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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 01/27/13

Sunday, January 27, 2013

WHITTLESEA STAW BEAR FESTIVAL FROM GREAT BRITAIN!!!







Origins of the Straw Bear

    In Whittlesea, from when no one quite knows, it was the custom on the Tuesday following Plough Monday (the 1st Monday after Twelfth Night) to dress one of the confraternity of the plough in straw and call him a "Straw Bear". A newspaper of 1882 reports that ..."he was then taken around the town to entertain by his frantic and clumsy gestures, the good folk who had on the previous day subscribed to the rustics, a spread of beer, tobacco and beef".
    The bear was described as having great lengths of tightly twisted straw bands prepared and wound up the arms, legs and body of the man or boy who was unfortunate enough to have been chosen. Two sticks fastened to his shoulders met a point over his head and the straw wound around upon them to form a cone above the "Bear's" head. The face was quite covered and he could hardly see. A tail was provided and a strong chain fastened around the armpits. He was made to dance in front of houses and gifts of money or beer and food for later consumption was expected. It seems that he was considered important, as straw was carefully selected each year, from the best available, the harvesters saying, "That'll do for the Bear".
    The tradition fell into decline at the end of the 19th century, the last sighting being in 1909 as it appears that an over zealous police inspector had forbidden "Straw Bears" as a form of cadging.



Straw bear 1906

Reviving the Tradition

    The custom was revived in 1980 by the Whittlesea Society, and for the first time in seventy years a "Straw Bear" was seen on the streets accompanied by his attendant keeper, musicians and dancers, about 30 in all. Various public houses were visited around the town as convenient places for the "Bear" and dancers to perform in front of an audience...with much needed rest, drink and food as available.







    The Bear is constructed in a more practical way now, the straw being fixed to a suitable piece or clothing or suit, the head is supported on a metal frame on the shoulders. This allows the costume to be removable, which is essential, as the length of the parade route and the time taken, necessitates 2 people "driving the bear". The person wearing the costume is adding approximately 70 pound to his own weight.



Another picture of the early years



    The parade now contains over 250 dancers, musicians and performers from various part of the British Isles performing traditions "Molly", "Morris", "Clog" and "Sword" (traditional English folk songs), songs and dances. There is also American style "Appalachian" or a type of square dancing, street performances and Mummers plays. A decorated plough pulled by a local Morris side is now an established part of the parade.




    Recently the Straw Bear has made friend with a German Straw Bear from Walldurn, near Frankfurt, Germany, a town that celebrates its own Straw Bear Festival on the Monday before Shrove Tuesday the day before Lent, which is on a Wednesday.
Although the festivities begin earlier in the week, Saturday is the only day on which the "Bear" makes an appearance before the "Bear Burning" on Sunday. This leads the way open for a new bear to be created from the next seasons harvest.
  This years  festival will be held between the 11th-13th of January.

TOP 10 COOLEST SANTAS!


   The visage of the Jolly Red-Suited man has been around for a long time, and many, many different versions for almost as long. Few icons have represented the Holiday of Christmas quite like the happy-go-lucky Santa Claus (aside, of course, from Jesus, himself) and few have had the impact that the droll elf has had. Over the years, many films and TV specials have been made featuring St. Nick, each portrayed in its own different way. Here are ten of the finest examples of how cool Santa can be.


10. Bill Goldberg (Santa’s Slay)

Bill+Goldberg


   Bill Goldberg plays the devil’s son, who lost a wager with a angel and was forced to spend 1000 years playing Santa. Now the wager of that time has run out, and Mr. Santa isn’t so joyful anymore. He makes up for lost time and starts to kill people. And really, how incredibly cool does WWE Wrestler Goldberg look as the holiday elf? BAD ASS.


9. Paul Giamatti (Fred Claus)

Paul+Giamatti


   As Nick Claus, later on the eponymous Santa, Paul Giamatti really embodies, and quite perfectly looks like, the jolly old fat man. Sure, it’s all suit and make-up, but in the facial expressions and mannerisms lie the real persona. Though I still see him as a masturbating wino in Sideways, Giamatti really pulls it off.


8. Richard Attenborough (Miracle on 34th Street)


Richard+Attenborough



   Six-year-old Susan has doubts about childhood’s most enduring miracle – Santa Claus. Her mother told her the “secret” about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn’t expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department store Santa (who is convinced he’s the real thing) Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in. Sure, it’s a remake, and for the most part those really suck, but just look at the guy! Now THAT is a Santa!


7. Tim Allen (The Santa Claus)


Tim+Allen



   Scott Calvin (Allen) reads The Night Before Christmas…then receives an unexpected visitor on his roof. When he’s startled by Scott’s calling out and falls, the Santa impersonator disappears, leaving only an 8-reindeer sleigh and a suit with instructions to put it on if it’s owner is involved in an accident. Scott does, and is transported around the town dropping gifts through chimneys, until he’s taken to the North Pole and informed by a group who claim they’re elves that he is now Santa. For actually being a relatively thin fellow, Allen looks surprisingly convincing as Father Christmas.


6. Jack Black (Saturday Night Live)


Jack+Black



   In a hilarious Debbie Downer sketch, Rachel Dratch, in her most sob-storied, rotten-lived best, portrays Downer on Christmas morning. Jack Black as Santa (wonderfully done, by the way) attempts to get past Debbie’s neuroses by asking repeatedly what she really wants for Christmas, only to be blocked at every corner by her constant hypochondriacal issues.


5. Ed Asner (Elf)


Ed+Asner



    Although, Will Farrell steals the movie as Buddy, the elf, Ed Asner does a fine job as the portly man in red. He arrives only at the end, in a ruined sleigh, to explain to Buddy that the Christmas spirit is going to need to be refurbished in the city in order for him to fly again. He looks really cool as Santa, too, especially considering he’s kind of a grumpy ass.


4. Santa (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer)


Rudolph&Santa.Gif



   At first, Santa is a skinny jerk who croons madly about being the King of Jingle-Ling to Rudolph’s family, just moments after telling Donder that his son is a shiny-nosed freak. He let’s the father deer know, in no uncertain terms, that he is a failure of a father for producing such an abomination of an offspring. Well, as it goes, old Saint Nick eats his shitty words as he requires Rudolph’s assistance to guide his fogged-in sleigh. Take that, fatty!


3. The Grinch (How The Grinch Stole Christmas)


Grinch Santa



   When the Grinch, annual loather of the poor little Whos down in Who-ville, decides to finally take matters into his own hands by raping the town of its Christmas celebration, he chooses to do so dressed as ‘Santy Claus’. By slicing up a curtain and attaching some white fluff, the Grinch looks really nothing like Santa to the human eye, but to Cindy Lou Who, he apparently does. Nice suit though.


2. Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)


Billy+Bob



   As the most obnoxious of all Mall Santas, Billy Bob, with his lanky and bony build, really looks nothing like the Jolly Fat Man. He’s drunk, rude, mouthy and a thief, but he is as cool as it comes when it comes to what matters: women and good old-fashioned Holiday Cheer.


1. Santa (Coca Cola)


Coke+Santa



   This is it: the one and only. The popularity of the Santa Claus as we know him comes from an ad campaign from the Coca Cola Corporation in which the well established Victorian English image of Father Christmas was spread worldwide.


STARWARS MADE ENTIRELY OUT OF SCARECROWS AND STRAW FOR HALLOWEEN!!


   Behold, Star Wars made entirely out of scarecrows. This glorious Halloween lawn paid special attention to each straw-stuffed detail. Check out the Emperor's lightning hands, Han's belt, the glowing lightsabers, and the Death Star. Truly this is the best Halloween lawn on the planet.
   These photos were taken by Jesusshuttlesworth34 — we salute you straw rebels, droids and Jedis! Also, there's no word on the internet as to where this glorious lawn is located. If anyone knows where this masterpiece lives, please let us know!



















HEAVEN AND HELL CAKE, SO SINFULLY DELICIOUS!

      This recipe was found at www.saveur.com .  There's always some great cooking and baking going at this place.






Heaven and Hell Cake

   Dallas chef Stephan Pyles's rich, multilayered dessert of angel food and devil's food cake, peanut butter mousse, and milk chocolate ganache should be frozen before icing is added and refrigerated before it's sliced.


Heaven and Hell Cake





FOR THE GANACHE:
2 lbs. milk chocolate, such as Valrhona, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

FOR THE ANGEL FOOD CAKE:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

FOR THE DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE:
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; pour cream over the chocolate and let sit to melt for 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and cream. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for 4 hours.
2. Make the angel food cake: Heat oven to 325°. Line bottom of a 10" round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and flour; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a handheld mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium, sprinkle in sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the confectioners' sugar–flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool.
3. Make the devil's food cake: Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 10" round cake pan with shortening and dust with flour to coat; shake out excess flour and set pan aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set flour mixture aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth; set coffee mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the bowl in 3 stages, beating to combine after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 30–35 minutes; transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
4. Make the peanut butter mousse: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and confectioners' sugar with a handheld mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Put cream into a large bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture; set mousse aside in the refrigerator.
5. Assemble the cake: Using a serrated-blade knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place 1 layer of the devil's food cake on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse over the top with a butter knife. Top mousse with a layer of the angel food cake and spread with half of the remaining mousse. Repeat with the remaining devil's food cake, mousse, and angel food cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours. Stir ganache until smooth and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a butter knife. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before slicing.
SERVES 10 – 12