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Countdown Calendars: Not Just for Advent!
Submitted by Pam on Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:00
A couple years ago, I was inspired by my friend Gill, who in turn was inspired by her Norwegian mother-in-law, to make an Advent or countdown calendar out of cookies! It was a great idea actually and this year it occurred to me that since there are several 12 day periods during the winter holidays during which we are waiting for something wonderful and magical, why not create cookie count down calendars for these winter celebrations. They are all shorter periods so not so many cookies to bake, decorate and hang.
This year I am planning to suspend my cookies from an evergreen wreath hung over the dining room table. Humid moist kitchens - not a good idea!
Pop over to the previous Advent cookie post to find a recipe and then check out all the cool cookie cutters I have found for counting down to each celebration!
My cookies above are admittedly quite simple. But those of you with cookie skills - just think of all the decorating fun ahead of you!!!
At the end of the post, you will find links to a few cookie cutter makers where you are sure to find any design you might need. However, there are a few cookie cutters that were a little more unique and took some searching and those I have linked to in each section.
December 13 is the first day of Scandinavian Christmas - the last day is December 24th. I will be celebrating Scandinavian Christmas again this year with Kathryn over at Pickled Herring and I hope you will mark your calendars for December 13th and join me! (The Dala Horse on the sidebar is a direct link!)
The 12 days leading up to Christmas is a perfect time to bake and display 12 pretty Scandinavian themed cookies - julbok, dala horses, reindeer, hearts, trees, tomte or nisse, viking, pig, moose, and birds. Most of these can be found right here.
December 6th is St. Nickolas Day. In the Ukraine, France, Austria it is a day children eagerly await gifts from St. Nicholas. In the Netherlands, it is the day Sinterklaas leaves on his ship headed back to Spain. Although there really isn't an official beginning, Sinterklaas seems to arrive sometime in mid-November so I am thinking beginning a countdown to St. Nicholas Day could start about November 24th.
There are a number of beautifully hand crafted St. Nicholas cookie cutters available from the St. Nicholas Center. Or you could choose to collect a group of cookie cutters that depict symbols we tend to associate with the Netherlands: windmills, Dutch Canal Houses, ice skates, gingerbread men (the Dutch brought us ginger and spices from the "Spice islands after all) wooden shoes, tulips.
Beginning sometime around December 14th to 17th, the celebration of the Nativity is the focus of attention in many European and South American countries.
In Mexico and in Latino communities in the USA it is customary to join friends and neighbors in a nightly procession from house to house as an reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a room. It usually ends - after viewing the hosts nativity - with the breaking of a pinata.
In Italy the period is called Novena and beautiful much beloved nativities (Precepe) are displayed by each family. Nativities appear in city centers and in church yards. If you missed it, you will want to visit this post in which you can enjoy beautiful hand made nativities created and shared by several lovely friends over at EtsyItalia and this post in which my friend Silvia (Madame Renard) shares eight beautiful short stories of the Precepe.
Although the period is not a full 12 days, I am thinking a countdown cookie calendar would still be an added treat. There are several Nativity cookie cutter sets available - this was the most reasonable in price. And you might like to add a camel, the three kings, a donkey, star, bells, cross, dove, and angel. And perhaps a pinata!
December 26th through January 6th is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. We don't seem to celebrate it much in the USA, but I personally think we are missing out by not. In many cultures it is a time set aside to enjoy friends and family and sometimes, lucky children receive gifts on Jan 6th or Twelthnight!
If like me, you think it just might be fun to extend the celebrating and magic just a bit longer, why not a cookie countdown? Now I admit, I completely failed in my quest to find leaping lords and milking maids, but I am thinking wintery symbols work for this period of time - and there is a partridge in a pear tree cookie cutter! Snowflakes, snowmen, mittens, birds and owls would all be good choices. A prince and princess might work in place of lords and ladies! Maybe a castle?
Here are a few cookie cutter sites to search through. Let me know if you know of others!
Are you with me? Choose one Winter Holiday or all! Some of us could be nibbling cookies every day from November 24th to January 6th! And THAT is NOT all bad!