By Marian Connor

I was thinking…

About the Christmas Creep that is upon us, commencing ever earlier each year. An acceleration of festivity and activity that rushes towards December 25th often whisking us along without a pause to actually enjoy this winter season or have any time to reflect upon it.

I began to think about the combination of Wunderkammer otherwise known as Cabinets of Curiosities or Wonder Rooms and Advent Calendars.

At 8 in the Universe we wanted to participate in festive traditions by giving you things to enjoy and help you tune into the season and remain tranquil. So I came up with the idea of a Wunder Kalender.

Sorry you won’t be able to physically open the daily windows to take out your Christmas bon- bon or miniature gift, at present this is beyond our capabilities, although I am sure it will be possible one day. But I hope you can experience your Wunder Kalender through the magic of your screen and with any luck, unlike the quickly consumed chocolate coins you may have found, or the spent interior sparklers, this will be a gift that lasts a little longer as well as entertain and inform.

We thought for December we would publish a weekly post to give you manageable quantities of parcels to unwrap daily until 12th Night. This will also stop you opening them all at once, shaking them vigorously to ascertain their contents or heaven forfend eat the edibles and place the wrapping back to look untouched. As a child I was adept at eating the chocolate from inside the gold coins and leaving the foil intact on the tree, were you, although the game was up when a draught blew, or my mother tried to give one to a visiting child.

Cabinet of Curiosities – a room, display or case full of weird and wonderful things, its heyday was in 16th and 17th century Europe.

Advent Calendar – used to count and celebrate the days leading to Christmas Day.


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“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” Albert Schweitzer



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Red-Poinsettias by FMband


So what does a poinsettia have to do with Christmas? One interpretation of the plant is as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, the heavenly body that led the three magi, or wise men, to the place where Christ was born. A Mexican legend tells of a girl who could only offer weeds as a gift to Jesus on Christmas Eve. When she brought the weeds into a church, they blossomed into the beautiful red plants we know as poinsettias, known as Flores de Noche Buena in Mexico, Spanish for “flowers of the holy night”.

The Poinsettia is not only a beautiful plant that grows naturally in Central America but a little strange as its bright scarlet ‘flowers’ are not really flowers but leaves that change colour when exposed to prolonged sunlight.

The plant is named after the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced America to the Poinsettia in 1828. While it wasn’t initially embraced, as a result of its legend and midwinter bloom, it soon became one of the most popular Christmas plants in the USA and now increasingly well liked in the UK.


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Rolling-dice from Guardian


Today is National Dice Day. Dice, those small throwable objects which come to rest to show random numbers, which you may well be calling on for luck whilst playing board games over the Christmas holidays.

The first dice were made from sticks, seashells, nut shells and pebbles, and were later made from knuckle bones.

Dice used in Ancient Greece were thought to be controlled by the Gods.

Dice Games are mentioned in Ancient Indian and Buddhist texts as well as in the bible.

Backgammon, Snakes & Ladders and Monopoly have a long provenance. Good luck – Bon chance.


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On this date in 1791 Mozart died, aged 35 years. He composed ‘The Magic Flute’ which includes the aria, ‘Der Holle Rache.’ Here is a spirited rendition by an 8 year old.


Der Holle Rache is often referred to as ‘The Queen of the Night’ aria, so I give you Whitney.



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Happy St Nicholas Day 2


Today is St Nicholas Day, named after a 4th century Turkish bishop who took care of children and brought them gifts.

Dutch ships brought news of him to Northern Europe.  In Dutch his name is Sinter Klaas. Enter Santa Claus.


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“Do you ever notice that life seems to follow patterns? Like I notice that every year around this time, I hear Christmas music.”    Tom Sims – Athlete & Entrepreneur



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This is the Buddhist Day of Enlightenment

God? Buddha? Penelope?

Some people pursue a name for themselves that will live on forever. Others cling onto names with special meaning: ‘Ahh! That name is above all names!’ they say.

But we’ll be wary of getting caught up with names, whether they are ‘God’, ‘Buddha’, ‘London’ or ‘Penelope’, because as Lao-Tsu said, ‘The name that can be named is not the true name.’

What, for instance, does the name ‘Atlantic’ tell us about the ocean? Nothing. So then we invent things, which we attach to the name; you invent your things and I invent mine and then we kill each other over it.

Names give only the impression of knowing. I can spell ‘Atlantic’ but I’ve never swum in it, so what do I know?

Extract from One Minute Mindfulness by Simon Parke




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Micha Christmann, our 8 in the Universe, Aromatherapy expert wanted to share some Winter Oils.

As the days get shorter and the sun becomes less intense, for many people their overall mood seems to diminish. However, there are some essential oils which can come to the rescue of ‘winter blues’ and depression.  Many essential oils possess the properties which make us feel more uplifted and more ‘normal’.

Smell is one of our strongest senses. When we breathe in an aroma, scent molecules travel through the nose to the olfactory membrane. The receptors there recognize scent molecules and send messages to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system holds involuntary emotional responses, and we assign emotions to the aromas we breathe in.

Some essential oils which help with the ‘winter blue’ include

All the citrus oils:

Rose/ Rosemary/ Cinnamon/ Clove/ Sandalwood/ Frankincense

Myrrh/ Cypress/ Pine/ Juniper/ Ginger/ Lavender.


Next week we look forward to sharing Wunder Kalender 10 – 16th December.

Image Tile/Header- Ole Worm’s Museum by the Petroleum Museum

Poinsettia – HowStuffworks com by Sam Abramson & Christmas Watching by Desmond Morris


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