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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas (in any language)

Merry Christmas, Joeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Feliz Navidad…. As said in French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. This is a special time of year round the world no matter the language, the message is the same. Christmas is a time of family gatherings, gift giving, optimism for the future, peace on Earth (we can hope), great feasting and fellowship with friends and family.


History books refer to the United States as "the melting pot" where all nations and traditions blend together. Indeed, our Christmas celebrations would indicate just that. We have carols from England and trees from Germany. Santa Claus, or St. Nick. originated in Scandinavia and his arrival through the chimney to fill stockings is reminiscent of the Netherlands. His sleigh drawn by reindeer began in Switzerland, and our parades may be a carry-over from Latin processions. Of course the traditional feasting is typical of all nations. We, in turn, have fattened up the jolly old man in the red suit and blended all the traditions until he comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve, leaves gifts and stockings filled with treats and departs in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer. The media has helped to make this a universal Christmas image. Yet each regions of the U.S. has its own peculiarity.


The greatest variety in the traditions, however, comes in the taste of Christmas feast:

  • New England has Lumberjack Pie ( a mashed potato crust, filled with meats, onion and cinnamon.)
  • Pennsylvania Dutch serve Sand Tarts (thin, crisp sugar cookies)
  • North Carolina features Moravian Love-Feast Buns (faintly sweet bread of flour and mashed potatoes.)
  • Baltimore serves Sauerkraut with their Turkey (which includes apples, onions and carrots.)
  • Virginia gives us oyster and ham pie.
  • Southern states have Hominy Grits SoufflĂ© and Whiskey Cake (with one cup of 100-proof whiskey.)
  • Louisiana's treat is Creole Gumbo. It can include ham, veal, chicken, shrimp, oysters and crabmeat.
  • New Mexico has the Empanaditas--little beef pies with applesauce pine nuts and raisins.
  • Hawaii blesses us with Turkey Teriyaki marinated and cooked over an outdoor pit.

Whatever the region, Christmas is one of the most celebrated and enjoyed holidays in the nation.

And around the world we have:

Joyeux Noel. The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means "Christmas Log." The cake, among other food in great abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le rveillon. Le rveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters and pate de foie gras.

French children receive gifts from Pere Noel who travels with his stern disciplinarian companion Pre Fouettard. Pre Fouettard reminds Pere Noel of just how each child has behaved during the past year. In some parts of France Pere Noel brings small gifts on St. Nicholas Eve (December 6) and visits again on Christmas. In other places it is le petit Jesus who brings the gifts. Generally adults wait until New Year's Day to exchange gifts. 



Frohe Weihnachten …. According to legend, on Christmas Eve in Germany rivers turn to wine, animals speak to each other, tree blossoms bear fruit, mountains open up to reveal precious gems, and church bells can be heard ringing from the bottom of the sea. Of course, only the pure in heart can witness this Christmas magic. All others must content themselves with traditional German celebrations, and there are plenty. As a matter of fact, there is so much celebrating that is has to begin on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day.


The Christmas tree, as we know it, originated in Germany. It has a mysterious magic for the young because they are not allowed to see it until Christmas Eve. While the children are occupied with another room (usually by Father) Mother brings out the Christmas tree and decorates it with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, cars, trains, angels, tinsel, family treasures and candles or lights. The presents are placed under the tree. Somewhere, close to the bright display are laid brilliantly decorated plates for each family member, loaded with fruits, nuts, marzipan, chocolate and biscuits. When all is ready a bell is rung as a signal for the children to enter this Christmas fantasy room. Carols are sung, sometimes sparklers are lit, the Christmas story is read and gifts are opened.


The custom of trimming and lighting a Christmas tree had its origin in pre-Christian Germany, the tree symbolizing the Garden of Eden. It was called the "Paradise Baum," or tree of Paradise. Gradually, the custom of decorating the tree with cookies, fruit and eventually candles evolved. Other countries soon adapted the custom. Charles Dickens called it "The Pretty German Toy."


Merry Christmas… From the English we get a story to explain the custom of hanging stockings from the mantelpiece. Father Christmas once dropped some gold coins while coming down the chimney. Without the stockings the coins would have fallen through the ash grate and been lost. Good thing they landed in a stocking that had been hung out to dry. Since that time children have continued to hang out stockings in hopes of finding them filled with gifts.

Feliz Natale….. Papa Noel (Father Noel) is the gift-bringer in Brazil. According to legend, he lives in Greenland. When he arrives in Brazil, he usually wears silk clothing due to the summer heat. I am not sure how he gets to Brazil as I cannot find reference to a reindeer drawn sleigh or for that matter coming by boat, but he does get there….. just not in a bulky red velvet suit.

A huge Christmas dinner, unusual in the hot summertime, includes turkey, ham, colored rice, and wonderful vegetable and fruit dishes.

Devout Catholics often attend Midnight Mass or Missa do Galo. (A galo is a rooster.) The mass has this name because the rooster announces the coming day and the Missa do Galo finishes at 1 AM on Christmas morning! On December 25th, Catholics go to church, but the masses are mostly late afternoon, because people enjoy sleeping late after the dinner (Ceia de Natal) or going to the beach.

Buon Natale….. From Italy we get the popularity of the Nativity scene, as it originated in Italy. According to legend, St. Francis of Assisi asked a man named Giovanni Vellita of the village of Greccio to create a manger scene. St. Francis performed mass in front of this early Nativity scene, which inspired awe and devotion in all who saw it. The

The main exchange of gifts takes place on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, the celebration is in remembrance of the Magi's visit to the Christ Child. Children anxiously await a visit from La Befana who brings gifts for the good and punishment for the bad. According to legend, the three wise men stopped during their journey and asked an old woman for food and shelter. She refused them and they continued on their way. Within a few hours the woman had a change of heart but the Magi were long gone. La Befana, which means Epiphany, still wonders the earth searching for the Christ Child. She is depicted in various ways: as a fairy queen, a crone, or a witch. 

Feliz Navidad….. Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas season officially begins December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated each year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called los Seises or the "dance of six." Oddly, the elaborate ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys. It is a series of precise movements and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful.

Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy.

December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration. (In this time of much needed revenue for governments, both local and federal, I think this is a grand idea.)

As in many European countries, the children of Spain receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. The Magi are particularly revered in Spain. It is believed that they travel through the countryside reenacting their journey to Bethlehem every year at this time. Children leave their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw, carrots, and barley for the horses of the Wise Men. Their favorite is Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the gifts. 

Joeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Feliz Navidad………. La Befana who brings both gifts and punishment, Pre Fouttard the strict disciplinarian, Papa Noel in his silk Christmas outfit. There is a common theme. Do your best, be good, celebrate family, think of others, remember the origination of the holiday, give meaningful gifts to those we love, fix our best food and share it and pray and hope for peace on Earth. Good messages all, no matter the origin.


Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a great New Year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Today as I think about the approaching holidays, I think of all the things there are to be thankful for…..  Family, loved ones, friends, great co-workers, a beautiful view of the marsh out my window, my short game is improving and living in South Carolina means there is a longer season for fresh fruits and vegetables.  All great things indeed.  All about me indeed.

As I take a professional view of what I am thankful for I include:

  • Talks between major lenders and states attorney generals about the nationwide investigation of foreclosure practices are accelerating, with state officials pushing for a broad overhaul of the modification process.
  • Mortgage delinquencies are on the decline. 
  • Home inventory in Beaufort county is coming down.  In 2009 there was a 22.4 month supply of inventory.  Through October of 2010 there is a 21.6 month supply of inventory.
  • Pending home sales are up 19.9% over 2009.
  • While prices of homes YTD are lower than 2009, both units sold and total volume are up.

And one last thing I am thankful for…… (Reprinted from The State newspaper November 23, 2010.)

Last SC soldiers from Guard security unit return from Afghanistan
The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — About 80 soldiers from a South Carolina Army National Guard unit are returning home after eight months providing security for U.S. engineers and medical personnel in Afghanistan.
Guard spokesman Capt. Tim Irvin says the last group from the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, based in Georgetown, should return Sunday to the Columbia airport. Others in the 800-soldier unit have been coming back in small groups since Nov. 12.
They were posted near Kabul and provided security for members of a provincial reconstruction team.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!!!!!!!

Cindy Byers

Saturday, October 9, 2010


·        Total # of single family homes is 1326, condos – 301, vacant lots – 501
·        Full time population is approximately 550 living in 318 homes
·        Average sales price as of 10/5/10 was – homes $506k, condos $203k
·        In 2010 so far 26 homes and 7 condos have sold for a total sales volume of $14.4 million
·        In 2009 17 homes (average price - $530k) sold and 7 condos sold (average price - $253k) for a total volume of $9 million.
·        As far as pricing goes, I believe we are at the bottom and beginning to stabilize.

So you may be saying to yourself, “how can prices going down be good news?”  This is good news because although prices are down, activity is up.  Generally speaking there two curves in real estate sales – an activity curve and a price curve.  The activity curve always leads the price curve by about 6 months to a year.  NO market can reach stability with excess supply of inventory.  Our inventory is at an historic high and the lower prices will help with that, ultimately bringing order back to the real estate market.

The other good news is that I believe we are at the absolute bottom as far as pricing goes and again, that will help with stabilizing our market.  This is ultimately a good thing.  Our market can never reach “robust” without first getting to “stabilized”.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

At Last

At last, Island Realty of the Lowcountry's new and improved website is up.  Go take a look at  The new site is very user friendly with great search capabilities.  You can search by price, location, map, zip code, home, villa or lot.  We've only been live a few days, but the feedback is positive.

So what does all this mean to you.....  as you begin your search for that beautiful home either permanent, second home or as an investment, you can do so at our state of the art site.  Whether you are in the same county or thousands of miles away, your dreams are as close as the click of a button.

If you are a seller, it means that your home will be featured on the website of the premier company in the area.  It will mean that buyers will look to our company to help them find a home, ultimately giving your home more exposure.

Also, the pictures are great.

It's all good.  Take a look, you'll be glad you did.

P.S.  If you don't have time to check out the site, take a minute and check out our new YouTube video on my YouTube channel IslandRealtyBeaufort.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

July's Market Report Overview

July's Market Report Overview
"Recovery loses steam." "Housing demand in a slump." "Tax credit leaves mess in its wake." We're bombarded with headlines like these every day. Some have merit, some don't. The truth is, the economy is now driving the housing market and not vice versa.

Pending Sales in the Beaufort region grew slightly by 1.3 percent from last July to arrive at 76.

New Listings dipped slightly by 3.6 percent since last July and overall inventory skyrocketed by 42.0 percent.

Median Sales Price dipped by 3.8 percent from last July to $179,900, and buyers were only willing to pay 88.6 percent of a seller's asking price. Market times were up by 22.7 percent over last year.

Months Supply of Inventory increased by 21.2 percent to 23.2 months, given current demand.

In summary, the housing market is trying to hold its ground until the job situation improves. Only after widespread, private-sector hiring will demand be restored to the market and prices continue to stabilize. Until then, it's a hurry up and wait game.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Use Island Realty of the Lowcountry

Okay, so this time, I borrowed from the Letterman show and his nightly list of top 10 something. The truth is, to be successful a company needs to know what their competitive edge is.  I  have listed below10 competitive edges. You can probably think of more. Please add to the list as you see fit.

Top 10 Reasons to Use Island Realty

1.    Best support staff around.
2.    We are a local firm giving us highly personal dedication, not detached attention as some regional and national companies are.
3.    Our agents make what can be a difficult process pain free and easy (particularly important if you are sitting 800 miles away trying to purchase a home… trust me, I've been there).
4.    Our agents live where they work and work where they live, we care about the area.

5.    Superior market knowledge.

6.    Great web presence (consistently in the top listings on major search engines).

7.    2 great locations (Coosaw Point & Harbor).

8.    Open 7 days a week.

9.    Our agents (most experienced, successful, knowledgeable, ethical & easy to work with.

10.  We have and have always had the highest production volume on both Fripp & Harbor since the day      we opened in August 2002.