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Showing posts from January, 2011

LOHRI BONFIRE FESTIVAL FROM PUNJAB, INDIA!!!

For the people of Punjab, the festival of Lohri holds a great significance, as it marks the harvesting season and the end of the winter season.  The main event is the making of a huge bonfire which is symbolic of the homage to the Sun God for bringing in warmth.  Celebrated on January 13th every year.  Lohri festivities are associated with the harvesting of the Rabi crops.  There is a special significance attached to the celebration of Lohri as this day the sun enters the rashi (zodiac) of Makara (Capricorn), this is considered auspicious as it signifies a fresh start.    Lohri has special significance for the agriculturists because, it marks the beginning of a new financial year, on this day they settle the division of the products of the land between themselves and the tillers.  Lohri assumes greater significance, if there has been a happy evet in the family, such as the birth of a child or a marriage in the past year.  The family then plays host to relatives and friends and "…

FESTIVAL AU DESERT IN TIMBUKTU!!!

The Touaregs, nomads from the south of the Sahara, have a long standing tradition of coming toether for annual meeting called Takoubelt in the Kidal region or Temakannit in the Timbuktu region.  These meetings allowed them to reconnect with each other (after the nomadic season), have fun, resolve conflicts between individuals or groups and to exchange ideas about the challenges that they were facing at the moment.  These encounters are what "Le Festival au Desert" is built upon.  "Le Festival au Desert", in its present form was born in January 2001, at the dawn of the third millennium, following a meeting between Touaregs from Mail and European musicians.






   The organization of the Festival, wit its focus on combining modernity and tradition, is driven by a strong desire to open its doors to the outside world, while still preserving the cultures and traditions of the desert; for some,  this signifies being listened to and then recognized, for others it is a way…

THE KAAPSE KLOPSE (MINSTREL) FESTIVAL FROM CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA!!!

The Kaapse Klopse is a minstrel festival that takes place annually on January 2nd, in Cape Town, South Africa.  Up to 13,000 minstrels, many in blackface, take to the streets garbed in bright colors, either carrying colorful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments.  The minstrels are grouped in klopse ("clubs" in Cape Dutch, but more accurately translated as troupes in English).  Participants are typically from Afrikaans-speaking working class "colored" families who have preserved the custom since the mid 19th century. 
   Although it is called the Coon Carnival by Capetonians, local authorities have renamed the festival the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival as foreign tourist find the term "coon" derogatory.






History

   One story goes that the carnival was inspired by a group of African-American minstrels who docked in Cape Town in the late 1800's and entertained the sailors with their spontaneous musical performances.  The popular song Hier ko…

BURN'S NIGHT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM!!!







   Burns Night is annually, celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25th.  It commemorates the life of the bard (poet) Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759.  The day also celebrates Burns' contribution to Scottish culture.  Burns' best known work is "Auld Lang Syne".









What People Do?

   Many people and organizations hold a Burns' supper on or around Burns' Night.  These may be informal, only for men, only for women, or for both genders.  Formal events include toasts and readings of pieces written by Robert Burns.  Ceremonies during a Burns' Night supper vary according to the group organizing the event and the location.






    The evening centers on the entrance of the haggis (a type of sausage made from a sheep's stomach) on a large platter to the sound of a piper playing bagpipes.  When the haggis is on the table, the host reads the "Address to Haggis".  This is an ode that Robert Burns wrote to the Scottish dish.  At the…

INTERNATIONAL CIRCUS FESTIVAL OF MONTE-CARLO!!

The Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo (International Circus Festival de Monte-Carlo) was created in 1974 by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to promote circus arts....for which he had a lifelong passion.  The first festival was held from December 26th to the 30th, 1974 under the big top of the French circus Bouglione, installed on what was then the Esplande de Fontvielle.  In the forward he wrote for the program, Prince Rainiers said, "This International Circus Festival was created thinking of the circus community, of this family of underestimated people, so that you, attentive spectators of their efforts and of their work, could know them better, and celebrate them better".  It was the first true circus festival ever presented in the Western world.






   During the Festival, a selection of some of the best circus acts in the business are presented twice to a paying audience and a Jury of circus professionals, journalists, and specialists...presided until 2005 by the …

TOUGH GUY COMPETITION FROM STAFFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND!! THE MOST ENDURING 1 DAY RACE IN THE WORLD!!!

Tough Guy claims to be the world's most demanding 1 day survival contest.
   First stages in 1986, the Tough Guy Challenge is held on a 600 acre farm in Perton, Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton, England, and is organized by Billy Wilson.  It has been widely described as "the toughest race in the world", with up to 1/3rd of the starters of the racing failing to finish in a typical year.
   After the 24 stages of this winter event, Wilson still claimed nobody had ever finished all the course according to his extremely demanding rules.  The race, and its summer equivalent, has suffered 2 deaths during its history.
   Taking place at the end of January, often in freezing winter conditions, the Tough Guy race is staged over a course of between 7 and 8 miles.  It consists of  a cross country run followed by an assault course.  The organizers claim that running the course involves risking barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophob…

WHITTLESEA STAW BEAR FESTIVAL!!!

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 fro…

BATTLE OF THE ORANGES FESTIVAL AND CARNIVAL FROM IVREA, ITALY!!

The Battle of the Oranges is a carnival and festival in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea, which includes a tradition of throwing of oranges between organized groups. It is the largest food fight in Italy.

History of the Festival

   The festival's origins are somewhat unclear.  A popular account has it that it commemorates the city's defiance against the city's tyrant, who is either a member of the Ranieri family or a conflation of the 12th century Ranieri di Biandrate and 13th century Marquis William VII of Montferrat.  This tyrant attempted to rape a young commoner (often specified as a miller's daughter) on the eve of her wedding, supposedly exercising the (possibly fictional) droit de segneur.  His plan backfired when the young woman instead decaptated the tyrant, after which the populace stormed and burned the palace.  Each year, a young girl is chosen to play the part of Violetta, the defiant young woman.






  Every year the citizens remember their liberation with t…

CAMEL WRESTLING FROM TURKEY!!

Camel wrestling is a sport in which two male Tulu camels wrestle in response to a female camel in heat being led before them.  It is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also found in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of that country.  There are an estimated 1,200 wrestling camels in Turkey, bred specially for the competitions.






Parade

   The day before each Championship is set aside for a parade through the town of Selcuk, with the animals dressed up in all their finery.  Not all of the fighting camels will attend the parade however.  In 2011 around 30 camels were on show on the Saturday, with around 100 taking part in the fighting.  The most beautiful camel in 2011 was "Palavra", a camel with a particularly talented foaming mouth.






Championship

   Held in an ancient stadium at Ephesus, 6 kilometers from the town of Selcuk, on the 3rd Sunday of January, the camel wrestling championships have drawn thousands of spectators annually.  The festival usually hig…

FACTS ABOUT UKRAINAN ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS!!

Just when many in the United States are done celebrating Christmas, folks in the Ukraine are just getting started.  The Julian calendar used by Orthodox Ukrainians is 13 days behind our Gregorian calendar.  That is why their Christmas is just beginning on January 6th-Christmas Eve.
   In 988 A.D., Christianity was introduced in the Ukraine.  The people were very loyal to their ancient pagan rituals of celebrating Winter Solstice and Feasts of Fertility.  The traditions of these feasts were incorporated into the Christmas tradition.






Facts about the Ukrainian Christmas or Reesdvoh

   Christmas festivities in the Ukraine begin on Christmas Eve, January 6th, with a sacred supper for the entire family.  Three rings of braided Christmas Bread or kolach is placed in the center of the table, God's Bread, called kutia, is the most important food, made from wheat, poppy seeds and honey.  The family eats of the kutia while drinking God's Drink uzvar, which is made of 12 stewed fruits.…