Blog December 2015


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Posted On: December 30, 2015

New Year’s Folklore

Some customs and beliefs are simply passed down through the ages. Here are some of our favorite age-old sayings and proverbs.

On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.

If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south, It betokeneth warmth and growth.

For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.

If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.

Begin the new year square with every man.(i.e., pay your debts!) –Robert B. Thomas, founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac 

So, whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment (as did the Babylonians) or drop a few pounds, we’re tapping into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start!



Posted On: December 28, 2015

As the year comes to an end and the calendar marks a transition, the various New Year Traditions and Customs followed every year remain as is.

Here’s some of the interesting ways to celebrate the New Year across the globe:

England: The English custom for welcoming New Year is full of hospitality and warmth.  They believe that the first guest for the year would bring fortune for them. should be a male, He should enter through the front door and bear some traditional gifts like loaf for the kitchen, drink for the head of the family and coal to light the fire, otherwise he is not allowed. They believe that these bring good luck throughout the year.

Denmark: In Denmark, residents keep a pile of dishes, all broken, in front of the door. For this they save old dishes and People usually throw these on the friends’ doors during New Year. This symbolizes friendship and brotherhood and they believe the one with maximum dishes outside, has the most friends. Some Danish are found to leap some chairs during midnight.

China: The Chinese have a unique way of celebrating New Year, where every front door of a house is painted in red which symbolizes happiness and good fortune. They hide all the knives for the day so that no one cuts oneself, because that may actually cut the entire family good luck for the coming year. However that doesn’t make any difference to the feast they have during time.

Brazil: Brazilians believe that lentils signify wealth and prosperity. So they serve food items made up of the legume like soup or rice on the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, the priestesses dress up in blue and white for an auspicious ceremony celebrated for the water goddess. Also a sacrificial boat filled with jewelery, candles and flowers from the beach of Rio de Janeiro is pushed to the ocean that brings health, wealth and happiness for them.

Austria: Austrians find good luck charm in Suckling pigs. They serve it on the dinner table with edible pigs and the peppermint ice creams are served as desserts for fortune.

German: Lead is considered to be auspicious here. They pour molten lead into cold water and the shape that is taken after, predicts the future. Heart shapes symbolize marriage whereas round shapes denote good luck; anchor shapes tell that you need help however a cross signifies someone’s sad demise.

Belgium: They call the New Year eve as Saint Sylvester Eve. They believe in throwing family parties, where everyone kisses, exchanges fortune greetings apart from raises toast to welcome the New Year in their own manner.



Posted On: December 23, 2015

The Feast of The Seven Fishes

Legend has it that the tradition started in southern regions like Naples and Sicily but is little known in northern Italy.

Though many facts surrounding the feast are unknown, there are two definite truths: It’s about seafood and family.

When waves of immigrants made their way from Italy to America, they brought their cherished traditions with them too, the Feast of the Seven Fishes among them.

Observing “Cena della Vigilia,” or the Christmas Eve dinner, started when Catholics fasted to anticipate the birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas Day. The fast would end when they received Holy Communion during Midnight Mass.

Since meat cannot be eaten during the fast, Italians indulged in seven different types of fish or “fishes.”

There are several theories when it comes to the symbolism of seven: it took seven days for God to create the earth, the Bible says. Others believe that seven stands for the sacraments.

For some families the number three is actually more important than seven.

For them it represents the Three Wise Men and the Holy Trinity.

Some families even go as far as having 13 fish varieties to represent the 12 apostles, with the final one being for Jesus. Others only have 11 fish, leaving out Jesus and Judas.

But no matter how many fish are eaten it’s all done in the spirit of the holiday and to refrain from eating meat and dairy products on the day before Jesus was born.

Good thing the Bible doesn’t mention anything about seafood so Catholic Italian-Americans can indulge in fish like calamari (squid), baccala (cod), blue crabs, scallops, pupa (octopus), shrimp, clams, oysters, lobsters and much more. Mangia bene!







Posted On: December 21, 2015

Santa Claus


The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, an area in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous man, particularly devoted to children. After his death around 340 A.D. he was buried in Myra, but in 1087 Italian sailors purportedly stole his remains and removed them to Bari, Italy, greatly increasing St. Nicholas’ popularity throughout Europe.

His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to claims he that he could perform miracles and devotion to him increased. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, where he was known by his red cape, flowing white beard, and bishop’s mitre.

In Greece, he is the patron saint of sailors, in France he was the patron of lawyers, and in Belgium the patron of children and travellers. Thousands of churches across Europe were dedicated to him and some time around the 12th century an official church holiday was created in his honor. The Feast of St. Nicholas was celebrated December 6 and the day was marked by gift-giving and charity



Posted On: December 16, 2015

Global climate conference adopts historic deal


PARIS (Reuters) - A global climate conference on Saturday adopted an international accord aimed at transforming the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and slowing the pace of global warming.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius banged down his gavel to rapturous applause, signaling the deal was agreed by nearly 200 nations.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle and Barbara Lewis)



Posted On: December 14, 2015

Hundreds of full coffee cans wash up on Florida beach


INDIALANTIC, Fla. (AP) — Hundreds of sealed coffee cans and vacuum-packed coffee bricks have washed ashore along Florida's Space Coast and officials believe they may be from containers that fell off a barge last weekend.

Florida Today reports that the yellow-and-red packages of Cafe Bustelo dotted the beach Tuesday in Indialantic, where delighted beach combers were scooping them up and stuffing them into bags.

The news outlet says the coffee may have come from a barge ship that lost containers between Cape Canaveral and Palm Beach last weekend.

The report quotes the Coast Guard as saying that as many as 25 containers fell overboard, including one that contained batteries.



Posted On: December 09, 2015


Is there another painting under her image?

The Mona Lisa, which hangs at the Louvre in Paris, is among the most famous and photographed paintings of all time, but a scientist in France says the artwork may not be what many believe.

Pascal Cotte claims he found another portrait painted beneath the one we see today, and that woman is the real Lisa referenced in the name. For some time, an abundance of experts have agreed the woman depicted is Lisa Gherardini, a silk merchant's wife.

Cotte asserts the hidden image he discovered is the real Lisa, and the famous woman painted over the original figure is someone else entirely.

In finding the alleged original painting, the scientist used a technique called Layer Amplification Method, which uses blasts of intense light and assesses reflections.

After 10 years of analysis, his work resulted in a composite of a woman also seated for a portrait but looking off to the side and lacking the famed smile.

The Louvre has not commented on Cotte's assertion, but a number of scholars have stepped forward to discredit the finding.



Posted On: December 07, 2015


Boaters can help orcas by slowing down

A new study suggests speed can be a key factor.

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — A new University of Washington study of underwater noise finds that killer whales are bothered more by a fast boat than a large one or by a number of them in close proximity.

Studies have shown that the Puget Sound's Southern Resident orcas are affected by underwater noise produced by ships, ferries and smaller vessels. The whales spend more time and energy trying to communicate with each other over the noise, and they tend to hunt less, swim deeper and travel more when noise levels are high.

"Previous studies looked at how the number and distance of boats can affect the whales," said Juliana Houghton, a University of Washington aquatic sciences researcher and the lead author of the study. "This is the first that shows that speed is also important, and that if everybody decreased their speed, it would be helpful."

The study was conducted in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Kitsap Sun reported.

It's the first study to examine how much noise from individual boats reaches the whales in the Salish Sea, which includes the sound and the waters between Vancouver Island and British Columbia mainland. A small motorized boat traveling at high speed can be more disruptive than a large, slow-moving vessel or a group of slow-moving boats.

NOAA considers vessel traffic one of the three main threats to the whales' recovery. The other threats are dwindling food sources and marine contamination.

Southern Resident whale populations have declined about 20 percent since 1990. This year, their numbers nudged just beyond 80, but the Southern Residents are falling short of the annual 1 percent growth rate specified under the state's killer whale recovery goals.

Researchers simultaneously used laser positioning systems to measure the distance between vessels and the whales and to gauge vessel speed and size.

The study did not assess the impact of large ships or ferries. The largest vessel studied was a 100-passenger whale-watching boat.

Federal rules require boats to stay at least 200 yards away from whales and at least 400 yards out of the path of whales. There's no speed limit, but NOAA recommends that boats slow to less than seven knots when within 400 yards of the nearest whale.

Speed has not been regulated because it's difficult to enforce and because speed had not — until now — been shown to be an important factor.

NOAA plans to review the effectiveness of vessel regulations next year.