Friday, December 18, 2015

"Christmas Around The World" Day--6 Recipe --“Irish Coffee Cocktail” & Homemade Gumdrop Trees

It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart. - Marjorie Holmes

Welcome to the 6th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday for the next 12 days, till Christmas Eve, I will post a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I will also share a holiday treat, a homemade gift idea, or just a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas Eve.” This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!

Day # 6, my country today is “Ireland” Top of the morning to you!

In Ireland, people celebrate Christmas in much the same way as people in the UK and in the USA, but they also have many of their own Christmas traditions and customs. Christmas for Irish people, who are Catholics, lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of Epiphany on January 6th, which some Irish people call “Little Christmas.” There is an old tradition that in some Irish houses (although now not many), people put a tall, thick candle on the sill of the largest window after sunset on Christmas Eve. The candle is left to burn all night and represents a welcoming light for Mary and Joseph. It can also represent the love of a family member who cannot be home at Christmas.

Churches in Ireland are packed full of people at the 12am Christmas Mass. For many of these Irish folks Midnight Mass is a social event as much it is a religious. Old friends will re-acquainted themselves with a few prayers, a good old chat and an uplifting sing-song of Christmas Carols. 

In Irish, (or Gaelic) Christmas is “Nollaig,” Santa Claus is known as “San Nioclás” (Saint Nicholas) or “Daidí na Nollag” (Father Christmas) Children hope that Santa will visit on Christmas Eve and leave presents for them. The day after Christmas Day, St. Stephen's Day (known as Boxing Day in the UK and some other countries), is also very important in Ireland. Like in the UK, football matches and horse racing meetings are traditionally held on St. Stephen's Day.

Another custom is that every Christmas morning in Ireland, thousands of people take part in an unusual and fairly recent tradition; a quick swim in the freezing coastal waters. Similar practices take place in other countries around Europe, and the Irish are as happy as any to jump right in. Not too cold until you get out and the icy wind sends shivers down your spine.  Still, many Irish people are more than willing to take part in the chilly tradition, often raising money for charity along the way.

One very old tradition is the Wren Boys Procession that takes place on St. Stephen's Day. This goes back to ancient times when a real wren was killed and carried around in a holly bush. Some processions still take place, but no wren is hunted or used. Young men and women dress up in home made costumes and go from house to house carrying a long pole with a holly bush tied to its top and singing a rhyme about a wren bird. Sometimes they are accompanied of violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns. The rhyme that is often used is: “The wren, the wren, the king of all birds On St. Stephen's day was caught in the furze.” People also ask for money “for the starving wren!” 

The wren is one of the smallest birds in the UK and Ireland, but has a very loud song and is sometimes called the “king of all birds.” This is because of the legend of a little wren who rode on the top of an eagle's head and boasted he had “flown higher than an eagle.” Wren's were hunted for many years throughout Europe in medieval times. The Wren Boys Procession mostly died out in the early 20th century, although it still takes place in some towns including Dingle, in Country Kerry in the South West of Ireland. 
Traditional, historic, Christmas food in Ireland include a round cake, full of caraway seeds. One is traditionally made for each person in the house. Now it's more common to have a Christmas Cake like those in the UK, a rich fruit cake covered with marzipan and decorated with icing. And an addition to turkey for Christmas dinner, sometimes spiced beef (spiced over several days, cooked, and then pressed) is eaten. This can be served hot or cold. Dessert is commonly a “Christmas Pudding.”

On Day #6 I am sharing with you a cocktail called

“Irish Coffee Cocktail

Makes: 2 cocktails

4 oz Baileys Coffee Irish Cream
2 oz Stoli Vanil
2 oz Kahlua
Whipped cream
Red sparkling sugar

Pour all the liquor into a shaker filled with ice, shake well and serve. Top the cocktail off with the whipped cream and decorate it with the sugar. For something that we threw together, this cocktail is delicious and simple.

**I know that this is the holiday, but please drink responsibly. 


Today I am giving my oven a rest and my recipe is “Gumdrop Trees.” This is a super easy project for kids as well as adults. This is a creative yet inexpensive Christmas centerpiece for the holidays. Using gumdrops for trees, and wreaths is easier than you think! Gumdrop trees make great gifts, just wrap them in cellophane with a beautiful ribbon and what a fun gift that will be.

To make these trees you need to go to your local craft store and purchase a Styrofoam cone or a wreath. You should try to find the green colored ones as the white ones will show through, in-between the gumdrops. Then you need several bags of gumdrops depending on the size of your cones. You need some ribbon, and a box of toothpicks with a point on the end. (the round ones, not the flat ones) Cut your toothpicks in half. Do not use toothpicks that splinter. (What I use is a small wire cutter and that cuts then perfectly in half) Now stick half of the toothpick in the bottom of the gumdrop and push it in the cone or wreath. Work from the bottom up, all around the cone going up the shape. Place the gumdrops as close together as possible. You can use all one color or mix the colors. You may need a full toothpick to attach the final gumdrop on top of the tree. Then attach a bow with another toothpick and place on the very top of your newly created Gumdrop Tree which you can add to your holiday decorations. Creating is fun for everyone!

****Make sure you return tomorrow for another country (Day 7) and another fabulous recipe…

Till Next Time………………………….

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