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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: May 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

AMERICA'S MOST HAUNTED CEMETERIES!!!

 Everyone gets the chills when they walk through a cemetery, especially at night but mostly it is all in our heads. How could walking through hundreds of deceased people that are buried six feet under, get you thinking that there's ghost in that thar graveyard? Come and take a walk through some of America's most haunted cemeteries and read about the ghosts that choose to hand around them.


Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

One of the Bachelor's Grove ghosts

    This secluded cemetery located in Chicago is said to be the most haunted graveyard in America. Bachelor's Grove has had numerous paranormal investigators that have investigated this cemetery and it has been reported that it has had over 160 cases of documented paranormal occurrences, which include everything from floating "orbs" to light and full body apparitions.

Lafayette Cemetery

Collage of graves at Lafayette Cemetery


    Located in New Orleans, La. Is said to be one of the most haunted. Hundreds of sightings are reported in this historic cemetery. Witnesses have experienced a woman dressed in white who flags down taxi cabs and always disappears before the ride is over. Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau is said to haunt the cemetery and the surrounding area. Her powers are known to be so strong when she was alive, and now that death has taken her, she holds even greater sway over her devoted, who decorate her grave with symbols, candles and flowers, in the hope she'll bless them.

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery

Grave markers at Camp Chase


    Camp Chase is a Confederate cemetery located in Ohio nestled in a Columbus Hilltop neighborhood. This cemetery marks the place where a POW camp stood over 140 years ago. It is said here a woman roams the cemetery in search of her soldier, lost in a POW camp during the American Civil War. On a grave of a confederate soldier, flowers will appear on it for no explainable reason.


Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Forever grave sites


    Hollywood Forever Cemetery located in Hollywood, Ca. was founded in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. The original site occupied 100 area but 40 acres were sold off to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920. The Hollywood Memorial Park cemetery is the final resting place for such starts as, Fatty Arbuckle, Valentino, Victor Fleming and Clifton Webb, whose ghost is said to haunt the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum where it is reported that guests hear voices, whispering, see strange lights, feel cold drafts and smell cologne.




El Campo Santo Cemetery

El Campo early grave sites

El Campo grave

    This cemetery located in San Diego, Ca. This cemetery is believed to be actively haunted with such sightings as what looks like a Hispanic or a Native American walking through out the grounds and a woman in a white Victorian dress will appear and disappear into the south wall of the cemetery.







THE BANSHEES OF IRISH FOLKLORE!



    In Irish folklore, the Banshees are known as the ancestral spirits of the Fairy world. Their history extends way back into the dim and mysterious past.
    Banshees are among the oldest Fairy folk of Ireland, associated as strongly as shamrocks and potatoes. Banshees, also known as Bean-Sidhe, were appointed to forewarn members of Irish families of impending death. Her prescence alone brings no harm or evil, but to hear a Banshee in the act of keening is to have witnessed the announcement of the death of a loved one. The Banshee's wail pierces the night and its notes rise and fall like waves over the countryside.
    It is said that Banshees never appear to the one who is to die but to their loved ones. In times gone by she was seen washing human heads, limbs or bloody clothing until the water was dyed with blood. Over the centuries this image changed. The Banshee now paces the land, wringing her hands and crying. Sometimes she is known as the Lady of Death or the Woman of Peace, for despite her wails she is graced with serenity.
    A Banshee won't cry from just anyone. According to legend, each Banshee mourns for members of one family. Some say only the five oldest Irish families have their own Banshees: the O'Neills, O'Briens, O'Gradys, O'Connors and Kavanaghs.
The Banshee is a solitary Fairy creature who loves the mortal family she is connected to with a fierce, unearthly care and will pace the hills in sorrow when she knows a death is looming.
    She will follow her family's members right across the world-her keening can be heard wherever true Irish are settled, because just like them she never forgets her blood ties. Unseen, she will attend their funerals and her wails mingle with those of the mourners.
Famous tailes of Banshee sightlings are plentiful. One dating back to 114 AD tells of a Banshee attached to the kingly house of O'Brien who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe. Legend has it that Aibhill the Banshee appeared to the aged King Brian Boru before the Battle of Clontard, Which was fought in the same year.
    A recounting from the 18th century concerns a group of children who on an evening walk saw a little old woman sit on a rock beside the road. She began to wail and clap her hands and the children ran away in fear, only to later discover that the old man who lived in the house behind the rock died at that very moment.
    A little girl in the mid-19th century, standing at the window in her house in Cork, saw a figure o the bridge ahead. She heard the Banshee's wails and the figure disappeared but the next morning her grandfather fell as he was walking and hit his head, never to wake up. The same little girl was an old lady by 1900 and one day when she was very ill her daughter heard wailing round and under her bed. The mother didn't see to hear, but sure enough it protended her death.
    A party on a yacht on a Italian lake told its owner they witness a woman with a shock or red hair and a hellish look in her eyes. The owner, Count Nelsini, formally known a O'Neill, became anxious that the Banshee was announcing the death of his wife or daughter, but within two hours he was seized with an angina attack and died.
Descriptions of the Banshee vary but she appears in one of three guises; young woman, stately matron or raddled old hag.
  • A Banshee as a beautiful young girl appears with red-gold hair and a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, traditional dress of Ireland.
  • As matron she is said to be tall and striking, contrasting sharply with the dark of night. She is pale and thin, her eyes red from centuries of crying, her silver-grey hair streaming all the way to the ground as her cobweb-like grey-white cloak clings to her body.
  • In the hag guise she usually wears grey, hooded cloaks or the grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may appear as a washer-woman or be shrouded in a dark, mist-like cloak.
  • The Banshee can also appear in other forms, such as a stoat, crow or weasel-animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.
    One of the most notorious tales of a Banshee comes from the memoirs of Lady Fanshaw. Along with her husband, in 1642 she visited a friend in an ancient baronial castle surrounded by a moat. At midnight she was woken suddenly by a ghastly, supernatural scream. Leaping upright in bed, there was a young, handsome woman hovering outside the window in the moonlight. The woman was pale with dishevelled, loose red hair and wearing a dress in the style of the ancient Irish. The apparition stayed for some time and then disappeared with two loud shrieks.
    When morning came, Lady Fanshaw, not without some trepidation, told her host what she had seen. Her friend looked at her gravely and explained that she had seen the family Banshee, the ghost of a woman of inferior rank who married one of his ancestors, but he drowned her in the moat to atone for the shame he had brought on his family. She had come that night, as she always did, to announce a death in the family-one of his relations passed away in her sleep.
    Always appearing as a woman, there is no shortage of legends of Banshee sightings. Stretching back for more than a millennium, the Banshee, continues ringing a death knell for the witness's loved ones.

CANADIAN TULIP FESTIVAL!




    The Canadian Tulip Festival, now in its 59th year, has grown to become the largest Tulip Festival in the world. It preserves the local heritage of Canada’s role in freeing the Dutch during World War II, and the symbolic tulip; a gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people for providing a safe harbour to the Dutch Royal Family at that time.
The festival’s mandate is to preserve this heritage and celebrate the tulip as a symbol of international friendship by engaging local organizers, volunteers, artists, performers, tourists and festival-goers in what has become an annual ritual of spring and one of Canada’s best loved and well-known cultural events.



Princess Juliana of the Netherlands


    In the fall of 1945, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs. The gift was given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during the World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
    The tulips have become an important symbol of international friendship and spring, with special meaning to the people of Canada and its Capital Region.


Princesses Margriet, Irene, Beatrix



   In early June 1940, Princess Juliana and her two small daughters secretly boarded a Dutch vessel bound for Halifax. After a long sea voyage, they moved into Ottawa’s Government House. Safe in the Ottawa region, Princess Juliana was able to take over the reins of government-in-exile if the need arose.






The History of the Canadian Tulip Festival
    The birth of Princess Margriet Francisca, the third daughter of Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard, was a symbol of hope and a source of inspiration for the Dutch who were fighting for their survival in Europe. The only royal baby ever born in North America, her birth created a living bond between the people of Canada and the Netherlands. To ensure the baby’s Dutch citizenship, the Canadian government temporarily ceded a room at the Ottawa Civic Hospital to the Netherlands. On January 19, 1943, the flag of the Netherlands flew on Parliament’s Peace Tower and Princess Margriet was born a Dutch citizen on Dutch soil in the safe haven of Canada. Once the war had ended, the people of the Netherlands and Princess Juliana sent the Canadian people many magnificent gifts, including 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada’s Capital in gratitude for the involvement of Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands. In 1946, Princess Juliana herself gave an additional 20,000 bulbs to the country that had given her refuge. A few years after the Dutch tulips arrived in 1945, they became a strong attraction in Canada’s Capital, and stunning pictures appeared in newspapers nationwide resulting in more and more events around the annual bloom of tulips.



Malak Karsh, found of the festival


The Birth of a Festival
    The first Canadian Tulip Festival was held in 1953 lead by the Ottawa Board of Trade, at the suggestion of world-renowned photographer Malak Karsh. Karsh is considered the founder of the Festival and his photographs have immortalized the tulip. Through his efforts, the Canadian Tulip Festival was formalized to coincide with the tulip’s annual bloom. In 2002, the Festival celebrated its 50th Anniversary dedicated to its founder, having expanded to an event of 18 days, showcasing over 3 million tulips throughout Canada’s Capital Region.




Tiptoe through the tulips with your clogs


    Over the years the Festival has been opened by Governor Generals, Prime Ministers and Royalty, including several return visits from Queen Juliana and Princess Margriet. Through the 1990s and into the new millennium, the Canadian Tulip Festival celebrated the Tulip as a symbol of Peace and Friendship creating an international bond by collaborating with Friendship countries, which include the Netherlands, Turkey, France, Japan, the United States, Great Britain and Australia.





The Festival Today
    To celebrate its roots of International Friendship, the Canadian Tulip Festival created the International Pavilion in Major’s Hill Park and became the “festival without fences” with all park events offering free admission. The International Pavilion provides a venue for over 20 partnering embassies and local cultural groups to showcase their wares and origins to tourists and festival-goers alike.
    Each spring hundreds of thousands of people from all over North America, Europe and Asia make over a million visits to the Canadian Tulip Festival. The event, which grew from the Dutch gift of friendship, has become the world’s largest Tulip Festival. The tulip has also become Ottawa’s official flower, making Ottawa the tulip capital of the North America.

Monday, May 27, 2013

THE GIANT CANDLE RACE FROM ITALY!!



    Trumpets blare, women weep and a giddy crowd roars as burly men carrying towering wooden pillars charge through narrow streets in a medieval tradition of pride and devotion to their patron saint.
    For more than 800 years, the ancient central Italian town of Gubbio has erupted in a riot of yellow, blue and black each May for the "Festa dei Ceri" (Festival of the Candles) to honor patron saint Ubaldo Baldassini, a 12th century bishop.




one of the teams grimacing with the heavy candle


    In a day filled with feverish festivities that include hurling jugs of water onto a crowd, the highlight is a strenuous race where three teams tear through the town and up a mountain with 400-kg wooden pillars balanced on their shoulders.
    The festival taps into a deep-rooted sense of local pride and tradition -- the sort of fierce identity tied to their town or region that Italians are famous for. Gubbio's residents -- known as "Eugubini" -- scoff that even residents of nearby Perugia would not understand what makes their event so special.







    "There's a lot of kinship between us Eugubini and this is something that really unites us all," said 36-year-old Massimo Fiorini. "Perhaps I haven't seen this guy here for a whole year, but for one day, he and I are brothers."
    The emotion is even stronger for the hundreds of former or current bearers of the wooden pillars known as "ceri" (candles), who struggle for words to describe their exhilaration.








    "The only emotion stronger than this that I have ever felt was when my daughter was born," says Matteo Baldinelli, 40, a so-called "ceraiolo" or candle-bearer dressed in a yellow shirt with a red bandana in honor of his team, St. Ubaldo.
"It's difficult to explain, this is something that we have been brought up with since we were little, we've lived it all our lives."
    "AN EMOTION LIKE NO OTHER"
    As usual, the festivities began early Friday as drummers wandered through the town at 5 a.m. to wake everyone up, before residents trooped en masse to the local cemetery to pay homage to deceased candle-bearers.



The Three Saints


    Mass follows, and then the three wooden pillars, each topped with a figure of their respective saint -- St. Ubaldo, St. George or St. Anthony -- are raised upright to a loud roar from a sea of Eugubini packed into a central square.
    "When you see the candle arrive, it's incredible, an emotion like no other," said 43-year old Lorenzo Rughi.
    As per tradition, three men standing halfway up the pillars threw a jug of water onto the crowd, sparking a feverish scramble for broken pieces that are said to bring good fortune.







    The pillars are then whisked away by a team of ceraioli -- eight men to carry it on their shoulders, another eight who provide support, and four for navigation -- through the streets.
    Trouble quickly befell the St. Anthony team, whose cero toppled over into the crowd as the ceraioli turned down a slope, wounding three bystanders. Tragedy was narrowly averted when a baby was pulled from her stroller seconds before it fell.
   Medical staff rushed in, but order was soon restored and the ceri galloped along again, stopping by house windows to pay homage to the old, infirm or deceased, bringing some to tears.


One of the teams relaxing before the competition



"   This is so emotional for me," Daniela Angeloni, 41, wept as she held on to a passing cero in memory of her father, a ceraiolo who died this year. "I'm doing this in his honor."
    Almost every family in Gubbio has a longtime allegiance to one of the three teams -- proudly declared on flags hung out of their windows -- and plastic tables on their doorsteps offered passers-by homemade wine, local ham, salami and cheese.
    Communal lunches follow, from an invitation-only affair at a 14th century building where residents dance and wave kerchiefs to more humble cafeteria-style lunches for ceraioli where seafood risotto and bottles of wine are passed around.






    By afternoon, residents are stumbling through the street in a wine-fueled stupor as they await the evening race, which is preceded by the sound of a trumpet and sword-bearing horsemen.
    The climax finally arrives as the ceri thunder through the streets, with St. Ubaldo's yellow-shirted team first, followed by St. George in blue and then St. Anthony in black.
There is no winner -- the race ends in the same order it starts -- though that's hard to tell from the taunts of "You'll arrive at Christmas at this rate" and emotional embraces and tears at the end, which is followed by more consumption of wine.
    "What I felt inside me when I carried the cero is something that no one else can understand -- we're born with it," said Peppe Minelli, a longtime ceraiolo.
"The others could tumble and fall, I couldn't have cared less. I only cared about me and my cero."

WHY TRYING TO WAIT OUT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE COULD GET YOU KILLED!!









    I want to bring up some alternate methods of thought, that the best way to survive the zombie apocalypse is to stay mobile and not hunker down in a single place. Here's why that it might be true.



A Zombie Apocalypse Isn't Siege Warfare

    Zombie survivalists like to make a parallel between fending off zombies and medieval forms of siege warfare. At first glance, it's easy to see why they might make that comparison: you have an overwhelming mass of combatants outside your gates, but within a well-stocked stronghold, a small number of defenders can hold off almost indefinitely.
    The problem with this idea is that surviving a siege puts faith in the idea that your attackers will eventually get bored or be incapable of feeding or otherwise supplying themselves and will soon stop attacking you.














    We can't assume those things of zombies. Zombies don't get bored. Zombies are always hungry, but hunger won't stop them. They're impervious to disease and they will never revolt or turn on one another. They don't tire, and the chill of winter or the brunt of a storm won't faze them. There's no commander you can kill to demoralize the rest of the group. The only thing that will stop a zombie is a bullet to the head or (if you can hold out long enough), the slow process of bodily decay. And we're even assuming that zombies do decay. What if the zombie virus has some preservative quality that means the walking dead won't atrophy away to wind-scraped bones? Then you're looking at an indefinite period of zombie activity and you will never have enough supplies or ammo to survive an onslaught like that. The zombies may not get you, but you'll starve to death and won't be any better off.













Why Staying Mobile Is a Good Idea

    By staying on the move, you can scavenge supplies as you go, killing zombies when it's advantageous to do so, and running when the numbers are stacked against you. You're also more likely to meet other survivors and be able to band together. It's not an easy lifestyle, and in the long run, it may not give you any better chance of surviving than staying put, but it's a way to take a more active role in your survival.
    You need different skills to survive the zombie apocalypse on the move than you would bunkered down in a stronghold: you need to be in shape and you need to be able to navigate without the aid of modern devices - there's no Mapquest to help you out anymore. You need to be able to scrounge food from the world around you - whether that means hunting and foraging in the wilderness, or scavenging for canned goods in abandoned supermarkets.












    The mobile zombie survivalist has more dangers to face than just zombies: they're exposed to the elements, may have trouble finding clean drinking water, and even a "minor" injury like a sprained ankle from a slip or fall could levy a death sentence if it keeps them from getting to a defensible position before the zombies arrive. Even failing that, being on the run is exhausting, and mobile survivalists may soon find their energy reserves drained when they need them most.



Just in case you wanted to send a letter during the apocalypse



Mix The Two

    When possible, the best survival strategy may be to mix the two: stay on the move until you find a good place to make a stand, defend it for a bit while you rest and recover from your recent journey, but get out and move on before too many zombies accumulate or before your supplies start running low.

IS IT CALLED MEMORIAL DAY OR DECORATION DAY?




    Is it called Memorial Day or Decoration Day?     Many people, especially those in the south, ask themselves this question every year. Compounding the confusion is the fact that both celebrations are often held on the same weekend in May. Most of us have participated in Memorial Day celebrations. I've had the experience of participating in several Decoration Day celebrations as well.
According to History.com Memorial Day was first celebrated as Decoration Day. This day first happened officially a few years after the Civil Warn ended on May 30, 1868.







    General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic is widely credited for the original proclamation. This held great importance even though the Grand Army of the Republic was a group of former soldiers and sailors and not a governmental organization.
President




   Richard Nixon officially declared Memorial Day to be a federal holiday in 1971. It is held on the last Monday in May as a remembrance of those brave men and women who died in war. Traditionally, a wreath is placed in Arlington Cemetery as a way of memorializing those who died. 







    Decoration Day had similar beginnings and is in fact the tradition that gave birth to Memorial Day. Even today it is celebrated by many small churches in the south. It began as a way to honor Civil War dead but soon became a time to put flowers or other decorative items on the graves of all the dead.
 







    Southern churches are famous for having cemeteries on the same land as the church itself. Sometimes, a driveway will separate the two sections but not always. It is very common for the cemetery to be adjacent to the church.
    
Decoration Day is usually celebrated on the last Sunday in May. Often, this is combined with a church homecoming celebration possibly all day preaching and dinner on the grounds. This is different from a Memorial Day celebration where only the graves of soldiers are decorated.






    Church members will go to great lengths to be sure that all graves are decorated and cleaned. There may not be any living family members for a particular plot but there will be flowers on the grave.
    It is said that "cleanliness is next to Godliness". This is where the church literally shines. Headstones will be scrubbed and cleaned until they shine like new pennies. All debris is removed from the cemetery. The grass will be cut, weeds pulled and all of the cemetery grounds will be trimmed.








    Only then is the cemetery ready for the flowers to be placed. On Decoration day each grave will be decorated to the one hundred flowers stuck in the dirt on any given grave. You may see pots of live flowers, expensive floral arrangements or hand picked bouquets. The graves may also have photos or other mementos placed upon them.
    The commitment to honoring the dead isn't just made in flowers. On Decoration Day, many southern churches will collect monetary donations as people come to tend their plots. These funds go toward cemetery upkeep and play an important role in the continued maintenance of the cemetery.
    Even though the two special occasions occur on the same weekend and share common beginnings the two days are not the same. As more people celebrate Memorial Day fewer are left to celebrate or even understand Decoration Day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT THE MAKING OF A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS!!








    The annual airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas has become as much a part of Christmas as Santa and Rudolph.
    Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, Snoopy's decorated doghouse and Linus' classic recitation on the true meaning the season have become true baby-boomer Christmas icons. Throw in Vince Guaraldi's classic soundtrack, and you have an animated special that has defined a generation.


  • A Charlie Brown Christmas was not the first time the Peanuts characters were animated. In the early 1960's they appeared in a series of commercials for the Ford Motor Company.
  • A Charlie Brown Chirstmas was conceived, written, animated and produced in only six months, and was finished only a week before the air date. The first airing, on December 9, 1965, was sponsored by Coke.




  • A CBS executive who watched a preview was disappointed and declared the program, "A little flat....a little slow", and said he thought Peanuts was better suited for the comics page. Ed Levitt, an animator who worked on the show was more percipient, however, declaring "A Charlie Brown Christmas will run for a hundred years"!
  • The children who sing the opening and closing songs, "Christmas Time is Here", and "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", were chosen from a children's choir at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California. The songs were recorded at Fantasy Records Studio in San Francisco.
  • The voice of Charlie Brown was provided by 8 year old actor Peter Robbins, who had previously appeared in over 35 television commercials, and had small roles in TV shows such as "F Troop" and "Get Smart". Robbins continued to be the voice of Charlie Brown in 5 more Peanuts specials,as well as in the first Peanuts movie. A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
  • The youngest voice in the cast was that of Sally, played by 6 year old Cathy Steinberg. Because she couldn't yet read, when had to be fed her lines a few words at a time.






  • Vince Guaraldi was a San Francisco jazz musician. Producer Lee Mendelson was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge when he heard one of Guaraldi's songs on the radio, and recruited him to write the music for the special.

  • The "voice" of Snoopy was provided by co-producer Bill Melendez.

  • The very first airing placed second in the ratings for it's week, behind Bonanza and ahead of such favorites as Red Skelton, Walt Disney and The Andy Griffith Show.

  • A writer for TIME magazine loved the show, calling it "refreshing and "special". He also wrote, " A Charlie Brown Christmas, is one children's special this season that bears repeating".

  • The 1965 airing won an Emmy Award for "Best Network Animated Special" and a Peabody Award for "Outstanding Children's and Youth's Program".

GOLDEN WEEK IN JAPAN!




    Golden Week (Gōruden Wīku), often abbreviated to simply GW and also known as Ōgon shūkan ( "Golden Week") or Ōgata renkyū ( "Large consecutive holiday") is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:



April 29

   Emperor's Birthday (Tennō tanjōbi), until 1988
   Greenery Day (Midori no hi), from 1989 until 2006
   Shōwa Day (Shōwa no hi), from 2007




Perhaps a little kite flying during this holiday


May 3

   Constitution Memorial Day ( Kenpō kinenbi)

May 4

    Holiday (Kokumin no kyūjitsu), from 1985 until 2006
    Greenery Day (Midori no hi), from 2007

May 5

    Children's Day (Kodomo no hi), also customarily known as Boys' Day (Tango no sekku)



Heading out to a movie or dinner for Golden Week



History

    The National Holiday Laws, promulgated in July 1948, declared nine official holidays. Since many were concentrated in a week spanning the end of April to early May, many leisure-based industries experienced spikes in their revenues. The film industry was no exception. In 1951, the film Jiyū Gakkō, recorded higher ticket sales during this holiday-filled week than any other time in the year (including New Year's and Obon). This prompted the managing director of Daiei Films to dub the week "Golden Week" based on the Japanese radio lingo “golden time,” which denotes the period with the highest listener ratings.






    At the time, April 29 was a national holiday celebrating the birth of the Shōwa Emperor. Upon his death in 1989, the day was renamed "Greenery Day."
    In 2007, Greenery Day was moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Shōwa Day to commemorate the late Emperor.




Heading out to a Shrine


Current Practice

    Many Japanese take paid time off on the intervening work days, but some companies also close down completely and give their employees time off. Golden Week is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese jobs. Two other holidays may also be observed for most or all of a week: Japanese New Year in January and Bon Festival in August. Golden Week is an extremely popular time to travel. Flights, trains, and hotels are often fully booked despite significantly higher rates at this time. Popular foreign destinations in Asia, Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, and major cities on the west coast of North America, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and    Vancouver, as well as in Europe and Australia, are affected during these seasons by huge numbers of Japanese tourists.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ARAQUIO FESTIVAL FROM THE PHILIPPINES!!


some of the moors costumes


    Araquio festival is a celebration traditionally held every May in Nueva Ecija. The festival dates back to the Spanish colonial period and is celebrated with a theatrical/religious presentation similar to Spanish zarzuelas, dramatizing the spread of Christianity in the country and the war between Christians and Muslims.




Some of the Costumes

History and Customs

    The name Araquio is said to have come from "Heraclio", the name of a bishop during the time of Constantine the Great. The first Araquio presentation took place in the town of Peñaranda, Nueva Ecija over 120 years ago. Before modern musical instruments were available, the bands used instruments made from indigenous materials like bamboo. According to Francisco Vergara Padilla, director of the Araquio group in the barangay of St. Tomas in Peñaranda, during his grandfather's time they used basins and utensils as substitutes.








    Araquio is usually presented in May, during the feast of the Cross. The date of the feast varies from one town to another. This festival starts with a mass and ends with the elaborate Flores de Mayo celebration. Each performing group is given a day or two to perform in the town plaza, making it a weeklong presentation. Local wealthy families usually make it their spiritual duty to sponsor the festival, sometimes giving no less than fifty thousand pesos.

Performances

    Festival performers sing, act and dance while a brass band plays. The choice of songs and choreography varies, but the script has remained the same since the tradition started. It tells of the feud between Muslims and Christians that started over territory. In the play, Christians use the power of the cross, symbolizing their faith, to defeat the Muslims, who later retaliate by stealing the cross. After many battles, the cross is recovered, and the Muslims are Christened.






    Normally, there are 16 performers in each Araquio group. Nine of these play Christians led by Reyna (Queen) Elena and Haring (King) Constantine. The Reyna Elena has two servants, Laida and Blanca. The rest are soldiers named AlbertoArsenio, Rosauro, Fernando and Leonato. The Muslim group, on the other hand, is composed of seven people, led by Ordalisa or Erlisa and the Emperor. Their soldiers are Emir, Dublar, Marmolin, Engras and Sagmar. The male Muslims wear red costumes with feathered headdresses, while the male Christians wear either blue pants and white top or black pants and blue top. The female costumes are similar for both Muslims and Christians, except that the Christian women wear a sash or "banda" while the Muslim women wear feathered headdresses similar to their male counterparts.
    The players stand on an elevated stage, either wood or concrete, during their performance. The presentation also allows for crowd participation. The band plays on and the performers continue their choreography but pause their dialogue to give way to the dancing audience.