Christmas traditions from around the world

One of the great parts about being a parent is the ability to pass on holiday traditions and values to your youngins. Whether it’s pretending to be the Tooth Fairy, passing on Great Aunt Gerda’s recipe for candied yams or staying up late to plant your Elf on the Shelf, we all have sacred traditions in our families.

Those traditions become especially important during the holidays. And with Christmas just a week away, we wanted to explore how our Spoiled Mamas from around the world celebrate the holiday season — maybe you’ll even learn a new tradition to bring into your own family!

Traditions leading up to Christmas Day

In the Netherlands, children look forward to Dec. 5, when St. Nicholas (or Sinterklaas) brings presents to children who’ve been well-behaved in the past year.

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Sinterklaas (which is where “Santa Claus” originated) leaves gifts in clogs or shoes left by the fireplace or windowsill. Some clever children may leave carrots and hay in their shoes, in hopes of luring Sinterklaas’ horse to their houses.

Naughty children, as the tale goes, get something a lot worse than coal. Instead, they are kidnapped to Spain for a year, where they’ll be taught a thing or two about good manners!

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If you’re in Indonesia, it’s common to see Christmas trees made from chicken feathers. These Balinese trees are commonly handmade, and shipped worldwide. Perhaps you even have one in your own home!

In Venezuela, Christmas celebrations begins on Dec. 16 with many masses leading up to Christmas Day. In its capital Caracas, it’s tradition to wake up early Christmas Day to rollerskate to church! The roads are closed to vehicles beginning at 8 a.m. so people can safely skate their way through the streets.

Christmas Eve traditions around the world

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In Argentina, fireworks ring in Christmas Day at midnight. And that’s not all that lights up the skies. Families release “globos,” lighted paper lanterns shortly after midnight. It’s a sight to behold!

In Austria, Christmas Day celebrations begin around 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. During this time, each town’s Christmas tree is lit, and families gather to sing carols in the town square. The most popular carol is “Silent Night,” or “Stille Nacht,” which was written in Austria in 1818.

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With only one percent of Christians in China, Christmas is not a well-celebrated holiday. However, over recent years, the practice of gifting fancy wrapped apples on Christmas Eve has become increasingly popular. This is because Christmas Eve is called “Ping An Ye” or silent night, which sounds similar to “Ping Guo” or apple.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, long and elaborate nativity plays are acted out on Christmas Eve — sometimes featuring six choirs! Since the religious aspect of the holiday is honored here, gifts are generally not exchanged.

In Finland, Christmas Eve traditions are aplenty. One practice that’s particularly nice involves families visiting the graves of their loved ones and leaving white lanterns by tombstones.

Christmas Day traditions around the world

Christmas falls in the middle of summer for the Land down Under, so Australians are known to celebrate with a cold Christmas dinner or light seafood spread. The main meal is actually eaten during lunchtime, and can be a garden BBQ, picnic or even served on the beach!

For the single ladies (and gentlemen) this holiday, there’s a superstition in the Czech Republic that says if you throw a shoe over your shoulder on Christmas Day and the toe points towards the door, you’ll soon be wed.

Santa-who?

The mythos of Santa Claus seems ubiquitous, but he’s not the premier gift-giver in Italy. Italian children look forward to Epiphany, a Christian Feast Day that falls 12 days after Christmas (Jan. 6). On the eve of this day, an ugly but kindhearted witch named Befana flies on her broomstick to visit the homes of good children.

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It’s told that she gave shelter to the Three Wise Men as they followed the star to find baby Jesus. The wise men invited La Befana to join their quest, but she declined; however, after her guests departed, the old woman changed her mind.

By that time the star disappeared, so she was never able to present her gifts to the new king. To this day, she visits the homes of children, hoping one is the baby Jesus. For good children, she leaves candies and small gifts. To the bad kids, a lump of coal.

A similar story of the Babushka is told to Russian children as well.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Which are you most excited to pass onto your children? Share below!

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The Spoiled Mama Gift Guide: Pregnancy skincare for every mom

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The most stressful part of the holidays, arguably, is the pressure of hunting down that perfect gift: one that is thoughtful; practical, yet has a certain degree of fun, beauty or whimsy.

It’s a tall order, and every year we get befuddled dads and gift-givers who need help figuring out the best holiday gifts for new moms.

Well breathe easy, holiday shoppers! We’ve put together a guide to help you find pregnancy gifts under $20mom to be gifts and new mom gifts. What will Santa bring the special Mama in your life? 

For the Mama who loves shower time

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For the lady who is part mermaid, check out Luxe-Mama, sulfate free body wash ($18 retail, now $16.50). This foamy organic body wash for expecting moms is toxin-free and gets its rich lather from coconut and sugar derived surfactants. Moms will love its calming lavender-vanilla scent.

Include Indulge body polish for pregnancy stretch marks, which is great for expecting and postpartum moms. For pregnant moms, it soothes itchy bellies while helping prevent stretch marks. For new mothers, this organic sugar scrub rejuvenates tired postpartum bodies and battles stretch marks while she sheds post-baby pounds.

Throw in a pair of shower exfoliating gloves to make this the perfect new mom gift!

For the stylish Mama who loves her heels

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If your expecting mom is anything like Blake Lively, she’ll probably be wearing pumps well into her pregnancy — a belly bump won’t keep this fashionista down! If this sounds like your Mama, reach for Happy Legs: Aloe & Cucumber Leg Gel for Swollen Legs & Feet ($24 retail, now $21.60).

The refreshing formula was developed to treat edema,  or swollen legs and feet during pregnancy; however, its effective formula will be a godsend to your stylish mom. Just ask designer Michi Marshall, wife of Chicago Bears wide-receiver Brandon Marshall, who uses our aloe leg gel to soothe her pregnancy feet after a long day in heels…and carrying twins!

For the newly pregnant Mama

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For a Mama who is newly pregnant, we’ve put together the Bump Bag Bliss ($53 value, now $49) just for her!

The gift set for new moms includes our signature Bump Gloss stretch mark oil and Tummy Butter stretch marks lotion to help take care of her growing bump. Exfoliating gloves and an adorable silver holiday bag makes this the perfect new mom gift.

For the Mama who wants to spoil her man

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As we discuss new mom gifts, it’d be a crime to forget our Spoiled Daddies out there! Show the new papa some love with our Unnecessary Roughness Hand and Body Creme  For Dad.

This new dad gift ($24 value, now $19.20) will help protect his hands from cold winter days and keep them out of Mama’s precious Tummy Butter jar!

For the breastfeeding Mama

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If your Mama is nursing, organic breastfeeding products are a MUST. Since toxins Mama eats or applies on her skin can make its way into baby’s body, your nursing mom will love The Spoiled Mama’s More Milk Please breastfeeding tea and Fix that Sucker Nipstick.

Unlike other nipple cream you may find on the shelves, our Nipstick eliminates germs and contamination with its easy push-up tube for fuss-free application.

For the on-the-go Mama

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If you have Mama who’s on-the-go like Kate Middleton, she’s going to adore our Mini Spa Kit ($7 retail, now $5.25). 

The sampler kit gives Mama everything she needs: Tummy Butter cream for stretch marks, Happy Legs massaging gel for pregnant moms, Bump Gloss stretch mark oil and Luxe-Mama body wash for expecting moms.

It’s slim profile makes this easy to fit in her purse, hospital bag, suitcase or welcome-home bag. Stick this kit in her stocking for smiles all around!

For the growing Mama

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Whether she’s carrying multiples (like Angelina Jolie, here) or just further along in her pregnancy, expecting Mamas need extra lovin’ for growing, stressed skin.

For a limited time, we’ve bundled our best-selling stretch mark skincare to bring you the Stretch Mark Prevention Trio ($100 retail, now $90). The trio consists of our Bump Gloss stretch mark oil, Tummy Butter stretch marks lotion and Indulge body polish for pregnancy stretch marks.

So there you have it! How will you spoil your Mama this holiday?

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The Spoiled Mama reflects back — and marches forward!

Happy holidays, everyone! It’s Dec. 4, and I’m already crankin’ the Christmas music and getting my jingle bell rock on. While the year is far from over (Santa’s elves can’t make Tummy Butter, y’know — that recipe is proprietary), our Spoiled Mama team took a breather before the usual holiday mayhem to rejuvenate, reflect and look forward!

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Work hard, play hard is one of my mottos, so this year I wanted to surprise my hardworking team with a visit to one of my favorite wineries. Shortly before noon, this beautiful limo from After Hours Limousines picked us up from our San Leandro office and warehouse to take us to our mystery destination!

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“SURPRISE!”

With delish sandwiches picked up at Jake’s Cafe (thanks guys!), we made our way to the mystery locale. To get everyone in a festive mood during the drive, I quizzed the team on Spoiled Mama trivia, which included questions from our humble beginnings (Did you know the company’s first office was the hubby’s converted gym room?) to where we are today. In true Spoiled Mama fashion, the winner received a spa gift certificate, of course!

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A look back through our company history — from a one-woman, basement operation to an international brand. It’s been a wild ride!

One of the best parts about living and running a company in the San Francisco Bay Area is our proximity to wine country. Even though there are literally hundreds of wineries to pick from, I knew I wanted to hold our Spoiled Mama event at Pleasanton’s Ruby Hill Winery.

Aside from having gorgeous wines and a beautiful estate, the winery’s philosophy reflects what The Spoiled Mama’s culture is about: working hard together, being supportive to one other and having fun along the way!

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If you make it out to Ruby Hill Winery, do NOT miss the Mello Cielo bus tour through the vineyards. This awesome renovated vintage bus has 14 swivel chairs made out of old wine barrels!

Another reason I chose Ruby Hill Winery is because of the wonderful tours they provide. I wanted to show our team how producing a fine cabernet is similar to making — say, our stretch mark butter. Even though the end results are different, each product relies on the health of seasonal crops, unpredictable weather and fine attention to detail from beginning to end.

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Meet Mark, our knowledgeable Ruby Hill ambassador for the day. Be sure to ask for him or the ever-so-charming manager Helen when you visit!
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The Spoiled Mama ladies learning about harvesting grapes and overlooking the beautiful vineyards. I wish this could be our office everyday!

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As we continue through the holiday madness and look forward to a new year, I want to sincerely thank my dedicated team, supportive family and friends, loving children — and most of all, my husband Eric, for believing in a girl with a dream so many years ago.

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Here’s to a beautiful and bright 2015! Happy holidays to you and yours!

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Black Friday pregnancy skincare deals

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Happy Thanksgiving, Mamas! No matter how you’re celebrating, we want to extend a big THANK YOU to all our wonderful Mamas and supporters.

This year, we’re extending Black Friday to TWO days so you can spoil yourself even more! Whether you’re stocking up on stretch mark belly buttermorning sickness tea or shopping  gift sets for new moms, EVERY ORDER will receive a FREE gift of your choice.

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And heck, we’ll even throw in free shipping! (‘Cos that’s how much we love you.)

This Black Friday special lasts only 48 hours, so hurry on over to our pregnancy skincare store now!

We hope these deals sweeten your holiday and help you pamper all the deserving Mamas in your life.

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(P.S. Wanna get all the latest Spoiled Mama sales, news and exclusives right in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter today — we promise to keep it relevant. ;))

How to treat pregnancy heartburn

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‘Tis the season for eating, but for pregnant Mamas battling heartburn, mealtime can quickly turn into an uncomfortable — even painful — experience.

During the second half of pregnancy, many moms are plagued with heartburn (also called acid indigestion or acid reflux). Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation experienced from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat.

While fairly harmless, it can be quite uncomfortable, and last until baby’s arrival. Here’s what you need to know to help relieve heartburn during pregnancy.

What causes heartburn during pregnancy?

There are a couple factors that cause acid reflux during pregnancy. First is a hormone called progesterone, which is produced by the placenta to relax the muscles of the uterus. Unfortunately, the hormone also relaxes the stomach valves that keeps acid out of the esophagus.

In addition, your ever-expanding uterus crowds the stomach, forcing acid into the esophagus.

Your heartburn may be worse if you’re pregnant with more than one baby, your baby is very large (macrosomia) or if its in a breech position.

“How do I prevent pregnancy heartburn?”

There are several tried-and-true ways to relieve heartburn while you’re expecting.

Eat small meals. Try five or six smaller meals a day to avoid stuffing yourself or becoming overly full.

Eat slowly. Relax and enjoy your meals. Scarfing down food too quickly can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Eating slowly will also help you avoid overeating, and give your stomach and brain time to register that you’re full.

Keep a food journal. Logging down what you eat and drink will help you identify heartburn triggers. For many, the usual culprits include caffeine, fatty, fried or spicy foods, chocolate, carbonated drink, tomatoes, vinegar, mustard and citrus.

Sip on liquids in between meals. Try sippin’ on fluids between meals, rather than while you’re eating. Drinking liquids while eating dilutes your digestive juices, making them less effective.

Chew gum after meals. Pop in a stick of gum after meals to cleanse your palette and help neutralized acid with your saliva.

Don’t lie down. After a meal, keep yourself propped up on the couch or get some housework done — anything but lying down. If you go horizontal, it increases the likelihood that acid will wash back up into your esophagus.

Avoid meals right before bedtime. For the reason above, give yourself three hours of buffer time between dinner and hitting the sack.

Prop yourself up as you sleep. To keep heartburn at bay, plop a couple pillows under your upper body as you sleep.

“Uh oh, too late. How do I help relieve pregnancy heartburn?”

Bust out the ginger. While there’s not much scientific proof behind it, many women swear by ginger for nausea, vomiting and upset tummies. Try an herbal tea for nausea (our Happy Mornings tea for morning sickness has the perfect kick of ginger), some fizzy gingerale or ginger candies.

Turn to milk or yogurt. The American Pregnancy Association recommends a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk, as well.

Try an over-the-counter antacid. For heartburn sufferers, a bottle of Tums is a must-have. Antacids can give you an extra jolt of calcium, which is good for Mama and baby. Doctors advice staying away from antacids with aluminum or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

If none of these solutions work, talk to your caregiver about exploring prescription heartburn medications.

Are you suffering from heartburn during your pregnancy? What are your triggers? How do you relieve your heartburn? Share below!

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Thoughts on pregnancy and motherhood from your favorite maternity skincare line

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