It’s the 4th day of Christmas. Where are my calling birds?

Last week I noticed a front-page story on the “Express” newspaper about holiday gift giving may be postponed until after December 25th due to the economy and the anticipation of deep price cuts for consumer items. Fortunately, this all fits in perfectly if you’re expanding and bringing “diversity” into your holiday.

Today is the 8th and final day of Hanukkah. Hanukkah celebrates the triumph and miracle of the light over darkness. The Hanukkah story is a war story from over 21 centuries ago. The unarmed Maccabees defeated the great Syrian Greek army who ruled much of what is called the “holy land.” These former rulers defiled the Jewish temple. After the battle was won (considered a miracle), the temple was rededicated but there was not enough oil to light the holy temple. The little oil there was available astonished everyone when it burned for 8 nights. No gifts are required, but if one must “tis the season,” it’s usually a token.

Today is the 3rd day of Kwanzaa: Ujima (collective work and responsibility). This 7 day African American celebration of the values and/or principles that nourish and uplift family, community, and culture has a gift giving finale on January 1, New Year’s Day for Kuumba, the 7th principle meaning “creativity.” The official Kwanzaa site has gift recommendations:

Gifts are given mainly to children, but must always include a book and a heritage symbol. The book is to emphasize the African value and tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt, and the heritage symbol to reaffirm and reinforce the African commitment to tradition and history.

The Twelve Days of Christmas is more than just a jolly song. Christmas Day all the way through January 6 (Three Kings Day) celebrate the birth of Jesus and the visit of the three kings or magi who brought gifts to the infant. Three Kings Day, Twelfth Night or Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. It marks the official end of the Christmas season. According to the LA Times, Mexican shoppers are feeling the pinch to meet children’s expectations for Reyes Magos, even with the lure of sales after January 1. The three Kings were named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar from Ethiopia. It’s hard to believe there’s no one in Mexico or Spain who can play Balthazar in the 21st century without resorting to this:

After January 6, it’s time to gear up for Mardi Gras. The King Cake has a plastic toy baby baked inside. Whoever gets the slice with the toy infant buys next year’s King cake. Fat Tuesday is February 21. I’ve done the New Orleans Mardi Gras. I put the crowds into two categories: for tourists, it’s a wild party. For locals, it’s a time to get together with family watch the parades, cook up some food, and have folks over. To be honest, I didn’t fee safe around the tourists. And I’m from DC.

But I was there with a friend bearing gifts of pound cake as you’ll see in the video from the Church Lady Cake Diaries. Happy Holidays!