Take further steps to achieving a healthier you by using these easy-to-find herbs

Do you know that today is “More Herbs, Less Salt Day?” In line with this day that celebrates natural flavoring to promote health benefits, Treetopia has listed down five easy-to-find herbs that are also easy to use. Check out our picks:

Easy-to-find and easy-to-use herbs

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Jazz up your home and control your mood swings using the psychology of color

Have you ever wondered why it’s popular to wear blue during a job interview or why cheerful people are said to have a “sunny disposition?” Perhaps you’re also wondering why looking out into the turquoise sea water tends to make you think, reminisce, or reflect.

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Whether you believe it or not, all these colors and more have a certain emotional and psychological effect on us all. Treetopia gives you a glimpse of what some of the more popular colors trigger with special focus on 2013’s Color of the Year: green.

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Channel your inner Irish and bring the Emerald Isles into your home

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every 17th of March, the feast day of St. Patrick himself. Aside from the parade and parties where pints and quarts of beer are passed around, this day holds a greater significance for the people of the Emerald Isles. Here are some tidbits and fun suggestions on how to bring out your inner Irish.

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Take a look at fabulous and wonderfully weird traditions for ringing in the New Year

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, people are getting ready to celebrate the arrival of 2013. While New Year’s Eve is a night of fabulous parties and food-filled activities for some, it is also a night linked to tradition for others. Take a look at some traditions of how people from different parts of the world ring in the New Year.

Carnival and Color

In some areas in South Africa, the arrival of the New Year is celebrated with a burst of color and a carnival atmosphere. People take to the streets wearing colorful costumes as they dance to the beat of the drums.

 

First-Footing

Many areas in Europe still practice the first-footing tradition wherein the first person to enter the house after midnight is a young male to give luck to the household. The young male carries coal, bread, and money into the house to ensure that the household would have enough of these for the entire year.

 

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Do you know why you do the Christmas traditions you grew up with? Read on and find out!

Now that we have stuffed ourselves with a delightful Thanksgiving feast sprinkled with love, we can direct our attention to the next big feast—Christmas. Christmas is certainly one of the holidays with a treasure trove of traditions, but do you know why and how exactly these traditions came about?

Oh Christmas Tree

The most popular Christmas icon, especially for children, is the Christmas tree. We’ve all been though the phase of counting how many beautifully wrapped gifts nestled under the tree have our name on it. But did you know that the tradition of decorating trees came long before Christmas itself? It is believed that ancient pagan societies that practiced animism brought and decorated trees indoors to please the spirits and ensure a good harvest. Trees only became linked to Christmas when Christianity started to spread across Germany. The popularization of the modern Christmas tree came about when Prince Albert, originally from Germany, introduced the Christmas tree to England after he married Queen Victoria in 1840.

Christmas Stockings

The tradition of hanging Christmas stockings by the chimney is linked with the origin of Santa Claus’ story. It is believed that St. Nicholas threw three bags of gold coins down the chimney of a poor family whose father could not marry off his daughters because he had no money for dowries. It so happened that the daughters hung their stockings by the fireplace to dry and they caught the bags of gold coins that were dropped.

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Get to know who’s who on Santa’s naughty list

When the holiday season begins to make itself felt, people usually imagine warmth, love and everything nice. While everyone revels in the cheerful atmosphere of the holidays, these characters are waving their fists at everyone for being in a festive mood, at least at first.


Photo by perpetualplum via flickr. CC BY 2.0

Ebenezer Scrooge

Bah Humbug! We’re sure you’ve heard of this phrase before but not everyone knows that it came from Ebenezer Scrooge, the old grouch from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This cold-hearted, greedy man hates Christmas, especially since he is forced to give his employee, Bob Cratchit, paid time-off. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the doomed spirit of his old friend, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who reveal to him the evil of his ways. At these revelations, Scrooge experiences a change of heart and becomes a kind, generous old man.


Photo by Sarah_Ackerman via flickr. CC BY 2.0

The Grinch

From Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. “Dr. Seuss,” the Grinch is a green creature who lives in a cave in Mt. Crumpit at the North of Whoville and once tried to steal Christmas. A grouch, the Grinch hated the noise made on Christmas day, so he took all the gifts from the Who girls and boys. That would really cross him off Santa’s list, but when the Grinch realized that Christmas meant something more than gifts and feats, his heart, which was originally two sizes smaller, became three sizes larger. How’s that for a change of heart?

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Get to know fabulous facts surrounding the much beloved holiday

We usually celebrate Thanksgiving with a feast surrounded by our families and filled with joyful conversation. After being thankful for the meal and the time spent with the family at dinner, avoid prodding questions from family members with some trivia about Thanksgiving. Here are some to get you started:


Photo by Edsel L via flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

Thanksgiving is a pilgrim celebration.

No, it’s not a Pilgrim’s celebration, but a “pilgrim” celebration. Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill proclaiming that day as a national Thanksgiving holiday, but it took more than 300 years before that date was finally officiated. Thanksgiving moved from a three-day feast during the harvest season to the third Thursday of December, then from February 19, by order of George Washington, to any day the governor of the state declared it. By the time Thanksgiving finally settled on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941 by Abraham Lincoln and his successors, it had moved through the calendar, much like a pilgrim on a quest for a settlement.

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Who does not love candy corn? Hardly anyone can recall a Halloween spent trick-or-treating without receiving a handful of these sweet, delightful kernels – and rightly so. First produced in the 1880s, this classic candy has become an American favorite, and has even inspired a Christmas tree design!

But did you know that there’s more to candy corn than meets the eye? Here are some crazy candy corn facts that you probably haven’t heard:

  1. National Candy Corn Day is celebrated on October 30. This date being the day just before Halloween, we bet it was invented by adults as an excuse to get candy corn into their tummies before kids could take them away!
  2. Candy corn has 3.57 calories per kernel. In fact, one cup of candy corn has only 140 calories – lower than the calorie content of one cup of raisins. These little kernels contain mostly sugar and corn syrup, with small amounts of marshmallows and fondant for a soft texture. It’s also completely fat-free!
  3. If you put together all the candy corn made in a single year, you’d have 35 million pounds or 9 billion kernels — enough candy to go to the moon and back 21 times if laid end-to-end.
  4. Candy corn used to be available only between March to November because of the availability of the ingredients. Since then, corn syrup and sugar have become available year-round, letting you buy candy corn whenever you feel like it.
  5. Candy corn is not just for Halloween. Different variants include “Indian corn”, a brown, orange, and white kernel for Thanksgiving; blueberry coddler candy corn, a uniquely Canadian variety; “reindeer corn”, with a green end and red center made for Christmas; and the red-and-pink “cupid corn”, which is available during Valentine’s Day.
  6. History played a role in making candy corn what it is today: when it was first made in the 1880s, candy corn (which was called “buttercream” back then) was a hit with farmers because of its appearance and because it provided them with energy for long days in the field.
  7. Because of its popularity, candy makers experimented with other vegetable shapes, such as turnips. In the 1970s, many candy companies had to close shop due to a rise in sugar prices. Other companies stayed afloat, thanks to the seasonal demand for candy corn.
  8. Candy corn was first made by hand. The ingredients were combined and cooked in large kettles. The mixture was then poured into hand-made molds. It was a backbreaking process that required a lot of labor. Of course, everything is now made by special machines.

Next time you open a pack of candy corn, think of the history and the effort that made it the holiday favorite that it is now. As you chew on those cute little kernels of fun, remember that you are not just enjoying a candy; you’re also taking part in a tradition. Enjoy munching!

Oktoberfest Trivia 2012

Beer and more beer – the two things that often come to mind when you hear the word “Oktoberfest.” But if you think beer covers everything the fest has to offer, think again. There’s more to the biggest beer festival in October than lager and lederhosen. Here are some not-so-well-known facts surrounding this well-known event:

The first Oktoberfest celebrated a wedding

In 1810, the first Oktoberfest was held in Munich to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. More than 40,000 citizens of Munich attended the festivities held in front of the city gates, which lasted 5 days.

Beer was not available at the first Oktoberfest

Only alcohol was available and it had to be bought outside the venue. Beer was only made available at Oktoberfest when organizers opened the activity to vendors and beer halls became popular.

Oktoberfest starts in September

Oktoberfest takes place over 16-19 days. While the first Oktoberfest was held in October, it now begins in September, with the last weekend of the fest held in October. This is to take advantage of better weather (it is less chilly).

Non-alcoholic drinks are aplenty

From coffee and tea to water and lemonade, other beverages are also available for those who choose to drink something other than beer during the festival. Sparkling wine, some of the best of which is produced in Germany, is also widely available. Average statistics for Oktoberfest show 222,725 liters of coffee and tea, and 808,765 ½ liters of water and lemonade are consumed at each festival, albeit this is a far cry from the approximate 6,940,600 liters of beer!

Oktoberfest is family-friendly

With carousels, carnival rides, parades, musical performances and the like, Oktoberfest is a fun festival for the entire family. There is even a Family Day every Tuesday when special discounts are given until 6PM.

The fest is also a haven for food lovers

Aside from the millions of gallons of beer downed at Oktoberfest, sumptuous food is also aplenty. From hendl (grilled chicken) to brezel (giant German soft pretzels), you’ll enjoy not only a variety of the best beer around, but also an array of specialty foods that are unique and simply delish! Relish Shweinshaxe (Bavarian pork knuckles), or try an oxen dish, Knockwurst (German sausage), or Kasespatzle (cheese noodles) while enjoying your beer or sparkling wine.

Oktoberfest hosts an annual crossbow shooting contest

Another anticipated event, this contest is held in the Armbrustschutzenzelt tent every year.

Festivities have been cancelled 24 times

Tragic events led to the cancellation of Oktoberfest, such as cholera epidemics in 1854 and 1873, the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, and World War II.

“O’zapft is” is Oktoberfest’s magic phrase

Meaning, “It is tapped,” this is the phrase that officially opens Oktoberfest. The mayor of Munich taps the first beer barrel and shouts this phrase to the crowd. What happens next is history.

Go ahead and join this famous food and beerfest. Just make sure to watch out for bierleichen (beer corpses)!