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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: February 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

MARCH NATIONAL FOOD HOLIDAYS, THESE WILL MAKE YOUR TASTE BUDS JUMP FOR JOY!!



    Holidays are always fun to celebrate, but why wait a few months for the next major one to arrive when you could be enjoying some nice edible food holidays everyday of the month?



  • March 1st, National Peanut Butter Lover's Day- This has to be one of the greatest national food holidays of the year, or at least for the month of March. Go and make a couple of PB and J sandwiches for lunch on this day.

  • March 2nd, National Banana Creme Pie Day-While it still may be a little cold outside, why not enjoy a tropical banana cream pie for dessert....if you want a little more tropical, add some coconut.

  • March 3rd, National Cold Cuts Day-This national food holiday is perfect for an evening when you're too tired to cook. Just stop by your local deli and pick up some favorite sliced meats and some soup.

  • March 4th, National Pound Cake Day-What could be more delicious than a piece of pound cake served with some strawberries and whipped cream.




  • March 5th, National Cheese Doodle Day-This national food holiday is easy to celebrate. Grab your favorite cheese doodles and a soda and crash on the couch and watch some t.v.

  • March 6th, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day-This is another national food holiday of pure pleasure for the stomach.

  • March 7th, National Crown Roast of Pork Day-This isn't something you wear on your head. This is more upper crust food, usually done around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Just take the easy way out and barbecue some nice, thick pork chops.

  • March 8th, National Peanut Cluster Day-Sure you can go out and buy them....but why not try and make some, they really aren't that hard.

  • March 9th, National Crabmeat Day-Seafood is such a wonderful food to help you forget about the chilly nights. Make a seafood stew with crabmeat in it.





  • March 10th, National Blueberry Popover Day-Popovers are good on their own....add some blueberries and enjoy them even more. Served with some bacon, eggs, and cereal.

  • March 11th, Oatmeal-Nut Waffles Day-A not too guilty about something that's good for your body.

  • March 12th, National Baked Scallops Day-If crab wasn't enough to get you over your cold weather blues, why not have some scallop fettuccini.

  • March 13th, Coconut Torte Day- I'm not crazy about coconut. But if you like it go get some Hostess Sno-balls and pig out.

  • March 14th, National Potato Chip Day-This has to be what a majority of people have been waiting for. Make yourself a sandwich, some soup and grap a bag of your favorites.....




  • March 15th, National Pears Helene Day-I'm not much of a fan of them either...maybe you could poach some for you and your sweetie...with some vanilla ice cream.

  • March 16th, National Artichoke Hearts Day-My wife loves these, I'll give her a shout out for this one....HHHHEEEEYYYY!

  • March 17th, Corned Beef and Cabbage Day- Let us give thanks to the Irish for this one.

  • March 18th, Oatmeal Cookie Day-What better way to celebrate this one....by making a big batch with your children.

  • March 19th, National Chocolate Caramel Day-Go out and split a candy bar with yourself.




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  • March 20th, National Ravioli Day-Go open a can of them, pop it in the microwave and watch a little t.v.

  • March 21st, California Strawberry Day-Slice up a bowl full of them, put them over some ice cream and drizzle a little chocolate of the whole thing....YYUUUUMMMM!!

  • March 22nd, Coq Au Vin Day-If you don't like complicated dishes that require a full day in the kitchen, do yourself a favor and head to a nice French restaurant and leave it to the experts.

  • March 23rd, National Chip and Dip Day- Another day for snackers around the world to unite, raise a chip high in the air and dunk it in some tasty dip.

  • March 24th, National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day-Time to hit the candy isle for this one, or go out and see a movie, they usually have them there.



  • March 25th, Pecan Day-Stop by the bakery on the way home and pick up a Pecan pie.

  • March 26th, Spinach Day-Also known as Popeye Day, UUUKKK!! UUUKKK!!UUUKKKKAAAA!!!..."He's strong to the finish, that's why he eats his spinach. He's Popeye the Salor Man"!!!

  • March 27th, National Spanish Paella Day-Takes alot of time to make...you may want to go out and have someone make this for you.

  • March 28th, National Black Forrest Cake Day-  Chocolate...Chocolate...Chocolate!!!

  • March 29th, National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day-I've got to love that lemon cake!!




  • March 30th, Turkey Neck Soup Day-I think on this day, all of the turkeys are hiding until Thanksgiving...they don't want to loose their necks quite yet.

  • March 31st, Tater Day-What day isn't a good day to have some Taters!! You'all agree with Me??

NATIONAL HOLIDAY'S FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH!!





Image result for march





It's another new month.  Let's see what March has in store for us!





  • March 1st, National Pig Day-To celebrate National Pig Day, go out and buy some bacon or a ham and pig out. Everybody give a shoutout OINK! OINK! OINK! Or if you're from Arkansas....SOOEEE!

  • March 2nd, Name Sake Day

  • March 3rd, National Anthem Day-Go out to a sporting event and listen to an anthem....Just as long as Christina Aguilera isn't singing it...If she is, might want to give her the words to it!!!

  • March 4th, Dentist's Day- Go out and get a new toothbrush. If you have a Dental appointment on this day, remember....rinse then spit!



  • March 5th, Name Tag Day

  • March 6th, U.S. Snowshoe Day

  • March 9th, False Teeth Day-Go to Grandma and Grandpa's house and hide their teeth. Or you can say a solemn prayer of thanks to George Washington, the father of false teeth.



  • March 10th, Learn What Your Name Means Day



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  • March 11th, Paper Day- What day goes by when we don't use paper? How about a don't use paper day or save a tree from the paper mill day.

  • March 14th, Potato Chip Day-This will be a big day for all of the snackers around the world.





  • March 15th, Buzzards Day-This holiday should coincide with road kill day.

  • March 16th, Lips Appreciation Day-Pucker up honey, I'm gonna plant a nice wet kiss on you today.

  • March 17th, St. Patrick's Day-Don't forget to wear something green and don't drink too much. If you don't drink, go out and have a nice dinner of corned beef and cabbage! I will also be having a story about the history and folklore of St. Patricks' day coming soon....so stay tuned.

  • March 18th, Rubber Band Day-Get your child a rubber band gun and let him wreak havoc on your pets and his siblings.

  • March 19th, Swallows Return to San Juan Capistrano Day





  • March 20th, Kiss Your Fiance Day-It could be a nice day to kiss your wife today also!

  • March 22nd, International Goof off Day-I always look forward to a day where I can goof off and not have to ask permission to do it! YYYYYAAAA!!!

  • March 23rd, Near Miss Day-A good day to almost get a traffic ticket.

  • March 24th, Kick Butts Day





  • March 25th, Letting Go of Stuff Day- The day that every hoarder refuses to celebrate.

  • March 26th, Make Up Your Own Holiday Day- Isn't that how we get all of these other non-national holidays? We just need something to celebrate 24/7/365 days of the year!!

  • March 27th, Viagra Day- For all of the older people in the world....just don't hope a STIFF wind starts blowing.

  • March 28th, Weed Appreciation Day-Oh those poor, poor weeds.



  • March 30th, Doctor's Day- Help your doctor out and go get some kind of exam today...so he can pay his bills.

  • March 31st, National She's Funny That Way Day-The only time of year that we need to laugh at our significant others jokes.

Week Long Celebrations in March
    The first week in March is National Author and Illustrator Week. Be sure to visit the library and check out some of your favorite authors and illustrated books.
The first week in March is National Shoe Week. As winter is coming to an end and spring is just around the corner, go through your closet and get rid of those worn out shoes or if you have children, they are probably growing out of some. Give those to a charity for the less unfortunate.
The third week in March is National Bubble Week. Celebrate with a bubble bath for you, your kids or maybe that dog in the family that hasn't had a bath in about 2 or 3 months.

Month Long Celebrations in March
    March is Let's Go Fly a Kite Month, National Umbrella Month, National Frozen Foods Month and National Crafts Month. So many celebrations, so little time to do them in.

PATRAS CARNIVAL FROM GREECE!!






   The Patras CarnivalPatrino karnavali is the largest event of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe. It has more than 160 years of history. The events begin on 17th of January and last up to Clean Monday. The carnival of Patras is not a single event but a variety of events that includes balls, parades, hunting of hidden treasure, kids’ carnival etc. Its apogee is in the last weekend of Carnival with the Saturday evening parade of carnival groups, the extravagant Sunday parade of floats and groups, and finally the ritual burning of king carnival at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf in the harbour of Patras. Its characteristics are spontaneity, improvisation, inspiration and volunteerism.  This year the carnival will be held from January  17th through March 14th, 2016.

History

   Most people agree that starting event of the Patras Carnival was a ball given in the residence of the merchant Moretis in 1829. However the carnival, as most carnival events in the Mediterranean and the Balkans, is connected with ancient pagan rituals, as those to honour Dionysus. According to these traditions, in the heart of the winter, the faithful invoke the deity with special feasts and he is reborn in order to bring spring once again. In modern period, French troops of general Maison stationed in the city after its liberation from the Turks. Later on, and as consequence of the prosperity of the








city in the end of 19th century the carnival festivities take a more regular nature. The first carnival floats appeared in the decade of 1870s. Then the floats were exclusively creations of individuals, only later did the Municipality of Patras undertake to construct a large number of them. In the same decade, in 1872, with contributions of rich raisin merchants the celebrated "Apollo" Theatre is built, and it entertains carnival dances, as it does precisely today, because the theatre continues to have a central role in the carnival celebrations. In 1880 on Saint Anthony's day the first "mpoules" appeared (teams disguised that hang around in the neighborhoods and with humorous disposal joke with friends). This custom tends to disappear nowadays. Besides, as the historian of Patras Carnival Nikos Politis testifies, beautiful carnivals were organized during the belle époque as in the years 1900, 1907, 1909 with the attendance for first time of individuals of each social class and origin. This period also gave birth to the egg-war custom, with wax eggs stuffed with confetti (made with special machines) which the carnivalists threw from the balconies. Although this custom has disappeared today, it is considered to be the precursor of the chocolate war.
   The developments of the following decade were not favourable for the carnival; the continuous wars and conflicts (Balkan wars, World War I, Asia Minor campaign) send the men in the war front and brought economic crisis and desolation to the city. In the first postwar years the situation do not improve perceptibly, only some scattered events testify the arrival of Carnival. Obvious exception constitute the imposing and amazing carnivals of the years 1938 and 1939. Nevertheless, the World War II and the consecutive Greek Civil War bring a decennial obligatory interruption. In the beginning of the 1950s the first hesitant thoughts for a resurgence of carnival are expressed. The most pessimistic predict a failure: "nothing will be as before". However, the carnival is indeed reborn. The pioneer musical groups "Orpheus" and "Patraiki' Mantolinata" lead the effort. The Patras Carnival returns in the lives of the citizens of Patras but also all










   Greeks, especially those that could afford (mainly affluent Athenians) to travel in Patras in order to participate in the carnival, as in its famous Bourboulia balls. In the same period the Greek cinema depicts snapshots of carnival in its films. Yet more historic scenes can be seen in prewar films. Still in the 1950s, the carnival becomes the object of attacks, as fanatic Christian and other misinformed moralistic organisations roll up to Patras from other regions of Greece during the carnival in order to denounce orgies, corruptness, "Sodom and Gomorrah", but they are prevented from creating trouble by the police. The completely unfounded accusations meet with indifference or a feeling of nuisance by the citizens of Patras and visitors of carnival. It is characteristic that the local church does not sympathise with the troublemakers since it knows that the carnival is a completely innocent recreational event. Yet, in the same period in certain cases censorship is imposed in certain carnival creations which upset the establishment with their humour. Finally in 1964 the year of king Paul's death the Carnival was cancelled.
   Under no circumstances could these limited exceptions shade the magnificence of carnival, which had already known Pan-Hellenic recognition while it also attracted the attention of certain international media. In 1966 the carnival was reorganized. The journalist Nikos Mastorakis introduces the Hidden Treasure Hunt in which 94 citizens of Patras and visitors with their cars take part. The first prize was won by a team led by a friend of the carnival from Thessalonica; his name was Alkis Steas and he presented the game starting from the following year. Thus, the late Steas became for decades the legendary presenter of the carnival, which was broadcasted by ERT and was watched by all Greek TV viewers. The presenter's expressions such as "the Carnival city of Greece", when he referred to Patras and "be happy" and "keep dancing!" when he







referred to the carnival groups, remain historical. In 1974 the modern phase of the carnival begins, as the revelers are convinced to abandon their cars and parade on foot in the streets (until then only floats paraded). Since then each year the spectacle climaxes, the carnival has become gigantic and hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Patras to witness the proceedings. From the early beginning of 2011, Carnival of Patras has its own Web TV channel, broadcasting live and on-demand videos in www.carnivalpatras.tv.

The Opening Ceremony

   Irrespectively of when the Triodion falls,the three-week period preceding the first Sunday of Lent, it is customary for the Carnival of Patras on start on the day of St. Anthony (17 January). The opening ceremony takes place on George Square and includes pantomimes and patters, dances, endless music and fireworks.


The Childrens carnival

   A spectacular, yet substantial, take on the traditional baby rally. The Children's Carnival includes a parade with the participation of masqueraded children's groups from nurseries, kindergartens, musical schools etc. Over 5000 children participate whereas the festival is completed by numerous game events and constructive activities. Their objective is to introduce the younger generation to the Carnival and to distinguish their abilities in artistic expression related to aesthetic or satirical masquerading. You can watch the parade live in www.carnivalpatras.tv.



 

The Bourboulia

   The most famous unique Carnival tradition of Patras is also its oldest. Women participate in the Carnival Dance Hall Ball without paying for entry while men must purchase a ticket. All the women are dressed in a dark dress with a mask called a "black domino" while the men will be in regular clothes. During the dance, women select their dance partner. Besides an encouragement for the women to act as the sexual aggressor there is also an equalization of the social classes, particularly among the women whose background as urban or working class cannot be distinguished. 
   It is an empowering female event which allowed escape from daily routine defined in narrow social terms. According to Mrs. Ntouli-Dimitropoulou in an interview given in 2006 to Christiana Grigoriou &Christina Metaxioti for their published research paper on "The Social Role and the Cultural Identity of Women in Patra" the special attention given by the women of Patra to their preparation for the Bourboulia " makes them all beautiful and they give-off a sense of self-confidence that they are the most beautiful women in the world. This is something magical.


     For most of its history, no photographs of the Bourboulia were allowed and while it is alleged that every woman in Patra has participated in the Bourboulia at least once, no one will admit it. Mrs Maria Iliopoulou, the first women recognized officially for her Carnival contributions by the Mayor of Patras has also been responsible for many years for the Bourboulia. She cites St. Mark's square in Venice as the source for the original costume design of the domino. While Venice needed heavy material in warmer Patras silk and satin were favored. The mask is very important to create the mystery. In fact, Mrs Iliopoulou believes the Patras Carnival Queen contest should wear masks as every Queen has her own beauty with her carnival uniform and thus her real appearance should not be revealed.



Bouboulina_attacking-Nafplion.jpg
Laskarina Bourboulina




History of the Bourboulia: 
   Official Carnival history of Patras usually begins with the first event being ball given in the Carnival season associated with the merchant class which was influenced by French Carnaval Balls and Venetian Carnevale Costumes of St. Marks Square.

The Saturday night parade

   This is also called the "Nihterini Podarati" [Night Parade on foot].In earlier years, only the Treasure Hunt groups could participate, without their floats. However, the last few years every group is free to join. Night, bright lights, an overwhelming stream of people, colors and high spirits combine, create a spectacular scene.


Closing Ceremony

    An extension of the traditional festivities based around the burning of the float of the Carnival King, with concerts, dances, a farewell to the carnival past, announcements about the carnival to come and countless fireworks. It takes place at the port on Sunday night and is also broadcast on TV.






   Following the Grand Parade on Sunday are important final events. This is the last Sunday of the Carnival and the eve of the first day of Lent or Clean Monday. The Carnival King is called upon to bid farewell to his subjects and to arrange a date for next year.
   The customary meeting of all crews will happen at the St. Nikolaos Street wharf the central quay of the Patras harbour. Tradition demands the announcement of the winners of the Treasure Hunt, the farewell of the Carnival King and burning of the float , announcements about the carnival to come, endless dancing and fantastic fireworks.   The show is broadcast nationally on TV as are both the Saturday and Sunday parades. 
The mayor declares the closing of this year’s Carnival and officially announces the next year’s theme. All festivities stop at midnight as everyone observes the beginning of Lent.


 

Friday, February 26, 2016

A TRADITIONAL NEW ORLEANS CAKE, BUT REMEMBER NOT TO EAT THE BABY!

Get in on the fun of the King Cake. Hide a little toy baby in the cake and whoever finds it has one year of good luck!



Traditional New Orleans King Cake Recipe




  • Prep: 40 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling


  • Yield: 12 Servings

    Ingredients 40 25 65             Ingredients
    • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
    • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • GLAZE:
    • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
    • Green, purple and yellow sugars

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
    • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
    • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush with egg.
    • Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Yield: 1 cake

    MARDI GRAS FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA!!!



        The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to Medieval Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today....with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands....are traced to New Orleans.
        Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian expolorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe due Mardi Gras". He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.






     
        In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile)....similar to those who form our current Mardi Gras Krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boef Graf Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed along on wheels by 16 men. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.
        New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptise Le Moyne. By the 1730's, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans...but not in parade form. In the early 1740's, Louisiana's Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls...the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.





     

        The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Associaiton is the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
        By the late 1830's, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance.
        In 1871, Mardi Gras's second "Krewe" is formed, the Twelfth Night Reveler's, with the first account of Mardi Gras "throws".







        1872, was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival-Rex-to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag.
        In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the "Mardi Gras Act" making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.
        Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, we call it the "Greatest Free Show on Earth"!









    History Behind the King Cake

        As part of Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kinds called "A King's Cake".
        Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.





     
        Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the "baby" is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
    In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.







     
        January 6th, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is also the day Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday).
        So, in Louisiana, especially, Mardi Gras season and King Cakes go hand in hand with literally hundreds of thousands of King Cakes consumed at parties and office lunch rooms every year.
        Ordering King Cakes over the Internet has now become an annual tradition by consumers all around the world...and many of the bakers offer them year around. After all, you can't have a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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




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






    History

       One story goes that the carnival was inspired by a group of African-American minstrels who docked in Cape Town in the late 1800's and entertained the sailors with their spontaneous musical performances.  The popular song Hier kom die Alabama (Here comes the Alabama) refers to the ship that is believed to have brought them.  Another story goes that the traveling minstrels were actually white and painted their face black...hence the painted faces seen today.






    Inspiration

       The source of the parade and the festival are the horrors of slavery, as was blackface minstrels in the United States.  As Denis-Constant Martin's book Coon Carnival informs us, several forms given to physical torture, including the burning of effigies on Guy Fawkes day, evolved into the present day commemoration.  Some would remind us, however, that American style slavery has more influence in America than Southern Africa.  Guy Fawkes day is a British custom, and is not connected as such with American slavery.  Even American blackface minstrels are more connected with celebrations of the people that came out of slavery than with the institution itself.






    Troupe Organisation


       The majority of the troupes (approximately 169) are represented by the Kaapse Karnaval ("Cape Carnival") Association.  In addition, two breakaway organisations (the Kaapse Karnaval Association and the Mitchell's Plain Youth Development Minstrel Board) represent a minority of troupes.






    The Carnival Today

       The festival begins on New Year's Day and continues into January.  Traditionally, it has been a site for grievances against white supremacy.  Festivities include street parades with singing and dancing, costume competitions and marches through the streets.  While many troupes now are supported by corporate sponsors, many refuse and remain sticklers for tradition.  The 2005 carnival was nearly cancelled due to an alleged lack of funding, while the 2006 carnival was officially called off for the same reason.  However, the troupe organisations subsequently decided to go ahead with the parade despite continued unhappiness over funding, and the festivities, were opened by Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rascool on January 2nd, 2006.

    BUDDHIST HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS!!





       While most in the United States gets ready for Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December, there are many different holidays associated with the Buddhist religion, which are especially observed in Southeast, Central and East Asian countries.  Each year, throughout the world, various celebrations and festivals are held, often using the lunar calendar for exact dates.  It is not uncommon to find differing dates and traditions in regards to different countries.








       Most of the holidays pertaining to the Buddhist culture often pay homage to the life of the Buddha, as well as various Bodhisattvas.  For those of you who don't know, a Bodhisattva is a future Buddha, who has put off their attainment of nirvana (no more suffering) on hold so that they may assist others in freeing themselves from a life full of distress.  It is the goal of those following Mahayana Buddhism to become a bodhisattva, in Sanskrit, the term stands for "one whose essence is wisdom".





     

       A typical day of celebration usually starts with paying a visit to the local temple.  This is when food offerings are made, as well as other items, which are given to the monks.  Then, followers will often listen and engage in a series of teachings, truths or religious conversation.  Afternoon celebrations include a variety of actions, such as giving food to the poor.  This is done in hopes of earning merit during this time of respect and observance.  Some followers will walk around the temple three times, which is significant in honoring the Three Jewels (or Gem).  The Three Jewels are the Buddha, who symbolizes attainable goals, the Dharma, which are the teachings that lead followers closer to their goals, and the Sangha, which represents monks and nuns.





     

       Chanting and meditation is also common during times of celebration.  Popular among monks and other followers, the Pali chant associated with the Triple Jewels, called the Vandana Ti-sarna, may be recited:
    "Buddham Sharanam Gacchami" (I go for refuge in the Budda)
    "Dhammam Sharanm Gacchami" (I go for refuge in the Dharma)
    "Sangham Sharanam Gacchami" (I go for refuge in the Sangha)

    Important Buddhist Holidays, Ceremonies and Festivals include:







    Buddhist New Year-The Buddhist New Year is observed on various days, depending on specific Buddhist sects, as well as where in the world you are located.  For example, if you are in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka or Thailand, the new year is celebrated three days following the first full moon within the month of April.  These countries follow the Theravadin Buddhist belief system, which represents the oldest surviving Buddhist philosophy.  Tibetan Buddhists usually celebrate the new year in March, whereas, Mayayana Buddhists observe the new year on the day of the first full moon in January.





     

    Festival of Floating Bowls (Loy Krathong): This particular festival is observed in Thailand, when waters fill the local rivers and canals.  By the end of the Kathina Festival season, this observance can be enjoyed on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month.  Flowers, incense sticks and candles are placed in bowls made from leaves and brought to the canals and rivers to be set afloat.  It is said that all of your bad luck will escape you when following this tradition.  The history behind this practice can be traced to the commemoration of the holy footprint of the Buddha, which was found on the Namada River Beach in India.







     

    Ancestor Day (Ulambana): For Buddhists residing in Mahayana countries, there is a belief that the gates of hell open on the first day of the 8th lunar month, allowing ghosts to wander about the world for a total of 15 days.  At this time, it is common to see Buddhists offer food to the ghosts, in hopes of easing their suffering.  When the 15th day is reached, Ulambana or Ancestor Day is observed.  This is when people visit cemeteries so that they may leave offerings for their ancestors.  This festival is also observed in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, where the Thereavadin belief system is followed.  Japanese Buddhists hold a similar holiday, which is also referred to as Obon.  This holiday starts on July 13th and is observed for 3 days, which is meant to recognize the time that ancestors are reunited with the living.







    Vesak (Buddha Day): Serving as one of the most important festivals in Buddhist culture, Vesak is observed on the day of the first full moon in may.  This is when all Buddhists pay their respects to the birth, enlightenment, as well as death of the Buddha.








    Dhamma Day (know as Asalha Puja Day): On the day of the full moon in July, Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's first sermon, which is often referred to as the "turning of the wheel of the Dharma".








    Observance Day (Uposatha or in Sri Lanka, Poya Day): This particular holiday deals with the observance of the four traditional days, which involves Buddhists thriving in Theravada countries.  These holy days are celebrated on the new moon, full moon, as well as quarter moon days.



     





       Kathina Ceremony (Robe Offering Ceremony): Considered a floating holiday, this ceremony can be accomplished on any given day within one month of the end of the 3-month rains retreat season (also known as Vassa).  This is when non-clergy members present new robes and other items to the monks and nuns.

    Monday, February 22, 2016

    UNITED STATES NATIONAL TOBOGGAN CHAMPIONSHIPS FROM CAMDEN MAINE!




     
     
     

       The U.S. National Tobaggan Championships is the only organized wooden toboggan race in the country and possibly the world.  The toboggan chute is located in Camden, Main at the Camden Snow Bowl, a community owned year round recreation area which has developed thousand of dedicated skiers since 1936.  All race revenue goes to off setting the Snow Bowl budget.   This year they we held on February 5th and 6th.
      






    History

       The original chute was first built in 1936 by a dedicated group of volunteers who also built a ski lodge and ski hill, one of the earliest in America.  The chute was again rebuilt in 1954 by local Coast Guardsmen and lasted until 1964 when it was brought to an end because of rot and neglect.
       In 1990 it was resurrected once again out of pressure treated wood by another enthusiastic group of volunteers and material donors and was to become known as the Jack Williams Toboggan Chute.  The week before the race, many hours are spent during the dark of night, when it is the coldest, to coat the wooden chute with layer upon  layer of ice.  This is accomplished by a "Rube Goldberg" invention of David Dickeys, which pulleys a tub up the chute slowly dispensing water from holes in its back.






       The chute is 400 feet long, and with the 70 foot high hill,  toboggans can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.  The run out is on to frozen Hosmers' pond.  If there is clear ice on the  pond, some sleds will go the entire way across the pond ( over 1/4 of a mile).
          The Nationals are usually held the first weekend of February, but to avoid conflict with the Super Bowl, the event has been changed to the 2nd weekend in February starting in 2008.






    Rules

       The race toboggan must be of traditional shape, material and design to qualify for the Nationals.  The race is like any race, in that the few rules are constantly pushed to the limits by tweaking the toboggan to make it go a tenth of a second faster.  Even the "Inspector of Toboggans", from the 2007  race,  was found to have violated the slat rule to make his go a little faster.
       The most wonderful aspect of the U.S. National Toboggan Race, is that anybody can participate in a national race and anybody can be the National Champion, no matter their age or ability.  In 2007 two gentlemen from Tennessee, who had never seen snow before, went on to become the 2nd place champions in the two man division.