Blogmas 2018 – Christmas A to Z

I don’t usually do tag posts, but I thought this one from Hidden Little Gem might be fun. So here are my answers to the Christmas A to Z! I’m not going to tag any other bloggers, but if you have festive associations for letters of the alphabet, why not add them in the comments?

Advent calendars

They’ve become a bit of a theme on my blog! This year I have 2 beauty ones, a cheese one, and a Braille one with chocolate!

Blogmas

This is my second year doing Blogmas. It does take time and effort, but I enjoy writing the posts, trying to come up with creative ideas, researching the articles, and finding out what everyone else is writing about too.

Christmas tree

When I was a child, we had a real one, and I love the smell of pine trees. Now we have a plastic one, but we’ve started a tradition where we put some Christmas music on and S and I decorate the tree together.

Decorating the house

We don’t have loads of decorations like some people do, but we have another tree in the kitchen, a little one in my office, various wreaths and things around the house, and it always makes me feel in the mood for Christmas when we’ve finished!

Elves

I haven’t got into the elf on the shelf thing, but they’re getting more and more popular now.

Freshly baked Christmas biscuits

I work with a lot of people in Germany, and they keep talking about the delicious biscuits that they baked. So last year I’d had enough of just hearing about them and made some too! I think I’ll be doing it again this year!

Going shopping for Christmas presents

Whether it’s physically going to the shops and wandering round whilst listening to Christmas music, or doing my shopping online, I like making a list and then trying to find things that I think people will like. Any excuse for shopping eh?!

Holly

Well, my favourite Holly is the yellow Labrador who has featured on the blog before, but we used to get some holly branches to decorate the house when I was younger, so for me, this belongs to Christmas as well.

Ice

It didn’t say they have to be good associations! I love snow, but try to avoid the ice. I’ll have to dig out the ice chains that I bought for my shoes if we have any problems with ice – they worked quite well.

Jewellery

It gives me an excuse to get out my snowmen, Christmas trees and reindeer necklaces and earrings. I don’t go in for the Christmas jumper thing, but I accessorise with jewellery instead.

Keeping warm

As I said yesterday, I don’t enjoy being cold, but there’s something satisfying about creating a cosy space where you can enjoy a night in front of a film or snuggling down with a good book and steaming cup of hot chocolate!

Lebkuchen

They come from Germany and are a kind of soft, spicy biscuit, sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with icing, and sometimes with a sweet and fruity filling.

Markets

We’ve been to three so far and may go to one more before December is over. Walking round Christmas markets is fun!

New ornaments for the tree

I started this last year and am trying to get one or two ornaments each year that are somehow relevant to us or what we have been doing. This year it was a reindeer to remind me of the real reindeer that I met at the Christmas fair.

Office party

I used to enjoy these. I don’t have one now because I’m self-employed and don’t have colleagues. But when I worked for the government in London, we used to have a lot of fun, and there was usually more than one – team party, department party, party for the building, party for another team that decided to invite me, party for any colleague in London who wanted to go… You get the idea!

Postman

Or the postlady or the parcel man/woman – all the wonderful people who bring my online shopping in December!

Quiet evenings in

The time before Christmas can involve a lot of events, rushing around, and being busy. Sometimes it’s good to take some time out, have a long bath, and unwind before the next thing happens!

Reindeer

Because they are adorable and I met my first one this year. He was so soft and he loved munching on his carrot!

Snow

It wouldn’t really be Christmas without it! Crunching through it where nobody else has walked. Building a snowman. Throwing snowballs. Playing in the snow with dogs who go chasing after snowballs and then roll around on their back! I’d love to try building an igloo one day, but haven’t tried it yet.

Tinsel

Putting it on the tree, around the house, or even on my white cane. There’s something about the smell of tinsel when it’s been in a box all year and then finally comes out again for Christmas!

Using more glitter

I don’t usually tend to go for sparkly make-up, but I will make an exception for Christmas and get the glittery things out!

Visiting or catching up with friends

I know this is a thing you can and should do all year round, but it seems at Christmas time we sometimes make that bit more effort to get back in touch with people we haven’t seen or spoken to for a while. If you’re just doing it out of a sense of duty, that’s not so good, but if it’s genuinely to catch up, then that’s great!

Wrapping presents

I used to always do this on my own, but now S and I do most of them together – teamwork – and it gets the job done faster.

Xmas music

I imagine if you work in retail, you’re probably done with Christmas music by the first week in December, but I have had the Christmas music on and it puts me in a good mood!

Yule log

Because chocolate cake is better than Christmas cake or Christmas pudding!

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I couldn’t think of anything else – but you do need a rest once it’s all over!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a mini of the Spa of the World Adriatic Peony body wash. I haven’t tried this before – it’s quite floral, a bit like the jasmin one. It’s probably not one that I’d pick up, but I like these little shower gels and am always happy to try out a new line.

Glossybox – the MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows. I won’t be reviewing this as it’s the next product to go in the giveaway box – use the form below if you want to enter the Blogmas giveaway.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.

Products 7-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

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Blogmas Day 9 – how do people from the UK experience Christmas in other parts of Europe?

On day 6, we looked at what people from other parts of Europe thought about Christmas celebrations in the UK. Today I have some interviews from people who were originally from the UK and who now live in France, Germany, and Spain. Actually I don’t think Molly lives in Spain any more, but she spent some time living there.

I asked when the Christmas celebrations take place, what new traditions they have discovered, what differences there are in terms of food, and whether there is anything that they miss.

Corinne –

Corinne moved to Berlin, where she now works as an English teacher. You can find out more about Corinne on her website, Byte Sized English.

The main celebration is on 24th December. The tradition is that the family goes to church and the strongest person in the house, normally the dad, get’s the tree into position. The kids come back to the house with a tree full of decorations and presents underneath it. The official start of the Christmas celebrations is the First of Advent (so this year this Sunday) . We have a Christmas wreath with four candles and the first candle is lit for the first time on the 1st Sunday of Advent, then the 2nd on the 2nd Sunday of Advent and so on. The wreath is a big deal here and can work out quite expensive. People are happier to spend money on a wreath than on a Christmas Tree which is only in the house from 24th December till 6th January. There is still a strong tradition of the Three Kings singing carols here too, kids from the church dress up as the 3 Kings and go from house to house singing carols, every house gets a chalked message

Reading aloud from a story book seems to be a lovely family tradition here that doesn’t wear off once the children can read independently in fact the older the kids get, the more involved they get reading for the rest of the family.

Cleaning boots is still very much part of the Nikolaus tradition here.

I missed mince pies. I make my own cranberry sauce now but you can’t get Port so easily, I miss that too

Jane

Jane is a German to English translator who now lives in Germany. You can find out more about Jane on her website Jane Eggers Translations.

The main celebration is on 24th December, in the late afternoon/evening

One thing we really like is the “Weihnachtsplätzchen” or Christmas biscuits. People bake big batches of them during Advent, serve them to guests, give them as presents etc. There are lots of different sorts. And the Christmas markets are a big part of Christmas too.

In my husband’s (German) family there is less emphasis on the food altogether. In our house, though, we tend to do Christmas dinner British style, with a roast and all the trimmings. I also like to bake mince pies and Christmas cake, which are not traditional here.

I miss the music. I find Christmas carols are very evocative, and the British ones still transport me back to the magical Christmasses of my childhood in a way the German ones don’t. So I make an effort to listen to some British carols while eating a mince pie or two, and then all is well!

Cara

Cara is an online English teacher who focusses on helping upper intermediate to advanced students to understand spoken English. Cara now lives in France. You can find out more about Cara on her website Leo Listening.

In France, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. People get together for a meal and open their presents on that day, rather than on the 25th like in the UK.

I haven’t really discovered any new customs, because I’ve only celebrated Christmas once in France and I think we actually had our celebration on the 25th rather than the 24th that time! One example is that people don’t really send Christmas cards like we do in the UK. They send each other New Year cards instead.

In terms of food, the main difference I can think of is ‘foie gras’ which people eat at New Year in France. This is a controversial French product made from goose liver. Their livers are fattened up through force feeding.
You can also find a special type of chocolate at Christmas (I’ve seen the first packets in the shops this week) called ‘papillotes’. They’re chocolates wrapped up in shiny packages with a little message on a piece of paper. It can be a quote or a proverb or a joke. The filling in these chocolates is generally praline. They’re pretty good!
People also eat Yule logs. My partner’s mum always makes one for us.

I find the UK more Christmassy than France which is why I make sure, as far as possible, that I’m there for Christmas. In terms of food, I really like mince pies. I even got my parents to send me a couple of packets one year so that I could share them with a group of students I was teaching. I’ve never found any ready-made ones here (I suppose I could have made them myself!). My parents have just sent me and my partner a couple of advent calendars through the post (we’re in our 30s!). You do get them in France, but these are Dairy Milk ones and Cadbury’s chocolate can be tricky to find here.

Molly

How Spain celebrates Christmas is something I studied around 5 years ago during School and again in College. Whilst most of us Brits have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, the Spanish tend to have theirs on Christmas Eve. At midnight they may go to Midnight Mass or “La Misa De Gallo”, here they will walk around with torches and play music. Although the 25th December is prominently celebrated as the main Christmas Celebration, Spain does not do things by halves they celebrate the festive season on many days as religion is important here.
On the 28th December is Day of the Innocent Saints or “Día de los Santos Inocentes”, this is basically April Fools Day in Spain where they all play pranks on each other!
New Years Eve is also a very exciting time to be in Spain (I will be back in Barcelona and I am very excited!). It is the same environment as the UK, everyone is out in the streets and there are fireworks but Spain has a very different tradition. As the clock has twelve strikes at midnight, with each strike you have to eat 12 grapes and if you do in time you are meant to be lucky in the next year! The grapes here are seeded and rather large so it is a challenge!
The final celebration of Christmas is on the 6th January, it is called the Epiphany and it is about the Christmas Story. In Spain it is called Fiesta de Los Tres Reyes Mages which translates as the Festival of the 3 Magic Kings and celebrates when the 3 Wise Men bought gifts for Baby Jesus. Some presents are opened on Christmas Day but the majority are opened on the 6th January (I used to hate that my mum made me wait till 6pm on the 25th!), children write letters to the Kings on Boxing Day. The night before the Epiphany they leave shoes on windowsills or under the tree to be filled with presents!
This tradition of Catalonia which is obviously where I live is new to me, I am currently writing an article for my job and it is about Christmas and any research I find always comes back to this tradition and it is rather odd.
There is a character at Christmas called “Tió de Nadal” (the Christmas log) or he is also known as “Caga Tió” which is funnily referred to as the “pooping log”. The wording is very funny to me but the concept is nice. It is a small hollow log with legs and a face painted on the end. From the 8th of December Catalan Families give it food to “eat” and a blanket to keep it warm. On Christmas Eve/Day, the log gives out small gifts and people sing songs and hit it with sticks to help it´s “digestion”. The log then drops sweets, nuts and dried fruits. When garlic or onion falls out, all the treats are finished for the year!
The food from what I have read in articles is the same food as England but just cooked a different way and with other foods. They have Turkey but it is stuffed with Truffles! In Galicia the most common food to eat is Seafood, I am not a seafood person I have never liked it so being in Barcelona is tough because it is everywhere! I am very much looking forward to having my Christmas Chicken Roast Dinner with all the trimmings! I think I have eaten all the tapas Barcelona has offered so far!
The main thing that I miss about the festive season in the UK and to be honest I have missed it throughout my time here is … Roast Dinners. They are a staple for Sunday lunches throughout the year. In Barcelona I haven´t seen any restaurants that sell Roast Dinners and to be honest I do not want to have one here in case I am disappointed by them, and I really want to wait because when I have my roast dinner at Christmas with my family it will be more special! If I could I would make them but I cannot find gravy, Yorkshire puddings or pigs in blankets so I may have to sneak some gravy back on the plane with me in my luggage! That is the only real thing I miss, apart from the Christmas Adverts of course! Luckily I have a Netflix account so I can watch all the Christmas Movies I want and the same with YouTube with the Christmas Songs but Christmas lights are already up so there´s not much to miss!

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

Is nobody else doing advent calendars? I can’t believe that! If you do have one, what did you find behind door no. 9?

L’Occitane – today I got the repairing shampoo to go with the conditioner, which I have already used. I’m not mad about the scent, but it’s a nice enough product.

M&S: Molten Star nail varnish from Nails Inc. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with nail varnish. At school I got my nails done in exchange for help with homework! Then I went for a long time without wearing it because although I can do it, I can’t get it as good as someone who can see, which made me not want to bother. Now I have a nail fairy and have just accepted that everyone needs help with something, and in my case one of those things is nail varnish – so I’m looking forward to trying this out!

Question of the day

So, as there are people from different parts of the world reading this blog – when does your family celebrate Christmas?

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