Event

Biennale – International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2016

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Nigerian Pavilion

International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2016 – 15th

Spazio Punch, Fondamenta San Biagio 800/O, Giudecca

 

11800144_10206322584277211_4926908907700799399_nCurator: Mrs. Camilla Boemio (curator, writer, critic)

 

Camilla Boemio is a writer, curator and theorist whose practice deals with investigating the politics of participation in curatorial practices, the intersection of culture, the social architecture, politics and contemporary aesthetics. Boemio co-founded and directed the thematic AAC platform, she is member of AICA International and she is associate curator at APT – Artist Pension Trust. 

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Commissioner: Mr. Nkanta George Ufot (Director – International Cultural Relations, Ministry of Information and Culture). The Biennale di Venezia 2016 will be the first time that Nigeria will feature in this world renowned event, therefore, it is absolutely necessary for us to integrate and collaborate with consultants and partners with experience and previous involvement at the Biennale. Read more  => (…)

IMG_08-002-624x424Exhibitor:  Mr. Ola-Dele Kuku – (Architect – artist) – http://www.ola-delekuku.com/Bio: Ola-Dele Kuku (Lagos, Nigeria – 1963) studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture – (SCI-Arc), in Los Angeles, California, and in Vico Morcote, Ticino, Switzerland. His private practise (Ola-Dele Kuku Projects), initiated in Milan, Italy in 1991, and focused primarily on conceptual interventions in architecture with special interest in philosophy, theory, and composition.   Read more  click here => (…)

Biennale Architettura

Paolo-Portoghesi-1020x1024About Biennale Venezia: Established in 1980 curated by Paolo Portoghesi, the Venice Architecture Biennale has developed into the world’s foremost architecture event. It’s the leading forum for the exploration of architectural ideas, the social architecture, the preeminent showcase for building design and the biggest and most publicised gathering of the international design and architecture community. What better place for the first Nigerian Pavilion’s architectural creativity and quality to take the world stage?

Schermata 2016-04-27 alle 18.38.42The Biennale promotes debate about the architectural and urban design issues confronting communities and societies around the world. It’s a highly stimulating event that brings together architects with famous careers, theorists, connections with contemporary art and young practitioners on the rise.
Some countries have permanent national pavilions in Venice; others stage their exhibitions in historic buildings. The Nigerian Pavilion have chosen an industrial building with a strong programming in the year: Punch Space where create a site-specific exhibition of architect and artist Ola-Dele Kuku.
Being at Venice feeds back into this country’s built-environment planning while also telling the world that what we do here has its own distinctive character.

conf venezia 22febThe Biennale kicks off with the two-day Vernissage – one of international architecture’s most prestigious occasions – which includes a host of opening parties and opportunities to tour the exhibitions and meet their curators.
Each Biennale has a theme set by the events director, to which the creators of the national exhibitions respond. The Biennale appeals to a large and highly focussed audience: architects and designers and urban planners, naturally, but also companies that support architecture, clients that commission it, institutions that teach it and the media that publish it.
In 2014, 66 countries staged exhibitions and the Biennale attracted 240,000 visitors. More than 3,300 media were accredited, and 120 universities took part in the Biennale’s educational programme. So also this year we will have an amazing audiences!
Visit the La Biennale website http://www.labiennale.org/it/architettura/mostra/

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‘Teatro Dell’archivio’ 1996 © Ola-Dele Kuku Projects / courtesy- Philippe Laeremans Tribal Art Gallery, Brussels

image‘Diminished Capacity‘ intends to analyze an historical transaction moment with the ambition to rewrite history, starting from Nigeria to provide unpublished interpretations.
In this condition rewrite history becomes a necessary evolution. The wrong reading of Africa transforms continent itself in a country poised in perpetual opposition to restlessness; what is its identity being a ghetto in forms and structures unsuitable? The Africa is not a country. In that conflict the first Nigerian Pavilion wants to prospect a new methodologies.

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‘Agenda Setting’ (neon series) Africa is not a country! © 2016 courtesy ola-dele kuku projects

Conflict is one of the recurrent themes in the work of Ola-Dele Kuku. The architect-artist sees that as one of the driving mechanisms in our world, and as a tool to set change in motion. ‘Conflict has played a crucial role since the dawn of creation, just think of the stories of the Big Bang and the paradise of Adam and Eve’. Throughout his practice, Ola-Dele Kuku has consistently re-shaped representation in a timely challenge. Working with both drawing, installation and sculpture, he has revisited the mainstays of architectural representational methods – plan, elevation, section – to inject unsettling slippages into their rigorous formalism. This new body of work fully embraces an analytic socio-philosophical visceral slant, confronted complex issues such as resource depletion and their manipulation, migration, micro and macro global changes, an alternative vision of west Africa, growing impoverishment and the diminished capacity of a country in a multiplication use of manipulation strategies .

Associate Curator: Mr. Koku konu (architect – critic) Lagos, Nigeria.

Project Manager: Mr. Fabrizio Orsini
Co-founder – AAC Platform, Italy.

Exhibition Promotion and Communication: Mrs. Kavita Chellaram
Director – Arthouse Contemporary Limited, Lagos, Nigeria
Collaborators – Sponsors:
Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, Nigeria.
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rome, Italy.
Arthouse Contemporary Ltd, Lagos, Nigeria.
KU Leuven – St Lucas Architecture, (Int Masters Programme) Gent, Belgium.
LMS Gallery, Brussels, Belgium.
Philippe Laeremans Tribal Art Gallery Brussels, Belgium
Malloni
Orsogna Winery

Caption image:
Ola-Dele Kuku,
‘Agenda Setting’ (neon series) Africa is not a country!
2016 courtesy ola-dele kuku projects.

Website: http://www.nigerianpavilion.org/

 

Special Thanks To Alessandro Sicuro

Journalist / Editor  by Sure Com America

Alessandro Sicuro

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www.surecomamerica.com

 

THE YULE LOG – ORIGINS AND TRADITIONS

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THE YULE LOG – ORIGINS AND TRADITIONS

The tradition of the Yule log has a long and interesting history. Even though the Yule log is not a common part of modern-day Christmas celebrations in the U.S., it’s still interesting to see where this tradition got its start and how it evolved throughout the centuries. In fact, if it were up to me, the tradition of the Yule log would be brought back in full force. Wondering what the Yule log tradition is? I’ll let you in on the secret…

The tradition of the Yule log spans millennia and actually precedes Christianity. Peasants used to burn a yule log on the Winter Solstice in December. The Winter Solstice is the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight. The peasants hoped to keep evil spirits away by burning the Yule log, which they presumed might come because of the prolonged darkness of the Winter Solstice.

The Yule log was frequently associated with winter celebrations until Christianity became widespread. As Christianity grew, the yule log became more commonly associated with Christmas celebrations and Christianity adopted the Yule log tradition. For centuries, Christians cut their own yule logs at Christmas time or they would try to find a yule log to burn. During the 1700s and 1800s, it was a regular Christmas tradition for men to go an expedition to find a yule log. Many European countries had somewhat different traditions surrounding the Yule log, but a Yule log was burned either in the days preceding Christmas or possibly on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The yule log was such an integral part of Christmas celebrations for centuries that it is hard to understand why it is virtually nonexistent in the United States. My only guess is electricity. Many homes don’t have fireplaces anymore and some of us are not accustomed to dealing with indoor fires, nor do many have the facilities to do so.

Because the yule log is not very popular anymore in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine that this tradition will ever be revived. Unless, of course, some company markets an electric yule log (are you listening you entrepreneurial types?). It’s hard to think of an adequate replacement of this dying tradition, but learning a bit about the history of the yule log is certainly warming and fitting as Christmas approaches.

Yule Log, Yule Llog, or Christmas Knock is a specially selected log burnt on a hearth around the period of Christmas in a number of countries in  Europe. The origin of the folk custom is unclear. Numerous scholars have observed that, like other traditions associated with Yule (such as the Yule boar); the custom may ultimately derive from Germanic paganism. Similar folk practices are recorded in various areas of Europe.

According to the Encyclopedia of English Folklore, the first “clear” references to the tradition appear in the 17th century, and thus it is unclear where or when the custom extends.

However, it has long been observed that the custom may have much earlier origins, possibly extending from or echoing customs observed in Germanic paganism. As early as 1725, Henry Bourne sought an origin for the Yule log in Anglo-Saxon paganism:

Our Fore-Fathers, when the common Devious of Eve were over, and Night was come on, were wont to light up Candles of an uncommon Size, which were called Christmas-Candles, and to lay a Log of Wood upon the Fire, which they termed a Yule-Clog, or Christmas-Block. These were to Illuminate the House, and turn the Night into Day; which custom, in some Measure, is still kept up in the Northern Parts. It hath, in all probability, been derived from the Saxons. For Bede tells us, that this very Night was observed in this Land before, by the Heathen Saxons. They began, says he, their Year on the Eight of the Calenders of January, which is now our Christmas Party: And the very Night before, which is now Holy to us, was by them called Maedrenack, or the Night of the Mothers. The Yule-Clog therefore hath probably been a Part of those Ceremonies which were perform’d that Night’s Ceremonies. It seems to have been used, as an Emblem of the return of the Sun, and the lengthening of the Days. For as both December and January were called Guili or Yule, upon Account of the Sun’s Returning, and the Increase of the Days; so, I am apt to believe, the Log has had the Name of the Yule-Log, from its being burnt as an Emblem of the returning Sun, and the Increase of its Light and Heat. This was probably the Reason of the custom among the Heathen Saxons; but I cannot think the Observation of it was continued for the same Reason, after Christianity was embraced. …”

Communal bon-bons with feasting and jollification have a pagan root—ritual bonfires at the beginning of November once signaled the start of another year and the onset of winter. Their subsequent incorporation into the Christian calendar, to become part and parcel of the festival of Christmas, and, later, their association with the New Year (January 1st) is an intriguing story. Many, if not all, of the various customs and traditions at one time extensively witnessed at Christmas and the ‘old’ New Year stem from this common source, e.g. Twelfth Night bonfires, including ‘Old Meg’ from Worcestershire and burning the bush from Herefordshire, first footing, etc. … Any traces of primitive ritual such as scattering of burnt ashes or embers as an omen of fertilisation or purification have long since disappeared.

The events of Yule are generally held to have centered on Mid-winter (although specific dating is a matter of debate), and feasting, drinking, and sacrifice were involved. Scholar Rudolf Simek comments that the pagan Yule feast “had a pronounced religious character” and comments that “it is uncertain whether the Germanic Yule feast still had a function in the cult of the dead and in the veneration of the ancestors, a function which the mid-winter sacrifice certainly held for the West European Stone and Bronze Ages.” The traditions of the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar (Sonargoltr) still reflected in the Christmas ham, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule customs, and customs which Simek takes as “indicating the significance of the feast in pre-Christian times.”

The Yule log is recorded in the folklore archives of much of England, but particularly in collections covering the West Country and the North Country. For example, in his section regarding “Christmas Observances”, J. B. Partridge recorded then-current (1914) Christmas customs in Yorkshire, Britain involving the Yule log as related by “Mrs. Day, Minchinhampton, a native of Swaledale”. The custom is as follows:

The Yule log is generally given, and is at once put on the hearth. It is unlucky to have to light it again after it has once been started, and it ought not go out until it has burned away.

To sit around the Yule log and tell ghost stories is a great thing to do on this night, also card-playing.

To large colored candles are a Christmas present from the grocery. Just before supper on Christmas Eve (where furmety is eaten), while the Yule log is burning, all other lights are put out, and the candles are lighted from the Yule log by the youngest person present. While they are being lighted, all are silent and wish. The wish must not be told, but you see if you get it during the year. As soon as the candles are on the table, silence may be broken. They must be allowed to burn themselves out, and no other lights may be lighted that night.

  1. J. Rose records a similar folk belief from Killinghall, Yorkshire in 1923: “In the last generation the Yule log was still burned, and a piece of it saved to light the next year’s log. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out.”

The Yule log is also attested as a custom present elsewhere in the English speaking world, such as the United States. Robert Meyer, Jr. records in 1947 that a “Yule-Log Ceremony” in Palmer Lake, Colorado had occurred since 1934. Meyer Jr. describes the custom: “It starts with the yule log hunt and is climaxed by drinking of wassail around the fire.”

Similarities have been observed between the custom of the ashenfaggot, recorded solely in the West Country of England. First recorded at the beginning of the 19th century and occurring up until at least 2003 in some areas, the ashen faggot is burnt on Christmas Eve, is associated with a variety of folk beliefs, and is “made of smaller ash sticks bound into a faggot with strips of hazel, withy, or bramble”. G. R. Wiley observes that the ashen faggot may have developed out of the Yule log.

As early as Jacob Grimm in the early 19th century, scholars have observed parallels in the South Slavic custom of the Badnjak and the Yule log tradition. As observed by M. E. Durham (1940), the Badnjak is a long young tree is placed on the hearth on Christmas Eve. Varying customs involving the Badnjak may be performed, such as smearing it with fowl blood or goat blood and the ashes may be “strewn on the fields or garden to promote fertility on New Year’s Eve”.

Kathy Kiefer

BUON NATALE – CHRISTMAS IN ITALY

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BUON NATALE – CHRISTMAS IN ITALY

 

During Christmastime, one readily observable difference between Italy and the United States, for instance, is the lack of crass commercialism that threatens to swallow up and completely secularize the holiday. For instance, instead of writing letters to Santa Claus asking for presents (or, in the digital age, E-mailing Santa Claus), Italian children write letters to tell their parents how much they love them. The letter is normally placed under their father’s plate and read after Christmas Eve dinner has been finished.

Italians have also adopted some of the Northern European traditions as well. Nowadays, especially in northern Italy, a fair number of families decorate an evergreen tree in their home.  I am pleased to share some other rituals, customs, and traditions practiced by Italians during the Christmas holidays:

Ceppo: The ceppo is a wooden frame several feet high designed in a pyramid shape. This frame supports several tiers of shelves, often with a manger scene on the bottom followed by small gifts of fruit, candy, and presents on the shelves above. The “Tree of Light,” as it is also know, is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pinecones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides and a star or small doll is hung at the apex.

Urn of Fate: An old tradition in Italy calls for each member of the family to take turns drawing a wrapped gift out of a large ornamental bowl until all the presents are distributed.

Zampognari and Pifferai: In Rome and surrounding areas bagpipers and flute players, in traditional colorful costumes of sheepskin vests, knee-high breeches, white stockings and long dark cloaks, travel from their homes in the Abruzzi mountains to entertain crowds of people at religious shrines.

La Befana: a Kindly old witch who brings children toys on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. According to the legend of la Befana, the Three Wise Men stopped at her hut to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem and to invite her to join them. She refused, and later a shepherd asked her to join him in paying respect to the Christ Child. Again she refused, and when night fell she saw a great light in the skies.

La Befana thought perhaps she should have gone with the Three Wise Men, so she gathered some toys that had belonged to her own child, who had died, and ran to find the kings and the shepherd. But la Befana could not find them or the stable. Now, each year she looks for the Christ Child. Since she cannot find him, she leaves gifts for the children of Italy and pieces of coal (nowadays carbone dolce, a rock candy that looks remarkably like coal) for the bad ones.

Holiday Season: On the Italian holiday calendar December 25 isn’t the only special day. Throughout December and January there are a number of religious holidays to mark the season.

DECEMBER 6: La Festa di San Nicola – The festival in honor of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of shepherds, is celebrated in towns such as Pollutri with the lighting of fires under enormous cauldrons, in which fave (broad beans) are cooked, then eaten ceremoniously.

DECEMBER 8: L’Immacolata Concezione – celebration of the Immaculate Conception

DECEMBER 13: La Festa di Santa Lucia – St. Lucy’s Day

DECEMBER 24: La Vigilia di Natale – Christmas Eve

DECEMBER 25: Natale – Christmas

DECEMBER 26: La Festa di Santo Stefano – St. Stephen’s Day marks the announcement of the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Wise Men

DECEMBER 31: La Festa di San Silvestro – New Year’s Eve

JANUARY 1: Il Capodanno – New Year’s Day

JANUARY 6: La Festa dell’Epifania – The Epiphany

In Germany, Sankt Nikolaus, and in Holland, Sinterklaas, became Santa Claus of Christmas fame and that tradition was carried to the Americas by European settlers.

The magnificent Basilica di San Nicola in Bari is visited by thousands of faithful and tourists every year.

So perhaps the next time your children ask if Santa Claus is real, maybe you should take them on a trip to Italy.

Kathy Kiefer

CRHISTMAS CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

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CRHISTMAS CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

 

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st of December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

There are three meanings of ‘coming’ that Christians describe in Advent. The first, and most thought of, happened about 2000 years ago when Jesus came into the world as a baby to live as a man and die for us. The second can happen now as Jesus wants to come into our lives now. And the third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back to the world as King and Judge, not a baby.

Some people fast (don’t eat anything) during advent to help them concentrate on preparing to celebrate Jesus’s coming. In many Orthodox and Eastern Catholics Churches, Advent lasts for 40 days and starts on November 15th and is also called the Nativity Fast.

Orthodox Christians often don’t eat meat and dairy during Advent, and depending on the day, also olive oil, wine and fish. You can see what days mean now eating what foods on the calendar from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. .

There are several ways that Advent is counted down but the most common is by a calendar or candle(s).

There are many types of calendars used in different countries. The most common ones in the UK and USA are made of paper or card with 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath. When they were first made, scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images were used, such as snowmen and robins, but now many calendars are made in the theme of television programs and sports clubs. Some of these types of calendar even have chocolate under each window, to make every day in December that little bit better! I used to like those when I was a little girl (and still do now!!!)!

Some European countries such as Germany use a wreath of fir with 24 bags or boxes hanging from it. In each box or bag there is a little present for each day.

You can also not get online Advent or ‘Christmas Countdown’ calendars. So during December, why don’t you visit the online Advent Calendar and find out something Christmassy each day!!!!!!

There are two types of candle(s) that are used to count down to Christmas Day in Advent. The first looks like a normal candle, but has the days up to Christmas Day marked down the candle. On the first of December the candle is lit and burnt down to the first line on the candle. The same is done every day and then the rest of the candle is burnt on Christmas day. I use one of these candles to count down during Advent.

An Advent Crown is another form of candles that are used to count down Advent. These are often used in Churches rather than in people’s homes. The crown is often made up of a wreath of greenery and has four candles round the outside and one in the middle or in a separate place. Sometimes a more traditional candelabra is used to display the five candles.

One candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent, two are lit on the second Sunday and so on. Each candle has a different meaning in Christianity. Different churches have given them different meanings, but I was taught the following: (a) The first represents Isaiah and other prophets in the bible that predicted the coming of Jesus; (b) The second represents the bible; (c) The third represents Mary, the mother of Jesus; and (d) The fourth represents John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, who told the people in Israel to get ready for Jesus’ teaching.

The middle or separate candle is lit on Christmas Day and represents Jesus, the light of the world. In Germany this fifth candle is known as the ‘Heiligabend’ and is lit on Christmas Eve.

In many churches, the colour purple is used to signify the season of Advent. On the third Sunday, representing Mary, the colour is sometimes changes to pink or rose.

Advent was first recorded about 380AD in Spain. By the 6th century, there are records of monks in Tours (in France) holding a pre-Christmas fast. By end of the 6th century, the four Sundays before Christmas had commonly become known as Advent Sundays.

In medieval and pre-medieval times, in parts of England, there were an early form of Nativity scene called ‘advent images’ or a ‘vessel cup’. They were a box, often with a glass lid that was covered with a white napkin that contained two dolls representing Mary and the baby Jesus. The box was decorated with ribbons and flowers (and sometimes apples). They were carried around from door to door. It was thought to be very unlucky if you haven’t seen a box before Christmas Eve! People paid the box carriers a halfpenny to see the box.

There are some Christmas Carols that are really Advent Carols! These include ‘People Look East’, ‘Come, thou long expected Jesus’, ‘Lo! He comes, with clouds descending’ and perhaps the most popular advent song ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

The 12 Days of Christmas are now most famous as a song about someone receiving a great many presents from their ‘true love”. However, to get to the song there had to be the days to start with!

The 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and last until the evening of the 5th January – also known as Twelfth Night. The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages and were a time of celebration.

The 12 Days each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint and/or have different celebrations: (a) Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day – celebrating the birth of Jesus. ; (b) Day 2 (26th December also known as Boxing Day): St Stephen’s Day. He was the first Christian martyr (someone who dies for their faith). It’s also the day when the Christmas Carol ‘Good King Weneslas’ takes place; (c) Day 3 (27th December): St John the Apostle (One of Jesus’s Disciples and friends); (d) Day 4 (28th December): The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when people remember the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find and kill the Baby Jesus; (e) Day 5 (29th December): St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over Church; (f) Day 6 (30th December): St Egwin of Worcester; (g) Day 7 (31st December): New Year’s Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. He was one of the earliest popes (in the 4th Century). In many central and eastern European countries (including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia) New Years’ Eve is still sometimes called ‘Silvester’. In the UK, New Year’s Eve was a traditional day for ‘games’ and sporting competitions. Archery was a very popular sport and during the middle ages it was the law that it had to be practised by all men between ages 17-60 on Sunday after Church! This was so the King had lots of very good archers ready in case he need to go to war!; (h) Day 8 (1st January): 1st January –Mary, the Mother of Jesus; (i) Day 9 (2nd January): St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians; (j) Day 10 (3rd January): Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially ‘named’ in the Jewish Temple. It’s celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!; (k) Day 11 (4th January): St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past it also celebrated the feast of Saint Simon Stylites (who lives on a small platform on the top of a pillar for 37 years!); and (L) Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.   Also (1) Christmas is celebrated to remember the Birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God; (2) The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which is sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life. The ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so people had it at Midnight! So we get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to Christmas; (3) Christmas is now celebrated by people around the world. , whether they are Christians or not. It’s a time when family and friends come together and remember the good things they have. People, and especially children, also like Christmas as it’s a time when you give and receive   presents! !

The Date of Christmas

No one knows the real birthday of Jesus! No date is given in the Bible, so why do we celebrate it on the 25th December? The early Christians certainly had many arguments as to when it should be celebrated!

Also, the birth of Jesus probably didn’t happen in the year 1AD but slightly earlier, somewhere between 2BC and 7BC (there isn’t a 0AD – the years go from 1BC to 1AD!).   The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.

There are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. A very early Christian tradition said that the day when Mary was told that she would have a very special baby, Jesus (called the Annunciation) was on March 25th – and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th March. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died on when he was an adult.

December 25th might have also been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals called ‘Saturnalia’ and ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ took place in December around this date – so it was a time when people already celebrated things.

The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. It happens on December 21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming and they had a festival to celebrate it and worshipped the sun for winning over the darkness of winter. In Scandinavia, and some other parts of northern Europe, the Winter Solstice is known as Yule and is where we get Yule Logs from. In Eastern Europe the mid-winter festival is called Koleda.

The Roman Festival of Saturnalia took place between December 17th and 23rd and honored the Roman god Saturn. Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’ and was held on December 25th (when the Romans thought the Winter Solstice took place) and was the ‘birthday’ of the Pagan Sun god Mithra. In the pagan religion of Mithraism, the holy day was Sunday and is where get that word from!

Early Christians might have given this festival a new meaning – to celebrate the birth of the Son of God ‘the unconquered Son’! (In the Bible a prophesy about the Jewish savior, who Christians believe is Jesus, is called ‘Sun of Righteousness’.) (1) The Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah starts on the 25th of Kislev (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, again following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion; (2) Jesus was a Jew, so this could be another reason that helped the early Church choose December the 25th for the date of Christmas!; (3) Christmas had also been celebrated by the early Church on January 6th, when they also celebrated the Epiphany (which means the revelation that Jesus was God’s son) and the Baptism of Jesus. Now Epiphany mainly celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to the baby Jesus, but back then it celebrated both things! Jesus’s Baptism was originally seen as more important than his birth, as this was when he started his ministry. But soon people wanted a separate day to celebrate his birth; (4) Most of the world uses the ‘Gregorian Calendar’ implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Before that the ‘Roman’ or Julian Calendar was used (named after Julius Caesar). The Gregorian calendar is more accurate that the Roman calendar which had too many days in a year! When the switch was made 10 days were lost, so that the day that followed the 4th October 1582 was 15th October 1582. In the UK the change of calendars was made in 1752. The day after 2nd September 1752 was 14th September 1752; (5) Many Orthodox and Coptic Churches still use the Julian Calendar and so celebrate Christmas on the 7th January (which is when December 25th would have been on the Julian calendar). And the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates it on the 6th January! In some part of the UK, January 6th is still called ‘Old Christmas’ as this would have been the day that Christmas would have celebrated on, if the calendar hadn’t been changed. Some people didn’t want to use the new calendar as they thought it ‘cheated’ them out of 11 days! (6) Christians believe that Jesus is the light of the world, so the early Christians thought that this was the right time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They also took over some of the customs from the Winter Solstice and gave them Christian meanings, like Holly, Mistletoe and even Christmas Carols! And (7) St. Augustine was the person who really started Christmas in the UK by introducing Christianity in the 6th century. He came from countries that used the Roman Calendar, so western countries celebrate Christmas on the 25th December. Then people from Britain and Western Europe took Christmas on the 25th December all over the world!

  • SO when was Jesus Born?
  • There’s a strong and practical reason why Jesus might not have been born in the winter, but in the spring or the autumn! It can get very cold in the winter and it’s unlikely that the shepherds would have been keeping sheep out on the hills (as those hills can get quite a lot of snow sometimes!). (2) During the spring (in March or April) there’s a Jewish festival called ‘Passover’. This festival remembers when the Jews had escaped from slavery in Egypt about 1500 years before Jesus was born. Lots of lambs would have been needed during the Passover Festival, to be sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews from all over the Roman Empire travelled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, so it would have been a good time for the Romans to take a census. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census (Bethlehem is about six miles from Jerusalem); (3) in the autumn (in September or October) there’s the Jewish festival of ‘Sukkot’ or ‘The Feast of Tabernacles’. It’s the festival that’s mentioned the most times in the Bible! It is when Jewish people remember that they depended on God for all they had after they had escaped from Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert. It also celebrates the end of the harvest. During the festival, Jews live outside in temporary shelters (the word ‘tabernacle’ come from a Latin word meaning ‘booth’ or ‘hut’); (4) Many people who have studied the Bible, think that Sukkot would be a likely time for the birth of Jesus as it might fit with the description of there being ‘no room in the inn’. It also would have been a good time to take the Roman Census as many Jews went to Jerusalem for the festival and they would have brought their own tents/shelters with them! (It wouldn’t have been practical for Joseph and Mary to carry their own shelter as Mary was pregnant.); (5) The possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem seems to point either spring or autumn; (6) So whenever you celebrate Christmas, remember that you’re celebrating a real event that happened about 2000 years ago, that God sent his Son into the world as a Christmas present for everyone!; and (7) As well as Christmas and the solstice, there are some other festivals that are held in late December. Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews; and the festival of Kwanzaa is celebrated by some Africans and African Americans takes place from December 26th to January 1st. Christmas is also sometimes known as Xmas. Some people don’t think it’s correct to call Christmas ‘Xmas’ as that takes the ‘Christ’ (Jesus) out of Christmas. (As Christmas comes from Christ-Mass, the Church service that celebrated the birth of Jesus.)

But that is not quite right! In the Greek language and alphabet, the letter that looks like an X is the Greek letter chi / Χ (pronounced ‘kye’ – it rhymes with ‘eye’) which is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Christos.

The early church used the first two letters of Christos in the Greek alphabet ‘chi’ and ‘rho’ to create a monogram (symbol) to represent the name of Jesus. This looks like an X with a small p on the top: ☧

The symbol of a fish is sometimes used by Christians (you might see a fish sticker on a car or someone wearing a little fish badge). This comes from the time when the first Christians had to meet in secret, as the Romans wanted to kill them (before Emperor Constantine became a Christian). Jesus had said that he wanted to make his followers ‘Fishers of Men’, so people started to use that symbol.

When two Christians met, one person drew half a basic fish shape (often using their foot in the dust on the ground) and the other person drew the other half of the fish. The Greek word for fish is ‘Ikthus’ or ‘Ichthys’. There are five Greek letters in the word. It can also make up a sentence of Christian beliefs ‘Ie-sous Christos Theou Huios So-te-r’ which in English means “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”. The second letter of these five letter is X or Christos!

So Xmas can also mean Christmas; but it should also be pronounced ‘Christmas’ rather than ‘ex-mas’!

Twelfth Night was a big time of celebration with people holding large parties. During these parties, often the roles in society were reversed with the servants being served by the rich people. This dated back to medieval and Tudor times when Twelfth Night marked the end of ‘winter’ which had started on 31st October with All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that’s most like the old Twelfth Night cake.

A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the Lord (or Lady) of Misrule for the night. The Lord of Misrule led the celebrations and was dressed like a King (or Queen). This tradition goes back to the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia. In later times, from about the Georgian period onwards, to make the Twelfth Night ‘gentile’, two tokens were put in the cake (one for a man and one for a women) and whoever found them became the ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ of the Twelfth Night party.

In English Cathedrals during the middle ages there was the custom of the ‘Boy Bishop’ where a boy from the Cathedral or monastery school was elected as a Bishop on 6th December (St Nicholas Day) and had the authority of a Bishop (except to perform Mass) until 28th December. King Henry VIII banned the practice in 1542 although it came back briefly under Mary I in 1552 but Elizabeth I finally stopped it during her reign.

During Twelfth Night it was traditional for different types of pipes to be played, especially bagpipes. Lots of games were played including ones with eggs. These included tossing an egg between two people moving further apart during each throw – drop it and you lose and passing an egg around on spoons. Another popular game was ‘snapdragon’ where you picked raisins or other dried fruit out of a tray of flaming brandy!

The first Monday after Christmas feast has finished was known as ‘Plough Monday’ as this was when farming work would all begin again!

Twelfth Night is also known as Epiphany Eve. In many countries it’s traditional to put the figures of the Wise Men/Three Kings into the Nativity Scene on Epiphany Eve ready to celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January.

It’s also traditional to take your Christmas decorations down following Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night is also the name of a famous play written by William Shakespeare. It’s thought it was written in 1601/1602 and was first performed at Candlemas in 1602, although it wasn’t published until 1623.

 Kathy Kiefer

HANUKKAH – WHAT IS IT?

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HANUKKAH – WHAT IS IT?

What Is Hanukkah?– the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev — celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity. To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah we also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in our daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few… the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”  Hanukkah customs include eating foods fried in oil – latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.

In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah is written חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה (Ḥănukkāh). It is most commonly transliterated to English as Chanukah or Hanukkah, the former because the sound represented by “CH” ([X], similar to the Scottish pronunciation of “loch”) does not exist in the English language. Furthermore, the letter “het” (ח), which is the first letter in the Hebrew spelling, is pronounced differently in modern Hebrew (voiceless uvular fricative) than in classical Hebrew (voiceless pharyngeal fricative [ħ]), and neither of those sounds is unambiguously representable in English spelling. Moreover, the ‘kaf’ consonant is germinate in classical (but not modern) Hebrew. Adapting the classical Hebrew pronunciation with the geminate and pharyngeal Ḥeth can lead to the spelling “Hanukkah”; while adapting the modern Hebrew pronunciation with no germination and uvular Ḥeth leads to the spelling “Chanukah”. It has also been spelled as “Hannukah”.

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) which came from the Palestinian canon; however, they were part of the Alexandrian canon which is also called the Septuagint. Both books are included in the Old Testament used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, since those churches consider the books deuterocanonical. They are not included in the Old Testament books in most Protestant Bibles, since most Protestants consider the books apocryphal. Multiple references to Hanukkah are also made in the Mishna (Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6), though specific laws are not described. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees. Ray Nissimn Gaon postulates in his Hakdamah Le’mafteach Hatalmud that information on the holiday was so commonplace that the Mishna felt no need to explain it. A modern-day scholar Reuvein Margolies suggests that as the Mishnah was redacted after the Bar Kochba revolt, its editors were reluctant to include explicit discussion of a holiday celebrating another relatively recent revolt against a foreign ruler, for fear of antagonizing the Romans.

The Gemara (Talmud), in tractate Shabbat, page 21b, focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready). The Talmud presents three options: (1) The law requires only one light each night per household; (2) A better practice is to light one light each night for each member of the household; and (3) The most preferred practice is to vary the number of lights each night.

In Sephardic families, the head of the household lights the candles, while in Ashkenazic families, all family members light. Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one’s door, on the opposite side of the Mezuza, or in the window closest to the street. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle. The blessings for Hanukkah lights are discussed in tractate Succah, p. 46a.

The Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus narrates in his book, Jewish Antiquities XII, how the victorious Judas Maccabeus ordered lavish yearly eight-day festivities after rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem that had been profaned by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Josephus does not say the festival was called Hanukkah but rather the “Festival of Lights”:

“Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival. Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursions of enemies, and set guards therein. He also fortified the city Bethsura, that it might serve as a citadel against any distresses that might come from our enemies.”

The story of Hanukkah is alluded to in the book of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. The eight-day rededication of the temple is described in 1 Maccabees 4:36 et seq, though the name of the festival and the miracle of the lights do not appear here. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq according to which the relighting of the altar fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the 25th of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabee.

The Scroll of Antiochus concludes with the following words:

…After this, the sons of Israel went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the dead bodies and from the defilement. And they sought after pure olive oil to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of Ḥashmonai made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honor, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven. In them, it is not permitted to mourn, neither to decree a fast [on those days], and anyone who has a vow to perform, let him perform it.

Hanukkah is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals.

Hanukkah is not a “Sabbath-like” holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, as specified in the Shulkhan Arukh. Adherents go to work as usual, but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall. There is no religious reason for schools to be closed, although, in Israel, schools close from the second day for the whole week of Hanukkah. Many families exchange gifts each night, such as books or games and “Hanukkah Gelt” is often given to children. Fried foods (such as latkes potato pancakes, jelly doughnuts sufganiyot and Sephardic Bimuelos) are eaten to commemorate the importance of oil during the celebration of Hanukkah.

The reason for the Hanukkah lights is not for the “lighting of the house within”, but rather for the “illumination of the house without,” so that passersby should see it and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle (i.e. the triumph of the few over the many and of the pure over the impure). Accordingly, lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street. It is customary amongst some Ashkenazi Jews to have a separate menorah for each family member (customs vary), whereas most Sephardi Jews light one for the whole household. Only when there was danger of antisemitic persecution were lamps supposed to be hidden from public view, as was the case of Persia under the rule of the Zoroastrians, or in parts of Europe before and during World War II. However, most Hasidic groups light lamps near an inside doorway, not necessarily in public view. According to this tradition, the lamps are placed on the opposite side from the mezuzah, so that when one passes through the door s/he is surrounded by the holiness mitzvot (the commandments).

Generally women are exempt in Jewish law from time-bound positive commandments, although the Talmud requires that women engage in the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles “for they too were involved in the miracle.” In practice, only the male members of Orthodox households are obliged to light the menorah. In practice, some Sephardi households involve everyone in the candle lighting, with the head of the household lighting the first candle each night, the wife the second candle, and the children, eldest first, lighting the subsequent candles.

Kathy Kiefer

BLACK FRIDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

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BLACK FRIDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

What is “Black Friday”? What is the definition of “Black Friday”? Why is it called “Black Friday”?

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since middle 1960’s through the present , it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day after Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock, creating a state of positive feedback.

In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession. $50.9 billion was spent during the 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from the previous year. However, the U.S. economy was not in a recession. The Christmas creep has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend.  Contrary to what many believed, Black Friday did not originate from the sales of slaves on the day after Thanksgiving.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014 stores such as JC Penny, Best Buy and others opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Yet there are retailers who opted not to open at all on the holiday, so that employees could enjoy the day with their families. More announced they would do the same for 2015.  I have never gone shopping on either Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, and have no intention of starting now.

The news media have long described the day after Thanksgiving as the busiest shopping day of the year. In earlier years, this was not actually the case. In the period from 1993 through 2001, for example, White Friday ranked from fifth to tenth on the list of busiest shopping days, with the last Saturday before Christmas usually taking first place. In 2003, however, Black Friday actually was the busiest shopping day of the year, and it has retained that position every year since, with the exception of 2004, when it ranked second (after December 18).

Black Friday is popular as a shopping day for a combination of reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In order to take advantage of this, virtually all retailers in the country, big and small, offer various sales including limited amounts of doorbuster/doorcrasher/doorsmasher items to entice traffic. Recent years have seen retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge, or to simply keep up with the competition. Such hours may include opening as early as 12:00 am or remaining open overnight on Thanksgiving Day and beginning sale prices at midnight. Historically, it was common for Black Friday sales to extend throughout the following weekend. However, this practice has largely disappeared in recent years, perhaps because of an effort by retailers to create a greater sense of urgency.

The news media usually give heavy play to reports of Black Friday shopping and their implications for the commercial success of the Christmas shopping season, but the relationship between Black Friday sales and retail sales for the full holiday season is quite weak and may even be negative.   “Black Friday” as a term has been used in multiple contexts, going back to the nineteenth century, where in the United States it was associated with a financial crisis of 1869.

Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year. By the early 1980s, an alternative theory began to be circulated: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year’s profits (the black).

Despite frequent attempts to control the crowds of shoppers, minor injuries are common among the crowds, usually as a result of being pushed or thrown to the ground in small stampedes. While most injuries remain minor, serious injuries and even deliberate violence have taken place on some Black Fridays.

The day after Thanksgiving as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that ‘Santa has arrived’ or ‘Santa is just around the corner’ because Christmas is always the next major holiday following Thanksgiving.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Santa or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores. These included the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, in Canada, sponsored by Eaton’s, and the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sponsored by Macy*s. Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over. Therefore, the day after Thanksgiving became the day when the shopping season officially started.

The sale day has caused a number of controversies over various practices: (1) Making unreasonable demands on staff, including requiring them to work, often long shifts, during Thanksgiving; (2) Health and safety risks due to insufficient staff for crowd management; (3) Selling “derivative” products manufactured just for Black Friday with lower specifications; and (4) Many employees are left with no choice but to work. (Work on Thanksgiving/Black Friday or be terminated).

Kmart began the trend of opening on “Gray Thursday” by opening at 7am, Thanksgiving morning, to appeal to those who wanted to miss any Black Friday traffic altogether, but still be home in time to have dinner with their families. As far back as 2009, Kmart has been utilizing this trend. It wasn’t until 2012, with backlash from the media, that Kmart started only opening at 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day, but staying open straight through Black Friday instead.

In recent years, retailers have been trending towards opening on Gray Thursday, occurring Thanksgiving evening. In 2011, Walmart began its holiday sale at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. In 2012, Walmart began its Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. the day before on Thanksgiving; stores that are normally open 24 hours a day on a regular basis started their sales at this time, while stores that do not have round-the-clock shopping hours opened at 8 p.m. Competitors Sears and Kmart also opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, while Target and Toys “R” Us opened at 9 p.m. Other retailers, such as Lord & Taylor opened on Thanksgiving for the first time. In 2013, more retailers announced plans to open earlier on Thanksgiving. Kmart planned to open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and stay open for 41 consecutive hours until 11 p.m.  Friday. Toys “R” Us opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart planned to start Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving while Best Buy planned to open at 6 p.m. JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Target planned to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. In addition Simon Property Group planned to open its malls at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, it had been reported that 15,000 consumers “stormed the entrances” at Macy*s Herald Square for the 8:00 PM opening on Thursday.   The 2014 “Gray Thursday” sales were, a failure, as overall sales for the holiday weekend fell 11% compared to the previous year despite heavy traffic at the stores on Thanksgiving night. In response, a number of retailers decided to go back to closing on Thanksgiving for 2015, and Wal-Mart, although it is holding firm opening on the holiday and holding its sale, also pledged to offer the same deals online for those who wished to stay home.

Some websites offer information about day-after-Thanksgiving specials up to a month in advance. The text listings of items and prices are usually accompanied by pictures of the actual ad circulars. These are either leaked by insiders or intentionally released by large retailers to give consumers insight and allow them time to plan.

The term Cyber Monday, a neologism invented in 2005 by the National Retail Federation’s division Shop.org, refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday based on a trend that retailers began to recognize in 2003 and 2004. Retailers noticed that many consumers, who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, shopped for bargains online that Monday from home or work.

The National Retail Federation releases figures on the sales for each Thanksgiving weekend. The Federation’s definition of “Black Friday weekend” includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday. The survey estimates number of shoppers, not number of people.

The length of the shopping season is not the same across all years: the date for Black Friday varies between November 23 and 29, while Christmas Eve is fixed at December 24th had the longest shopping season since 2007.

Kathy Kiefer

Florence Italy. Indian super wedding to be held in piazza Ognissanti

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Florence Italy. Indian super wedding to be held in piazza Ognissanti

On November 27 in piazza Ognissanti, Florence will welcome a fairytale Indian wedding.

213132_0006_3890880-013-U46000298221534USB-U46020485842319JKE-1224x916@CorriereFiorentino-Web-Firenze-593x443One hundred thousand euro for the use of public land, 20,000 in tourist taxes and another 58,000 for the restoration of the fountain in piazza Santa Croce, with an estimated return of 6 million euro for Florence, and 600 rooms already booked in five-star hotels throughout the city—these are the figures for an extravagant Indian wedding that will take place at the end of this month.

The groom is the son of an oil magnate based in Dubai and the happy couple have decided to get married beside the Arno.12305823_10153138743631363_1333871162_n

Councillor for economic development and tourism Giovanni Bettarini has stated that Florence has been confirmed as the wedding location, which comes shortly ahead of the Tuscan city hosting the Destination Wedding Planners Congress in 2016. Bettarini also stressed how important this wedding will be in promoting Florence as the ideal destination wedding location.

The City of Florence has released new regulations on the private use of piazzas, allowing the city to give better price quotes to engaged couples seeking to reserve public land for their weddings.

                                                                                                                                                               Pic from sure-com Web Agency Italy

On November 27, a temporary ban will be placed on the entrance to piazza Ognissanti as well as on the routes of the procession (lungarno Vespucci, via Melegnano and via Montebello).

Kathy Kiefer

 

Correlated:  http://alessandrosicurocomunication.com/2013/04/14/a-firenze-e-di-scena-il-matrimonio-dei-sogni/