Holidays Around The World!

Happy Holidays to all!  In celebration of this holiday season, we have created a blog focusing on the holidays celebrated in the countries of the artisan groups who produce our most popular holiday items.  The groups, items, and holidays are…

Raja Bannoura, producer of the Mosaic Holy Moment Nativity.  This piece is made of olive wood, and is valued at $38.  If you spin the star at the top, it plays a beautiful song.  Raja Bannoura is actually not a group, but rather one man.  He owns and runs the Raja Bannoura Workshop, which is based in Beit Sahour, a village on the east side of Bethlehem.  Here, he produces hand-carved olive wood products such as this musical nativity.  A holiday widely celebrated in the West Bank is Eid Al Adha, which means “festival of sacrifice”.  This festival is celebrated in commemoration of the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God.  Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation.  People are also expected to make some sort of sacrifice, whether this is a sacrifice of meat to feed the poor, money, time, etc.  In 2011, this holiday took place November 6-8.



The Women’s Multipurpose Co-op, producer of the Good News Tree Topper.  This item is made using recycled newspapers and magazines, and is valued at $14.  The Women’s Multipurpose Co-op helps women artisans work together in groups, obtain government help in skills training, buy raw materials, gain access to low interest loans and obtain titles to their land.  The cooperative is located in Baguio City in the Philippines, which is actually the highest city in the Philippines.  Rizal Day is an important holiday in the Philippines that commemorates the death of José Rizal, a national hero.  This holiday takes place on December 30 every year.  In history, this day has also been the day of inauguration for new presidents.




Prokritee, creators of the Multicolored Star Garland, which is by far one of our most popular holiday items.  The garland is handmade from keya palm leaf and is just $6 per strand!  Prokritee, located in Bangladesh, is an agency that provides managerial, product design and development, and marketing assistance to handicraft organizations in Bangladesh.  The organization also provides jobs for poor rural women: widows, divorcees or heads-of-households, primarily rural, landless and with little or no income. By providing jobs for women, Prokritee improves women’s standard of living and helps them send their children to school.  Victory Day is a national holiday celebrated in Bangladesh celebrated on December 16.  On this day in 1971, the Pakistani Army surrendered to the Indo-Bangladeshi High Command in Dhaka, ending the 9 month-long Bangladesh Liberation War and 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.



Rajana Association of Cambodia, the group responsible for this Bird Family Menorah, which is made of recycled metal washers and      screws and is valued at $34.  The Rajana Association is a nonprofit organization for income generation and skills training, producing fair trade products using traditional Cambodian skills with contemporary designs.  Rajana Association focuses on the rural and urban poor, and small producers of handicrafts. Rajana trains young Cambodians in traditional craft-making skills, as well as in accounting, marketing, computer courses and English. Through development of traditional craft-making skills, Rajana helps maintain and rebuild Cambodia’s rich cultural traditions, damaged in the country’s wars.  Every year on December 10, Cambodians celebrate Human Rights Day which commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This holiday is celebrated across the world, but Cambodia is one of the few countries that recognizes it as an official public holiday, meaning that businesses, schools, etc. all shut down.



Manos Amigas is the final artisan group, and their holiday item is the Nativity in Flower Ornament.  Originating in Spain and then Latin America, a retablo, or story box, contains figures that depict a faith story, often a nativity scene.  Families also carry retablo for safety and good fortune when traveling and present them to hosts upon arrival at their home.  Manos Amigas is a fair trade organization dedicated to the export of handicrafts and to alternative tourism.  Manos Amigas, which means “Hands Joined in Friendship,” works with family workshops and with small business groups and associations that make a variety of handicrafts impoverished areas of Lima and the Andean highlands.  Manos Amigas offers training workshops for their artisans.  In Peru, in preparation for Christmas, Immaculate Conception, or, Inmaculada Concepción, is celebrated.  This holiday is celebrated on December 8, and usually consists of a feast shared with friends and family.  December 8 is nine months before the Roman Catholic Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8.

To learn more about the different artisan groups mentioned in this post, visit our website or come to our store!  To keep up with all the holiday events and deals, “Like” us on facebook and follow us on twitter.

We wish you all a happy holiday season!