Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween around The World

I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween in Romania but quickly came to enjoy the holiday in the U.S.

So, let’s go around the world and see what other countries do on this, one of the oldest holidays:

Romania (country of my birth).

Halloween became popular in the mid 1990s. Now, it is a time for costumes and parties.

Canada

Halloween celebrations in Canada began with the arrival of Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1800s. Jack O’Lanterns are carved and the festivities include parties, trick-or-treating and decorating.

China

In China, the Halloween festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed. Worshipers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, which are then burned in the evening hours to free the spirits so they might ascend to heaven.  

England

At one time, English children made “punkies” out of large beetroots, upon which they carved various designs. They would carry their “punkies” through the streets while singing the “Punkie Night Song” as they knocked on doors and asked for money.  

France

Unlike most nations , Halloween is not celebrated by the French in order to honor the departed ancestors. It is regarded as an “American” holiday and was virtually unknown in the country until around 1996. Not much different from Romania.

Ireland

In Ireland, believed to be the birthplace of Halloween, the tradition is still celebrated as much as it is in the U.S.

Bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts and children dress up in costumes to spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods. Most people attend parties with neighbors and friends.

Children are also known to “knock-a-dolly,” where they knock on the doors of their neighbors  then run away before the door is opened.

Mexico, Latin America And Spain

Among Spanish-speaking nations, Halloween is known as “El Dia de los Muertos.” It is a time to remember friends and family who have died. Officially commemorated on November 2 (All Souls’ Day), the three-day celebration begins on October 31.

Many families construct an altar in their home and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water, and food. A basin and towel are left out so the spirit can wash prior to indulging in the feast. Candles are burned to help the departed find their way home.

On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some of these gatherings may include tequila and a mariachi band although American Halloween customs are gradually taking over this celebration.

~~~~~~   I hope you’ll return for a picture-only post after Halloween (We’ll document our trick-or-treating experience). In the meantime, I’d love to read your favorite Halloween story.

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Images credit:

An Orange a Day: tonysorangeblog.blogspot.co.; Pumpkin skull: hawaiidermatology.com

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I Love Fall

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I love fall. I should be out there enjoying my favorite season, but I live in a tech world.

I am surrounded by a laptop, a printer that does everything but sing love songs, a Kindle, and an iPhone. And they have a good grasp on me, these lovely devices.

I do more shopping online than on foot. Pay bills online. Read my news there, too. Sometimes even watch movies. Of course, I write on my laptop. This all reminds me of the movie Wale-E, in which characters can’t even move from their chairs.

Lord help me.

Speaking of which, my back hurts from sitting in the chair so long. Wish I could get a massage online.

My scifi world is full of circuits and Nanos and books and everything else. I visit with family and friends online. I listen to friends who create and market their own e-books inside the cyber world. I have no idea how to do that. Not sure I need to know, anyway.

What else … let’s see. I have a Facebook page and I blog once or twice a week. 

Keeping up — learning all the never-ending new tech stuff — seems like another full-time job. I already have at least two. That makes a total of three, not to mention a family.

I used to listen to tech radio programs, staying on top of the latest, but not anymore. If it comes my way, I’ll learn it. And if tech will take yet another quantum leap … well … here comes job number four.

Yes, I love technology. But I also love the fall season. And in a well-fought war, fall wins.

Let the autumn leaves dazzle and the birds sing, because here I come.

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Image credit: travelerhubs.hubpages.com

Protest Art

There isn’t much the ordinary citizen can do about the mess in D.C. these days. At least not until Election Day. But for writers (bloggers included) and musicians, there are ways to express frustration via art.

Looking back, we see many examples. While some works were criticized at inception, later they become accepted, even celebrated.  

So, I took time off from reading the news (and getting angry while at it), to see what those before us wrote to express their dissatisfaction (too bad many works go way back):

 Here is a short list:

 1.  The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Lit., by Uptown Sinclair.

2.  Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.

3.  Poems, Protest and a Dream, by Sor Juana Ines de Cruz.

4. Touching Liberty, by Karen Sánchez-Eppler.

 As far as music, most protest songs go back to the ‘60s — the anti-war music.

So, is protest art dead or just not as important as once was?

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Image credit: kiradjones.wordpress.com, jonesin’

Blogger With a Cause

Here’s a TV snapshot to muse upon:  medical students treating the homeless. Young, bright people, free of judgment, treating the poor and the hungry and the self-abused of the world. And the students’ faces radiate with fulfillment — they are healing the world.

That was the documentary I saw last night — medical students healing the needy. Not a pretty picture, but they didn’t seem to care. The end result was what mattered.

I couldn’t be a doctor, and not because I’d be faced with the task of treating the homeless. But standing the sight of blood and performing medical procedures without flinching … that takes a certain kind of person.

Sure, in my example the students were learning. But they might as well have been volunteers with a cause, as their training seemed endless, and the conditions they worked under were, in many cases, similar to those in a war zone.

That made me wonder:  What cause would I completely throw myself behind if free of day-to-day responsibilities?

I think I’d work with children … fill the gaps left by budget cuts … read to them, teach them to the best of my abilities. Laugh with them. Our world is going to be in their hands one day, after all. And currently our world offers little reason to smile, to feel hopeful. Or maybe I just need to stay away from the TV, the news channels in general.

Say, you could throw yourself behind any cause.  What would that be?

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Image credit: Compassion at appletoncompassion.org