THE ENGLISH CLUB

THE ENGLISH CLUB

22 de abril de 2012

SAINT GEORGE'S DAY

Saint George is the patron saint of England. He's popularly identified with England and English ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry - but actually he wasn't English at all. Very little, if anything, is known about the real Saint George. He is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark). He's also patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis. In recent years he has been adopted as patron saint of Scouts.

Everything about Saint George is dubious, so the information below should be taken as mythical rather than real.

  • Born in Cappadocia, an area which is now in Turkey
  • Lived in 3rd century AD
  • His parents were Christian
  • Later lived in Palestine
  • Became a Roman soldier
  • Protested against Rome's persecution of Christians
  • Imprisoned and tortured, but stayed true to his faith
  • Beheaded at Lydda in Palestine
  • 23rd April was named as Saint George's day in 1222

In the ninth century there is a popular story: St. George on horseback as the winner of a dragon. This story, which is part of the Golden Legend, also known as "St. George and the Dragon" and is the likely origin of all fairy tales about princesses and dragons in ancient Occidente. A Christian interpretation of the myth: Jorge would be a believer, the white horse the Church and the dragon would represent paganism, idolatry, temptation and Satan.


England

"St George's Day" is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. St George's Day is celebrated on 23rd April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in AD 303. For Eastern Orthodox Churches who use the Julian calendar, 23rd April corresponds to 6th May on the Gregorian calendar. 


St George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century. The Cross of St George was flown in 1497 by John Cabot on his voyage to discover Newfoundland and later by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh.In 1620 it was the flag that was flown by the Mayflower when the Pilgrim Fathers arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

A traditional custom on St George's day is to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though this is no longer widely practised. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on 23rd April festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it. Traditional English foods and drink (e.g. afternoon tea) may be consumed.


Spain

It is also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain—Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca. It is the second most important National Feast in Catalonia, where the day is known in Catalan as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one.  La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day), also known as El dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23rd April, with similarities to Valentine's Day. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary.

As in the rest of the ancient Crown of Aragon, the Feast of St George is celebrated enthusiastically in the Community of Aragon, being the country's patron saint and its national day.  As in Catalonia, roses and books are exchanged among individuals, often bearing ribbons with the colors of Aragon's flag. Valencia celebrates St George's Day with a different intensity, though in several zones it has similarities to Valentine's Day, like in Catalonia. 

World Book Day 
April 23rd was chosen as World Book Day and Copyright Day, because it corresponds to the demise of the writers Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega on the same date in 1616 (although it really is not : Cervantes died on 22nd and was buried on 23rd, while Shakespeare died on April 23rd ... in the Julian calendar, which corresponds to 6th May in the Gregorian calendar). On this date also died  William Wordsworth (in 1850) and Josep Pla (in 1981). 


The International Publishers Association proposed this date to Unesco, with the aim of promoting culture and the protection ofintellectual property through copyright.


8 de abril de 2012

EASTER

Easter has been called a moveable feast because it doesn't fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do. Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year


Easter Sunday is the culmination of Holy Week. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival, and the one celebrated with the

greatest joy. The date of Easter changes each year, and several other Christian festivals fix their dates by reference to Easter. Churches are filled with flowers, and there are special hymns and songs. But not all Easter customs are Christian; some, such as the Easter Bunny, are pagan in origin.


The exact origins of this religious feast day's name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term "hebdomada alba", or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as "esostarum" in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English. 


In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites' exodus from slavery in Egypt. Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.

Easter Bunny

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity's most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. 

According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit's Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

Easter Eggs

Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. In the U.S., the White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter. 

Easter Candy

Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus' resurrection. 


2 de abril de 2012

HOLY WEEK IN SPAIN

Seville, Málaga, Zamora and León hold elaborate processions for Holy Week. A tradition that dates from medieval times which has spread to other cities in Andalusia.

The "Semana Santa en Sevilla" is notable for featuring the procession of "pasos", lifelike wood or plaster sculptures of individual scenes of the events that happened between Jesus' arrest and his burial, or images of the Virgin Mary showing grief for the torture and killing of her son. In Málaga the lifelike wooden or plaster sculptures are called "tronos" and they are carried through the streets by penitents dressed in long purple robes, often with pointed hats, followed by women in black carrying candles for up to 11 hours. 

These pasos and tronos are physically carried on the necks of costaleros (literally "sack men", because of the costal, a sack-like cloth that they wear over their neck, to soften the burden) or "braceros" (this name is popular in Leon), and can weigh up to five metric tonnes. The pasos are set up and maintained by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods that are common to a specific area of the city, whose precede the paso dressed in Roman military costumes or penitential robes. 

Those members who wish to do so wear these penitential robes with conical hats, or capirotes, used to conceal the face of the wearer. These "Nazarenos" or "Papones" (this word it´s typical from Leon) carry processional candles, may walk the city streets barefoot, and may carry shackles and chains in their feet as penance. 



A brass band, marching band, a drum and bugle band, or in Málaga's case a military band (such as that of the Spanish Legion or other military units) may accompany the group, playing funeral marches, religious hymns or "marchas" written for the occasion.





Processions in Granada.

The Granadinos take their Holy Week very seriously, and the Granada processions are quite spectacular. If you've never seen a Holy Week procession before, it can be quite breath-taking. Each hermandad (literally "brotherhood") has their own procession and is understandably extremely proud of their figures of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Everyone is involved and a lot of time and effort is spent making the figures as beautiful as possible.

It is hard to choose between the different processions, but perhaps the favourite two are the "Silent Procession" on Thursday (when the street lights along the route are turned off and the procession takes place in absolute silence) and the "Gypsy Procession" on Wednesday (which goes through the Albaicín/Sacromonte quarter). During the Gypsy Procession, bonfires are lit along the route and stops are made every so often for "saetas" (traditional songs to Jesus or the Virgin) to be sung.