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The 17th Century Origins of the Candy Cane

For some people, Christmas is all about the foods, for others, a single piece of candy cane or the scent of pine can bring them back to their childhood holidays. It is no stretch to suggest that the Candy Cane is one of the most Christmasized of all candies– probably because it was created for the season and is fraught with meaning for those who choose to look for it. According to legend, they have a German history, but given the German origins of the British monarchy during Jane Austen’s life, it’s not a stretch to think that the treat might have been brought over to England, along with the Christmas tree and other, older traditions, like the Yule Log. Did Jane enjoy stick candy or candy canes? We may never know.   “According to folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, the candy canes spread to other (more…)
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The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: A Classic Christmas Tale

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (German: Nussknacker und Mausekönig) is a story written in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann, a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, composer, music critic,  and caricaturist. In the tale, young Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. In 1892, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas père‘s adaptation of the story into the ballet The Nutcracker, which became one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions, and perhaps the most popular ballet in the world. Classical Ballet Peter Tchaikovsky “The Nutcracker” (ballet in two acts)by the world famous Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and Opera theatre Hoffmann’s story begins on Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house. Marie, seven years old, and her brother Fritz, eight, sit outside the parlor speculating about what kind of present their godfather Drosselmeier, who is a clockmaker and inventor, has made for them. They are at last allowed into the parlor, where they receive many splendid gifts, including Drosselmeier’s, which turns out to be a clockwork castle with mechanical people moving about inside it. However, as the mechanical people can only do the same thing over and over without variation, the children quickly tire of it. At this point, Marie notices a Nutcracker doll, and asks whom he belongs to. Her father tells her that he belongs to all of them, but (more…)
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The influence of Jane Austen’s social background on two of her novels

  He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.” -Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s Social Background: Jane Austen: The gentleman’s daughter Jane Austen and her family had their place in the gentry within the social class system in England. The gentry were the growing middle class which included the lower nobility and the “bourgeoisie” (land owning middle class).[1] The “gentry” was a wide class with people with different fortunes in it. There were some with a vast wealth and others “at the lower end of the class”.[2] According to the word gentry, the men in this class were called gentlemen. A man who owned at least 300 acres of property and lived off the money, he earned from this lands was allowed to call himself a gentleman.[3] Nevertheless, new groups of gentlemen who did not own land rose up to the “long-established and highly respectable class”.[4]In the first place these were the businessmen, but also Anglican clergymen and army and navy officers.[5] Behaviour was deemed to be a component of everyone`s personality. Good behaviour included in addition to the right manners, specific forms of address. Children had to say “Madam” and “Sir” to their parents and relatives employed “Miss”, “Mrs” and “Mr” to address someone in their family. In the majority of cases married couples used their last names.[6] Fellow human beings rated the manners of others, so it was very important to use the right manners. In particular, women had to be accomplished. (more…)