Fascinating Origin of 15 Chinese Words That Became Part of the English Vocabulary

by Sher D Fly

The history of English language traces back thousands of years ago. The English language has brought in influences of other languages through Britain’s history of world trade, overseas exploration and expansion. One of the many languages that had added the zest to the English vocabulary is Chinese.

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Powerful Native American Animal Symbols

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The Native Americans lived in harmony with the earth and revered many creatures for their strength, courage, and hard work.

To the Native American People, the Creator is in all nature and this includes everything that lives. Their belief is that each of us must find our place within nature in order to live at peace. All creatures and plants in creation are considered to be equal, each fitting into the system according to its individual characteristics and abilities.

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A Giant Awakes in Nantes

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Nantes, the home town of Jules Verne, is situated in western France.  Here, near the river Loire a giant deep-sea diver sleeps gently, waiting for his task to begin.  Sadness marks his face even as he sleeps.  He has been searching the world over for his missing niece and although he may not know it, the end of his search is coming.  The diver or scaphandrier as he is known in French will be paraded through the streets of this historic city at the beginning of the Estuary 2009 arts festival.  The biannual festival gives the French mechanical marionette street theater company Royale de Luxe the opportunity to unveil their latest creation.

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He wakes and his helmet is placed on his head by his human helpers. This would well be considered a little too high for many but the performers seem oblivious to the height.  Royale de Luxe was founded in 1979 and is actually based in Nantes, making this a return to the city that bore the company.  They have, however, performed all over the world, as far away as Chile and Australia.  You may remember the Sultan’s Elephant strolling through the streets of London in 2006.  An associate company, La Machine created last year’s spectacular ‘Princesse’ a massive visiting spider in Liverpool when in was European City of Culture.  Here, however, a giant returns home.

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He rises, perhaps in the hope that his long quest will soon be over. The Giant, now equipped in deep sea diving gear and his little niece, the Little Giantess have featured in the works of the theatre company before.  However, they have been away for a while with some information about which the world had previously been unaware.  As with any Royale de Luxe performance there is a long and some would said drawn out back story.  In 1912 the Titanic went down to the bottom of the ocean.  Unknown to us, however, was that in its hold a giantess was held captive, the mother of the Little Giantess.

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From a distance he looks small, but only if he were an ordinary person paying a visit to a Lego theme park.  As he steadies himself he can resume his long search.  The enormous diver is the scouring the earth for the Little Giantesse.  She was captured in Iceland which was at the time the home of the giants, each having his or her own particular task.  The Little Giantess was to wake up the geysers of Iceland when a message needed to be sent.  You may wonder what on earth geysers and messages have in common but little known to the outside world the geysers were used to transmit signals between the giants, much like the smoke signals of American natives.

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The mechanics behind this piece of street art are staggering and more than a little scary.  How much the gentlemen forty meters above the ground are being paid is unknown but whatever it is, it is not enough.  But where does the deep-sea diver properly come in to the story?  He is the brother of the giantess who drowned on the Titanic.  Originally he had been busy doing his own job – sawing up icebergs – to realize that his sister and her daughter were missing.  His statistics are something extraordinary as well.  He stands at nine and a half meters and a width of almost three.  Weighing in at two and a half tones it takes thirty operators to control his movements.

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In his past he has travelled the seabed for years and eventually he found the wreck of the Titanic.  He buried his sister near the sunken ship.  While there he discovered a mysterious box full of mail from the Titanic.  He now had two new goals in life – the task of finding his niece and to deliver the mail.  Since then he has wandered the earth in search of the Little Giantess.  Still wearing the diving outfit he used to search the bed of the ocean, this festival marks the end of his search.

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The momentum of his stride is enough to pick up two grown men off their feet and dangle them through the air.  As with all of the Royale de Luxe open air spectacles little was given away before the day of the event, in this case Friday 5 June.  All anyone knew was that the giant would wake up at 1.30 in the afternoon on the Tblisi Deck of the town.  He made his way, astonishing the crowds on the way with his sheer scale.  He was forced to stop twice on his route, however, not far from the hospital.  However, a huge crowd waited for him at the Place Gloriette and he did eventually make it.

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Will he ever find his niece? Well, tomorrow is another day, after all.  However, this spectacle represents altogether another wonderful performance by the massed ranks of Royale de Luxe and a wonderful start to the Estuary 2009 Festival in Nantes.

Postscript.  The good people of Nantes and the world had to wait until the day after to see whether or not the giant was reunited with his niece.  It seems, now that it has happened, only fair to share with you the end result of his epic search.  The picture below speaks for itself.

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The author would like to thank Flickr user misterstf for permission to use the wonderful photographs contained in this article.

L’auteur voudrait remercier misterstf sur Flickr pour la permission d’employer les photographies merveilleuses contenues en cet article.

Bonfires and other Bizarre Midsummer Rituals

There are many bizarre rituals and superstitions associated with Midsummer. Midsummer or summer solstice is celebrated in many cultures as the longest day of the year.

Why do people in different cultures have rituals like bonfires at midsummer?

In fact, have you thought why people in different cultures celebrate natural phenomena? Some would say that these rituals are reminders of an ignorant “pagan” past. But are they; in fact, our attempts at finding answers to questions about our origin and destiny, and discover our role in the big picture of creation?

Midsummer or summer solstice is celebrated in many cultures as the longest day of the year. From Finland to Spain, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, midsummer is often associated with huge public bonfires. In many European countries, people gather when bonfires are lit at night. The fires are usually fed with old and unwanted wooden furniture, junk, and broken boats. The younger and more agile people jump over the fire while making wishes. 21st June is celebrated as midsummer in most countries since the Gregorian calendar reform, though 24th June is technically the longest day of the year. But, neo-pagans celebrate summer solstice on June 24th in places like Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland.

Over the centuries Christianity assimilated most “pagan” festivals into the Christian calendar of festivals. The rowdy Roman harvest festival at winter solstice became Christmas. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1911 edition, “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church…the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt, around AD 200 when it was celebrated on 20th May.” Midsummer also got assimilated into the Christian calendar. In England midsummer became “St. John’s Eve.” In many countries, it is “St John’s Day” or the Feast of John the Baptist. In Russia it is Ivan Kupala Day, in Poland it is Noc Kupały or Noc Świętojańska and so on.

The ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes in Europe celebrated Midsummer with communal bonfires. At midsummer night, the sun does not sink even at midnight in the northernmost areas of the Northern Hemisphere beyond the Arctic Circle. These areas had fire festivals, love magic, and divination at midsummer. Agile people jumped through the flames believing that the crops would grow as high as they could jump. Maidens tried to know about their future husband, and spirits and demons were banished through the magical powers of the bonfire.

Many Midsummer Night’s superstitions and customs are similar to those observed on Christmas Eve. A girl will supposedly marry the man who she will see in her dream walking along the straw placed across the bowl of water under her bed. In another version, the man will dry his face on the towel placed beside her bed. In one tradition, the future husband will come from the direction in which the girl notices the first bonfire on Midsummer Night. Dew collected during Midsummer is believed to have special healing powers. Young girls wash their faces with the dew to make themselves beautiful, older women to make themselves younger.

One of the magical elements in midsummer is a belief in the intersection of the visible and invisible worlds during that night. The modern Wiccans, like the ancient Celts, believe that at Litha or the Feast of the Faeries at twilight in midsummer, the gates between the visible and invisible worlds open and faeries enter our world to bring joy, love, prosperity and wisdom to people who welcome them.

Fire has been among humans since lower Palaeolithic times (2,5 million – 100,000 years ago). Our ancestors from pre-Homo Sapiens times seem to have given fire a ritual significance. At excavations in Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel, there are traces of controlled fire about 800 000 years old. The link between fire and midsummer is also pretty old. There is evidence of Midsummer festivals in Newgrange in Ireland from around 3000 BC. There is further evidence of midsummer celebrations among the Essenes, a Jewish sect from 1st century A.D., the ancient Hopi and the Nachez people in the Americas as well as among the Chinese. For the Chinese the summer solstice ceremony is the birthday of the feminine force yin, when they celebrate the earth. At winter solstice, the Chinese celebrate the heavens, masculinity and the birth of the yang forces. Different peoples of North Africa, in Morocco and Algeria, especially the Berbers also celebrate midsummer even today.

In the Scandinavian country of Finland, midsummer is the main festival of the year. People start their summer holidays and go to their countryside cottages. People gather around the kokko or bonfires usually on the shore of a lake. It is a popular day for weddings and churches have to be booked months or years in advance. In earlier days, unmarried young girls went naked to the meadows the night before midsummer to collect seven different wild flowers, which they placed under their pillows. They hoped to dream of the man who would become their husband. Nowadays these rituals are not practised, but there are communal dances as also; unfortunately, excessive drinking, and drowning, and accidents.

Many of the early communal rituals have lost their significance in modern urban settings. Alienation or loneliness and depression have become extremely common afflictions for people in the affluent countries of the world. Counselling and medication are both fighting a desperate battle to help. Is this a sign that overtly rationalizing and standardizing human life impoverishes it and we fall ill? Nowadays many religions also have lost touch with the lives of millions of people. The ancient myths and symbols don’t speak to modern man. Should we blame modern man for this lack of communication or should religions update their myths and symbols?

10 Ancient Gods of Beer

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These are the world’s ten known Ancient Gods of beer:

  1. Silenus

    Silenus
    In Ancient Greek mythology, Silenus is the God of beer and a drinking companion. He is usually associated with his buddy, Dionysus. He is often featured as a bald and fat man, with a big beer belly. He is normally drunk and it is said that he had to be carried either by donkeys or satyrs (in Greek mythology, satyrs are wood-dwelling creatures with the head and body of a man and the ears, horns, and legs of a goat).

  2. Dionysus

    Dionysus
    Dionysus is famously known for being the Ancient Greek God of intoxicating drinks like wine and beer. He is also known as the Liberator as he liberates oneself with the intoxicating power of alcoholic drinks. He is the son of Zeus and considered Silenus his tutor.

  3. Ninkasi

    Ninkasi
    The picture here is from a beer ad named after the Sumerian Goddess.

    Ninkasi is the Ancient Sumerian Goddess of beer and brewing. It is said that she provides the world with the secret to make beer. In Sumerian culture, she is also known for her power to satisfy human desire.

  4. Osiris

    Osiris
    In Ancient Egyptian culture, Osiris is the God of agriculture. He is also known as the God of beer. A Greek historian from the time of Julius Caesar once wrote that, “Osiris taught the people how to brew the beverage which is made of barley, which is not greatly inferior to wine in odor and potency.”

  5. Aegir

    Aegir
    In Norse mythology, Aegir is actually the God of the sea. It is believed that he has the control of the storms and turbulent seas. He is also known as the God of beer and brewing.

  6. Tezcatzontecatl

    Tezcatzontecatl
    In the Aztec tradition, Tezcatzontecatl is the God of pulque (a traditional alcoholic beverage made of fermented juice of the century plant, and similar to beer). He is also associated with drunkenness and fertility. A monument built like a pyramid was built on top of the Tepozteco Mountain for the worshiper and now, this place has become a well known archaeological site.

  7. Mbaba Mwana Waresa

    Mbaba Mwana Waresa
    In Zulu mythology, Mbaba Mwana Waresa is the Goddess of beer because it is believed that she created the first beer for human comsumption. She is also known as the Goddess of rain and the rainbow. She is celebrated for her search of true love.

  8. Yasigi

     

    Yasigi2In certain African cultures, Yasigi is the Goddess of beer, dance and masks. Her statue portrays her as large-breasted female holding a beer ladle while dancing.

  9. Radegast

    Radegast
    In the Czech mythology, Radegast is the God of hospitality and mutuality. According to the legend, he is credited for the creation of beer.

  10. Raugupatis and Ragutiene

    Raugupatis and Ragutiene
    In Ancient Baltic and Slavic mythology, Raugupatis is known as the God of fermentation. Raugutiene is Raugupatis partner and she is known as the Goddess of beer.