Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wigilia, or, how to have a Christmas with Kristof and Lidia

Tucked away in the folds of the ancient mountains that embrace the Kezmarok and Poprad valleys lay a royal town called Vrbov (meaning "willow"). A weeping at times. But mostly happy little village of a few hundred souls with a robust sense of humour. That night in 1957, Vrbov was gripped by mid winter day frostiness. It was two evenings before Christmas Eve. All the children were listening for the bells of Saint Nicholas' sleigh and motherly figures were bustling about with Christmas preparations. Food words
Magic of Christmas

To read with sensitivity during Wigilia for nuance, meaning, and atmosphere is a tricky business. Tim Parks has a few thoughts on how to do it better. How to read between the lines  

-The REAL Santa Claus Washington’s Dragon

 A traditional Wigilia begins with the youngest child in the household being sent outside to spot the first star. Then it begins – with opłatki. We skipped the kid (the star came out anyway, on its own) and moved directly to the opłatki. According to Sarah Zielinski on NPR, writing about opłatki here:
Nothing says “I love you,” at least in my Polish-American family, quite like the sharing of a thin, flat, tasteless wafer called an opłatek at Christmas.

Slavic Memories: Pilhov motto “Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia!”

Daughter of the Velvet Revolution Sa(r)sha Dubcek Simone songmisterss who penned and sang ‪#‎ohboy‬
#ohboy is on  rotation on triple j... (Kevin Jacobson is behind the name and radio as he fist labeled itnamed it double J in 1970 in order to promote Aussie talent)
To request  #ohboy text it to 0439 757 555 or phone 1300 055 536
  ‪#‎triplej‬ ‪#‎rotation‬

Muneshine x Raashan Ahmad

“‘The first step in liquidating a people,’ said Hübl, ‘is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.’
“If Franz Kafka was the prophet of a world without memory, Gustáv Husák is its creator. After T.G. Masaryk, who is known as the liberator-president (all his monuments without exception have been demolished) … Husák, the seventh president of my country, is known as the president of forgetting.  Husak the president of forgetting who never forgot the story of Cold River 

Author Ursula Le Guin received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards and inspired the crowd by holding up freedom as an author's best prize. "We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality."

She said many things needed to change, and that change often begins in art, specifically the art of words. Writing books according to marketing formulas for corporate profit is a rotten idea, she said. We need artists.  Her speech was short, so you can easily watch the whole thing here.

In an interview, Le Guin said, “If you’re going to create a world out of whole cloth, that is to say, out of words, then you better get the words right.” You can read about her and her many books in The Guardian.

In an era that is so cynical about its politicians and leaders, it’s nice to know that Václav Havel even existed (we’ve written about him here and here)
Revolutions are often betrayed and end in blood. Since 1989, we have seen the use and abuse of people power many times — most recently in the Arab Spring. Yet the Velvet Revolution remains as an unsurpassed model of peaceful change.
How did Havel do it? Tension had been rising since the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9. On November 17, 1989, the riot police crushed a demonstration in Prague and a student was (falsely) reported killed. Three days later, having set up the “Civic Forum”, Havel appeared before a sea of 150,000 people in Wenceslas Square. Once he had drawn a critical mass of people to the square, the old fear of the secret police vanished. The atmosphere was festive, never menacing, with speakers appealing to the crowds, who answered spontaneously but in unison. They dared to mock Miloš Jakeš, the general secretary of the Communist Party, who had hitherto been a much-feared bogeyman. “Miloš, it’s over,” they chanted.
And it was. Four days later, Jakeš and the rest of the party leadership fell on their swords and resigned. I recall the mood in Wenceslas Square when the news was announced. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,” wrote Wordsworth, but the French Revolution was violent from the start. What happened in Prague in 1989 was nothing like Paris in 1789. The peaceful vigils in Wenceslas Square could not have been more different from the storming of the Bastille, let alone the Terror.

Havel (Howell) The man who was the soul of the nation

Cato is and should be unhappy with Vaclav Klaus.