The 12 Days of Christmas Are now most famous as a song about someone receiving lots of presents from their 'True Love'. However, to get to the song there had to be the days to start with! The 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of the 5th January - also known as Twelfth Night. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages and were a time of celebration.The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint and/or have different celebrations:
Day 1 (25th December):Christmas Day - celebrating The Birth of Jesus
Day 2 (26th December also known as Boxing Day): St Stephen’s Day. He was the first Christian martyr (someone who dies for their faith). It's also the day when the Christmas Carol 'Good King Wenceslas' takes place.
Day 3 (27th December): St John the Apostle (One of Jesus's Disciples and friends)
Day 4 (28th December): The Feast of the Holy Innocents - when people remember
the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find and kill the Baby Jesus.
Day 5 (29th December): St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over Church.
Day 6 (30th December): St Egwin of Worcester.
Day 7 (31st December): New Years Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. He was one of the earliest popes (in the 4th Century). In many central and eastern European countries (including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia) New Years Eve is still sometimes called 'Silvester'. In the UK, New Years Eve was a traditional day for ‘games’ and sporting competitions. Archery was a very popular sport and during the middle ages it was the law that it had to be practised by all men between ages 17-60 on Sunday after Church! This was so the King had lots of very good archers ready in case he need to go to war!
Day 8 (1st January): 1st January - Mary, The Mother of Jesus
Day 9 (2nd January): St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians.
Day 10 (3rd January): Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially 'named' in the Jewish Temple. It's celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!
Day 11 (4th January): St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past it also celebrated the feast of Saint Simon Stylites (who lives on a small platform on the top of a pillar for 37 years!).
Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.
Twelfth Night is also the name of a famous play written by William Shakespeare. It's thought it was written in 1601/1602 and was first performed at Candlemas in 1602, although it wasn't published until 1623.
Twelfth Night was a big time of celebration with people holding large parties. During these parties, often the roles in society were reversed with the servants being served by the rich people. This dated back to medieval and Tudor times when Twelfth Night marked the end of 'winter' which had started on 31st October with All Hallows Eve (Halloween).
At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that's most like the old Twelfth Night cake.
The first monday after Christmas feast has finished was known as ‘Plough Monday’ as this was when farming work would all begin again.
In many parts of the UK, people also went Wassailing on Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night is also known as Epiphany Eve. In many countries it's traditional to put the figures of the Wise Men/Three Kings into the Nativity Scene on Epiphany Eve ready to celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January.
It's also traditional to take your Christmas decorations down following Twelfth Night.
Christmas Eve has many of its own customs and traditions. The most widely practiced one that still exists today is going to a Midnight Mass Church Service. In many countries, especially Catholic ones such as Spain, Mexico, Poland and Italy, this is the most important Church service of the Christmas season. People might fast during Christmas Eve (don't eat any meat or fish usually) and then the main Christmas meal is often eaten after the Midnight Mass Service in these countries. In some other countries, such as Belgium, Finland, Lithuania and Denmark the meal is eaten in the evening and you might go to a Midnight Service afterwards!
The Midnight Mass Communion Service was a very special one as it was the only one that was allowed to start after sunset and before sunrise of the next day, so it was held at Midnight!
Christmas Eve is also the day when people in some countries, like Germany, Sweden and Portugal exchange their presents. I think Santa must have those countries on his extra early list! Christmas Eve is also Santa's busiest day of the year when he has to travel over 220 million to get to every house on earth! You can see where Santa's got to go on.
In many European countries including Germany, Serbia and Slovakia, Christmas Eve is the day when the Christmas tree is brought into the house and decorated.
It was also traditional to bring the Yule Log into the house and light it on Christmas Eve. It was lit using a piece of the previous years log and then would burnt non-stop until Twelfth Night (night of the 5th January/Day of 6th January). Tradition also said that any greenery such as Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe should only be taken into the house on Christmas Eve.
It's also the time that the wonderful book 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens is set and that going out Carol singing was and still is very popular. In the past, if you weren't carol singing, in parts of the UK, you might go out wassailing or mumming.
There were lots of superstitions in the UK that said girls could find out the initials, or even have visions, of the person they would marry on Christmas Eve! This was often done by cooking a special cake called a 'dumb cake'. You were supposed to make the cake in silence and prick your initials into the top. When you went to bed, you left the cake by the fire hearth and your true love was supposed to coming in at midnight and prick his initials next to yours!
Other Christmas Eve superstitions included that farm and wild animals would kneel at midnight in honor of Jesus being born or that they could even talk!
Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine red, yellow, pale gray, reddish-orange, or blue brown. It can also be white, pale green, blue, gold, pink (rare), reddish-yellow or opaque to transparent/translucent.
Orange topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the traditional November birthstone, the symbol of friendship, and the state gemstone of the US state of Utah.
Imperial topaz is yellow, pink (rare, if natural) or pink-orange. Brazilian Imperial Topaz can often have a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. Many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink or violet colored. Some imperial topaz stones can fade on exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time.
Blue topaz is the state gemstone of the US state of Texas Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. Typically, colorless, gray or pale yellow and blue material is heat treated and irradiated to produce a more desired darker blue.Mystic topaz is colorless topaz which has been artificially coated giving it the desired rainbow effect.
Topaz is a fairly common and inexpensive gemstone. It can be found in huge and flawless crystals, which can be faceted into giant gemstones which can weigh thousands of carats. Some of the largest gemstone pieces ever cut were of Topaz.
Topaz is a hard and durable gemstone, and will not dissolve in most chemical solvents. However, it does have perfect cleavage which can make it prone to chipping or forming flaws if banged hard. Topaz is also a pleochroic gemstone and can have varied color intensity when viewed at different angles. Due to its good cleavage and pleochroic nature, care must be exercised when faceting Topaz gemstones.
Blue Topaz does occur in nature, but is rare and almost always lightly color. Most if not all blue Topaz used in jewelry has been irradiated and heat treated to artificially create the blue color. The original stones are colorless or lightly colored, and the radiation process gives them their deep sky-blue colors. In a few rare circumstances, some forms of blue Topaz tend to slightly fade in exposure to sunlight after extended periods of time.
Topaz of all different colors are used in jewelry, in rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants, and bracelets. The blue, orange, and pink colors are most often cut as gemstones, and colorless Topaz is becoming increasingly popular as an inexpensive Diamond simulant. Gigantic gems and faceted spheres are cut from huge flawless crystals, and these make exquisite and exclusive collectors items. Topaz is rarely cut into cabochons.
Topaz is the traditional birthstone for November.
With the exception of Imperial Topaz, all the variety names below are trade names that were coined by dealers in the jewelry trade. These names have become widely used despite them being names made up by jewelers in modern times. There are also several additional made-up variety names sometimes given to different forms and colors of Topaz. The list below only describes those names that have become terms used extensively in the jewelry market.
Azotic Topaz - Orange-pink Topaz with a rainbow-like color effect. Its color is synthetically colored by film deposition of an extremely thin metallic layer over the top of the gemstone. Azotic Topaz is named by the company that introduced this, Azotic.
Imperial Topaz - Lustrous golden orange-yellow, orange-brown, or orange-pink variety of Topaz and is its most valuable gem form.
London Blue Topaz - Topaz with a deep sky-blue color. It is darker in tone than Swiss Blue Topaz.
Mystic Topaz - Multicolored Topaz with a rainbow-like color effect. Its color is synthetically colored by film deposition of an extremely thin metallic layer over the top of the gemstone.
Rutilated Topaz - Topaz with yellow needle-like inclusions of the mineral Limonite. Rutile Topaz is very similar in appearance to Rutilated Quartz, hence the name Rutile Topaz. However, the name is a misnomer, since unlike Rutilated Quartz which has inclusions of the mineral Rutile, the inclusions of Rutile Topaz are not Rutile but rather Limonite.
Sherry Topaz - Topaz with a light orange-brown to brownish-pink color.
Silver Topaz - Colorless form of Topaz. Synonym of White Topaz.
Swiss Blue Topaz - Topaz with a sky-blue color. It is lighter in tone than London Blue Topaz.White Topaz - Colorless form of Topaz.
Treatments And Enhancements
Blue Topaz, the most commonly used Topaz color, is formed from colorless or lightly colored Topaz that is irradiated to make it blue, and then heat treated to stabilize the new color. Different forms of radiation treatment can produce different shades of blue. Most pink Topaz in the gem trade is heat treated from yellow or brownish Topaz.
The colorful Mystic Topaz and Azotic Topaz are synthetically treated to produce their rainbow/multicolored effect using film deposition. The process involves bonding an extremely thin metallic film layer over the top of the gemstone, so that the interesting color effects are reflected from the crown.
The largest Topaz producer is Brazil. Other sources are in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, China, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mexico, and the U.S. (California, Utah, and New Hampshire).
Classics are the most versatile pieces of jewellery. Effortlessly taking you through every moment of your life, be it work or play, we have narrowed down a list of jewellery pieces that every women should have in their jewellery box.
While October is dedicated to raising awareness for breast cancer, the month shouldn't be the end of our fight against the disease. We are sharing an info-graphic about breast cancer and the different ways you can protect yourself. Read on to find out how you can protect yourself and others around you.