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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 07/07/14

Monday, July 7, 2014

OMMEGANG FROM BRUSSELS, BELGIUM!!




   On the first Thursday of July and the previous Tuesday every summer, the Ommegang lights up the magnificent of Brussels.

History


   The secular setting stages the glorious and majestic procession in Brussels of Emperor Charles V Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. Accompanied by his son Philip, Crown Prince of Spain and Duke of Brabant, and his sisters Eleanor, Queen of France and Mary of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Regent of the Netherlands. This majestic pageant strides along the proud façades that once housed the guilds and the elegant architecture of the Town Hall, one of the handsomest gothic monuments in Belgium.




   Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. The host is the mayor of city of Brussels. All the town's nobles, rich tradesmen and curious townsfolk were graciously invited to the centuries-old Grand Place.
   The pageant winds its way on foot and on horse, flying banners and pennants, in a colourful but solemn token to the opulence of the Renaissance city on display for all to see.
   This was in 1549. And not hing has changed since then, except that today the Ommegang is a theatrical representation of this historical event.



Charles V


Charles V

   Charles V was the son of Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria (son of Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy) and Joan the Mad (daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile).
   Charles' father died when he was just six, leaving him his Burgundy estate, Flanders, Artois and Franche-Comté. The Flemish then called on his paternal grandfather, Maximilian of Austria as regent. In 1516, when his other grandfather, Ferdinand of Aragon, died he became Charles I of Spain with its enormous empire: Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples... and the American colonies.







   At the death of Maximilian in 1519, the throne of the Empire fell vacant. Elections were organised, and Charles was elected in preference to Francis I, thanks to the financial assistance of the banker Fugger.

He had become Charles V...


The start of a difficult reign(1519-1521)

   His first problem was to gain recognition of his authority in Spain.
In Aragon, the people wanted to maintain their special rights in those provinces; the Castilians recognised his mother, Joan the Mad, as their legitimate sovereign, and generally speaking, the Spanish feared that as emperor, Charles would be overly preoccupied with central Europe.
   So when he left to visit Germany in 1520, revolt broke out in Toledo. It was repressed, but Charles' power continued to be challenged until he returned in 1522.





The struggle with France and the sixth Italian war(1521-1526)

   Conflict with France began in 1521. The French invaded Navarre, but were unsuccessful in the Netherlands. As the war dragged on, a congress was held in Calais, an English possession.
   The mediation of King Henry VIII of England was a failure--on the contrary, the English King concluded an alliance with the Emperor--France was attacked from both Picardy and Spain. In the meantime, the war around Milan continued. By means of a pact with Leo X in 1520, the imperial forces recovered Milan (1521). Parma and Piacenza were returned to the Church. The rout of the French continued after they lost the battle of Bicocca and after the Pope died in 1522
   The following year, Charles V decided to invade France. An imperial army commanded by a French traitor, the High Constable Charles de Bourbon, attempted a sally in Provence but it was stopped. In the north, the English were humiliated, in Burgundy the Germans were pushed back and in Guyenne, the Spanish were stopped. Francis I took these victories to heart and marched on Milan. But the campaign was disastrous--it ended in Pavia where the king was captured (1525).
   He was transferred to Spain, where he was humiliated and cruelly treated by Charles V. Francis I threatened to abdicate, which would have foiled Charles' victory. In the end, the French king was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid in exchange for his freedom (January 1528), but it was never applied.






Charles V's allies change sides--the seventh Italian war(1526-1529)
   The all-powerful Charles V had his allies worried. Henry VIII made overtures to Francis I and Pope Clement VII took the head of a league of Italian states. The league was defeated, and Charles de Bourbon, who had his troops to pay, sacked Rome (1527). The Pope was imprisoned in the name of the emperor, causing indignation in all Europe.
   As the war drew on and on, it became expensive. Francis I and Charles V signed the peace of Cambrai (August 1529) by which the emperor definitively renounced his claim to Burgundy. He visited Italy the following year, re-establishing the Medicis in Florence and was crowned the King of Lombardy and Emperor of the Romans by the Pope.







The crusade against the Turks

   Francis I had signed a Capitulation with the Turks, and Venice preferred to negotiate its own interests peacefully. Charles V was thus on his own in opposing the Ottomans. He had to watch the Hungarian border and the Mediterranean. In the east, the Turks took Belgrade in 1521, followed by Rhodes. They were not stopped until Vienna in 1529.
   The Turks were also making headway in the western Mediterranean with the help of their corsairs (including Barberossa and Dragut). They notably took Tunis in 1534 (recaptured by Doria the following year), Algiers (1541), Tripoli (1551), Penon (1564) and Bougie (1555). Indian gold: In 1503, the Casa de Contratacion centralised the American possessions.







   But their riches did not begin to flow before the discovery of the precious metals in upper Peru in 1545. But as no campaign can triumph without money, Charles V would certainly have been more successful had this discovery been made a few years earlier. By 1545, the Turks had been successful in the Mediterranean and France had not give up an inch of territory.

The end of the reign: the decline of the Hapsburg
   In addition, the money came through Spain, but did not stay there. It created opportunities for other powers, hastening the decline of the Habsburg reign. Charles V had to deal with the Protestants throughout his reign. In 1538, he signed a truce with the Smalkalde league supported by Francis I. In 1547, he overcame the Lutheran princes at the battle of Mühlberg and required their return to the Catholic church in a regulation called the Augsburg Interim.







   But the Protestants claimed allegiance with the new King of France, Henry II. Charles V was nearly taken prisoner at Innsbruck and faced with that show of force, he negotiated the Passau Treaty authorising the exercise of the Protestant religion.
   But the trouble continued until the death of the main cause, Maurice Elector of Saxony, and in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was signed, recognising the Protestant faith throughout the empire according to the principal of "cujus regio, ejus religio". Weakened and disappointed, Charles withdraw to the Netherlands and cut them off from the Empire.



Phillip of Spain



Phillip of Spain

   Son of the Emperor Charles the Fifth and the Empress Isabella of Portugal.
   All these festivals of 1549 were organised in his honour.
   They aim to make him recognised by the population of the Netherlands as the successor of Charles the Fifth. The prince is the widow of Marie of Portugal. He will mary later on Mary I of England, Queen regnant of England and Ireland, Elisabeth of Valois, Pincess of France and his niece, Marie-Anne de Habsbourg of Austria.
  The disorders of the Netherlands will show that Philip of Spain had not understood the sensivity of these countries, on the contrary to his father, who was their natural Prince
The methodes employed by the Spanish Crown wil cause the separation of the Seventeen Provinces, with,on one hand, the North,The United Provinces, which will take William de Nassau as their leader, and they will follow protestantism. One the other hand , The South, The Meridional Provinces, which will remain attached to the Habsbourg of Spain and later of Austria untill the French Revolution.. They will preserve catholicism.



Mary of Austria

Mary of Austria

   Regent of the Netherlands for a period of 25 years.
   The fourth daughter of Philip the Handsome and Joan of Castile, Mary was born in Brussels at the Coudenberg Palace, on September 15, 1505. Despite an unhappy childhood and adolescence, she was famed for her abundant energy, which stood her in good stead when she later became regent of the Netherlands. Losing her father at the age of one, she was taken in by her paternal Aunt Margaret, the Governor of the Netherlands, as her mother, Joan of Castile, had been incarcerated as a result of her insanity.






   At seven years of age she became engaged to the heir to the Kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia. They were wed in 1522. Four years later, the young monarch was killed in a battle against the Turks. The young widow was inconsolable and decided never to marry again, but to remain in Hungary as regent until her brother, Ferdinand, became King of Hungary and Bohemia. He converted the hereditary crowns into hereditary possessions of the house of Habsburg, and so they remained until 1913.
   In 1528, the Queen returned to Mechelen. Two years later, Margaret of Austria suddenly died, thus leaving the post of Governor of the Netherlands vacant. Charles V immediately thought of his sister Mary, who hesitated before accepting the position, for fear of "putting a cord around her neck", at least for a temporary period. The temporary period was to last for 25 years.







   As Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of Austria enjoyed some degree of independence during time she governed, unlike Mary of Hungary, who turned out to be an obedient regent. She ruled in a zealous and conscientious manner, always ready to agree with her brother. She surprised everyone by displaying sophisticated financial skills and becoming adept at developing military strategies.

The Lady On Sablon's Church

   Erected in 1304 by the crossbow guild in a marshy plain, this chapel was rebuilt at the beginning of the XVth century, as the devotion of Brussel's population for the Virgin's statue kept growing. This statue was brought from Antwerp by Beatrice Soetkens during a night in 1348.






   This tertiary ogival building, that lasted more than one century, had an unusual chancel: without columns and ambulatory. This absence of side parts in front of the eleven lanceolated windows (14 m high) gives it an outstanding slenderness.
The restoration began in 1864 with the chancel, and in 1878 the sides of the nave were cleared from parasitic houses. The restoration was led by the architect Schoy, followed by J. and M. Van Ysendyck. In the right transept, under a superb rose-window, a carving of the XVIIth century represents the boat carrying the miraculous statue.

Ommegang

   The expression "Ommegang" meaning "procession" is derived from the old Flemish words "omme" (around) and "gang" (walk).
   Several Belgian cities had an Ommegang particularly in Flanders. They were always characterised by fervent religious faith, and also included a large, opulent secular participation of the guilds, crafts, and chambers of rhetoric.







   With the name of Beatrice Soetkens and the construction of the church Our Lady of Sablon It all began in 1348, under the reign of Duke John III of Brabant.
   At that time, Brussels was beginning to flourish and was learning how to become a major city. The population of some forty thousand inhabitants was comparable to that of London. The city was surrounded by massive walls four kilometres long, topped with a parapet and boasting fifty towers. Brussels opened seven doors to the world through which goods poured to its markets from the surrounding Brabant countryside and foreign lands. Barges, too, slowly inched their way along the Senne to the heart of the city laden with important loads from other towns.
   The cloth industry had made Brussels rich and tradesmen consorted with the best of society under the supervision of the Amman, an officer of the Duke of Brabant. He owed his authority and competence to the fact that he presided the City Council, saw to the execution of orders and commanded the sergeants at arms.






   But back to our famous Beatrice Soetkens. As tradition would have it, she, the wife of a poor workman in the cloth industry, heard voices one day. She learned that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, wanted to reward the town of Brussels, and particularly the Crossbow-men's guild for having built a chapel in her honour on the hill at the Sablon. Beatrice was given the mission to go to Antwerp and bring back the miraculous statue of the Virgin venerated there as Our Lady of the Branch (O.L.V. op 't Stokske).
   These voices totally upset Beatrice--she could do nothing but obey. She hurriedly rowed to Antwerp with her husband, and ran to the cathedral to get the statue. The Sacristan tried to stop her, but how could he resist divine will?

He was petrified on the spot, voiceless and motionless!
   Beatrice returned to the boat in her haste to get back to Brussels. But her husband quickly tired of rowing against the current and the wind. Fortunately the Lord was watching--the boat floated upstream to Brussels on its own volition and landed on the spot where the crossbow-men of the guild were practising.
   Intrigued by the arrival of this tiny craft glowing with an unearthly light and piping sweet music, they questioned Beatrice who recounted the cause and circumstances of her expedition to Antwerp.
   The event was deemed a miracle. Even the townsfolk of Antwerp who stormed to Brussels, agreed that it was extraordinary. They consented to leave the statue at the Sablon to be venerated there in the chapel. In addition, a solemn promise was made to erect a church worthy of the event and to organise an annual procession to carry the Virgin around the church under the protection of the Great Crossbow-men's guild.







So the Ommegang was born!

   The origin of this famous procession was indeed the expression of religious fervour supported by a military authority. Gradually the Ommegang became a great town event. Civil authorities, the crafts, chambers of rhetoric and the guilds took their place in front of the clergy.
   It became the magnificent pageant celebrated through the centuries to modern times. Like every year, the " Ommegang Oppidi Bruxellensis" Royal Society continues in the tradition of these centuries-old pageants with historical reference, in the incomparable setting of the Grand-Place of Brussels.

CHRISTMAS IN JULY!!






Christmas in July is an event which is unofficially celebrated as a holiday by people. It is especially popular       among the young people. A Christmas in July dinner usually includes Christmas Decorations Christmas Candles, colorful streamers, bonbons, Christmas hats and whistles.
During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, the weather becomes increasingly warm and many people crave for the atmosphere of cooler temperatures, gift giving, and holiday spirit. To satisfy this craving, some people throw parties during the month of July that mimic the holiday of Christmas.

History of Christmas In July








   It's hot, you're sweaty and longing for some relief from the heat. Aren't you? And while thinking about winter, you're probably also dreaming of all those snowy nights of Christmas celebrations? Well well, you can't actually change the season now, but the closest you can get to doing so is reduce the time left for Christmas and celebrate it now, in July. That's what many are doing year after year. An unofficial holiday, Christmas in July imitates the festivities of the actual Christmas and signifies our yearning for the coolness of winter amid the scorching summer months. Do you have any idea when Christmas in July celebrations started popping up? No?

 





   Come July, and there is an air of festivity all over. Everywhere we find people making a mad rush to nearby stores, shops and malls to buy gift items, apparels and all other articles traditionally linked to festal occasions. Those out of the loop may wonder at the reason for this sudden shopping though such people are a rarity. It is hard to come by anyone who has not heard about or celebrated the much talked about occasion - "Christmas In July".



Even Santa needs a little amusement with his buds

But how did this festival originate?

The precise beginnings of the Christmas in July tradition is not very clear, although it is commonly believed that it actually started in Europe, as a way to celebrate Christmas in summer. During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, the weather becomes increasingly warm and many people crave the coolness of winter. Amid the scorching summer months, people miss the gift giving, and holiday spirit of the Christmastime. Though it is not known when it started exactly, it is probably from the 80s that the festival began to be celebrated. The earliest Christmas celebrations in July saw people throwing parties that imitate the actual Christmas festivities in December. The celebrations also included other Christmas traditions like Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods, and gifts. It was held that celebrating in the warm season would ensure a strong, happy winter Christmas season.








   This untimely Christmas festival is also often ascribed to a group of Irish tourists who went for a vacation in Sydney's Blue Mountains in the summer months of July in 1980. Away from the summer temperatures in their country, they were overjoyed at the sight of snow there. It is believed that they convinced the proprietor of a local hotel in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales to hold a party called "Yulefest". The idea was an instant hit and caught on the imagination of everyone present there. The proprietor saw a golden opportunity in this and henceforth held a Christmas Party each year in July.




Keeping it real with some of his "little" peeps



   The local businessmen too jumped in to cash in on this unique festival and it continues to this day. Today, the tradition is so well entrenched in Australia that most restaurants, clubs and dining halls, have an official advertised annual catered menu for Christmas in July, and are often booked in advance. Most hotels, restaurants, bars, apparel stores, gift shops offer special discounts for the occasion. During this time, you can find the local gift shops brimming with figurines of Santa and Snowmen. Resorts have special events connected with their Christmas in July celebrations. The whole occasion has come to be utilized as amarketing gimmick as much elsewhere in Australia as in its snowfields where the month of July coincides with the high season in the Australian skiing resorts.







   But the market opportunity is, undoubtedly, the most plausible reason behind "Christmas in July" celebrations. it is commonly said that the occasion was dreamed up by retail merchants in the western countries who wanted to benefit from a holiday in July, which is otherwise a dull season for business and has few marketing opportunities. That makes a lot of sense, specially when we see how so many “holidays” are emerging these days ranging from Boss’ Day to Grandparent’s Day. Many people embrace these special days as they emerge which surely spells a fortune for retail merchants as well as greeting card companies.






   These days, Christmas in July seems to be mainly a time for retail sales. In the United States, like all other festivals, this event too has become highly commercialized. is more often used as a marketing tool than as an actual holiday celebrated by ordinary people. But these days, many American families have started celebrating Christmas in July. An unofficial holiday, the event is especially popular among the young people. Restaurants offer special discounts on this time. Many nightclubs host on this time Christmas parties open to the public. Drinks are guzzled and food items eaten up like crazy. Television stations show the recent blockbuster flicks on this occasion or re-run Christmas specials, and many stores throw special "Christmas in July" sales. Many however, choose to spend the time all by themselves or with their families.




Santa and his "Old Lady", on Holiday



   Some families love the concept of Christmas in July, especially if their family members are scattered across the states, because it is easier for them to have a get-together in July, which is a summer month and when the weather is favourable for a vacation, rather than in the freezing winter months when long distance journeys are really hard.
   And then there are others who does not celebrate during this time. They are reluctant to acknowledge the event in July are opposed to having such an occasion. They argue that this untimely celebration of Christmas makes a mockery of the actual festival that is held on December 25th and commemorates Lord Jesus Christ's birth.
   However, the precise date of Christ’s birth is subject to a lot of date. No one really knows when the messiah was really born. Hence, celebrating Christmas in July shouldn’t be a huge issue so long as the holiday doesn’t lose its meaning.
   Despite it's rampant commercialization, Christmas in July remains primarily an occasion to remember the nothern hemisphere's snow blanketed Christmas nights. It is a fun way to satisfy the craving for cooler weather and holiday cheer that many people experience during the hottest month of the year.

 





   Christmas in July is an event which is unofficially celebrated as a holiday by people. It is especially popular among the young people. The event is greatly exploited as a marketing opportunity in the middle of the year to uplift the slack in the market situation. It is celebrated sometime during the month of July. There are many people who does not celebrate during this time and are reluctant to acknowledge the event in July. Even among those who mark this time, it is far less important than The Christmas in December. A Christmas in July dinner usually includes Christmas Decorations Christmas candles, colorful streamers, bonbons, Christmas hats and whistles.
   During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, the weather becomes increasingly warm and many people crave for the atmosphere of cooler temperatures, gift giving, and holiday spirit. To satisfy this craving, some people throw parties during the month of July that mimic the holiday of Christmas.


Watch out for Seagulls!




Celebration of Christmas in July (the whole month)...

   Did you know that most people have a love hate relationship with Christmas?   Read on to know more... They love giving presents but hate the crowds; Love the true meaning but hate the commercialism that seems to engulf it; Love the music, but hate having six weeks of it. They love the food but hate the weight gain.  Is it not funny that, despite all of that, we still hope Christmas comes more than once a year?! And the best part is we have a way to do exactly that - Celebrate it in July and leave the rest behind.. Its not about asking you to give up the late December festivities but adding an extra zing to your holidays and celebrations in the Summer heat. So soak up the sun and celebrate Christmas in July. Surprise your friends, family or mates you really care for with a one night of bonus Christmas celebration in the middle of Summer. Drag out the artificial tree while your love is away for the day or weekend and decorate it. Go to a nursery and find a small potted evergreen to light up, if you get a real one. Bake a couple of your favorite holiday goodies. Put a few presents under the tree. Turn the air conditioner on high and light a crackling fire in the fireplace while listening to your favorite Christmas tunes. And Folks! Its Christmas in July. Ho! Ho! Ho!




Singing a little "Take Me Out To The Ballgame".



   Often nightclubs host parties open to the public. Although its sometimes attributed to an Irish group who enjoyed the winter snow in Sydney's Blue Mountains and decided to party, the precise beginnings of the Christmas in July tradition is not totally clear as it is taken as a simple idea that has been enjoyed by many who remember the northern hemisphere's snow blanketed Christmas nights and wants to just have a jolly good time associated with gift-giving and loads of holiday cheer. Features of Christmas in July include: Santa Claus, ice cream and other cold foods, and gifts.