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The Legend of Saint Nicholas

The Legend Of St. Nicholas AKA Santa Claus

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. The best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery by their father, providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. Over many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.

St. Nicholas made his first appearance in American culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas, Dutch for Saint Nicholas. In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s meeting. The background of the engraving contains Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularize the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.” In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” Moore’s poem, which he was initially hesitant to publish due to the frivolous nature of its subject, is responsible for our modern image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a mere nod of his head! His poem helped popularize the now-familiar image of a Santa Claus who flew from house to house on Christmas Eve–in “a miniature sleigh” led by eight flying reindeer–leaving presents for deserving children. “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” created a new and popular American icon. In 1881, political cartoonist Thomas Nast drew on Moore’s poem to create the first likeness that matches our modern image of Santa Claus. His cartoon, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly, depicted Santa as a rotund, cheerful man with a full, white beard, holding a sack laden with toys for lucky children. It is Nast who gave Santa his bright red suit trimmed with white fur, North Pole workshop, elves, and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

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How To Carve Pumpkins

How To Carve Pumpkins

October is a very busy month for everyone, but carving a Pumpkin with your family should be on the top of your to do list.  Invite some friends over, scatter pumpkins in your backyard and host a pumpkin carving party.  Here are some tips to make it a stress free fun night.

1)  Hollow out your pumpkin. Use a carving knife to cut a circle into the bottom of your pumpkin.  Pull out the bottom and most of the pulp will come with it. Hollowing out the pumpkin from the bottom makes it easier to light and also prevents the top from rotting out. It also keeps the stem looking perfect.
2)  Next, scoop out the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin. You can use a big spoon or a pumpkin tool. Take this opportunity to have the children smell and touch the insides of the pumpkin. The seeds can be dried and planted or roasted to be eaten.
3)  Create your design. You can draw a pumpkin design on paper and trace it with black marker. Then tape the design to the pumpkin.  Using a needle tool poke holes along the design. If you are creating a simple design you can draw directly onto the pumpkin with a black marker. For a more intricate and elaborate design buy a pumpkin transfer kit or look online for templates.
4)  Carving out your pumpkin. Using a pumpkin carving knife cut along the design, you may have to repeat this step depending on the thickness of the pumpkin you are carving. Push out the carved sections of the pumpkin and remove any excess pumpkin flesh with scoop.
5)  Illuminate your pumpkin. Use a candle, battery powered lights or holiday lights to illuminate your pumpkin. Just place your pumpkin on top of a candle or lights. I like to use a LED lights because they are very bright and easy. Use a timer on the lights so you never have to turn them on or off and you save on electricity.

This process can be very messy, put down a plastic tablecloth and have a bowl ready for the flesh of the pumpkin. If the weather cooperates, carve it outside. Also, if you have many guests, you may want to hollow out the pumpkins beforehand.  This is the messiest part and could be frustrating for young children.

Serve Pumpkin bread or pie for dessert you will be surprised at how many children will like it. So start a tradition of pumpkin carving because it is fun for all ages.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween from our family to yours.

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Holiday Safety Tips – Tips for Decorating Your House Safely

The holiday season can be many things. With the hustle and bustle, the gatherings of family and friends, the shopping and cooking, safety can easily get put on the back burner. Most of us are busy enough at this time of year without having to face a holiday mishap or worse. Here are some useful holiday safety tips and ideas to keep your family safe and sound and give you peace of mind in this joyous time of year.

Firewood Safety Tips:

Few things invoke the holiday spirit quite like sitting by the fire. After buying your firewood, a few things you can do to make the experience safe and memorable are:

    • Store firewood safely – keep your wood dry and away from flammables, tools and other ignition sources.
    • Buy local firewood – Some woods can contain insects & pests. Always purchase wood locally to avoid importing a foreign pest. Most experts suggest obtain wood within a 50 mile radius.
    • Never apply pesticides – The smoke from wood treated with pesticides can be harmful to inhale due to the chemical burn off.
    • Schedule a regular cleaning of your fireplace and chimney before the season begins.

Christmas Tree Safety:
The Christmas tree is rightfully the centerpiece of your holiday decorations. Buying and maintaining your tree safely throughout the season takes thought and a little preparation. Make sure to know how to keep your live Christmas tree fresh or how to purchase a safe artificial tree. Be it live or artificial, here are some guidelines to make sure your tree doesn’t become a centerpiece for the wrong reasons:

Live Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

    • Live trees are less likely to catch fire than artificial.
    • Select a tree that is vibrant, with sturdy branches, has a solid trunk that’s tacky with resin and does not lose too many needles when shook or tapped to the ground.
    • Have the stump cut level (not on an angle) upon purchase, taking about a ½ of an inch off.
    • Avoid placing your tree near fireplaces, heaters, candles and other heat sources.
    • Make sure your tree stays watered regularly to increase its longevity in your home. Your Christmas Tree Stand should be able to accommodate 1 quart of water per inch of the stump’s diameter. With an Auto Stop Watering System, you’ll never need to crawl beneath the tree to water again!
    • Always remember to turn your tree lights out at bedtime and do not leave lights on unattended.

Artificial Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

    • Pre Lit Christmas Trees should carry the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and/or ETL/ITSNA labels seen here:

    • Never use lights on a metallic tree as this can become a fire or shock hazard.
    • Again, always remember to turn your tree lights out at bedtime and do not leave lights on unattended.

Indoor Holiday Light Safety:
Lighting always brings majesty to your tree, illuminating the new ornaments and the keepsakes you’ve collected through the years.

    • Lights for your tree should be for indoor use and carry the UL or ETL/ITSNA safety labels seen above.
    • Check each light strand for broken or damaged bulbs and replace them before stringing your lights on the tree.
    • Use a maximum of 3 light sets per extension cord. Make sure cords are against the wall to avoid tripping; do not run lights and cords under rugs. Keep them out of reach of children and pets.
    • Once again, always remember to turn your lights out at bedtime and do not leave lights on unattended.

Outdoor Lighting and Decorations Safety Tips:
Outdoor décor shows off your festive spirit to the community. It immediately showcases your home and creates a welcome and inviting scene.

    • All outdoor lighting and inflatables should be labeled for outdoor use and should be plugged in to a grounded outlet. They should also feature the UL or ETL/ITSNA safety labels seen above.
    • Be sure to use heavy duty extension cords made for outdoor use.
    • Closing doors or windows on loose cords is unsafe. Affix lights in a safe way that will not cause damage.
    • As above: 3 light sets per extension cord and check strands for damaged bulbs that need replacing.
    • Never mount lights with staples or nails. Not only can this cause cord damage, it is also an electrical fire hazard, try safety clips instead.
    • Keep ladders away from power lines that may be overhead. Ensure your ladder is placed on a level area and is safe to climb.

Holiday Home Décor Safety Tips:
Adding all of your old and new treasured Christmas decorations lends warmth and personality to your home and tree.

    • Read all labels for hazards. Check and avoid products that might contain lead.
    • Hang wall decorations properly, keeping light-up items properly and safely plugged in.
    • Don’t strain to reach for high branches on your tree, try a ladder or stepstool instead.
    • Use the sturdier branches for heavier ornaments.
    • When using popcorn strands or other edible ornaments, keep them out of reach of pets and small children.
    • If children will be around your tree, take care to avoid sharp or breakable ornaments or place them out of reach. Smaller decorations can also create a choking hazard to children and pets.

A Few Extra Helpful Holiday Safety Tips:
Here are a couple more handy holiday safety hints for your whole household:

    • Burn your holiday candles in a safe place away from your tree, decorations, kids and pets.
    • Work together, have a buddy hold your ladder or stepstool to keep it stable.
    • Avoid fake food displayed in the reach of children who may be tempted and mistake it for the real thing.
    • Childproof any unused electrical outlets.
    • Keep areas well ventilated when applying spray ‘snow’
    • Have a home fire safety meeting with your household, create a fire prevention plan and make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure safety rules for kids are addressed.

With common sense and a few simple precautions, you can focus on the holiday spirit and enjoy the spirit of the season with your loved ones. Ensuring the safety of your home allows your family and friends to enjoy all the time and hard work it takes to set up and decorate for the holidays.

We at Dees’ wish you and yours all the best this holiday season!
 

 

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Live Christmas Tree Preparation, Set Up and Care

The Christmas Tree is the focal point of your indoor holiday decorations. A live Christmas tree can bring warmth to your living room and leaves the house with the rich inviting smells of the season. Choosing and caring for a live tree takes just a little planning and maintenance. Here are some helpful tips to choose, set up and keep your tree thriving throughout the holidays.

Christmas Tree Preparation Tips

Proper Christmas tree preparation begins before choosing your tree and bringing it home. Have the measurements of your home (floor to ceiling) to make sure of the maximum tree height you can accommodate. Also have a general idea of the area where the tree will be set up, so you can keep the tree’s diameter in mind.

christmas tree preparation

    • Transporting and setting up a tree is a 2 person job, bring a buddy to help out.
    • We also have plenty of staff on hand to help you choose your tree.
    • Bring along work gloves to keep your hands warm and prevent you from getting fresh tree sap on your hands. You may also want to bring a blanket or tarp to place between your car and the tree.
    • Our staff will help you get the tree into your car.

Choosing a Live Christmas Tree

Freshness is key when selecting your tree, as you’ll want your tree to last throughout the holiday season. Most of the Christmas Trees sold here at Dees’ are grown on our very own Christmas Tree Farm in the State of Maine. Most commercial tree farms have to harvest their trees starting in late October to satisfy demand. Growing our own trees allows us to harvest as late as possible in late November so we can give your family the freshest trees possible. Keep in mind the dimensions you are looking for. If you don’t have a ladder at home, make sure to pick a tree short enough for you to manage and decorate on your own.

christmas tree farm

    • Walk around the tree and check for bare spots. Look for a robust round/conical shape and keep in mind the branches will ‘fall out’ a bit once the tree is free from its netting
    • Your tree should be vibrant in color and fragrance.
    • The more sap you encounter, the fresher the tree.
    • We sell mostly Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir Christmas Trees. While the Fraser Fir will last inside your home slightly longer, we feel the Balsam Fir gives you the best fragrance.

Once you’ve selected the perfect tree, make sure to have the stump cut fresh, taking off at least a ½ inch and making sure the cut is level and not cut on an angle. Your tree should then be netted again to make it easier to transport it home.

Transporting Your Live Christmas Tree

A healthy tree will be sappy, you’ll want to put your gloves on to prepare the tree for transport. If you’ve brought a blanket/tarp for the roof of your vehicle, lay it down and place the tree on top of it and secure it with rope.

getting a christmas tree on your car

If your tree is going on the roof, place the stump towards the front of the vehicle to prevent wind damage. If your vehicle does not have a roof rack to tie the tree to, open the doors (not the windows) to tie the tree down securely, looping around the tree as many times as necessary. If your tree extends beyond your cargo area or roof, attach a safety flag to what’s overhanging to alert your fellow motorists. Give the tree a tug and make sure it is stable and won’t budge. If the tree moves, tighten your ropes. Take it easy on the road, take it slow and ensure you get your tree home in the best possible condition.

Setting Up Your Live Christmas Tree

    • Get your tree home and in water as soon as possible. Even if you are not bringing it in the house right away, lean the tree in your yard and stand it in a bucket of fresh water.
    • Invest in a sturdy Christmas tree stand that can accommodate the amount of water your tree needs. A good rule of thumb is 1 quart of water per inch of your tree trunk’s diameter. Your stand should have a wide base, to avoid tipping of the tree.
    • Set up your tree away from fire hazards such as vents, fireplaces and other heat sources. Keep your holiday candles away from your tree as well.
    • One person should hold the trunk steady as the other adjusts the trunk in the tree stand. Keep the screws loose initially and adjust the tree until it stands straight up. Once the tree is standing straight up, tighten all screws in the stand to ensure stability.
    • Give the tree a little shake in the stand and make sure it is tightly secured within the stand, adjust accordingly.

Caring for Your Live Christmas Tree

    • Make sure your tree stays adequately watered, keeping the water level in your tree stand above the base of the tree.
    • A fresh tree can absorb up to a gallon of water on day one and one or more quarts daily thereafter. Monitor your water levels daily. With the Auto Stop Christmas Tree Watering System you can avoid crawling under the tree to water!
    • Keep your Christmas tree away from direct sunlight and heat sources as these can dry out your tree and cause it to age quicker.
    • Drilling a hole in the stump of the tree is not necessary, this will not improve hydration.
    • Consider using an additive to your water called Prolong. This helps open up the pores of the stump for even better water consumption of your Christmas Tree helping it stay even fresher.

Following these guidelines and tips will help you to choose the perfect tree for your home and ensure its longevity throughout the holiday season, so you can get to the fun part – decorating!

Get Your Live Christmas Tree at Dees Nursery

The Dees’ Nursery offers a full live tree selection as well as everything you need for tree trimming and holiday home decor. We can help you bring the spirit of the season to your home and lawn. Stop by our Christmas Shop and you’ll find everything you need deck your halls with holiday cheer!

We at Dees’ wish you and yours all the best this holiday season!

christmas trees long island
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Why Roses for Valentines Day?

The History of the rose is long and colorful. Greek Mythology tells us Chloris the Goddess of flowers discovered the rose and asked for help from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, who gave the rose beauty. Chloris then asked Dionysus, the god of wine for nectar which gave it a sweet scent. Apollo, the sun god, helped make the flower bloom. The result is a beautiful sweet smelling rose representing love.

Roses were extremely important in the Roman Empire. Emperors used Roses as confetti in celebrations, for medicinal purposes and as perfume.  Emperors were know to fill their swimming pools with them and even sat on carpets of Roses for feasts and orgies.

In the fifteenth century Roses became a symbol of War.  Two factions in England were fighting for control, York was known as the White Rose and Lancaster became known as the Red Rose.  This Battle became known as The War of The Roses.  And who can forget the movie, War of the Roses with Michael Douglass and Kathleen Turner.

Today there are thousands of types of roses and they have the most complicated family tree of all flowers species.

Red Rose Bouquet
Valentine's Day Pink Rose Bouquet
Valentine's Day Bouquet with Balloon

What Rose Colors Mean
The color rose you choose to present to someone has a special meaning. Below is a chart of the most popular rose colors and what they have meant over time.

Red Roses

Love, Courage, Respect & Passion.

White Roses

Purity, Innocence, Reverence & Heavenly

Pink Roses

Appreciation, Thank You & Admiration

Yellow Roses

Joy, Friendship & a New Beginning

Orange Roses

Desire, Enthusiasm & Fascination

Peach Roses

Let’s Get Together, Gratitude & Sincerity

Lavender Roses

Love at first sight & Enchantment

The number of roses given also has meaning:

    • A single rose depicts utmost devotion.
    • Two roses mean “Marry Me”.
    • Six roses signify a need to be loved.
    • A dozen roses symbolize love and devotion.
    • Thirteen roses indicate a secret admirer.
    • Six dozen roses mean your Florist Loves You!

So whether you are giving a dozen red roses, a single white rose or six yellow roses, the message is the same, love. Our motto is “Get in Good with Flowers”. Let us help you send roses to your loved ones. Contact us today!

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Valentine’s Fun Facts

    1. About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. each year. That’s the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.
    2. In order of popularity, Valentine’s Day cards are given to teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets.
    3. About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets.
    4. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the biggest holidays for giving flowers.
    5. California produces 60 percent of American roses, but the vast number sold on Valentine’s Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period.
    6. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
    7. The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day.
    8. Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentines Day candy box in the late 1800s.
    9. Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone, an “Improvement in Telegraphy”, on Valentine’s Day, 1876.
    10. Approximately 4 Million lovers expect to propose or be proposed to on Valentine’s Day.
    11. The most fantastic gift of love is the Taj Mahal in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife.
    12. The oldest surviving love poem to date is written on a clay tablet from the times of the Sumerians around 3500 BC.
    13. The red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.
    14. Cupid is a symbol of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was associated with Valentine’s Day because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty.