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Sunday, December 3rd, the moon will seem larger and brighter than it has all year.  A “super moon” apparently happens when the moon is full and is at the same time the closest to the Earth during its orbit so it seems brighter than usual.

The Super Moon will be here on December 3rd and is also call a “Full Cold Moon” as it is  the first full moon of December or winter. It should shine approximately 16 percent brighter and 7 percent larger than normal, according to National Geographic. Then we will have a full moon on January 2 and then again on January 31. So we will have a BLUE moon in January. A BLUE moon is when a full moon occurs twice in the same month, which is pretty rare. Usually, we have 12 full months per year but 2018 will have 14 full moons-the other will be March 31st. How cool is that?

Astronomers say that the best time to see the Super moon is in the early evening just as the moon is rising and in the early morning as it is setting. You can guess when I will be looking at the Super Moon.

 

Other moons have special names that have been around for thousands of years, each name reflects what time of year it is:

January is Wolf Moon is named after the sound of hungry wolves. Native Americans and medieval Europeans would recognize their howls as a sign of midwinter. So January 3rd will be a Wolf Super Moon & January 31st will be a Blue Super Moon. Awesome!

February is the Snow Moon. Obvious.  

April is the Pink Moon.  Northern Native Americans called it this because of the early blooming wildflowers. Nice.

September is the Harvest Moon-traditional time for gathering of crops.

November is the Beaver Moon. Algonquin tribes set beaver traps for the winter fur supply & keeping warm.

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

Emma Morano is the world’s oldest living person. Emma celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday and she blew out the 3 candles on her cake-one candle for each of the numerals. She then exclaimed, ” I hope I don’t have to cut it! I am happy to turn 117.”

Emma was all smiles. She lives in a one-room apartment in the northern mountain town of Verbania, Italy. Attending her party were her two elderly nieces, a pair of caregivers and her long-time physician. Dr. Carlo Bava said, “Who would have said it?! When you were young, everyone used to say you were weak and sick.” She apparently out lived them all. Dr. Bava has credited Emma’s long life to her genetic makeup and positive outlook. She also has eaten 3 raw eggs & 150 grams of RAW steak a day since she was anemic as a child. Italy, I could handIe but I think that I’ll skip that diet.

Emma was born in Nov. 29, 1899 in Verbania, Italy and has lived on her own ever since 1938- she left her husband because he beat her. Her sister died at age 97.

Italy’s president, read by an official, wished her “serenity and good health” She was very happy with her gifts, including her favorite cookies, which she ate with some milk.

It was a long & exciting day for Emma. She had another party and cake in the afternoon with the town mayor and other guests.

You go EMMA!!!! Until next November 29th. Buona Salute!!

 

 

This is interesting. I would never have chosen a cold country to be the happiest country in the world. I need sun, warmth & water!!

What makes a nation’s people happy? According to a new report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), it’s factors like GDP per capita, freedom from corruption and “having someone to count on in times of trouble.”

By those criteria, SDSN says Denmark is the happiest country in the world, Reuters reports. Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland round out the top five; the U.S. ranks at #13.

Okay, I am going outside right now & look for the Strawberry Moon. I have heard of and seen Blue Moons & Harvest Moons but I have never heard of a Strawberry Moon before tonight. Just another one of those really cool things!

AP Photo/Armando Franc  Article Brian Mastroianni CBS News June 20, 2016

The time of year so many kids (and adults) look forward to is almost here — summer is finally upon us. The summer solstice officially arrives at 6:34 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 20.

Solstice, the official start of summer, is the longest day of the year, and this year it also brings a rare event in the night’s sky. Those who look up at the moon tonight will see what’s called the “strawberry moon,” the nickname for June’s full moon, which happens to coincide this year with the summer solstice.

Why the fruit-themed name? According to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” the strawberry moon was given that name by the Algonquin tribes because it occurs right at the height of the season when strawberries are harvested. Other names for this month’s full moon are the “hot moon” and the “rose moon.”

For summer stargazers out there, it’s the first chance to see a full moon on the summer solstice in nearly half a century. According to AccuWeather.com, the last time these two phenomena coincided was back in 1967, and it won’t happen again until 2062.

In case you’re stuck indoors or the weather is cloudy, there’s a way to see it online. The Farmer’s Almanac and the Slooh network of robotic telescopes are teaming up to present a livestream of the full moon that can be viewed below starting 8 p.m. EDT.

 

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.

  • 1/87 SLIDES © Andy Dean/iStockphoto/Getty Images

How Much A Home Cost the Year You Were Born

People love telling stories about how a home purchased years ago for next to nothing is today worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Truth is, those tales might be overestimating real estate as an investment. While a house bought in 1930 for around $6,000 may be worth roughly $195,000 today, when adjusted for inflation, the appreciation is not as impressive as it seems. Since 1930, inflation-adjusted home values have increased by a modest 127%, or less than 1% each year.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed real estate data from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the U.S. Census Bureau. According to research conducted by economist Robert Shiller, major increases in real estate values took place over two distinct periods: the post-World War II housing boom, and the subprime housing bubble leading up to the 2007-09 recession. Outside of these spikes, national home prices have remained relatively stable.

Several factors after World War II, during the first major increase in home prices, drove up housing demand. Government rationing during the war had caused a limited supply of homes, and the 1944 G.I Bill, which subsidized home purchases for millions of soldiers, further increased demand. While the construction of new homes increased considerably at this time, it was still outpaced by demand, and home values spiked.

Unlike the housing bubble that occurred 60 years later, the post-war housing boom stabilized. By the late 1940s, the national median home price had plateaued around $130,000, where it would remain roughly unchanged for the rest of the century.

Another housing boom began in the early 2000s. Easy access to credit, favorable tax policy, low mortgage interest rates, and an increased enthusiasm for homeownership drove up demand for housing. The homeownership rate peaked at 69.0% in 2004, up significantly from 47.8% in 1930. When many of these homeowners could not afford to pay their mortgages, foreclosures spiked and home prices plummeted.

Outside of those two periods, housing prices have been fairly stable. Regional markets, however, have been more volatile. A number of major U.S. cities experienced regional booms in the 1970s and 1980s.

Other features of the American housing market have changed over time. The population has become more urban, shifting from 56.1% of Americans living in an urban environment in 1930 to 80.7% in 2010. The size of homes have increased too. Between 1973 and 2014, the size of a typical home increased by 65.3%, from 1,505 square feet to 2,488.

There is little consensus among economists as to what drives home price fluctuations over time. Factors such as construction costs and mortgage interest rates are often considered major drivers. However, the relationship between these factors and home value is far from clear. Home prices may not change primarily on the basis of these forces, according to Shiller.

To identify home values in each year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical housing data published by Robert J. Shiller as an appendix to his book Irrational Exuberance. The home price index was matched with the median home value data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) to determine the median home value for every year since 1930. Homeownership rates, the size of a home measured in square feet, and the percentage of people living in urban or rural areas, also came from the U.S. Census Bureau. Disposable income per capita for each year since 1930 came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

This is what a home cost from 1930 to 2015. http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/how-much-a-home-cost-the-year-you-were-born

 

Hint: It’s not the U.S.A. and living where the Vikings once roamed may help.

What makes a nation’s people happy? According to a new report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), it’s factors like GDP per capita, freedom from corruption and “having someone to count on in times of trouble.”

By those criteria, SDSN says Denmark is the happiest country in the world, Reuters reports. Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland round out the top five; the U.S. ranks at #13.

On the opposite end of the list, the most unhappy country in the world is Burundi, followed by Syria, Togo, Afghanistan and Benin.

“There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” said head of the SDSN Jeffrey Sachs. “For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating.”

Hmmm, makes one think, eh?  To read what makes people happy & the full article, click on the word “happy” in the first paragraph & it will take you to the reuters.com post.

Part of this appeared on time.com.

Chinese New Year 2016

Monkey is the 9th animal in 12 zodiac signs and the first of the Metal Cycle. The Chinese have Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth) that are incorporated into the lunar calendar. The Official Celebration lasts for 7 Days (February 7–13, 2016) and is a public holiday for Chinese. Cities throughout the world with large Chinese populations, like New York City, close schools for the first day.

Red is for good fortune so you will find red cutouts in windows, red lanterns hanging in doorways & in the streets, people wearing red clothes and red envelopes of money given. Traditionally, the year of the monkey is a good year to deal with finances.

It is important not only what foods are eaten this week but also how they are prepared, served & eaten. The most common Chinese New Year foods includes dumplings, fish, niangao (rice cakes) and spring rolls. In Chinese, the word “fish” sounds like ‘surplus’ and it is extremely important to have a surplus at the beginning & end of the year to ensure more surpluses.

The fruits eaten include tangerines and oranges because they are round and “golden” in color, which symbolizes fullness and wealth. Many countries eat rounded foods to symbolize coins or wealth during their New Year’s celebrations as well. It goes back to ancient times.

It’s about family. Unlike most countries New Year celebration, the Chinese New Year is not a time for parties & getting drunk. On Chinese New Year’s Eve after the parade, the streets are usually very quiet because families get together for “reunion dinners” with members who’ve returned from other areas. The day before is considered the largest travel day-like combining Thanksgiving & Christmas travel days in the USA. In mainland China officials expect 2.91 billion trips to be taken.

Supposedly, people born in the Year of the Monkey are intelligent, witty, curious and playful. The years 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 and 2004 were also assigned as the Year of the Monkey. I have a few of these in my life. How about you?

So  “May you always have more than you need!”      年年有余 (Niánnián yǒu yú /nyen-nyen yo yoo/)

Lots of luck for this Monkey year.    猴年大吉 (Hóunián dàjí)

and Happy New Year!!   新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo)

I heard on the news today that one of my favorite food stores Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on housing prices. It seems that homes that are located within 1 mile of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods are worth twice as much as the national median. In a study of home prices between 1997 and 2014, it states that within 2 years of Trader Joe’s stores opening in an area, the homes are worth 10% more than similar homes in areas without Trader Joe’s. Interesting, eh?

All I know is that I am 100% happier within 2 days of a Trader Joe’s opening near me. I lived in California for 20 years and I happily shopped there every week. When I moved back to Annapolis, Maryland no Trader Joe’s were to be found. Within a couple of years, it arrived. Now I live in St Petersburg, Florida and after 8 years of living here, Trader Joe’s opened a store within 5 minutes from my house and office. Hooray!! You see, good things happen to those who wait. Thanks Trader Joe’s! And no, I am not getting any money from them-yet-hint, hint.

IMG_2323

See what’s happening in St Petersburg, Florida’s Old Northeast neighborhood and downtown St Pete by checking out the latest issues of the St. Petersburg’s Northeast Journal . There are articles on local events, people, history, real estate, the arts, restaurants and much more. The journal is bi-monthly and has been published since 2004.

http://northeastjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NEJ-Jan-Feb-2016-WEB.pdf

http://northeastjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/NEJ-Nov-Dec-2015-WEB.pdf

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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