Amethyst, a semi-precious stone, is the traditional birthstone for February. It is a violet variety of quartz and is found in South America, North America, Africa and Asia. The best amethyst comes from Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the far east. Greek for “not-intoxicated”, amethyst was believed to prevent drunkenness and in fact people made wine goblets out of amethyst for that reason. Amethyst crystals are used to help heal personal loss and grief. They have a gentle, calming energy that promotes peace and happiness. Amethyst is also associated with protection and some people believe it wards off the “evil eye”. Amethyst is said to help with insomnia and headaches. It is still worn by Catholic Bishops as a symbol of piety and spiritual wisdom.
Whatever its mystical qualities, we love amethyst for its beauty.
What are Celtic symbols and where do they come from? The Celts are a diverse group of peoples united by a common language and related cultures.
The Celts originated in central Europe, spreading out to France, the British Isles, and parts of Spain. From what historians and archeologists can tell, the Celts arrived in Great Britain and Ireland during the Iron Age. There is quite a lot of disagreement and uncertainty about the early history and geographic spread of the Celts. By the time the Roman Empire was expanding into Western Europe, the Celtic languages were mostly confined to Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Ilse of Man and Brittany. Today, the term Celtic generally refers to the languages and cultures of those areas. Current theories suggest that Celtic people may not be genetically or even culturally related so much as related by language.
However opaque the origins, Celtic languages, music, art, dance and festivals have been enjoying a revival. Many of the designs found in Celtic art are derived from the Celtic symbols seen in museum artifacts.
The Newgrange Triple Spiral (or triskelle) is an ancient design carved into the stones at Newgrange, a burial mound dating back to 3200 B. C., older than the pyramids at Giza. Its true meaning is unknown, but many scholars believe that the three spirals represent birth, life and afterlife.
The Trinity Knot has pre-Christian and Christian meanings. The druids believed that this traditional triquetra represented three separate entities that are interconnected like earth, air and water. The Christians believe that the knot represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
St. Brigid was a contemporary of St. Patrick and is said to have
converted her father to Christianity while making a cross from rushes. Farmers adopted the custom of making these same crosses at the beginning of spring, placing the St. Brigids Crosses in prominent positions in their houses. The tradition of making St. Brigid’s Crosses on the 1st of February, St. Brigid’s Feast Day, continues to today. Charlie’s beautiful depiction of St. Brigid’s
cross is made of wood, and is suitable for hanging or as a hot
The Eternity Knot, with no beginning and no end, symbolizes eternity reinforcing the endurance of love, tradition and heritage. And the Infinity Knot, also with no beginning and no end, symbolizes continuity into eternity and beyond.
In addition to the general Celtic symbols, there are also country-specific symbols. For example, the clover, claddagh and the harp are symbols of Ireland, the thistle, the lion and the crown are symbols of Scotland and the dragon, harp and daffodil are symbols of Wales.
Celebrating Chinese New Year is a great excuse to throw a make-your-own wonton party! It’s also a fun time to wear our new rooster earrings. This year, the Chinese New Year starts on January 28th. Chinese New Year is 16 days of festivities. There are seven lucky foods which include fish, dumplings, spring rolls, rice balls, fruit, rice cakes, and long noodles. It is also good luck to clean your house, pay off debts and not loan money right before the New Year. During the celebration, people give even amounts of money in red envelopes to children and the elderly.
This year is the year of the Red Rooster. If you were born in the year of the Rooster, you are social and like to be the center of attention, and you tend to be hardworking, honest and forthright. For more information about the Chinese Zodiac, see our blog on How the Buddha Named the Years.
Christmas City Village, an authentic German Weihnachtsmarkt, will be opening soon! Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Bethlehem, these charming wooden huts are decorated for the holidays and filled with unique holiday gift and treats.
The Christmas City Village Weihnachtsmarkt is nestled in the beautiful downtown Bethlehem featuring unique retail shops, gourmet restaurants, historic Moravian museums, and plenty of parking in two large decks that are all within walking distance.
Christmas City Village is free – come and wander through the festive booths and shop for gifts with many locally made crafts.
Be sure to stop in to see the latest jewelry, pottery and wood creations at the Artists At Heart booth and pick up some tasty dips at Party In A Bowl. You won’t want to miss the kiffles at BabaNona – they are delicious! You can also pick up a treat for your canine friends at Whisker Biscuits.
Some other reasons to visit include romantic horse-drawn carriage rides through historic Bethlehem, visiting the beautiful Moravian church, and experiencing the Live Nativity. As an added plus, Downtown Bethlehem boasts a plethora of great places to dine or just stop for a bite.
In previous years, the Guild held a Holiday Marketplace Show at the Swain School in Allentown. The move to the new venue at the Macungie Institute will be more intimate and allow patrons to get a front row seat to see some of the artists in action.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
fresh dill to taste
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
Saute chicken in 1 tablespoon oil until cooked through. Remove from pan. Add vegetables and cook about 5 minutes. Add thyme and stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Turn heat to simmer. Add chicken and season to taste. Add lemon juice and zest and top with dill if desired. Serve piping hot in Artists at Heart Soup Crocks.
FREE Open to the public. This event is presented by the Allentown St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, Inc. and sponsored by the West End Alliance of Businesses as a contribution to the community to highlight the Irish culture in dance, song, art, music, sport and theater. It is a totally free event, child and family friendly with audience and child participation in all activities. A passport will guide children to learn about Irish culture, and there is a drawing for prizes for those completing the passport journey.
As you are no doubt aware, Chinese years are associated with animals, but you may not know how this tradition started. Many, many years ago on New Year’s Eve, the Buddha called together the animals and twelve of them attended. To reward them, the Buddha named a year after each one. The Buddha decided to give human beings born in those years some of the attributes of the animals associated with the year. For example, people born in horse years like 2014 are said to be cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and dextrous.
The Chinese calendar is quite different from the Western calendar we use. The Chinese is based on two cycles—the zodiac with its twelve parts (the animals) and the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The combination of these two cycles means a particular year such as this one, the year of wood and the horse, comes around every 60 years.
The animals who showed up on that New Year’s Eve so long ago represent the different years in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese horoscope was developed around these animals and elements to describe humans’ personalities. Here is what the year you were born in the Chinese calendar says about you:
The rat is said to be quick-witted, smart, charming and persuasive. The ox is described as patient, kind, stubborn and conservative. The tiger is authoritative emotional, courageous and intense, while the rabbit is popular, compassionate, and sincere. The dragon is said to be energetic, fearless, warm and charismatic, the snake, charming, both outgoing and introverted, generous and smart. Then there is the sheep, mild-mannered, shy, kind and peace-loving, and the monkey, fun, energetic and active. The rooster is independent, practical, hard-working and alert. The dog is patient, diligent, generous, faithful and kind, and, finally, the pig is said to be loving, tolerant, honest and self-indulgent.
Yin and yang also affect the astrology of China by assigning these opposing forces—the yin to odd years and the yang to even ones. Yin is said to be symbolize the earth, female, dark, and passive, and yang the heaven, light, active and male.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, our feature gemstone is Venus Jasper.
Mined in Mexico, Venus Jasper gets its name from the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Metaphysically, Jasper is known as the “Supreme Nurturer,” as it is a stone of grounding and stability, providing comfort and security, strength and healing.
In collaboration with Debi Rice of Fun-Nominal Events, Artists At Heart has launched a new venture – Party in a Bowl. In addition to beautiful hand-made stoneware bowls, we are selling delicious dip mixes. We love celebrating, and what could be better than easy, delicious and beautiful – all in one?
You can sample our dips and see our bowls every Friday and Saturday from 11-8 and Sunday 11-5 at Christmas City Village in Bethlehem, next to the Sun Inn on Main Street, through December 20th.