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MADE IN ITALY, AN INTRINSIC VALUE HARD TO IMITATE

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Schermata 2015-11-25 alle 02.20.24

MADE IN ITALY AN INTRINSIC VALUE HARD TO IMITATE

 

I am an American journalist, but also a passionate woman of fashion, social and cultural behaviors. Yet I often wonder why many products fair well only in Italy, and not nearly as well abroad? Does the marketing loose something in translation to a new area?

Is it because certain lines and certain innovative ideas can only be found and created by Italian stylists?  Do they know something others can’t begin to understand or fathom?

It appears that it may be a cultural thing, or a matter of production.   Where I have found that many of the products that come from Italy are have a higher quality of workmanship/craftsmanship with a fine attention to detail and are handmade, that is sorely lacking with similar products found elsewhere. Many craftsmen from Italy have had their trade passed down through many family generations. And the results are excellent. It’s a slowly dying craft.

I see that all over the world craftsman that attempt try to mimic the high level of quality and the innovative concept of the Italian style & design, especially the Chinese, but with poor results.

I have seen that the latter invaded the markets with products and quantity but with low quality but especially with low intrinsic value of the product. Many have cut costs and used inferior materials in the production of their products in an effort to pass them off as something they are not.   The consumer will pay the price for a lesser quality in an effort to keep up with current fashion trends.

What is the intrinsic value of the product?

 

This parameter showed great Italian fashion houses, creating quality and brand reputation, especially the history that accompanies all the evolutionary process of a brand, adding to its value.

I have recently discovered a new Italian brand. 43°11° accessories, www.4311.it.   A fabulous product created to make a valuable, and yet at the same time, a trend accessory such as a bracelet or a chain. This type of product is well made, of the highest quality with fashion and stylistic design effect and refined.  This brand uses high quality Silver, precious stones such as amethyst, tiger eye, silver bracelets, leather, python, set in magnificent frames made in the urban Hipster style, in all their creations and designs. The resulting product stands out above the competition.

Kathy Kiefer

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY

Does every religion/faith tradition celebrate All Saint’s Day?   Or whom? What is the meaning of All Saints Day?

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, or Feast of All Saints is a solemnity celebrated on November 1st by the Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, in honor of all the saints, known and unknown. The liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of October 31st and ends at the close of November 1st. It is the day before All Souls’ Day.

Hallowmas is another term for the feast, and was used by Shakespeare in this sense. However, a few recent writers have applied this term to the three days from October 31st to November 2nd, as a synonym for the triduum of Hallotide.

In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Catholic Church and many Anglican churches, the next day specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Christians who celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day do so in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), and the living (the “Church militant “). Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways; for example, in the Methodist Church, the word “saints” refers to all Christians and therefore, on All Saints’ Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation, are honored and remembered.

In the late spring, the Sunday following Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter) is set aside as a commemoration of all locally venerated saints, such as “All Saints of America”, “All Saints of Mount Athos”, etc. The third Sunday after Pentecost may be observed for even more localized saints, such as “All Saints of St. Petersburg,” or for saints of a particular type, such as “New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke”.

In addition to the Sundays mentioned above, Saturdays throughout the year are days for general commemoration of all saints and special hymns to all saints are chanted from the Octoechos.

In the Maronite Church, the Sunday of the Righteous and Just is the traditional Maronite feast in honor of all saints.

The Catholic holiday of All Saints’ Day falls on November 1st, followed by All Souls Day on November 2nd, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.

In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr’s death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighboring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honored by a special day. As early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a “Commemoratio Confessorum” for the Friday after Easter.

On May 13, 609 or 610 Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary; the feast of the dedication Sanctae Mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced with certainty, and it has been observed on various days in different places. However, there are some who maintain the belief that it has origins in the pagan observation of May 13th, the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated. Liturgiologists base the idea that this Lemuria festival was the origin of that of All Saints on their identical dates and on the similar theme of “all the dead”.

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to November 1st and the May 13th feast suppressed. This fell on the Celtic holiday of Samhain, which had a theme similar to the Roman festival of Lemuria, but which was also a harvest festival. The Irish, having celebrated Samhain in the past, did not celebrate All Hallows Day on the November 1st date, as extant historical documents attest that the celebration in Ireland took place in the spring: “the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches in Ireland celebrated the feast of All Saints on April 20.”

A November festival of all the saints was already widely celebrated on November 1st in the days of Charlemagne. It was made a day of obligation throughout the Frankish empire in 835, by a decree of Louis the Pious, issued “at the instance of Pope Gregory IV and with the assent of all the bishops”, which confirmed its celebration on November 1st. The octave was added by Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484).

The festival was retained after the Reformation in the calendar of the Anglican Church and in many Lutheran churches. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between October 31st and November 6th. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. In the Church of England it may be celebrated either on 1 November or on the Sunday between October 31st and November 5th. It is also celebrated by other Protestants of the English tradition, such as the United Church of Canada, the Methodist churches, and the Wesleyan Church.

Protestants generally regard all true Christian believers as saints and if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All Saints’ Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those who have died who were members of the local church congregation. In some congregations, a candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person’s name is called out by the clergy. Prayers and responsive readings may accompany the event. Often, the names of those who have died in the past year are affixed to a memorial plaque.

In many Lutheran churches, All Saints’ Day and Reformation Day are observed concurrently on the Sunday before or after those dates, given Reformation Day is observed in Protestant Churches on 31 October. Typically, Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is sung during the service. Besides discussing Luther’s role in the Protestant Reformation, some recognition of the prominent early leaders of the Reformed tradition, such as John Calvin and John Knox, occurs. The observance of Reformation Day may be immediately followed by a reading of those members of the local congregation who have died in the past year in observance of All Saints’ Day. Otherwise, the recognition of deceased church members occurs at another designated portion of the service.

In Mexico, Guatemala, Portugal and Spain, offerings are made on this day. In Spain and Mexico the play Don Juan Tenorio is traditionally performed.   All Saints’ Day in Mexico, coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration. Known as “Dia de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents), it honors deceased children and infants.   Portuguese children celebrate the Pao-por-Deus tradition going door-to-door, where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This occurs all over Portugal.

Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called “Undas”, “Todos los Santos” (Spanish, “All Saints”), and sometimes “Araw ng mga Patay” (Tagalog, “Day of the Dead”), which actually refers to the following day of All Souls’ Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead to clean and repair their tombs. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Chinese Filipinos additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing games and music, singing karaoke, and feasting.

In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In some parts of Portugal, people also light candles in the graves.   In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.

Kathy Kiefer

CELEBRATION OF THE FALL HARVEST

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CELEBRATION OF THE FALL HARVEST

Why is there a celebration of the harvest?   Is it just held in one specific area, region or country?   Can anyone attend and participate?

A harvest festival is an annual celebration and that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. Given the differences in climate and crops around the world, harvest festivals can be found at various times at different places. Harvest festivals typically feature feasting, both family and public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields are two central features of harvest festivals: eating, merriment, contests, music and romance are common features of harvest festivals around the world.

In North America, Canada and the US each have their own Thanksgiving celebrations in October and November.

In Britain, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (around the 22nd or 23rd of September). The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit, and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home, Harvest Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving.

In British and English-Caribbean churches, chapels and schools, and some Canadian churches, people bring in produce from the garden, the allotment or farm. The food is often distributed among the poor and senior citizens of the local community, or used to raise funds for the church, or charity.

In the United States, many churches also bring in food from the garden or farm in order to celebrate the harvest. The festival is set for a specific day and has become a national holiday known as Thanksgiving which falls on the fourth Thursday in November. In both Canada and the United States, it has also become a national secular holiday with religious origins, but in Britain it is both a Church festival giving thanks to God for the harvest and a more secular festival remembered in schools.

Harvest festivals in Asia include the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most widely spread harvest festivals in the world. In Iran, Mehrgan was celebrated in an extravagant style at Persepolis. Not only was it the time for harvest, but it was also the time when the taxes were collected. Visitors from different parts of the Persian Empire brought gifts for the king all contributing to a lively festival. In India, Makar Sankranti, Thai Pongal, Uttarayana, Lohri, and Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in January, Holi in February–March, Vaisakhi in April and Onam in August–September are a few important harvest festivals.

 

Harvest is from the Old English word hærfest, meaning “Autumn”.   It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products. The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. In ancient traditions Harvest Festivals were traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon.

An early harvest festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season on the 1st of August and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf Mass’. The Latin prayer to hallow the bread is given in the Durham Ritual. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop. These were given to the local church as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

By the sixteenth century a number of customs seem to have been firmly established around the gathering of the final harvest. They include the reapers accompanying a fully laden cart; a tradition of shouting “Hooky, hooky”; and one of the foremost reapers dressing extravagantly, acting as ‘lord’ of the harvest and asking for money from the onlookers. A play by Thomas Nashe, Summer’s Last Will and Testament, (first published in London in 1600 but believed from internal evidence to have been first performed in October 1592 at Croydon) contains a scene which demonstrates several of these features. There is a character personifying harvest who comes on stage attended by men dressed as reapers; he refers to himself as their “master” and ends the scene by begging the audience for a “largesse”. The scene is clearly inspired by contemporary harvest celebrations, and singing and drinking feature largely.

Another widespread tradition was the distribution of a special cake to the celebrating farmworkers.  Nowadays the festival is held at the end of harvest, which varies in different parts of Britain. Sometimes neighboring churches will set the Harvest Festival on different Sundays so that people can attend each other’s thanksgivings.

Until the 20th century most farmers celebrated the end of the harvest with a big meal called the harvest supper, to which all who had helped in the harvest were invited. It was sometimes known as a “Mell-supper”, after the last patch of corn or wheat standing in the fields which was known as the “Mell” or “Neck”. Cutting it signified the end of the work of harvest and the beginning of the feast. There seems to have been a feeling that it was bad luck to be the person to cut the last stand of corn. The farmer and his workers would race against the harvesters on other farms to be first to complete the harvest, shouting to announce they had finished. In some counties the last stand of corn would be cut by the workers throwing their sickles at it until it was all down, in others the reapers would take it in turns to be blindfolded and sweep a scythe to and fro until all of the Mell was cut down.

Some churches and villages still have a Harvest Supper. The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as “We plough the fields and scatter”, “Come ye thankful people, come” and “All things bright and beautiful” but also Dutch and German harvest hymns in translation helped popularize his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service.

As British people have come to rely less heavily on home-grown produce, there has been a shift in emphasis in many Harvest Festival celebrations. Increasingly, churches have linked Harvest with an awareness of and concern for people in the developing world for whom growing crops of sufficient quality and quantity remains a struggle. Development and Relief organizations often produce resources for use in churches at harvest time which promote their own concerns for those in need across the globe.

In the early days, there were ceremonies and rituals at the beginning as well as at the end of the harvest.

In some regions the farmers believed that a spirit resided in the last sheaf of grain to be harvested. To chase out the spirit, they beat the grain to the ground. Elsewhere they wove some blades of the cereal into a “corn dolly” that they kept safe for “luck” until seed-sowing the following year. Then they plowed the ears of grain back into the soil in hopes that this would bless the new crop. (1) Church bells could be heard on each day of the harvest; (2) The horse, bringing the last cart load, was decorated with garlands of flowers and colorful ribbons. (3) A magnificent Harvest feast was held at the farmer’s house and games played to celebrate the end of the harvest; (4) Harvest is celebrated by many people but in Christianity, it is widely looked at in schools, and focused on in church; and (5) Harvest is mainly associated with fruit and vegetables, for which we give thanks. This is the whole point of the Harvest Festival.

THE HISTORY OF TRICK OR TREATING

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Happy Halloween party with children trick or treating

THE HISTORY OF TRICK OR TREATING

Trick-or-treating—going from house to house in search of candy and other goodies—has been a popular Halloween tradition in the United States and other countries for an estimated 100 years. But the origins of this community-based ritual, which costumed children typically savor while their cavity-conscious parents grudgingly tag along, remain hazy. Possible forerunners to modern-day trick-or-treating have been identified in ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, medieval practices and even British politics.

Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices and pay homage to the deceased.

Although it is unknown precisely where and when the phrase “trick or treat” was coined, the custom had been firmly established in American popular culture by 1951, when trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip. In 1952, Disney produced a cartoon called “Trick or Treat” featuring Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

During some Celtic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors; banquet tables were prepared and edible offerings were left out to placate unwelcome spirits. In later centuries, people began dressing as ghosts, demons and other malevolent creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This custom, known as mumming, dates back to the Middle Ages and is thought to be an antecedent of trick-or-treating.

By the ninth century, Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older pagan rites. In 1000 A.D. the church designated November 2nd as All Souls’ Day, a time for honoring the dead. Celebrations in England resembled Celtic commemorations of Samhain, complete with bonfires and masquerades. Poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families and receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners’ dead relatives. Known as souling, the practice was later taken up by children, who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale.

In Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called guising, dressing up in costume and accepting offerings from various households. Rather than pledging to pray for the dead, they would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform another sort of “trick” before collecting their treat, which typically consisted of fruit, nuts or coins.

Still another potential trick-or-treating predecessor is the British custom for children to wear masks and carry effigies while begging for pennies on Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night), which commemorates the foiling of the so-called Gunpowder Plot in 1605. On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed for his role in the Catholic-led conspiracy to blow up England’s parliament building and remove King James I, a Protestant, from power. On the original Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated immediately after the famous plotter’s execution, communal bonfires, or “bone fires,” were lit to burn effigies and the symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. By the early 19th century, children bearing effigies of Fawkes were roaming the streets on the evening of November 5, asking for “a penny for the Guy.”

Some American colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Day, and in the mid-19th century large numbers of new immigrants, especially those fleeing Ireland’s potato famine in the 1840s, helped popularize Halloween. In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World traditions of souling and guising in the United States. By the 1920s, however, pranks had become the Halloween activity of choice for rowdy young people, sometimes amounting to more than $100,000 in damages each year in major metropolitan areas.

The Great Depression exacerbated the problem, with Halloween mischief often devolving into vandalism, physical assaults and sporadic acts of violence. One theory holds that it was the excessive pranks on Halloween that led to the widespread adoption of an organized, community-based trick-or-treating tradition in the 1930s. This trend was abruptly curtailed, however, with the outbreak of World War II, when children had to refrain from trick-or-treating because of sugar rationing.

At the height of the postwar baby boom, trick-or-treating reclaimed its place among other Halloween customs, quickly becoming standard practice for millions of children in America’s cities and newly built suburbs. No longer constrained by sugar rationing, candy companies capitalized on the lucrative ritual, launching national advertising campaigns specifically aimed at Halloween. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the nation’s second-largest commercial holiday.

By the early 1920’s young trendsetters were beginning to throw lavish Halloween parties and there was renewed interest in “guising”. Stores started selling pre-made costumes that people could wear to disguise themselves and indulge in a little good natured Halloween fun. During WWII Halloween celebrations were toned down due to sugar rationing and the generally somber mood of the nation. By the time the war was over and people started the mad exodus to build homes in the suburbs the celebration of Halloween had gotten popular. The 50’s and 60’s were the decades when Trick-or-Treating became the important Halloween ritual they are today. Trick-or-Treating became the focus of Halloween celebrations because going Trick-or-Treating was seen as a wholesome activity for the whole family. Trick-or-Treating also became popular in the 50’s and 60’s because that was when living in subdivisions and newly built suburban neighborhoods became popular.

Trick-or-Treating remained popular through the 70’s and 80’s but by the 90’s the practice of Trick-or-Treating began to change. Many different factors like the rise of people living in apartment buildings instead of free standing houses in suburban neighborhoods and the rise in non-traditional households contributed to the major changes that shaped Trick-or-Treating at the end of the 90s. In order to accommodate parents with busy schedules and in an effort to make Trick-or-Treating safer for kids it was moved largely indoors. Malls began to open for specific Trick-or-Treating events where kids in costume could go to different stores to receive candy and coupons. These structured Halloween events also usually feature games, activities, and clowns and other performers to make the event even more special. Many neighborhoods have also designated special Trick-or-Treat hours to prevent a lot of Halloween mischief and help protect the safety of Trick-or-Treaters.

Kathy Kiefer

HISTORY AND TRADITIONS BEHIND THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME

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36096_halloweenHISTORY AND TRADITIONS BEHIND THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME

Halloween costumes are costumes that are worn on or around Halloween, a festival which falls on October 31st . An early reference to wearing costumes at Halloween comes from Scotland in 1585, but they may pre-date this. There are many references to the custom during the 18th and 19th centuries in the Celtic countries of Scotland, Ireland, Mann and Wales. It has been suggested that the custom comes from the Celtic festivals of Samhain and Calan Gaeaf, or from the practise of “Souling” at Hallowtide. Wearing costumes and mumming has long been associated with festivals at other times of the year, such as on Christmas. Halloween costumes are traditionally based on frightening supernatural or folkloric beings. However, by the 1930s costumes based on characters in mass media such as film, literature, and radio were popular. Halloween costumes have tended to be worn mainly by young people, but since the mid-20th century they have been increasingly worn by adults also.
The practice of wearing costumes on Halloween may have originated in the Cletic festival of Samhain, which was a pre-Christian celebration that fell on October 31st or November 1st in various Celtic nations. It was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or faries, and the souls of the dead, could more easily come into our world. After the Christianiztion of Ireland in the 5th century, some of these customs may have been retained in the Christian observance of All Hallows’ Eve in that region, and some continued to call the festival by the name of the ancient Celtic one, Samhain, blending the traditions of their ancestors with Christian ones.
From at least the 16th century, the festival included mumming and guising, which involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. In 19th century Scotland, youths went house-to-house with masked, painted or blackened faces, often threatening to do mischief if they were not welcomed. In parts of Wales, men went about dressed as fearsome beings called gwrachod. In some places, young people dressed as the opposite gender. In parts of southern Ireland, a man dressed as a Láir Bhán (white mare) led youths house-to-house reciting verses in exchange for food. Elsewhere in Europe, mumming and costumes were part of other yearly festivals. However, in the Celtic-speaking regions they were “particularly appropriate to a night upon which supernatural beings were said to be abroad and could be imitated or warded off by human wanderers”. It is suggested that the costumes were a means of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. It has been suggested that the ancient pagan festival included people wearing masks or costumes to represent spirits, and that faces were marked with ashes taken from the sacred bonfire. It has also been suggested that the wearing of Halloween costumes developed from Christian customs created in Western Europe around the 15th century. “Soaling”, the custom of baking and sharing soul-cakes for all christened souls, has been suggested as the origin of trick-or-treating, and “used to consist of parties of children, dressed up in fantastic costume, who went round to the farm houses and cottages, signing a song, and begging for cakes (spoken of as “Soal-cakes”), apples, money, or anything that the goodwives would give them; the practice was mentioned by Shakespeare in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The custom of wearing costumes has been explicated by Prince Sorie Conteh, who wrote: “It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities”. In medieval Christian celebrations of All Hallows’ Eve, individuals paraded through the streets with statues and replicas of the martyred saints, some of the less wealthy churches could not afford these things and so they dressed like saints instead. Some believers continue the practice of dressing as saints, biblical figures, and reformers in Halloween celebrations today.
Many Christians in continental Europe, especially in France, acknowledged “a belief that once a year, on Hallowe’en, the dead of the churchyards rose for one wild, hideous carnival,” known as the danse macabre, which has been commonly depicted in church decoration, especially on the walls of cathedrals, monasteries, and cemeteries. This danse macabre, which was enacted by “Christian village children who celebrated the vigil of All Saints” in the 16th Century, has been suggested as the predecessor of modern day costume parties on this same day.
The custom of guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood. In 19th century America, Halloween was often celebrated with costume parades and “licentious revelries”. However, efforts were made to “domesticate” the festival to conform with Victorian era morality. Halloween was made into a private rather than public holiday, celebrations involving liquor and sensuality de-emphasized, and only children were expected to celebrate the festival. Early Halloween costumes emphasized the and gothic nature of Halloween, and were aimed primarily at children. Costumes were also made at home, or using items (such as make-up) which could be purchased and utilized to create a costume. Halloween costumes are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, skeletons, goblins, trolls, devils, etc. or in more recent years science fiction-inspired characters as aliens and superheros. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, athletes, celebrities, or characters in film, television, literature, etc. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear sexy or revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise. Young girls also often dress as entirely non-scary characters at Halloween, including princesses, fairies, angels, cute animals and flowers.
There have been controversial costumes over the years. One that sparked enormous controversy well before Halloween in 2015 is a “Caitlyn Jenner” corset costume. Despite public outcry claiming that the costume is offensive, popular retailers plan to go full steam ahead with selling the costume; one defending their conviction to sell the costume as a celebration of Jenner.
Halloween costume parties generally take place on or around October 31st , often on the Friday or Saturday prior to the holiday.
Researchers conducted a survey for the National Retail Federation in the United States and found that 53.3 percent of consumers planned to buy a costume for Halloween 2005, spending $38.11 on average (up $10 from the year before). They were also expected to spend $4.96 billion in 2006, up significantly from just $3.3 billion the previous year. The troubled economy has caused many Americans to cut back on Halloween spending. In 2009, the National Retail Federation anticipated that American households would decrease Halloween spending by as much as 15% to $56.31. In 2013, Americans spent an estimated $6.9 billion to celebrate Halloween, including a predicted $2.6 billion on costumes (with more spent on adult costumes than for children’s costumes) and $330 million on pet costumes.
Halloween costumes in the contemporary Western world sometimes depict people and things from present times and are sometimes read in terms of their political and cultural significance. Halloween costumes are sometimes denounced for cultural appropriation

Kathy Kiefer

n when they uncritically use stereotypical representations of other groups of people.

” BONSAI- AN HISTORICAL LOOK “

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” BONSAI- AN HISTORICAL LOOK “

How can I learn to do Bonsai?   Are the plants easy to take care of?   What do they come and require?

japanese-bonsai-treeBonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hon non bo. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has its own aesthetics and terminology.   “Bonsai” is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai. A “bon” is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots. This article focuses on bonsai as defined in the Japanese tradition.

The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food, for medicine, or for creating landscapes. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.

A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species that produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.

The source specimen is shaped to be relatively small and to meet the aesthetic standards of bonsai. When the candidate bonsai nears its planned final size it is planted in a display pot, usually one designed for bonsai display in one of a few accepted shapes and proportions. From that point forward, its growth is restricted by the pot environment. Throughout the year, the bonsai is shaped to limit growth, redistribute foliar vigor to areas requiring further development, and meet the artist’s detailed design.

The practice of bonsai is sometimes confused with dwarfting, but dwarfing generally refers to research, discovery, or creationgrape-bonsai-tree of plant cultivars that are permanent, genetic miniatures of existing species. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather depends on growing small trees from regular stock and seeds. Bonsai uses cultural techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees.

In 1351, dwarf trees displayed on short poles were portrayed in the Boki Ekotoba scroll. Several other scrolls and paintings also included depictions of these kinds of trees. Potted landscape arrangements made during the next hundred years or so included figurines after the Chinese fashion in order to add scale and theme. These miniatures would eventually be considered garnishes decidedly to be excluded by Japanese artists who were simplifying their creations in the spirit of Zen Buddhism.   Around the 14th century, the term for dwarf potted trees was “the bowl’s tree.”   This denoted the use of a fairly deep pot, as opposed to the shallow pot denoted by the term bonsai.

Bonsai placed in the grand setting of the Imperial Palace had to be “Giant Bonsai,” large enough to fill the grand space. The Meiji Emperor encouraged interest in bonsai. Government officials who did not appreciate bonsai fell out of favor. Soon all members of the ministry had bonsai whether they liked the tradition or not. Prince Itoh was an exception: Any bonsai that the emperor gave him were then passed to Kijoji Itoh. Kijoji Itoh was a statesman of great influence behind the scenes, and a noted bonsai collector who conducted research and experiments on these bonsai.

Bonsai shaping aesthetics and techniques were becoming more sophisticated. By the late 1860s, thick combed and wetted hemp fibers were used to roughly shape the trunk and branches of miniature trees by pulling and tying them. The process was tedious and bothersome, and the final product was unsightly. Tips of branches would only be opened flat. Long, wavy-branched tako (octopus)-style trees were mass produced and designed in the [renamed capital] Tokyo for the increasing foreign trade, while the more subtle and delicate bunjin-style trees designed in Kyoto and Osaka were for use in Japan. Tokyo preferred big trunks out of proportion and did not approve of Kyoto’s finely designed slender trunks.

In 1910, shaping with wire was described in the Sanyu-en Bonsai-Dan (History of Bonsai in the Sanyu nursery).  Zinc-galvanized steel wire was initially used. Expensive copper wire was only used for trees that had real potential. Formal rooms and tea rooms became the main place for bonsai display. The shaped trees now shared space with other items such as scrolls, incense burners, Buddhist statues and tea ceremony implements.

bonsai_3_l1Bonsai has now definitively reached a world-wide audience. There are over twelve hundred books on bonsai and the related arts in at least twenty-six languages available in over ninety countries and territories. A few dozen magazines in over thirteen languages are in print. Several score of club newsletters are available on-line, and there are at least that many discussion forums and blog. Educational videos and just the appearance of dwarf potted trees in films and on television reach a wide audience. There are at least a hundred thousand enthusiasts in some fifteen hundred clubs and associations worldwide, as well as over five million unassociated hobbyists. Plant material from every location is being trained into bonsai and displayed at local, regional, national, and international conventions and exhibitions for enthusiasts and the general public.

All bonsai start with a specimen of source material, a plant that the grower wishes to train into bonsai form. Bonsai practice is an unusual form of plant cultivation in that growth from seeds is rarely used to obtain source material. To display the characteristic aged appearance of a bonsai within a reasonable time, the source plant is often mature or at least partially grown when the bonsai creator begins work. Sources of bonsai material include: (a) Propagation from a source tree through cutting or layering; (b) Nursery stock directly from a nursery, or from a garden center or similar resale establishment (c) Commercial bonsai growers, which, in general, sell mature specimens that display bonsai aesthetic qualities already; and (d) Collecting suitable bonsai material in its original wild situation, successfully moving it, and replanting it in a container for development as bonsai. These trees are called yamadori and are often the most expensive and prized of all Bonsai.

The practice of bonsai development incorporates a number of techniques either unique to bonsai or, if used in other forms of cultivation, applied in unusual ways that are particularly suitable to the bonsai domain. These techniques include: (1) Leaf trimming, the selective removal of leaves (for most varieties of deciduous tree) or needles (for coniferous trees and some others) from a bonsai’s trunk and branches; (2) Pruning the trunk, branches, and roots of the candidate tree; (3) Wiring branches and trunks allows the bonsai designer to create the desired general form and make detailed branch and leaf placements; (4) Clamping using mechanical devices for shaping trunks and branches; (5) Grafting new growing material (typically a bud, branch, or root) into a prepared area on the trunk or under the bark of the tree; (6) Defoliation, which can provide short-term dwarfing of foliage for certain deciduous species; and (7)   Deadwood bonsai techniques called jin and shari simulate age and maturity in a bonsai.

Small trees grown in containers, like bonsai, require specialized care. Unlike houseplants and other subjects of containerimages gardening, tree species in the wild, in general, grow roots up to several meters long and root structures encompassing several thousand liters of soil. In contrast, a typical bonsai container is less than 25 centimeters in its largest dimension and 2 to 10 liters in volume. Branch and leaf (or needle) growth in trees is also of a larger scale in nature. Wild trees typically grow 5 meters or taller when mature, whereas the largest bonsai rarely exceed 1 meter and most specimens are significantly smaller. These size differences affect maturation, transpiration, nutrition, pest resistance, and many other aspects of tree biology. Maintaining the long-term health of a tree in a container requires some specialized care techniques: (1) Watering must be regular and must relate to the bonsai species’ requirement for dry, moist, or wet soil; (2) Repotting must occur at intervals dictated by the vigor and age of each tree; (3) Tools have been developed for the specialized requirements of maintaining bonsai; (4) Soil composition and fertilization must be specialized to the needs of each bonsai tree, although bonsai soil is almost always a loose, fast-draining mix of components; and (5) Location and overwintering are species-dependent when the bonsai is kept outdoors as different species require different light conditions. It is important to note that few of the traditional bonsai species can survive inside a typical house, due to the usually dry indoor climate.

Kathy Kiefer

Is the “Made in Germany” brand still a sign of quality? What does this scandal due to Volkswagen (VW) and its brand?

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Schermata 2015-09-25 alle 01.18.59

VOLKSWAGEN – DIESEL SCANDAL

Is the “Made in Germany” brand still a sign of quality?   What does this scandal due to Volkswagen (VW) and its brand? Does the value diminish as a result? Can the brand be trusted?

Until recently the mighty Volkswagen brand symbolized German engineering prowess and reliability.   But over a matter of a few short days, that has changed radically. A scandal over cheating on U.S. diesel emission tests has engulfed the company and many Germans worry it will have a domino effect on their businesses, eroding the cherished Made in Germany label. And the brand has lost a great deal of credibility among many consumers in the United States and they would rather go elsewhere.  

Through their history lies the fact that Germany has always come across as being a champion of clarity and fairness, meanwhile accusing Italy, Greece and Spain of misconduct. Yet rarely taking their own share of blame for any misconduct on their part. . Now what are we to think?

volkswagen-712317_tnFollowing a series of other blows to Germany’s reputation — from repeated delays in Berlin’s new airport to a string of financial misdeeds at flagship lender Deutsche Bank — Germany’s business image looks tainted.   And it is being viewed quite skeptically, the trust has been lost. It’s the leadership as well.

Made in Germany has always stood for quality and trust. Now that trust is lost, not just in Germany, but in the United States and around the globe. No one could have imagined the scale of this and the damage it will cause for German industry will go on and on and take a long to recover from, if ever… This is just the tip of the iceberg.   VW had been described as one of the crown jewels of German industry and they feel that its success must not be gambled away. The reality, however, is that VW has been caught deliberately misleading the U.S. environmental watchdog and U.S. consumers over emissions from its diesel engines.

The impact of such a scandal is especially great in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, because of its reliance on exports which make up more than 45 percent of gross domestic product.  The scandal and resulting impact is far from over.   While it’s possible that there’s no evidence the government knew about the deception, though it was aware there could be deviations between emissions on the road and in the laboratory. But the matter is not just about jobs, market share or corporate and bureaucratic reputations.

Even if we don’t know how much the VW case will affect the German economy, the risk is high due to a reliance on exports.volkswagen-autostadt-fabbrica-262121_tn Germany’s auto industry accounts for roughly one in five jobs. It accounted for 17.9 percent of Germany’s 1.1 trillion euros in exported goods last year, according to Deutsche Bank, and has enjoyed above-average export growth since 2009.

Perhaps even more harmful in the long run, the Volkswagen scandal also comes at a time when Germany is trying to set an example for the rest of the world on lowering carbon emissions. Its ambitious policy of shifting away from carbon-based fuels to alternative energy like wind and solar has driven up costs for German business and consumers. “The biggest problem for VW is that the giant conglomerate has become ungovernable.

So it’s no surprise that as a result VW’s chief executive quickly stepped down once it was disclosed that t the company deceived regulators over emissions from its diesel cars. Even though he denies any wrong doing or any involvement in the scandal, I have a problem in believing his assertions.     He had to know what was transpiring. But the effects on Germany are likely to play out for some time, even as it copes with a huge influx of migrants attracted by its reputation as Europe’s beacon of opportunity and as it continues to find its footing as an often-ambivalent global power.

operai-tedeschi-volkswagen-565798_tnFurther, the timing puts Germany in an awkward spot ahead of the global climate conference in Paris in December, where it had hoped to hold out its transformation as an industrial power reliant on a lower-carbon energy system as a model to the world.

In the immediate aftermath, Germany’s leaders scrambled to distance themselves from the scandal and to mitigate the damage to the auto industry, which accounts for one in seven German jobs.   The damage that a few people have caused for the firm and its workers is huge. In fact, it may be too late for that. Germany is very closely aligned with its auto industry. Indeed, the state of Lower Saxony, where Volkswagen is headquartered in Wolfsburg, owns about 20 percent of the company. Any governor of that state is deeply involved in the company’s affairs.

Highlighting the PR battle it faces, German television has been showing a frequently-aired U.S. television commercial in which VW not only boasts that it is the top diesel car brand in America, but also asks: “Isn’t it time for German engineering? “The scandal undermines VW’s whole push into clean diesel which has been the pillar of its efforts to develop environmentally-friendly technology, a strategy shared by other German carmakers BMW and Daimler.

Some experts say VW now needs to apply a strategy like Mercedes did after the 1997 ‘elk test’ when a Swedish motormerkel-entra-golf-189979_tn magazine found Mercedes’ new A Class tended to flip over when undergoing an evasive maneuver test.

Yet this scandal is different to the “elk test” and other car recalls as it exposes not incompetence but a deliberate attempt to mislead.

Volkswagen needs a fresh start — also in terms of personnel.    The company has admitted to rigging 11 million cars with sophisticated software to trick regulators into believing the vehicles were compliant with emissions standards. If this is true, what else could they be hiding? The company is setting aside $7.3 billion to pay for the expected cost of the scandal, a figure it acknowledged could change. But are they being honest about paying the cost, and will it  increase?

morgan-indagata-corruzione-261010_tnThe ongoing scandal involves upwards of 11 million vehicles around the world, and could theoretically cost VW billions of dollars in fines. Volkswagen is accused of installing software specifically designed to defeat and obscure emissions tests. The vehicles in question, all of them diesel-powered, would switch to a lean mode during the testing.

At any other time in the vehicle’s operation, however, the modified car or truck would emit anywhere from 10 to 40 times legal emissions levels. The E.P.A. revealed the scandal last week and VW has since halted sales of its diesel models here in the U.S.

Dealers have been ordered to stopped selling the vehicles involved in the scandal — which can emit harmful pollutants at rates of up to 40 times U.S. standards — until the problem can be fixed no matter how long it takes.   Hence a greater loss in profits.

Kathy Kiefer

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