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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 05/09/12

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BABA YAGA THE RUSSIAN FOLKLORE WITCH!!




    Myths and legends are a part of virtually every culture. One of the most interesting legends of Russian culture is that of Baba Yaga. She is, however, not unique to Russia. There are similar stories about her, under other names, in Poland as well as in the Czech Republic.
    The figure of Baba Yaga is most often pictured as that of an old hag on a broomstick, reminiscent of the kitchen witches we often see today. Some believe that she might have been the precursor for the ugly, old crones that most often represent witches at Halloween.
    In truth, however, Baba Yaga is a complicated creature associated as much with fertility and fate as she is with death. Some believed that she also had the gift of prophecy and great wisdom. However, for reasons never understood, she seldom chose to use those skills without exacting a gruesome payment. Anyone wishing to partake of Baba Yaga's wisdom had to take on a challenge, which began with a trip to her home hidden deep within a treacherous forest. Those arriving there would often decide to turn back without confronting the hag because of the gruesome look of the house itself. As legends have it, Baba Yaga's home sat atop four chicken legs that allowed her to move it from place to place at will. Surrounded by a black picket fence adorned with flaming human skulls, those arriving on her property were no doubt scared about what they were about to encounter.
    Inside the house, it was said that the crone sat at a spinning wheel, spinning with thread made from the tendons and muscles of human beings. Not prone to help anyone out of a sense of kindness, Baba Yaga would put those who sought her assistance through a series of tests before agreeing to help them.
    Few ever completed them and even some of those who did were never seen again because they dared to anger the old woman in the process. She then turned on them with her sharp teeth. It was said that she could rip apart an animal or a human in less that 30 seconds.

HAUNTED ROADS: A SAMPLING OF SOME OF AMERICA'S GHOSTLY HIGHWAYS!!



    Most ghostly experiences along roadways happen at night. The ghosts that are reportedly seen along these roadways vary from subtle wisps to full-fledged, seemingly corporeal bodies that get into the car and carry on conversations.
    Many road-ghosts just walk down the road where they were killed, or appear alongside a driver hoping to catch a ride back to their home. Sometimes ghosts move alongside a car as it speeds down the highways and still others appear abruptly in front of the vehicle, nearly causing an accident.






    Haunted highways are not only occupied by ghosts, but also phantom cars. Sometimes, these phantom cars appear in the rear view mirror as two headlights (that quickly disappear), other times, a vehicle will allow a car to pass only to discover there is no car behind them after all.
    This type of paranormal activity as legend throughout the world, but to experience it is a rare occurrence.
    Here are details, about some roads, throughout America, that have legends attached and ones where witnesses have claimed to have seen ghostly activity.






   Clinton Road in West Milford, New Jersey: A ten-mile curvy stretch of road that meanders through woods and has a distinct air of isolation. Legend has it a little boy was playing on this road on a bridge above a waterway and fell to his death. They say if you throw a quarter into the water, it will be thrown back at you. There are also tales of being followed by unseen beings, the overwhelming feeling of being watched, and a red-eyed hound from Hell chasing people out from the foliage.






    Shades of Death Road in Warren County in New Jersey: Yes, it really is called "Shades of Death" Road. The locals gave it that name because numerous murders, accidents and strange happenings have occurred on this roadway. It is said that people have been killed by wildcats roaming the area. Discarded, mutilated corpses have been found along this road. The road itself is full of twists and turns and is shaded by numerous trees, lending to its spooky air. The spirits of the Lenni-Lenape people are believed to haunt this road, having been viciously attacked by a tribe of Iroquois Indians.






   Split Rock Road in Hibernia New Jersey: There are numerous legends surrounding this stretch of road. One such urban legend goes: if you drive down this road late at night, people (who these people are depends on who you're talking to locally), they might be Satanists/Albinos/Gangs, will block each end of the one-lane bridge and trap you in the middle as you drive across it. There have been murders and suicides on this road. Animal carcasses have been found as well as unexplained lights in the sky.







    State Road 15 North in Bristol, Indiana: Legend has it if you drive north on State Road 15, past the toll road you will come across a house on the left, directly before the state line. Stop and study this house. Eventually, if you sit there long enough, the spirit of the owner of the house parts the curtains and waves at you.







    HWY 20 in Brushy Prairie, Indiana: Most active around the holidays, there exists an urban legend of a Lady in White. She wears a wedding dress and when people try to pick her up, she disappears. This supposedly happens between the midnight and 5am hours.





    Highway 12 West in Fredrica, Delaware: The legend - A man, quite angry with his landlord, murdered the landlord then ground him up with cornmeal. He then fed it to his dog. It is said that the phantom dog with its red, glowing eyes can be seen by drivers at night along the side of the road.






     Salem Church Road in Newark, Delaware: In the 1900's, a family of six was hung due to accusations of witchcraft. This family has been seen, all six of them, walking along this highway, in search, people say, of the relatives who hung them. (Don't think I'd want to be them!)





    Mona Lisa Drive in New Orleans, Louisiana: The statue of a philanthropist's daughter, Mona, has been erected in City Park but destroyed by careless teenagers. Witnesses claim to have seen a very sad Mona as they drive along this road. She floats silently next to the car, scratching the glass forlornly, then just as quickly, she vaporizes.

    Remember, if you drive down any road expecting to see ghostly spectacles, be respectful of those living there, as well as any other traffic on the road! I would love to hear from anyone who has had a first-hand paranormal experience on any of these, or other roads.

FIESTA de SAN ISIDRO FROM SPAIN!



    San Isidro is the patron saint of the peasants and laborers and is also the patron saint of Madrid. Tradition has it that on May 15th the people of Madrid are to make a pilgrimage to San Isidro's meadow to celebrate his day and to drink the holy water of his fountain in his hermitage's patio. Madrid's biggest "fiesta" is celebrated yearly starting on the Friday before the 15th and running until the following Sunday, 9 days of Saintly jubilee throughout the Comunity of Madrid.







    You can visit the church of the same name on calle Toledo - built over the site where the miracle purportedly took place - about two blocks from the Plaza Mayor. The church holds a small museum with exhibits including the famous well along with a small collection of archaeological findings excavated in the region of Madrid.






    Like most in Spain, this Madrid festival has largely lost its religious character. Instead, the city government uses San Isidro as a platform to represent the best of Madrid culture, old and new, from bullfights to break dancing. You'll enjoy a full calendar of concerts, plays, parades, fairs and special art exhibits, most free of charge.
Gigants (people on stilts) with "cabezudos" (big, satirical papier mache heads) parade around the city center, usually on the first Saturday afternoon of San Isidro.






    Legend has it that San Isidro was a poor peasant farmer and he and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza, were very popular, due to their generosity and always donating food to the poor. So, although the tradition and background of San Isidro is religious and rather mellow, as per usual, it did not take much arm-twisting for the Spaniards to turn it into a veritable bash. Long live the fiestas of Spain!
    Weekend partying is centered day and night around the Plaza de las Vistillas, Plaza de San Andrés and Puente de Segovia in the Austrias neighborhood, near the Plaza Mayor. At night, bars set up shop on the street, or "chiringuitos." Good luck elbowing your way through the hordes to get a "mini," the Spanish term for a huge plastic cup of mojito, beer, cocktail or mixed drink






    Many revelers still dress up in the traditional garb of the period called "Chulapo or Chulapa" which is Madrid's national dress. "Chulapa/o" comes from the word "Chulo" which means "a bit full of oneself" or "very dapper" and since the Madrileños consider themselves the most audacious, the name stuck. They pride themselves on being true Madrileños and the men wear a checkered cap, waistcoat and handkerchief around their necks while the women's getup is composed of fancy lace ridden dresses complete with a headress and elegant wrap around shawl.







    Snack venders with "Barquilleros", "wafer barell organs", can be found everywhere selling their "Barquillos" or "angel?s bread", some dipped in chocolate and others just plain wafery! These snacks are traditional of festivals in Madrid but you can find them all year round as well. San Isidro is also the ultimate bullfighting festival. Scoring tickets to the hot "corridas" or bullfights can be next to impossible unless you have contact.







    San Isidro is without a doubt Madrid's most melodious fiesta. The main stage is always in the Plaza Mayor and during every day and night of the 9 day festival, one can enjoy various concerts and traditional dancing. Most opening acts kick off with a "Hevia", a rather popular bagpipe and wind instrument player from Asturias. The another even bigger venue in the Casa de Campo which features rock concerts.







    San Isidro has been an official festival in Madrid since 1947 and while technically the festivities run from May 8th to the 15th, like good Spaniards they stretch the fun and always start earlier and end later. The festival actually begins with the Mayor's speach on the Friday afternoon prior to the 15th and ends with the ever popular Cocido Madrileño or public Cookout.