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Showing posts from March, 2017


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.  SemanaSanta 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…


The Carnaval de Oruro (or Carnival of Oruro), is the biggest annual cultural event in Bolivia.
   Celebrated in Oruro, the folklore capital of Bolivia, the carnival marks the Ito festival for the Uru people.  Its ceremonies stem from Andean customs, the ancient invocations centering around Pachamama (Mother Earth, transformed into the Virgin Mary due to Christian syncretism) and Tio Supay (Uncle God of the Mountains, transformed into the Devil).  The native Ito ceremonies were stopped in the 17th century by the Spanish, who were ruling the territory of upper Peru at the time.  However, the Uru continued to observe the festival in the form of a Catholic ritual on Candlemas, in the first week of each February.  Christian icons were used to conceal portrayals of Andean gods, and the Christian saints represented other Andean minor divinities.  The ceremony begins 40 days before Easter.

   Legend also has it that in 1789, a mural of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared in a mineshaft of t…


Can you say Starkbierzeit?  It's German for "strong beer festival", an event held every March in Munich.  For two weeks, breweries bring out their most potent beverages, and beer halls throw noisy parties with a  host of Bavarian entertainment and food.  It's Oktoberfest without the tourists.
   The festival's roots go back to the Paulaner monks who, according to legend, began making an extra strength beer to sustain themselves during their Lenten fast.  The beer, first brewed in the 17th century, gained a "word of mouth" following.  The townspeople called it Salvator.

   Strong beer's popularity took off after Napoleon rode into town and sold the monasteries to local businessmen.  Paulaner ended up in the hands of a entrepreneur named Franz Xavier Zacheri, who turned the monastery into a beer hall and mass produced the monks' beer.  In an inspired bit of marketing, he promoted Salvator as a cure for the wintertime blues.  Munchner's an…


St. Patrick's Day is a lively celebration, traditionally observed with parades, music, dancing, Irish food and green beer.  Chances are, there will be a parade near you, as there are parades and celebrations all over the United States on this Irish holiday.  The following are the top 10 of the heap.

Boston, Mass.

   They've been partying since 1901 in "Bean Town".  About 850,000 people attend this spirited party.  The city's population is about 16 percent Irish and they celebrate St. Patrick's Day with enthusiasm.

New York City

   New York's parade has been celebrated since 1762.  They expect about 2 million people to line the streets of New York for the largest and oldest St. Patrick's parade in the United States.  The huge parade has about 150,000 marchers.  No floats or automobiles allowed.  Plenty of bagpipes and green beer in the city on this Irish event.  As the original St. Patrick's Day Parade in U.S. history, the first event was held in 176…


Ah, St. Patrick's Day: the day when each one of your friends and even your grandfather seems to be Irish.  This is probably the only day when you'll dig through your closet, just to find that  special green something to wear wherever you go.  St. Patrick's Day is celebrated all over the world, and for many, it's a day to relax and drink, whether it's a favorite ale or just some random green beer served at the bar.  Many think St. Patrick's Day is just about wearing green, drinking, and dealing with the hangover the next day.  However, there are probably some things that many don't know about St. Patrick's Day.
   Some of the facts you'll find surprising, while others are a little bit more expected, especially if you've participated in a St. Patrick's Day festivity once in your life.  And of course, have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Shamrocks     Of course with St. Patrick's Day comes the massive appearance of shamrocks.  Whether you…