he still loved her?

 
 
 You can find me on these other social media sites.

Website -  www.beverleybateman.com

I'd love to hear from you and your thoughts about this post, (after you finish your Black Friday shopping, of course.) Did you find it interesting? Is it something you'd be interested in by other authors about their books?
Let me know.

 
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hanukkah for dummies

Okay, don't get upset with my title. I was told by a friend that Hanukkah was on the same day as Thanksgiving this year.
I've blogged about Thanksgiving when I did Canadian Thanksgiving earlier. I don't think there's a lot of difference.
So I thought, let's talk about Hanukkah. Now, I know very little about Hanukkah, actually I know nothing. So this is a learning experience for me. I immediately went to Wikipedia and then checked a few other resources. If my information is inaccurate, or you can add more information, please let us know.

 Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication and is an eight day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar based, every year the first day of Hanukkah falls on a different day - usually sometime between late November and late December. Because many Jews live in predominately Christian societies, over time Hanukkah has become much more festive and Christmas-like. Jewish children receive gifts for Hanukkah - often one gift for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Many parents hope that by making Hanukkah extra special their children won't feel left out of all the Christmas festivities going on around them.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukkah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for the purposes of other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah is forbidden. The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in165 B.C.E.

In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.
 
Jewish resistance began in the village of Modin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered Jewish villagers and told them to bow down to the idol. Then eat the flesh of a pig - both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.
 
Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them.  Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.
 
Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple menorah for eight days. But to their dismay they discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.
 
In a rare alignment of calendars, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on Nov. 28 this year. And Americans planning to celebrate this double holiday have dubbed it Thanksgivukkah. At first glance, the festivals might seem completely different. One is dreidels. One is pumpkins. One is kosher. One is pigskins.
But here are five things the holidays have in common. Both are:
- a great excuse to stuff yourself silly.
- rooted in religion.
- started by groups who found refuge in America.
- all about being thankful.
- a reason to go home.
 
If you have anything to add to this, please do. I'm very interested in learning more about this holiday.

 
 
 
 

 

 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Were you in shock - did you cry, wail, hug?

Our group was given the topic of "Mass emotion" for this month.
We've been asked to tell about an incident you've experience where a large
crowd of people shared the same strong emotion.
I'm sure most people will immediate think of JFK and his assassination in Dallas.
That was my first thought.
I do remember where I was when his death was announced. I was a student nurse working on 6E in the Calgary General Hospital. (which is no longer there)

My second thought was 9/11. I think that affected so many people world wide.
I remember exactly where I was when the first Tower was hit.
I live on the west coast of Canada. That morning my alarm had just gone off. I have it set to the radio so I can hear the weather report and traffic when I wake up, before I get ready for work.
A few minutes after it went off, about 6:45 am my time, I heard that a plane had hit the first Tower.
There was a lot of confusion.
I felt shock ripple through my body. I have friends in New York. Were they all right?
After thinking about them, I thought, this can't be an accident. It didn't make sense.
I got up and started to get ready for work and then the second plane hit.
I felt tears trickling down my face, thinking of all the people in those towers, and my friend who worked in the financial district, so close to the Towers. I knew it wasn't an accident, but I had no idea who, or why.
I prayed for those who were in the buildings. How could this have happened? Who was responsible?
All morning as I got ready for work the radio carried updates.
At work it was all anyone could talk about. People had radios on at their desk and quietly shared any information they heard. All the loops I belonged to on the internet were posting about it and asking about friends they had in New York who would have been at work in that area. All the television stations and all the radios carried the story and continued to update it throughout the day.
I'm sure, across the world, people prayed for the safety for the safety of everyone, including the firefighters, the first responders and then the dogs.

It affected me, friends and acquaintances, all Americans and people around the world.
Do you remember where you were that day? How did you feel?

That's my story on "Mass Emotions".
To check the others stories go to
http://dbator.blogspot.ca
http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/2013/11/the-day-kennedy-died.html

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's on Your Christmas List?

Christmas decorations and Christmas cards have been out since before Halloween. Christmas music is playing in many stores.
From my last post on Christmas music it was nice to see I wasn't totally off base when it came to when to start playing Christmas music. The consensus was music after Thanksgiving. Black Friday worked. Christmas music after December 1st came in second. A few said October, after the Canadian Halloween, and a few said "Bah humbug -- never."

There were also several  comments about the earliness of all the Christmas stuff in stores and the commercialism of Christmas. So I thought I'd see what people thought about it.
What's on your Christmas list this year?
Have you started your, serious heavy duty shopping? (not that cute little note pad you picked up for  your sister when you saw it, because she loves sea shells).
Are you reading the ads and planning what to buy all those people on your list?
How much are you spending this year? More than last year? (Because the stores certainly want you to).
Do you make your own gifts?
Remember when people knit socks, made jars of preserves or jelly, or special potpourri's. It was the personal touch. Not bought at a box store where they could return it for something else.

My favorite, personally, is to donate to charities in some one's name. Most people I know have enough "stuff" and like it when I donate to a charity they like - animal charity, children's charity, breast cancer, whatever.

I've been talking mostly about giving, but do you have a wish for Santa? What's on it?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the commercialism of Christmas. How you cope with it. Do you go along with it? Let me know.