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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

No Plums in the Pudding

Plum pudding is dessert frequently served at holiday times. Plum pudding has never contained plums (ciruelas); it may, however, contain raisins (pasas de uva).  
Why is Plum Pudding called Plum Pudding when there are no plums in it? One explanation says that in the 17th century, the word plums referred to raisins, which were dried grapes, or to other dried fruits. Prune (ciruela seca) is actually derived from the same word as plum: the Latin word pruna. But the terms were quite confused in the 16th and 17th centuries and people talked about growing prunes, and not plums, in their garden.
Another version suggests that dried plums, or prunes, were popular in pies in medieval times, but gradually in the sixteenth and seventeenth century they began to be replaced by raisins. The dishes made with them, however, retained the term plum, and to this day the plum pudding reminds us of its former ingredients.

Christmas food: Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël is the French name of a traditional dessert served during the Christmas holidays in France, Belgium, Quebec, Lebanon and several other Christian-populated countries. The cake generally looks like a log ready for the fire.
The traditional bûche is rolled to form a cylinder, and filled with chocolate buttercream. Bûches often have a bark-like texture to offer further realism. This is often done by dragging a fork through the icing. These cakes are often decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow, tree branches, fresh berries, and mushrooms made of meringue.
In Spanish this dessert is known as Tronco de Navidad. In English, it is called Yule Log. Yule is the pagan holiday from which the Christian tradition of Christmas derives.

Christkind: yesterday & today

* The old tradition

In Germany, the Christkind, or Christmas Angel, leaves presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. The old tradition depicted Christkind as a child with blond hair and angelic wings.
The figure of Christkind was originally introduced in the 16th century by religious reformer Martin Luther; until then, it was always Saint Nicholas who brought gifts on December 6th. But as Protestants can’t have saints, Luther needed a new Christmas tradition for his followers. Luther moved the gift-giving away from December 6th, so he reinvented the tradition for Protestants by moving it to Christmas Eve and making the Christkind – really, the baby Jesus – the person who brought the gifts.
* The traditional image changes

Under the rule of the National Socialists, the image of Christkind was changed and in 1933, a young girl dressed like a tinsel angel opened the city’s Christmas Market for the first time. The change took place due to marketing reasons: as an advertising technique, the Germans found it very difficult to make baby Jesus give away Christmas presents!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Like the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar is a narrow mountain area on a peninsula (= piece of land surrounded on three sides by water) in the south of Spain, at the western end of the Meditarranean Sea. The state of Gibraltar is there.
British people sometimes use the phrase "like the Rock of Gibraltar" to talk about something that is so solid and permanent that it will never break or be destroyed.
Example: Our love is like the Rock of Gibraltar.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Myths and Facts about Red Hair

º Myths and facts about the red hair plus a list of real and fictional redheads in history and in art. 

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