Category Archives: Festival
iPhoneOgraphy – 25 Dec 2016 (Day 360/366)
Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies; when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by the vast majority of Christians, as well as culturally by a number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration. In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.
Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date which was later adopted in the East. Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany. This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church, with its desire to be universal, “declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle”, thus giving significance to both the Western and Eastern dates of Christmas. Moreover, for Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.
Although it is not known why December 25 became a date of celebration, there are several factors that may have influenced the choice. December 25 was the date the Romans marked as the winter solstice, and Jesus was identified with the Sun based on an Old Testament verse. The date is exactly nine months following Annunciation, when the conception of Jesus is celebrated. Finally, the Romans had a series of pagan festivals near the end of the year, so Christmas may have been scheduled at this time to appropriate, or compete with, one or more of these festivals.
The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Chris-tingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
iPhoneOgraphy – 18 Feb 2016 (Day 49/366)
During Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges and tangerines are considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune. During the two-week celebration, they are frequently displayed as decoration and presented as gifts to friends, relatives, and business associates.
Mandarin oranges, particularly from Japan, are a Christmas tradition in Canada, the United States and Russia. In the United States, they are commonly purchased in 5- or 10-pound boxes, individually wrapped in soft green paper, and given in Christmas Stockings. This custom goes back to the 1880s, when Japanese immigrants in the United States began receiving Japanese mandarin oranges from their families back home as gifts for the New Year. The tradition quickly spread among the non-Japanese population, and eastwards across the country: each November harvest, “The oranges were quickly unloaded and then shipped east by rail. ‘Orange Trains’ – trains with boxcars painted orange – alerted everyone along the way that the irresistible oranges from Japan were back again for the holidays. For many, the arrival of Japanese mandarin oranges signaled the real beginning of the holiday season.”
This Japanese tradition merged with European traditions related to the Christmas Stocking. Saint Nicholas is said to have put gold coins into the stockings of three poor girls so that they would be able to afford to get married. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold, and oranges became a symbolic stand-in for these gold balls, and are put in Christmas stockings in Canada along with chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.
Satsumas were also grown in the United States from the early 1900s, but Japan remained a major supplier. U.S. imports of these Japanese oranges was suspended due to hostilities with Japan during World War II. While they were one of the first Japanese goods allowed for export after the end of the war, residual hostility led to the rebranding of these oranges as “mandarin” oranges.
The delivery of the first batch of mandarin oranges from Japan in the port of Vancouver, British Columbia, is greeted with a festival that combines Santa Claus and Japanese dancers young girls dressed in traditional kimonos.
In Russia, mandarin oranges are traditionally used as Christmas tree and New Year tree decorations. In Russia, mandarin oranges (tangerines) have traditionally been supplied from Morocco and are associated with that country, even though nowadays they are also supplied from other countries, e.g. Spain, Israel and Egypt.
iPhoneOgraphy – 11 Feb 2016 (Day 42/366)
Tangyuan or tang yuan (simplified Chinese: 汤圆; traditional Chinese: 湯圓; pinyin: tāngyuán) is a Chinese food made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water. Tangyuan can be either small or large, and filled or unfilled. They are traditionally eaten during Yuanxiao or the Lantern Festival, but also served as a dessert on Chinese wedding day, Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; pinyin: Dōngzhì), and any occasions such as family reunion, because of a homophone for union (simplified Chinese: 团圆; traditional Chinese: 團圓; pinyin: tuányuán).
Historically, a number of different names were used to refer to tangyuan. During the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty, the name was officially settled as yuanxiao (derived from the Yuanxiao Festival), which is used in northen China. This name literally means “first evening”, being the first full moon after Chinese New Year, which is always a new moon.
In southern China, however, they are called tangyuan or tangtuan. Legend has it that during Yuan Shikai’s rule from 1912 to 1916, he disliked the name yuanxiao (元宵) because it sounded identical to “remove Yuan” (袁消), and so he gave orders to change the name to tangyuan. This new moniker literally means “round balls in soup”. Tangtuan similarly means “round dumplings in soup”. In the two major Chinese dialects of far southern China, Hakka and Cantonese, “tangyuan” is pronounced as tong rhen and tong jyun respectively. The term “tangtuan” (Hakka: tong ton, Cantonese: tong tyun) is not as commonly used in these dialects as tangyuan.
This type of glutinous rice flour dumpling is eaten in both northern and southern China, but the name “tangyuan” is more common in the south while the older name “yuanxiao” is still used in the north. The fillings differ regionally: in the south, sweet fillings such as sugar, sesame, osmanthus flowers, sweet bean paste and sweetened tangerine peel are used, while in the north, salty fillings are preferred, including minced meat and vegetables.
The method of preparation also differs. According to Hao (2009), yuanxiao are made by placing balls of filling into a basket filled with glutinous rice flour, and then shaking the basket while sprinking water over it so the flour becomes a coating. Tangyuan, on the other hand, are made by starting with balls of rice flour dough and inserting the filling into these.
For many Chinese families in mainland China as well as overseas, tangyuan is usually eaten together with family. The round shape of the balls and the bowls where they are served, come to symbolise the family togetherness.
or , also known as and , is a holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists. Sometimes informally called ” Buddha’s Birthday”, it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvana), and death (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition. “The birth of the Buddha: Queen Maya holds on to the branch of a tree while giving birth to the Buddha, who is received by god Indra as other gods look on”. On Vesākha Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India it was assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Vesākha is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. In India, Vaishakh Purnima day is also known as Buddha Jayanti day and has been traditionally accepted as Buddha’s birth day. On Vesākha day, devout Buddhists and followers alike are expected and requested to assemble in their various temples before dawn for the ceremonial, and honorable, hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples). Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction. Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. In some countries, notably Sri Lanka, two days are set aside for the celebration of Vesākha and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed by government decree during the two days. Also birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in what is known as a ‘symbolic act of liberation’; of giving freedom to those who are in captivity, imprisoned, or tortured against their will. Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the eight Precepts. Celebrating Vesākha also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this day, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. Vesākha is also a time for great joy and happiness, expressed not by pandering to one’s appetites but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination. Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to followers who visit the temple to pay homage to the Enlightened one.
The Jester or named Jolly, it is typical for its floppy six pointed hat. Another distinctive feature of the Jolly is its constant laughter, also known as the Fool or ‘Buffone’ is one of the best known characters in drama the world over. First mentioned in ancient Roman times, the character is most closely associated with the Middle Ages. The Jester’s aim is to entertain and to point out the weaknesses of other characters – a kind of early satirist. In some early plays the Jester’s mask was a donkey’s head and the ‘Buffone’ mask reflects this. It’s a particularly distinctive one : it has ‘tines’ or points both above and below the head, each one finished with a tiny bell. The tines are thought to represent the ears of an ass; the bells are to indicate fun and frolics.
Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer’s identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.
Near the end of the Republic, the wearing of masks in daily life was severely restricted. By the 18th century, it was limited only to about three months from December 26. The masks were traditionally worn with decorative beads matching in colour.
F/8, 4 sec, ISO – 100, Photoshop CS6
The Lion Dance is a pugilistic performance dating back to more than 1,500 years. Its performance during auspicious occasions such as the launch of new buildings, offices and shops is believed to bring good fortune and wealth. The Lion Dance is also performed during the Chinese New Year because of its association with the legendary stories of a bestial creature, the Nien, being frightened off by villagers banging on loud drums on the eve of Chinese New Year.
The lion is regarded by Chinese communities outside China as a creature representing good omen. However, the legend of Nien began with the lion as a monstrous creature. According to legend, every Chinese New Year’s eve, an unknown animal came to destroy the fields, crops and animals belonging to the farmers of the village. They could not identify the beast and named it nien which came to mean “year” in Chinese. To put a stop to the ravaging, the villagers made a fearful model of the animal out of bamboo and paper, with two men manipulating it, accompanied by the loud beating of instruments. They waited for the animal on New Year’s eve and succeeded in driving away the Nien. Henceforth, the Nien dance was performed annually on Chinese New Year’s eve with drums, cymbals and gongs. Over time, the image of the animal came to look more like a lion and the dance was later regarded as auspicious for all significant occasions.