Category: Origin

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Following Shrove Tuesday yesterday, today is Ash Wednesday, the official first day of Lent during the Christian year and the prelude to Easter.  Lent represents the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating his mission on earth. Known as the ‘Day of Ashes’ because of the practice of having ash rubbed &  drawn on the forehead in the shape of a cross (representing Christ’s crucifixion), by a priest at the  dedicated Ash Wednesday church service. The priest and participants from the church congregation intone the phrase either the words:-

“Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or  the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”       

Anglican,Catholic and most Protestant and Christians hold Ash Wednesday services around the world. Following the service, participants observe some sort of fasting,abstinence and spiritual contemplation for 40 Days, ending on Maundy Thursday in 2018.

The practice of using  ash comes from the 11th Century and is taken from the Biblical Book of Daniel, where ashes are regarded as a sign of Penance & fasting. The ashes are normally made by the burning of palm crosses. These palm crosses were  handed out to  church congregations during the previous year’s Palm Sunday service (commemorating Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to crowds waving palm leaves in celebration) and given back to the priest shortly before Ash Wednesday. The priest will then burn the crosses and mix the ash normally with Holy Oil to sanctify and make a ‘paste’ with which to rub on the participant’s forehead.

Shrove Tuesday

shrove-tuesday1Today is shrove Tuesday, which has now become better known as Pancake Day.

What is Shrove Tuesday about?  Has it become just a day of cooking and tossing pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday is the last day of merriment and feasting before Lent begins in earnest.

But in truth and in its history, today is about penitence.  Shrove Tuesday got its name from the ritual of shriving, which early Christians used to do.

The act of shriving meant that Christians would confess their sins and their shortcomings and in so doing will receive absolutions.

Absolution means the person will be forgiven of his sins and released from his guilt and pain that he had caused.

This tradition is very old.

Shrove Tuesday

It was a custom and tradition of the early Christians to confess their sins a week before the start of Lent to their priest/confessor, who shall so shrive them.

Today is not only about pancake but a time to think about the wrong deeds that we have done or have continued  doing.  We must be penitent of them.

On the happier side, Shrove Tuesday is also about partying and feasting.  Time to cook and serve all the foods that may have to be given up for the sober Lent to come. Barbecue the meat and fish and make pastas so no food are wasted for the coming Lent.  Today is like a Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.

Pancake became the ideal food for Tuesday because it uses up all the fats, milk and eggs with the addition of flour.

Source:  BBC.co.uk

 

 

 

What’s Bilao in English?

Bilao, photo by JMorton

What’s Bilao in English?

Bilao in Tagalog, bigao in Ilocano, is called a winnowing basket in English.

This basket is very versatile.  Its usefulness was first used in ancient times by agricultural folks to separate the grains from the chaffs at harvest or milling time.

This process is called agtaep in Ilocano which means to winnow. To winnow is tossing the grains using the bilao. The tossing blows a current of air through the grains, thereby removing the chaffs.

Bilao has surpassed its usefulness as a farming implement. It has proved popular amongst street vendors, who wanted their products, usually cooked rice cakes/pudding, to be more accessible to their buyers.

Saint David’s Day

Saint David’s Day

 

March 1st  is Saint David’s Day.

Did you remember to celebrate it yesterday?

The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David as traditionally it is believed that he might have died on that day in 569, 588 or even 589; the date is uncertain.

Stainglass picture of St David of Wales

Stainglass depicting St David of Wales

St David (Dewi Sant) was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century.  He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.

St David's own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David's Day

St David’s own flag flown over Churches and some public buildings on St David’s Day

A  famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing and seeing him.

 He was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) where St David’s Cathedral  stands today. David was famous for being a teacher.  His monastery at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine and important centre in Wales. Before  his death, Saint David is said to have uttered these words: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”

Welsh ex-pats around the  world celebrate St David’s Day. The  daffodil  & the leek are the national emblem of Wales and badges of which are worn with pride.

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Daffodil flower and emblem of Wales

Why a leek as an emblem?  One theory is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers (fearsome for the power and accuracy of their legendary long bows,)  wore leeks at the battle  with the French at Agincourt in 1415.

The Leek vegetbale an other emblem of Wales

The Leek vegetable an other emblem of Wales

The traditional meal on St David’s Day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.

Another symbol of Wales is  the iconic Welsh Dragon  in Welsh- Y Ddraig Goch (“the red dragon”)

Welsh National-Flag

The Welsh National Flag

It  appears on the national flag of Wales. The flag is also called Y Ddraig Goch.

The Historia Brittonum(History of Britons written around 828)  records the first  use of the dragon to  symbolise Wales.

The Dragon was popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur  other ancient Celtic leaders. archaeological  literature, and documentary history suggests that  it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol.  During the reigns of the  Tudor Monarchs, the red dragon was used as a symbol of support  in the English Crown’s coat of arms (one of two supporters, along with the traditional English lion).  The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and flags are flown  by many public and private institutions in Wales and some in London too.

………………..

1 March 2014

To celebrate St David’s Day Google has this special doodle to commemorate the occasion.

st-davids-day-2014-5651391519391744.2-hp

 

 

Legend of Tabaco City

tabac

Tabac Monument, photo by JMorton

Tabac, photo by JMorton for GlobalGranary.org

Tabac, photo by JMorton for GlobalGranary.org

Tabac, photo by JMorton for GlobalGranary.org

Tabac, photo by JMorton for GlobalGranary.org

Whilst in the Philippines in February 2016, we travelled a great deal; during our search for the Mayon Volcano, which proved rather elusive at first, took us to various parts of the Bicol region.

Our driver/tour guide kindly gave us a running commentary of the places of interest we passed. One of which was the city of Tabaco. We took a photo of a monument with a sculpture of steel knives and bolos. I briefly imagined that was rather pugnacious but thought nothing more of it. We just assumed that they like their bolos!  We also thought that the city was called Tabaco because tobacco must be the area’s prime product.

Anyway as we climbed to the summit of the viewing centre for the Mayon Volcano, our guide reminded us of the Tabaco City as he pointed to an arsenal of knives and bolos in varying shapes and sizes arranged neatly on the ground, for sale.

Imagine what fun we would have had at Legaspi Airport, had we purchased a few of the bolos and carried them as hand luggage. LOL hahaha 🙂

Our guide said that Tabaco City was named after the bolos, which are called tabak in Bicolano.

The legend goes that  during the time the Spaniards came-a-conquering, a local man from the yet unnamed Tabaco city had a beautiful daughter, which was the muse of the area.  She was revered by the people for her stunning good looks.  Her father became rather neurotic about it, very over-protective. She can be seen from afar but definitely no touching or speaking to her!

One day, he went fishing, but before he sailed farther to the sea, he spied another vessel coming to land.  He immediately thought they might be slave traders and after his beautiful daughter for sure, so without further ado he turned his boat back and started waving, shouting and screaming to his wife, who was watching him sail to sea.

The man shouted excitedly “Tabak ko, tabak ko” (my bolo, my bolo) as he looked from his wife to the coming ‘invaders’, who happened to be Spanish missionaries.

The Spanish named the new conquered land Tabaco as inspired by the raving man from the sea.

Rather a charming piece of hokum that it was adopted officially by Tabaco City council  through Municipal Council Resolution No. 29 on February 23, 1966 as a true legend.

But apparently in truth the Spanish did indeed name the place after the tobacco plant which was a primary product.  We were right after all. 🙂

What happened to the beautiful daughter?  We don’t know!

Second Full Moon of the Month

Yesterday on Friday 31  July there was a rare astronomical event close to home that many might not have noticed, a second full moon of the month.

They sky over London last night was generally clear and where I live in NW London was exceptional with few clouds.

I gazed up and saw a full moon. what was unusual is that it was the second full moon in a calendar month.

 Second Full Moon of the Month

I took this photo of it at around 1 am (Saturday morning) from our back garden.

Second Full moon July AKA a 'blue moon'

Second Full moon July AKA a ‘blue moon’

 

Normally  there are 29.5 days between full moons and therefore a full moon once a month. Such moons are known as a ‘blue moon’

A blue moon is defined  as the second full moon in a calendar month.  We have a saying that a rare event or happening occurs ‘once in a blue moon.’

The next Blue Moon will be in May 2016.

Even rarer, are have two blue moons in a  calendar year this last  happened in 1999. There were two full moons in January and two full moons in March and no full moon in February. So both January and March had Blue Moons.

The  full moon is given a name for each month of the year it appears.

January: the Wolf Moon, February: the Snow Moon, March: the Worm Moon, April: the Pink Moon, May: the Flower Moon, June: the Strawberry Moon, July: the Buck Moon, August: the Sturgeon Moon, September: the Harvest Moon, October: the Hunter’s Moon, November: the Beaver Moon, December: the Cold Moon.

More well-known here are the Harvest Moon in September as centuries ago, this full moon helped farmers gather their harvest in at night. The Hunter’s Moon appears brighter and larger, which aided hunters at night in fields and forests.

Enjoy gazing at our constant,  closest, changeless, celestial neighbour 🙂

Christmas Decor: Christmas Tree

IMG_0551

Artificial trees at John Lewis Photo by JMorton

Christmas Decor: Christmas Tree

It is widely believe that the Christmas tree started in Germany. Early Christians would bring in decorated trees inside their houses.

Apparently it was Martin Luther, credited for Protestant Reformation, who first decorated the Christmas tree with candles.

It is said that one winter evening, Martin Luther was deep in thought about his sermon when he  happen to look up and saw the lights of twinkling stars reflected between branches of trees.

Martin was in absolute awe.

He brought in a tree in his house and wired the branches to hold in the lit candles so his family can see what he saw and so admired.

That was the beginning of Christmas light.

…..
Every year, Oslo in Norway gifts the British people with a huge Christmas tree which is erected at Trafalgar Square. Oslo has been presenting the UK with a Christmas tree since 1947 as a show of their gratitude to the British during World Ward II.

If you happen to be near Trafalgar Square, the decorated tree can be seen from the beginning of December to the 6th of January.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

The name is Fleming, Ian Fleming

Peter and I were at Belgravia last night when we came upon a blue plaque bearing the name of Ian Fleming. He is of course best known for the most suave, debonair, with the chilling killer instinct that is James Bond, Agent 007.

Anyway the plaque commemorate Ian Fleming as resident of 22b Ebury St, Belgravia in the Borough of Westminster.

Sadly 22b Ebury St was not the birth place of Bond, James Bond as Ian Fleming lived in the street between 1934 – 1945. James Bond, a car loving, with a penchant for martinis, shaken not stirred, women, cigars and food, first put an appearance in print in Casino Royale published in 1953.

Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action.

– Ian Fleming

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