Tag Archives: holidays

Happy Tết, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year

As I mentioned last year, Lunar New Year has a diverse history across many countries in Asia and beyond. I celebrate it as Tết, but wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Dragon!

Image courtesy of kerembeyit on DeviantArt. Click for link.

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

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Happy New Year from Beyond Victoriana

Illustration by Paul Sizer. Click for link.

Best wishes for 2012, everyone — here’s to working for better artistic & imaginative possibilities in the year to come!

Thanks go out to artist Paul Sizer for permission to post his amazing art. His wife Jane Irwin is also the creator behind the online graphic novel Clockwork Game, about a chess-playing automaton in the 18th and 19th centuries. Both are worth checking out. ^_^

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Secular & Religious: Christmas Images Around the World

Not steampunk at all, but definitely an interesting take on our globalizing world. Christmas, treated as a secular and a religious holiday, has impacted cultures both Western and non-Western in a myriad of ways. The Boston Globe recently posted a photo set of how Christmas is celebrated worldwide; here are some notable images below.

Christian pilgrims pray in the Church of the Nativity, the site revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on Christmas Eve December 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

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#75 Cinco de Mayo – Guest Blog by Evangeline Holland

Note: This has been cross-posted from Edwardian Promenade. A few days late for this blog, but still relevant (I also recommend reading this modern perspective on this North American holiday too).

I live in California, and coincidentally, this was where the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations were held in the 1860s. Just in case you have no clue what the holiday entails, “[t]he 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo) commemorates the great victory of the Mexican forces, led by Gen. Porfirio Diaz and Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, over the French attacking Puebla, on May 5, 1862. It was essentially a military victory, and its celebration gives occasion for arousing the martial spirit and enthusiasm of the united people.”

Battle of Puebla

The turn of the century witnessed America’s adventurous palate, and restaurants serving ethnic cuisine and cookbooks showing how to cook these new dishes sprang up in abundance. In 1914, Bertha Haffner-Ginger published the California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook to clue in the average American woman how to prepare such “exotic” fare as frijoles and tamales. Because most affixed the more genteel term “Spanish” to anything made with chiles, beans, or tortillas, Haffner-Ginger takes pains to explain “it is not generally known that Spanish dishes as they are known in California are really Mexican Indian dishes. Bread made of corn, sauces of chile peppers, jerked beef, tortillas, enchiladas, etc., are unknown in Spain as native foods” before jumping into recipes ranging from salads to tacos to side dishes. Here is a peek at some of the recipes from the book.

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#72 Passover Traditions from Jewish Cultures Worldwide–Guest Blog by Rachel Landau

This Monday is the first night of Pesach, or Passover. In the days when the Temple was standing, every Jew was required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple and make an offering there. Around the world and on six continents, Jews still follow the same structure for a Passover seder, as outlined in the Haggadah nearly two thousand years ago. But Jews are not monolithic: each community adds its own variations and customs to the mix.

A picture from the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest Sephardic Haggadahs in the world. The Haggadah is the text that contains the order and the ritual traditions of the seder meal.

There are roughly three different strains of Jewish cultural movements, all of which have many different subgroups. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans forcibly removed Jews from their homeland and scattered them throughout the Empire. Thus, three distinct cultures emerged. The Ashkenazi Jews come from Central and Eastern Europe, and make up between 70 and 80% of the worldwide Jewish population. The Sephardi Jews settled in Spain and flourished under Muslim rule there: after the expulsion of Jews in 1492, many fled to Portugal, the Netherlands, and Southern Europe, including the Ottoman Empire (especially present-day Turkey and Greece). Finally, Mizrachi Jews, from the Hebrew word for “east”, were descendents of Jews who lived in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
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