As a young explorer, you are eager to examine and understand everything under the sun. For many of you, this not only means learning about the natural world but the supernatural world as well.
Although science has yet to confirm the existence of the five mythical creatures listed below, legends about them have been circulating for centuries. Maybe someday, you can try to find them in the wild! Until then, we can discover more about them as fantastic creations of folklore, fables, and fairy tales.
Bigfoot – Thought to live deep in the forests of North America, Bigfoot (also known as “Sasquatch”) is a large, hair-covered, ape-like creature who stands and walks upright. By different accounts, this mythical beast may measure as much as 10 to 15 feet tall. Some people think that Bigfoot is a relative of the ancient ape Gigantopithecus, which was roughly three times bigger than a gorilla. Similar creatures, called Yeti, are said to live in the frigid mountains of Tibet.
Werewolf – Although the werewolf myth can be traced back to Ancient Greece, the word “werewolf” dates to early Middle Ages. The Old English word for man is “were.” Although a person might be turned into werewolves through a magical curse or a bite from another werewolf, their human-to-wolf transformation always has the same source: a full moon. This creature has been a well-known monster around the world for quite some time. If a werewolf ever gives you trouble, remember that it doesn’t like sliver…and is particularly susceptible to silver bullets!
Chupacabra – A Spanish term that mixes “chupar” (“to suck”) and “cabra” (“goat”), the Chupacabra is literally a “goat-sucker.” Much like a vampire, it reportedly feeds on goats and other forms of livestock by attacking them and drinking their blood. Supposed eyewitnesses have given quite different physical descriptions of the Chupacabra, which range from a relatively small dog-like creature to a bear-sized creature with a row of spikes down its spine. The Chupacabra is native to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Southwestern United States.
Fairy – A close cousin to the pixie, the small, winged fairy is a bit bigger and slightly more human-like in appearance. Both are common characters in European folklore. In early oral tales, fairies and pixies also behaved quite similarly. In other words, they caused trouble, made mischief, and even committed downright evil crimes such as stealing human babies. Over time, however, fairies have gotten an image makeover, appearing in literature and popular culture as kind, wise, and inherently good creatures.
Loch Ness Monster – One of the deepest lakes in Scotland, Loch Ness is said to harbor a hidden resident. Primarily sticking to the dark bottom of the lake, this enormous dinosaur-like creature only occasionally ventures to the surface. Over the past 200 years, countless people have claimed to spot the Loch Ness Monster, and several have even snapped pictures. However, many of these photographs have been revealed as fakes and no one has provided scientific proof of the creature’s existence.
These five mythical creatures barely scratch the surface when it comes to legendary beasts and magical beings of the world. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring! Who knows what you might find?
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree How lovely are thy branches!
The Most Impressive Christmas Trees
The tree in Rockefeller Center, NYC, is a sight to behold. It wouldn’t be Christmas without this festive tradition! Ice skaters in pairs making figure eights as the lights of the tree glint off the rink makes for a classic tableau unique to the city. The first annual tree lighting took place in 1933, two years after workers put up their own balsam fir and decorated it with handmade garlands. Today there are over 50,000 lights on the tree at Rockefeller Center, and it stands magnificently (this year) at nearly 80 feet tall!
The stunningly beautiful Christmas tree at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, beneath a skylight dome, covered in Swarovski crystals, is quite the festive sight.
The tree at La lagune Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro actually floats in the lagoon! Covered with 900,000 light bulbs and at 230 feet tall, this festive tradition (complete with fireworks) is a sight to behold.
Origins of Christmas Trees
Christmas trees have been around since the 16th Century in Germany. It was actually believed to be bad luck to put up a tree before Christmas Eve! This was a Christian tradition, but lots of people, regardless of religion, have a Christmas tree in their homes.
While the early Romans were the first to celebrate with fir trees, most people today decorate with evergreens. While most people today use artificial trees, there’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh cedar, pine, and balsam fir.
Did you know that illustrations of Christmas trees featuring Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their children helped to popularize this tradition? People saw these images in the 19th century (Prince Albert died in 1861) and immediately fell in love with the festive décor and practice.
What’s Your Favorite?
“… There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.”
–It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
What’s your favorite part of the Christmas tree? Is it the tradition of wrapping up in your warmest coat and scarf, going outside into the cold, and finding that perfect tree to chop down? Or is it placing it indoors afterward and decorating it? Maybe you love the tinsel, bright shiny baubles, and glass bulbs the best…or the angel on top! Stars, candy canes, and lights galore are a treat for everyone! Does your family put up a tree? Do you make your own ornaments, such as stringing cranberries or popcorn? Whatever your individual tradition, the most important thing during the holidays is being together and giving, rather than receiving. Love is the most important gift under the tree this Christmas.
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