Archive | October, 2010

All Hallow’s Eve

31 Oct

Celtic observation of Samhain

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

On This Day, October 31st: The Irish (Celts) Invent Halloween

National Chocolate Day

28 Oct

Little do people know that today, October 28th, is National Chocolate Day. Chocolate comprises a number of raw and processed foods produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, then cleaned, and then roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because this cocoa mass usually is liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.

Knipschildt's Madeleine, Expensive Chocolate

The above picture is of a Knipschildt Madeleine, which is considered to be the most expensive chocolate in the world. One pound of these truffles retail for roughly $2,500. The man behind the legend is Fritz Knipschildt. He is a Danish chocolatier with a small shop in South Norwalk, Connecticut. His shop, Chocopologie, only takes pre-orders for these delicious truffles. The Knipschildt Madeleine contains a creamy truffle ganache made from French Valrhona chocolate blended with fresh cream infused with vanilla pods and pure Italian truffle oil. This extravagant yet simple ganache then has a French Perigold truffle rolled inside of it and the whole thing is dusted with cocoa powder.

MOOOI Lighting’s Dear Ingo

28 Oct

The Dear Ingo Pendant Lamp  by MOOOI Lighting is a dutch wonder in design. With an almost spider-like appearance this lamp can be manipulated in countless ways to illuminate the darkest of corners. This hanging lamp also comes with globes for each individual lamp. Hat tilt goes out to you Ron Gilad for designing a piece of functional piece of art.

Winter Hand Warmers 2.0

28 Oct

Wool-Blend Beer Cozy

With the winter months settling in, and plenty of football to be played, one might need to look past their go-to beer koozie and step up with the Orvis Wool-Blend Beer Cozy. Orvis states that this koozie is “Perfect for tailgating, ice fishing, or any other wintertime activity,” and I could not agree more. This hypermasculine koozie would make Freud think twice about his mother.  This wool/nylon based koozie retails for $9 and you can get yours through Orvis here… http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=3G5P&dir_id=885&group_id=17278&cat_id=18648&subcat_id=18649

Wingsuits & Proximity

27 Oct

I have always wanted to jump out of a plane and feel the rush that is freefalling. After numerous jumps, someone must have asked the question, “How can we control the fall more?” Thus, wingsuits. Wingsuit flying is the sport of flying the human body through the air using a special jumpsuit, called a wingsuit, which adds surface area to the human body to create lift. The wingsuit creates the surface area with fabric between the legs and under the arms. This was all good and fun for so long, until these professionals (mostly base jumpers)got bored, and decided to proximity fly. Below is my absolute favorite youtube video, which also happens to be about base jumping with wingsuits. The commentary by Loic Jean-Albert perfectly summarizes the mindset of the few who partake in this sport.

The below video does not hold a candle to the above video, however, Jokke Sommer soars through the sky perfectly to Ladyhawke’s My Delirium. The first ten seconds of this video exhibit the speed and intensity of proximity flying.  For that reason alone, it is worth the post.

Rockaway Taco

21 Oct

Friends at The Selby directed this short documentary about Rockaway Taco of Rockaway Queens on August 31st, 2010. I find the entrepreneurial spirit of the founder of Rockaway Taco to be inspiring. His attitude on life is nothing short of positive, and he truly seems to have found balance while developing his passions! I hope I can get to the corner of 96th to meet him. Maybe over tacos!

Ciclotte – Ride on Design

21 Oct

A perfect example of how design can influence and transform a  normally overlooked item. Not only is this a ‘stationary bicycle’ but it is a piece of art. If you have an extra $10,700, this Italian designed piece of exercise equipment would fit comfortably among your Matisse and Picasso collection. Hat tilt to the designer, Luca Schieppati!

ciclotte bike 1

ciclotte bike 3

ciclotte bike 2

Ciclotte. Finally, an exercise bike for living. www.ciclotte.com

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