Category Archives: Holidays

‘Kid Charlemagne’: A Close Reading Of Steely Dan’s Ode To Haight Street’s LSD King: SFist

Owsley Stanley was a sound engineer, an LSD cook, and the co-designer of the iconic Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” symbol. There are a lot of things you can learn – even if you are over 60 like me – click the link below the graphic.  It’s safe.

Grateful Dead Logo

Grateful Dead Logo

Source: ‘Kid Charlemagne’: A Close Reading Of Steely Dan’s Ode To Haight Street’s LSD King: SFist

Easter in Germany – Ostern in Deutschland

Easter in Germany – Customs and Traditions

Colored eggs and rabbits play a large part in an Ostern in Deutschland, Easter in Germany, together with many other religious, secular and folk traditions and customs, while Good Friday and Easter Monday, originally “free days” for workers so they could attend church services, are public holidays throughout the country.

Palm Sunday, Palmsonntag, the Sunday before Easter, is a time for young people to take their first communion, and often combined with church parades in towns and villages symbolizing the journey made by Jesus, as he rode a donkey along palm branch covered roads to Jerusalem. A poignant sight.

Processions led by priests and choirs, young and old, fit pushing the infirm in wheelchairs, families, children in baby carriages and babes in arms, singing and carrying Palmbuschen, decorated pussy-willow bouquets in lieu of the difficult to find palms, to be blessed during the morning church service. The blessing was believed to give Palm Bouquets protective qualities, as well as being a sign of protection for the home and family until Ash Wednesday of the following year. They are also often the first Easter decorations in a home.

The next Thursday is Maundy Thursday, Gruendonnerstag Green Thursday, celebrated since the 13th century and originally with no connection to green but stemming from an old German word, greinen to groan, mourn or weep, because it commemorated the Last Supper and the betrayal by Judas.

Over time this association was lost, and been replaced by “green” as the color of hope and symbol for the awaking of nature after the winter.

Homes are cleaned and decorated with green branches or ornaments, while green food, green vegetables: spinach, beans, broccoli, leeks with chives and other herbs, make up the meals of the day. Popular ones are Gruene Bohnensuppe, Green Bean Soup, and Sieben Kraeuter Suppe, Seven Herb Soup, because of a custom based on an old superstition that green foods eaten on Gruendonnerstag give protection for the rest of the year.

Good Friday, Karfreitag is from kara – “care”, Caring Friday. The week after Palm Sunday used to be known as Karwoche, “Caring Week”, and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to an account from the bible, but now only the Friday is marked by a special liturgy, as a day of remembrance for the crucifixion, with church services and religious processions.

Including the Kreuzwegandacht, which is a walk in prayer along the 15 Stations of the Cross, and usually held at 3 p.m. The time it is said Jesus died on the cross.

No church bells are rung and children are told they have flown to Rome to be blessed.

Fish is often on the menu on Good Friday, and it could be anything from herring salad or fish soup to an extravagant fish terrine.

In many areas the bakers mark the crust of the day’s bread with a cross, although its four sections could also have represented the quarters of the moon honoring the pre-Christian Eostre, the goddess of spring, which later become Easter. A religious festival controlled by the lunar calendar.

Easter Bonfires, “Osterfeuer”, are a custom that takes place on the Saturday, or in some regions on Easter Sunday or Monday, based on a Christian belief fire is a sign of the resurrection of Christ. Although the tradition dates back to at least the 16th century its origins are probably from pre-Christian days, and the families, friends and neighbors who gather around bonfires, which are made mainly from old Christmas trees, are not all Christians but there to have “fun”, the tradition and the light and warmth of fire symbolizing the end of winter and arrival of spring.

Osterraeder, huge flaming wood and straw wheels, are an alternative way of marking Easter and winter’s end just as they were used to represent the sun 2,000 years ago, especially in parts of North Rhine Westphalian. A spectacular sight, they roll down hills leaving behind hundreds of meters of burning tracks, and if the wheel makes it to the bottom of the hill this is a sign that the next harvest will be successful.

Ostersonntag, Easter Sunday, a day of celebration for the triumph of life over death, when the Easter rabbit or hare brings colored and chocolate eggs, hiding them or leaving them in nests already prepared by children.

This odd combination of rabbit, eggs and a Christian Festival began in the Middle Ages. Rents due from tenant farmers had to be paid on the Thursday before Easter, and as they had not been eaten during Lent Medieval landlords were paid in eggs that had been cooked to preserve them. As well as with hares caught on their property.

Nevertheless it was not until the mid 20th century that the rabbit as Egg Bringer finally won out over the foxes, storks and cranes that up until then had shared the tradition.

And with all those cooked eggs around Frankfurter Gruene Sosse mit Eiern, Eggs with Frankfurter Green Sauce, using herbs left from Green Thursday, is a favorite dish that is often added to the Easter Sunday end of Lent meal.

Ostermontag, Easter Monday in Germany, is the final day of Easter celebrations and a public holiday. It’s a family day when the entire extended family could meet for lunch, this used to be lamb but the tradition is no longer as strong as it was, and then there might be egg rolling competitions, visits to the countryside, to sports events or festivals.

Many towns hold special festivals and processions and one of these is Traunstein in Bavaria, where Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedikt XVI, lived when young.

It is the scene of the St. George Parade, a horse mounted pilgrimage in traditional dress, accompanied by brass bands, with the riders in armor andmaidens in medieval costumes. The climax of the parade is a blessing given to a gathering of almost 500 horses from the neighborhood, a complete mixture of various shapes, sizes, ages and types, none of whom are outshone by “St. George’s” pure white steed.

It is the last day of Easter celebrations, but not the end of Eastertide. That is Whitsun, Pfingsten and in Germany many of the trees, branches, wells and fountains decorated with colored eggs, together with greenery remaining from Palm Sunday, will stay in place for fifty days until the end of the celebrations for Pfingsten and Pfingstenmontag.

Frohe Ostern! – Happy Easter

Illustrations: The Stations of the Cross, 9th Station Jesus helped by Simon of Cyrene, photographer Unterillertaler, de.Wikipedia – Osterraederlauf in Luedge, photographer Nifoto, de.Wikipedia – Horses leaving the ancient Ettendorfer Kircherl, Traunstein, on Easter Monday, ChiemgauOnline

Content copyright © 2014 by Francine McKenna-Klein. All rights reserved.

Original Source:

Mardi Gras – Karneval or Fasching?

They are related to one another – not all the same – though all of their origins are European!


2015 Celebration:  February 12 – 18

The word Fasching dates back to the 13th century and is derived from the Germanic word vaschanc or vaschang, in modern German: Fastenschank = the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent. In olden times the 40-day Lenten period of fasting was strictly observed. People refrained from drinking alcohol or eating meat, milk products and eggs. The English word “fast” (to refrain from eating) is related to German fasten.

Fasching in Wiesbaden, Germany

Fasching in Wiesbaden, Germany

Karneval, on the other hand, is a newer, much more recent (17th century), Latin-based word borrowed from French and Italian. The true origin of the word is uncertain, but it probably comes from Latin carne levare (“away with meat”) >carnelevale > Karneval or Carnival. In earlier times, the German word was even written with a C rather than today’s K-spelling. (Some German carnival associations still use the Carneval spelling in their names.)

Fasching in Wiesbaden

Jedes Jahr wird auch in Wiesbaden die Fastnacht gefeiert. | © / Foto: Heiko Kubenka

The Carnevale in medieval Venice is one of the earliest documented carnival celebrations in the world. It featured still-popular traditions, including carnival parades, masks and masquerade balls. Gradually the Italian Carnevale customs spread north to other Catholic European countries, including France. From France it spread to the German Rhineland and, through colonization, even to North America (Mardi Gras).

Fasching Parade

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The third common term for carnival in German, Fastnacht, refers to the Swabian-Alemannic carnival, which differs in some ways from Fasching and Karneval, and is found in Baden-Württemberg, Franconia (northern Bavaria), Hessen (Wiesbaden/Frankfurt) and much of Switzerland. Although this word looks like it comes from the German for the “eve of Lent,” in fact it is based on the Old German word fasen (“to be foolish, silly, wild”). Thus the word, sometimes spelled Fasnacht (without the t) actually means something like “night of being wild and foolish.”

Just Who Are These CTA People?

Greater Grand Rapids Region


Why is this CTA Program important to me?  Here are a few reasons.  In simple terms – Certified Tourism Ambassadors are professionals in hospitality, hotels, restaurants, museums, arenas, concert halls and at large scale public events both business/commercial and volunteer-based.  They also include public sector agencies and civic concerns that include both charitable agencies and governmental organizations as well as Police, Fire, and public service and transport.  That covers the library, the bus, the Secretary of State and the ambulance drivers, too!   You won’t just find them at the airport handing out tour guides………….

You Can Be The Face of Grand Rapids, too!!


Contact Lisa Verhil, Grand Rapids Greater Area CTA Administrator and Welcome Wizard

Phone 616.233.3578

Or go the the website at:


Deutschland – The country with one people, oodles of fine flavors and at least 1,200 sausages

My Favorite Subject

It’s that time of year again – October – the month following Oktoberfest.  This is when the harvest comes in and the Eiswein flows and the colors jump out of the woods and onto your dinner table.Herbst in Dresden

Hot roasted beef sandwiches – pumpkins turned into everything from breads and soup to decorations and graffiti – and the weather just seems to want to beg you to stay out until dark.


And Herbst (Autumn or Fall) is especially dear to the palate in the central and south of Germany when the winemakers produce “early wine” – Federweißer – and the kitchens put together onion cake – Zwiebelkuchen.  The luscious combination of sweet and sour could not have a more satisfying collision than these two have inside your waiting mouth.

Up North – Berlin has two celebrations coming up.  On Sunday The Festival of Lights opens to awe-inspiring views of the grand architecture around the city.


There are also several regional delights and observances of the harvest bounty the earth brought forth everywhere you go – but most of that will be eclipsed by the coming anniversary of The Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th.  Stay Tuned.

Link to BBC News

BBC News – The country with one people and 1,200 sausages. Continue reading

Saint Patrick OR Straight Pride Day

No Parades.  No Banners.  No Corporate Sponsors.

Happy with the way we are.  Also confident that it should not make one bit of difference to you whether or not I am straight, bi or gay.  The question is not listed on most applications for business, work, benefits or induction into the armed service.  Public restrooms have not changed – why does this have to be an issue in the first place?

Please tell us – why do the ‘Politically Correct’ want to turn St. Patrick’s Day into a debacle?  It won’t prove anything other than what most of us already knew.

The LOUDER you insist on saying what you are is showing us more of what you are not.

straight pride

LBGT – If you are so sure of yourselves in your identity you don’t have to be so annoying.

There are hungry people out there to feed.  Why are you ‘enlightened and socially conscious folk wasting good money on this nonsense?

Grand Rapids Midtown Planned Paczki Day Crawl Threatened by Snow Accumulation

This coming March 4th – Many sidewalks may fail to allow passage on Michigan Street, several others in Midtown Area


Hold onto those ideas about Fat Tuesday.  Or Fat Thursday if you are Polish.

The Paczki Day Crawl may not become a reality this year due to the extreme snow accumulations we have experienced in Grand Rapids so far this Winter.

M-Live Reports:  “The heavy January snowfall led to a crush of <City> complaints, with reports tripling from 293 in December to 941 in January.  Some of the properties had not been cleared at all this winter and were packed heavily with snow and ice.”,  Sidewalk Supervisor John Hayes said.

“You take that for granted that you can trudge through that (snow-covered sidewalk), but a person with physical challenges, children, we certainly don’t want those folks in the road,” First Ward City Commissioner Walt Gutowski said. “We want them to be able to walk on the sidewalks.”

Those “extra calories” you get from a heavily laden fried and cream filled doughnut may not be enough to allow you to walk successfully through the crawl.  We’ll keep you posted.

Comments?  Suggestions?  Please comment on this report below.

What the Groundhog Does Not Tell You

It May Seem Silly But It Could be Religious – Or Just Sex

Puxatawney Phil

“Nice view from here!” ~ Phil

Marmot is the real name for large squirrels (of which there are 15 varieties) that include the species better known as groundhog.  Marmots mainly eat greens and many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots, and flowers.  (Jolly Olde England, eh?)   That may explain why much of the following is extracted from The National Geographic (see link below) and references mainly Great Britain and the Isles off coast.  However, the Murmeltier is widely known across mainland Europe and is celebrated in Germany and all mountainous and rocky regions as well.

Groundhog Day (Feb. 2nd) marks approximately halfway through Winter.  It also marks 40 days past Christmas – those celebrating a male birth – as well as an observance for the Purification of the Virgin and the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.  This year it is a coincidence that it is on a Sunday, which coincides with other things like, say…….the Super Bowl.  It is also the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple as well as the Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.  It’s a holiday for many reasons (or excuses) to celebrate.

**The reported origins of Groundhog Day are various, but the concept is thought to be linked to the Germanic tradition of Candlemas Day. In Europe, however, the animal used was generally a hedgehog or a badger. How it wound up being the groundhog’s responsibility in the United States may have been a bit of a fluke.

“When the Europeans came over here, they didn’t have any hedgehogs or badgers to lay the blame on, so I think the groundhog got it by being here and being a good size,” speculates the Smithsonian’s Thorington. “He became the one to prophesize whether winter would come or not.”

Groundhogs have to know just when to emerge from hibernation to mate so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival.

“Most matings happen in a ten-day period in early March,” says Zervanos. “If [the offspring] are born too late, they can’t get enough weight for winter, and if they’re born too early, the female doesn’t have enough food to feed them.”  In other words, the window of opportunity is very small and the wily woodchuck has to get it just right.

**Source:  Stefan Serucek – National Geographic