Quantcast
DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 03/13/14

Thursday, March 13, 2014

10 STRANGE BRITISH TRADITIONS!

Britain has a long and varied past – it has been conquered repeatedly, it has conquered others, and it has colonized half the planet. Through its history, many strange traditions and festivals have arisen. This list looks at ten of the most unusual.



10. Gurning










   The Egremont Crab Fair – one of England’s weirder events – gets its name from crab apples rather than the marine variety. It started back in the 13th century when the Lord of the Manor gave away crab apples to the populace. In fact, to this day, the Parade of the Apple Cart, where apples are thrown into the crowds on the Main Street, is part of the fair. There are a host of other non-mechanized, traditional events – greasy pole climbing, a pipe smoking contests, a talent show, Cumberland wrestling, a hounds trail. But lets face it, the reason Egremont makes the news every year is the gurning competition. Home of the Gurning World Championships.
   Gurning, involves a rubber-faced skill that is totally bizarre and unique to this part of England. Contestants put their heads through horse collar or braffin while they create the ugliest, most grotesque faces they can manage. A certain amount of skill is involved but a lot of beer and a certain amount of toothlessness probably has an impact as well. Celebrities occasionally have a go and the national news usually features the winning gurners. If you are in Cumbria visiting the Lake District, nearby, in September, stop in at the Egremont Crab Fair. You won’t see anything like this anywhere else and you won’t soon forget it.



9. Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill












   The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester in the Cotswolds region of England It is traditionally by and for the people of Brockworth – the local village, but now people from all over the world take part. The event takes its name from the hill on which it occurs. The 2010 event has been cancelled due to safety concerns over the number of people visiting the event but it is hoped that it will be held on the late May Bank Holiday in 2011. Due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill there are usually a number of injuries, ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones and concussion. Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling has been summarized as “twenty young men chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital”.



8. Maypole Dancing












   Maypole dancing is a form of folk dance from western Europe, especially England, Sweden, Galicia, Portugal and Germany, with two distinctive traditions. In the most widespread, dancers perform circle dances around a tall pole which is decorated with garlands, painted stripes, flowers, flags and other emblems. In the second most common form, dancers dance in a circle each holding a colored ribbon attached to a much smaller pole; the ribbons are intertwined and plaited either on to the pole itself or into a web around the pole. The dancers may then retrace their steps exactly in order to unravel the ribbons.



7. Pearly King and Queen











   Pearly Kings and Queens, known as pearlies, are an organized charitable tradition of working class culture in London, England. The practice of wearing clothes decorated with pearl buttons originated in the 19th century. It is first associated with Henry Croft, an orphan street sweeper who collected money for charity. In 1911 an organized pearly society was formed in Finchley, north London.



6. Guy Fawkes Night











   Guy Fawkes Night (or “bonfire night”), held on 5 November in the United Kingdom and some parts of the Commonwealth, is a commemoration of the plot, during which an effigy of Fawkes is burned, often accompanied by a fireworks display. The word “guy”, meaning “man” or “person”, is derived from his name. Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, belonged to a group of Catholic Restorationists from England who planned the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Their aim was to displace Protestant rule by blowing up the Houses of Parliament while King James I and the entire Protestant, and even most of the Catholic, aristocracy and nobility were inside. The conspirators saw this as a necessary reaction to the systematic discrimination against English Catholics.
   The Gunpowder Plot was led by Robert Catesby, but Fawkes was put in charge of its execution. He was arrested a few hours before the planned explosion, during a search of the cellars underneath Parliament in the early hours of 5 November prompted by the receipt of an anonymous warning letter. Basically it’s a celebration of the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.





5. Ascot Ladies Day











   Ascot Racecourse is a famous English racecourse, located in the small town of Ascot, Berkshire, used for thoroughbred horse racing. It is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom, hosting 9 of the UK’s 32 annual Group 1 races, the same number as Newmarket. The course is closely associated with the British Royal Family, being approximately six miles from Windsor Castle, and owned by the Crown Estate. Ascot today stages twenty-five days of racing over the course of the year, comprising sixteen Flat meetings held in the months of May and October. The Royal Meeting, held in June, remains a major draw, the highlight being the Ascot Gold Cup. The most prestigious race is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes run over the course in July. What makes this so special is that every year the fashion, specifically the hats get bigger, bolder and damn right weirder as the photo illustrates.



4. Bog Snorkeling













   Yes indeed, you read correctly, bog snorkeling. If any of you ever doubted that us Brits are mad, this should make up your minds for you. Basically participants dive into a bog, wearing goggles, a pair of flippers and a snorkel, they then proceed to race each other along a 120ft trench filled with mud. Held every year the participants come from all over the world and raise lots of money for charity.



3. Straw Bear















   Straw Bear (Strawboer) Day is an old English tradition held on the 7th of January. It is known in a small area of Fenland on the borders of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, including Ramsey Mereside. This day is believed to be traditional start of agricultural year in England. A man or a boy wears a straw costume covering him from his head to toes. He goes from house to house where he dances. As prize for his dancing people give him money, food or beer.




2. Worm Charming













   Worm charming is a way to of attracting earthworms from the ground. Many do it to collect bait for fishing. But there are also those who do it as sort of sport. The village of Willaston, near Nantwich, Cheshire is the place where since 1980 the annual World Championships have been organized. The competition was actually initiated by local man Tom Shufflebotham who on the 5th of July, 1980 charmed 511 worms from the ground in only half an hour. The competition has 18 rules. Here are just few of them. Each competitor competes in the 3 x 3 meters area. Music of any kind can be used to charm worms out of the ground. No drugs can be used! Water is considered to be a drug (stimulant).




1. Morris Dancing











   A Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor

THE SPANISH SEMANA SANTA TRADITION!







    While Semana Santa is a national tradition throughout Spain, the "Andalucians" arguably "feel" the week more than other regions of Spain. Throughout 7 days, Andalucia is surrounded by a spiritual halo.Semana Santa is a tradition which is repeated year after year, a time when the devout and curious joint together to participated in the procession and converge on the streets and squares which take on the ambiance and mystique of an open air temple.









    The skill and expertise behind the parades rest with the religious fraternities and brotherhoods. They have the responsibility of maintaining the statues as well as coordinating the penitents and musicians. Sometimes up to two thousand members of a brotherhood take part, some carry candles, rods or banners depending on their level of seniority. The most senior is the president who carries a golden rod.









    The "costaleros" who carry the weight on the floats and their sculptured representations of the biblical scene are directed by the overseer or head of the group who ensures that the float is carried with maximum seriousness, grace and tradition. To be able to survive the long hours and distance carrying the heavy "thrones" the costaleros have a cushion, known as the costal, which prevents the direct contact of the wood rubbing against the skin. The thrones are followed by "nazarenos" dressed in tunics, hoods and masks and women dressed in traditional costume.








    The high point of the procession is when the float exits and enters the respective church. This is the moment when art and religion seem merged into one. A sculpture of images created by superb craftsmen. The best floats date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and can still be seen today.
    The entire scene is alive with color and sound, thanks to the polychromatic variety of tunics, hoods, ensigns and banners. Emotions are stirred by the slow rhythmic beating of the drums and processional marches, the swaying paces of the bearers and the poignant wailing of the "saeta" which is a sacred song similar to the flamenco and sung through the Holy Week processions.









    Even if you are not religious, it is difficult not to be moved, the atomsphere is so vital and poignant. For some it is a fun filled fiesta time, for others a week of ritual and reflection. Without a doubt, Holy Week in Andalucia is a tradition that is an integral part of the culture and appropriatly reflects the spirit of the people.
    Year after year, each and every village proudly enjoys the berauty and mystery of "Semana Santa", although there are variances and some towns for instance, will preserve certain traditions more than others. The villages and hamlets generally hold their parades on Thursdays and Fridays, while the large capital cities have week long celebrations and attract thousands of people from far and wide.
    Irrespective of size, each float represents the pride and enthusiasm of every Andaluz who will spend the entire night, from dusk until dawn, accompanying them in solemn reverence to his or her religion.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PANNA COTTA WITH DARK CHOCOLATE SAUCE!

   Served in stemmed glasses, these silky smooth Italian custards make an elegant ending to any meal.


White Chocolate Panna Cotta With Dark Chocolate Sauce
          

Ingredients

  • (1/4-oz.) envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk, divided
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  Dark Chocolate Sauce
  •  Garnishes: fresh mint sprigs, chocolate shavings

Preparation

  1. 1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl; stir until moistened. Let stand 5 minutes. (Mixture will be lumpy.)
  2. 2. Cook whipping cream, chocolate morsels, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until morsels are melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add gelatin mixture, stirring until mixture is dissolved. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups milk.
  3. 3. Pour mixture evenly into 4 to 6 stemmed glasses or 6 (8-oz.) ramekins. Cover and chill 24 hours. Serve with Dark Chocolate Sauce. Garnish, if desired.           

DIY COFFEE FILTER EASTER BASKETS!

 This diy comes from www.auntpeaches.com .  These would make a great decorative touch for your table with some really nice looking eggs that you've created for Easter.


Coffee Filter Easter Baskets in Bloom




Buck teeth: Check.

Cotton tail: Check.

Easter basket: Check.

The Easter bunny has come to town. Woot! Woot!

OK, can we just agree that Easter is the best holiday?

Second only to National Root Beer Float Day, perhaps.

And Lola’s birthday, of course.

And the day the dollar store restocks.

That is, indeed, a truly a extraordinary day.



The best part about Easter hoopla has got to be Easter baskets.

Chocolate. Chickens. Glittering Eggs. Toys. Socks.

Did your mother put socks in your Easter basket?

Mine sure did.

One time someone gave me a basket with teal blue press-on fingernails.

Obviously, it was awesome.

Another time I gave someone an Easter basket with a bottle of Jack Daniels dressed as a bunny.

Get it? It was a Jack Rabbit. Haha.

OK, OK, OK, it seemed funnier when I was 23. I guess everything seems funny when you’re 23. Then again, hard liquor dressed as a small furry animal is always going to be pretty friggin nifty.




Must give credit where credit is due, I got the idea for these baskets from these other baskets at World Market. Their baskets look sort of like large felt daisies. Very cute. Decided that instant I was going to make something similar, but, as much as I like them, something about felt feels very wintery to me, so I used coffee filters instead. Guess I use coffee filters for everything. Someone less lazy than me should try making these from fabric or junk mail or something. Post it and let me know how it works out.




Materials
  • 12 yellow coffee filters*
  • 3 green coffee filters
  • 1 disposable bowl. Paper cups and tupperware containers work great too.
  • 10" plastic coated electronic chord (mine came from my old telephone....I'll bet you have something laying around the house that will get the job done!
  • Hot glue**
* You can dye coffee filters many ways. If you can dye eggs, you can dye coffee filters the same way. You can also just dunk them in a bowl that is 1 part acrylic paint to 9 parts water. Or use markers. Decide fir yourself. Quantity will vary, depending on the size of the base container.

**You can swap hot glue for white glue and use clothespins to clamp in place as it dries, but hot glue is easier. I'll do a kid-friendly version of this without hot glue on Wednesday. Stay tuned.







Use two coffee filters to cover the edges of the bowl, then fold and snip jagged edges along the rim of any remaining filters, similar to cutting snowflakes. I like to cute 3-5 filters at a time.






Separate filters and pinch them them individually, forming loose fan shapes. Use hot glue to adhere to the inner rim of the bowl.





After completing the inner rim of the bowl, flip your bowl and repeat along the outer rim. Tip: avoid crushing the petals by flipping the bowl onto a large soup can
Use one of the green coffee filters to cover the bottom of the bowl, forming the base of the flower. Cut the remaining green filters into 1" strips and adhere to the telephone chord. Tuck in some leaves or just for fun.







Place one large yellow filter in the bottom and fill it with candy. Ta Da! You are ready to go!






You could also add a little accent flower if you like. Makes it seem slightly less Easter-ish. Like something you could keep out on your cadenza all year round to gather mail. Man, penny saver coupons never looked so good!







Or be traditional and fill it with eggs. Not as snazzy as chocolate and Jack Daniels but I give you props for being all traditional and stuff.






Come back on Wednesday and I'll show you an easy, kid-friendly way to make a little tiny Easter basket like this purple one here. It's so cute, you'll want to eat your hand