Hanukkah, or Chanukah, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev, at sundown. Lasting eight days, Hanukkah usually occurs during December, but sometimes begins in November. This Jewish holiday is known as the Festival of Lights, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. after three years of war. Hanukkah means "dedication."
Jerusalem at the time was part of the Hellenistic empire and was ruled by Antiochus IV. His government instituted a different religion from Judaism. When the Temple became a site of sacrifices and icons, the people resisted, sparking three years of fierce rebellion. The Maccabees led the rebellion and were triumphant in 164 B.C.
On Christmas Eve, a young girl dreams her beloved toy comes to life. He becomes her Nutcracker Prince and dances his Clara through the land of sweets and defeats the wicked Mouse King. Perhaps you've seen the ballet-- it's so popular that many ballet schools make it their featured holiday production year after year. The music is amazing—from the wild Russian dance to the slow and mysterious Arabian dance. It all flows together to create a magical night of exhilarating performances.
Have you ever been in a place where there were lots of buildings but no trees? New housing developments or parts of a city that have been neglected for a long time may not have the shady spots and fresh air that trees give. As trees breathe, they let out oxygen that humans and animals need to survive. Their roots hold the ground together, making sure the soil doesn't blow away in the wind. When a tree dies naturally in the forest, its wood becomes a home for insects and a cafeteria for the hungry birds who eat those insects. Trees provide so many good things for the Earth.
You can create your very own cards to shine, sparkle, and spin. A quick trip to a craft store can net you a few things that can help you turn out beautiful and amazing holiday cards.
Outside the wind is lifting just so, ruffling the new leaves on the trees and chasing the old ones away. It's spring, a time to celebrate the rebirth of the flowers and the greening of the trees. It's time to go fly a kite and watch it buck and soar in the breeze.
You can make a simple kite all by yourself, paint it or color it with markers, and let it fly up in the air.
What's the best thing about a snow day? Is it the thought of building the biggest, best snowman ever, taking a run down a sledding hill, or just spending a day away from school? Some people just enjoy how quiet nature seems to be under a blanket of winter white. Others can't wait to get out and get moving, even if it means shoveling the walk first!
Brimming with the fruits of the harvest, the cornucopia has become an important symbol of American Thanksgiving. Its origins go further back in time to the ancient Greeks. According to their myths, young Zeus gave his foster mother Amalthaea a goat's horn that could be filled with whatever she wished.
There are all kinds of puppets: marionettes on strings, hand puppets that fit like a glove, and tiny finger puppets. They can be made with so many things: paper plates, index cards, straws and yarn, and even old socks! Puppets have been around for ages throughout the world. Read on to learn more about the world of puppets and how to make your own.
Image courtesy of Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing, http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml
Feel like putting a little free spirit in your summer? Get on your oldest clothes, grab some buckets and rubber gloves, and head for the backyard to create beautiful tie-dye crafts.
You can use natural or artificial dyes, depending on whether you want your design to be a real eye-popper or something subtler that bespeaks being at one with nature. You can use a tie-dye kit or collect wild things from nature for earthier tones. Heck, even unsweetened Kool-Aid can be used as a dye to produce vivid color.
They're cool, tangy, and sweet—all at the same time. Best of all, when you go blueberry picking you can just reach out and pluck them. They are so much easier to pick than strawberries. There's no kneeling in the straw and mud only to find that critters have eaten the underside of your berries. Besides being fun and easy to pick, blueberries are splendid for you, too. They are rich in vitamin C and other important nutrients. Blueberries are in season for Virginia from mid-June to mid-July, so grab a bucket to fill with sweet berries.