Paper Whites

Posted On December 8, 2009

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Plant of the month > Paper Whites >

Paper Whites belong to the Narcissus family and are usually the first indoor bulbs to flower. They take only about four to six weeks from planting, so if you want them for Christmas don’t delay and get them into a pot straight away.

There are two methods of growing them. One is to plant them in compost and the other is to grow them in water. For the first method use a shallow pot without drainage holes and after putting a few small stones in the bottom for weight, add some potting compost and sit the bulbs firmly on this. Do not let the bulbs touch each other or the side of the pots. Fill with compost but leave the tops of the bulbs exposed. Give them a little water and put them in a cool shaded place until shoots appear. They will grow fast once they have started.

The other way is to grow them in a glass jar or bowl with some pretty pebbles, stones or shells in the bottom and sit the bulbs firmly on them. Add water to just below the bulb and keep it topped up at that level. Keep the bowl in a well lit position and wait for the lovely flowers to appear.

The sweetly perfumed flowers grow in clusters and there maybe five or six or even more to each stem. They look like little white stars and can last up to two or three weeks. They were originally natives of the western Mediterranean but these days they can be grown successfully all around the world.

Does she love me, Santa, or does she love me not?

Does she love me, Santa, or does she love me not?

Nicosia resident Sergios Christou said that 20 years ago Cypriots would put gifts under the Christmas Tree on January 1st.

“It seems people have now been Europeanised and they instead gather and exchange gifts on Christmas Day”, Christou said.

“For a while we did gifts on both Christmas and New Year’s but that got to be too much. I actually prefer giving gifts on Christmas. It gives the kids more time to enjoy their presents over the holiday period”.

Despite the change in date, Christou said that many of the traditions, like putting biscuits and milk out the night before Santa comes to vist, still exist, they just now come a week earlier. And Ayios Vassilis, the Saint celebrated on January 1st has become synonymous with Santa Claus.

“The other day my six-year-old granddaughter suggested that Santa might be happier if we instead put out beer for him this year”.

Christou said that a common village tradition is to cross a dry leaf by a fireplace and then, after making a wish to Ayios Vassilis, toss it into the fire.

“Before tossing the dry leaf into the flames, you would say “Ayie Vassili Vasilia deixe tze fanerose an me agapa o…” (Ayie Vassili King, show and illuminate if I am loved by…) and then you name whoever’s love you are hoping for.

“If the leaf jumped up after you dropped it in the fire, then that meant the person loves you. If not, you got depressed and tried again”.

Armenian, Russian and Greek Christmas traditions

Why Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6 >

The exact date of Jesus’ birth has not been recorded in the Gospels and is not historically known. Despite this mystery date, Christian churches before the fourth century celebrated Jesus’ birthday on January 6.

According to Associate Director of the Eurasia Research Programme at the University of Cambridge Hratch Tchilingirian, Roman Catholic sources hold that the date was changed in the fourth century to December 25 to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun, which was celebrated on December 25.

To undermine this pagan practice, the Church hierarchy designated December 25 as the official date of Christmas and January 6 as the feast of Epiphany.

“However, Armenia was not affected by this change for the simple fact that there were no such pagan practices in Armenia on that date, and the fact that the Armenian Church was not a satellite of the Roman Church,” Tchilingirian writes. “Remaining faithful to their Church traditions, Armenians continue to celebrate Christmas on January 6th until today.”

The ‘arch-heresy of ecumenism’ >

While Armenians may celebrate Christmas on January 6, Russian Orthodox and other Old Calendarists celebrate it on January 7. Or rather, they celebrate it on January 7 by the Julian calendar, which translates to December 25 on the Gregorian calendar.

In the mid 16th century, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent adopted the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world presently uses.

The Eastern Orthodox Church used the Julian calendar all the way up through the early 20th century, after which some of its members, including Greece and Cyprus, moved to a revised version of the old calendar, known as the Revised Julian calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest Orthodox jurisdiction, as well as a number of other Orthodox jurisdictions, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Mount Athos, did not adopt the Revised Julian calendar. Along with the majority of Orthodox Christians worldwide, these jurisdictions still use the Julian calendar for religious observation, although all the the countries where Orthodox Christians live have adopted the Gregorian calendar for secular purposes.

In Greece and Cyprus, Old Calendarists maintain that they have not branched off from the mainstream Church not only over a mere calendar. The calendar, in their view, is merely a symptom of what they refer to as the “arch-heresy of ecunemism”.