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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 06/14/17

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A LITTLE TRIVIA TO GET THE BRAIN GOING, 13 FACTS ABOUT THE GRIM REAPER!






   As spooky sights go, a glimpse of the Grim Reaper is enough to send a shiver down most spines. He is Death personified, and his scythe is legendary for severing our souls from our bodies at the appointed time.  The Grim Reaper is very popular on Halloween, but he also figures prominently in historical tales and popular culture throughout the year. Get to know the Grim Reaper with these thirteen thrilling facts. (Most people don't get to know him until it's too late!)



1. It is believed that the Grim Reaper is based on the Greek god Chronos, also known as Father Time. Chronos' ties to time and the harvest spawned the symbolism of the Reaper's hourglass and scythe.

2. In the Biblical Book of Revelations, Death is personified as one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He is the third to ride, and his mount is a pale horse.











3. Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics portray Death as a teenaged girl.

4. The Showtime series Dead Like Me features an assortment of Grim Reapers from all walks of life. In addition to their Reaper duties, the characters hold down regular jobs (for the most part), and struggle with many of the same challenges they faced as mortals.

5. Death, in typical Grim Reaper regalia, is a recurring character in Terry Pratchitt's Discworld novels. This Death has been known to go on vacation, engage in fly-fishing, play the guitar, pass out holiday gifts, and enjoy a good curry from time to time. He also likes cats. A lot.











6. In Cartoon Network's The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, the Grim Reaper was forced to befriend the title characters after losing a limbo contest.

7. The Grim Reaper Society is an anti-smoking movement and accounting of smoking-related deaths.

8. The Reaper is also used to discourage young people from drinking and driving in a campaign by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and others.












9. One religious group worships the Grim Reaper as a saint, whom they call Santa Muerte. Though this group seeks official recognition, the Catholic Church doesn't seem to approve.


10. Ingmar Bergman's 1957 movie, The Seventh Seal, shows a young knight challenging Death to a game of chess. The knight's life is the wager.


11. In the Sims PC game, you can play rock-paper-scissors with the Grim Reaper to win back the life of a loved one.  You can also try begging.

12. The Grim Reaper might be above the law, but his impersonators are not. A couple of Reapers have been arrested in recent years. Their crimes? Civil disobedience. Another was detained for frightening elderly folks by peering into their windows at night.











13. Oscar, a cat that resides in a New England nursing home, has been nicknamed a "furry Grim Reaper" because of his uncanny ability to predict patients' deaths.

CALCIO STORICO FROM ITALY!!







COSTUMED WITH A MEDIEVAL AIR

   A sport for all times, the Calcio Storico or traditional football played in costume, in Florence, Italy, dates back to the 15th century. Woven with Italian brain, brawn and passion, the Calcio Storico was played by the aristocratic young noble men in front of the Basilica of Santa Croce and some times in the areas of Via Il Prato, Piazza della Signoria or Piazza Santa Maria Novella in celebration of the Feast of St. John. Held every year on June 24th, the awesome pageant of the Calcio Storico takes you to its ancient origins where ‘calcio in costume’ or ‘costume football’ was played for over 500 years.





The playing field





   With traditional districts to identify each of the four teams, the Calcio Storico, ‘calcio livrea’ or ‘football in livery’, colors the spirited pageant with the teams dressed in different colors, blue for St. Croce, red for St. Maria Novella, white for St. Spirito and green for St. Giovanni. Stimulating and involving body, mind and soul, the bloody and violent sport of the Calcio Storico stunned even the armies of Charles V, who had come to re-install the Medici government with the sound of firearms and the cannon tearing through the air. The Florentines continued their game as if nothing had happened as His Royal Majesty and his Imperial army stared in utter shock at the Renaissance costumed players as they proudly upheld their traditional game.












   Written by Count Giovanni de’Bardi di Vernio in 1580 in his ‘Treatise on Football’, the Calcio Storico has 54 players divided into two teams which are lined up in three rows.
 Though there are no major rules in this game, the final result has to end in a ‘caccia’ or goal. Each end of the opposite walls has a four-foot wooden wall that runs its entire length. The round red and white ball is tossed over the wooden wall which denotes a ‘caccia’ or a goal. In the center of each goal wall a narrow white tent with red trimmings and a red flag guards its goal while the captain of the team with the flag






Some of the pageantry




bearer stand with the respective team’s flag near the tent. The color of the balls and the tents vary according to the designated teams who are playing the match. Each year it varies and the finalists play the last match which decides the winner for that year. The game resembles Greco-Roman wrestling simulating the movements and motions with a mixture of rugby and soccer. The color of the balls and the tents vary according to the designated teams who are playing the match. The game itself is said to originate from an ancient Roman ball sport, which became the sport of princes and noblemen in the golden age of the Tuscan capital.












   With sand layering the entire square, the players run with the ball in their hands and pass it to their team mates. As they run, the opponent team tries to stop the player and pin them down till they are rescued by their own team players. This often results in their costumes being torn to bits and the players bloodied up but not too severely. There are six referees positioned at various points dressed in colorful Renaissance outfit of smooth velvet caps with ostrich feathers and a doublet of rich shades with knickerbockers. The referee judge with a sword has a plumed hat that he sweeps with a flourish to acknowledge change of sides. The goal scored by the winning team spurs the standard bearer to run around the square waving the team’s flag, whilst the losing











team’s standard bearer looks down-faced. Before each game is played, a long and solemn procession starts from Piazza Santa Maria Novella at 4 p.m., and winds through Via de’Banchi into Via Rondinelli to Via Tornabuoni going through Via Strozzi, around Piazza della Republica and into Via degli Speziali and up the winding Via Calzaiuoli to the picturesque Piazza della Signora right to Via della Ninna and finally through Via de’Neri till it reaches Borgo Santa Croce with much fanfare and trumpets.
   Horsemen follow with foot soldiers in armor or the ‘alabardieri’, completely suited with the ancient Florentine helmets of iron and corsalets of leather. Twenty drummers perform in sync, wearing dashing yellow and blue silk tunics with the famous crimson












lily of Florence emblazoned on their drums as a symbol of freedom and peace. The Ball Bearer carries the ball with the colors of the chosen teams followed by twenty six infantry men in colorful uniforms with feathers in their caps. A young heifer bedecked with garlands being the traditional prize of the winners is led by two oxen drivers who are dressed in white smocks with leather vests with enthusiastic shouts of ‘Viva Fiorenza!’ echoing around. A presenter announces the members of the aristocratic











families who are followed by the gonalfiers, the keepers of the four ancient city quarters of Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella and San Giovanni. Then the representatives of the old corporations, the musicians, the flag bearers, the mace carriers, the referees and the players in their beautiful Renaissance attire walk with the parade. This fantastic pageant was a traditional festival it was stopped for a period in 1739 by the Grand Dukes of Lorraine, but was re-started in 1930 by the Fascist Government. The historical game of the Calcio Storico follows its traditional rules with the Santa Croce area having the Blues or the Azzuri, San Giovanni with the Greens or the Verdi, Santa Maria Novella with the Reds or the Rossi and Santo Spirito with the whites or the Bianchi. The game does not allow anyone with a criminal record to participate in it. Over 500 dignitaries that include military officers, politicians, bankers,











 judges, nobility and rich merchants walk behind the parade in their bright and rich Renaissance costumes. The flag bearers in their costumes of short tunics and soft leather boots with tights carry sixteen flags with different symbols. The sound of the cannon heralds the bandierai who perform awesome acrobatics with their sticks as the parade retires to their respective seats.  Following the semi-finals, the final match takes place on 24 June and winners are rewarded with a mass of steaks equivalent in weight to the more traditional prize of a white calf or bistecca fiorentina, which was historically butchered for the occasion, and then there are fireworks after all of the other festivities have ended.




                                                                   

BOI BUMBA FROM BRAZIL!






  The Boi Bumbá Festival presents myths, tales and legends using characters, parade carts and giant puppets followed by the words of a master of ceremonies who describes in detail every bit of the action.
   It is an incredible musical and theatrical experience, a religious procession, a tribal ritual, a giant puppet show, a fairy tale of powerful villains and brave heroes, a folk art presentation, a major party for the audience and an energizing choreography of the galera (gah-le-rah), all at once. The characters in the performance come from the Boi Bumbá tale. There are two teams called Bois (plural of Boi). Each one tells the same story in all three night of the festival, amounting to 6 different performances of the same show. But every night is different because legends, rituals, dances, puppets, garments, alegorias, they all change and create the show anew.










   There are many similar festivities in Brazil, but Parintins is the home of the biggest and most impressive of all. It is both an artistic display and a dispute between two different teams: Bois Caprichoso (cah-pree-show-zol) and Garantido (gah-run-tee-dow). Boi is the Portuguese word for ox, and it is also the main character of the drama that unfolds every night in an arena closely watched by 35,000 people. After the 3-hour show of each Boi, the city has food, drinks and party for everybody. The main square, countless bars and every little corner near the Bumbódromo accommodate a crowd still full of energy to mimic the dance and songs of their favorite Boi.











   Parintins folklore has its own principles: it expresses spontaneous culture and evolves freely, always in its own terms. It is not clear exactly how the whole thing started. Some accounts hold that Lindolfo Monteverde, the alleged creator of Garantido, brought to life a bedtime story he used to hear from his grandfather. Similarly, Caprichoso is considered to be a creation of José Furtado Belém and the Cid brothers. Each Boi would be the result of a different promessa to St. John the Baptist.
   The play tells the story of Pai Francisco, who worked in a farm, and Mãe Catirina, his pregnant wife who longed to eat beef tongue. Pai Francisco kills an ox to satisfy his wife's craving. Unfortunately, this ox is the farm owner's favorite. A priest and a doctor fail to revive the Boi, for whose death Pai Francisco would be sent to jail. The story has a happy end thanks to the ritual performed by a pajé (pa-zhe, shaman) . Pai Francisco is forgiven and the whole ordeal ends in a major party that celebrates the Boi's life.











   Celebrations in Parintins Parintins began modestly enough with processions throughout the city. As time went by, the festival, the story and the characters changed to incorporate legends, rituals, music and dance of local indians and to celebrate the lifestyle of the caboclo, the countryman who has a mixed heritage of Europeans an aborigines.

History of The Festival

   Some people say that Bumbá Garantido was founded by Lindolfo Monteverde.
   As a young boy, Monteverde enjoyed hearing the stories his grandfather used to tell. His favorite story was the tale of a happy and cheerful ox who danced and was deeply loved by everyone. One day, Pai Francisco , who worked for the farm owner, kills the ox to fulfill the desire of Mãe Catirina , his pregnant wife, to eat beef tongue. The












couple is then chased by all villagers while a doctor, a priest, the owner and his daughter Sinhazinha try to save the ox's life. After much praying the ox is resuscitated, to the great joy of all. A huge party then takes place and Pai Francisco , the story's villain, is forgiven.
   Years later the story remained in Monteverde's imagination, so one day he built a wooden frame, covered in fabric and paraded around Parintins with his Boi Bumbá .
   After Monteverde joined the army, he became very sick and made a promessa (prayer) to St. John the Baptist. He promised that if he ever regained his health, his Boi would always come to the streets, as long as he lived. His prayer was answered, and that was the beginning of Boi Garantido.











   According to the legend, Monteverde was a fine improvisation artist and created impromptu verses for the toadas as teasers for the opposite Boi . His deep voice could be heard from far away.
   Boi Garantido is white and his symbol is a red heart. There are several versions for the origin of the Garantido name. According to one of them, once during the show one of the horns of “Boi contrário” ( Caprichoso ) fell down. Monteverde immediately seized the opportunity and sang “our Boi always comes out in one piece. That is for sure! (‘ garantido ')”. In another version of the story, a Caprichoso singer said “take care this year, for my Boi is finely built (“ caprichado ”). To which Monteverde responded “well, then finely build yours, for mine is sure thing (‘garantido')!” There are many other versions and people in Parintins are always eager to tell them.










   Bumbá Caprichoso was allegedly created by the Cid brothers in 1913 in what is now the “blue portion” of the city. They moved to Parintins in search of work. They wanted to start a family and a new life. They too made promessas to St. John the Baptist, and their prayers were answered. In return they built an ox puppet in honor of the Saint.
   José Furtado Belém, a lawyer and politician from Parintins, saw a Boi dance when he went to Manaus . He liked the idea and created Boi Galante with the Cid brothers. The first version was a crude cardboard box that came to the streets in june 1922. In 1925, a group of people that included the Cid brothers wanted to create a Boi Bumbá . Colonel João Meireles named it Caprichoso , a Boi from Manaus of which he was a big fan. Caprichoso began as a group of 20 with a blue star as a symbol.










The Competition

   The festival also is a competition. The winner is chosen by a jury that evaluates each Boi according to several criteria, such as the presentation of the Boi, the indian tribe and their chiefs tuxauas (to-shall-us), the shaman rituals, songs, alegorias, choreographies, etc. One of the most fascinating aspects of the festival is the enthusiastic participation of the audience in the Bumbódromo. The support of the galeras (the crowd of fans cheering for each Boi) is also evaluated by the judges, and each Boi has people who are in charge of organizing the galera. The Bumbódromo is divided in two halves for the Garantido and Caprichoso fans, who dance and wave handkerchiefs and candles. They rock and roll when each new character comes into the scene.
   People are very serious about taking sides in Parintins. Everybody in town has roots that go all the way up to one of the teams, and there is no compromise between them. You can never ever support the wrong Boi – for if you do so, the opposite Boi could win. Even with such strong feelings, hooligans have no place here. Whenever one side is performing, the other maintains complete silence.
   In the morning of the fourth day, the winner is announced, after which the fans and supporters of the winning Boi parade around town. Both sides are swept in emotion, but the police is on the watch and prevents any disorderly behavior.












Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Festival

   The Boi Bumbá festival presents myths, tales and legends using characters, parade carts and giant puppets followed by the words of a master of ceremonies who describes in detail every bit of the action.
   The characters in the performance come from the Boi Bumba; tale. The main character is the Boi , played by a man named tripa (“guts”) who dances holding a frame covered in fabric. There are two Bois : Garantido is white with a red heart on its forehead, while Caprichoso is black and has a blue star. In Parintins, the vaqueiros of the tale are replaced by Pai Francisco, Mãe Catirina, Amo do Boi and Sinhazinha. Together, they lead the boi, who is wounded, killed and then revived.
   The presence of Indian s Maué, Sapupé and Parintins, who lived in the island long before the tale was created, is also incorporated to the plot. There is the Pajé, who resuscitates the Boi; Cunhã-Poranga, the icon of female beauty who conquers the hearts of the tribe warriors; and the Tuxauas, the symbol of divinity and Indian wisdom.
   Parintins Bumbódromo is the stage where characters from Indian myths - Iara, Curupira, Gigante Juma, Cobra Grande, Formiga do Fogo, boto cor-de-rosa - come to life.
  The music in the festival is strongly influenced by Indian traditions, as evidenced by the use of the palminhas, maracás de lata and drums. The tribe tuxauas parade to the beat of an Indian dance.











 In Parintins, Bumba-meu-boi is also a token of gratitude towards St. John . The festival is in June precisely because it is also the month traditionally associated with that saint. It is a part of the festas juninas (June celebrations) cycle, which includes celebrations in honor of St. Anthony and St. Peter. [For more information see Folclore brasileiro by Nilza B. Megale, Editora Vozes; A ciência do folclore by Rossini Tavares de Lima, Editora Martins Fontes; Dicionário do folclore brasileiro by Luís da Câmara Cascudo, E ditora Global.
   Not unlike most popular celebrations in Northeastern Brazil , Parintins festival has a large public participation. There are some three thousand brincantes in the celebration.
   Shamanism involves mystical ceremonies in which the shaman – a wich doctor with supernatural healing powers, ability to communicate with spirits and tell the future – comes into a trance and supposedly leaves his own body. The presence of shamans is mandatory in the performance (much like of the baianas section in Brazilin Carnival), which takes a lot of research from the organizers, once it must be historically correct. The Pajé and the Tuxuauas bring about the happy end by reviving the Boi . The pajelança , a mystical healing ceremony, invokes the soul of the beast, which is different every year (the cobra grande , for instance) which is invoked in order to bring the Boi back to life.





  





It is only natural that the Parintins folk festival changed with time due to the contact with Indian culture. Before the eighteenth century, intellectuals regarded popular manifestations as a byproduct of ignorance in arts and sciences. In the nineteenth century, experts accepted the liveliness and spontaneity of those manifestations, in contrast with academic formalism. A careful analysis can detect all kinds of influences in popular manifestations, such as ancient religious beliefs, basic wishes and fears of human beings, political longings of the population and even historical facts

TOP 10 SCARY MYTHOLOGICAL CELTIC MONSTERS AND DEMONS!

  The ancient Celts had hundreds of deities, but as with most cultures, they had their demons as well. Some of the Celtic “monsters” were originally gods, but were later demonized as pagan creatures when many of the Celts became Christians. But the Celtic culture has always feared an array of evil forces.
   IrishCentral has hunted down the 10 most frightening of these Celtic and Irish demons and monsters.









1. Dearg Due – The Irish Vampire

   Yes, Dracula himself is an Irish creation (Irishman Bram Stoker created the modern image of the monster in his masterpiece novel), but there’s also a vampire that resides right smack in the middle of Ireland.

   Dearg-due, an Irish name meaning “red blood sucker,” is a female demon that seduces men and then drains them of their blood.
   According to the Celtic legend, an Irish woman who was known throughout the country for her beauty, fell in love with a local peasant, which was unacceptable to her father.
   Dad forced her into an arranged marriage with a rich man who treated her terribly, and eventually she committed suicide.
   She was buried near Strongbow’s Tree in Waterford, and one night, she rose from her grave to seek revenge on her father and husband, sucking their blood until they dropped dead.
   Now known as Dearg-due, the vampire rises once a year, using her beauty to lure men to their deaths.
   Not to worry, though – there is one way to defeat Dearg-due.
   To prevent the undead from rising from the grave, simply build a pile of stones over her grave. No, it won’t kill her, but at least you’ll hold her off until next year!



 







2. The Dullahan – the Irish Headless Horseman

   Another legendary Irish monster is the Dullahan, a name that can be translated to “dark man.”
   Often portrayed in contemporary fantasy fiction and video games, this foreteller of death is the Irish version of the headless horseman.
   The Dullahan rides a headless black horse with flaming eyes, carrying his head under one arm. When he stops riding, a human dies.
   Some versions of this legend say that the Dullahan throws buckets of blood at people he passes, while other say he simply calls out the name of the mortal that will soon die.
   As with most evil forces, the Dullahan has a weakness – gold.
   The creature is scared of the substance, so any lonely travelers this Halloween night would be wise to have some on him in case they have a run-in with this headless horror!









3. Banshee – The Irish Wailing Ghost

   A famous Irish creature that some say teams up with the Dullahan is the Banshee.
   One of the most recognizable Celtic creatures, having made a guest appearance in “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” and all, the Banshee is a female spirit whose wail, if heard outside of a house, foretells the death of one of its inhabitants.
   Several versions of the Banshee legend say the feared ghost rode alongside the Dullahan in a black cart drawn by six black horses. The pair is said to whip the horses with a human spinal cord.
   But most legends say the Banshee was terrifying enough on her own.
   Descriptions of her appearance vary, from an ugly old hag to a beautiful young woman, but all agree that the creature’s blood curdling wail will be heard three times before someone dies.










4. Balor – The Celtic Demon King

   Balor is the demonic God of Death in Celtic mythology.

   Sporting one eye and a single gigantic leg, the evil creature was King of the Fomori, demons who lived in the dark depths of lakes and seas.
   Balor can kill someone just by staring at them with his evil eye, so he kept it closed most of the time, so as not to constantly be tripping over dead bodies.
   The God of Death would provide his Fomori with victims, but the evil race was left to their own devices when Balor was killed by his son Lug, who shot him with a slingshot.
   Now the Fomori have returned to their waters and transformed into sea monsters who prey on humans.
   Perhaps it’d be a good idea to stay away from any bodies of water this Halloween!










5. Sluagh – The Dead Irish Sinners

   Though they’re not so much “demons,” Sluagh are scary creatures that hunt down souls.
   According to Irish folklore, Sluagh are dead sinners that come back as malicious spirits.
   These spirits come from the west, flying in groups like flocks of birds, and try to enter a house where someone is dying to take away that person’s soul.
   Some Irish families would keep their west-facing windows shut at all times to keep the Sluagh out of their homes.
   Some say the Sluagh is the Irish version of the Wild Hunt, a European folktale about ghostly hounds or spirits traveling around in packs foretelling of death and disaster.


6. Carman – The Celtic Witch

   Carman is the Celtic goddess of evil magic.

   This destructive witch roamed around with her three evil sons: Dub (“darkness” in Irish), Dother (“evil”) and Dain (“violence”), destroying anything or anyone in their path.
   Carman put a blight on Ireland’s crops and terrorized the Irish until the Tuatha De Danann, the “peoples of the goddess Danu,” used their magic to fight and defeat her, and drove her sons across the sea.
   Guess this is one demon you can check off your list of scary creatures to worry about this Halloween.











7. Kelpie – The Celtic Sea Monster

   The kelpie is a monster right out of Celtic myth. The creature can take on multiple shapes, but usually it appears in the form of a horse.

   The kelpie galloped around Ireland, looking like a lost pony, attempting to trick women and children into riding on it. But the strange thing about this pony is that its mane would always be dripping with water.
   If a woman hopped on, the monster would then run into the water, drowning its victim, and then would take her to its lair to eat her.
   The Irish demon would sometimes transform into a handsome man to lure women to its trap, but a telltale sign that it was a kelpie was if that “man” had kelp in its hair.
   Ladies, take note – meet a guy with seaweed on his head on Halloween night, don’t go home with him!



8. Caorthannach – The Celtic Fire-Spitter

   Caorthannach, thought by some to be the devil’s mother, is a demon that was fought off by St. Patrick when he banished the snakes out of Ireland.

   The saint is said to have stood on the mountain now known as Croagh Patrick and expelled all the serpents and demons out of the Emerald Isle into the sea to drown.
   One monster, however, managed to escape – Caorthannach, the fire-spitter. The demon slid down a mountain away from the saint, but Patrick spotted her, and chased her down upon the fastest horse in Ireland, which was brought to him.
   The pursuit was a long one, and Caorthannach knew St. Patrick would need water to quench his thirst along the way, so she spit fire as she fled, and poisoned every well she passed.
   Though the saint was desperately thirsty, he refused to drink from the poisoned wells and prayed for guidance.
   Patrick eventually made it to the Hawk’s Rock, where he waited for Caorthannach. As the demon approached, he jumped out from his hiding spot and banished her from Ireland with a single word.
   The evil fire-spitter drowned in the ocean, leaving a swell behind that created the famous Hawk’s Well.










9. Leanan Sidhe – The Evil Irish Fairy-Muse

   Both a muse and a demon, Leanan Sidhe is another one of Ireland’s mythological vampires.
   The fairy was a beautiful woman who was said to give inspiration to poets and musicians – but at the price of their lives.
   She would make the artist her lover, sharing with them her intelligence, creativity and magic, but when she left, the men would be so depressed, they'd die.
   Leanan Sidhe would then take her dead lovers back to her lair.
   Rather than directly suck the blood of her victims, Leanan Sidhe got creative, and collected their blood in a giant red cauldron, which was the source of her beauty and artistic inspiration.
   As with Dearg-due, to prevent the undead Leanan Sidhe from rising, one must put a cairn of stones over her resting place.
   A tip to artists: perhaps you should look elsewhere for inspiration, rather than risking falling into the evil hands of the Leanan Sidhe!










10. Questing Beast – The Celtic Hybrid Monster

   Another snake-like evil Celtic creature is the Questing Beast, a monster with the head of a snake, the body of a leopard, the backside of a lion and the hooves of a deer.
   The beast’s constant cry was said to sound like the bark of 30 dogs.
   The Questing Beast, known to be quick, was hunted down by many a knight, and in Celtic myth was chased by King Pellinore, an Arthurian character.
   This beast appears not only in the legends of King Arhtur, but also in Edmund Spenser’s epic tale “The Faerie Queene,” which in part, tackles the troubled relationship between England and Ireland in the 16th century.
   This is one scary creature you don’t have to worry about this Halloween – unless you dress up as a knight.