From Our Blog
Did you know that in the 1800s, when people first started decorating Christmas trees, they hung nuts and fruits on trees instead of Santa and Christmas balls? It made sense, because these items originally grew on trees. It symbolized a new life cycle. By hanging nuts and fruits on the evergreen tree, people were looking forward to a good harvest and abundance in the coming new year. The glass ball, which is a more familiar holiday decoration today, became popular later because it reflected light on decorated trees set up indoors. After all, Christmas is a festival about glee, color, and light.
We have some great new holiday ornaments in the store. They are fair trade and handmade by artisans from all over the world!
For Christmas, Santa and Rudolph are always a good choice, especially when they represent different cultures. Our sledding Santa ornament is handmade from banana fiber by artisans in Kenya. It is environmentally friendly and it supports local sustainability because banana leaves must be stripped from their trees in order for the trees to thrive. Crafting this ornament by hand requires patience and complicated techniques.
This adorable skiing Rudolph is handmade from natural sheep’s wool and assembled by Nepalese artisans. A flying reindeer in iconic Christmas colors of red, green, and white is playfully skiing the slopes!
Stars are traditional holiday ornaments, but this sari star is a new twist on the tradition. It’s unusual because it’s made from recycled cotton kantha saris by Bangladeshi artisans. It makes a great addition to an environmentally-friendly and globally-themed tree.
Artisans from South Africa created this recycled soda can giraffe ornament. The item, carefully designed and weaved from recycled pop, beer cans, and colored wire, supports local economic development and environmental sustainability. In Swahili culture, the giraffe represents grace and achievement.
This hand-beaded flying pig ornament from Guatemala is made by female artisans whose biggest dreams are to earn a living wage and educate their children. Fair trade provides this opportunity, and reminds us nothing is impossible!
Choose Fair Trade and make a positive difference. This year, decorate your home and Christmas tree with cheer, originality, and your goodwill to the world!
Week by week, we're working our way around the globe...
In our previous Friday blogs about cross-cultural gifting, we've established why finding a gift for your friends from other lands can be a minefield of potential social and cultural faux pas. Stick with us and we'll help you avoid such frustrations (and embarrassments)... this week, in Ireland.
Personal Gift Giving:
Gift giving in Ireland is customary at birthdays and Christmas, however, if you are invited to someone's home, a host/ess gift will be appreciated. Appropriate gifts include flowers, chocolates, cheese, and wines. Indeed, the gift need not be expensive -- it's the thought that counts. Giving something personal and thoughtful is more important.
- When giving flowers, don't give lilies as they are reserved for religious occasions.
- Don't give White flowers as they tend to symbolize death.
- Gifts are generally opened in front of the giver.
- When receiving a gift, it is customary to politely refuse the gift when it is first offered -- and when giving a gift to someone, expect him or her to do the same. Continue to insist and by the third offering, it will be happily accepted.
- The same is true when offered a gift of hospitality: refuse it once and maybe twice. The third time it is offered, you should accept. (This custom is said to have come from the days of the Potato Famine. Although people had nothing to offer, they could offer the hospitality of a cup of tea or other without embarrassment. By offering a third time, the recipient was assured that accepting the gift would not cause the giver hardship.)
Business Gift Giving:
Corporate gifts are typically not exchanged in Irish business culture. However, for business social events, small gifts are appropriate. A bottle of wine or a gift from your home country/region will be welcomed.
Much business is conducted on the golf course, so golf gifts are popular -- and even more appreciated when customized with the logo or identity of your home club.
- For the lyrical and poetic Irish, speaking is an art form. Though generally straight-talking and sincere, the Irish are known for finding humor in all situations. Insults are often traded among friends. If you will be visiting Ireland, expect to be teased. And if you are, take it as a sign of acceptance, and it's appropriate to tease back if done in a good-natured way.
There are lots of other #funfacts to learn as our blog treks around the globe. Join us here next Friday as we discuss gift giving in Italy!