PIETY, PRANKS, AND PARTIES: EASTER MEDIEVAL STYLE – Reblog – Alli Templeton

Easter in the very olden days of yore.
Plus, there were eggs.

In medieval times, life revolved around the church, and the year was marked out by a series of religious festivals, customs and holidays of which Christmas and Easter were the main events. But contrary to many a modern perception, people in the Middle Ages had more time off than we do today. And although there was a good deal of attending church and religious rituals and processions, these did bring the community together, and they also knew how to kick back and have fun.

The Easter period would start with Shrove Tuesday, a secular holiday involving boisterous games and sports. After this, the fun gave way to the fasting period of Lent, when churches were hung with veils and crosses shrouded. Little observed today, if anything we brace ourselves to give up chocolate or booze for the requisite 40 days, but they took it much more seriously in the Middle…

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TWO CAROLS FOR OUR HOLIDAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

As the weird, right-wing Christians endlessly complain about how they can’t say “Merry Christmas,” while the rest of us try to keep our heads low and avoid getting bombarded by Christmas? For us, there is Tom Lehrer and a few songs to make us smile.

Let us not forget that “other” seasonal holiday, Hanukkah. Although it is not one of the major holidays of the Jewish calendar, it’s relative (depending on the Jewish Lunar calendar which moves the holidays around in a thoroughly un-Christian way) proximity to Christmas has given it an undeserved prominence. And for that, there’s still Tom Lehrer.

May your season be joyful if you celebrate and sane, regardless. It’s a holiday. Enjoy it, ignore it, or sing your heart out.

FLAGS BLOSSOM IN THE OLD CEMETERY – Marilyn Armstrong

The cemetery is in the center of the town, across from the dam and just a hundred or so yards from the river itself. It’s up on a hill, so it never floods, even when the rivers rush over their banks. The people who created that cemetery knew about the rivers. And flooding. They picked a beautiful spot, but dry and safe for the bones and memories.

An old cemetery, dating back to the early 1700s. It contains traces of many generations of those who lived and died in this town, this valley. Folks who lived along the Blackstone and its many tributaries, fished in its lakes and streams. They fought in our wars and are buried here — Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War veterans as well as those who fought in all the American wars since.

Every Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, the cemetery blooms with bouquets and flags. The schools bring the children here, so they will remember too and traditions will be maintained. They bring bouquets of wild flowers or from the back garden. Lilacs and lilies, scarlet poppies … and always a miniature American flag. Even if there’s no special holiday, the cemetery always shows signs of caring, remembering.

At the library

Maybe it’s easier to remember here, with such a small population. Is that it? Or it’s just part of the air, the character, the history. Remembering is what we do in the Valley.

The cemetery is one of my favorite places. We’re newcomers after all, only living here 17 years. Our ancestors — Garry’s and mine — come from Sligo, Antigua, Minsk, Bialystok … from tiny villages in Ireland and the West Indies and the shtetls of eastern Europe.

Valley people have been here longer. Many came from French Canada in the late 19th century to work in the mills. Another large group formed the dominant Dutch population. They built churches, businesses and factories, dairy and truck farms, shops, horse farms and sawmills. Their names are prominent wherever the rivers run.

Newcomers, like us, aren’t quite as rare these days, and anyway, we’ve lived here 18 years, so we are no longer outsiders. Nonetheless, we have no ancestors in this cemetery.

The valley is the only place I’ve lived where the majority of families have lived in this town or in a nearby villages for three, four, five generations.

“We’ve always lived in the Valley,” they say, meaning as long as anyone can remember. If gently prodded, they may recall at some point, long ago, they came from somewhere else … but some can’t remember when or if it’s true.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I point out they must have come from somewhere because unless they are Native American, they came to this place, even if a long time since. They get misty-eyed trying to remember old family stories handed down when they were young. Hard to remember, they tell you. “You know, that was 75 years ago … a long time.”

We nod, because it was a long time ago. Before we could remember anything, surely.

So another year passes and little flags and flowers bloom in the old cemetery in the middle of town. It’s a nice thing they do. Remembering.

OKTOBERFEST, THE PEOPLE’S FAIR – RICH PASCHALL

The meaning of the annual celebration, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

German-American Festival, Chicago
German-American Festival, Chicago. It seems every community wants to have an Oktoberfest.  It doesn’t matter if they have any idea what the Oktoberfest actually is.  They just want to have one.  Perhaps some think if they have enough music and beer, then they have a Fest.  Our community is no exception.  Chicago’s largest ethnic group is German-American so we think we know how to have a Fest.  As street festivals go, it is pretty good.  It is not an Oktoberfest like you would find in Germany.

Some of my friends have the Oktoberfest in Munich on their Bucket List.  They think I should want to be a party to this too.  The older I get, the worse this idea actually sounds.  For those who don’t know, around six million visitors show up for the 17 to 19 day festival.  If you do not have a reservation in advance, you are not likely to get into one of the crowded beer halls.  In fact, huge crowds of beer drinkers can get rather unhappy if they run out of beer, as happened at the 200th anniversary in 2010.
The Bavarian festival began in October 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig got married and invited the people of Bavaria to join in the celebration on the field in front of the city gate at Munich.  The celebration was held somewhat annually and eventually lengthened.  It’s beginning was moved into September and ended with the first weekend in October.  So in many ways this “Volksfest” is more of a September event.  If the 3rd (German Unity Day) falls on a Monday or Tuesday, the event gets extended to include that date.

Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart, Germany

Contrary to what many may now think, the event was not always held.  Twenty four fall seasons saw no festival because of cholera, or war, or hard economic times.  But most years the autumnal celebrations go on around Germany and tourists flock to the carnival like events.  For those who like to wander the grounds or can not get into a hall, the outside areas now include rides, food booths and beer booths.  You might find a seat outside, but the fall weather is not always accommodating.

Cannstatter Volksfest
Cannstatter Volksfest

One year a friend who lives in France tried to organize a trip to the Munich Oktoberfest, but the reality is you must plan a year in advance in order to get in.  So we made the best decision we could have made.  Together we went to the second largest German Fest which is held in Stuttgart, Cannstatter Volksfest.  Yes, it was crowded and the weather was not the best, but we got into beer halls, drank and ate with people from around the world, stood on our benches and sang songs we barely knew.  It could not have been better.

Like many European cities, the public transportation in Stuttgart is excellent.  Although we were not particularly close to the fair grounds, we took the train and got off right at the entrance to the festival.  When we left, we found an old German sitting across from us on the train.  Since there are many beer halls featuring a different beer each, my friend asked the gentlemen what is the best beer in Germany.  “Frei bier,” he exclaimed.  That will remain one of our favorite travel moments.  We repeat it often.

Perhaps the best part of the adventure was sharing in the fun with one of my best friends.  Yes, we seem to have fun wherever our journeys take us, but we would not have found an atmosphere quite like that Oktoberfest anywhere else in the world.

Note:  Click on the Stuttgart picture for a larger version of the fair grounds.  We did walk around in the rain, just like everyone else.

TIME IS RELATIVE

In younger days, I felt if you didn’t celebrate on the day … birthday, Christmas, anniversary, whatever … that you’d blown it.

You might think with the passing of time, I would be even more eager to get right into any life event. After all, this IS tomorrow.

Autumns glorious final days

We are past waiting for a rainy day. Get out your umbrella, the rain has arrived. Who knows how much time we’ve got left? (Really, does anyone know? We could any of us be hit tomorrow by a runaway beer truck.)

Life is ironic and never what you expect. As it turns out, I am infinitely more patient than I was when I was younger.

Near death experiences notwithstanding, I’m in no rush to get anywhere or do anything. There is going to be a tomorrow. I know it. If not? C’est la vie … well … maybe not.

We celebrate everything by going to Wanakura for Japanese food. Garry orders the sashimi special. I order the Wanakura maki roll.

Waiting, as Michael Valentine Smith used to say, IS.

On average, the culinary quality of dining establishments in the Blackstone Valley varies from barely acceptable to so awful I can’t talk about it without weeping. The ultimate in haute cuisine is a burger. Other than that, you can get mediocre pizza from a variety of national and regional chains. They also serve sandwiches, some of which are almost edible.

There are a few awful Italian restaurants, one that is only half bad, and a variety of places which serve tasteless Chinese food but have good bars. Then there is Wanakura.

It keeps us from going mad with insatiable longing for a decent meal.

72-CCY-Foliage-1013_018

We wanted to go to dinner yesterday, but by the time it was time, we were too tired to bother. Maybe today, if the weather is agreeable. We would have been there in September for our anniversary, but we were in Cooperstown. So we are left with an unsatisfied yearning for sashimi and maki rolls.

As Michael Valentine Smith used to say: “Waiting is. One must grok in fullness.”

OKTOBERFEST, THE PEOPLE’S FAIR

The meaning of the annual celebration, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

German-American Festival, Chicago
German-American Festival, Chicago

It seems every community wants to have an Oktoberfest.  It doesn’t matter if they have any idea what the Oktoberfest actually is.  They just want to have one.  Perhaps some think if they have enough music and beer, then they have a Fest.  Our community is no exception.  Chicago’s largest ethnic group is German-American so we think we know how to have a Fest.  As street festivals go, it is pretty good.  It is not an Oktoberfest like you would find in Germany.

Some of my friends have the Oktoberfest in Munich on their Bucket List.  They think I should want to be a party to this too.  The older I get, the worse this idea actually sounds.  For those who don’t know, around six million visitors show up for the 17 to 19 day festival.  If you do not have a reservation in advance, you are not likely to get into one of the crowded beer halls.  In fact, huge crowds of beer drinkers can get rather unhappy if you run out of beer, as happened at the 200th anniversary in 2010.

The Bavarian festival began in October 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig got married and invited the people of Bavaria to join in the celebration on the field in front of the city gate at Munich.  The celebration was held somewhat annually and eventually lengthened.  It’s beginning was moved into September and ended with the first weekend in October.  So in many ways this “Volksfest” is more of a September event.  If the 3rd (German Unity Day) falls on a Monday or Tuesday, the event gets extended to include that date.

Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart, Germany

Contrary to what many may now think, the event was not always held.  Twenty four fall seasons saw no festival because of cholera, or war, or hard economic times.  But most years the autumnal celebrations go on around Germany and tourists flock to the carnival like events.  For those who like to wander the grounds or can not get into a hall, the outside areas now include carnival rides, food booths and beer booths.  You might find a seat outside, but the fall weather is not always accommodating.

Cannstatter Volksfest
Cannstatter Volksfest

In 2010 a friend who lives in France tried to organize a trip to Oktoberfest, but the reality is you must plan a year in advance in order to get in.  So we made the best decision we could have made.  Together we went to the second largest German Fest which is held in Stuttgart, Cannstatter Volksfest.  Yes, it was crowded and the weather was not the best, but we got into beer halls, drank and ate with people from around the world, stood on our benches and sang songs we barely knew.  It could not have been better.  Perhaps the best part was sharing in the fun with one of my best friends.  Yes, we seem to have fun wherever our adventures take us, but we would not have found an atmosphere quite like that anywhere else in the world.

Note:  Click on the Stuttgart picture for a larger version of the fair grounds.  We did walk around in the rain, just like everyone else.

BIRTHDAYS AND OTHER DAYS OF JOY

Daily Prompt: Shake it Up

by Krista on February 24, 2014
You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us RECKLESS.

– – – – –

And this is as reckless as we ever got. Reckless enough!
And this is as reckless as we ever got. Reckless enough!

Sorry. No pictures of youthful birthday parties. Never had one. I don’t even remember either of my siblings having a birthday party except for my sister when she was … like five maybe? Otherwise, there wasn’t much celebrating in my house. Later, when my life was my own, we had some good times.

And around we go again. I rode the beast with my granddaughter 7 times that day, twice in the morning and five more times in the afternoon. I think she was ready to keep going forever and maybe, she had the right idea.
And around we go again. I rode the beast with my granddaughter 7 times that day, twice in the morning and five more times in the afternoon. I think she was ready to keep going forever and maybe, she had the right idea.

Garry threw me a surprise party on my 60th birthday … and we went to New Orleans for my 50th. I took him to Cooperstown for his 50th. Childhood was a long time ago and stuff that happened to me as a grownup somehow seems more relevant at this age and stage. Twelve, as I vaguely recall, was not one of my vintage years. Awkward, a mouth full of braces, short, half woman, mostly kid, frizzy hair and a general look of dazed confusion at a world that didn’t seem to have anything to do with me.

It got better. Then worse. Then better again. That’s life. Much like the roller coasters I dearly love, life has its ups and downs. The downs are terrifying, the ups give you a chance to catch your breath before you plunge down the next drop. When you pull into the station, laughing and gasping, what do you say? I say: “Let’s do it again!”

This was one of my "am I going to live to see another birthday" years. I almost didn't.
My 60th birthday. This was one of the “am I going to live to see another birthday” years. I almost didn’t.

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