Archive for the 'Europe' Category

Castleton Garland day 2011

Castleton Garland day 2011There’s something pretty humbling about watching a piece of history played out before your eyes. Just knowing that this enchanting custom has been carried out for hundreds of years (most likely having its roots in Pagan fertility rituals), and imagining all those who have taken part over time is quite overwhelming.

Castleton Garland day is as quaintly and quirkily English as they come. The “Garland King” in Stuart dress, having been completely obscured by a large flower arrangement (the Garland), rides around this historical village in Derbyshire, accompanied by his Queen, a brass band and some floral dancers.

Castleton Garland day 2011Having stopped at every pub along the way for a performance (and some ale refreshment!), they arrive at the church where the King is relieved of his burden. The heavy flower tower is hoisted off his shoulders and up the church tower on a bell rope where is is positioned on the central spire and left to wither. Then everyone gathers at the maypole for some traditional (if slightly reluctant) maypole dancing by the floral dancers (well it had been a long day and it had started to rain a little).

Some things have changed over time (the original Queen was traditionally a man in drag and previous to Oak Apple day’s existence in the 1500s the costume would most likely have been of the time), but the essence is the same. Its a celebration for the people of Castleton by the people of Castleton, something they have been doing for hundreds of years and will continue until the end of time. Its not that tourists and out of towners are not welcome necessarily, perhaps they just don’t know about it, or maybe this year it was the pretty relentless rain earlier in the day that kept the masses away.

Castleton Garland day 2011Perhaps the thing that makes it so uniquely English though, is it’s slight air of shabby charm. You can’t get a good photograph without a luminous yellow jacket (good old British health and safety at all times!), or an official in a blue anorak getting in the way. The dancing flower girls, enchanting though they were, had an air of not having had a lot of practice at this Maypole malarky, but despite last minute instructions from primary school teachers (“no, Victoria, you go UNDER Kylie, not OVER her to start with”) in their brown school trouser suits (surely they could have at least found a floral dress for the day?), there were no terrible tangles to unweave.

Maypole dancing, Castelton Garland dayThe Garland day is held on Oak Apple day (May 29th) every year unless it falls on a Sunday (like this year) when it is held either on the Saturday or Spring Bank holiday Monday.

With the ancient castle ruins, craggy rocks and gaping caverns on the green hills behind, you feel like you have set foot in a magical land of goblins and elves (or maybe a stage set for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or a Narnia film). Castelton is a great day out even without this historic event is not going on. Overlooked by the 1,696 ft Mam Tor peak and the Norman keep of Peveril Castle, Castleton is an oldy world town packed with numerous caverns to explore,  historic pubs to enjoy great British food and quaint shops to wander round.

All in all a great day out!

Watch the Castleton Garland Day video on Youtube
See the rest of the Castleton Garland Day pictures on Flickr
Find out about Oak Apple day


Geek Pride day / Towel day | Somewhere in the world today…

Did everyone remember their towel today?

Geek Pride day / Towel day | Somewhere in the world today….

Picture: Happy Towel Day by Mely-o, on Flickr

October 6th: The 13 Martyrs of Arad

The story goes that while the 13 Hungarian rebels were being executed, the arrogant Austrian generals were drinking beer and clinking their beer mugs together to celebrate Hungary’s defeat. Hungarians vowed never to clink glasses while drinking beer for 150 years thereafter.

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Try our recipe for Hungarian Goulash


August 24th, October 5th & November 8th: Mania

Roman passagewayThese festivals were held  in honour of Mania, goddess of Death and to appease the Manes (the spirits of the dead). It was believed that on these days the passageway to the underworld was open and the spirits of the dead were free to roam the earth.

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October 3rd (& November 9th): German Unity day (and the day the Wall came down) | Somewhere in the world today…

Berlin WallThe fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989 paved the way for German reunification, which formally came into being on October 3rd, 1990. Now a public holiday, Berlin throws one major celebration! Brandenburg Gate plays host to live entertainment, food, drinking and dancing.

Read full post  German Unity day (and the day the Wall came down)

Early October: Tübingen Duck Race

Around 7,000 yellow plastic ducks make a break for it each October in the annual Tübingen Duck Race. Having had enough of bathtub confinement they bob and jostle their way along the picturesque River Neckar to the sounds of cheering crowds.

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Get practising with these funky ducks from Amazon. Have your own rubber duck race at home!

September 24th: Festes de la Merce, Barcelona

The main annual festival and public holiday in Barcelona, Spain takes place on September 24th, and celebrates the city’s patron saint’s day – the day of the Virgin de la Merce. Expect precarious human towers, parades of giant figures, fireworks, live music and plenty of traditional food and drink.

Continue reading full post on Festes de la Merce


Flickr Photos