Monday, February 28, 2011
The Carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche, during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. The carnival is best known of all the others that take place in Belgium, at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Its history dates back to approximately the 14th century.
Events related to the carnival begin up to 7 weeks prior to the primary celebrations. Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday, consisting of prescribed musical acts, dancing and marching. Large numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday in costume.
On Shrove Monday, the feast is a traditional, more private gathering of locals. To the tune of the viols and the hurdy-gurdies, they all go from pub to pub, and from pub to friends and neighbors houses, as they get ready to invite the voil, who are dancing in the streets.
At about 3 p.m. the children gather, just like the adults had done the day before. The younger ones dance to the music of the drums and brass bands. They then convene in the Town Square, they all dance to the "rondeau de l'amite." Then after hours of dancing and singing until about 8 p.m., they leave to enjoy fireworks at the stationing area.
Friday, February 25, 2011
For 30 years Krakow, in spite of being located far from any seas and oceans, has hosted one of the most popular shantie festivals....The International Sea Songs' Festival..."Shanties".
The idea of the "Shanties" festival was born out of an idea in 1981. The first festival had an intimate gathering of 20 performers and members of the organizing committee and 100 people in the audience and was held in the cellars of a community center. In 1987, for the first time in the history of the festival, the guests from other towns and countries were invited. Since then the festival has enjoyed International status.
Due to the success of the first festival, it grew in popularity, not only among sailors, but also among the many townspeople of Krakrow. the festival has evolved from a small event into one of the largest shantie festivals that are held each year, not only in Poland, but also all around Europe.
Each February Krakow becomes the city of sailors and shanties. People from all over Poland and Europe come to Krakow to sing about sea adventures and ships. During the 4 days of the festival, almost 11,000 people of all ages participate in 6 concerts at the main concert venues in Krakow and they also perform concerts in some of the local taverns during the festival. The festival gives many the opportunity to listen to the approximately 40 groups and 200 or so other solo performers. Each year, the festival is organized under a different theme, which is often based on events from maritime history. This way the festival presents the world to what life and culture might have been like on the high seas and on a ship.
Krakow's festival has always been a cradle of shanty hits. Now they form a history of sailors songs and their plights at sea. The festival is also a place where many popular shanty groups and artists began their careers; Stare Dzwony, Packet, Ryczace Dwudziestki, Mechanicy Szanty, Cztery Refy, Zejman I Garumpel, to name just a few of the more popular performers. They are the winners of past contests in Poland and abroad.
Other events related to the festival are: exhibitions of maritime pictures and photos from cruises and sailing races, meetings with famous sailors ("sea dogs"), workshops for fiddlers and just a time for gathering and reminiscing about the old times and the sea itself.
In 2011, Festival Shanties celebrates the 30th Jubilee Edition. For this occasion, performers are on 5 different stages, 18 different concerts will take place with different types of sea music: poetry and ballades, traditional sea songs, contemporary sailors' songs, and sailors' songs for children. For the first time in its 30 year history, there will be an organized rock and roll shanty concert. During the festival concerts, over 200 different artists will participate and perform from all over Poland and invited guests from different parts of Europe.
In the present form, the festival, after 30 years, has become an important landmark on Kracow's scene of cultural events.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Carnival in Cologne is almost as old as the history of the city itself. But the organized carnival celebrated today only dates back 178 years.
The Greeks and Romans celebrated cheerful spring festivals in honor of Dionysos and Saturn with wine, women and song. The ancient Germans celebrated the winter solstice as a homage to the Gods and expulsion of the evil winter demons. Later the Christians adopted the heathen customs. The period of fasting (Lent) prior to Easter was heralded in by "Fastnacht" or "Karnival"...carne vale = Farewell to meat!
The boisterous street carnival was extended in the 18th century to include the so called "Redouten", elegant masked and fancy dress balls in Venetian style, which were initially the preserve of the aristocracy and the wealthy patricians. In 1736, the first Redoute was held in Cologne in a noble house on the Neumarkt.
Almost 50 years later, Cologne was captured by the French revolutionary troops. But the new rulers allowed the locals "de fair son tour", to hold their carnival parades. The Prussians, who took control a short time later, were stricter, which, however, did not prevent the natives of Cologne from cultivating their Carnival tradition. Carnival was romanticized and became bourgeois. It became organized! With the "Carnival Hero", with today's Prince Carnival, a new idea was also introduced.
In 1823 the "Festordnende Komitee" was founded. On February 10th of that year, Cologne celebrated the first Rose Monday Parade with the moto "Inthronization of the Carnival Hero". Also involved were the "Rote Funken" the former city militia, who had just established themselves as a carnival society, the carnival fool of the "Hillige Knaachte un Magde", Jan von Werth and Cologne's "Peasant" and "Virgin" as a reminder of the former free imperial city of Cologne. At that time, like today, a man wore the costume of the Virgin. In 1860, the first "Ghost Parade" was held on the evening of Carnival Saturday. Even after the turn of the century, the "founding period" of the Carnival fans continued. In 1902, the "Ehrengarde" was formed as the accompanying group of the Peasant and Virgin. In 1906, Prince Carnival was given his "Prinzengarde". Other societies established themselves. Willi Ostermann, with his songs and musings, Grete Fluss extended the fame of Cologne's Carnival beyond the city's boundaries.
The "Sitzungen" (shows) with their humorous orators and singers bridged the gap between the opening of the "Carnival Session" On "11.11" to its climax on Rose Monday. That is still the same today. Now it is bands like the "Black Fooss", "Hohner" and "Paveir" and humorists like "Rumpelstizchen" or "Webfachmann" who are the trade marks of Cologne's "Fifth Season". The world famous "Strippefottchen-Tant" of the Rote Funken, a parody on the soldiers' strict life.
There are approximately 160 carnival societies, local history societies and district groups in Cologne which celebrate their home town festival in about 5oo parties, balls and parades. The highlight is always the Rose Monday Parade.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The Sapporo Snow Festival is a famous festival held annually in Sapporo, Japan, over 7 days in February. Currently, Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome are the main sites of the festival. The 2011 Yuki-matsuri dates are February 7th to the 13th.
The festival is one of Japan's largest and most distinctive winter events. In 2007, about 2 million people visited Sapporo to see the hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures at the Odori Park and Suskino sites, in central Sapporo, and the Satoland site. The festival is thought to be an opportunity for promoting international relations. The International Snow Sculpture Contest has been held at the Odori Park sit since 1974, and teams from various regions of the world participate.
The subject of the statues varies and often features as event, famous building or person from the previous yer. For example, in 2004, there were statues of Hideki Matsui, the famous baseball player who at that time played for the New York Yankees. A number of stages made out of snow are also constructed and made out of snow are also constructed and some events including musical performance are held. At the Satoland site, visitors can enjoy long snow and ice slides as well as a huge maze made of snow. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of regional foods from all over Hokkaido at the Odori Park and Satoland sites, such as fresh seafood, potatoes and corn, and fresh dairy products.
Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400. In 2007, there were 307 statues created in the Odori Park site, 32 in the Satoland site and 100 i the Susino site. The best place to view the creations is from the TV tower at Odori Park. Most of the statues are illuminated in the evening. The Sapporo Snow Festival Museum is located in the Hitsujigaoka observation hill in Toyhira-ku, and displays historical materials and media of the festival.
The Snow Festival began in 1950, when 6 local high school students built 6 snow statues in Odori Par. In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces form the nearby Makomani base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous for. Several snow festivals existed in Sapporo prior to the Sapporo Snow Festival, however, all of these were suspended during World War II.
During the Energy crisis of 1974, snow statues were built using drums. This was due to the shortage of gasoline which caused many of the trucks that were used to carry snow to the site, were unavailable, due to the shortage and rationiong of fuel. In that same year, the International Snow Statue Competition started and since that year many snow statues built by teams from other countries have been featured; especially from some of the sister cities of Sapporo, such as Munich Germany.
In years when the accumulated snowfall is low, the Self-Defense Force, for whom participation is considered a training exercise, brings in snow from outside Sapporo. The Makomanai base, one of three main sites from 1965, hosted the largest sculptures, with a emphasis on providing play space fro children. Use of the Makomanai site was suspended in 2005 and moved to the Sapporo Satoland site located in Higashi-ku in 2006. In 2009, the Satoland site was moved to the Tsudome (Sapporo Community Dome) site. The Tsudome, located close to the Sapporo Satoland, is a dome for multiple sport events.
Nakajima Park was established as one of the festival sites in 1990 however, it was removed as a site in 1992. The thrid site, known as the Suskino Ice Festival, is situated in the night life district of Susukino and includes predominantly ice carvings. The site was approved as one of the festival sites in 1983. Every year, the IcSuskino Queen of Ice, a beauty contest, is held at this site.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Many people are familiar with Mardi Gras celebrations on the day before Lent. But in Liberal Kansas, the day before Lent means just one thing....it's Pancake Day!
The friendly little competition between Liberal Kansas and Olney England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes, has been going on for more that 60 years. It is still the only race of its kind in the world.
On Shrove Tuesday, at 11:55 p.m. the race begins, with the overall score standing at 33 wins for Liberal and 25 for Olney. In 1980 the score didn't count because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.
It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Reverand Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal
In Olney, the Pancake Race traditions date back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach he church first and collect a "Kiss of Peace" from the verger ( bell ringer). The kiss is still the traditional prize in both races.
Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron and the runner must flip her pancake at the starting signal, and again after crossing the finish line, to prove she still has her pancake.
Winning scores have traded back and forth between the two towns. The record time was set in 2001 when 3 time winner, Lisa Spillman of Liberal, ran the 415 yard S -shaped course in 58.1 seconds.
Internaitonal Pancake Day in Liberal has expanded into a 4 day event, beginning with pancake eating and flipping contests, a cooking contest, and a parade. Other events include a talent show, an authentic English High Tea, the pancake races, and a shroving service.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Since 1990, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has organized the Taiwan Lantern Festival, and this year, the the festival enters its 22nd year.
|Year of the Rabbit Lantern|
Starting in 1990, the Tourism Bureau integrated civilian and local governmental resources to conduct the event to celebrate the Lantern Festival (15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar). The purpose of the festival is to spread the traditional folklore of the festival.
The firecrackers ceremony of the Wumiao Temple in Yenshui Township was held by ancient people in order to show respect for the exploits of Guan Yu. Fengpao, is the ceremony to start the burning of thousands of firecrackers hung on 15 to 75 foot high wooden stands. This ceremony starts from 6 p.m., and goes on until 5 the next morning. Thousands of visitors attend the ceremony.
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to Medieval Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today....with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands....are traced to New Orleans.
Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian expolorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe due Mardi Gras". He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.
New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptise Le Moyne. By the 1730's, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans...but not in parade form. In the early 1740's, Louisiana's Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls...the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
By the late 1830's, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance.
In 1871, Mardi Gras's second "Krewe" is formed, the Twelfth Night Reveler's, with the first account of Mardi Gras "throws".
1872, was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival-Rex-to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag.
In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the "Mardi Gras Act" making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.
Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, we call it the "Greatest Free Show on Earth"!
As part of Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kinds called "A King's Cake".
Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
So, in Louisiana, especially, Mardi Gras season and King Cakes go hand in hand with literally hundreds of thousands of King Cakes consumed at parties and office lunch rooms every year.
Ordering King Cakes over the Internet has now become an annual tradition by consumers all around the world...and many of the bakers offer them year around. After all, you can't have a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1963. It had been interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution, until it was resumed in 1985.
Harbin, the capital of Heilonjiang province of China, it is one of the main sources of ice and snow culture in the world. Geographically, it is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 degrees Celsius, -16.8 degrees Celsius in the winter. It can be as cold as -38.1 degrees Celsius in the winter.
|Niagra falls sculpture|
The festival lasts the whole month. However the exhibits often open earlier and stay longer, weather permitting. Ice sculpture decoration technology ranges from the modern (using lasers) to traditional (with ice lanterns). There are ice lantern park touring activities held in many parks throughout the city. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli alpine skiing, winter swimming in the Songhua River, and the ice lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.
The 2007 festival featured a Canadian theme, in memoriam of Canadian doctor Norman Bethune. It was also a Guinness Record of the largest snow sculpture: over 500 feet long and 28 feet high, using over 13,000 cubic meters of snow. The composition consisted of two parts: "Niagara Falls" and "Crossing the Bering Strait" (the latter depicting the migrations of the First Nations).
Monday, February 14, 2011
The Carnival of Venice is a festival that's steeped in history, vibrant colors, outlandish costumes, spectacular masks and of course a whole host of events make the Carnival of Venice one of the most popular times to visit the wonderful City of Masks!!
Venice is such a beautiful and amazing city that it really doesn't need a Carnival to attract even more tourists, but the Venice Carnival is definitely one of the city's top events, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors during a time of year that might otherwise be quiet. During the 1970's, the Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of their efforts.
You have nearly two weeks to come to Venice and enjoy the carnival festivities and to really be involved in all the fun, you'll also want to buy or make a mask to partake in the festivities and to really enjoy them to their fullest capacity. The costumes, masks and an assortment of events that happen around Venice Carnival time, means that families with children can enjoy it too, after all, what child doesn't like dressing up in a costume?
Once you've got your costume and mask sorted out you'll want to know where all fun is taking place! There are events around most of the city during the Carnival so you shouldn't have to look very far.
The Carnival of Venice historically had a reputation for attracting Europe's aristocracy, but it was also a time when the poorer of society could dress up and mingle with the upper classes. Venice still has a reputation for being a very expensive city though, if you're on a budget don't let this put you off on visiting the Carnival of Venice as you can actually visit Venice on a shoestring budget.
The Carnival of Venice starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
Masks have always been a central feature of the carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefan (St. Stephen's Day, December 26th) and the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. They have always been around Venice. As masks were also allowed for Ascension and from October 5th to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Maskmakers (mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.
Bauta is the whole face, with a stubborn chin line, no mouth, and lots of gilding. One may find masks sold as Bautas that cover only the upper part of the face from the forehead to the nose and upper cheeks, thereby concealing identity but enabling the wearer to talk and eat or drink easily. It tends to be the main type of mask worn during the Carnival. It was used also on many other occasions as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. It would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was thus useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.
In the 18th century, the Bauta had become a standardized society mask and disguise regulated by the Venetian government. It was obligatory to wear it at certain political decision making events when all citizens were required to act anonymously as peers. Only citizens of Venice had the right to use the Bauta. Its role was similar to the anonymizing processes invented to guarantee general direct, free, equal and secret ballots in modern democracies.
It was not allowed for the wearer to carry weapons along with the mask, and police had the right to enforce this ruling.
The moretta is an oval mask of black velvet that was usually worn by women visiting convents. It was invented in France and rapidly became popular in Venice as it brought out the beauty of feminine features. The mask was finished off with a veil, and was secured in place by a small bit in the wearer's mouth.
Volto or Larva
The "Volto" was the more common mask used in Venice for centuries. Volto, means "face", a design that is was the most common, simplest mask.
The mascherari, or mask makers had their own statute date 10 April 1436. They belonged to the fringe of painters and were helped in their task by sign painters who drew faces onto plaster in a range of different shapes and paying extreme attention to detail.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The idea for the festival was first proposed in 1967, in celebration of Canada's centennial. However, due to a lack of sufficient funding from the city council, the proposal was not acted upon. In the summer of 1969, the mayor, Ed Turner, and the city council of Saint-Boniface granted their support under the condition that the Festival became an incorporated organization. Judge Robert Trudel became the first president of Festival du/ of the Voyageur. Festival du/of the Voyageur Inc. was Incorporated under the Companies Act of Manitoba on December 18th, 1969. It received a city grant of $35,000 but had to give back all profits up to the $35,000.
Over the years, more additions were made to the festival. The symbol of a red toque (stocking cap) and a pair of boots was adopted in 1973, after a winning snow sculpture from the year before. Two "school" voyageurs were appointed in 1977, to visit schools and teach children about the voyageurs and the Festival.
In 1978, the organization had accumulated enough surplus funds to make Whittier Park the permanent site of the festival. Provencher Park had become too small for the growing number of attendees. Log cabins were constructed in Whittier Park that could be left there year-round. These cabins formed the foundations of the historic reconstruction that became as Fort Gibraltar.