Trump doesn't hold Ramadan dinner, breaking White House tradition

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 9:28 AM

Fast Facts: Ramadan

President Donald Trump did not hold a White House dinner to mark the end of Ramadan, breaking an annual tradition dating back to President Bill Clinton's administration.

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CNN reported that Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama held yearly iftar dinners celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Additionally, President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 made sure a formal White House dinner attended by Tunisian envoy Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, who observed Ramadan, occurred "precisely at sunset" instead of the usual 3:30 p.m., according to the Washington Post.

>> 5 things you should know about Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting

Trump and first lady Melania Trump issued the following statement Saturday:

>> Muslims in America, by the numbers

"On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

"Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

"During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values. Eid Mubarak."

CNN, citing two unnamed administration officials, also reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson turned down "a request by the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception marking Eid al-Fitr." The department had held iftar dinners or Eid al-Fitr receptions since 1999, according to CNN.

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Kwanzaa: 7 things to know

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:10 PM

Understanding Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a relatively modern holiday that began just over 50 years ago. Since then, Kwanzaa has grown in popularity and has been commemorated with postage stamp designs and mentioned by several presidents as part of their holiday greetings.
 
Unless you celebrate Kwanzaa, you may not be aware of the traditions and philosophy that are important to its meaning and celebration.
 
Here are seven things to know about Kwanzaa.

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Why and when it was created
 
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor. He created the holiday in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Los Angeles as an effort to unite and empower the African-American community, and it was first celebrated that year.
 
The origins of its name
 
Inspired by traditional harvest festivals, Kwanzaa takes its name from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” Over 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa, so Swahili, which is spoken by millions, was chosen since it’s a unifying language. An extra “a” was added to the end of the original word because seven children each wanted to represent a letter at the first Kwanzaa celebration.
 
Who can celebrate Kwanzaa

Because it’s celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, some people assume that Kwanzaa is an alternative to Christmas. It’s a cultural celebration that has a spiritual quality, but the holiday is not a religious one. And although it celebrates African culture, people of any race or ethnic background can participate in the holiday’s events and customs.
 
Why it lasts for seven days

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a principle, which gives each day a specific meaning and purpose on which to focus. The seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
 
The colors of Kwanzaa

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green, and they’re used to represent unity for people of African descent worldwide. Black represents the people, red for their noble blood that unites them and green for the rich land of Africa.
 
The meaning of the candelabra

A seven-branched candelabra called a kinara is used to help discuss and celebrate the principles, with a new candle being lit each night. One is black, three are red and three are green, and the black candle is placed in the center. The black candle, which represents unity, is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa. Red candles are placed to the left and green to the right and are lit in that order. The order of the candles indicates that the people come first, followed by the struggle and then hope.
 
The importance of food

Food is an important part of many holidays, and Kwanzaa is no exception. Many people celebrate with their favorite African-American dishes – along with traditional African, Caribbean and other appropriate recipes – throughout the week. The holiday culminates with a feast (known as Karamu) on Dec. 31, with dishes meant to symbolize the past as well as the current growth of African culture. 

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Christmas 2017: Top ugly holiday sweater ideas

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

A Celebration of Ugly Holiday Sweaters

In recent years, the combination of Christmas and tacky sweaters has taken on a life of its own. Festive people aspire to wear the ugliest holiday sweater possible. Whether it’s including as many adornments as possible, breaking out a ratty and worn polyester pullover or sporting animals in full holiday cheer, here’s a roundup of ugly Christmas sweater ideas to inspire you.
 
Shiny wreath
What’s says Christmas more than a wreath with a little shine? Take your Christmas tackiness to a new level with a shiny wreath pinned to your red or green sweater. For a little extra bling, string some lights to the wreath and load with a battery pack to keep it shining.
 
The fireplace
If the coziness of sitting by a blazing fire in the winter tickles your fancy, you’ll love this ugly Christmas sweater idea. This sweater can be pre-purchased with a trimmed fireplace and a pocket in the middle of sweater for your phone. Download an app on your phone to provide virtual flames.
 
Trim the tree
Get your craftiness ready to whirl with this shiny and embellished sweater. You’ll need shiny garland, small ornaments and lots of glue, but the end result is a tree to inspire even the grinchiest with a smidge of Christmas spirit. By the way: Don’t forget the ornament to top the tree.

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Stuffed stocking
Need some wine or sweet treats to keep you going through the holiday season? This stocking stuffer sweater is just what you need.
 
A beer lover’s Christmas
Yet another DIY ugly Christmas sweater idea, this one entails the usage of hundreds of bottle tops to make a Christmas tree. Take a red or green sweater and gather all your bottle tops. Arrange them on the sweater and glue them into the shape of a tree. Top off the tree with a metallic bow for a touch of glitz.
 
Snow globe
Bring the wishes of a White Christmas to life with this ugly Christmas sweater in the fashion of a snow globe. Take a plastic tablecloth and fold in half, being careful to stuff it with the insides with a pillow to look like artificial snow.
 
An ugly tie tree 
For this creation, all of the old ugly ties of Christmases pasts can be put to good use. Gather your ugly Christmas ties and arrange them in a tree pattern on an old sweater. Easy peasy Christmas sweater to don at all your holiday parties in the season.
 
Matching couple sweaters 
Want to look tacky as a pair? Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater connected to one other person to have double the fun and double the tackiness.
 
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Pay homage to Santa’s favorite reindeer and favorite helper of them all with this Christmas sweater. Start with a black sweater vest and decorate with big eyes and a red nose. Layer a brown long-sleeved shirt underneath the sweater vest, attaching stems to look like antlers on your sleeves.

WATCH: Two men wanted for setting homeowner's Christmas wreath on fire

Published: Saturday, December 09, 2017 @ 12:53 PM

The History Of The Christmas Tree

Police in Arizona are looking for a pair of grinches who instead of stealing Christmas set afire a holiday symbol. 

Surveillance footage from the early morning hours of Dec. 3 shows two men approaching the front door of a home in Phoenix, azcentral.com reported. Video footage shows the pair dousing the door's Christmas wreath with lighter fluid before setting it on fire with a lighter.

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The homeowner was asleep at the time of the incident.

Police are seeking the public's help in capturing the suspects.

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Top 10 Elf on the Shelf ideas

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 6:13 PM

Facts about Elf on the Shelf

A holiday tradition sparked by “The Elf on the Shelf,” the children's book published in 2005, has since taken on a life of its own. The idea is to have fun placing an elf in random areas around the house performing various activities, to distract the little ones from the note-taking elf is doing for Santa for his naughty or nice lists. Here’s a rundown of the most popular Elf on the Shelf ideas, based on parent blogs.
 
Gone fishing 
Let the elf go fishing with no body of water required. Position your elf on the rim of a toilet. Give him a toothbrush for a fishing rod and string floss through the teeth for the line. Toss the end of the line in the toilet water and your elf is occupied for hours or more.
 
Sack race
Re-imagine the good old days of field day during the school years with creating a challenge for the elf. Roll down small paper sacks and stuff the elf inside. Pair some friends, Barbies, stuffed animals, action figures, to make the sack race a competition.

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Shaving 
What’s a day of pampering if it doesn’t include shaving? Set up your elf for some quality time solo right by the sink with all he needs to get his shave on: shaving cream, a razor, skin moisturizer. Dab some shaving cream on his face to get him started.
 
Clever disguise
Hidden in plain sight is the name of the game for this elf on the shelf idea. Take the ingenious approach to hiding your elf within the Christmas tree to do his pertinent work scouting out to report back to Santa. Paint his face with paint to take it a step further and complete the disguise.
 
Date night
Everyone needs some romance in their life and your elf isn’t in the least exempt. Set up a romantic date with Barbie to keep your elf occupied. Maybe while he’s schmoozing with Barbie he can take his focus off who belongs on the nice or naughty list. At least one can hope that is what happens.
 
Photoshoot 
Strike a pose and get elf ready for his close-up. Build a DIY photo booth with wrapping paper, a camera and a few friends to join in on the fun. Add in paper mustaches and Barbie dolls to make photo-taking a blast.
 
Lego world
Not much pre-planning required for this elf idea. Gather a bucket of Legos into any shape, form or fashion and put your elf in the midst of it. Build a fort, house or container for the elf to get comfy in or hide to take his notes.
 
Breakfast time 
Elves get hungry, too, especially one who is as hard at work as these elves on the shelves. Behind this top idea is making bite-sized eats the elf can enjoy. You can choose breakfast and make dime-sized pancakes or easy translate the idea to other meals: small sandwiches for lunchtime, itty bitty desserts.
 
Emails from Santa 
Let your elf make good use of technology and the spare desktop computer, laptops or tablets for his leisure activity. Prop him up near any one of these and pen a letter the elf is writing to Santa to technologically update him on how the children are behaving. After all, Santa must know if your children are being naughty or nice.
 
Bedtime 
After a full day of exploring the world, or rather house, around him to make sure the children are behaving, your elf will most likely need a nap. Retire him to dreamland on a Kleenex box. Folded tissues make a nice and compact pillow and of course, the single sheets of tissue snug covers to tuck your elf in for a satisfying nap or good night of rest.