North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, March 19, 2012

Celebrating spring - St Paddys to Cheese Rolling

Spring celebrations emphasize that the global framework of news and population still heavily favors the northern hemisphere. So while much of South America, one third of Africa, all of Australia, New Zealand, and surroundings are beginning to think about hunkering down for shorter days and longer nights, the rest of us are gearing up to meet the sun.

Condolences to those comparatively few who live south of the equator - good folks, but forever consigned to playing second fiddle to those living in northern half of the globe. Enjoy the cold and snow, though we will acknowledge that you enjoy a spectacular night sky.

Meanwhile, spring is on its way ...

Somewhere in the many celebrations of a quickly lengthening day, St Paddy's day March 17 is probably one of the largest world wide festivals. It really doesn't have anything to do with spring though. According to Wikipedia, "Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick") is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland." However, it has morphed far beyond the Saint, as we all know, and even the Irish Government is first in line to state it is also a celebration of Irish culture.

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What longing does this reflect? A human response to camaraderie, humor, and song?

In fact, according to Wiki, Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularization of St Patrick's Day. In The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr. Vincent Twomey wrote, "It is time to reclaim St Patrick's Day as a church festival." He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fueled revelry" and concluded that "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together."

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Dubliner's once again emphasizing that music (and drinking and laughter) usually triumphs over reflection ...

Finally, not being sure of what the possibly dour Fr Twomey had in mind with "bringing piety and fun together," I'll note that the shortest St Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork County. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.

Cheese Wheel racing

On the opposite end of large scale hoisting and wearing green, we find a cheese-rolling contest in Gloucestershire, U.K. Here people roll down a hill chasing a wheel of cheese. Being British, the typical sprains, strains and broken limbs that accompany the event are taken as proof that the Island race is still superior to all others.

The official "chase-the-cheese" race to the bottom of Cooper’s Hill.

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Though in this case, a young Maori lady seems to have successfully participated

Las Fallas, Valencia, Spain
Another religious holiday that has taken on a life of its own. Lots of paella to eat, and firecrackers to let off seems to encompass most of what we need to know. From Wiki, "The five days and nights of Fallas are a continuous party. There are a multitude of processions: historical processions, religious processions, and comedic processions. Crowds in the restaurants spill out into the streets. Explosions can be heard all day long and sporadically through the night. Foreigners may be surprised to see everyone from small children to elderly gentlemen throwing fireworks and noisemakers in the streets, which are littered with pyrotechnical debris."

I did not know where Valencia was until I read up on "Las Fallas"

From another website, Las Fallas literally means "the fires" in Valencian. "The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots (“puppets” or “dolls”), which are huge cardboard, wood, paper-machè and plaster statues. The ninots are extremely lifelike and usually depict bawdy, satirical scenes and current events."

I get the attraction of paella

I'm less sure about all the burning ...

...and the debris left over.

Happy spring!


Anonymous said...

Nothing like a good bonfire to bring everyone together.

Teatree said...

As Crocodile Dundee once said, "that's not a bonfire, This is a bonfire!"