Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Traditions Around the World: Fun Facts

Hey there, here's a short list of fun facts from Fall Traditions around the world.

Did you know...

- In Japan, where ancestor-worship has been practiced for thousands of years, a special celebration called the Obon Festival occurs during July or August. While not a typical Fall festival, special foods are prepared, and lanterns are set afloat on rivers and in the sea. Fires are lit every night of the festival to guide departed souls to their families. This is just one occasion during the Japanese year when souls are believed to return home.

Lanterns are set afloat to honor the dead during Japan's Obon Festival

In Austria it is believed that on Halloween night, due to the enormous amount of cosmic energy brewing, if bread, water, and a lighted lamp are left out it will attract and encourage the spirits of loved ones to return home.

In Many Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico, El Dia de los Muertos, or the day of the dead is celebrated to commemorate loved ones who have passed away.  Rather than being a somber occasion, it is a time of great joy in honor of the dead.

During El Dia de los Muertos families set up altars and dress up in traditional
costumes and face paint to honor their deceased loved ones.

- France didn't celebrate Halloween, or a dedicated "day of the dead" until the 1990's once it adopted the "American" practice.

Have any fun or interesting facts about Fall Traditions around the world?  Share 'em in the comments!

Maryland Renaissance Festival 2013

Whoops!  I haven’t posted in…quite some time.  My bad.  And please don’t point out that my October/Fall Celebrations series has a total of…zero posts.

Can we just blame it on the Shutdown?  (…and overlook the fact that I could have been posting a ton from home?)
Promise a post later today with some fun facts on Fall traditions around the world, with a more in-depth series on the way.  Crossmyfingers.
Here's a brief (and not-at-all-complete-because-I-forgot-to-take-pictures) recap of this weekend's activites:
Saturday we went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  If you've never been, it's well worth the trip.  Unfortunately, however, this past weekend was the last they're open for the year.  And it was packed as a result.  I'm actually disappointed, now, that I didn't capture a photo of the c  r  a  z  y  lines of cars spanning several different [major] roadways this weekend with folks trying to make it to the Ren Fest.  I think we even heard they sold out to capacity on Saturday!  Lucky for us we got there early.  Anyhoo, I did get a few photos early in the festivities.
Chuck did some axe throwing...and didn't get a single one, unlike the lady next to him. *Gigglesnort*

The horses in this year's jousting match were very pretty. 
Especially this white/black beauty on the right, of whom I took 1,000 photos.

To be, or not to be; that is the question.
What's the answer?!
If you're interested in visiting the Maryland Renaissance Festival next year, here are a few fun things to do while you're there:
- Costume rentals, if you'd like to join in on the fun and dress in period clothing.  (About 50-60% of people will be dressed up)
- There's a jousting circle with matches every few hours.  An honorary royal court oversees the events.  (The horses are gorge!)
- Knife, hatchet, and star throwing booths - for those of us adventurous and skilled enough.  Also many, many other fun games.  There's even a rock climbing wall type activity/contest.
- Camel, elephant, and pony rides (for kids, of course); and a free reptile exhibit.  I know this many concern some of you, but I assure you the animals are very well-loved and well-treated.
- Bizarre creatures and crown jewels exhibits.  The bizarre creatures exhibit is $1 admission, but it's cute.  The crown jewels exhibit...well, it's a gallery of recreated English/British/Scottish/Irish [??] crown jewels over the centuries.
- Several taverns for you boozy folks.  ;)
- 10-15 stages with performances every hour/few hours.
- A kid-friendly play area and stage, complete with a wooden pirate ship.
- Tons, and tons, and tons of "shops" and booths with amazing, handcrafted goods.  Period clothing, hats, jewelry; leather-works; blown glass...there's quite a lot to see and buy!
- Food.  Lots and lots of great food.  Ever had a croissant sundae?
Sunday we went thrift shopping and drove around for a little bit to get out of the house.  I picked up a few new dresses for a special...uhm...event.  But we'll talk more on that later.  ;)  Chuck picked up some vintage comic books, including a Generation X (X-Men series...from 1990's, so not too "vintage") with...Howard the Duck...?  I also picked up a cute book of fairy tales from around the world for $3.  Other thrift store finds: two awesome 3D puzzles, set of three paint-your-own porcelain bowls, two adorable (uhm, how so I describe this?) stuffed animal/porcelain babies - lol, like this one.  I already have a butterfly doll somewhere, so now I have two more to add to a hopefully growing collection.  (They were hard to get out of my mother's hands once she saw them and claimed them as her own).
Welp, that's it for now, so I'll see you next time!
What kinds of fun events are your area right now?  Would you recommend a trip?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Where'd You Go?

So today begins the dreaded Government Shutdown.  This means that, while I am fortunate enough to remain at work until the end of the week thanks to my wonderful CIO who very strategically funded our contract until her FY13 cache ran out...after that, if Congress doesn't get their act together, I am temporarily, but indefinitely without a jobOh dear.

But, ya know what: also lucky for me?  I just switched to a new company, which has yet to establish 401K for their I just got a nice-szied check from my 401K because I opted not to go ahead and open an IRA yet.  Yet.  I know how important that is, so it's on the list.  But, I mean, really.  Could it have happened (my being able to take a payout) at a more opportune time?  I have no idea when I'm going to return to work, so here I have this nice bit of money to tide me over.

Sometimes nice things do happen to me.  S  o  m  e  t  i  m  e  s  .

Anyhoo...I've got to get back to work.  We're currently restoring a few things that we lost over the, yeah.

Are you directly affected by the Government Shutdown?  What do you think of Congress' antics surrounding the budget?  It seems that do this every year and yet...they still get paid.  Curious.