They say it’s your birthday…

image courtesy of Wikipedia

Recently, I took a whirlwind trip to New York City to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, and we had a wonderful time. It was a nice departure from the usual birthday party and it got me thinking about birthday traditions. I did a little research on this annual event and found some pretty interesting origins and cultural variations in tradition.

Did you know that birthday parties may have started in Europe as a way to protect the celebrant from evil spirits? People believed that you were more vulnerable to being attacked by evil spirits on your birthday, so all your family and friends would make it their purpose to surround you all day in order to keep you safe. There are so many beautiful birthday traditions all over the world, and in case someone you love has a birthday coming up, I’ll give you a few of my favorites. Why not try something new?

Brazil: In Brazil you pull on the Birthday Boy/Girl’s earlobe for every year they have been alive, and sometimes once more for good luck. Ouch!

Canada: You grease the celebrant’s nose with butter or margarine, this way they are too slippery for the bad spirits to catch. This tradition has it’s origin in Scotland.

Denmark: A flag is flown outside the house to designate that someone in the household has a birthday that day. For children, parents place the child’s presents around their bed so that is the first thing they see when they get up in the morning.

England: A Fortune Cake is made, which is a regular cake with small symbolic tokens baked into it. If someone get’s a coin in their slice of cake, then they are destined to be rich.

Korea: On a child’s first birthday, she/he is placed in front of a table of foods and objects, such as a string, brushes, ink and money. Whatever the child chooses from the table determines his/her fortune. Food represents that they will never know hunger, the string represents longevity, money represents riches and the brush and ink represent intelligence.

South Africa: On a person’s 21st birthday, their parents give them a key. This key symbolizes the young person’s readiness to unlock the door to their future.

Sweden: Traditionally, Swedish children are served breakfast in bed. Parents surprise the children by singing a traditional Swedish birthday song and bringing a birthday breakfast and gifts to the birthday child. The breakfast typically includes a hot roll with a candle in it and a beverage.

Vietnam: In Vietnam, everyone’s birthday is celebrated on New Year’s Day!

So, what do you think? Have you been inspired to switch up any of your usual birthday traditions & if so, where will you start?

Celebrating the Kentucky Derby & Mint Juleps

Image courtesy of kentuckyderby.com

As most people who will be watching the Kentucky Derby this weekend know, the official drink of the race is the mint julep, one of the oldest and most iconic American cocktails.

Since of course we’re candlemakers and not mixologists by trade, consider our new Garden Mint candle our ode to this exciting tradition.

From Esquire, we found a good old-fashioned julep recipe. Not too sweet, just the way we like it:

Instructions

Place 5 or 6 leaves of mint in the bottom of a prechilled, dry 12-ounce glass or silver beaker. Add sugar and crush slightly with a muddler. Pack glass with finely cracked ice. Pour a generous 3 ounces of Kentucky bourbon over the ice. Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Add more ice and stir again before serving. Stick a few sprigs of mint into the ice so that the partaker will get the aroma.

Still not enough mint flavor? Try this: For each julep, lightly cover about 10 sprigs of mint with superfine sugar, add an ounce of spring water, macerate, let stand for 10-15 minutes, and strain through a fine sieve into the ice-filled glass. Then add whiskey and proceed as above. If you’ll stoop to maceration, you might also want to float 1/2 ounce of dark Jamaica rum on top.

Will you be watching the big event this weekend?

Joyous Christmas Traditions

Image courtesy of howtodecorateachristmastree.com

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five and ten glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in ev’ry store
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be

On your own front door.” ~ Johnny Mathis

I love December because it looks, feels and smells just like Christmas. Beautiful Christmas lights are strung across storefront windows, fragrant holly wreaths adorn every door and the sweet, cozy aromas of peppermint-infused lattes and pastries tickle your nose as you walk past coffee shops and bakeries. Every year, my family and I officially ring in the holiday season with a very special Christmas tradition: the decorating of our Christmas tree! We use ornaments that are laced with our family memories mixed in with the fun ones we’ve collected over the years, like snow-globes, candy canes, snowflakes, and my favorites, homemade ornaments lovingly crafted by the kids. This year, we’re making these adorable dangling snowmen ornaments to embellish our tree, and I’m definitely excited to see how they turn out. What are some of your favorite family holiday traditions?