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Memorial Day, a Federal Holiday, is observed today Monday, May 29th in the United States of America as a time for remembering and honoring the men and woman who have died while serving in one of the USA Armed Forces. It was originally called Decoration Day to honor those who had fallen during the Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.

Please take the time to remember them as you celebrate the weekend.   

(Veterans Day in November is to honor the service of people who have worn the uniforms of the armed forces.)

 

Originally International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. It is celebrated on March 8th every year. The first time it was celebrated was In New York on February 28, 1909, YES 1909!!, to remember the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union in New York City.

In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. 100 women from 17 countries met to promote equal rights. The following year on March 19, 1911 International Women’s Day  was celebrated by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. (Well, some things haven’t changed). For many years it was predominately celebrated in socialist & communist countries. Hmmm…

Not until my generation was it embraced by the USA & much of the world. In 1975 The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day because it was also International Women’s Year. 1975!! Then in 1977 the United Nations invited its member to declare March 8th as the United Nations Day for women’s right and world peace.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Happy International Women’s Day!

San Diego Air & Space Museum 7

The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11.

from  http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

Lantern Festival Facts

  • Popular Chinese name: 元宵节 Yuánxiāojié /ywen-sshyaoww jyeah/ ‘first night festival’
  • Alternative Chinese name: 上元节 Shàngyuánjié /shung-ywen-jyeah/ ‘first first festival’
  • Date: Lunar calendar month 1 day 15 (February 11, 2017)
  • Importance: ends China’s most important festival, the Spring Festival
  • Celebrations: enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan a.k.a. yuanxiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc.
  • History: about 2,000 years
  • Greeting: Happy Lantern Festival! 元宵节快乐!Yuánxiāojié kuàilè! /ywen-sshyaoww-jyeah kwhy-luh/

Lantern Festival Dates from 2017 to 2019

The Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month (always between February 5 and March 7).

Year Lantern Festival
2017 February 11
2018 March 2
2019 February 19

The Lantern Festival is Very Important

lanternslanterns

The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China’s most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.

The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.

When Did the Lantern Festival Begin?

The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago.

In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220), Emperor Hanmingdi was an advocate of Buddhism. He heard that some monks lit lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Therefore, he ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should light lanterns on that evening.

This Buddhist custom gradually became a grand festival among the people.

How Do Chinese Celebrate the Lantern Festival?

0colorful lanterns

According to China’s various folk customs, people get together on the night of the Lantern Festival to celebrate with different activities.

As China is a vast country with a long history and diverse cultures, Lantern Festival customs and activities vary regionally, including lighting and enjoying (floating, fixed, held, and flying) lanterns, appreciating the bright full moon, setting off fireworks, guessing riddles written on lanterns, eating tangyuan, lion dances, dragon dances, and walking on stilts.

The most important and prevalent customs are enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, and lion dances.

Lighting and Watching Lanterns

LanternsPeople are watching lanterns in a lantern display.

Lighting and appreciating lanterns is the main activity of the festival. When the festival comes, lanterns of various shapes and sizes (traditional globes, fish, dragons, goats! — in 2015, up to stories high!) are seen everywhere including households, shopping malls, parks, and streets, attracting numerous viewers. Children may hold small lanterns while walking the streets.

The lanterns’ artwork vividly demonstrates traditional Chinese images, such as fruits, flowers, birds, animals, people, and buildings.

In the Taiwanese dialect, the Chinese word for lantern (灯 dēng) is pronounced similarly to (丁 dīng), which means ‘a new-born baby boy’. Therefore lighting lanterns means illuminating the future and giving birth.

Lighting lanterns is a way for people to pray that they will have smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families. Women who want to be pregnant would walk under a hanging lantern praying for a child.

Read more about Chinese lanterns.

Guessing Lantern Riddles

Guessing Lantern RiddlesPeople are guessing lantern riddles in the Lantern Festival.

Guessing (solving) lantern riddles, starting in the Song Dynasty (960–1279), is one of the most important and popular activities of the Lantern Festival. Lantern owners write riddles on paper notes and pasted them upon the colorful lanterns. People crowd round to guess the riddles.

If someone thinks they have the right answer, they can pull the riddle off and go to the lantern owner to check their answer. If the answer is right, there is usually a small gift as a prize.

As riddle guessing is interesting and informative, it has become popular among all social strata.

Lion Dances

The lion dance is one of the most outstanding traditional folk dances in China. It can be dated back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280).

the Lantern FestivalFour people are performing Lion Dances.

Ancient people regarded the lion as a symbol of bravery and strength, and thought that it could drive away evil and protect people and their livestock. Therefore, lion dances are performed at important events, especially the Lantern Festival, to ward off evil and pray for good fortune and safety.

The lion dance requires two highly-trained performers in a lion suit. One acts as the head and forelegs, and the other the back and rear legs. Under the guidance of a choreographer, the “lion” dances to the beat of a drum, gong, and cymbals. Sometimes they jump, roll, and do difficult acts such as walking on stilts.

In one lion dance, the “lion” moves from place to place looking for some green vegetables, in which red envelopes with money inside are hidden. The acting is very amusing and spectators enjoy it very much.

Nowadays, the lion dance has spread to many other countries with overseas Chinese, and it is quite popular in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. In many Chinese communities of Europe and America, Chinese people use lion dances or dragon dances to celebrate every Spring Festival and other important events.

Read more on Chinese New Year Lion Dances.

Eating Tangyuan (Yuanxiao)

TangyuanEating Tangyuan is a very important custom of the Lantern Festival.

Eating tangyuan is an important custom of the Lantern Festival. Tangyuan (汤圆 tāngyuán /tung-ywen/ ‘soup round’) are also called yuanxiao when eaten for the Lantern Festival, after the festival.

These ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, with different fillings are stuffed inside, usually sweet, such as white sugar, brown sugar, sesame seeds, peanuts, walnuts, rose petals, bean paste, and jujube paste, or any combination of two or three ingredients. Yuanxiao can be boiled, fried, or steamed, and are customarily served in fermented rice soup, called tianjiu (甜酒 tián jiǔ /tyen-jyoh/ ‘sweet liquor’).

As tangyuan is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan (团圆 /twan-ywen/ ‘group round’), which means the whole family gathering together happily, Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and their bowls symbolize wholeness and togetherness. Therefore, eating tangyuan on the Lantern Festival is a way for Chinese people to express their best wishes for their family and their future lives.

It is believed that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Song Dynasty, and became popular during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) periods.

See more on Chinese Desserts.

Where Is Best to See Lanterns in China?

Lantern FestivalA snake-shape lantern in Lantern Festival.

During the Lantern Festival many lantern fairs are held in China, offering tourists the chances to experience Lantern Festival celebrations in public places. Here we recommend four top places for you to appreciate spectacular and colorful lanterns and performances.

  • Qinhuai International Lantern Festival (the biggest in China!) is from January  28 to February 14, 2017, at Confucius Temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
  • Beijing Yanqing Lantern Festival Flower Exhibition is from the middle of January to the end of February, 2017, in Yanqing County, Beijing.
  • Xiamen Lantern Festival is estimated from January 30 to February 14, 2017, at Yuanboyuan Garden, Xiamen City.
  • Shanghai Datuan Peach Garden Lantern Festival is from February to March, 2017, at Datuan Peach Garden, 888 Caichuan, Datuan Town, Pudong New District, Shanghai (adults: 40 yuan, students and children under 1.3m: 20 yuan, over 60s: 32 yuan).

from http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm

The Tall Ship Lynx, a modern interpretation of an 1812 American privateer, is scheduled to sail into St. Pete on Wednesday morning where it has found a permanent winter home.

The 110-foot ship is expected to come under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge with full sails sometime around 10 a.m. It will then head into the Vinoy Basin/North Yacht Basin, do a four-gun salute and make her way to Harborage Marina where she will berth until the seasonal dock is finalized right next to the ferry. They plan is to begin opening the boat up to the public for tours, sailing trips, and corporate events this weekend.

Lynx – America’s Privateer Trailer HD    https://youtu.be/LNWdRGAAjfM

The idea of offering the Lynx a permanent berth first came up during then-Mayor Bill Foster’s administration. But the idea never seemed to gel until recently, said Greg Holden, chair of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. More recently, with the support of Council member Ed Montanari, Mayor Rick Kriseman, local businesses and others, the dream looks as if it might become reality.

“This is one of those five-year, overnight successes,” Holden said.

It’s an “amazing” opportunity for the city, he said. Having a tall ship in port is a draw for businesses and tourists. It’s also an attraction to help more people get out onto the water and to learn a bit of history.

The Lynx, he said, would harken back to the days of the Bounty, which was a reconstruction of the 1787 Royal Navy sailing ship HMS Bounty. The Bounty summered in New England and wintered in St. Pete, operating out of the Pier.

“There’s been an overwhelming amount of support” for having the Lynx use St. Petersburg as a permanent winter home, said Don Peacock, executive director of the Lynx Education Foundation. “We’re looking at this as a long-term program.”

The Lynx was built as a hands-on educational tool to teach American history. When she was in St. Petersburg last winter, Peacock said the crew worked with recreational centers in south St. Petersburg and with Admiral Farragut Academy. Kids from both sailed on the ship for a day while they learned how to sail her the way she was sailed in 1812 when the original Lynx went to sea.

“It’s all done by hand,” Peacock said.

Peacock said the Lynx would like to expand its outreach to more schools and recreational centers this year.

The Lynx and its educational programs are run by a non-partisan, nonprofit organization. The funding comes from donations and from the fees that corporations and members of the public pay to go on sails or to rent the Lynx for events.

The Lynx is an interpretation of an 1812 vessel of the same name that was one of the first privateers to take to the seas after the start of the War of 1812. A privateer was used to prey on British merchant vessels. Although the Lynx was designed like a privateer, she was outfitted for trade so she could help keep supply lines open for the Americans during the war. She was captured about a year into the war and saw service as a Royal Navy vessel called the Mosquidobit. In the late 1990s, the modern Lynx was built to the plans of the original.

http://tallshiplynx.com/history/     and Anne Lindberg at  http://saintpetersblog.com/tall-ship-lynx-dock-st-pete-permanently/

 

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On top of a hotel in downtown Havana July 2015

 

 

 

downtown Havana 11.jpg

The Capitol in downtown Havana. I took this in July 2015 while visiting with Cuban friends. 

 

Yesterday, President Obama and the first family arrived in Cuba. It’s the first time in 88 years that a U.S. President has visited Cuba and that president was Calvin Coolidge in 1928! It took President Coolidge 3 days by battleship to get to Havana but only took President Obama 3 hours to arrive on Air Force One. Upon arrival the First Lady, her daughters & her mother were given beautiful bunches of flowers.

His first Tweet was, “President Obama@POTUS 19h19 hours ago

¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.”  ¿Que bolá Cuba? means “What’s up, Cuba?

 I visited Cuba this last summer with dear Cuban friends for 2 weeks and found all of the people I met to be so friendly, happy, caring & giving. I’m sure that Obama & his family will find the same. And I am sure that their visit will be quite different from mine, even though some of the same sites will be seen.

Cubans crowded the streets of Havana on Sunday to try to catch a glimpse of President Obama and his family. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

 

DSCN0628.JPG      DSCN1119

This morning there was an official welcoming reception by President Raúl Castro at the Museo de la Revolucion (the former palace of Fulgenico Batista), where the military band played The Star Spangled Banner. Before he met with President Castro, Obama laid a wreath at the memorial to José Martí, a journalist and poet whose ideals are loved in both Miami and Havana. There are José Martí statues, banners & plaques everywhere in Cuba. Several times a week there were documentaries about him on the Cuban television.

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José Martí Sign to entrance of old Havana.jpg

old Havana 14.jpg

After some sightseeing & various meetings including with American & Cuban business leaders, the President & family will return to the Museo de la Revolucion for a formal dinner. Tomorrow President Obama will be giving a speech on live Cuban television and attending a baseball game between the Cuba National Team and the TAMPA BAY RAYS from St Petersburg, Florida!! I wonder if Raymond, the official mascot for the Rays will be there. ¿Que bolá Raymond?  #RaysinCuba

Rays, Tropicana Field, St Petersburg, Florida

No matter what your political views are or where you stand on the Cuban-American relationship, this is an historical event.

Wow, such a nice article on St Petersburg and the many great art & history museums located here! Thank you.

"Our Lady of the Nile" is a cherished, 3000-year old mummy that has been part of St. Pete, Florida's history since 1924, on view at the Museum of History.
“Our Lady of the Nile” is a cherished, 3000-year old mummy that has been part of St. Pete, Florida’s history since 1924, on view at the Museum of History.
© 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
View all 19 photos

Saturday, February 20, 2016 10:00am  Black History Festival

Join the African American Heritage celebration! The second annual event hosted at the Midtown Walmart Neighborhood Market will feature live entertainment, food samples, children’s activities, giveaways and free health screenings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Address
1794 22nd St. South

St. Petersburg, FL 33712

February 20-21, 2016, St. Petersburg, FL

3rd Annual St. Petersburg Spring Fine Art Festival.

Sponsored by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, City of St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, the 3rd Annual St. Petersburg Spring Fine Art Festival brings original artwork by more than 100 juried artisans from 25 states and around the world. Many local and regional artisans are showing their artwork. The various works include painting, photography, sculpture, metalwork, digital art, jewelry, glass, ceramics, woodworking, mixed-media, fiber art, metalwork.

Hours of the St. Petersburg Fine Art Festival are Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-5. Admission and parking are free.

 

 

 

This schooner Lynx is an interpretation of an actual 97 foot privateer named Lynx built by Thomas Kemp in 1812 in Fell’s Point, Maryland. She was one the first ships to defend America by evading the British naval fleet in 1812 who were blockading American ports. The Star-Spangled Banner was written by native Marylander Francis Scott Key while being held prisoner aboard a ship in the Baltimore harbor as the British bombarded Ft. McHenry.

Schooner Lynxphoto-Lynx under the Skyway Bridge-SCOTT KEELER | Tampa  Times

“““““

This ship will be docked at the Harborage Marina at Bayboro,  1110 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, Florida, for public tours and hands-on sails. The ship, however, is not wheelchair accessible.  Various dates & times between Feb 8th & March 14th, 2014  with prices of tours $10 for adults with 12 and younger free and  $65 for adults & $35 ages 4-12 for sails. Please call for details and confirmation of prices 1-866-446-5969. Schooner Lynx in St Pete 2013

The crew of the Lynx wears authentic early 1800’s maritime clothing. The ship was built to near-exact specifications of the original fast Baltimore schooner design.

The original Lynx was built at Fell’s Point in Baltimore, Maryland during the beginning of the War of 1812 for James Williams, Amos Williams, and Levi Hollingsworth by shipbuilder Thomas Kemp for about $9000-$10,000.  Kemp designed ships that were among the first to move away from the traditional European designs and that were better suited for the American waters. She was very fast and easier to maneuver which helped tremendously in outrunning the tradition British ships. Lynx was actually commissioned on July 14, 1812 within one month of war being declared. The ship was larger than most others at the time  with a crew of 40 men and six 12-pounder long guns.

I think that it is interesting that he Lynx trained the cast and crew of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It has won awards for maritime and historic instructional-educational programs for students through the nonprofit Lynx Educational Foundation.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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