Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Holly Belly Dance Hafla Fun Holly
Holly for the Christmas Holiday Holly

 

In Arabic, the word "hafla" means "party". Belly dancers often use the word to refer to events that involve not only socializing, but also belly dance students and professionals performing for each other, their friends, and their families..

 

Table of Contents

 

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Holly Performing at a Christmas Theme Hafla Holly

Theme haflas provide an opportunity to add a playful twist to your belly dance performances. Here are some ideas on how to take advantage of the occasion.

 

Holly Costume

  • Earrings. Purchase small Christmas tree glass balls, place them on kidney wires, and wear them as earrings. Check craft stores for items being sold for the purpose of decorating miniature trees - some of these are perfect for use as earrings.
  • Theme Costume.
    • If you have a plain gold or silver bra/belt set, drape a Christmas tree garland on it.
    • Use a Christmas color scheme of red, green, gold, and silver.
    • Attach "jingle bells" (sold in craft stores) to a bra/belt set to make it jingle while you dance.
  • Folkloric. If you like to dance in a folkloric style, think about acknowledging the region the Christmas holiday comes from. Make a dress in the style of a Palestinian dress, such as what Mary or a shepherd woman might have worn. See the Folkwear patterns for Gaza Dress, Syrian Dress, and Bethany Dress for inspiration. Such a costume could also be ideal for dancing at a Christmas pageant at your church. Debke-style music and dancing would go well with the theme.
  • Santa hat. If you're a tribal-style dancer, pin some of your ethnic jewelry to the cuff of the hat to decorate it. If you prefer to wear sparkly pieces, glue either glitter or sequins onto the cuff to make a Christmas design.
Shira Wearing a Christmas Costume

 

Holly Music

Some performers of Middle Eastern music have created their own recordings of traditional Christmas songs. Here are reviews:

Fairuz

 

Holly Props

Cane

If you like to perform with a cane, wrap a silver cane with red ribbon to make it look like a candy cane, or purchase a candy cane yard ornament from a local home improvement store.

Balancing

If you are skilled at balancing a prop on your head, try these variations:

  • Balance a candle holder containing a candle with a Christmas-related scent such as evergreen or cinnamon. Light the candle before performing. Be sure to have someone in the audience with a fire extinguisher ready, just in case.
  • Purchase a small basket or tray at a craft store. Put a small bag of potting soil in the bottom to give it weight. Arrange Christmas-related decorative items in the basket such as a tiny Christmas tree, evergreen pieces, small Christmas tree ornaments, and battery-operated lights.
  • Put red or green candles in your shamadan, preferably ones that contain a Christmas-related scent such as evergreen or cinnamon. Be sure to have someone in the audience with a fire extinguisher ready, just in case.
  • Buy a small box that is a perfect size for balancing on your head. Place something with a bit of weight in the bottom, such as a small bag containing potting soil. Wrap the box to look like a Christmas present, and balance it.

Shira

 

 

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Holly Hosting a Christmas Theme Hafla Holly

Theme haflas can be fun, and provide an opportunity for the performers to be creative. Here are some ideas on how to bring a Christmas theme into a holiday hafla.

 

Holly A Time of Giving

The Christmas holidays are a time when people open their hearts to help those in need. Here are some ways for your hafla to capture this spirit:

  • Ask attendees to bring non-perishable foods to be donated to a local food bank. Waive the admission fee for people who bring something.
  • Ask attendees to bring unwrapped toys which can be donated to a local toy drive effort. Waive the admission fee for people who bring something.
  • Recruit performers who are willing to donate their tips to a charitable cause you have chosen. Announce to the audience that they are doing so, and urge people to tip them for the cause.
  • Set a basket among the refreshments with a sign asking for donations which can be given to a charity you have chosen.

 

Holly Decor

Set up a tree, and drape it with belly dance jewelry such as coin belts, necklaces, etc. for decorations.

Drape metallic garland of the kind sold for decorating Christmas trees around the stage area to frame the dancing.

Set up a shamadan as the centerpiece on the refreshments table, and light all the candles. To add some Christmas flavor, drape it with the red, green, and gold strings of beads that are sold around Christmas time for decorating trees.

 

Holly Music

Choose background music that evokes a Middle Eastern flavor. Here are reviews of some albums that would be perfect for the occasion:

If you will be having live musicians perform who know some Arabic, you might ask them whether they would be able to learn Arabic lyrics for some Christmas songs. See:

Holly

 

Holly Folk Dance

For audience participation, teach people how to do a simple debke step. The debke comes from Palestine and surrounding areas, and including it in your event helps celebrate the Middle Eastern origins of both our dance form and the Christmas holiday.

 

Holly Refreshments

Of course, you can serve the same items you would serve at any other hafla. But if you'd like to add an extra holiday flavor to your event, here are some ideas for easy refreshments that suit the theme:

Holiday Cookies

Churches often have "cookie walks" which are fund-raising events that sell cookies homemade by their members. If possible, attend one of these to purchase a variety of holiday cookies to serve at the hafla.

Whether you make them or buy them, choose shapes that make people think of the Middle East, such as camels. Decorate them with colored sugar and those silver-colored little balls that are sold for cookie decoration. Or, use a cookie cutter designed for gingerbread men and women, and then decorate the cookies to look as though they are wearing belly dance costumes.

Holiday Brie and Crackers

1 slice or wheel of brie cheese with the white skin
1 bag of dried cranberries
1 stick of butter
1 small bag of chopped walnuts
1 box of table water crackers

Slice the brie into two layers. On the bottom piece, sprinkle enough dried cranberries to cover it. Then sprinkle a layer of walnuts. Place the top piece into position, to make a "sandwich". Dot the top with pats of butter. Sprinkle on it a layer of dried cranberries, followed by a layer of walnuts. Place in the oven just long enough to make the cheese start to melt. Transfer it to a holiday-themed serving plate if you have one.

Serve with a plate of crackers, with a spreader knife.

Tip: department stores often sell spreader knives around Christmas time with holiday-themed handles such as candy canes.

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

If you have access to a slow cooker such as a Crock Pot, you can make and serve it all from the same container. Otherwise, you can make it on the stove top and place in thermos bottles for purposes of transporting to the hafla and serving.

1/2 cup brown sugar (125 ml)
2 quarts or liters of apple cider
1 teaspoon of whole allspice (5 ml)
1 1/2 teaspoons of whole cloves (7-8 ml)
2 pieces of stick cinnamon
Orange slices

Put all ingredients in your slow cooker or stovetop pot. If desired, put the spices in a tea ball or cheesecloth. If making on stovetop, heat until just under boiling temperature, then reduce heat, cover, and continue heating for an hour. If making in slow cooker, set cooker on low and heat between 2 and 8 hours. The long heating time allows time for the spices to release their flavors into the cider. Remove the spices before serving.

Wassail

2 quarts or liters apple juice or cider
1 pint or 1/2 liter unsweetened cranberry juice
3/4 cup sugar (190 ml)
1 teaspoon aromatic bitters (5 ml)
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole allspice (5 ml)
1 small orange, studded with whole cloves

Put all ingredients in your slow cooker or stovetop pot. If desired, put the spices in a tea ball or cheesecloth. If making on stovetop, heat until just under boiling temperature, then reduce heat, cover, and continue heating for an hour. If making in slow cooker, set cooker on low and heat between 2 and 8 hours. The long heating time allows time for the spices to release their flavors into the cider. Remove the spices before serving.

 

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