Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The History of Christmas Decor

Christmas trees, wreaths and Santa Claus seem to have been part of the Christmas season for as long as any of us can remember. Most Christmas celebrants are celebrating the arrival of Jesus into the world. Others may be celebrating Christmas as a purely secular holiday where families exchange gifts and spend time together. It seems to most of us that this is how it has always been and we are merely repeating the same holiday traditions of the many generations that have gone before us. While many aspects of Christmas, and winter decor have been part of the holiday tradition for thousands of years, their heritage is not what most of us think. There has been a celebration for thousands of years during the winter season, but Christmas as we know it is a relatively modern invention.

The winter solstice has been a time for celebration and ceremonies long before Christianity made its' presence in the world. The Romans celebrated their God, Saturn, during the second half of December with street festivals and holiday decor. They decorated their homes with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles to celebrate their god. Festive meals with family and friends were common as was the exchange of good luck gifts called Strenae. Saturnalia, the celebrations honoring Saturn, was a festive time of parties and joy. Garlands of laurel and brightly lit trees seem to be part of today's celebration of Christmas. But our current Christmas traditions are not merely a Christian veneer to an ancient Roman holiday. Modern Christmas traditions have their past in more than just Roman behavior and many of the traditions we enjoy today had to fight long and hard to re emerge on the Christmas scene.

The Romans were not the first nor the only culture to celebrate during the winter solstice. The ancient Mesopotamians, Persians, and Babylonians all held celebrations during this time of year. In Europe and the British Isles, there is a long history of celebrations held during the winter solstice. The tradition of the Yule log most likely originated in the Scandinavian countries where the sun disappears altogether during the winter months. The Scandinavian tradition was to send scouts in search of the sun, and when they finally spied its' return, a great Yuletide festival would be held to celebrate the return of the sun. A feast would be held around the burning Yule log and apples would be hung from trees to remind the participants that spring would return again. The feast would last as long as the Yule log burned, sometimes as long as twelve days. In other places in Europe, late December was the time the cattle would be slaughtered since the cold would preserve the meat and the herd would not need to be fed during the winter months. Most of the wine and beer had fermented, so food and drink was plentiful as the early Europeans celebrated the approaching spring.

Mistletoe was popular in the colder regions of Europe where its' evergreen nature kept it attractive all year round. In fact the Christmas concept of " Peace and Joy" can trace its' roots to a pagan Norse concept that the mistletoe held magical powers and enemies meeting under the mistletoe had to call a truce until the following day. Ancient Druids also utilized Mistletoe during the winter solstice and distributed it as a talisman against evil. Mistletoe and Yule logs have long been part of winter solstice celebrations, as they are a part of our Christmas celebrations today. But just as Christmas is not merely a Roman holiday neither is it merely a renamed pagan holiday. It is a combination of all of these celebrations with new traditions added in.

The urge to feast had been a cultural part of the human existence long before the advent of Christianity. As occurs when a new religion captures the human soul, old customs are merely renamed. The early church did not celebrate Christ's birth. In the third century, the church decided to celebrate Jesus' birthday and December 25 was chosen. It is most likely that the Church could not stop the pagan celebrations that surrounded the winter solstice, and by celebrating Jesus' birth at this time the Church acknowledged the power of the human need to celebrate the winter solstice . The Church also realized the control they would gain by twining the winter solstice celebrations with those of Jesus' birth. Winter Solstice celebrations, especially Saturnalia, had been rather wild. This wildness continued up to the Middle Ages where most attended church but followed it with a raucous celebration that mimicked the traditions of Saturnalia and other solstice festivals before it.

In the sixteenth century, the Germans started the Christmas tree tradition that we know. Trees had always been part of the solstice tradition in Germany, but they became part of the Christian tradition in the 1500's. Martin Luther is credited with adding the first lighted candles to the tree. I wonder if he had read about the ancient Roman tradition of putting lighted candles in their trees?

In the mid 17th century Christmas was canceled. At least in England. The Puritan forces took over England and in an attempt to purge the country of decadence, Christmas was canceled. In England this was reversed when Charles II was returned to the throne, but our forbearers were even more conservative than Cromwell. Christmas was illegal in Boston, but celebrated in Jamestown. Christmas as we know it today really came about during the Victorian era in the 1860's. It was declared a national holiday in the United States in 1870.

So how did Christmas go from being illegal to being one of the most celebrated holidays on earth? And why am I not arrested for having mistletoe and Christmas trees and festivities? Well we have Queen Victoria and her German husband to thank for all the Christmas festivities and lights we enjoy today. Queen Victoria was shown with a Christmas Tree, compliments of her German husband. What was previously seen as pagan, now became fashionable. The Christmas floodgates opened, once again apples and ornaments and lights could be found decorating homes during December. Gifts are given and feasts are had. It is almost like some fundamental need of human kind to celebrate during the winter months has been let free.

The Church also finally gained control over the nature of the winter celebration. Most families engage in some religious activity during the Christmas season and the truly wild nature of winter festivals has been tamed. Nevertheless, lighted trees, Yule logs, Mistletoe, feasting, laurels, wreaths and apple ornaments are all part of our holiday decor. As they have been, for over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas decorations are truly pagan in their history. But merely because they had decorative value for our pagan ancestors, does not mean they cannot decorate our homes in celebration of Jesus' birth. These decorative items were used by our ancestors to celebrate important times in their lives. It is fitting, we use the same items to celebrate important times in our lives.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fashion Design Programs

By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Jennifer_Bailey]Jennifer Bailey

The fashion industry is a fierce business. The cliche "One day you're in, and the next day you're out" really holds true to this trade. Numerous fashion designers have already come and gone but if you will notice, those who are still out there have reliable, solid collections. For example, designers such as Tom Ford have gone from one fashion house to another, making Gucci an in-demand brand in the 90s. Betsy Johnson has created hip, funky, and crazy designs that are still making waves in the fashion industry, regardless of the fact that they are not really wearable.

Fashion design schools play a major role in shaping and honing the next Betsy Johnson and Tom Ford of the fashion industry. Programs set by the school board every school year usually determine if the students can cope with the real world. Internships to famous fashion houses are also included in these programs so student can apply what they have learned in fashion to school to the real fashion scenario.

The International Academy of Fashion program was described by critics as a comprehensive, technical and very demanding. The fashion curriculum provides a solid learning program with a specific goal of developing in their students creative individual thinking and a sense of uniqueness as well as preparing them for a professional career. An associate in science degree in fashion design and marketing or a bachelor of fine arts degree in fashion design and marketing are usually the choices offered to students.

The American Intercontinental University, on the other hand, has an Association of Arts degree in fashion design that fashion experts say is designed to inspire the individuals to construct innovative and edgy designs. Computer skills in designing are also taught so students can combine traditional techniques with computer-assisted designs. An association of arts degree in fashion marketing is another program offered to talented and fashionable students. The programs in this curriculum offer teach the inner operations of retail and wholesale fashion, market analysis, and evaluation of the production needs of the fashion industry. [http://www.e-FashionDesign.com]Fashion Design provides detailed information on Fashion Design, Fashion Design Schools, Fashion Design Programs, Fashion Design Games and more. Fashion Design is affiliated with [http://www.i-Fabrics.com]Fabric Hammocks.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jennifer_Bailey http://EzineArticles.com/?Fashion-Design-Programs&id=278093

Friday, November 2, 2007

Getting Financing For Your Pool

If you are trying to get financing for your pool, all you have to do is to research different pool companies, lenders, or pool contractors in your local area to assist you.

You will also need to find a lender who will be experienced to understand your specific needs. There are some swimming Pool Contractors and Pool Companies that also offer financing for your swimming pool that you can take advantage of as well. If a builder is constructing your home, then the swimming pool will come as part of the home package. You would only need to finance the home. A swimming pool adds a lot of perks to your home. It adds to your real estate appreciation value.

Financing a pool is easier than financing a home or car. It can also be a tax advantage to you. If you hold pool parties as part of your entertainment expense for your business, you are able to claim for a newly constructed pool.

Some lenders will use the value of the property to determine equity in your home and lend you money as an improvement to the property using that equity as collateral. This improvement will not only give you leverage to your home, but it will also add a new lifestyle mode to your existence.

Do some research on what lenders offer, but don’t leave out the pool company or pool contractor in your research. They may have better lending options and desirable pool packages that will fit your needs.

You might also be able to find a lender who knows a lot about financing and installation of a swimming pool and will know how to structure your loan for you.

If you have a lender who understands about pool construction and what it entails, your approval process will be much easier. This will allow your pool construction to go more speedily. Make sure you locate a lender who will determine your home value once the pool is installed in addition to the current purchase price of homes in the area.

Try to find financing that will meet your specific needs. There are short-term loans with higher monthly payments and long-term loans with lower payments. If you opt to finance the pool only, you will be able to do a consolidation loan with other debts that you may have. This is called a debt consolidation loan where the lender will use the home as the collateral. You will be able to possibly get extra cash to add pool equipment, accessories or additions.

With a swimming pool financing plan that is right for you, you will be able to enjoy the benefits that come with your pool along with a low interest rate loan.

Swimming pool financing is available to any homeowner who is willing to do the research it takes to find the right lender. It only takes a simple phone call to get a swimming pool in your home as an added incentive to the long warm summers.

How Popular Are Swimming Pools

In 1896, the Olympic world of swimming brought the popularity of swimming pools to the forefront. There are two different types of swimming pools; in-ground and above-ground. Most homes these days have swimming pools especially those that have been recently built. A residence that has a swimming pool will increase its real estate value. The swimming pool serves as a means of entertaining and relaxation. During the summer months, it is the most enjoyable aspect of having fun that teenagers and adults look forward to.

If you or someone is in need of any type of swimming pool installation, a professional pool company who specializes in building pools will be able to assist you. It may be a huge undertaking, but certainly something that is being done.

An above-ground pool would be probaby an easier choice because it does not require any complexity. Some homes already come with an installed swimming pool. In those cases, the homeowner, enjoys the freedom of having private pool parties and the ability to entertain other guests.

Swimming has become a popular sport around the world and so swimming pools are a product of that sport activity. Recreation centers see the value that swimming pools have in the community and have capitalized on it to provide fun activities for the neighborhood. Swimming pools are also available for use at certain locations throughout the cities in each State. These are owned, operated and maintained by the city. The YMCA is a perfect example. The cities use these facilities to train swim teams for Olympics and other meets.

Children from all ages participate and use these kinds of swimming pools. Having a swimming pool at your home will help you to practice even harder for swim meets if the local pool is closed.

Swimming pools are especially popular in hot or warm climates. In Florida, there are a lot of swimming pool owners who relish their prized possession and would not consider giving it up. The cost to maintain it is not even a question when you live in a warm climate or when you want to have fun in the privacy of your home.

As swimming pools begin to become more popular, even people who live in cold areas are getting them installed because in the winter time, it is possible to just put a cover over the pool to protect it.

Pool companies or Pool Contractors are now offering different designs and competitive pool packages to choose from. These pool companies will take care of acquiring the permits from the city. You will be able to pick the tile, the style of the pool, the layout and the type of deck finish. Pool companies have seen the popularity of swimming pools and it has created a demand for pool servicing. The pool has to be cleaned and maintained for proper use.

These swimming pool professionals are equipped to handle cleaning the pool, maintaining the pool and repairing the pool among other task. A pool technician is usually assigned to get the job done on a regular basis