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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

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.

WHY DO CHRISTMAS CAROLERS WALK AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD SINGING??






    The idea of Christmas caroling brings to mind a jolly band of churchgoers, dressed in shawls and top hats, going door-to-door spreading the spirit of Christmas through hymns. Whether it's "Deck the Halls", "Joy to the World" or "Silent Night", Christmas Carolers have been known to travel on foot, by truck or on horseback. Despite a recent re-examining of caroling's political correctness, including one incident where carolers were banned from marching in a prominent parade in Denver. It remains a popular Christmas tradition. But how exactly did this tradition begin? Who wrote the carols? And why do we feel compelled to sing them on the front porch of a total stranger's home?













    The root of the word "carol" lies not in song, but in dance. In Old French, "carole" means "kind of dance". In Latin "choraula" means "a dance to the flute", and in Greek, "choraules" means "flute player who accompanies the choral dance". Although there are some carols centering around religion, the songs were originally secular--up-tempo melodies with alternating choruses and verses associated with traditional dances. Like many other Christmas traditions, caroling is also thought to have its roots in the pre-Christian celebration of the Festival of Yule, when Northern Europeans would come together to sing and dance to honor the Winter Solstice. As carols evolved into a Christian tradition, they became hymns, having little relation to any type of dance.

History of Caroling
    There's no definitive history behind Christmas caroling. Where they originated, who wrote them and how the evolved is unclear. Caroling is an oral tradition, passed down from genteraiton to generation.












    Carols commemorating the nativity, or birth of Jesus Christ, were purportedly first written in Latin in the 4th and 5th centuries, but they didn't become associated with Christmas until the 13th century. Saint Francis of Assisi, the Roman Catholic saint of animals and the environment, is often credited with incorporating upbeat Latin hymns into Christmas services. The energetic, joyful carols were sung in sharp contrast to the somber Christmas music of the day. The concept of Christmas carols, and spreading them to the community to celebrate Christ's birth, is thought to have spread across Europe.
   Today, many caroling groups sing for charity in churches and neighborhoods; some historical accounts claim this is rooted in fuedal societies, when poor citizens would "sing for their supper" in exchange for food or drink. Another theory is that carolers traveled door-to-door because they were not originally allowed to perform in churches. Other's say this idea didn't until the 16th century, when Anglo-Saxon peasants adapted these pagan customs, when they went wassailing, requesting nourishment from their superiors in exchange for singing good tidings.









    Wassail was a thick, hot spiced beverage that helped keep the traveling well-wisher warm; in its heyday, the drink was just as much a holiday tradition as eggnog in modern times. As wassailing evolved, with children often going door-to-door, it became more associated with Christmas and caroling. Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas celebrations in England from 1649 to 1660 ( he believed Christmas should be a serious holiday, and celebrated accordingly), and caroling did not experience a surge in popularity until the 19th century, when it's thought that the joyful, expressive hymns were well-received in the Victorian Era.
    A common legend says that Christmas carols were named after Carol Poles, a little English girl who supposedly went missing in London during the holiday season in the late 19th century. People supposedly searched for her by going door-to-door, singing to declare their good intentions. although it may be a nice story, it has no factual basis.



TINKU FESTIVAL FROM BOLIVIA!!





    Tinku, an Andean tradition, began as a form of ritualistic combat. It is native to the northern region of Potosí in Bolivia. In the language of Quechua, the word “tinku” means encounter. In the language of Aymara it means “physical attack". During this ritual, men and women from different communities will meet and begin the festivities by drinking and dancing. The women will then form circles and begin chanting while the men proceed to fight each other; rarely the women will join in the fighting as well. Large tinkus are held in Potosí during the first few weeks of May.











    Because of the rhythmic way the men throw their fists at each other, and because they stand in a crouched stance going in circles around each other, a dance was formed. This dance, the Festive Tinku, simulates the traditional combat, bearing a warlike rhythm. The differences between the Andean tradition and the dance are the costumes, the role of women, and the fact that the dancers do not actually fight each other. The Festive Tinku has become a cultural dance for all of Bolivia, although it originated in Potosí, like the fight itself









Tinku Combat

History

    The Andean tradition began with the indigenous belief in Pachamama, or Mother Nature. The combat is in praise of Pachamama, and any blood shed throughout the fighting is considered a sacrifice, in hopes of a fruitful harvest and fertility. Because of the violent nature of the tradition there have been fatalities, but each death is considered a sacrifice which brings forth life, and a donation to the land that fertilizes it. The brawls are also considered a means of release of frustration and anger between the separate communities. Tinkus usually last two to three days. During this time, participants will stop every now and then to eat, sleep, or drink.








Groups Who Participate

    Tinkus occur "between different communities, moieties, or kin groups". They are prearranged and usually take place in the small towns of southern Bolivia, like Macha and Pocoata. Tinkus are very festive, with a numerous audience of men, women and children, who bring food and beverages. Alcoholic drinks are also brought and sold along with food during the tinku.








Methods of Combat

    During the brawl itself, men will often times carry rocks in their hands to have greater force in their punches, or they will just throw them at opponents. Sometimes, especially in the town of Macha in Potosí, where the brawl gets the most violent, men will wrap strips of cloth with shards of glass stuck to them around their fists to cause greater damage. Slingshots and whips are also used, though not as much as hand-to-hand combat. The last day of the fight is considered the most violent and police almost always have to separate the mass of bloody men and women.









Attire

    Men attend tinkus wearing traditional monteras, or thick helmet-like hats made of thick leather, resembling helmets from the Conquistadors. These helmets are often times painted and decorated with feathers. Their pants are usually simple black or white with traditional embroidering near their feet. Often times the men wear wide thick belts tied around their waist and stomach for more protection.








Festive Tinku Dance

    The Festive Tinku, a much more pleasant experience than a ceremonial tinku, has many differences. It has been accepted as a cultural dance in the whole nation of Bolivia. Tinku music has a loud constant drum beat to give it a native warlike feel, while charangos, guitars, and zampoñas (panpipes) play melodies. The dancers perform with combat like movements, following the heavy beat of the drum.







Costumes

    For men, the costumes are more colorful. Their monteras are usually decorated with long colorful feathers. Tinku Suits, or the outfits men wear during Festive Tinku performances, are usually made with bold colors to symbolize power and strength, instead of the neutral colors worn in ceremonial tinkus that help participants blend in. Women wear long embroidered skirts and colorful tops. Their costumes are completed by extravagant hats, painted and decorated with various long and colorful feathers and ribbons. Men and women wear walking sandals so they can move and jump easily.








Dance

    The dance is performed in a crouching stance, bending at the waist. Arms are thrown out and there are various kicks, while the performers move in circles following the beat of the drum. Every jump from one foot to the next is followed by a hard stomp and a thrown fist to signify the violence from the ceremonial tinku. Many times the dancers will hold basic and traditional instruments in their hands that they will use as they stomp, just to add more noise for a greater effect.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

DIY SCRAP PAPER TREE CENTERPIECE!

 This diy comes from www.twogirlsbeingcrafty.blogspot.com .  A very cool idea to do with all of that extra scrap booking paper lying around.  Either do one for the winter holidays or for the up coming spring season.  Enjoy!



Scrap Paper Tree Centerpiece Tutorial

Hi there! I'm Sharon from Two Girls Being Crafty, and I am so delighted to be today's guest blogger on Everyday Mom Ideas! Thank you so much, Julia, for having us. My co-blogger, Tristin, and I create fun and inexpensive crafts that anyone could do. Our goal is to inspire. So come check us o
   Today I would like to share with you all our newest craft. It's a fun and easy DIY Spring scrapbook paper tree. Tristin and I both love scrapbook paper. We love the large variety of gorgeous patterns to choose from and the lovely, convenient low prices (so you can indulge when needed). But the funny thing is, neither of us like to scrapbook. We are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to use scrapbook paper. Today's feature project is one of them.




Scrapbook paper tree




This simple project uses scrapbook paper leaves to create a bright and cheery Spring ambiance for your home. You could also use these beautiful trees in a wedding, baby shower, bridal shower, birthday party... the possibilities are endless!

What You Will Need:

Scrapbook paper
Branches
Floral Wire (I used 24 gauge wire)
Glue (You can use scrapbook or tacky glue, but I just used good ole Elmers)
Scissors
Cardboard/cardstock/chipboard
Vase or Pot to place your branches in
Newspaper

The awesome thing is - you probably already have most of these supplies on hand. I only had to purchase the floral wire for a little over $1 (with a coupon). What an inexpensive way to bring Spring into your home!

Let's Get Started:





Scraps for Scrapbook paper tree




First, drag out your unseemly healthy assortment of scrapbook paper scraps. If you don't (yet) have a unreasonable amount of scrapbook paper (and everyone should), then just head over to your local craft store - Jo-Ann, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels and pick out your favorites.





Cut out your scrapbook paper leaves




Cut out a template of your leaf from the cardboard (you can also use chipboard or card-stock). I used two different sizes of leaves - one small and the other a lot larger. Try to make the leaves as symmetrical as possible (which I did not realize until later). This will help with pairing up a back and front leaf later on. Using your template, cut out as many leaves as you want. Cut them in even numbers because, again, you will be pairing them up later on.




DSC05622




Take your floral wire and cut strips anywhere from 5"-8" long. I know that's a big range, but I'm taking into account the different size leaves. If it's a larger leaf, you will want a few extra inches of wire.




Making scrapbook paper leaves




Lay down some newspaper next to your workspace. Take one of your leaves and put a thin strip of glue down the center. Place a piece of wire on the glue. Find a leaf of the same size and same scrapbook paper (or different paper- this is your project!) and place it on top of the glue, sandwiching the wire and forming a "vein" down the center of the leaf. Place your newly made leaves on the newspaper. Keep going until you've made all of your leaves.




Scrapbook paper leaves on tree





Now for the fun part! Start placing your leaves on your tree by wrapping the floral wire around a branch. You can arrange them in a natural way (as pictured above)...




Scrapbook paper leaf




...or make them funky.




Scrapbook paper leaf tree




And you're done! This project is so easy. You can make a huge tree or just make a small, simple one. Do ten of them for an event, or just create one for your humble abode. Either way, take this idea and run with it. You can create some Spring magic using only a few supplies!


Don't forget to stop by Two Girls Being Crafty and see what else we've been up to!

Thanks again, Julia, for having us here today! :)




PENANG INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL FROM MALAYSIA!!




Dragon Boat Racing History

    On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year, Chinese communities worldwide celebrate the Duanwu Jie festival, which commemorates the death of the Chinese patriot/poet Qu Yuan.
    As a rival state conquered his home kingdom, Qu Yuan committed suicide, drowning himself in the Miluo river on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.










    His countrymen paddled swiftly out to the middle of the river to retrieve his body, while others threw packets of rice in the water to distract the fish from eating the poet's body.
    These two acts, it is said, are the origin of the festival's two main preoccupations - the glutinous rice dumplings known as zongzi, and the dragon boat races.










Dragon Boat Racing in Modern Times

    Dragon boat racing, despite its roots in ancient tradition, are as exciting a sport as they come. Two or more boats compete against each other in heats spanning distances of about 1 1/4 mile (2000 meters) or less.
    The boats conform to traditional designs, and are extremely eye-catching. Each boat is mounted with a dragon's head and tail, finely carved to meet the traditional Chinese dragon appearance (in case you didn't know, a Chinese dragon has an ox's head, a deer's antlers, a horse's mane, and a fish's tail).











    Each boat is crewed by up to twenty paddlers, facing the front of the boat (as opposed to Western rowing sports, where the rower faces the rear). A drummer sits in front of the boat, facing the rowers, dictating the rhythm for the row team. A sweep, or tiller, sits aft, steering the boat.
    Strength and endurance are necessary, but not sufficient, for success. Dragon boat racing, as a sport, demands the closest teamwork possible from teams that want to get through the finish line first.







Dragon Boat Racing in Penang, Malaysia

    In Penang, Malaysia, the dragon boat races are especially famous. The region's first dragon boat race was held here in 1956, on the occasion of the 100th founding anniversary of Georgetown.

MAY DAY IN GREAT BRITIAN AND AROUND THE WORLD!








   May Day on May 1st,  is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday;   it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.

Traditional May Day Celebrations

   May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from November 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan and the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.
   As Europe became Christianized, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were merged with or replaced by new Christian holidays as with Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and All Saint's Day. In the twentieth and continuing into the twenty-first century, many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again.

 Origins

   The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1st.
The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps.







 Europe

Great Britain

   Roodmas was a Christian Mass celebrated in England at midnight on May 1.
Traditional British May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a Maypole. Much of this tradition derives from the pagan Anglo-Saxon customs held during "Þrimilci-mōnaþ"  (the Old English name for the month of May meaning Month of Three Milkings) along with many Celtic traditions.
   May Day has been a traditional day of festivities throughout the centuries. May Day is most associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime fertility and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings. Since the reform of the Catholic Calendar, May 1st is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers. Seeding has been completed by this date and it was convenient to give farm labourers a day off. Perhaps the most significant of the traditions is the Maypole, around which traditional dancers circle with ribbons.
   The May Day bank holiday, on the first Monday in May, was traditionally the only one to affect the state school calendar, although new arrangements in some areas to even out the length of school terms mean that the Good Friday and Easter Monday bank holidays, which vary from year to year, may also fall during term time. The May Day bank holiday was created in 1978. In February 2011, the UK Parliament was reported to be considering scrapping the bank holiday associated with May Day, replacing it with a bank holiday in October, possibly co-inciding with Trafalgar Day (celebrated on 21 October), to create a "United Kingdom Day".




May Day 1904




   May Day was abolished and its celebration banned by puritan parliaments during the Interregnum, but reinstated with the restoration of Charles II in 1660.   1 May 1707 was the day the Act of Union came into effect, joining England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
   In Oxford, it is traditional for May Morning revellers to gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College at 6:00 am to listen to the college choir sing traditional madrigals as a conclusion to the previous night's celebrations. It is then thought to be traditional for some people to jump off Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. However this has actually only been fashionable since the 1970s, possibly due to the presence of TV cameras. In recent years, the bridge has been closed on 1 May to prevent people from jumping, as the water under the bridge is only 2 feet (61 cm) deep and jumping from the bridge has resulted in serious injury in the past. There are still people who insist on climbing the barriers and leaping into the water, causing themselves injury.
   In Durham, students of the University of Durham gather on Prebend's Bridge to see the sunrise and enjoy festivities, folk music, dancing, madrigal singing and a barbecue breakfast. This is an emerging Durham tradition, with patchy observance since 2001.
Whitstable, Kent, hosts a good example of more traditional May Day festivities, where the Jack in the Green festival was revived in 1976 and continues to lead an annual procession of morris dancers through the town on the May Bank Holiday. A separate revival occurred in Hastings in 1983 and has become a major event in the town calendar. A traditional Sweeps Festival is performed over the May bank holiday in Rochester, Kent, where the Jack in the Green is woken at dawn on 1 May by Morris dancers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LAG BAOMER!!







    Lag BaOmer (Hebrew: ל"ג בעומר‎), also known as Lag LaOmer amongst Sephardi Jews, is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of Iyar.
    Lag BaOmer is Hebrew for "33rd [day] in the Omer". The Hebrew letter ל (lamed) or "L" represents "30" and ג (gimmel) or "G" represents "3". A vowel sound is conventionally added for pronunciation purposes.
    Some Jews call this holiday Lag LaOmer, which means "33rd [day] of the Omer", as opposed to Lag BaOmer, "33rd [day] in the Omer." Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson writes in his Likkutei Sichos that the reason why the day should be called Lag BaOmer and not Lag LaOmer is because the Hebrew words Lag BaOmer (ל"ג בעמר), spelled without the "vav", have the same gematria as Moshe (משה), and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was mystically a spark of the soul of Moses.









   The biblical mandate to count the Omer appears in Leviticus 23:15-16, which states that it is a mitzvah to count seven complete weeks from the day after Passover night ending with the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day. The 49 days of the Omer correspond both to the time between physical emancipation from Egypt and the spiritual liberation of the giving of the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai on Shavuot, as well as the time between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest in ancient Israel.
    During the time of Rabbi Akiva, 24,000 of his students died from a divine-sent plague during the counting of the Omer. that this was because they did not show proper respect to one another, befitting their level; they begrudged each other the spiritual levels attained by their comrades. Jews celebrate Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the count, as the traditional day that this plague ended.









    After the death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students, he taught just five students, among them Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The latter went on to become the greatest teacher of Torah in his generation.According to tradition, on the day of bar Yochai's death, he revealed the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. Indeed this day is seen as a celebration of the giving of the hidden, mystical Torah through Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as a parallel to Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the revealed Torah through Moses.
    During the Middle Ages, Lag BaOmer became a special holiday for rabbinical students and was called the "scholar's festival." It was customary to rejoice on this day through various kinds of merrymaking.



The grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai


Customs and Practices


The Grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag BaOmer

    As restrictions of mourning are lifted on this 33rd day of the Omer, weddings, parties, listening to music, and haircuts are commonly scheduled to coincide with this day. Families go on picnics and outings. Children go out to the fields with their teachers with bows and (rubber-tipped) arrows. Tachanun, the prayer for special Divine mercy on one's behalf is not said, because when God is showing one a "smiling face," so to speak, as He does especially on the holidays, there is no need to ask for special mercy.
In Meron, the burial place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, hundreds of thousands of Jews gather to celebrate with bonfires, torches, song and feasting. This was a specific request by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of his students.








    In Israel, Lag BaOmer is a school holiday. Youngsters and their parents light bonfires in open spaces in cities and towns throughout the country. Students' Day is celebrated on the campuses of the various universities. Lag BaOmer is also a favorite day for weddings.
    Israeli boys collect wood for a Lag BaOmer bonfire.In Israel, one knows that Lag BaOmer is drawing near when children begin collecting wood boards, old doors, and anything made from wood that can burn. This happens from 1 to 2 weeks before Lag BaOmer; the bonfires are erected by the children the day before Lag BaOmer and the adults light them at night.










Bonfires

    The most well-known custom of Lag BaOmer is the lighting of bonfires. Some say that as bar Yochai gave spiritual light to the world with the revelation of the Zohar, bonfires are lit to symbolize the impact of his teachings. As his passing left such a "light" behind, many candles and/or bonfires are lit.
    The Bnei Yissaschar cites another reason for the lighting of bonfires. On the day of his death Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, "Now it is my desire to reveal secrets...The day will not go to its place like any other, for this entire day stands within my domain..." Daylight was miraculously extended until Rabbi Shimon had completed his final teaching and died. This symbolized that all light is subservient to spiritual light, and particularly to the primeval light contained within the mystical teachings of the Torah. As such, the custom of lighting fires symbolizes this revelation of powerful light.








    At the tomb of Rabbi Shimon, the honor of lighting the main bonfire traditionally goes to the Rebbes of the Boyaner dynasty. This fire is lit on the roof of the tomb at 2:00 a.m.

Parades

    A Lag BaOmer parade in front of Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, in 1987.The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, encouraged Lag BaOmer parades to be held in Jewish communities around the world as a demonstration of Jewish unity & pride. Chabad sponsors parades as well as rallies, bonfires and barbecues for thousands of participants around the world.






Chai Rotel

    Another custom is the giving of chai rotel (Hebrew: ח"י רוטל‎) at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The Hebrew letters chet and yod are the gematria (numerical equivalent) of 18. Rotel is a liquid measure of about 3 liters. Thus, 18 rotels equals 54 liters or about 13 gallons. It is popularly believed that if one donates or offers 18 rotels of liquid refreshment (grape juice, wine, soda or even water) to those attending the celebrations at Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's tomb on Lag BaOmer, then the giver will be granted miraculous salvation.









    According to Taamei Minhagim, many childless couples found success with this segulah (propitious practice). This practice was also endorsed by Rabbi Ovadia miBartenura. Several local organizations solicit donations of chai rotel and hand out the drinks on the donor's behalf in Meron on Lag BaOmer. Nine months after Lag BaOmer, the Ohel Rashbi organization even invites couples who prayed at the tomb and had a child to come back to Meron to celebrate the births.









First Haircut for Children

    It is a custom at the Meron celebrations, dating from the time of Rabbi Isaac Luria, that three-year-old boys are given their first haircuts (upsherin), while their parents distribute wine and sweets. Similar upsherin celebrations are simultaneously held in Jerusalem at the grave of Shimon Hatzaddik for Jerusalemites who cannot travel to Meron.

HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS, WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?......FOR WE ADULTS, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE!!! AND LOTS OF IT!!!




   Chocolate is one of the few foods known to man about which people are actually passionate. We're talking about a wild, burning compassion; one that continues to grow with each delicious bite. For some of us, chocolate s considered to be a necessity of life.
Eating chocolate feels good. Some physicians claim that chocolate has something to do with the hormonal imbalance that happens within the body from time to time.    Psychiatrists go so far as to say that chocolate could be a substitute for sex ( especially after you've been married for a while!), particularly when sex isn't available or just not very good (like I said before, after you've been married for a while!!!). There are lots of theories as to why we want or need chocolate, none of which are proven but all of which are interesting to explore. Particularly, if that exploration involved more chocolate.
    Most people believe that the Aztec Indians should be credited for the invention of chocolate. They certainly held the cocoa bean in high esteem, even using it as currency. It is said that the Emperor Montezuma sent cocoa along with gold and silver to meet the ship of explorer Hernando Cortez, although it is uncertain whether he meant the gesture as a "bribe" or a "gift" from one conqueror to another.
    History indicates that the Aztecs also used their prized cocoa beans to prepare a drink. The recipe was heavily guarded and basically reserved for those of royal descent. They believed that the drink improved energy and imparted wisdom. Montezuma reportedly drank as much as 50 cups each day because he thought it improved his sexual prowess.
Although the Spaniards did not care for the Aztec drink--citing that it was too bitter for their taste--they still took it back to Spain where it eventually underwent several changes. This first change involved adding cane sugar to the chocolate in order to sweeten it and take away the bitter taste. Other changes involved the mixing in of other spices like vanilla. Finally, someone decided to try heating the drink to see what effect that might have on its taste. This proved to be the first truly successful version of what eventually became known as hot chocolate; European style, not the watered down version Americans drink.
    Hot chocolate became popular among the Spanish aristocracy who opted to treat it much as the Aztecs did, reserving it for those with power and prestige. However, as its popularity grew, Spain eventually decided to plant cocoa beans. This gave way to a profitable business for the country.
    The Spanish managed to keep the art of the cocoa industry a secret from the remainder of Europe for nearly 100 years. However, a Spanish princess who married into French royalty is believed to be responsible for literally "spilling the beans" about the delicious new drink. Following the pattern set by the Aztecs and mirrored by the Spaniards, the drink was, at first, primarily reserved for those inside the royal court. Of course, being the culinary trendsetters that they were, the French eventually ended up popularizing the drink. The popularity of chocolate spread across the channel to Great Britain and eventually made its way to the Americas.
    The invention and perfection of the steam engine, which mechanized the cocoa grinding process, made it possible to move chocolate into mass production. This helped lower the price of the delicacy, making it affordable for a much larger cross section of people. A few years later, the invention of the cocoa press further improved the quality of chocolate by making it possible to squeeze out part of the actual cocoa butter. This offered the food a smoother consistency and a greatly improved flavor.
    Actual eating chocolate was not available in that form until 1847. An English company introduced this texture that was far removed from the former grainy, gritty chocolate of old. This new food was still somewhat expensive to make. So, for many years, the delicacy remained something that the poor didn't have the opportunity to experience.
It was a Swiss manufacturer named Daniel Peter who, in the late 1800's invented a method of adding milk to the chocolate to further refine its taste and smoothness. America embraced the chocolate phenomenon and is actually responsible for opening the very first chocolate factory.
    American manufactures over 7 billion pounds of chocolate each year and consumes almost 100 pounds of the confection per second. However, it is the Swiss that consume the highest amount of this confection at 22 pounds per person per year.
    Chocolate is used to commemorate holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter and special events like birthdays and anniversaries. People use chocolate as a snack between meals. They use it to get started in the morning (I've been known to eat a snickers bar on some mornings on my way to work) and to get ready for bed at night (don't forget to brush your teeth before you go to bed though!). Even the U.S. government uses chocolate as a way to feed the human spirit when soldiers are away from home. Today, the U.S. Army D-rations included three 4-ounce chocolate bars.
Although once believed to be responsible for all of the ills of life like acne, obesity, and heart disease, scientists now disagree, albeit in varying degrees, regarding the actual negative effects of chocolate. Clinical studies have exonerated chocolate as a cause for or a factor in acne. Also, contrary to belief, most overweight people report that they do not eat excessive amounts of chocolate. In fact, recent reports indicate that the sugar intake of these individuals tends to be below average. Even today's dentists tend to believe that chocolate--eaten in reasonable quantities--can be less likely to cause tooth decay than other forms of candy or sweets.
    What recent scientific studies do tend to agree on, however, is that dark chocolate is much healthier for routine consumption than is milk chocolate. Caution, however, everything is better in moderation. Well except for those of us who are hooked on chocolate!!

Some Chocolate Facts:
  • The microwave oven was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.


  • In October 1973, Swedish sweet maker Roland Ohisson of Falkenberg was buried in a coffin made of nothing but chocolate. (If he was still alive he probably could of eaten his way out).


  • The triangular shape that Toblerone chocolates are packaged in, is protected by law.


  • Chocolate was used as medicine during the 18th century because it was believed that it could cure a stomach ache.


  • The first chocolate bar was made in 1847 by Fry's chocolate factory located in Bristol, England. They were the ones to mold the first chocolate bar that was suitable to be distributed to the public.


  • Consuming chocolate was once considered a sin during the 16th and 17th century. During that time it was provided in the form of a drink and since drinking wine during lent was a sin, so was drinking chocolate.


  • There are some types of chocolates that are actually good for the arteries and heart.


  • Chocolate comes in milk, white, semi-sweet, dark, bitter, bittersweet, and unsweetened form.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, A LITTLE HISTORY ON EARLY COSTUMES!

Masked Halloween Mystery



    Decked out for Halloween, a masked woman on roller skates—most likely a random addition to her costume—poses in 1910.



    Masquerade parties in the United States were much more common a hundred years ago, when people dressed up not just for Halloween but also for several other holidays, including Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve, according to Lesley Bannatyne, author of the forthcoming book Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America's Fright Night.
    Private social clubs often threw Halloween parties for their members, as it was the first major holiday after most people had returned from their summer homes.
That said, it's "not like Halloween [in the early 1900s] was an East Coast phenomenon or a high-society phenomenon"—people of all classes donned costumes across the country, even in small Western mining towns, she said.
    The "early 20th century also was the beginning of a real democratic movement, a push toward a popular culture," Bannatyne said, so Halloween was "very egalitarian—everyone celebrated it in their own way."





Schoolhouse Ghost



    A person in a ghost costume stands with a table full of Halloween decorations in a rural U.S. schoolhouse in 1905.



    Nature often inspired Halloween costumes and decorations a century ago, with cornstalks (as seen above), vegetables, tree branches, and leaves showing up as common elements, according to Bannatyne.
    Halloween was originally perceived as a "rustic, country holiday," especially during the U.S. Victorian period, about 1840 to 1900, she noted. (Also see "Candy Facts: Halloween Treats From Ancient Recipes.")
    "Overwhelmed by the fallout of industrialization, [Victorians and early Halloween revelers] sought out a simpler time where people were more connected to the land and the natural world.
    "The quaint, old-world, country nature of Halloween appealed to them."




Halloween Child's Play



    Part of an old U.S. Halloween tradition, blindfolded children attempt to put out a candle in a photograph dated to the 1900s. The game, probably called "blow out the candle," is often mentioned in early Halloween party books.



    Halloween in the U.S. was mainly a celebration for children until the premiere of the 1978 slasher flick Halloween, when the holiday "became paired with contemporary horror," she added.
    This new association with bloody violence—and the attendant gory costumes and decorations—"opened up the holiday for adults and older children to celebrate, and made it more popular."



Magic Moment



    Possibly conjuring a witch, sorcerer, or clown, one woman's 1910 Halloween costume (pictured) has several possible meanings, according to Bannatyne.



    The star and moon icons, for instance, may reflect a fascination with mysticism and magic, which have been connected to the "spooky aura" of Halloween for centuries, Bannatyne said.
    "Many of the first Halloween costumes reflected people's interest in the exotic, such as other cultures," she said. "You often find Egyptian-inspired costumes, for example, because of the mystic association with ancient Egypt."
    Likewise, she added, this costume's celestial symbols could represent night—"the domain of Halloween."


Bewitched on Halloween



    Women wearing improvised witch costumes line up for a photograph in the U.S. in 1910.



    "Witches and Halloween have been tied together in the public's imagination since at least 16th-century Scotland," Bannatyne said. At that time, "you begin to find poems such as Alexander Montgomerie's 'The Flighting of Polwart,' where witches ride through the night on All Hallow's Eve."
    "Also, costumes were always homemade at first," she noted. "People only began to buy manufactured costumes in the second and third decades of the 20th century, when a few savvy companies—Dennison and Beistle were the first—became aware that money could be made from Halloween decorations."


Halloween Dance



    Costumed girls—including one swathed in swastikas—smile for the camera on October 25, 1918, on the way to a Halloween dance pageant. The swastika had different meanings before the rise of the Nazi party in the mid-20th century—for one, it's an ancient symbol for life in some Indian religions, according to Columbia University.



    "Most [U.S.] civic and private organizations in the first half of the 20th century"—such as dancing schools, churches, women's groups, and military groups—"all hosted Halloween parties for children," Bannatyne said.
    "It was partly an attempt to keep children busy on Halloween, so as to cut down on some of the mischief that happened at night."


Bobbing for Apples



           A U.S. girl bobs for Halloween apples sometime in the early 1900s.



    Due to Halloween's rural origins—its precursor, Samhain, was marked 2,000 years ago in Celtic Europe—the harvest-time holiday has often been associated with apples, nuts, and cabbages, Bannatyne said.
    Today Halloween is a "rogue holiday," not attached to any person, ethnicity, or event, according to Bannatyne. Because of that, it's often a "cultural bellwether" for what happens in U.S. society.
    For instance, on Halloween 2001, right after the September 11 terrorist attacks, more families than usual went trick-or-treating—for example as firemen—to show their "lack of intimidation," she said.