• 12 Bizarre New Year Traditions Around The World

    Dec 12, 2015

    New Year’s Eve is a fairly standard affair in most places in the UK. We tend to get a little merry, watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny because there’s nothing better on the TV and then maybe have a little sing song of Auld Lang Syne, but that’s usually about it.

    However, there are places around the world that have a whole host of crazy New Year traditions. Here are some of the most bizarre…

    Chile - Eat a spoonful of lentils for each month of the year

    We have absolutely no idea what lentils have to do with New Year, but in Chile they eat 12 spoonfuls of them at midnight for each month of the coming year for a year of work and money. 12! Hopefully they’re cooked and mixed with something and not just dry.

    Colombia - Walk around the block with an empty suitcase for a year of travel

    There’s a tradition of sorts here in the UK that you should walk out the back door and in the front door for some reason, but in Colombia they go a bit further and you need to take a trip right around the block with an empty suitcase if you want a travel-filled year.

    Related - Names For Santa Claus From Around The World

    El Salvador - Crack an egg into a bowl and leave it overnight

    It’s getting weirder! In El Salvador, it’s tradition to crack an egg into a bowl and leave it overnight. Whatever form the egg takes the following day apparently tells your fortune for the year. We imagine many people have 'circular' fortunes, whatever that means.

    Peru - fight your neighbours!

    Whilst this may happen in some parts of the UK at New Year anyway, fighting your neighbours is a tradition in certain parts of Peru at the annual Takanakuy Festival. The fighting (there’s dancing as well apparently) is to settle old differences and start the year with a clean slate.

    Spain - Eat a grape with each bell toll at midnight

    That’s 12 grapes in about 12 seconds. That sounds horrible and actually pretty difficult. If you’ve had a bit to drink then you might see those grapes again pretty soon afterwards.

    Related - The Ultimate Christmas Quiz: How Festive Are You?

    Romania - Talking to your cows

    Whether or not this is done under the influence of alcohol is unclear, but apparently if Romanians succeed in communicating with their cows, it’s a bad omen for the year. There are no doubt some very lucky people in Romania.

    Siberia - Jumping in a frozen lake with a tree

    In Siberia’s Lake Baikal, locals dive to the bottom of the chilly lake to ‘dance’ around a Christmas tree. Don’t believe us? Here’s the proof.

    Japan - Ring bells 108 times

    Whilst ringing bells to signal New Year isn’t that bizarre, the Japanese channel their Buddhist traditions by ringing them an oddly specific 108 times. This is said to bring cleanliness for the coming year.

    Related: Why Do We Decorate Our Christmas Tree? The History of the Bauble

    Finland - Melting metal

    Native Fins are said to melt down tin and pour it into cold water to solidify it again. In a similar way to the eggs in El Salvador, whatever shape the now-solid metal takes is said to symbolise fortunes for the coming year.

    America - Possum dropping

    This isn’t a US-wide tradition, but rather just for the town of Brasstown, North Carolina. Brasstown claims to be the possum capital of the world, and so they lower a possum in a see-through box over a noisy crowd. Why? We have no idea.

    Denmark - Smashing plates

    It may sound like something the Greeks might do, but Danes keep broken or unwanted crockery throughout the year before smashing it on New Year’s Eve. They don’t smash it on the floor, however, but against the front doors of their friends and neighbours.

    South Africa - Furniture throwing

    In the Hilsboro district of Johannesburg, South Africa, locals like to start the new year afresh by lobbing all their old and unwanted items out of the window onto the street. Not such a happy time for those who have to clean it up, however.

    Do you know of any other crazy New Year traditions? Let us know!

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    Dec 12, 2015

     

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  • 20 of the Best Christmas Memes & Gifs on the Internet

    Dec 12, 2015

    You may think that some people have far too much time on their hands making gifs and memes, yet most of us still look at them anyway and have a good chuckle. We've compiled some of the best Christmas memes and gifs the internet has to offer so you can while away the time over the festive period if you're sick of what's on TV.

    1. Sassy Christmas cat

    cat-christmas-gif

    What sass this little fellow has. Strutting around like it owns Christmas. Such confidence.

    2. A wreath of franklins

    a-wreath-of-franklins

    So Aretha Franklin might not traditionally be the most festive of singers but it's an excuse to post this excellent Christmas pun. For those with a Christmas pun malfunction, 'Aretha Franklin' = 'A wreath of Franklins' ;))

    3. Poor Batman

    batman-xmas-meme

    We all know the song:

    Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin flew away, the Batmobile lost its wheel on the motorway

    In fact, most kids probably know the Batman version better than the original, but did we ever stop to think how it might make Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter ego feel?

    4. Haters Gonna Hate

    christmas-dog-meme-021

    Do Christmas like nobody's watching this festive season.

    5. A familiar Christmas Day

    christmas_day_540

    A sight that all parents have had to deal with at some point. You buy an all-singing-all-dancing piece of kit and then forget the batteries. Devastation.

    6. It wasn't me!

    christmas-dog-meme-151

    The abject look of horror in this poor dog's eyes. Something that many pet owners will be able to relate to over Christmas, we're sure.

    7. Christmas overload

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    For some, Christmas is a competition; a time to prove that you're more festive than anyone else, and we can't help but think that's what's happened with this house. Unless it's for charity; in which case, well done.

    8. Getting in the Christmas spirit

    christmas-spirit-meme

    Sometimes Christmas can be a little on the stressful side and we need just a little helping hand to get through it all.

    9. Goodbye ornaments

    christmas-tree-cat-meme-011

    Anyone who has a cat will know that there's no point in having baubles or any other low-hanging Christmas decorations as they'll soon end up on the floor and/or broken.

    10. Hello, Buddy the Elf, what's your favourite colour?

    elf-film-gif

    Elf has now become a Christmas staple in many households, and there's something in all of us that loves Buddy's innocent nature.

    11. Tree or Gaga?

    funny-christmas-memes-28

    Hopefully it's the former and you don't get the fright of your life when Lady Gaga suddenly comes to life in the corner of your living room.

    12. Have a grumpy Christmas

    grumpy-cat-christmas

    Everyone's favourite miserable moggy is predictably glum about the whole festive season and that's why we love her.

    13. Hipster Santa

    hipster-santa

    Well Santa's beard and hat are already quite hipster but we imagine he'll also turn up on a fixie sleigh listening to Christmas songs that you won't have heard of.

    14. Santa's been watching

    santa-facebook-meme

    We all know someone this applies to, don't we? And if you don't know someone, then chances are you are that person.

    15. Christmas!!!!!!!!!

    the-office-christmas

    Dwight from the American version of The Office knows where it's at.

    16. Santa judges you

    santa-meme

    When you think about it, is Santa really all he's made out to be? Of course he is; he brings us presents!

    17. Over she goes

    xmas-tree-falling-over

    This poor little girl, although there is something funny about a Christmas tree falling over.

    18. Over she goes x100

    christmas-tree-falling

    The previous gif may be unfortunate, but it has nothing on this monster of a tree.

    19. Dreaming of a white Christmas

    white-christmas_thumb

    Best have a few bottles of each in the house just in case.

    20. Tree-Rex

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    Known for having comically small arms, the T-rex always misses out putting the star on top of the tree. Not this time.

    We hope you enjoyed this plethora of Christmas memes and gifs. Merry Christmas - and don't forget our fantastic range of artificial Christmas trees!

  • Names for Santa Claus from around the world

    Dec 12, 2015

    Ah Santa, the jolly old chap with a red suit and a white beard. He really is a wonder, managing to deliver millions of presents globally, all whilst finding time at every house to stop off for a cheeky mince pie and a glass of sherry.

    Here at Christmas Tree World, we don’t think he gets enough credit as all of his duties are perfectly executed within 24 hours. It takes us longer than that to decide how to tackle wrapping that awkwardly shaped present.

    Now, we know the gift bearer here in the United Kingdom as Santa Claus...Father Christmas if you will, but have you ever wondered what he (or his equivalent) is called around the world?

    Nope, us neither so we’ll have a look shall we?

    Japan - Hoteiosho

    The Japanese gift giver is Hoteiosho, a large bellied, Buddhist monk depicted as a kind old man carrying a large sack filled with presents. Hoteiosho also has eyes in the back of his head so that he can see how well children are behaving.

    Sweden - Jultomten

    Let’s kick off with Sweden where the jolly old fellow is called ‘Jultomten’ which translates as ‘Christmas Brownie.’  He’s described as being no taller than three feet with a white beard and fond of wearing a red knit cap.

    Russia - Ded Moroz

    In Russia, gifts are brought by ‘Ded Moroz’ which is translated in Russian as ‘Old Man Frost’ or 'Grandfather Frost'.  He wears a heel length coat, a fur hat and walks with a staff. Ded Moroz delivers gifts with his snow maiden, his granddaughter, Snegurochka.

    Georgia  - Tovlis Papa

    In Georgia, gifts are brought by ‘Tovlis Papa’ which translates as ‘Grandfather Snow.’ He is known to wear all white clothing and a cloak made from sheep's wool. Children leave out a treat made of walnuts and grape juice for Tovlis Papa when he comes down from the mountains on New Year’s Eve to bring gifts.

    Finland - Joulupukki

    The Finnish Christmas figure is named ‘Joulupukki’ meaning ‘Christmas goat’ or ‘Yule goat.’ He wears red leather trousers and a fur trimmed, leather coat and drives a flying wagon drawn by goats. Instead of entering a house via the chimney, he knocks on the front door asking for any well-behaved children.

    China - Dun Che Lao Ren

    Both Dun Che Lao Ren or 'Christmas Old Man’ and the laughing Buddha bring the gifts at Christmas time in China. They both wear a red outfit and on Christmas Eve, the Christian children in China hang up stockings for Dun Che Lao Ren to fill with gifts from the wicker basket he carries.

    Iceland - Jolasveinarnir

    In Iceland, the gift bearer, or bearer(s) should we say, are thirteen Jolasveinarnir or ‘Christmas lads.’ These cheeky fellows show up on a number of days around Christmas and perform a prank or trick whilst delivering presents to the children.

    We’re sure that you will have learnt some interesting trivia to impress your friends and family with this Christmas.

    Which gift bearer is your favourite?

    Leave a comment below or tweet us: @christmastreeworlduk and of course, check out our huge range of artificial Christmas trees.

    Time for more? Become a wrap God...How to wrap presents perfectly | The history of the humble bauble | The ultimate Christmas quiz |

  • Become A Wrap God: How To Wrap Presents Perfectly

    Dec 12, 2015

    Ever found your hand covered in mangled sticky tape with scraps of haphazardly cut wrapping paper strewn across your carpet?

    The awkwardly shaped present you’re wrapping is sat waiting to be covered and you’d rather just give the experience up as a bad job.

    Why bother?..Because after all...

    Wrapping paper only gets ripped off and binned within a nanosecond anyway.

    But if you’re serious about wrapping your presents perfectly and nailing it this Christmas...Then look no further than our ultimate present wrapping guide.

    Firstly, set the mood by playing some classic Chrimbo songs. Those foot tapping tunes from Slade, Wizzard and Elton John to suggest a few. Your festive mood can be further optimised by positioning your present wrapping station next to, or nearby your Christmas tree. 

    Step one: Place the present in the middle of the paper

    This is to determine how much wrapping paper you’ll need to cover the gift...No matter what size...or shape.

    Step Two: Mark the cut lines with a ruler

    If cutting in straight lines is nigh-on impossible - be diligent about this and use a ruler (or anything with a straight edge) to cut how much wrapping paper you’ll need to wrap your gift effectively.  Put the rest of the roll aside.

    Now it’s going to get tricky...

    Step Three: Fold the paper around the gift

    With your present placed nicely in the middle of the paper.

    1. Take one side of the wrapping paper and fold it over the top half of your gift.  
    2. Then take the other side, folding it over the bottom.
    3. Put both sides on top of the other end and pull it tight and tape together neatly.

    Step Four: Time for some origami...

    1. Start with the left hand side of your package.
    2. Fold both corners into a triangle and tape to secure.
    3. Fold the straight end over your gift.
    4. Pull the paper over the top of your gift and tape.
    5. Repeat on the other side.

    You seem to be really getting this now…

    Why not add a ribbon tied into a bow to really show off your work?

    You could also include a gift tag if you’re feeling really professional. And then there's always the option of a gift bag to present your thoughtfully wrapped gift in...Just don't forget to cut off last years gift tag from your Mum.

    And Voila! 

    You have before you, a perfectly wrapped present and the honorary title of 'Wrap God.' 

    You'll be able to wrap pretty much anything now from a motorbike to a cat.


    You have before you, a
    perfectly wrapped present and the honorary title of 'Wrap God.' 

    You'll be able to wrap pretty much anything now

    We’re sure our guide has helped.

    Do you have any tips for wrapping a present perfectly? 

    Leave a comment below or tweet us: @xmastreeworlduk

    Time for more? Kim Wilde talks Christmas songs and her new album |  How to decorate your tree according to science | Your Christmas tree decoration colour guide

  • Why do we decorate our Christmas tree? The history of the bauble

    Dec 12, 2015

    It has long since been custom to embellish our Christmas trees with ornaments, tinsel and lights, but just when did the idea to decorate a real or artificial Christmas tree at Christmas time become an annual tradition?

    Christmas tree decoration became fashionable in Queen Victoria’s reign, most notably in 1848 when a picture was published in the Illustrated London News of the Royal Family. In an elaborate image, Queen Victoria and her family were pictured at Windsor Castle stood beside a large tree adorned with glass ornaments hailing from Prince Albert's native Germany.

    What followed was the tradition of Christmas tree decorating as we know it today, as many homes in Britain followed suit by decking out their tree with sweets, candles, homemade decorations and fruit.  

    The humble bauble, a Christmas decoration staple...

    For centuries, baubles have evolved in design, material and cost and these days any Christmas tree would look a little lost without a few cheerful baubles hanging from its branches. But just where exactly did the first bauble originate from?

    These days you can pick up baubles from just about anywhere in the world.  However, the original bauble comes from sixteenth century Germany in the alpine town of Lauscha. This town would become infamous for its skill in glass-blowing and Christmas ornament production.

    By the 1800s, founder of the first glassworks in Lauscha, Hans Greiner, began producing fruit and nut shaped glass ornaments complete with decorative silver embellishment using mercury or lead.

    With popularity and interest in the bauble growing, other glassworks in the area also began to produce their own style of glass decorations, creating moulds of animals, famous saints and children.

    Eventually, the beautiful glass ornaments, renowned as a German invention, were discovered by the infamous F.W Woolworth on a visit to Germany. Sensing an opportunity within the rise of global commerce, he began to import the glass ornaments to the United States and the rest they say...is history.

    The introduction of global production...

    The turn of the century saw Japan emerging in the bauble market by producing more elaborate bauble designs on a wider scale. Sadly, as the market evolved and more economical baubles were being produced for people to buy cheaply, Germany's handmade, glass bauble industry began to fade.

    These days, you can find baubles for your Christmas tree just about anywhere, including here at Christmas Tree World and next time you come to hang one on your tree, you’ll know exactly how the humble bauble began.

    What is your favourite Christmas tree decoration? Check out our great range of baubles and other Christmas decorations.

    Leave a comment or Tweet us @Xmastreeworlduk

    Time for more: How to make a Christmas hit song | Your Christmas tree decoration colour guide | The guide to buying a Christmas tree for a small space

  • The Ultimate Christmas Quiz: How Festive Are You?

    Dec 12, 2015

    For many, Christmas is simply the best time of the year and everybody fully embrace everything the festive season has to offer. But just how Christmassy are you?

    We've put together what we think is the ultimate Christmas quiz to truly test whether you're full of festive fun or are a bit of a grinch. We've got questions that just about cover every aspect of Christmas, including the Nativity, Christmas songs & films, Christmas trees (obviously), and much more.

    It's all just for fun, of course, so take it away and test your knowledge with our Christmas quiz...

    How did you get on? Share your results with your family and friends and see whether they're as Christmassy as you!

  • How To Make A Hit Christmas Song

    Dec 12, 2015

    We've heard from Kim Wilde on Christmas songs, but we thought we’d weigh in on the conversation and give your our top tips for making your own hit Christmas song…

    Get the kids involved

    Christmas is a time for child-like innocence, so you’d do well to exploit this and get some angelic children to sing on the track. You can either use one child or go all the way and get a whole choir, preferably from a local school.

    Examples:

    Walking in the Air, Aled Jones

    There’s No-one Quite Like Grandma, The St Winifred’s School Choir

     

    Win a popular TV singing contest

    The traditional race to Christmas number one has been somewhat ruined ever since X-Factor came along. The winners of the show have dominated the Christmas number one slot for a while now, so if you want to pretty much guarantee a hit song then all you have to do is endure months of being on the show. There’s a good chance you’ll disappear into obscurity afterwards, however.

    Examples:

    Something I Need, Ben Haenow

    Skyscraper, Sam Bailey

     

    Rebel against the norm

    Or another way of putting it is to ‘rage against the machine’. If you’re tired of the usual Christmas fare then you could try and buck the trend and make something completely devoid of festive cheer. This is a tricky one, but can pay off if done right.

    Examples:

    Killing in the Name, Rage Against the Machine

    Mad World, Gary Jules

     

    Do it for charity

    Show you’re a good, caring person by donating at least some of the profits of your single to charity. This will hopefully encourage people to buy it and propel your single to the top of the charts, whilst also helping other people in the process.

    Examples:

    Do They Know It’s Christmas, Band Aid

    He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, The Justice Collective

     

    Have it feature in a Christmas film

    Christmas films are just as important as Christmas songs, so if you're able to marry the two up then you could be onto a winner. There are a lot of bad Christmas films, however, so be careful about which film you attach your song to. Granted, most songs feature in Christmas films because they're already hits, but it can't hurt.

    Examples:

    Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee (featured in Home Alone)

    White Christmas, Bing Crosby (featured in Holiday Inn)

     

    Make a Novelty Song

    If you can’t make something thoughtful and heartfelt then just make something novelty and annoying instead. Take a ‘popular’ TV character and make a song about them. If they already have a theme song then that’s even better. Just be prepared for a barrage of abuse for years.

    Examples:

    Can We Fix It?, Bob The Builder

    Mr Blobby, Mr Blobby

     

    Actually Make it Christmassy

    If you really want to nail yourself a top Christmas hit, then make it as Christmassy as possible. Dress up in festive garb, make it full of sleigh bells, cover everything in fake snow, and, of course, mention Christmas in the title. 

    Examples:

    I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Wizzard

    Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade

     

    If you have any tips for creating a surefire Christmas classic then let us know! Or tweet us @XmasTreeWorldUK.

    Time for more? How to decorate your tree according to science | Christmas Tree World celebrates the best Christmas markets in the UK| How to find the right Christmas tree for a small space

  • Kim Wilde Talks Christmas Songs & Her New Album

    Dec 12, 2015

    Few things get you in the mood for Christmas quite like the radio blasting out some yuletide tunes. In fact, there are many Christmas songs that have become ingrained in festive culture and it just wouldn’t feel Christmassy without them.

    We're not only about Christmas trees here! We got to thinking what makes a good Christmas song, and so we asked 80s pop superstar Kim Wilde for her thoughts on the matter. Kim has recently released a belting Christmas album so we thought she’d be perfect to offer a little insight. Here’s what she had to say...

    What elements do you think are necessary for a great Christmas song?

    I think the best Christmas songs come from a very genuine place in the heart, from John and Yoko’s call for world peace (Happy Christmas, War is Over) to Chris Rea’s anticipation of spending the festive season with the ones he loves most  ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, the rest is a kind of alchemy!

    What do you think it is that makes people so fond of Christmas songs?

    I think Christmas is a time when we can fully indulge in our inner child, embrace a sense of fun and reach out to those around us. Christmas songs can help connect people in a way that few other things can.

    Do you have a favourite Christmas song? What is it you like about it so much?

    I can’t resist Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’,I remember when it was first released in 1973,and watching Roy Wood perform it on TOTP, what a legend that man is!

    How do you think today's Christmas tunes compare to those we've had in the past?

    Kate Bush’s ‘ 50 Words for Snow’ and Tracey Thorn’s ‘Tinsel and Lights’ are more reflective  viewpoints of Christmas, I found them very inspiring,but I simply can’t resist Michael Bublé at Christmas!

    How did you go about choosing which songs to cover for your album?

    I simply chose the Christmas songs I’ve always loved, and felt I could bring something new to the table.

    There are also some original tracks on there too. How well do you think they embody the spirit of Christmas?

    I am really happy with the original songs and have had amazing feedback since the album was first released 2 years ago. I set out to make an album that reflects the many feelings I have about Christmas, I’m very glad that other people seem to share those feelings with me.

    What's on your Christmas list this year?

    Tony Hadley ‘The Christmas Album’, I’ve always loved his voice.

    Kim Wilde’s Winter Songbook Deluxe Edition with bonus DVD is out now – Kim performs at London's Coronet on 18th December with special guests Heaven 17 and Altered Images. For more information go to http://www.kimwilde.com.

    Time for more? How to decorate your tree according to science | Christmas Tree World celebrates the best Christmas markets in the UK| How to find the right Christmas tree for a small space

  • Your Christmas Tree Decoration Colour Guide

    Dec 12, 2015

    If you’re looking to achieve a professional looking Christmas tree decorated in a way to rival the style of any interior designer, then look no further.

    There are a number of ways that you can achieve a sophisticated style with any budget and any Christmas tree.

    An easy starting point is to decide what overall colour scheme you’d like to go for. The colour scheme that you choose for your Christmas tree should complement the room in which the tree will sit.

    The colour wheel is a great tool to help decide which colours complement each other most effectively. Generally, colours situated at the opposing side of the wheel are a complementary pairing.

    colour-wheel

    Therefore, if your room is decorated with warm tones such as gold and chocolate browns, your tree can become the focal point by decorating it with colours from the opposite side of the colour wheel. In this example, indigo or plum decorations will complement the colour accents within your room and make your Christmas tree stand out. Likewise, if your room is decorated with cooler colours such as greys, greens or blues, Christmas decorations with a warmer hue will stand out most.

    You may also decide upon a theme of decoration, such as snowflakes or angels. A theme is optional but remember to keep in line with your professional style by ensuring that your themed ornaments are all kept within the colour palette that you have chosen.

    And then there’s lighting….

    Before you start hanging Christmas decorations on your tree, string your lights around the branches, making sure to layer them evenly around the tree. For a chic, professional look use bright white, non flashing lights. Plain lights draw the right amount of attention to your tree without looking gaudy, allowing your carefully thought out decorations to do the talking.

    christmasdecoguide

    Top tip...

    Hang ornaments inside the tree not just near its edges for extra dimension, and don't forget the back of the tree. If your tree is large, it may look different from various angles so take a step back to examine how evenly spaced your decorations are and if any adjustments need to be made.

    Most importantly though, decorating your Christmas tree is about having fun and enjoying experimenting with themes, decorations and colours.

    Which colour palette have you used to decorated your tree this year?

    Leave a comment below or tweet us @xmastreeworlduk

    Time for more? How to decorate your tree according to science | Christmas Tree World celebrates the best Christmas markets in the UK| How to find the right Christmas tree for a small space

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