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Showing posts from November, 2011

December's Birthstone: The Blue Topaz

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Blue Topaz is the birthstone of December (blue topaz), it is a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius and the suggested anniversary gemstone for the 4th, 19th or 23rd year of marriage. The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit and means fire. Topaz occurs in a wide range of colors including red, orange, peach, pink, gold, yellow, brown and clear and is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Russia. Naturally pale to medium blue topaz is enhanced by irradiation to produce a more intense blue color. Red and pink topaz gems were used in the jewelry of the 18th and 19th Century Russian Czarinas and is why topaz is sometimes called "Imperial Topaz". The most famous topaz is actually a colorless topaz that was originally thought to be a diamond. It is a 1680 carat stone known as the "Braganza Diamond" set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels. Another beautiful topaz is in the Green Vault in Dresden which has one of the world's most important gem collections. Although top…

Hanukkah

Hanukkah, the "Festival of Lights," starts on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev and lasts for eight days and nights. In 2011, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 20. With blessings, games, and festive foods, Hanukkah celebrates the triumphs--both religious and military--of ancient Jewish heroes. Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year. In the United States, however, its closeness to Christmas has brought greater attention to Hanukkah and its gift-giving tradition. Amid the ever-growing flood of Christmas advertising, it may seem especially fitting that the Hanukkah story tells of Jewish culture surviving in a non-Jewish world. The Hanukkah StoryNearly 2,200 years ago, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea - now Israel- were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah. Although vastly outnumbered, religious J…

The Night Before Christmas

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they ca…