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Monday, February 10, 2014



St. Valentine's Day falls on February 14, and is the traditional day on which lovers in certain cultures let each other know about their love, commonly by sending Valentine's cards, which are often anonymous. 

Legends of Valentine’s Day

One legend says that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those married, he outlawed marriage for young men.
Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. And Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death, which probably occurred around 270 A.D.
According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with a young girl, his jailor’s daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today. Legends usually says that Valentine was a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic person. In the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Kolyada
Russian traditions


Russians' pagan ancestors celebrated Kolyada, a winter solstice holiday. Early Slavs celebrated it from December 25 to January 6, as if they knew already back then that centuries later these will become almost the exact dates marking the New Year festive season in modern Russia.
Kolyada lasted 12 days, the ritual was presided over by 12 priests, and they predicted the future harvest using 12 sheaves of wheat and water from 12 wells. As you have probably guessed, the figure 12 had a special role to play in that holiday.


Sunday, December 29, 2013




New Year's History

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the first visible cresent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in   153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700      B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of      January and February.) 

The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.



Chinese calendar
 The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It is calculated according to Chinese lunar calendar.

For a long time there has been a special relationship between humans and the 12 zodiacal animals. It is believed that the years represented by the animals affect the characters of people in the same manner as the sign of zodiac adopted by western civilizations.







Saturday, December 21, 2013




Part of the magic of Christmas is the melding of a multitude of traditions, ancient to modern, to honor the birth of Christ on December 25th.




In the U.S., modern Christmas is a season for giving, sharing, and caring. Many traditions, like Christmas trees and candy canes, are of European origin, but an American imagination brought forth our Santa Claus in all his plump, red-suited glory.








Wednesday, October 30, 2013



Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.