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Christmas Traditions: 7 Strange and Wonderful traditions from around the World

christmas traditions

Christmas Traditions: 7 Strange and Wonderful traditions from around the World

Origins

Christmas is right around the corner. And there are more than a few chirstmas traditions that people partake in every year, from newer ones like Santa-Con where thousands of people dress up like Santa, to more ancient ones like the hanging of the mistletoe.

In England we have a few pretty obscure ones ourselves that make foreigners scratch their heads in bemusement. Our puddings for example; mince pies and our traditional brandy soaked flaming fruit cake. And let’s not forget Christmas Crackers, invented in the 1845 by Tom Smith, these are iconically British. In fact, ask an American about them and you’ll get nothing but a blank stare.

We have compiled a few of the strange and magical Christmas traditions from around the world for your pleasure.

THE PHILIPPINES

Every year, the Saturday before Christmas, they hold The Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando in The Philippines. This festival had fairly simple origins, with (relatively) small festival lamps being constructed of Japanese origami paper. Today though the festival is a fierce competition between the 11 participating villages as everyone tries build the best and most elaborate lantern possible.

The lanterns are today made of a variety of materials and are up to 6 metres in length! Illuminated by fairy lights and electric bulbs, these are the pinnacle of lantern creation and an incredible sight to behold. christmas traditions

Find out more about The Giant Lantern Festival (Ligligan Parul Sampernandu)

Image Credit: Ramon FVelasque, "Ligligan Parul" Giant Lantern Festival, CC by SA 3.0

DENMARK

Before Christianity the Danes celebrated jól on the 25th of December, the celebration of brighter days Today, homes are decorated with superstitious characters called Nisse who are believed to provide protection. On the evening of December 24, Danish families place their Christmas tree in the middle of the room and dance around it while singing carols.

COLOMBIA

Like The Giant Lantern festival tradition in the Philippines this grew out of a seemingly innocent tradition of people placing candles and lanterns in their windows, balconies and front gardens. It has however grown, and now entire towns and cities across the countries are lit up with fantastical displays that are glorious to behold.

Some of the best are found in Quimbaya, where neighbourhoods compete to see who can create the most impressive arrangement.

Sweden

Okay this is probably the winner of best christmas traditions. This one made us do a double take when we found references on the internet for this. We are talking about the Yule Goat (of course…)

This is a fairly recent local tradition, sadly contained to a single village. We feel the world would be better off with more Yule Goats. Since 1966, a 13 metre tall Goat has been constructed in the centre of the Gävle’s Castle Square for the Advent.

Obviously though, the Swedes, not happy to simply have their giant goat flaunting its horns in the square developed another ‘tradition’ of sorts. The burning down of the Yule Goat! Masked and under the cover of night groups attempt to set fire to the giant goat and they have succeeded 29 times in the last 52 years.

If you want to see how the Goat fares this year when it goes up on December 1st, you can follow its progress on the Gävle website through a live video stream.

Austria

We all know the story of Krampus, right? The evil accomplice to bonny St. Nick. The beast like demon creature (probably just masked men…) roams the city streets with the sole purpose it would seem of frightening children.

In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack. In the first week of December, young men dress up as the Krampus (especially on the eve of St. Nicholas Day) frightening children with clattering chains and bells.

Iceland

Scandinavia seems to have the best christmas traditions so far. There are a couple of odd Icelandic traditions that we thought worth mentioning. The Yule Lads, and the Yule Cat.

Let’s start with the Lads. During the 13 days leading up to Christmas, these 13 mischievous naughty troll-like creatures come out to play. Girls and Boys leave their best pair of shoes by the window and each day a different lad visits leaving a gift for nice children and an old rotting potato for the less nice ones…

Clad in traditional Icelandic costume, these fellas are pretty mischievous, and their names hint at the type of trouble they like to cause: Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod), Giljagaur (Gully Gawk), Stúfur (Stubby), Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker), Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper), Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker), Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer), Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler), Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper), Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper), Gáttaþefur (Doorway-Sniffer), Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) and Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer).

The Yule Cat is another weird festive tradition. It is said that a giant cat roams the countryside at Christmas time. Those that don’t work hard will be devoured by this cat, who clearly dislikes lazy people. But those that do work hard will be rewarded by the farmer with a new set of clothes. Whilst the cat isn’t such a popular tradition any more, it is still customary to get a new set of clothes for Christmas.

Norway

Dating back centuries a tradition in Norway is to hide one’s broom. It is believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride. And we think that the lack of witches in Norway today proves just how effective this tactic has been. To this day many people still hide their brooms at Christmas time.

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Final thoughts

There are marvelous and magical traditions all around the globe, some seem strange or antiquated, whilst others are beautiful expressions of creativity, art and the spirit of love. Through all these places though, whether they share religion, history or not, there is one Christmas Tradition that is nearly universal, the giving of gifts.

CHECK OUT OUR HBB CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

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7 Hilarious Fashion Instagrams to Follow

7 Hilarious Fashion Instagrams to Follow

7 Hilarious Fashion Instagrams to Follow

Hilarious FASHION ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

We’re all about combining practicality with good looking fashion.

However, sometimes when fashion struts its stuff, the runways are dominated by the bizarre and unwieldy rather than the beautiful or practical. And we aren’t the only people to have noticed this, not by a long shot.

After discovering these we thought it only right that we share some of the most hilarious fashion accounts on Instagram.

We save the best till last…

1. DIET PRADA

This instagram calls out designers for knocking each other off, as well as sharing ‘who wore it better?’ images.

If you’re going to copy someone, maybe copy something less… well memorably strange. Diet Prada points out the somewhat striking resemblance between these two seasonal releases, 23 years apart.

FOLLOW @DIETPRADA

2. FREDDIE MADE

Designed to make you smile, this account by conceptual artist Freddie Smithson takes iconic shots and highlights the ridiculousness of them with some… let’s say curious, Photoshop.

We all know the Queen has some pretty great fashion sense, but this one may be new to us.

FOLLOW @FREDDIEMADE

3. TOMMY LENK

The actor and comedian Tommy Lenk recreates, in DIY style, and tries on different outfits worn by models and celebrities.
We will let you be the judge of just how successful he is in pulling them off.

Believe it or not you can make this stylish outfit yourself with nothing but some bin bags and red cups.

FOLLOW @TOMMYLENK

No need for words here.

DON’T FORGET YOUR HBB!

We’ve got a fantastic range of HBB’s that make the perfect evening companion.
Check out our Smarter range below.

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4. ANGELICA HICKs

Her ‘who wore it best?’ segment is original and it certainly tickles us, but it is her humorous illustrations that we love most of all.

It kinda works both ways…

FOLLOW @ANGELICAHICKS

5. COPY LAB

Chris Rellas takes his satirical fashion viewpoint with photoshop as his witty weapon. the results are surprising and pretty interesting.

Have you ever thought about what Renaissance paintings would look like with flashes of Chanel and Gucci? Chris has.

Sometimes all an old outfit needs to update it, is a new accessory.

FOLLOW @COPYLAB

6. SIDUATIONS

This account cleverly creates funny fashion memes, a lot of them you have likely seen doing the rounds on your social media feeds.

For the first time it would seem they put some practical clothes on the runway. This would keep our beekeepers safe.

FOLLOW @SIDUATIONS

7. TASTE OF STREEP

The final one on the list is definitely our favourite.

We love Meryl Streep, and we love food. So, what could be better than an Instagram account that photoshops her seamlessly onto your favourite food?

An Egg-cellent picture here…

It’s not Prada, but it certainly is a tasty look.

FOLLOW @TASTEOFSTREEP

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE FASHION ACCOUNT YOU FOLLOW? SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

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5 Reasons to Relish your Fear this Halloween

5 Reasons to Relish your Fear this Halloween

Be afraid, be very afraid

It’s that time of year again when we surround ourselves with fearsomely carved pumpkins (and orange covered chocolate).

Being afraid isn’t all bad though. Here are 5 ways that being made to tremble could actually help you out.

1. Being scared alerts you to harm

We will start with the obvious. Fear is a natural instinct designed to help you avoid dangerous situations. Think of it as an alarm bell.

When we get scared, our bodies react physically so we can handle the danger, also known as our fight-or-flight response  – that sudden rush of adrenaline which allows you to move faster or become stronger than you thought you were.

It is a basic survival instinct.

2. A Little Can Help you Achieve your Goals

Two things can happen when we become afraid. We can face our fear, or we can run away from it.

Identifying our fears can help alert us to areas in our lives that we are limiting ourselves. For example, a fear of rejection may be poisoning our relationships. Being able to stand up to fear and overcome it is one of the best ways to grow as a person.

3. It can Help you in a tight Squeeze

When that adrenaline comes, a tight deadline is approaching, or you are just running out of time to complete a deadline.

The acute stress that accompanies fear can actually be good in these situations. It keeps you up, helps you focus and gives you more drive to complete the task before the time is up.

4. A lot of People Actually Enjoy it

Roller coaster rides, Halloween, haunted houses, skydiving, bungee jumping, scary movies or even skiing, all of these things inject us with huge amounts of fear and we as humans relish the vigour of the adrenaline rush that comes with it.

5. Fear can help us become closer to people

Remember when you and your partner flicked on a scary movie and huddled together? Fear is a powerful emotional and physical response and sharing the experience with someone can help you become closer. Not to forget the excuse to get close to them.

Harnessing the hidden powers of fear

We all have negative associations with the idea of fear, but as we’ve seen it is useful to help give us drive, avoid dangerous situations and fill us with the buzzing thrill of adrenaline.

However, it can be detrimental. Most people have an irrational phobia of some sort, whether it’s Acrophobia (heights), Arachnophobia (spiders), Agoraphobia (having a panic attack in public), or Mysophobia (germs). These can be debilitating and cause damage to quality of life.

So, when it comes to making the most of your fear this scary season, you need to face up to it (within reason), ride the wave of adrenaline that comes with it and overcome it. And then you can start harnessing the power of fear.

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Haunting Halloween Recipes

Our Haunting Halloween Recipes

Halloween is an opportunity to have a little fun, from ridiculous costumes to outrageous parties.

Of course if you’re having a party, you need some suitably spooky food. We have collected and tested a few of our favourites for you.

Starting with a couple of simple appetisers. Tasty finger foods that are sure to impress.

Pumpkin puffs

  • Plain flour, for dusting the baking parchment
  • 1 standard pack of puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 80g unsalted butter cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 190 grams finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • 130 grams of finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Generously flour two pieces of parchment paper; on each, roll out an unfolded pastry sheet to form a 15-by-13-inch rectangle, about 1/16 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the paprika into the melted butter.

2. Remove pastry from the refrigerator, and brush off excess flour. Spread a rectangle of pastry with mustard; sprinkle with both cheeses. Season with pepper. Lay a second pastry rectangle on top.

3. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the stacked pastry; using a rolling pin, roll until smooth and pastry layers are sealed together. Remove parchment, and brush top of pastry with butter mixture. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. With a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, cut into 18 to 24 shapes. Immediately place the shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a sharp paring knife, score each shape four or five times to make pumpkin ridges. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer puffs to a wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.

Fingers and Toes

  • Red or green food colouring, (optional, for finger nails)
  • 24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups warm water, plus 3 litres, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Vegetable oil
  • 640g – 750g plain flour, plus some for the work surface
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Fried rosemary (optional, for toes)

Directions

1. Place a small amount of food colouring, if using, in a shallow bowl, and, using a paintbrush, colour the rounded side of each split almond; set aside to dry.

2. Pour 2 cups water into a bowl. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand until yeast begins to bubble (about 5 minutes). Stir in 120 grams of flour. Add in the salt and then another 400g of flour. Continue beating until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rest of the flour. Beat 1 minute more. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour until the texture is right. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, 1 minute.

3. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 3 litres of water water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce to a simmer. Add baking soda. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, and cover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm forming a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Or, to make toes, roll each piece so that it is slightly shorter and fatter, about 2 inches. Pinch in 1 place to form the knuckle. When 12 fingers or toes are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, blanching each set of 12 fingers or toes before making more.

5. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzel fingers and toes with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if using. Position almond nails, pushing them into dough to attach. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For spooky coloured food you don’t have to get too creative. This gratin is delicious and there is always something a little ghoulish about black beans and sausages…

Kale and Butternut Squash Gratin

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch kale (200g to 250g) stems and tough ribs removed, leaves torn into large pieces.
  • Unsalted butter, for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 60g finely grated Parmesan
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • 90ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash just above bulb. Slice squash neck crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. Cut squash bulb in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a spoon; discard. Slice each half crosswise into 1/4-inch half-moons.

2. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 inch water; bring to a boil. Add kale, cover, and steam until bright green and wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. Squeeze dry.

3. Butter a shallow baking dish (approx 13 by 9 in). Arrange half of sliced squash in dish, shingling pieces to overlap. Season with salt and pepper. Top with kale, season with more salt and pepper, and sprinkle with two thirds of the Parmesan and 2 tablespoons sage. Place remaining squash on top, overlapping pieces slightly; season with more salt and pepper. Pour cream over squash and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sage.

4. Cover tightly with parchment-lined foil and bake until squash is tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool slightly before serving.

Black Bean and Sausage

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 450g of smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, diced small
  • 2 shallots, diced small
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 470ml chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 50g plain yogurt, for serving

Directions

1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add carrots and shallots to skillet and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans and stock and bring mixture to a boil. Add sausage, reduce heat to a rapid simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve with more parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Of course you will need something to drink. This one’s for the kids. But if you want a ghastly cocktail try one of these Spooky Halloween Cocktails

Blood Moon Punch

  • 1 litre of orange juice
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 litres grape juice
  • 1 ¼ litres ginger beer
  • 750ml sparkling water
  • 250ml fresh lime juice
  • Candy bats (optional)

Directions

1. For the ice moon, freeze a mixture of orange juice and water in a small bowl, around 8 in diameter. In a large punch bowl, gently stir together grape juice, ginger beer, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice. To release the moon, dip the bottom of the frozen bowl in hot water until the ice starts to melt at the edges. Remove the bowl from the water and turn it onto a plate. Place the moon in the punch, flat-side up, and if desired, arrange candy bats on top.

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What on Earth is Skandi?

Skandi Room

What is Skandi?

We’ve all heard about Skandi but what exactly does it mean?
In short, Skandi is a design movement which emerged at the start of the 20th Century and which is all about simplicity and minimalism.

Originating from the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, it became prevalent in many elements of design in the West. This is seen in the democratic design ideals of IKEA where pared back simplicity and practicality is coupled with a modernist twist giving the design a clean and almost futuristic feel.

How did it come about?

There are several key factors to Scandinavian design that are characteristic reflections of the Nordic environment. The northern countries are famously dark, cold and snow-covered for extended periods, followed by intense light-filled summer months. Think forested mountains, deep fjords and hidden lakes.

To survive such an inhospitable climate, the Scandinavians unsurprisingly developed an ability to make the most out of limited resources.
On top of this there is a focus on traditional craft skills.

The result? Resourcefulness and practicality give Scandinavian design clarity, whilst the craft traditions root the design process in the material with individual artistic flair.

What does this look like?

How does HBB fit into all of this?

We mirror many (but not all) of the quintessential design properties of Skandi, without really meaning to. Our bags are modern and slightly unusual. This is paired with high end design values of practicality, functionality and versatility.

Skandi then is a design movement we aspire to and the concept of form following function is a premise we certainly encompass in our bags.

What we really love is the endless ingenuity of practical design and how it is effected with such artistic imagination.

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