Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Day

New Years Eve


A New Year's Wish
On New Year's Eve, Marilyn stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living.
Well, it was kind of embarrassing. As the clock struck - the bartender was almost crushed to death.

Lecture Tour with A Difference
On New Year's Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home. As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman. 'What are you doing out here at four o'clock in the morning?' asked the police officer.
'I'm on my way to a lecture,' answered Roger.
'And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year's Eve?' enquired the constable sarcastically.
'My wife,' slurred Daniel grimly.


Politician in Action
A Senator in the USA was once asked about his attitude toward whisky.
'If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I'm against it. But if you mean the elixir of a New Year toast, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I'm for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.'

Awesome Wildlife

Who's a pretty boy then?

Brainteaser - Wednesday's Answers

Yesterday's brainteaser was a set of 10 general knowledge 'trivia' questions for you to answer. How did you get on? Answers below:

01 Petrol.
02 The ferret.
03 Austria.
04 Himalayan ox.
05 The first TV satellite.
06 A musical instrument.
07 New York.
08 A type of synthetic rubber.
09 In the British Museum.
10 Tungsten.

9/10 Excellent 7/8 Very Good 5/6 Good - Below 5 - Let's put it down to a Christmas hangover.

Britain Sends More Back-Up To Afghanistan

Thought For Today

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
Author Unknown

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Pious Poles

If, after four days of Christmas over-indulgence, you feel you just want to get away from it all then here is the ideal solution. Book yourselves into a secluded monastery and receive a bit of divine sustenance. It apparently works for the good people of Poland as you will see from reading this report from the BT Yahoo news service AFP. Sounds good to me - even the cup of tea.
Poles who do not feel like a New Year's Eve of hard partying have jumped at the chance to spend their holiday in the contemplative calm of a Benedictine monastery, organisers said Monday.
"The monastery hosted 60 people last year. This year, we had hundreds of calls and all 89 places were booked by the start of December," Jadwiga Pribyl, of Poland's Benedictine Cultural Institute, told AFP.
For 80 zloty (19 euros, 28 dollars) a day, the New Year's guests sleep in the monastic cells of the Roman Catholic Tyniec abbey (pictured above), perched on a cliff above the Vistula River in southern Poland.
Over the three-day retreat, they get the same simple meals as the monks, and receive divine sustenance from regular religious services and periods of meditation.
At midnight on December 31, Pribyl said, "there won't be any crazy stuff, or fireworks, but just a mass followed by a cup of tea".
More than 90 percent of Poland's 38 million inhabitants are practising Catholics.

Bedtime With Snow White

I can't believe Grumpy's still
not happy!


Today's brainteaser is based on general knowledge 'Trivia' and as usual there are ten questions to be answered. A good opportunity to get the brain cells working again after the Christmas recess.

01 What is given an octane number?
02 Which small animal is trained to hunt rats and rabbits?
03 In which country is the Schilling the unit of currency?
04 What is a yak?
05 What was telstar?
06 What is a zither?
07 Where would you go to find Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan?
08 What is neoprene?
09 Where are the Elgin Marbles?
10 What metal is used to make the filaments of electric light bulbs?

Good luck with the above questions. Answers in tomorrow's Journal.

Awesome Wildlife


Today's Smile

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Looking Back - Harold Macmillan Dies

On this day in 1986, Lord Stockton, the former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, died peacefully aged 92.
Members of his family were by his bedside at Birch Grove House, at Horsted Keynes, East Sussex, when he died at 1820 GMT following a short illness.
Tributes began flooding in for the former Conservative leader nicknamed "Super Mac".
The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said his death left a void in politics which could not be filled.
Fellow former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath described Lord Stockton as one of the most creative minds in British politics.
The family of Lord Stockton, Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden, founded the publishing house Macmillan & Company.
He was educated at Eton, then Balliol College, Oxford, and entered Parliament in 1924 after he served in World War One.
An advocate of social and economic reforms, his views were often criticised by his party for being too left wing.
But under Churchill he became minister of housing in 1951 and fulfilled his pledge to build 300,000 council houses in a year.
Memorable speech
He became prime minister in January 1957 after the Suez crisis forced Anthony Eden's resignation.
Lord Stockton led the Tories to election victory two years later under the slogan "You have never had it so good", pointing to low unemployment and a substantial rise in real earnings.
He accelerated Britain's decolonization and in 1960 gave a memorable speech in South Africa on the "winds of change" sweeping across the continent.
Mr Macmillan saw Britain's future within Europe but his bid to join the Common Market split the party and was blocked by President de Gaulle of France in January 1963.
Inflation and slow growth affected the economy.
And Mr Macmillan's handling of the Profumo Affair when minister John Profumo resigned over a liaision with Christine Keeler was judged to be poor.
In 1962 the government's general unpopularity led Mr Macmillan to abruptly dismiss six Cabinet members, an event which became known as the 'Night of the Long Knives'.
He resigned in October 1963 due to ill health and retired from the House of Commons in 1964, declining a peerage which he later accepted in 1984.

Lord Stockton refrained from public comment on current affairs after his retirement.
But he broke his silence in 1976 to call for a coalition government to secure economic recovery.
He later accused Margaret Thatcher of selling the family silver regarding policies on privatisation.
He was considered to be more original and progressive than most of his generation and to have given Britons a better quality of life during his tenure as prime minister than enjoyed previously. In retirement he worked on his memoirs, at the publishing house, and as chancellor of Oxford University.

To watch a video clip about the Macmillan years, first broadcast 30 December 1986, click the link below:

Church Bulletin

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the person(s) you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment and gracious hostility.
The pastor would apprciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their eletric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
Next Sunday Mrs Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on 'It's a terrible experience'.

Awesome Wildlife

You can't buy a mattress like that at John Lewis!

True Stories (No Kidding)

The world is a dangerous place. No wonder with people like this in it! Seriously, these are not jokes, they are real situations.

01 My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out window and I gave the clerk a £5 note. Our total was £4.20, so I also handed her a Twenty pence piece. She said, 'you gave me too much money.'I said,'Yes I know, but this way you can just give me £1 back. 'She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request. I did so, and he handed me back the 20 pence and said 'We're sorry but they could not do that kind of thing.' The clerk then proceeded to give me back 80 pence in change..

02 We had to have the garage door repaired. The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a 'large' enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one his company made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, 'Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower.' I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4 and he said, 'NOOO, it's not. Four is larger than two..'

03 I live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the Highways Department to request the removal of the DEER CROSSING sign on our road. The reason: 'Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! I don't think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.'

04 My daughter went to a local Kentucky Fried and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for 'minimum lettuce.' He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg lettuce.

05 I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, 'Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge? 'To which I replied, 'If it was without my knowledge, how would I know? 'He smiled knowingly and nodded, 'That's why we ask.'

06 The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged co-worker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, 'What on earth are blind people doing driving?!'

07 When my husband and I arrived at Our Local Ford dealer to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the drivers side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. 'Hey,' I announced to the Fitter/Mechanic, 'its open!' His reply, 'I know. I already did that side.'

Who Am I? - Monday's Answer

The answer to Monday's
Who Am I?
Harry Hill

Monday, 28 December 2009

Early Learning Centre

During the Christmas period I purchased the most fantastic toy from the Early Learning Centre in Lincoln. It was called a 'morphibians shark' and was basically a remote controlled car. It was described on the box as 'easy to use full functioning remote control', 'with bright LED headlights' and 'a vehicle that can drive anywhere through puddles, mud and grass. Designed to perform on land and water'. Well, this car really lives up to its billing. What's more it is virtually indestructible and not small in stature. The recommended age is 3 years+ and it requires 2xAAA batteries for the handset plus 3xAA batteries for the car, not included but can be purchased with the car and according to reviews last a long time. At £20 this toy is amazing value for money. Warning to children: don't let daddy get hold of it... you'll never get it back! If you would like to know the history of the early Learning Centre read on..........

The Early Learning Centre is a British chain of shops selling toys for very young children. Originally set up as a mail order company in 1974 and was always based near Swindon; by 1980 it had ten shops; and it has grown to include 215 shops in the UK and over 80 in 19 other countries such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Canada and Australia. In addition, their toys are available in selected Denenhams, Boots and Sainsbury's. The company has also sold their products via their website (link below) since 2001. In October 2005, the site was updated by Tobias & Tobias. In 2003 it won the New Media Age Best Retail Website Award. In the 1980s ELC opened a number of "nursery stores" which sold equipment such as pushchairs and cots. The chain had stores in the United States until the early 1990s. Over 80% of products sold are own brand, being designed at a research centre in Hong Kong.
John Menzies rescued Early Learning Centre in 1985. Sales struggled in the late 1990s. After some years, the company's board of directors led by Mike France, bought the company back in October 2001 for £30m, being backed by 3i, before selling it to Tim Waterstone (who founded Waterstones (bookstores) under the name Eagle Retail Investments for £62m in April 2004 and he joined it with his Daisy & Tom chain of shops within the "Chelsea Stores Group". More recently, Early Learning Centre was purchased by Mothercare in June 2007 for £85m from Chelsea Stores Holdings. Mothercare have continued to expand the high street presence of ELC by opening additional stores; mainly as concessions within over 100 existing Mothercare stores.
Product range
They are known for selling products which use wood such as plywood and Chinese Maple and other non-plastic materials as well as top quality plastics, which are designed to be educational, and which are play tested toys.

Today's Smile

Oh well, back to the job centre tomorrow!

Who Am I?

Today's Who Am I? puzzle requires you to work out who our mystery celebrity is from the 10 clues listed below.

01 I was born 1 October 1964.
02 My place of birth was Woking, Surrey.
03 I was educated at Cranbrook School. Kent.
04 I gained a medical degree at St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London.
05 I am married to illustrator Magda Archer.
06 In 2006 I was a victim of identity theft and had £280,000 stolen from my bank account.
07 I have had several books published, three of which were, Flight from Deathrow (2002), Tim the Tiny Horse (2006) and The Further Adventures of the Queen Mum (2007).
08 In 2003, I was listed in the Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British Comedy.
09 In 2008, I won two BAFTAS and another in 2009 for best Entertainment Performance.
10 I provide the voice-over for You've Been Framed.

Any ideas who this might be?

Funny Signs

The Best Put Down Line Ever

Major General Peter Cosgrove is an 'Australian treasure!'

General Cosgrove was interviewed on the radio recently. Read his reply to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children. Regardless of how you feel about gun laws you've got to love this! This is one of the best comeback lines of all time. It is a portion of an ABC radio interview between a female broadcaster and General Cosgrove who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military Headquarters.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?
GENERAL COSGROVE: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery and shooting.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?
GENERAL COSGROVE: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?
GENERAL COSGROVE: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.
GENERAL COSGROVE: Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio cast went silent for 46 seconds and when it returned, the interview was over.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Looking Back - Sea Gem Oil Rig Collapses

On this day in 1965, the Sea Gem oil rig collapsed and Britain's first off-shore drilling platform capsized off the north-east coast of England killing four men.
Nine of the crew of 32 were still missing.
The British ship Baltrover happened to be passing and was first to spot the collapse of the Sea Gem at 1409GMT.
It sent a radio message to shore for further help, and then picked up 19 survivors and two bodies from the sea.
The 5,600-ton steel barge had been converted into an oil rig comprising a drilling platform, living quarters and a helicopter landing pad.
It was supported on 10 steel legs 50 feet (15 metres) above the waves.
Two of these legs gave way as it was being prepared to move to a new location, and then the whole rig tilted sideways and sunk.
Men were seen jumping into the freezing cold sea - stained red with fuel - and clinging onto wreckage.
Survivors were brought ashore to Hull tonight.
One man hanging on to a life raft clutched me with a grip of iron when I reached him
RAF winchman John Reeson
They had been rescued in a joint effort by passing ships and two helicopters - one RAF and the other civilian.
Rescuers on the Leconfield-based RAF helicopter, which rescued three men, said that by the time they had arrived only one leg of the converted barge was left visible.
Flight Sergeant John Reeson described the horrendous conditions as he had tried to save them.
"We went out through a snowstorm," he said.
"It was clear weather around the oil rig but it was rough. There were waves 15ft to 20ft high. I went down the winch line to men I could see in the water. It was freezing cold. They had been in the water an hour or two before we got there.
"One man hanging on to a life raft clutched me with a grip of iron when I reached him. It was almost impossible to pick him up, but I managed it. He was desperate."
One of the rig workers, Robert Hessey, said the structure collapsed without any warning.
"I saw the crane topple over the deck," he said. "There was a loud sound of grinding and rumbling. I hadn't realised what was happening
until I heard someone shouting, 'She's sinking.'"
Last September, after much public anticipation, British Petroleum's rig was the first to discover natural gas in the British sector 42 miles (67km) off the Lincolnshire coast.
Earlier this month Sea Gem also became the first rig to light a flare over the North Sea.
BP said the tragedy will delay its drilling programme. A new purpose-built rig, Sea Quest, is currently under construction in Belfast but it will be some months before it's ready to operate.
Two supporting legs gave way in the rough waters of the North Sea.

Altogether, 13 men lost their lives and five were injured.
Rescuers on the single RAF helicopter were honoured for their bravery in May 1966.
Flight Sergeant John Reeson, the RAF winchman, was awarded the George Medal. The navigator, Flight Lieutenant John Hill received the Air Force Cross and the pilot, Sergeant Leon Smith, got the Queen's Commendation.
A public inquiry into the sinking of the Sea Gem concluded metal fatigue in part of the suspension system linking the hull to the legs was to blame.
The inquiry recommended improving safety precautions such as regular inspections, a clear chain of command and better communication with workers
The Sea Gem's well was written off and new wells were drilled in Block 48/6 area, now known as West Sole Field.
The new Sea Quest floating platform began drilling nearby in July 1966.
The dangers of extracting oil at sea was further underlined in 1988 with the tragic accident of the Piper Alpha platform.

Never Play Hide-And Seek With A Polar bear


Christmas Games

Funny how getting together at Christmas brings out the urge in people to want to play games. No doublt countless families will have spent part of the holiday playing games like I-Spy and Charades. Well, now, it appears, there is a brand new game from Italy which looks set to take off in a big way, it's called 'Push The Pope Over'. The idea is that players start from the back of the cathedral and have to navigate their way through the pews to the barrier in front of the altar. The winner is the first person to successfully jump the barrier and push the pope over. Sounds fun! To help you you understand the rules further take a look at the following video clip and see how the game is played.

Everything In Moderation

Thought For Today

The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom.
Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a bank holiday or a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Greenland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Macau and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa this public holiday is now known as the Day ofGoodwill. Though it is not an official holiday in the United States, the name "Boxing Day" for the day after Christmas has some currency among Americans, particularly those that live near the Canada - United States border. The name derives from the tradition of giving seasonal gifts, on the day after Christmas, to less wealthy people and social inferiors, which was later extended to various workpeople such as labourers and servants.
The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, the needy and people in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages , but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early christian era.
In the United Kingdom it certainly became a custom of the
nineteenth century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their 'Christmas boxes' or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year on the day after Christmas.
The establishment of Boxing Day as a defined public Holiday under the legislation that created the UK's Bank Holidays started the separation of 'Boxing Day' from the 'Feast of St Stephen' and today it is almost entirely a secular holiday with a tradition of shopping and post Christmas sales starting.

Public holiday
Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas Day. Unlike St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day is a secular holiday but is always on 26 December: the public holiday is generally moved to the following Monday if 26 December is a Saturday. If 25 December is a Saturday or Sunday then both the Monday and Tuesday may be public holidays. However the date of observance of Boxing Day varies between countries.
In Ireland—when it was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland—the UK's Bank Holiday Act 1871 established the feast day of St Stephen as a non-moveable public holiday on 26 December. Since Partition, the name "Boxing Day" is used only by the authorities in Northern Ireland (which remained part of the United Kingdom). Their Boxing Day is a moveable public holiday in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.
The Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971 established "Boxing Day" as a public holiday in Scotland. In the Australian state of South Australia, 26 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day.

In both Scotland and England, it is traditional for the Scottish premier League and Premier
League respectively, as well as the lower divisions and Rugby Football leagues, to hold a full program of football and Rugby matches on Boxing Day. Traditionally matches on Boxing Day are played against local rivals. This was originally to avoid teams and their fans having to travel a long distance to an away game on the day after Christmas Day. It also makes the day an important one in the sporting calendar.
In horse racing, there is the King George VI Chase at Kempton racecourse in Surrey. It's the second most prestigious chase in England, after the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The association of Boxing Day with sport in early village celebrations has led to the folk etymology that Boxing Day is traditionally associated with boxing.
Australia holds the first day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the start to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race.
IIF World Under20 Championship (Ice Hockey) begins on 26 December. It is most often hosted in Canada.
The Spengler Cup (Ice Hockey) also begins on 26 December in Davos, Switzerland and includes HC Davos, Team Canada and European hockey teams. IFA Premiership sides Linfield and Glentoran contest the Belfast Derby on Boxing day each year.
because of a riot at Windsor Park during the game on Boxing Day 2008 the IFA suspended the game from taking place on the traditional Boxing Day the next year. Challengers overturned this ruling in February 2009, and fans expect the fixture to be held on 26 December 2009.

Today's Smile

Brainteaser - Friday's Answer

In Friday's brainteaser you were given six news headlines, all events that happened on Christmas day, and asked to state in which year each event occurred. Here are the answers.

01 Queen makes first Christmas speech (1952)

02 Mars space probe disappears (2003)

03 Romania#'s 'First Couple' executed (1989)

04 Gorbachev resigns as Soviet Union breaks up (1991)

05 Silent film legend Chaplin dies (1977)

06 Cyclone Tracey leaves Darwin devastated (1974)

Very well done if you answered any of the questions correctly!

Subtle Approach

Why Do We Say That?

In Siam (modern day Thailand) white or pale elephants were very valuable. The king sometimes gave a white elephant to a person he disliked. It might seem a wonderful gift but it was actually a punishment because it cost too much to keep.

The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, refused to be involved in the death of an innocent person (Jesus). So he washed his hands in front of the crowd, symbolically disassociating himself from the execution.

When Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658 had his portrait painted he ordered the artist not to flatter him. He insisted on being painted 'warts and all'.

You can tell a horse's age by examining his teeth. A horse dealer may lie to you but you can always find out the truth 'from the horses mouth'.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It is celebrated on December 25, but this date is not known to be Jesus' actual birthday, and may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after some early Christians believed Jesus had been conceived, a historic Roman festival, or the date of the northern hemisphere's winter solstice. Christmas is central to the Christmas and holiday season, and in Christianity marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days. Although traditionally a Christian holiday, Christmas is also widely celebrated by many non-Christians, and some of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of gretings cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (known as Santa Claus in some areas, including North America, Australia and Ireland) is a popular mythological figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children. (Pictured left below: Sinterklaas or Sant Nicholas considered by many to be the original Santa Claus).
Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038. "Cristes" is from Greek Christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa (the holy mass). In Greek, the letter X (chi), is the first letter of Christ, and it, or the similar Roman letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ since the mid-16th century. Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

In Christianity, Christmas is the festival celebrating the Nativity of Jesus, the Christian belief that the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament's Messiahni prophecies was born to the Virgin Mary. The story of Christmas is based on the biblical accounts given in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18-Matthew 2:12 and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26-Luke 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem. According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals, though neither the stable nor the animals are specifically mentioned in the Biblical accounts. However, a manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states, "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Early iconographic representations of the nativity placed the animals and manger within a cave (located, according to tradition, under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Many Christians believe that the birth of Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecies from the Old Testament. The Gospel of Matthew also describes a visit by several Magi or astrologers, who bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.
Christians celebrate Christmas in many ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are numerous other devotions and popular traditions. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practises the Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western
Christianity celebrates Advent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve.

Animal Crackers


Today's brainteaser asks you to name the year that the events listed below occured. All the events happened on Christmas day, but which years?

01 Queen makes first Christmas speech
British and Commonwealth listeners hear the Queen's first Christmas broadcast since her accession to the throne.

02 Mars space probe disappears
Scientists fail to make contact with British-built Mars probe Beagle 2, which should have landed on the Red Planet earlier today.

03 Romania's 'first couple executed
Deposed Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena are shot after being found guilty of crimes against the state.

04 Gorbachev resigns as Soviet Union breaks up
Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union for almost seven years, steps down from office.

05 Silent film legend Chaplin dies
Charlie Chaplin, the comic genius of silent films, dies at his home in Switzerland at the age of 88.

06 Cyclone Tracey leaves Darwin devastated
The Australian city of Darwin is wrecked by a powerful cyclone that leaves thousands of people homeless.

Can you put a date against these headline making events. Answers in tomorrows Journal.

He's Just Heard About Global Waming

Christmas Jokes

Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Answer: Frostbite

Good King Wenceslas phoned for a pizza.
The salesgirl asked him, 'Do you want your usual?
Deep pan, crisp and even?'

Maria went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.'What denomination?' asked the clerk.
'Oh! Good heavens! Have we come to this?' said Maria, 'Well give me 50 Methodist and 50 Church of England ones please.'

The Santa Claus at the shopping mall was very surprised when Emily, a young lady aged about 20 years old walked up and sat on his lap.
Now, we all know that Santa doesn't usually take requests from adults, but she smiled very nicely at him, so he asked her, 'What do you want for Christmas?'
'Something for my mother, please,' replied Emily sweetly.
'Something for your mother? Well, that's very loving and thoughtful of you,' smiled Santa. 'What would you like me to bring her?'
Without turning a hair Emily answered quickly, 'A son-in-law.'

What did the reindeer say before launching into his comedy routine?
This will sleigh you.

What is the purpose of reindeer?
It makes the grass grow, sweetie.

It was just before Christmas and the magistrate was in a happy mood. He asked the prisoner who was in the dock, 'What are you charged with?'
The prisoner replied, 'Doing my Christmas shopping too early.'
'That's no crime', said the magistrate. 'Just how early were you doing this shopping?'
Before the shop opened', answered the prisoner.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers


Christmas Eve

Christmas 2009
Each day from 1 December to today we have included one article devoted to a subject connected with Christmas. In this, the last article in the series, we take a look at Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve, December 24, is the morning, day, and night before Christmas Day, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a culturally significant celebration for most of Christianity; however, it is also celebrated by secular people and is a national holiday in many countries of the world.

Many Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate a midnight Mass (Eucharist) which begins either at or sometime before midnight which is held in churches throughout the world, marks the beginning of Christmas Day.
A popular joke is to ask what time Midnight Mass starts, but in recent years some churches have scheduled their "Midnight" Mass as early as 7 p.m. In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa del Gallo, or "Missa do Galo", in Portuguese ("Rooster's Mass"). In the Philippines, this custom lasts for nine days, starting on December 16 and continuing daily up to December 24, during which Filipinos attend dawn masses, usually starting at around 4:00-5:00 a.m.
Lutherans often carry on Christmas Eve traditions typical for Germany and Scandinavia. "Krippenspiele" (nativity plays), special festive music for organ, vocal and brass choirs and candlelight services make Christmas Eve one of the highlights in the Lutheran Church calendar. Christmas Vespers are popular in the early evening, and midnight services are also widespread in regions which are predominately Lutheran. The old Lutheran tradition of a Christmas Vigil in the early morning hours of the 25th of December (Christmette) can still be found in some regions of Germany. In eastern and middle Germany many congregations still continue the tradition of "Quempas singing": separate groups dispersed in various parts of the church sing verses of the song "He whom Shepherds once came Praising" (Quem pastores) responsively.
Methodists celebrate the evening in different ways. Some, in the early evening, come to their church to celebrate Holy Communion with their families. The mood is very solemn, and often the only visible light is the Advent Wreath, and the candles upon the Lord's Table. Others celebrate the evening with services of light, which often include singing the song "Silent Night" as a variety of candles (including personal candles) are lit. Other churches have late evening services at 11 pm, so that the church can celebate Christmas Day together with the ringing of bells at 12 am. Others offer Christmas Day services as well. Each church is welcome to celebrate Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day in their own special way.
The Nine Lessons and carols broadcast annually from King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve has established itself as one of the signs that Christmas has begun in the United Kingdom. It is broadcasted to many parts of the world via the BBC World Service.
Other churches also hold a candlelight service, which is also typically held earlier in the evening; these often feature dramatizations of the Nativity. Similar worship services are held in many Protestant churches on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

In Poland, traditional Christmas Eve meals include one or more of the following foods: Golabki filled with Kasza Pierogi, Borscht, fish soup, carp, and pickled Herring. Krupnik is sometimes drunk after dinner.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the meal features a fish soup and breaded roasted carp with potato salad. Italian Catholics eat seven types of seafood. In some parts of Eastern Europe such as Poland and Lithuania, a traditional meatless 12-dishes Christmas Eve Supper is se
rved before opening gifts. Cubans, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans serve roast pork (pernil).
A symbolic Christmas Eve meal used to be a common Eastern Orthodox tradition in the Russian Empire, but today it has become virtually extinct in Russia as a result of the official atheism of the former Soviet Union; though it continues to be popular in Ukraine.
On Christmas Eve in Bulgaria, the meal consists of an odd number of lenten dishes in compliance with the rules of fasting. They usually are the traditional sarma, bod chorba (bean soup), fortune pita (pastry with a fortune in it), stuffed
peppers, nuts. The meal is often accompanied with wine or Bulgaria's traditional alcoholic beverage rakia.
By the Christmas traditions of the Serbs, this festive meal is copious and diverse in foods, although it is prepared in accordance with the rules of fasting. Besides a round, unleavened loaf of bread and salt, which are necessary, this meal may comprise e.g. roast fish, cooked beans, sauerkraut, noodles with ground walnuts, honey, and wine.
In France and some other French-speaking areas, a long family dinner, called a reveillon, is held on Christmas Eve. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning "waking"), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond.
Réveillons is generally of an exceptional or luxurious nature. For instance, appetizers may include lobster, oysters, escargots or foie-gras, etc. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts. Réveillons in Quebec will often include some variety of tourtiere. Dessert may consist of a buche
de Noel. In Provence, the tradition of the 13 desserts is followed: 13 desserts are served, almost invariably including: pompe à l'huile (a flavoured bread), dates, etc. Quality wine is usually consumed a such dinners, often with champagne or similar sparkling wines as a conclusion.
In Germany, traditions vary from region to region. Carp is eaten in many parts of the country. Potato salad with frankfurter or wiener sausages is popular in some families. Another simple meal which some families favour, especially in regions where Christmas Eve still has the character of a fast day, is vegetable or pea soup. In some regions, especially in Schles-wig

Holstein where Danish influence is noticeable, a roasted duck or goose filled with plums, apples and raisins is family tradition. In other regions, especially in Mecklenburg and Pomerania, many families prefer kale with boiled potatoes, special sausages and ham. Many families have developed new traditions for themselves and eat such meals as meat fondue or raclette. In almost all families in all parts of Germany you find a wide variety of Christmas cookies baked according to recipes typical for the family and the region. In many families more than one kind of meat is served. The meat is served with gravy, boiled potatoes, sugar glazed potatoes and red cabbage. For dessert a rice and almond pudding with cherry sauce is served. A whole almond is hidden in the pudding. The person who gets the almond wins a small gift.
In the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, a coin is concealed in a bread loaf and the host breaks a piece of the loaf at the dinner table for each member of the household: it is believed that the one who gets the piece of bread with the coin will be fortunate in the forthcoming year. The dinner is according to the rules of fasting: fish, baked beans, sauerkraut, walnuts and red wine are common. The dessert may consist of apples and dried fruits: plums, dates, figs. The table is usually not cleared after the dinner and until the next morning, to leave some food for the holly spirits - a custom which probably comes from pagan pre-Christian times.

Christmas Eve is also seen as the night when Santa Claus (or some variant thereof) makes his rounds delivering gifts to good children. In the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary, where St. Nicholas (sveti Mikuláš) gives his sweet gifts on December 6th, the Christmas gift-giver is the Child Jesus (Jezisek in Czech,Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovakia), also known to most as Christkind. In Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Uraguay, and Sweden, Christmas presents are opened mostly on the evening of the 24th, - this is also the tradition among the British Royal Family, due to their mainly German ancestry - while in Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, English Canada, South Africa,
New Zealand and Australia mostly on the morning of Christmas Day. In Finland Joulupukki and in Sweden Jultomten personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve. In most parts of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland Christmas presents are opened in the evening of December 24 ('Bescherung') and are brought by Christkindor Christchild (or alternatively by the Weihnachtsmann), who leaves the gifts but is never seen doing so. In Spain gifts are traditionally opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day ("Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos"), though in some other countries, like Argentina and Uruguay people received presents both around Christmas and on the morning of Epiphany day; there are also some countries, like the rest of Latin America, where people stay awake until midnight, when they open the presents. In the Netherlands gift giving on Christmas Day is a fairly new phenomenon, because of the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas on December 5.

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