Monday, April 30, 2012

May Day Labor Day and Celebrating International Worker’s Day

May 1st is celebrated as Labor Day in many parts of the world. It is traditionally celebrated as a spring festival and is known as the International Worker’s Day in 80 countries around the world.
Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882 (Lithographie)
This is the time of year wherein workers are given paid time off and allowed to relax and enjoy. At the same time, labor unions take to the streets to ask for labor reforms, usually in the form of increase in wages.

Roots of Labor Day

Labor Day only started in the late 19th century, as the world was growing from massive industrialization. The Australians are attributed as being quite progressive in terms of workers and laborers. After all, the people in Australia were the first to advocate an eight-hour workday. This was called the 8-hour day movement. This meant that the 24-hour day should be evenly divided into 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest and the last 8 hours of the day set aside for recreational activities. The Labor Unions in Australia and in many parts of the world were pushing for better working conditions, including cutting back on working hours.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Netherlands: Where Orange Rules Koninginnedag (Queen's Day)

Ready your orange apparel! Koninginnedag is just a few winks away! What's Koninginnedag and when is it? Koninginnedag is one of the national holidays celebrated by the Dutch in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Translated into English, Koninginnedag is Queen's Day and it is celebrated with much aplomb every April 30. Which Dutch queen is being given honor on this holiday? The current queen of the kingdom! At present, Queen Beatrix sits as queen of the Dutch people.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Rise of Japanese Anime and Pop Culture

The Japanese have given much to the world, from sushi to origami, but if there’s something that appeals to the young and old alike – it is anime.

Anime or Japanese animation resonates with children, teens and people of all ages. Even those who can’t speak a word of Nihonggo, can’t help but be curious and even enthralled with anime. After all, who can’t help but feel nostalgic watching cartoons?

What is anime?

For the otaku or die hard fans of the genre, anime is not just about cartoons. In the most technical sense, anime is a highly stylized cartoon that is actually geared for a more mature audience. Many shows deal with explicit and mature themes, but are presented in a sometimes comedic and highly exaggerated manner. Anime is for television and movies, as Manga is for comic books.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania

In Kenya and the northern part of Tanzania, there live a semi-nomadic group of people called the Maasai. Because this ethnic group lives in close proximity to the game parks of Kenya, they are one of the more known tribes in Africa. As an ethnic group, the Maasai are made up of different sections such as the Isiria, Ilarusa, Kore, Isikirari and Parakuyu. The majority of the Maasai people live in Kenya.

In a 2007 census, the population of the Maasai was said to be at approximately 650,000 in Kenya and 646,000 in Tanzania. In Kenya, the 2009 census places the population of the Maasai at 840,000. Although there have been invitations and even programs encouraging the Maasai people to give up their semi-nomadic way of life, some members of the tribe continue to live according to the customs of their ancestors.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona Soccer Game. What was proven today? by Sean Hopwood

Real Madrid beat Barcelona today in an excellently contested soccer game. Madrid is a long established team with a long-storied history of success. However, FC Barcelona has enjoyed some success recently winning the Champion's League 3 times within 10 years. However, we have learned a lot from the match today. Much was proven for Real Madrid. Madrid is knows as the most successful team in world soccer with 9 Champions League trophies and 31 La Liga titles. As of late, there has been some criticism of Real Madrid. They have said that Cristiano Ronaldo does not show up in big games. However, he scored the winning goal today. They have said that Sergio Ramos and Pepe play too rough, however, they both played quite cleanly, disciplined and under control. Finally, they have said that Mourniho only plays defensively. Real Madrid did play defensively with Madrid, but also used offense, control and counter attack when needed. The way they played defense was a thing of beauty as they seemed to cut off Barcelona every time that Barcelona tried to mount a play. This was a relatively clean, and fairly played game, and turned out to be a great success for Madrid. Now that Madrid has won in the Camp Nou, Mourinho will surely have more support than ever by the Madrid faithful. La Liga has four more games for Madrid to shore up their title and they have to play Bayern Munich next week. For all Madrid supporters, this is a wonderful day and for the Barcelona supporters, they should be proud to have put up a valiant effort against one of the best teams in the world. Madrid has emerged victorious in this contest and should be congratulated for a job well done.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

El Clásico – more than just football rivalry between two Spanish giants

El Clásico, the much-awaited clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is happening on April 21. The meeting between these two very successful Spanish football clubs has been dubbed as one of the greatest sporting events in the world. It is in fact the world’s most followed football match, with hundreds of million people watching. But this is just not about which one is the best team or which team is the richest, although of course, that plays a big part. The rivalry between these two actually started in the 1930s and was originally politically motivated. It was also about nationalism and about language.

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan region, Catalonia, while Madrid is the capital of Spain. Barcelona is Catalonia’s symbol of identity and pride, whereas Madrid and fascist dictator Francisco Franco wanted a centralized Spain and considered Barcelona a lowly region. Barcelona has its roots and history in Catalan culture and the residents do not want to be disassociated with it, contrary to the edict of Franco, who even forbade the use of other languages in Spain and Catalonia other than Castilian or Spanish. Up to this day Catalan is widely spoken in Catalonia, aside from Castilian.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Conlangers: Creators of New Languages

What is a conlanger? A conlanger is a person who creates new languages. A number of authors (especially fantasy writers) and linguists are conlangers. Conlangers make up languages for many different reasons. It can be for a story, novel, or script they themselves are writing. Conlangers can be hired to write a new language or improve on an existing one for a movie, television show or even a video game. Others may come up with a new language as a hobby or for reasons only known to them.

Creation of new languages is no longer done in playgrounds or dorm rooms. New languages used to stay only in journals, in word processing documents or in websites. Now, there is a market for creating new languages – television and the movies. Of course a number of authors in the past have created languages for use in their books. Think J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell, Frank Herbert and more. But today, more and more new languages are created for science fiction and fantasy movies.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Friggatriskaidekaphobia and Paraskevidekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday the 13th

In the language of psychology, the fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia, while friggatriskaidekaphobia and paraskevidekatriaphobia both mean fear of Friday the 13th. And this is a real fear. People suffering from this particular phobia are prone to panic attacks from mild to very severe ones. Sufferers often stay home and go to extremes in order to protect themselves from bad luck.
Friday the 13th Movie Series

In the West, it is a widespread type of phobia. According to one report in the National Geographic, more than 17 million Americans fear Friday the 13th. It's one bad omen that cannot be avoided because people follow a calendar and, statistically, it will happen that the 13th day of the month will land on a Friday at least once a year.

Three Friday the 13ths in 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Titanic Lives On (Lessons the Titanic Taught Us)

This April 15, we mark the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the unsinkable ship, the RMS Titanic.
Titanic at the docks of Southampton

Back in 1912, the Titanic was the grandest ship of its kind. No one could stop talking about the massive size of the ship. The ship was made in Belfast, Ireland, where today, travelers can see the historic city where one of the world’s greatest ships was built. Of course, the world remembers the Titanic today for very different reasons. The ill-fated ship met with disaster on its maiden voyage when it hit an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and eventually sank to the bottom of the sea in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lent and Easter: A Time for Reflection (and Easter Eggs, Bunnies, etc.)

 The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection)

The season of Lent is a very solemn time for Christians all over the world. Through Lenten rituals, they relive the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe Him to be the Son of God, the Messiah of His people. The teachings of Jesus center on loving God above all else and loving one's neighbor. But at the end of the Lenten season is a joyous event, Easter. This is the day that the Lord Jesus is resurrected from the dead. It is a renewal of sorts, a rebirth for all Christians. Easter is highly anticipated by both Christian adults and children, alike for different reasons, of course.

What is Lent?

Lent is a 40-day period; it is a time for introspection, reflection and penance for different denominations of the Christian faith. The 40 days represent the days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before He began his ministry. During the 40 days He spent alone, Jesus was tempted several times by the devil. He surpassed his temptations and went on to minister to His flock.

Friday, April 6, 2012

'Tis the Season of Passover

"Chag Sameach" or "Happy Holiday" and "Happy Easter" are the two appropriate greetings for this time of the year. When spring comes to the Northern Hemisphere, two religions each observe important celebrations: the Passover for the Jews and Lent for the Christians, which culminates on Easter Sunday. Passover in particular is full of traditions and rituals that come straight from the Jewish Holy Bible, the Torah. Even the preparation of the food and drink to be served during the course of the Passover should follow the Jewish laws. Some may find the traditions and rituals very strict. However, the backbone of this long-lasting religious faith is rooted in the faithful adherence God's laws as outlined in the Jewish Bible.

In today's world, people of all races, religions and beliefs find themselves in one place, the World Wide Web. Exposure to information about religious observances throughout the globe is a given. It is always a good idea to find out what are the religious observances and traditions practiced by others starting with Passover.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan and Around the World

It’s the start of April and one of the best springtime festivals is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.
Cherry blossoms of the Yokowa-Sakura

Cherry blossom trees or Sakura trees can be found all over the country. These trees peak at their splendor when the flowers bloom, transforming the landscape into a lush lilac, pink and white field. This marks and celebrates the beginning of springtime, and so the blooming of these trees is highly anticipated in Japan.