Our Traditional New Year’s Eve Dinner: Wieners & Potato Salad

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 – New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day

Tasks for Hogswatch Night: Make your favourite sausage dish.

As it so happens, wieners and potato salad are my mom’s and my traditional Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve food.  This year we cheated (store-bought instead of homemade potato salad), so no recipe to post, but anyway … here we go!

 

 

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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 – Las Posadas

Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever? Tell us all about it!

I think I am going to divide the honors three ways here — and very fittingly, two of the three hotel stays in question were in Spanish speaking countries.

1.) Hacienda Cocoyoc near Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
My mom, my BFF, a cousin (of sorts — the brother of my eldest cousin’s husband) and I spent a few weeks in Mexico and Guatemala over Christmas and New Year’s some 20+ years ago.  This was in the days when even fax machines were still a relatively new thing (and home faxes — which I had — were even less common), and the internet wasn’t a household commodity by any stretch of the term, so I organized the whole trip by telephone, fax, and good old mail, based on hotel recommendations from a number of trusted travel guides.  And fortunately, I totally struck gold with the place where I decided we were going to spend New Year’s Eve:

Hacienda Cocoyoc, as the name implies, a converted large, traditionally-built ranch with guest bungalows (new, but also in the traditional style) spread out over the estate near the main building, lush, tropical vegetation all over the place … and the most generous, mouth-watering breakfast buffet I’ve ever come across, featuring everything from authentic Mexican dishes, American and English breakfast, and Continental European breakfast.  (Oh yeah, and we had fun on New Year’s as well).

 

 

2.) Paradores
In the year after that trip to Mexico and Guatemala, my mom and I visited Spain.  Having by that time discovered a great travel agency not far from where I was living, this time around I chose to call on them for advice — and boy, did they ever deliver.  The single greatest suggestion they made was for us to stay at Paradores — hotels belonging to a (then) state-run chain and created in authentic historic buildings, such as medieval and renaissance palaces and monasteries (and even where we didn’t stay at a Parador, they found hotels for us that were similarly converted historic buildings run privately as hotels).

  Parador de Granada, a converted 15th century monastery
(not my own photos — alas, virtually all of my photos from that trip were drowned in a basement flooded by a leaking pipe)

 

3.) Torridon Hotel, Western Ross., Scotland
Some twelve or thirteen years ago, a colleague told me he was planning to spend a few days in November in the western Scottish highlands with his girlfriend.  “Western Scotland — in November?  You’re kidding me, right?” was my response.  Then he showed me the website of the hotel where he was staying … and by the time I made plans to travel to Scotland myself a year later, he’d sung the praises of that hotel so thoroughly that I decided to check it out for myself.  Since then, I’ve made a point of including a stay there (even if only overnight) in pretty much every trip to Scotland taking me at least arguably in that vicinity.  For one thing, this part of the western highlands is among the most dramatic that all of Scotland has to offer, and there’s things aplenty to do and see, and for another thing … talk about getting pampered!

 

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Candlelight Breakfast and a Book

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 3 – St. Martin’s Day – and Square 15 – Newtonmas

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better. –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background.

Tasks for Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family. –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.). Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

I decided to combine these two into one for a late candlelight breakfast this morning:


The drink is white hot chocolate; a gift from my BFF from our trip to London back in June.  Basically, it just calls for the white chocolate powder to be mixed into hot milk … my mom, however, had the brilliant and very alchemically correct idea of adding a pinch of ground (or instant) coffee.

 

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My Grandma(s)

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 9 – Mōdraniht

Tasks for Mōdraniht: Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood. –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task: Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

Since I’ve already sung my mom’s praises and posted pictures of her and me here (and another picture here), I’m going to make this one all about my maternal grandma, as well as my “third grandma” (my uncle’s mother, who actually had a much greater role in my life than my paternal grandmother), without both of whom my childhood just wouldn’t have been what it was.

My maternal grandma (left) and my “third grandma” (right), ca. mid-1980s

Since my mom was working full time even when I was in elementary school, after school I didn’t go home but spent the afternoons at my grandparents’ home some 5 minutes from our own home, where I got my lunch, did my homework (or read, or painted pictures) while my grandma was having her afternoon nap, had afternoon tea and biscuits (or, well, tea for the grown-ups, juice for me), and played with the neighborhood children, most of whom were my classmates.  Sometimes when my grandparents were travelling they would take me along, but whenever they didn’t (or whenever my grandma was in hospital), it fell to my “third grandma” to take over taking care of me while my mom was at work.

Age 3 or 4: on the beach in Holland with my grandma

So, many of the values I grew up with were my two caretaking grandmas’ values, either conveyed to me directly by them or indirectly (via my mom).  More than anything, though, I remember both of their sense of humor, kindness and infinite patience — and as I grew up, I also learned to appreciate their enormous broad-mindedness which allowed them to accept the change of social perceptions, and to distinguish changeable perceptions of morality and core personal values.

My maternal grandparents and my uncle’s parents had known each other for decades before my generation came along in our family — they were living in small neighboring towns in Thuringia until the end of WWII, and my uncle and aunt (my mom’s elder sister) were high school sweethearts there — but I think my two grandmas (real and “substituted in”) became even closer friends after their respective families had moved to West Germany after the war, even though my “third grandma” lived in Essen (some 100 kms [60 miles] from Bonn) for the longest time and only moved here when my aunt and uncle did, too.  In many ways, looking back, nothing says “end of youth” (or “end of innocence”) to me quite as much as their deaths, witihin a few years of each other, when I was in my early thirties.

Left: my grandma and my mom shortly after my mom’s birth.  Right: my grandma with her three children (my mom’s the youngest, leaning against her mother), mid- / late 1940s

 

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Family Christmas Traditions

6 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 13 – Christmas

Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit. Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)? If so, what did you wish for? A teddy bear or a doll? Other toys – or practical things? And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

I’m afraid I was disabused of the notion that there actually was a Santa Claus even before my mom “officially” did so when one year — I think I may have been four at the time — I found something she hadn’t yet gotten around to hiding really well that later showed up wrapped up under the Christmas tree.  (Of course I didn’t let on I had found it before, or at least I did my best not to.)  Also, I think it was even in kindergarten that I first learned about the historic St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, and where we were told that the “Christ child” (Christkind) who in Germany is said to bring all the presents in addition to / or in competition with Santa Claus is to be understood symbolically, with the gifts we receive “from him” as a tangible manifestation of the good brought into the world by the little boy in the manger some 2000 years ago.

So I didn’t write letters to Santa, but my mom had me write out a wish list nevertheless, and yes, some of the things from the list would usually be part of what I received.

Germans exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, not the morning of Christmas Day, and I think our family tradition is the same, or at least very similar to that of many other German families (with the only significant differences being whether you go to church or not — and if you do, whether it’s in the afternoon / early evening or at midnight — and whether you exchange gifts before or after dinner).  We go to church early in the evening, usually at 6:00 PM — while I was growing up and in the years until I moved away after I’d graduated from university, the church where I was confirmed, which was the closest Protestant church to where my grandparents lived (and where we used to live when I was a kid)

— whereas these days, we go to the Protestant church closest to where we now live, which is a 15-20 minute walk from our home.

In the years up until my graduation from university, our gathering on Christmas Eve consisted of either just my maternal grandparents, my mom and me, or in addition there would be the family of my mom’s sister, with whom we were particularly close, and who lived near Bonn for a few years while I was in elementary school, and then again after my uncle had retired.  “The kids” (actually, all the family except for either my mom or my aunt, depending in whose home we were celebrating) would be banned from the living room until all the lights on the Christmas tree were lit, then a little bell would call us in, and we’d exchange presents, and after that, we’d have dinner.

Ca. age 4, with my mom and my grandpa (I think I’ve shared this one before)

Christmas dinner table at my aunt and uncle’s house, ca. 1996 or 1997

These days, it’s just my mom and me on Christmas Eve (though we may get together with other parts of the family on Christmas Day or on Boxing Day), and we still follow essentially the same routine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Santa Claus / Saint Nick actually comes twice in Germany, once in his incarnation as St. Nicholas, on the evening of that saint’s official holiday (December 6), and then in his incarnation as Father Christmas / Santa on Christmas Eve.  While his Christmas visit is said to be a secret one, his visit on St. Nicholas”s Day is one equally dreaded and anticipated by children, because it’s then that they get to account for their misdeeds throughout the year … or get presents — nothing major, mostly chocolates, cookies, tangerines, nuts and the like — for being able to prove they’ve been good kids.  Of course they always end up being loaded with sweets, but if “St. Nick” is sufficiently convincing — or is actually accompanied by his scary servant, Knecht Ruprecht, whose job it is to administer the punishment to bad children –, there’s a moment of a certain frisson at the beginning, with St. Nick, typically a member of the family and thus excellently informed, going through their “record of behavior” for the year.  I have only vague memories of this (and no photos at all) from my own childhood, both at home and at my kindergarten, but here’s my uncle dressed up as St. Nicholas for my cousin’s kids:

 

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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 7 – International Human Rights Day

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.)

 

Anógia village, Crete: the Andartis (resistance fighter) monument near the museum to the village’s destruction in WWII.

 

Crete was occupied by the German military in the 1940s, fierce resistance by the local population notwithstanding. During one particularly memorable episode (later the subject of a book and a movie both titled Ill Met by Moonlight), a joint group of Cretan resistance fighters and British intelligence operatives, led by Major (and writer-to-be) Patrick Leigh Fermor — in the movie, portrayed by Dirk Bogarde — and Captain W. Stanley Moss (author of the book Ill Met by Moonlight), abducted German Major General Heinrich Kreipe near his home in Heraklion and marched him all the way across the Psiloritis mountains to the south coast of Crete, from where he was eventually shipped off to Egypt. He spent the rest of WWII in a British POW camp.

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s evocative account of their struggle across the slopes of Mount Ida has come to particular fame for its “Horace Moment” — his trademark poetic description of the moment when he and the German general realized that they had both enjoyed the same sort of profoundly formative, classical humanistic education and, as a result, had come to share the same values. Here it is, as taken from a Report written for the Imperial War Museum in 1969 and as published in Words of Mercury (2010):

“Everything ahead was a looming wilderness of peaks and canyons, and in the rougher bits it would be impossible for a large party to keep formation, or even contact, except at a slow crawl wich could be heard and seen for miles. The whole massif was riddled with clefts and grottoes to hide in. We must all vanish into thin air and let the enemy draw a total blank. […]

We woke up among the rocks, just as a brilliant dawn was breaking over the crest of Mount Ida which we had been struggling across for two days. We were all three [i.e., Stanley Moss, Leigh Fermor, and their captive] lying smoking in silence, when the General, half to himself, slowly said:

‘Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte …’ **

I was in luck. It is the opening line of one of the few odes of Horace I know by heart (Ad Thaliarchum, LIX). I went on reciting where he had broken off:

‘… Nec iam sustineant onus
Silvae laborentes, geluque,
Flumina constiterint acuto’ **

and so on, through the remaining five stanzas to the end.

The General’s blue eyes swivelled away from the mountain-top to mine — and when I’d finished, after a long silence, he said: ‘Ach so, Herr Major!’*** It was very strange. ‘Ja, Herr General.’ As though, for a long moment, the war had ceased to exist. We had both drunk at the same fountains long before, and things were different between us for the rest of our time together.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

** You see how high Soracte stands, bright with
snow, and no longer do the straining forests
support the burden, and the rivers have
frozen with sharp frost.

*** “Well, Well, Major,” or, “Oh, I see, Major!”

 

 

Leigh Fermor unfortunately doesn’t mention, however — at least, in the published version of his account — that inter alia by way of retribution for Kreipe’s abduction, as well as in retribution for a number of other acts of resistance, the German military, later in 1944, annihilated the entire village of Anógia (from where the group had embarked on their climb across the mountains), killing every single one of its several 100 souls and reducing the whole village to ashes. It was only in 2009 (65 years later), after having lived there for a number of years and slowly gained the population’s trust, that German artist Karina Raeck was able to take a major step towards reconciliation by opening a museum commemorating the village’s destruction and by creating, together with the village population, a large artistic display in memory of its resistance fighters on the Nida Plain above the village; likewise entitled “Andartis.”

 


Anógia after its 1944 destruction by the German military.

The “Andartis” monument on the Nida Plain, created by artist Karina Raeck and the villagers of Anógia in 2009.

 

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Nine Candles

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 – Hanukkah: Take 2

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

I already let the dreidel pick my next read for Hanukkah, so this won’t get me an extra point for the game, but anyway, I thought I’d post it anyway, since thanks to a last-minute Christmas gift idea for my mom I now also get to post a picture of nine lit candles (the four blue candle holders in the front being the gift in question):

 




 

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16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Updates / Blackout

I’ve yet to read at least one book for some of the squares, but I’ve completed a minimum of either one book or one task for all of the squares, and in several cases, more.

 

 

The Markers:

Stack of Books: Books read

 

 

 

Red Bows and Ribbons: Other Tasks completed

 

The Squares, Books and Other Tasks:

Square 1: November 1st: All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos & Calan Gaeaf

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

Book themes for Calan Gaeaf:
Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR– read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is / has Rose or Ivy in it.
=> Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum
1 point.

Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.
=> Epitaph for 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight
1 point.

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR– Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.
=> Bami Goreng
1 point.

 

Square 2: November 5th: Guy Fawkes Night & Bon Om Touk

Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night: Any book about the English monarchy (any genre), political treason, political thrillers, or where fire is a major theme, or fire is on the cover.
=> S.J. Parris: Heresy
1 point.

Book themes for Bon Om Touk: Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.
=> P.D. James: The Lighthouse
1 point.

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers. Or: Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read. Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.
=> Tea and book
1 point.

Tasks for Bon Om Touk: Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you’re living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.
=> Norfolk Coast / Rhine Valley at and near Bonn
1 point.

 

Square 3: November 11th: St. Martin’s Day & Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day

Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job. –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).
=> Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World
1 point.

Book themes for Veteran’s Day / Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction). –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better. –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background. –OR– Bake a Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live. Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

Tasks for Veteran’s Day / Armistice Day: Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR– post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war.
=> Quotes and poppies
1 point.

 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd: Penance Day (22nd) & Thanksgiving (23rd)

Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher, priest or other representative of the organized church as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Book themes for Thanksgiving Day: Books with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need. –OR– Books with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think? –OR– What was a big turning point in your life? –OR– Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year. Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging! What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe. –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.
=> 5 things to be grateful for.
1 point.

 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays: Advent

Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover –OR– Read the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings.

Tasks for Advent: Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.)
=> TA’s Advent calendar.
1 point.

–OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)

Bonus task: make your own advent calendar and post it.

 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th: Sinterklaas / Krampusnacht (5th) / St. Nicholas Day (6th) & Bodhi Day (8th)

Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: A story involving children or a young adult book, or a book with oranges on the cover, or whose cover is primarily orange (for the Dutch House of Orange) –OR– with tangerines, walnuts, chocolates, or cookies on the cover.

Book themes for Bodhi Day: Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet, –OR– which involves animal rescue. (Buddhism calls for a vegetarian lifestyle.)
=> Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger
1 point.

Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions / bewilderment. 😉 If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.

Tasks for Bodhi Day: Perform a random act of kindness. Feed the birds, adopt a pet, hold the door open for someone with a smile, or stop to pet a dog (that you know to be friendly); cull your books and donate them to a charity, etc. (And, in a complete break with the Buddha’s teachings, tell us about it.) –OR– Post a picture of your pet, your garden, or your favourite, most peaceful place in the world.
=> Pet & peaceful garden
1 point.

 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th: International Human Rights Day (10th) & St. Lucia’s Day (13th)

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.
–OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the U.N. and U.N. World Court respectively).
=> Patrick Senécal: Le vide, part 1 – Vivre au Max
1 point.

Book themes for Saint Lucia’s Day: Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

Tasks for Saint Lucia’s Day: Get your Hygge on — light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.
=> Hygge!
1 point.

Bonus task: Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk

 

Square 8: December 12th – 24th: Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) & Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th)

Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.

Book themes for Las Posadas: Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a ‘no room at the Inn’ situation.

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

נ (Nun)
ג (Gimel)
ה (He)
ש (Shin)

Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm
– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.
=> Dreidel pick: ה (He) – Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World 1
point.

–OR–
Make your own dreidel: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel, –OR–
Play the game at home, or play online: http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm and tell us about the experience.–OR– Give some Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. Post a picture of your chocolate coins, and then pass them out amongst friends and family!

Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever? Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unfortettable caroling memories?

Bonus task: Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it.

 

Square 9: December 21st: Winter Solstice / Mōdraniht / Yuletide & Yaldā Night

Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book of poetry, or a book where the events all take place during the course of one night, or where the cover is a night-time scene.

Book themes for Mōdraniht: Read any book where the MC is actively raising young children or teens.

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter, –OR– set in the Arctic or Antartica.

Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book in one night – in the S. Hemisphere, read a book in a day. –OR– Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf. Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page. Post your results. –OR– Eat a watermelon or pomegranate for good luck and health in the coming year, but post a pic first!.
=> Bibliomancy: William Shakespeare’s answer (9th line of p. 40 of the Complete Works, Illustrated Stratford Edition)
1 point.

Bonus task: Read a book in one night.

Tasks for Mōdraniht: Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood. –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task: Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

Tasks for Yuletide: Make a Yule log cake — post a pic and the recipe for us to drool over.

 

Square 10: December 21st: World Peace Day & Pancha Ganapati begins (ends 25th)

Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati: Read anything involving a need for forgiveness in the story line; a story about redemption –OR– Read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow –OR– Read a book involving elephants.
=> Henry Wade: Lonely Magdalen
1 point.

Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us. –OR– Tell us: If you had wings (like a dove), where would you want to fly?
=> Spaghetti and tomato sauce
1 point.

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books. (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!
=> Most and least favorite books of 2017.
1 point.

 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd: Soyal (21st) & Dōngzhì Festival (22nd)

Book themes for Soyal: Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist.

Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival: Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover.

Tasks for Soyal: Like many Native American festivities, Soyal involves rituals such as dances. What local / religious / folk traditions or customs exist where you live? Tell us about one of them. (If you can, post pictures for illustration.) –OR– Share a picture you’ve taken of a harvest setting or autumnal leaf color.
=> Carneval in the Rhine Valley — 11/11, 11:11 AM Kick off
1 point.

Tasks for Dōngzhì Festival: If you like Chinese food, tell us your favorite dish – otherwise, tell us your favorite desert. (Recipes, as always, welcome.)

 

Square 12: December 23rd Festivus & Saturnalia ends (begins 17th)

Book themes for Festivus: Read anything comedic; a parody, satire, etc. Books with hilariously dysfunctional families (must be funny dysfunctional, not tragic dysfunctional). Anything that makes you laugh (or hope it does).

Book themes for Saturnalia: The god Saturn has a planet named after him; read any work of science fiction that takes place in space. –OR– Read a book celebrating free speech. –OR– A book revolving around a very large party, or ball, or festival, –OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover. –OR– a story where roles are reversed.
=> Dorothy L. Sayers: Murder Must Advertise
1 point.

Tasks for Festivus: Post your personal list of 3 Festivus Miracles –OR– post a picture of your Festivus pole (NOTHING pornographic, please!), –OR– Perform the Airing of Grievances: name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you – tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.
=> Most and least favorite books of 2017.
1 point.

Tasks for Saturnalia: Wear a mask, take a picture and post it. Leave a small gift for someone you know anonymously – a small bit of chocolate or apple, a funny poem or joke. Tell us about it in a post. –OR– Tell us: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

 

Square 13: December 25th Christmas & Hogswatch

Book themes for Christmas: Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names (e.g., Maria or Pepe).

Book themes for Hogswatch Night: Of course – read Hogfather! Or any Discworld book (or anything by Terry Pratchett)
=> Terry Pratchett: Hogfather (buddy read)
1 point.

Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit. Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)? If so, what did you wish for? A teddy bear or a doll? Other toys – or practical things? And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

Tasks for Hogswatch Night: Make your favourite sausage dish (if you’re vegan or vegetarian, use your favorite sausage or meat substitute), post and share recipe.

 

Square 14: December 25th Dies Natalis Solis Invicti & Quaid-e-Azam’s Day

Book themes for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Celebrate the sun and read a book that has a beach or seaside setting. –OR– a book set during summertime. –OR– set in the Southern Hemisphere.
=> Ian Fleming: The Man With the Golden Gun
1 point.

Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan became an independent nation when the British Raj ended on August 14, 1947. Read a book set in Pakistan or in any other country that attained sovereign statehood between August 14, 1947 and today (regardless in what part of the world).

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR– Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow). If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day. –OR– The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds. Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses? As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses?

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan’s first leader – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was a man, but both Pakistan and neighboring India were governed by women (Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi respectively) before many of the major Western countries. Tell us: Who are the present-day or historic women that you most respect, and why? (These can be any women of great achievement, not just political leaders.)

 

Square 15: December 25th-26th: Newtonmas (25th) & St. Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day (26th)

Book themes for Newtonmas: Any science book. Any book about alchemy. Any book where science, astronomy, or chemistry play a significant part in the plot. (For members of the Flat Book Society: The “Forensics” November group read counts.)
=> Provisorially: Val McDermid: Forensics
1 point.

Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

Tasks for Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family. –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.). Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day: Show us your boxes of books! –OR– If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box. (your dog in a box works too, if your dog likes boxes) — or any pet good-natured enough to pose in a box long enough for you to snap a picture.
=> Cats in (and on) boxes.
1 point.

BONUS task: box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it.

 

Square 16: December 26th-31st: Kwanzaa (begins 26th, ends 31st) & New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day

Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.
=> Margery Allingham: Traitor’s Purse

1 point.

Book themes for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day: a book about starting over, rebuilding, new beginnings, etc. –OR– Read anything set in medieval times. –OR– A book about the papacy –OR– where miracles of any sort are performed (the unexplainable – but good – kind).

Tasks for Kwanzaa: Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

BONUS task: Create something with your stack of books: a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

Tasks for Hogmanay / New Year’s Eve / Watch Night / St. Sylvester’s Day: Make a batch of shortbread for yourself, family or friends. Post pics and recipe. –OR– Light some sparklers (if legal) and take a picture – or have a friend take a picture of your “writing” in the sky with the sparkler. –OR– Get yourself a steak pie (any veggie/vegan substitutions are fine) and read yourself a story – but take a pic of both before you start, and post it.–OR– make whatever New Year’s Eve / Day good luck dish there is in your family or in the area where you live or where you grew up; tell us about it, and if it’s not a secret recipe, we hope you’ll share it with us.

MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash. (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

 

The Bonus Jokers:

Surprise, Surprise 1: Melbourne Cup

My “ponies”:

1. Marmelo
2. Almandin
3. Johannes Vermeer

2 bonus points (Johannes Vermeer)

 

Total Points, to Date:

30 points.

 

 

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1615040/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-updates-blackout

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 2 – Guy Fawkes Night

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: [… M]ake yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read. Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.

 

The tea in this mug is Earl Grey, one of the teas I got today during our trip to Frankfurt.  It’s most constantly been one of my favorite teas as long as I can think; I like all things with a citrus taste, so the mix of black tea and bergamotte oil is right up my alley.

Other favorites include certain Darjeeling and Assam teas, Yunnan, Keemun, Oolong, English and Irish Breakfast, Chai, and a large number of the blends marketed by Kusmi, Whittard of Chelsea, Tazo, Taylors of Harrogate, Fortnum & Masons — and of course by that lovely Frankfurt store, which sells a huge variety of blends of their own.  (In the denomination of “blends” I include, for present purposes, “real” / black or green tea blends as well as the non-actual-tea fruit blends that the French call tizanes.)

 The mug pictured above is in almost constant use, too, btw.; it’s a large one that holds 0.5 l (= 17 fl. oz.) of liquid, so I frequently make my tea right in this mug, even if I know I’m going to have several mugs in a row — it’ll always be nice and freshly brewed that way.

I grew up with afternoon tea; it was downright a “thing” in our family, whereas coffee was the stuff that you have for breakfast and drink too much of at the office.  These days, I can’t tolerate large quantities of coffee any longer, but I can drink tea to my heart’s content.  As a result, my kitchen doesn’t even have a coffee maker — but it does contain a water heater, and large quantities of tea:

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1622008/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-2-guy-fawkes-night

16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 1 – Calan Gaeaf

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: […] Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.

Well, this is more Wales going oriental, but anyway — fried noodles, ham sausage, bits of boiled egg, leeks, and oodles of Stokes sweet chili sauce … if I wanted to give it a fancy name, I’d call it Bami Goreng.  Or something of the sort.

 




“And where’s my food, mom?!”            —            “Ah.  That’s better!”

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1621826/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-1-calan-gaeaf