Today in the news, President Barack Obama of the USA was given a private tour of the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan.
What is so famous about Petra?
Well, its sheer magnificence has been shown in several films over the years, famously in the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Petra comes from a Greek word meaning stone. A variation of Peter which means rock/stone.
Anyway Petra is an archeological city in Ma’an which is under Jordanian governorate. It is famous for the rose-coloured sculptured architecture and a water conduit system.
Despite its historical heritage, Petra was virtually unknown to Europeans until 1812, when a Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt introduced this man-made wonder of the world to the west/Europe.
Such is its wondrous beauty that it is high up in the UNESCO world heritage ranking and the Smithsonian counts it as 1 of the 28 places to visit before one kicks the bucket.
A young John William Burgon was so intrigued that he composed a poem about Petra, a place which was a Xanadu to him; he has neither seen nor been to Petra at the time he wrote his poem while a student in the University of Oxford. His effort won him the Newdigate Prize in 1845, awarded to Oxford undergraduates for Best Composition in English verse.
It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
a rose-red city half as old as time.
John William Burgon (21 August 1813 – 4 August 1888)
According to reports by the Journal of the American Heart Association, women who eat 3 servings of strawberries and blueberries per week can reduce the risk of a heart attack by as much as 33 per cent.
Both strawberries and blueberries contain a high amount of flavonoids, which is dietary natural compound.
The 5th of January is regarded as the eve of the 12th day after Christmas Day, however modern practice regarded the 6th as the 12th day of Christmas. In Christianity, the 5th is when the three Kings also referred as the Magi (wise men) who were guided by a brilliant new star in the night sky, arrived from the east to visit and hail the new-born King Jesus at His birthplace, Bethlehem in Judea. The 6th of January is also known as Epiphany (from the Greek word meaning ‘manifestation’) where Jesus is revealed/manifested to the world through the visit of the Magi, as the Son of God.
Before their arrival, the wise men came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The three magi are known in the Western Christian church as;
Melchior (also Melichior,Melchor), a Persian (modern-day Iran) scholar.
Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar.
Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.
Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, after their sojourn they left for their own country by another path.
The Three Kings depart for home
A shrine the the three Kings(Magi) is located behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral, Germany.
The Shrine to the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral
The relics were the Magi were taken from Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, The Holy Roman Emperor and presented to the Archbishop of Cologne Rainald of Dassel in 1164 and to this day pilgrims travel to the Cathedral to visit the shrine.
The Three Ships
It is thought that the 1833 English Christmas hymn/carol, ‘I Saw Three Ships (come sailing in) on Christmas Day In The Morning‘ was inspired by the delivery of the relics to Cologne.
A superstition is that all Christmas decorations in the home etc., must be taken down by January 6th, otherwise bad luck will ensue.
Today 1st January 2013 at around 11.30am, there was a big fire near the Born-Again Christian Dagupan chapter church in Tondo, Manila. It is believed the fire was deliberately started and the arsonist thought to be not of sound mind sadly perished in the blaze.
Jean and I were staying overnight at her family house to celebrate a lively and fun New Year’s Eve. From the family upstairs back bedroom window, we saw billowing smoke and some flames rise above nearby buildings mainly wooden and cement block built homes like the one we were staying in. Obviously there was much excitement and concern that the fire may spread. Fortunately the local people rallied with buckets of water to try to quell the fire. Other local began to evacuate items from their homes just in case. The local fire brigade and fire engines also arrived in fast time to tackle the blaze. The firemen mainly brave volunteers managed to put the fire out within 15 minutes. Soon after, the heavens opened and rain fell hard to further dampen the smoldering remnants. The local people dealt with this incident with their usual stoical way with not much panic. This was the third fire that occurred in a week within the locality in Manila.
Today 31 December sees new years eve approach for much of the global community
The first time zones to celebrate January 1 2013, will be the aptly named Christmas Island/Kiribati followed by Samoa then New Zealand.
January was the first month of year in the ancient Roman calendar (and latterly the Gregorian Calendar), named after a god called Janus (Latin word for door). Janus had two faces; one to look back at the old year and the other look forward into the new year at the same time. Janus was the spirit of the opening.
The most famous song to commemorate New year is Auld Lang Syne
Most commonly sung by English-speakers at midnight on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song
Being of Scottish descent in the distant family (or clan!?) past I am proud to hear this song and it never fails to give me a tingle when hearing the lyrics and music.
The words were first published by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.
It is often remarked that “Auld Lang Syne” is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. “Auld Lang Syne” which is literally translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.” The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, “For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.”
The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to “run about the braes,/ And pou’d the gowans fine” (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and “paidl’d in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine” (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—”seas between us braid hae roar’d” (broad seas have roared between us). Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and “tak a right guid-willie waught” (a good-will drink).
But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, and not Robert Burns, who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year’s tradition. Lombardo first heard “Auld Lang Syne” in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants. When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born. After that, Lombardo’s version of the song was played every New Year’s eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria. In the first years it was broadcast on radio, and then on television. The song became such a New Year’s tradition that “Life magazine wrote that if Lombardo failed to play ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived.”
Auld Lang Syne and other New Year’s customs
“Auld Lang Syne”
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
More on New Year’s Celebrations
A History of the New Year
Saying “Happy New Year!” Around the World
New Year’s on Dates Other
Than Jan. 1
Chinese New Year
Jewish New Year: Rosh Hashannah
Islamic New Year: Muharram
The birthplace of “Auld Lang Syne” is also the home of Hogmanay (hog-mah-NAY), the rousing Scottish New Year’s celebration (the origins of the name are obscure). One of the traditions in Scotland and England is “first-footing.” Shortly after midnight on New Year’s eve, neighbours pay visits or go to the entrance door to their homes to impart New Year’s wishes to neighbours. Parties are common too.
Traditionally, there was ‘First footing’ where ‘a stranger’ used to bring along a gift of coal for the fire, or shortbread. It is considered especially lucky if a tall, dark, and handsome man is the first to enter your house after the new year is rung in. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration is the largest in the country, and consists of an all-night street party
In London England, many revellers attend Trafalgar Square and near the environs pf the clock tower recently named Queen Elizabeth II clock tower (to commemorate the Queens Diamond Jubilee). The tower is home to the iconic bell call Big Ben, who sound is known around the world. Big Ben chines in New Year to millions of people. There are also awesome firework display on the rover Thames and on the London Eye. many other cities around the world greet the new year with spectacular firework displays.
Fireworks on New Year’s eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck. The Chinese are credited with inventing fireworks and use them to spectacular effect in their New Year’s celebrations.
Many countries have their own New year traditions.
Read more: New Year’s Traditions around the world visit two excellent and informative websites;
Big Ben chiming at midnight New Year’s Eve
We at Global Granary wish our viewers and visitors a very happy and peaceful New Year. Please visit again next year and your comments & suggestions are always welcome.
Today the 27th December is the commemoration and feast day of Saint John. The Roman Catholic Church calls him “Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist”, and in the Anglican Communion, which calls him “John, Apostle and Evangelist”. In the Tridentine Calendar he was commemorated also on each of the following days up to and including 3 January.
John the Evangelist (יוחנן Standard Hebrew Yoḥanan, Tiberian Hebrew Yôḥānān meaning “Yahweh is gracious”, Greek: Εὐαγγελιστής Ἰωάννης) (c. AD 1 – c. 100) is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John. Traditionally he has been identified with the author of the other Johannine works in the New Testament—the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation, written by a John of Patmos—as well as with John the Apostle and the Beloved Disciple mentioned in the Gospel of John. However, at least some of these connections have been debated since about 200.
The Gospel of John refers to an unnamed “Beloved Disciple” of Jesus who bore witness to the gospel’s message.The composer of the Gospel of John seemed interested in maintaining the internal anonymity of the author’s identity.
The apostle John was a historical figure, one of the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ death.Some scholars believe that John was martyred along with his brother (Acts 12:1-2), although many other scholars doubt this. Harris believes that the tradition that John lived to old age in Ephesus developed in the late 2nd century, although the tradition does appear in the last chapter of the gospel, though this debatable tradition assumes that John the Evangelist, John the Apostle, the Beloved Disciple mentioned in John 21 and sometimes also John the Presbyter are the same person.
Of the other New-Testament writings, it is only from the three Epistles of John and the Apocalypse that anything further is learned concerning the person of the Apostle. We may be permitted here to take as proven the unity of the author of these three writings handed down under the name of John and his identity with the Evangelist. Both the Epistles and the Apocalypse, however, presuppose that their author John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Christ (cf. especially 1 John 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various Christian communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all Christian communities as leader of this part of the Church. Moreover, the Apocalypse tells us that its author was on the scenic island of Patmos a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea and one of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese group. John was there waiting “for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus”, when he was honoured with the heavenly Revelation contained in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:9).
The Coptic church states that St. John the Evangelist lived over 90 years, and they used to carry him to the gatherings of the believers. Because of his old age, he only gave very short sermons saying, “My children love one another.” It states that he wrote the gospel known after him, the Book of Revelation, and the three epistles ascribed to him. It confirms that he did not suffer martyrdom and died of old age in Ephesus,near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey.
St John the Evangelist, painting by Jacopo Pontormo 1525
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.
– St John
Beauty is whatever gives joy.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
Miss Piggy is the classiest porcine in the whole of the universe
It is always worth listening to Miss Piggy for sage (and onion!) advice. The ultimate glamour porcelain skin mover, with porcine grace, Miss Piggy, divine Diva from the Muppets offers these pearls of wisdom of beauty before the swine.
Miss Piggy’s Beauty Secret
“Never wear yellow lipstick; never braid your eyelashes; never powder your tongue.”
“Never wash your hair with anything you’d hesitate to eat or drink.”
“Never eat more than you can lift.”
“Too much exercise can damage your health.”
Advice to adhere to Ladies!
More sagely (lol) advice from Miss Piggy:
Is there a cure for a broken heart? Only time can heal your broken heart, just as time can heal his broken arms and legs.
– Miss Piggy
Did you know that squirrels are the Devil’s oven mitts?
– Miss Piggy
Today 26 December, the day after Christmas Day which is called Boxing Day, also known in Western Christianity as St Stephen’s Day. Stephen was the first Christian to become a martyr (proto martyr) after being executed for his belief in Christ’s mission.
There are several meanings to Boxing Day with no real definitive meaning. In times past, church alms (charity)boxes were opened and the contents given to the poor of the parish to celebrate the feast day of St Stephen. This custom turned into the giving of Christmas boxes, which contained gifts of food, money or other items to household servants and then to public tradesmen, such as postmen and dustman (garbage collectors) for services rendered during the year. The 26th was also the first day of work after Christmas Day and still is for many throughout the world. Indeed our son James, who contributes to this blog, had to attend his work place on Boxing day to be on call to provide emergency IT support for customers/clients.
in the Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries), artisan shops kept Christmas boxes, which were mainly made up of clay. The owner of the shop would deposit and save a certain amount each day during the year. On the 26th of December each year, he would break open this box and equally distribute the savings among his shop workers, the first type of work bonus system.
Even though Boxing Day has its roots in the Middle Ages, it did not become an official holiday until the nineteenth century during the reign of Queen Victoria. The gentry (nobility and the rich) gave gifts, food etc., to their servants, sometimes in boxes to be carried back the servants families. To this day and into early new year, many companies, firms, stores etc., continue to give an end of working year salary bonus to their employees.
It was during this period that English power was at its height and the British Empire stretched from one end of the world to the other, spreading customs such as Boxing Day.
Today many shops & department stores etc., open on 26 December and offer goods on discounted sales right through January.
St Stephen or San Esteban, was the first martyred (proto martyr) Christian.
Stephen’s name is derived from the Greek language Stephanos, meaning “crown”. Paul of Tarsus apparently was present when St Stephen was stoned to death. Paul later converted to the proto Christian religion and because of his new belief was also martyred becoming St Paul.
Stephen was martyred because he refused to denounce his new religion.
While on trial, St Stephen experienced a theophany (vision) in which he saw both God the Father and God the Son and uttered.
“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing sits on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)
His vision of Christ standing differs from other Scripture which indicates Jesus sits at the right hand of God – perhaps implying that Christ stood in honor of Stephen whose martyrdom was near. 26 December is called “St. Stephen’s Day” in Western Christianity.
Stoning & Martyrdom of Stephen – Saint Stephen, painting by Giorgio Vasari
The Day of St Stephen
More about St Stephen:
St Stephen was one of the first seven deacons of the early Christian Church.
He was a Jew, who converted to Christianity. He loved nothing better than dialogue with other Jews about Christianity.
It was his conviction that finally got him into trouble. He was charged with blasphemy and taken before the high priests.
Ultimately he was run out of town and pelted to death with stone. To his last dying breath, he only had forgiveness against his aggressors.