Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. It 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. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.
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 is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.
Easter. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 8:31, April 22, 2011, from http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-easter.
Have you ever seen a ticklish penguin!? Well, here’s your chance! There’s an adorable YouTube going around of a penguin being tickled, and it makes the cutest, funniest noise ever. It’s pretty much awesome and now Cookie is an internet sensation!
Cookie the ticklish penguin! (YouTube)Cookie looks like it’s having a blast as a hand comes and tickles its black and white body, then it scurries around like it’s laughing and trying to escape. Who knew the little animals were so ticklish!
Cookie’s video has gotten about 600,000 views today, and everyone is so excited to see the waddling, laughing creature. The Cincinnati Zoo probably had no idea that it had a YouTube star on its hands!
April 22, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off
Communist celebrates apparent snub to ‘slave-owning sorcerer'; blogger jokes grimly about ‘suspected economic crimes’
Jason Lee / Reuters
A combination picture shows a Confucius statue outside the National Museum of China in Beijing on February 28 and a security officer standing guard near a fence after the removal of the statue Thursday.
updated 4/22/2011 7:52:06 AM ET
A 30-foot statue of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius — controversially erected outside a Communist Party museum in central Beijing — has quietly been removed from its plinth following an online uproar about its location.
The 17-ton statue had pride of place in front of the north gate of the recently renovated National Museum Of China, just offTiananmen Square and not far from the gaze of Chairman Mao’s famous portrait over the Forbidden City.
Some Chinese had complained that it was insulting of theCommunist Party to so honor Confucius, having vilified him during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and never apologized for it.
Others said the Party had no right to appropriate Confucius and his ideals. Some even said venerating Confucius smacked of the kind of superstition the Communist revolution was supposed to have banished.
The museum is not saying why the stern-faced carving has gone — numerous calls seeking comment went unanswered — but the move has sparked heated debate online, some joking that Confucius had been banished for lacking a Beijing residence permit.
Not a party member “Maybe Confucius has been taken away by police for suspected economic crimes?” wrote “criminal” on sina.com.cn’s popular microblog, in possible reference to a probe into detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
“Is it because he is not a Communist Party member?” wondered “Yongtandiao MT.”
But the website maoflag.net, a popular forum for old-school fans of the Communist Party, celebrated Confucius’s removal, showing a picture on its front page of the statue with the character “demolish” superimposed on top.
Museum director Lu Zhangshen had told local media last month that as an important global cultural figure, and a Chinese one at that, Confucius deserved his spot.
“Please do not link the Confucius statue with politics. It has nothing to do with politics,” Lu was quoted as saying.
Once denounced as feudalistic by fervent Communist Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in Mao-era China, Confucius’s 2,500-year-old ideas of filial piety and respect for education have made a comeback in China since the 1990s — as both a celebration of traditional Chinese culture, and a message of obedience to those in power.
The party has even co-opted him in its bid to soften the country’s image abroad. China began setting up “Confucius Institutes” in 2004 to teach Chinese language and culture and they are now in more than 80 countries.
AP reports: At least 24 Filipinos were nailed to wooden crosses to re-enact Jesus Christ’s suffering in a local Good Friday rite rejected by Catholic church leaders but witnessed by throngs of believers and thousands of tourists.
Romeo Ranoco / Reuters
Portraying Jesus Christ, Menandro Penafiel, 34, falls to the ground after being whipped and kicked by Roman soldiers to reenact Christ’s persecution and death during Good Friday in Boac town, Marinduque island, central Philippines, on Friday.
Ruben Enaje, a 50-year-old sign painter, screamed in pain as villagers dressed as Roman centurions hammered four-inch, stainless steel nails through his palm and set him aloft on a cross under a brutal sun for a few minutes in San Pedro Cutud village in Pampanga province as thousands watched.
Twenty-three other Filipino men were crucified in the rice-growing province, officials said.
It was Enaje’s 25th crucifixion. He says surviving nearly unscathed when he fell from a three-story building in 1985 prompted him to undergo the annual ordeal. Aside from thanking God, Enaje now prays for more painting jobs.
“Not a bone in my body was broken when I fell from that building,” Enaje said. “It was a miracle.”
“Now, I’m praying for good health and more clients,” Enaje told The Associated Press.
Erik de Castro / Reuters
Spectators watch as a penitent is nailed to a cross during the Good Friday lenten crucifixion rites in Cutud at San Fernando city of Pampanga province in northern Philippines on Friday, April 22. Nearly two dozen Filipinos were nailed to crosses to re-enact the passion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, in what they see as an extreme display of devotion which the Roman Catholic church criticizes as a distortion of the Easter message.
Ahead of the crucifixions, throngs of penitents walked several miles (kilometers) through village streets and beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood, sometimes splashing spectators with blood. Some participants opened cuts in the penitents’ backs using broken glass to ensure the ritual was sufficiently bloody.
The gory spectacle reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions. Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the ritual to atone for sins, pray for the sick or a better life and give thanks for what they believe were God-given miracles.
Erik de Castro / Reuters
Penitent Ruben Enaje grimaces in pain as he is nailed to a cross on Friday.
The most number of crucifixions were staged beside a ricefield in Pampanga’s San Pedro Cutud village, where 15 men were nailed to crosses three at a time on a dusty mound as more than 30,000 people, including three European ambassadors, watched and snapped pictures. An ambulance stood by and more than 20 tourists fainted or got dizzy in the heat, officials said.
Amid the festive air — villagers peddled bottled water, food and religious items everywhere — police and marshalls kept order. Some displayed banners with a reminder: “Silence please and take care of your belongings.”
Foreigners have been banned from taking part after an Australian comic got crucified under a false name a few years ago near Pampanga. Authorities also suspected that a Japanese man sought to be crucified as part of a porn film in 1996, tourism officer Ching Pangilinan said.
“They made a mockery out of a local tradition,” she said.
Erik de Castro / Reuters
Three-inch nails pierce the feet of a penitent crucified during the Good Friday lenten rites in San Juan on Friday.
Church leaders in the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Roman Catholic nation, have frowned on the Easter week rituals, saying Filipinos can show their deep faith without hurting themselves.
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, based in Iloilo Province, said the crucifixions and self-flagellations are an “imperfect imitation with doubtful theological and social significance,” adding that only Jesus Christ’s death saved mankind.
Pampanga Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the bloody rites reflected the church’s failure to fully educate many Filipinos on Christian tenets.
Enaje and the other penitents said the church should respect their belief.
“When I’m up there on the cross, I feel very close to God,” Enaje said. “We grew up with this tradition and nothing can stop us.”
Erik de Castro / Reuters
Penitents hang on crosses as they are crucified during Good Friday Lenten rites in Cutud, San Fernando Pampanga in northern Philippines on Friday.
Red Cross officials’ concern centered on possible health problems like infection, heat stroke, blood loss and even death from the intense beating. They urged devotees to consider other forms of penance, including donating blood.
San Pedro Cutud village leader Remigio dela Cruz said no major health problem has befallen any penitent since the crucifixions began there in the 1950s. The nails are soaked in alcohol for as long as a year then sprinkled with holy water before use, he said.
Dondi Tawatao / Getty Images
Devout members of the religious sect “25 Mysteries Catholic Lay Missionaries” take part in a panata (or vow) called “Alay Luhod” to mark Holy Week in San Miguel town in Bulacan, Philippines, on Friday.
April 21, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off
by ENJOLI FRANCIS
April 21, 2011
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip talk with The Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, as they leave the traditional Royal Maundy Service at Westminster Abbey on her 85th birthday, April 21, 2011.
Queen Elizabeth II turned 85 years old today and is now the oldest British monarch ever to rule, having served as queen for 59 years.
She grew up in a world of luxury. Her parents had 83 personal servants each, five palaces, nine thrones and official duties.
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At 14, she was sent to comfort Britain’s children during World War II. “We know, every one of us, that in the end, all will be well,” she said in a wartime radio broadcast.
In 1947, there was such reverence for the monarchy that the British people donated their ration cards so she could have material for her wedding dress.
Six years later, Elizabeth was crowned queen at the age of 27. Film of her coronation was flown across the Atlantic so it could be broadcast on American television.
She was the first monarch to invite cameras into the palace. “It is inevitable that I should seem distant to you,” she said in 1957.
Back then, she could not have dreamed that her polite tour of the Buckingham Palace would presage the scalding intrusion of cameras into every part of royal life. Still, there has been no wall higher than the one protecting her privacy — though snippets of her personal life have been shared.
Elizabeth: Grandmother, Gin Lover, Horsewoman
She’s a grandmother willing to corral a runaway little Prince William. She likes gin with Dubonnet, it’s said, at the end of the day in front of the telly. She’s not just a good horsewoman; she’s a rider with preternatural calm.
During a ceremonial ride in 1977, random gunshots rang out, spooking the horse she was riding but not Elizabeth. And when a bizarre intruder broke into her bedroom at the palace in 1982, reports said “she talked her way out by offering to get him a cigarette.”
Yet her equilibrium was rocked in 1997 when she seemed to feel no public connection to the anguish over the death of Princess Diana. Queen Elizabeth famously had to be dragged into the new world of public emotion.
“I admired her [Diana], especially her dedication to her two young boys,” she said in 1997.
Elizabeth: Soldier of Self-Discipline
In one sense, Elizabeth is the last queen to be bred as a soldier of self-discipline. Armored in convention, she is a monument to 1,000 years of England as it used to be.
“If she lives as long as her mother, she could go another 15 years, 16 years, which will put Charles around about 78,” Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to the queen, told the Royal Diary. “She has sworn an oath to the people. She is committed until the day she draws her last breath.”
Her dedication was clear even when she was a 16-year-old princess.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great, imperial family to which we all belong,” she said.