Friday, February 25, 2011
Fairies are generally described as human in appearance and having magical powers. Their origins are less clear in the folklore, being variously dead, or some form of demon, or a species completely independent of humans or angels. Folklorists have suggested that their actual origin lies in a conquered race living in hiding, or in religious beliefs that lost currency with the advent of Christianity. These explanations are not necessarily incompatible, and they may be traceable to multiple sources.
Much of the folklore about fairies revolves around protection from their malice, by such means as cold iron (iron is like poison to fairies, and they will not go near it) or charms of rowan and herbs, or avoiding offense by shunning locations known to be theirs. In particular, folklore describes how to prevent the fairies from stealing babies and substituting changelings, and abducting older people as well. Many folktales are told of fairies, and they appear as characters in stories from medieval tales of chivalry, to Victorian fairy tales, and up to the present day in modern literature.
Fairies are mythological beings bestowed with magical powers. Usually, they have the appearance of humans. But their real characteristics change together with many tales about them. Although in modern culture they are known as small creatures. They were depicted as tall, radiant and angelic beings.Earth fairies are usually mischievous and like hiding things, but eventually return them to you if you know how to ask for it they also protect the flora of our planet. Air fairies Control the different air currents related to wind, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. But also the nice warm breezes of summer.
Water fairies Control the water flow of rivers and oceans and help to heal the water bodies as much as possible in light of world pollution. They even turn the water into ice and snow during the winter. Many of the Irish tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann refer to these beings as fairies, though in more ancient times they were regarded as Goddesses and Gods. The Tuatha Dé Danann were spoken of as having come from Islands in the north of the world, or, in other sources, from the sky. After being defeated in a series of battles with other Otherworldly beings, and then by the ancestors of the current Irish people, they were said to have withdrawn to the sídhe (fairy mounds), where they lived on in popular imagination as "fairies."
One common theme found among the Celtic nations describes a race of diminutive people who had been driven into hiding by invading humans. They came to be seen as another race, or possibly spirits, and were believed to live in an Otherworld that was variously described as existing underground, in hidden hills (many of which were ancient burial mounds), or across the Western Sea. In old Celtic fairy lore the sidhe (fairy folk) are immortals living in the ancient barrows and cairns. The Tuatha de Danaan are associated with several Otherworld realms including Mag Mell (the Pleasant Plain), Emain Ablach (the Fortress of Apples or the Land of Promise or the Isle of Women), and the Tir na nÓg (the Land of Youth).
FAIRY: Attribution from Wikipedia
Monday, February 14, 2011
History of a Valentine's Day
LUPERCALIA, a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman, pastoral festival in honour of Lupercus. Its rites were under the superintendence of a corporation of priests called Luperci, whose institution is attributed either to the Arcadian Evander, or to Romulus and Remus. In front of the Porta Romana, on the western side of the Palatine hill, close to the Ficus Ruminalis and the Casa Romuli, was the cave of Lupercus; in it, according to the legend, the she-wolf had suckled the twins, and the bronze wolf, which is still preserved in the Capitol, was placed in it in 296 B.C. But the festival itself, which was held on February 15th, contains no reference to the Romulus legend, which is probably later in origin, though earlier than the grecizing Evander legend. The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci (or the flamen dialis) of goats and a dog; after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood wiped off with wool dipped in milk; then the ritual required that the two young men should laugh. The smearing of the forehead with blood probably refers to human sacrifice originally practised at the festival. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the victims and ran in two bands round the walls of the old Palatine city,. the line of which was marked with stones, striking the people who crowded near. A blow from the thong prevented sterility in women. These thongs were called februa, the festival Februatio, and the day dies febraiatus (februare = to purify); hence the name of the month February, the last of the old Roman year. The object of the festival was, by expiation and purification, to secure the fruitfulness of the land, the increase of the flocks and the prosperity of the whole people. The Lupercal (cave of Lupercus), which had fallen into a state of decay, was rebuilt by Augustus; the celebration of the festival had been maintained, as we know from the famous occurrence of it in 44 B.C. It survived until A.D. 494, when it was changed by Gelasius into the feast of the Purification. Lupercus, in whose honour the festival.was held, is identified with Faunus or Inuus, Evander (Eiiavnpos), in the Greek legend being a translation of Faunus (the "kindly"). The Luperci were divided into two collegia, called Quinctiliani (or Quinctiales) and Fabiani, from the gens Quinctilia (or Quinctia) 2 and Fabia; at the head of each of these colleges was a magister. In 44 B.C. a third college, Luperci Julii, was instituted in honour of Julius Caesar, the first magister of which was Mark Antony. In imperial times the members were usually of equestrian standing. See Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung, iii. (1885) p. 438; W. Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals (1899), p. 390, and article in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (3rd ed. 1891).
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, 1911
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Special Spiritual and Cultural events so called, "Pow-wow."
A pow-wow (also powwow or pow wow or pau wau) is a gathering of North America's Native people. The word derives from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning "spiritual leader".
A modern pow-wow is a specific type of event where both Native American and non-Native American people meet to dance, sing, socialize, and honor American Indian culture. There is generally a dancing competition, often with significant prize money awarded. Pow-wows vary in length from one day session of 5 to 6 hours to three days. Major pow-wows or pow-wows called for a special occasion can be up to one week long.
The term also has been used to describe any gathering of Native Americans of any tribe, and as such is occasionally heard in older Western movies. The word has also been used to refer to a meeting, especially a meeting of powerful people such as officers in the military. However, such use can also be viewed as disrespectful to Native culture.
Most of the various types of dances performed at a pow-wow are descended from the dances of the Plains tribes of Canada and the United States. Besides those for the opening and closing of a pow-wow session, the most common is the intertribal, where a drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance. Similar dances are the round dance; crow hop when performed by a northern drum or a horse stealing song by a southern drum; there is also "double beat", "sneakup" and, for Women's Traditional and Jingle, "sidestep". Each of these songs have a different step to be used during them, but are open for dancers of any style.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Pan Tadeusz, the full title in English:
Sir Thaddeus, or the Last Lithuanian Foray: A Nobleman's Tale from the Years of 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse (Polish: Pan Tadeusz, czyli ostatni zajazd na Litwie. Historia szlachecka z roku 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu księgach wierszem) is an epic poem by the Polish-Lithuanian poet, writer and philosopher Adam Mickiewicz. The book was first published in June 1834 in Paris, and is considered by many to be the last great epic poem in European literature.
Pan Tadeusz is recognized as the national epic of Poland. It is compulsory reading in Polish schools. A film based on the poem was made in 1999 by Andrzej Wajda.
"Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił."
Lithuania, my fatherland! You are like health;
How much you must be valued, will only discover
The one who has lost you.
(translation by Katie Busch-Sorensen)
O Lithuania, my country, thou
Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee.
(translation by Kenneth R. Mackenzie)
Lithuania, my country! You are as good health:
How much one should prize you, he only can tell
Who has lost you.
(translation by Marcel Weyland)
Oh Lithuania, my fatherland,
you are like health--so valued when lost
beyond recovery; let these words now stand
restoring you, redeeming exile's cost.
(translation by Leonard Kress)
Mickiewicz had been brought up in the culture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a multicultural state that had encompassed most of what today are the separate countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. He is often regarded by Lithuanians to be of Lithuanian origin, while Belorussians proclaim Mickiewicz to be one of them, since he was born on the territory of contemporary Belarus. However, the writings of Mickiewicz are in the Polish language.
Text from Wikipedia
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year of the Rabbit starts today, 3 February 2011. The year will be 4709 on the Chinese Calendar. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival.
Chinese New Year is the main Chinese festival of the year and it is not a religious event. We explain some of the traditions and stories linked to this celebration.
As the Chinese use the Lunar calendar for their festivals the date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year. The date corresponds to the new moon (black moon) in either late January or February. Traditionally celebrations last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon. In China the public holiday lasts for three days and this is the biggest celebration of the year.
The Year of the Rabbit
The Chinese calendar is different from that used in the United Kingdom. It is made up of a cycle of twelve years, each of them being named after an animal. This is very like our signs of the zodiac. Some people believe that people born in a particular year such as the year of the Dog will have some of the characteristics of that animal.
Over a sixth of the people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year. Customs vary in different parts of the world, but everywhere the main idea is the same. It is a time to remember the family and wish everyone peace and prosperity in the coming year. Find out more about the customs.
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Mubarak backers attack anti-government protesters
CAIRO – Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak charged into Cairo's central square on horseback and camels brandishing whips while others rained firebombs from rooftops in what appeared to be an orchestrated assault against anti-government protesters trying to topple Egypt's leader of 30 years. Three people died and 600 were injured in the uncontrolled violence.
The protesters accused Mubarak's regime of unleashing a force of paid thugs and plainclothes police to crush their unprecedented, 9-day-old movement demanding his ouster, a day after the 82-year-old president refused to step down. They showed off police ID badges they said were wrested from their attackers. Some government workers said their employers ordered them into the streets.
Mustafa el-Fiqqi, a top official from the ruling National Democratic Party, told The Associated Press that businessmen connected to the ruling party were responsible for what happened.
The notion that the state may have coordinated violence against protesters, who had kept a peaceful vigil in Tahrir Square for five days, prompted one of the sharpest rebukes yet from the Obama administration.
"If any of the violence is instigated by the government, it should stop immediately," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The clashes marked a dangerous new phase in Egypt's upheaval: the first significant violence between government supporters and opponents. The crisis took a sharp turn for the worse almost immediately after Mubarak rejected the calls for him to give up power or leave the country, stubbornly proclaiming he would die on Egyptian soil.
His words were a sharp blow to the protesters. They were also a signal to a country that had been holding its breath to see if Mubarak would fall that authorities want to turn back the clock to the tight state control enforced before last Tuesday.
In the wake of Mubarak's speech, his supporters turned up on the streets Wednesday in significant numbers for the first time. Some were hostile to journalists and foreigners. Two Associated Press correspondents and several other journalists were roughed up in Cairo. State TV reported Tuesday night that foreigners were caught distributing anti-Mubarak leaflets, apparently trying to depict the movement as foreign-fueled.
The scenes of mayhem were certain to add to the fear that is already running high in this capital of 18 million people after a weekend of rampant looting and lawlessness and the escape of thousands of prisoners from jails in the chaos.
A light army presence that has surrounded Tahrir Square for days fired shots in the air throughout the clashes but did appear to otherwise intervene and no uniformed police were seen. Most of the troops took shelter behind or inside the armored vehicles and tanks stationed at the entrances to the square.
"Why don't you protect us?" some shouted at soldiers, who replied they did not have orders to do so and told people to go home.
"The army is neglectful. They let them in," said Emad Nafa, a 52-year-old among the protesters, who for days had showered the military with affection for its neutral stance.
Some of the worst street battles raged near the famed Egyptian Museum at the edge of the square. Pro-government rioters blanketed the rooftops of nearby buildings and hurled bricks and firebombs onto the crowd below — in the process setting a tree ablaze inside the museum grounds. Plainclothes police at the building entrances prevented anti-Mubarak protesters from storming up to stop them.
The two sides pummeled each other with chunks of concrete and bottles at each of the six entrances to the sprawling plaza, where the 10,000 anti-Mubarak protesters tried to fend off the more than 3,000 attackers who besieged them. Some on the pro-government side waved machetes, while the square's defenders filled the air with a ringing battlefield din by banging metal fences with sticks.
In one almost medieval scene, a small contingent of pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels rushed into the crowds, trampling several people and swinging whips and sticks. Protesters dragged some from their mounts, throwing them to the ground and beating their faces bloody. The horses and camels appeared to be ones used by the many touts around Cairo who sell rides for tourists.
Dozens of men and women pried up the pieces of the pavement with bars and ferried the piles of ammunition in canvas sheets to their allies at the front. Others directed fighters to streets needing reinforcements. Entrances to a subway station under the square were turned into impromptu prisons, with seized attackers tied up and held at the bottom of the stairs.
Some protesters wept and prayed in the square where only a day before they had held a joyous, peaceful rally of a quarter-million, the largest demonstration so far.
After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of demonstrations across this nation of 80 million. For the past few days, protesters who camped out in Tahrir Square, reveled in a sense of freedom that they almost never enjoy — publicly expressing their hatred for the Mubarak regime.
By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press