Advent countdowns come in all shapes and sizes, from paper chains and wall hangings to boxes of chocolate or 12 pairs of socks. Every year, we visit World Market to see what exciting Advent calendars they have in stock, buy far too many of them, and spend each of the 12-24 nights before Christmas eating candy, cookies, jams, and marzipan.
This year, Gordon decided to add a less delicious but much more meaningful Advent countdown to the mix. On the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we are celebrating with an Advent wreath.
I learned a lot of rules for life from Ukrainian babushkas: Don’t whistle inside or all of your money will fly out of your pocket. Never throw away bread, no matter how stale or moldy; feed it to animals instead. Hoping to stay healthy during the winter? Eat raw garlic. And never squish a spider in your house, especially around Christmastime.
Not only do spiders get special protection during the holidays, they also get an honored place in Christmas decor. Often, Ukrainians who put up a Christmas tree include small spider ornaments and tinsel to represent spider webs. So on the Second Day of Imported Christmas we made tiny beaded pavuchky (little spiders) for our tree.
For many Swedish families, it just isn’t Christmas without a straw goat somewhere on or under the tree. For the families in Gävle, it just isn’t Christmas unless you have to stop arsonists from burning your town’s giant straw goat to the ground. And for their neighbors, there is nothing more Christmasy than a goat bonfire. On the Sixth Day of Imported Christmas, we made a Julbock (Yule goat) of our own. Continue reading
If you’ve met either of us, you know we have a bit of a book problem. Fortunately, in our search for imported Christmas traditions, we discovered the perfect support group for our addiction: the entire population of Iceland. On the Fifth Day of Imported Christmas, we are celebrating Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas book flood that sweeps across Iceland every year. Continue reading
For most of my life, wassailing was just something that popped up in Christmas song lyrics, like “Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too” or “Here we come a-wassailing.” But as long as we’re talking unusual Christmas traditions, we thought that on the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we’d share the joy of wassailing in its ancient form. Continue reading
I knew it was time to get serious about Christmas this year when Gordon came home with a box from Topper Bakery in Ogden. So on the Third Day of Imported Christmas, we are celebrating Speculaas, the delicious Dutch cookies that we keep meaning to share with people but never quite manage to. Continue reading
I love Christmas almost as much as I love trying new things. Gordon has a knack for finding the strangest and best things other cultures/the internet have to offer and having the requisite skills to do them. In truly American fashion, we decided to round out our Christmas with 12 Days of Imported Christmas traditions.
On the First Day of Imported Christmas, we’re going with one of our favorite traditions found so far. When Gordon saw an article about Caga Tió, the Catalonian poop log, he immediately went out to the garage to make one.
Sometimes the power goes out when it is too dark to see. And if, after you’ve stumbled around looking for a flashlight, you find one with dead batteries, you’ll need to stumble around some more until you find a candle and matches. By now, you’ve probably got several bruised toes and may even have let some profanities slip.
Good news, Popular Mechanics October 1957 (pg. 194) has the answer. This simple candleholder has a slot for a matchbox in the bottom so you’ll always have them both together, and the handle makes it easily portable. Unfortunately, if what I heard from the garage while Gordon made it is any indication, you may end up just getting the profanity out of the way before the power outage. But once it’s made, as long as you don’t lose it or bury it beneath other things, all frustration is gone by the time you actually need it. Continue reading
I don’t know about you, but when I read something like “One of the most interesting novelties that the home craftsman can make in his leisure moments is an electric ‘Aladdin’s lamp,'” I feel obligated to make a lamp. This is one of the earliest Popular Mechanics projects we’ve done so far, coming in from the June 1926 issue. Even if you don’t have a mantle to put it on (as the article suggests) it makes a great nightlight, especially for kids who dream of being a princess/genie/street urchin. Continue reading
My favorite part about reading 80-year-old magazine articles is that the writers get really excited about things that we find commonplace or unnecessary. Take this telephone note pad, for example. Gordon found this project in a June 1936 article called “Working with Plastics.”
The first paragraph talks about the importance of home craftsmen getting to know this “new material,” so they can use it in “building many attractive novelties such as candlesticks, jewel boxes, clock cases, vanity powder sets, bracelets, etc.” The article then walks through the steps to building a telephone note pad so you can record all your important messages and information.