Thursday, November 30, 2006

In my country the days we celebrate are: New Zealand

New Zealand celebrates a variety of public holidays such as Christmas Day (25 December), Boxing Day (26 December), New Year's Day and the day after (1 and 2 January). We also celebrate public holidays that are unique to New Zealand. Such as Waitangi Day (6 February), Good Friday and Easter Monday (dates variable), ANZAC Day (25 April), Queen's Birthday (first Monday in June), Labour Day (fourth Monday in October). As well as Anniversary day.

Waitangi Day, 6 February, marks the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. This Treaty, often described as New Zealand's founding document, was an agreement between Maori chiefs and the British Crown, and covered issues of sovereignty, possession and rights of citizenship. Differences between the English and Maori texts of the Treaty, and breaches of its terms in the years following its signing, have complicated New Zealanders' sense of the ongoing importance of this agreement. Through out New Zelaand there are many events held on this day from a formal ocassion at Waitangi to concerts in other mains city centres.

Anzac Day, 25 April, is special for both New Zealand and Australia as it marks the anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps' first landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, during the First World War. Although we lost the Gallipoli campaign, this was an important period in New Zealand's history. Anzac day is now the focus for a broader acknowledgement of the costs of war: the sacrifice of all those who have died in warfare is remembered, as is the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. Dawn services and parades are held throughout cities and provinces within New Zealand. Shops and businesses are closed until mid day as a sign of respect for those who served our country.

Queen's Birthday is always celebrated on the first Monday in June. New Zealand celebrates this occasion in June because it is too close to Easter and Anzac day in April.

Then there is a four month gap between Queens birthday in June and Labour day in October. People in New Zealand find this hard going the months of June to August is our winter.

Labour Day is the last public holiday before Christmas. Labour Day is always celebrated on the fourth Monday in October. We have this holiday thanks to a chap called Samuel Parnell who fought for the right to an eight hour day for New Zealand workers in 1840. During this public holiday you find that people tend to travel through out New Zealand to camping grounds and holiday homes.

We also celebrate another public holiday called Anniversary Day, but this day is celebrated on a different day for each region in NZ. For example, if you live in Auckland province, Anniversary Day was celebrated on Monday 30 January 2006 and if you live in Westland province, Anniversary Day will be celebrated on Monday 4 December 2006. Anniversary Day celebrates the founding or beginning of the province where you live. These provincial days were determined locally by the provinces.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Local Customs of My Country...Philippines

There is one word in the Filipino language that has probably seen its last days...and sadly so. The word is "PO".

Well, it's not really a word-word...it's more of a term of respect for soeone of authority, or more often, the elderly...

I personally wasn't brought up to use "po" in Filipino because my parents reared me using English, but over the years, I have noticed that less and less people actually use it. Oh the follies of the young...

Eto "po" yung regalo, Lola.--- "Here's the gift, Lola" Wherein "po" can actually be omitted, if not for the respect.

Or, "Kamusta na "po" kayo?" How are you? In which, once again, "po" can be omitted, but I honestly would rather it be used.

Or, Sino "ho" sila? May I ask who this is? Wherein "ho" is substituted for "po" which is a grammatical change.

I know using "po" in English would not sound good, but I really hope that we Filipinos would start using it again, if we are using our National Language. I think the "po" is very respectful and I think it's a trait that is admirable, whatever the culture. ;)

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Extra Topic - Earthlings

Hello fellows,

I´d like to share a video with you all. I know that some people may judge me for this, but after seeing it I really don´t care. Really.

The video is composed by 10 parts. The first one is here, and the other ones can be found on the right box...
Information here. And the video below.

Earthlings

I think it´s good for all of us to see this and discuss about it. But if this discussion turns not applicable here, we should at least think about it.


Kind regards!

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Local customs of my country - Brazil

Well, Brazil is a very a hospitable country. In some places the foreigners are treated even better then brazilian. That´s a fact: a lot of people believe that foreigner are more important people then brazilian one.

Other custom here is that if you´d like to be a politician, you have to learn the "robbery science". I can count on my fingers the honest politician from Brazil. Almost all of them are only thinking about their own pocket.

And another one, that have also become a legend of our characterict, is the "brazilian way" to solve things. For example: 1 - you are driving without the license, and a police stops you. So there´s the brazilian way to solve this, and not to be arrested or pay the fine. Example 2 - your car is broken, but you need to drive to somewhere. So you fix the motor doing some crazy thing, using improvisation, untill you go to the mech expert. Example 3 - your friend needs a surgery, and it´s urgent. But the line to make it is extensive, and he´s the 4th on the line. So you remember that you have a friend that know somebody from the hospital, so you manage to ask him to make the surgery for your friend before the other people.
But this brazilian way is very often used to good purposes too! Example 4 - You know a hunger poor family, and you make the impossible, using the "brazilian way" to help that family to get food every month...

Hope, that´s another one. Brazilian people are very optimistic about the future, and always believe that the thing are going to be better.
And it will! :)


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Local customs of my country: Malaysia

We have many local customs that are pretty interesting but I don't really practice all of them because I don't see the point of it anway. However, I will still share it with you. Some are pretty amusing.

1. Do not point with your forefinger. It is consider rude. (I think it's weird :P I always point with my forefinger). If you want to point to something, you must use your thumb. The proper way is to use your thumb on your closed fist. Your thumb shows the way you are refering to.

2. We do not wear shoes in the house. Whenever entering someone's house, always remember to take off your shoes before entering the house. This is because the shoes are consider quite dirty. You walk outside with it and you don't know what you had stepped on. It's very unhygienic. In Asia, we always like to sit on the floor and do stuffs on the floor. That is why taking off your shoes before entering our house is very important. It also saves our mother's energy to clean the floor.

3. Farting in public is consider rude here however burping isn't. However, there are also people that think that burping is rude. For me, to be on the safe side, better don't fart or burp in the public. :P

4. We don't tip. Therefore, I don't tip. No one expect you to tip in Malaysia. So keep your money.

5. We queue in front of the public toilet cubicles instead of at the entrance unless there is a sign said so.

There are lots more but for the time being I can only think of these.

Posted by, Sweet Surrender

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Local customs of my country: England

Afternoon tea is my favourite English custom. Tea is a meal eaten at 4pm. It consists of bread and butter or sandwiches, cake and of course tea. We drink tea either with milk, or without. Some varieties of tea might be served with lemon. And those that have a sweet tooth can add sugar.

Cucumber sandwiches -- in thin bread with the crusts cut off, of course -- might be served. And strawberries and cream should feature in season.

There are many different sorts of cake -- there is rich, dense fruitcake full of raisins, currants and cherries; there might be plain Madeira cake; or there might be a Victoria sponge, which is two feather light sponge cakes with jam in between them. If you get there early, there might be some meringues left -- these are best eaten in pairs held together by whipped cream.

In winter, crumpets are served. These are stout discs of… of… no-one really knows what a crumpet is made of. But they taste jolly good and wholesome toasted, buttered and sprinkled with salt. Hot buttered toast is another teatime treat -- it might be spread with jam or with Gent's Relish -- a sort of anchovy paste.

A cream tea has scones, jam and whipped cream. Scones are small bread-like cakes, often with a few bits of fruit in them. Here is one of our best-known celebrity cooks, Delia Smith, describing how to make scones.

Whether it's outside on the lawn or in front of a crackling hearth, teatime is an English treat not to be missed!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Local Customs--United States

The United States of America is such a diverse country made of so many different religions, ethnic backgrounds and cultures it is difficult to pinpoint a custom or ritual that is truly American. There are holidays of course that we celebrate ideas or events that uniquely American but there are other countries that celebrate also just for different reasons.

The 4th of July, or Independence Day is probably the only uniquely American holiday although some of my brothers and sisters here at ONEATALL also have talked about the Independence of their country as a holiday. I think Homer Simpson of the Fox TV show, The Simpsons said it best when he claimed that , "Nothing says I love my country than blowing up a small piece of it." Fireworks displays are a large and climactic end to that holiday celebrated here. The most spectacular array of fireworks usually takes place in our nations captital, Washington D.C. . The bicentennial celebration took place in 1976 and my mother and her boyfriend and his best friend made the trek to join the millions of people gathered on the Mall by the Washington Monument to participate in the festive occasion. I remember riding on the shoulders of my mother's boyfriend's best friends shoulders the whole evening and the long walk back to our car. I was 5 years old and it just seemed busy and crowded in an overwhelming way. We live about an hour north of D.C. and the car ride home was very long due to traffic. I had said I was hungry and wanted chocolate pudding (of all things) and the adults indulged me and took me to an all night diner when we returned to our town. I fell asleep waiting for it and they tried to wake me but I don't think I even took one bite. The 4th of July is somewhat like New Years Eve in that it seems like a good idea and full of promise but doesn't ever live up to the potential you make it in your own mind.

The only other custom or ritual I can think of is getting married. Currently in many states during our past election the idea of gay marriage was put forth to the people around our country. There are a few states here in the USA that you can legally marry and that is in Hawaii and Massachusetts. I use to live in Massachusetts and felt very proud that we were one of the first states to make gay marriage legal. This is a huge controversy in our country and the current administration's religious affiliations and the crowd of supporters he gathers has turned this simple issue into a firestorm of protest and ugliness. The largest campaigns against gay marriage states that it damages or undermines straight marriage. I don't understand that myself or the logic behind it. If that were the case then you could suppose that the crimes other comment in my town make me also a criminal and undermine my ability to live a crime free life. Largely this is an issue of money, as are most things in my country, guised as a religious affront. My country was founded because of religious freedoms but somehow that does not translate into freedom for all---just those that think the same way as the leading political parties.

The custom of marriage in our country takes many forms from a church service performed by an official of your religious choosing or in a civil ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace who has the legal right to proclaim and officiate marriage in your state. There are many laws about who you can marry and not just about the sex of the person. You may not marry a sibling, a first cousin (in many states) and that person must be of a consenting age --which varies from state to state but ranges from about 16 to 18 years old unless you have permission from your parents. It is traditional for the bride to wear white which use to symbolize purity and virginity but many women wear white regardless of their past sexual history. The bride carries a bouquet of flowers and will toss it over her shoulder after the ceremony and the woman who catches it, lore has it, will be the next to marry. There is usually some kind of party afterwards called a reception and there are dances, toasts and tributes that are performed for the married couple. Those specific traditions will vary by culture, ethnic and religious background. Most couples exchange rings of some kind to symbolize their love and devotion to each other.

The Untied States is a wonderful mixture of people, ideas, motivations and cultures and each group expresses their own uniquely. The blending of traditions and customs from so many varied backgrounds make my country very interesting and diverse. The people are great...it is the government that mucks it up and makes it more complicated than it has to be.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Local customs of my country: Sweden

Local customs is almost always about traditions and holidays, but I want to share the Swedish folklore with you all! In former times people believed in several mystical beings and most of them lived in the woods.

The evil spirit of the water (Näcken) looked like a beautiful naked man. This man sat at the river and played violin. He played so beautiful that he spellbound children with the music so they fell into the river and drowned. Another being was the lady of the Forrest (Skogsrået). Seen from the front she was a stunningly beautiful, naked female being with long hair, but from behind she was hollow like an old tree trunk. She lured men into the forest to have sex with her, rewarding those who satisfied her and often killing those who didn't. People also believed in brownies (tomtar), small dwarfs that lived at farms. The brownie took care of the animals and if you irritated him he could be very mean. It is still a costume in Sweden to put out a plate of rice pudding with a big pat of butter on the door step; it is a reward to thank him and keep the farm’s fortune. Another kind of beings is the trolls (troll), who live deep in the Forrest under a rock or a root. The trolls could make them selves invisible and robs children when they get the chance. The people thought that the trolls robbed anabaptized children and therefore it was very important to baptize them rapidly. The trolls were very greedy and rich and loved gold. In Sweden we still say that a very rich person is “rich as a troll”. In former times people also believed in fairies (älvor). The fairies danced in the meadows in the bright Swedish summer night. The fairies is described as small white dressed female beings and if they did not get home before dawn they where transformed to an invisible ghost.

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In my country the days we celebrate are: England

1 January -- this is New Year's Day. We don't go to work -- probably because a lot of people will have been celebrating late the night before. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, we get the Monday off. Everyone hopes it will fall on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday so we get a three-day weekend.

Shrove Tuesday -- this is the start of Lent, so it's 40 days before Easter, the date of which depends on phases of the moon. On Shrove Tuesday, we make pancakes from a thin batter of eggs, flour and milk. These are cooked in a frying pan and must be flipped in the air so the second side can be cooked. The day is often marked with pancake races, where people run down streets tossing pancakes.

Easter -- we get Good Friday and Easter Monday off work. It is the most important Christian festival as it marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Much of the population thinks of it as a time to eat chocolate eggs. Here's some information about the date of Easter.

Bank Holiday Mondays -- There are three of these; one at the start of May (May Day) and one at the end (Spring Bank Holiday); and one in August (Summer Bank Holiday. Everyone takes Monday off work, which means -- for those that are that way inclined -- long drinking on Sunday afternoon and evening.

Hallow'een (31 October) -- There are a lot of mutterings about this festival, as many people consider it anti-Christian and un-English, because it is a USA import. However, for many years, children from some parts of the country have been visiting the neighbours and demanding sweets and small sums of money on this night. Pumpkin lanterns are commonly seen, but a hollowed-out turnip is more traditional.

Bonfire Night (5 November) -- In 1605 a group of Catholic conspirators plotted to blow up our Parliament and King. However, the plot was foiled. A conspirator named Guy Fawkes was captured and tortured to reveal the names of the other plotters. They were all put to death. On this night Guy Fawkeses made of old clothes are burnt on bonfires across the country while fireworks go off overhead. In some places, an effigy of the Pope, head of the Catholic Church is burnt -- although this is becoming rarer as we become more aware of the offense this causes. Children in some places wheel their guys round asking for 'a penny for the guy' to raise money for fireworks. The word Bonfire is derived from the slightly sinister bone fire; and the custom of making a huge fire at this time of year predates 1605. This website has more information about the custom.

Christmas Eve, (24 December), Christmas Day (25 December) and Boxing Day (26 December) -- These days are a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. Lots of people go to church, and special songs -- carols -- are sung at this time. We mark the festival by decorating our houses with greenery and exchanging presents (some families on 24 December, others on 25 December). One of my favourite parts of Christmas is stockings -- we hang empty socks up at the end of the bed and in the morning find they have been stuffed with little presents and sweets. Another feature of Christmas is eating too much. Many families have a roast turkey, or a roast goose with sausages and bacon and lots of vegetables. A stodgy pudding is also served, often bathed in flaming brandy. There are always loads of sweets around the house, and lots of citrus fruit, too. Many people get the whole week between Christmas and the New Year off work, because most non-essential services grind to a halt.
You will note that we

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The most important fact in my country's history: England

In England we have a tradition of trade unionism. Almost every trade and industry in has a union to protect its workers's interests.

It wasn't always so. Until a law -- the Reform Act -- was made in 1832, unions were illegal.

At the time, farm labourers were living in poverty. In the late 1700s, land use changed. Before, the countryside had been a patchwork of small fields worked by cottagers and common ground on which anyone could graze their pigs, a cow or a few sheep. But large landowners started to enclose huge areas for their own, more profitable use. This caused great hardship among people living in the countryside.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six farm labourers who in 1832 decided that they would set up a trade union to give the labourers of Tolpuddle more power against the landowners. But the landowners fought back with a trumped-up charge against the six, and the martyrs were subjected to a rigged trial and sent to Australia.

Five of them were freed in 1836, and the last the next year. They became popular heroes, and the strong feelings about their troubles encouraged the trade union movement. Tolpuddle continues to be a centre for trade unionism, with an annual festival and museum.

For more information visit The Martyrs Story or this Wikipedia article.

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In My Country the Days We Celebrate Are – Sweden

Easter: On Sheer Thursday the children is masked as witches and walks door to door and wishes Happy Easter. If they are lucky, they get candy or money. According to the folklore, the witches flied to Blåkulla and danced with the Devil. The Saturday, the Easter Eve, is the day we are celebrating in Sweden. It is a family holiday, and we eat a lot of food together and give each other Easter eggs, which are filled with candy.

30/4-1/5: On Walpurgis Night, which is a holiday, we are celebrating that spring is coming. On April 30 everybody gathers around a large bonfire and a choir sings songs of spring. Most of the songs are from the 19th century and were spread by the students' spring festivities. The strongest and most traditional spring festivities are also found in the old university cities, like Uppsala and Lund. The evening is a great “party-night” in Sweden.

6/6: This day is the National Day of Sweden and is celebrated in the honor of King Gustav Vasa who was elected this day 1523. He is considered as the founder of the modern Sweden. In 2005 it became a public holiday and on this day we sing the National anthem Du gamla, du fria (Thou Ancient, Thou Free).

Midsummer: Midsummer’s Eve occur the third Friday in June every year. This day is bigger than the National day, and is also popular called the National day of Sweden. Midsummer rivals Christmas as the most important holiday of the year. It is a non-Christian day, which refers to the summer solstice and was celebrated as a sacrifice time in the sign of the fertility. Today we are dancing round the maypole, which is a phallic fertility symbol that during the pre-Christian times meant to impregnate the earth. The may pole is covered with greens and flowers that everybody collected together. Traditional music is played on accordion during the maypole dance and many wear traditional folk costumes. The year's first potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, and possibly the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse.

St. Lucia: The Saint Lucia Day is a typical Scandinavian celebration. Early in the morning a group of young people walks in a long procession and while entering the room they sing the melody of the traditional Neapolitan song Santa Lucia. At the head of the group walks a pretty girl in a long, white dress. Upon her head she wears a crown of green leaves and seven glowing candles. In her hands she carries a tray of little gingerbread cakes and saffron Lucia-buns or just candles. Behind her walk some younger girls, also in white, carrying candles. A number of boys follow in tall cone shaped hats decorated with golden stars (star boys), young pucks/brownies carrying lanterns and some gingerbread men. The girl with the crown represents Saint Lucia, a young Christian girl. She was killed by Roman soldiers about fifteen hundred years ago for refusing to give up her religion.

Christmas: In Sweden we are celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. The traditional day to set up the Christmas tree is the day before Christmas Eve. On the evening of the 24th, when everybody has danced round the tree, we open the Christmas presents. We eat a great buffet which is called julbord (Christmas table), and contains a lot of food as pickled herring, egg halves, smoked fish, sea food, pâtés, ham, cold cuts, beetroot salad, sausages, gratins, meatballs, ribs, cabbage dishes, potatoes any much more..! At the evening we eat hot rice pudding with cinnamon, sugar and milk. According to the folklore an almond is dropped in the pudding, and the one who get’s it in his/her mouth first gets married!

31/12: New Years Eve is a big “party-night”, when you spend the night with all of your friends. We eat a big fancy dinner and before the clock strikes 00.00, everybody listen to a special New Year Poem on TV, which a famous actor read. At twelve everybody is toasting in champagne and wishes everybody Happy New Year.

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In My Country the Days We Celebrate Are – Norway

Since the two most recent assignments were rather similar, I decided to put them both in the same post. Thus, here comes a summary of the days, customs, parties and rituals we celebrate in Norway.

Even though this country is, by and large, quite secular, we have a state religion and should, no matter how heathen we become, thank Jesus for ensuring that we have so many days off. Every Sunday we dutifully observe the fourth commandment by keeping shops closed, unless they are below a certain size, in which case they are allowed to stay open.

Spring is the best season by far, abundant with "red days" (official holidays) scattered all over the calendar. There’s a day off for Ascension, two for Lent, four Easter days, and then there’s Labor Day on May 1st and National Day on May 17th.


Customs are adopted and changed as we see fit. For example, we still celebrate the end of fast (fastelavn) by decorating fagots with colorful feathers, munching on wheat buns filled with whipped cream and jam, even though most of us skip the troublesome prerequisite of actually fasting.

During Easter we are required to go skiing in the mountains. Not all of us do, but those who don’t aren’t considered proper Norwegians. In our cozy cabins we decorate eggs, eat chocolate and oranges, quiz each other and read crime novels. We don’t have an Easter bunny, but luckily we still somehow have cardboard eggs filled with candy.

The night before Labor Day, May 1st, leads up to the worst hangover of them all, which actually may not be that inappropriate, considering how alcohol serves as a means to subdue the masses into blindly accepting the status quo. It is hard to rebel against the establishment when you’re shit-faced and singing to the porcelain abyss.


May 1st also marks the beginning of the "russefeiring"- high school students’ non stop drunken brawl, culminating seventeen days later when the graduates wake up to realize they are sadly unprepared for their final exams. This tradition is in many ways the modern equivalent of an unsupervised rite of passage where youths are socialized into the adult world of hazardous drinking and all sorts of promiscuous behavior.

The National Day is especially tailored for kids, who revel in unlimited supplies of ice cream and hot dogs. It is also customary to dress up in national costumes and sing blatantly patriotic songs, saluting the flag with teary eyes. All over the country people follow marching bands in parade, shouting "Hip Hip Hooray!"

After an uneventful stretch of summer and fall only punctuated by a rainy mid-summer’s feast, Christmas season officially opens on December 1st . Every morning children find small treats in their "Advent calendars," and for each of the four Sundays of Advent we light purple candles for joy, hope, longing and peace. December 13th is the day of Lucia, the Sicilian lady who was tortured and had her eyes gouged out without being blinded. This family friendly incident is celebrated by making kids wear white sheets adorned with tinsel and have them go around school carrying candles, handing out saffron buns (lussekatter) and singing the praise of poor Saint Lucy.


All self-respecting housewives have to obey ancient numerology by baking seven different types of cookies. Christmas lunch usually comes in the form of rice porridge with a blanched almond, and whoever finds the hidden treasure is awarded with marzipan in the shape of a pig. Those of us who hail from farms are careful not to forget to leave a bowl of porridge out by the barn for the domestic gnome. If not, there is no telling what mischief he can stir up. During the "romjul," the days between the 24th and New Years Eve, children of all ages dress up and go "julebukk" (Christmas goat), begging for candy or drinks.

Celebrating the end of the year typically happens in the form of champagne parties, turkey dinners and sometimes lethal fireworks. The following morning initiates the next year, traditionally by watching the annual ski jump competition televised from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and, of course, by cooking up yet another set of futile resolutions.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Local customs of my country

We´re all from diferent cultures. As the description of our project says: the most diferrent cultures on planet"...
Every country is distinguish because the customs of its people: different parties, rituals, clothing...

What are the local customs of your country?


____________________

Local customs (parties, rituals) of my country 50%
3 ways to make a better world 28%
Abortion 11%
What my country does for fun? 6%
Drinking laws 6%

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In my country the days we celebrate ---United States

Americans will celebrate anything involving drinking liquor, spending money, saluting soldiers of wars past, holidays that Hallmark Greeting Cards have deemed holidays like Grandparents Day and Valentines Day, anything that has a cute and fuzzy mascot or a jolly looking spokesperson and of course our own birthdays.

Holidays in the USA are either about spending more than you have and getting into terrible debt buying useless crap that everyone will be bored with or will break sooner than later OR they are about feeling really crappy because you don't have enough money to celebrate properly or give your kids toys and clothes like other that have money do.

Thanksgiving is the one holiday I can personally get behind. All you do is eat and hang out and watch TV, play games and eat some more. Many people love the NFL Football or the many televised parades shown on TV.

The one bad thing about Thanksgiving is that it is the start of the the "Holiday Season" and the day after is called "Black Friday" because millions of Americans will get up at 4am to go to stores to stand in line to buy stuff that is drastically on sale. Most retailers in the USA make more than 50% of their total years profits during the months of November and Dececmber.

Today, November 24, Friday is BUY NOTHING DAY internationally. Don't cave into advertisers and mass media who try to dictate what we need to live. Stay home, buy nothing.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

In My Country the Days We Celebrate Are...Philippines


The Philippines is known as the country with the LONGEST Christmas Season! Ever heard of Christmas starting in September? Have you ever wanted to start singing Christmas songs as early as September 1? Are your Christmas gift lists ready and complete as soon as All-Souls-Day is over and done with? Well, if you answered YES to any of those questions, you're better off celebrating Christmas in sunny tropical Philippines!

Here, Christmas carols start to be played early morning of September 1. Before Halloween is even over, the malls are in such a rush to display Christmas ornaments that they will allow both Halloween and Christmas glitz to be displayed side by side on a rack.

Classis Filipino songs like Pasko na Sinta Ko, a song that depicts longing for a love that is way on Christmas, begins to be hummed by children and adults alike. In the Philippines, Christmas is for Family, and for Filipinos, Family means uncles and aunts, great0aunts, grandmothers, neices, nephews, inaanaks (god-children), barkadas (cliques), and whoever else is close to the Filipino heart.

For the rest of the BER months (September, October, November...) parols shaped into stars, wreaths, Christmas trees, and other Christmas symbols light up the streets of the cosmopolitan cities like Makati, Manila, and other surrounding areas. Houses of even the most-decrepit and less fortunate are strung with delicate Christmas lights, and children light up sparklers whenever they can.

For the Catholics, which most Filipinos are, they enjoy the puto-bumbong (purple rice cakes) hot from their afternoon and evening church services, and bibingka (another type of rice cake).

Tiangges (stalls) sprouot up everywhere there is space to sell an assortment of wares: clothes, shoes, toys, candies, anything and everything that can be bought or given this Christmas season.

What I like most in the Filipino Christmas is the Spirit. From being one of the top economic Asian countries 50 years ago, we have slumped to being one of the last, and sadly so. Yes, the unemployed, working class and even middle class Filipinos are all suffering the effects of our economy, and yet, come Christmas time, we can always share a smile.

No matter if your Noche Buena (what we call dinner on the evening of December 24th) consists of choice ham, a selection fo fruits, lechon (roast pig) and pancit (asian noodles) or just simple spaghetti (made with hotdogs and ketchup) with bread, we Filipinos understand the essence of Family at this time.

Christmas for us is celebrating closeness, warmth, cheer, belonging. We celebrate Christmas because we are alive, and of course, because in spite of all the hardships, we know that at Christmas, Christ was born.

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In my country the days we celebrate are... Scotland

Robert Burns, our national poet

Many of days we celebrate are the same as the rest of the UK (Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes night) and, like many countries, we celebrate Christmas and Easter. So here is a quick summary of Scottish festivals.

Burns Night is on 25th January and is the anniversary of the birth of our national poet Robert Burns. Traditionally people attend Burns suppers where they eat haggis, neeps and tatties - our national dish. Neeps are turnips and tatties potatoes. Several of Burns' more famous poems are recited and speeches are made in his memory. Depending on the audience these can be high brow literary events or just a bit of light hearted fun.

St Andrew’s Night is 30th November. He is our patron saint. This is a fairly low key event. Since the Scottish parliament was established there has been debate recently about making it a public holiday but because it falls at a dark, wet time of year people would rather have public holidays in the summer.

Hogmannay is the Scottish term for New Year’s Eve. It used to be a big celebration but not so much now. There is more emphasis on Christmas. When I was a child I remember my parents having big parties in the house. My dad would play his accordian and people would sing Scottish songs. Traditionally people “first foot” one another. The first person across the doorstep after midnight is supposed to be tall and dark and carry a piece of coal. Not many people carry coal these days but still take some sort of present like a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates. It’s considered bad luck to be your own first foot. The main cities have firework displays at midnight and Edinburgh has a concert in the grounds of the castle.

I'll let Clare explain Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes night.

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In my country the days we celebrate are - Kenya

Public holidays like Easter, Christmas on December 25, New Years Day on January 1 are celebrated with friends and relatives. They are a time to sing, dance and feast.We also celebrates Boxing Day on December 26, the day after Christmas Day. Labour Day is celebrated on May 1. Madaraka Day on June 1, marks the anniversary of self-government. On October 10, Kenyans celebrate Moi Day, named after their president. On October 20 they have Kenyatta Day, named for the first president after independence. Jamhuri Day, which is the anniversary of Kenya's independence, is celebrated on December 12.


Many Muslims live along the east coast of Kenya. For them, the most important festival is Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. People wear bright, new clothes and celebrate by visiting each other before attending a festival. The Hindus celebrate Diwali, the festival of light, among other holidays. Other religious groups throughout the country celebrate special days according to their faith.

Dancing is a favourite form of celebration and recreation throughout Kenya. Traditional dances are also part of national holiday celebrations, and various ethnic groups compete with one another in traditional dance contests. The best known Kenyan dances are masai and samburu. Some dances involve hypnotic swaying. Others are more energetic, with leaping and precision movements.


With many rural Kenyans running farming enterprises, agricultural shows are popular and well-attended. For vacations, wealthy Kenyans travel to the coast with their families to enjoy the pristine beaches.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In my country the days we celebrate are... Iceland

Since Icelandic state religion is Lutheran Christianity we in Iceland we celebrate the traditional Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Christmas are celebrated for three days in Iceland all shops and businesses are closed from around 4 o’clock on the Day before Christmas (des 24) and till the morning on Second day of Christmas (Des 26). In Iceland we open gifts on Christmas Eve (Des. 24) after eating fancy Christmas dinner, the official Christmas holiday starts at six o’clock that night. On Christmas day we tend to take it easy enjoy the company of Family and friends. Second day of Christmas is just like a normal Sunday most movie theatres; restaurants and other such leisure businesses are open.
Schools close two weeks around Christmas and New Year. All businesses close around 4-6 o’clock on Last day of the year and most of them and other business are closed through New Years day.

Easter weekend is from Good Friday (all businesses is closed) to the Second of Easter (Monday) but most businesses that are normally open on Saturdays are open this Saturday.
Schools are closed for a week around Easter.

Other holidays we celebrate are:

Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
First day of summer (first Thursday after April 18th)
Independence Day June 17
Whitsuntide weekend (50 days after Easter Sunday. Most businesses are closed through Monday)
Commercial workers weekend (The first weekend in august most businesses are closed through Monday. This weekend was invented to give shop clerks a long weekend to make up for days that they have to work when others got a day off but Ironically the weekend evolved over time so that the only people working this weekend last few years are shop clerks.)

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Monday, November 20, 2006

In my country the days we celebrate are... Malaysia

As a multi-racial country, we have a lot to celebrate and leads to a lot of holidays too. We celebrate our festivals together regardless of race or religion.

We have this tradition of having "open house"(visiting friends and families, visiting from house to house). Visitors are served with food and drinks and hangout together. Usually it's not open to strangers but only to people that we know. If someone we know bring stranger(s) along, it's OK, they are very much welcome :) as long that we know the one that bring them along. It's just common sense, I'm sure you don't want to let strangers come into your house. *LOL*

However, there are always public "open house" organised by our Prime Minister, ministers etc. at stadiums and halls. Some even used their own house if their house is big enough to accomodate the public. Usually we have "open house" during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Gawai/Keamatan(harvest festival), Deepavali and Christmas.

Every part of Malaysia has different celebration. Some parts celebrate them, some don't. There are two types of holidays in Malaysia. They are National and State levels holidays. National holidays are normally observed by most government and private organization. State holidays are normally only observed by certain states in Malaysia or when it is relevant to the state itself. First and third Saturday of the month is a public holiday. Government agencies will be closed on those days. You can visit this site for our calender. This one is helpful too, this is where I got my content from.

So... Christmas is coming soon! YAY! :P Nothing much, just another public holiday heheheh... a rest day.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

In my country the days we celebrate are... Colombia

It is said that you need a whole year to get to know all of Colombia's celebrations, because there is a festival for every day of the year! and this is actually not so far from the true, as there is so many kinds of celebrations all around the country, and we Colombians love to celebrate!

The most important celebration is Christmas and the New Year, but to give you an idea of all the other celebrations we have, I will quote from http://www.cp-pc.ca/english/colombia/holidays.html

"The Colombian calendar is full of festivals, carnivals and fairs. Some celebrations are local, others are national. Some last a day, others go on for several days. This means that almost every day there is a festival taking place somewhere in Colombia.

"Christmas, Easter and Corpus Christi are solemnly celebrated in many rural communities. Every village and town has a patron Saint's Day and certain cities have distinctive local religious festivals.

"Colombians in Cartagena celebrate the feast of the Virgin of La Candelaria (Candlemas) in February. The statue of the Virgin, which is kept in the church of Santa Cruz on La Popa hill in Cartagena, is believed to have protected the city's residents from the plague and from pirates. On February 2, hundreds of pilgrims carry lighted candles and climb the hill to the church at dusk to pray.

"Colombians in Pasto celebrate "el festival de blancos y negros (white and blacks' festival)" in January. On one day they blacken each other's faces with grease, on the next day they throw white flour or talcum powder at each other. In February the city celebrates the Fiesta de las Aguas, when people drench each other with water from buckets or hoses.

"In Popayán, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in March or April is a very important celebration. Religious rituals are solemnly observed and processions circle the city streets on Thursday and Good Friday. During the week after Easter, the processions are repeated, but this time all the parts in the procession are taken by children.

"Many cities have special festivals each year. Riosucio holds the Carnaval del Diablo (Devil's Carnival). Manizales has a special festival called the Feria de Manizales. Cartagena has a music festival called Festival Internacional de Música del Caribe and Bogotá hosts a theatre festival, the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro. In Barranquilla there is a large carnival during the four days before Ash Wednesday during which people parade in streets in masks and costumes. Medellín has an annual flower festival in August."

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In my country the days we celebrate are... Lithuania

The Christmas

It is not the exchange of the gifts but the gathering together and discovering the gratitude that adds everything else and gifts the meaning to our existence

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

The one thing my country doesn't have is: Cuba

Hello of my country for saying that we have many things but always we it needs.
We have one of the best equipment of baseball of the world, for my the best one but we need soccer, the great passion but in the world.
we have serious economic difficulties then many laws prevent to my country to invest freely in the world or to negotiate with most of the companies, a data, we cannot negotiate with any American company. Py near which this United States from serious Cuba a commerce very sure. But in spite of the support of the entire world they do not want that we are developed.



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In my country the days we celebrate are...

Every country has a lot to celebrate. Maybe it´s the independence day, or the new republic day. Some countries have also some stranges holiday like "National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day". Other are very political like "Release of the slaves" day.

Are are the most importante or curious days that your country celebrate?


____________________

Results of the poll:

In my country the days we celebrate are... 47%
10 ways to make a better world 26%
Abortion 11%
Drinking laws 5%
If I could, I'd like be the born again in XXX, because... 0%

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Friday, November 17, 2006

The one thing my country doesn't have is: Sweden

The one thing Sweden doesn't have is… War? My god what a difficult question! Sweden has had peace since 1814, when Sweden and Norway signed the Convention of Moss after the Napoleonic wars. Sweden stayed neutral in both World Wars, for better or for worse. Someone call us wimps because we did not stand up against Hitler when he used our country to transport war materials to Norway during the second WW. Others call us strong because we stayed out of the wars and spared the inhabitants the suffering of war. Sweden did however help Finland during the Winter War (1939-40) against Soviet.

If I should be less serious… Sweden does not have palm trees, polar bears, malaria, coral reefs or a free alcohol market (alcoholic beverages can only be bought at the state-controlled company Systembolaget).

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The most important fact in my country's history: Sweden

I think that the most important fact in Sweden’s history is the founding of our democratic rules and laws. The Swedish Constitution consists of four fundamental laws. These four laws represent the formal norms in our state, and changes of these laws must be approved by two different governments.

The first is The Instrument of government, which was accepted 1974. The second is The Act of Succession which was accepted 1810. This law considers the inheritance of our country’s monarch, i.e. the order of succession to the throne. The reform of 1980 enabled the eldest child of the monarch, regardless of sex, to be the first of the succession. The third is The Freedom of the Press Act, which was accepted 1949. This law was accepted for the first time as early as 1766 and forbids censure. The fourth is The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, which was accepted 1991. Everybody have a right to express whatever they want in for example TV and radio.

Regarding general suffrage, i.e. the civil right to vote, it was not complete introduced before 1945. Suffrage for men was accepted 1909, suffrage for women was accepted 1921 and suffrage for all citizen - even the poor - was accepted 1945. As the most gender equal country in the world today, Sweden was the last country in Scandinavia to get female right to vote! These are the most important facts of my country I think.

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The most important fact in my country's history - Australia


The most important fact in my country's history is a bit of a contentious point - some call it settlement, others call it invasion.

On January 26, 1788 James Cook sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to settle a colony of convicts. It was claimed under the concept of Terra Nullius, meaning the land was void of civilised inhabitants and not claimed by an allied empire. This is considered the beginning of European settlement and development in Australia.

At the time, however, Australia was not uninhabited. Many nations of Aboriginal people lived across the continent, particularly the Eora tribe, who lived in the area of Sydney Cove when Cook's fleet arrived. In the course of establishing themselves in the new land, the Europeans kidnapped and killed many Aboriginal people and episodes of mistreatment between the 'whitefellas' and the 'blackfellas' have continued on through two centuries.

We celebrate Australia Day each year on January 26 to commemorate Cook's first landing in Australia. Some Aboriginal people hold native ceremonies on that day too, but they call it Invasion Day. Either way, it is definitely our most important historical event.

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The most important fact in my country’s history: Denmark


Painting by Niels Simonsen, Frederiksborg Slot.

So for this one I'm going to quote the Danish poet Klaus Rifbjerg's essay Oh! To be Danish.

"If we look at the country's history and geography, then two things have been decisive in making us what we are: We are surrounded by water, and we've lost all the wars we've fought since the year dot. [...]

Most Danish kings have consistently managed to support the losing side. Every time the country threw itself headlong into battle, defeat was guaranteed. It cost us our Swedish possessions, the loss of Norway and the duchies in the south, and when the Napoleonic wars arrived, we not only had to hand over our navy to the English, but our allies were so kind as to come to our assistance, giving the Spanish mercenaries the chance to burn Koldinghus to the ground. In 1864, the Prussians and the Austrians captured a large part of South Jutland, and if anybody thinks that the Three Years' War was a "real" victory, they need only look at the records which tell a very different story. During the German occupation between 1940 and 1945, there were twice as many people engaged in active service on the German side than there were members of the resistance. Attempts have since been made to convince the population that the resistance movement won the war, but deep down we know that isn't true. The thing that brought us almost unscathed through the Second World War was a policy based on compromise and compliance, common sense and a well-developed ability to recoup outward losses by inward gains."
The picture at the top of this post is from the Danish withdrawal at Battle of Dybbøl in 1864 where the Danish army was defeated by the Germans.

March 21st 2003 Denmark joined the US-led coalition in Iraq and for the first time since 1864 Denmark has declared war on another state.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

ReviewMe

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Regards,

One at All - Project

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The most important fact in my country’s history: Lithuania


It had happened in a tiny town far from the main highway of Lithuania and it was so. Once upon a time I had a trip over my country and had met a pastor who welcomed me home and gave me a cup of coffee to drink and a bed to rest after the road. We had a wonderful chatter and the pastor shared his biggest secret. The Pastor have said that when he is on a trip, prior evaluating what was herd by him he tries to meet with a preacher at his own home but not in the Church. When we put aside the holly quotes, our own actions start talking and what is what becomes the obvious.
I recalled that while thinking about the rapidly forthcoming 1000 anniversary of my country. It is impossible to list all events that have happened during this span of time, but the main thing is this. We all are used to talk very nice about the homeland, about the healing impact of motherland love to our own wellbeing. And lots of the historical monuments well supports our musings. However, there is one question. Who draws the line that defines one as a countryman and other the foreigner? Who and why divides the neighbors apart? Where is the fireplace that gave birth to us all and will gather us all again in the same love?
That's the most important question in my history.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The one thing my county doesn't have - Venezuela

The one thing my country doesn't have is equality. Being an under developed country we share some of the difficulties of the rest of the so called 3rd world specially a large group of people living in extreme poverty.

That is specially contradictory for me, since I live in a country full of natural resources (including the almighty oil) where a small minority is living life large with insane amounts of money getting richer by the hour exploiting government contracts and political influence. The gap between rich and poor is unbelievable, in the streets of any major city you can see a 8 years old kid cleaning the windshields of a Hummer H2, people working 8-10 hours a day just to a make minimum wage that is not enough to pay for food and utilities while a small elite filled their pockets. The best option to make a living is to find a good spot in public administration, but if you do, then you have to give up your political opinion and support the government no matter how crappy it is.


The saddest part is that so far, things doesn't seem to be changing and the gap it's gettin bigger and bigger.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

The most important fact in my country’s history: Scotland

The new Scottish parliament building
Scotland is one of four countries which make up the UK. Many people, particularly in America, use the term England to refer to the whole of the UK when, in fact England is only one country. So let’s start with explaining a few terms. The official title of the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It consists of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales.

I’m going to choose a very recent part of my country’s history as it probably has most impact on the daily lives of Scots living today.

In 1999 Scotland opened its first parliament in nearly 300 years. Although we remain part of the United Kingdom we now have our own devolved parliament where we have control over certain areas.

This has let Scotland vote through its own legislation on issues that affect Scotland in particular and not the rest of the UK. Previously there was no time on the busy agenda of the UK parliament for such issues. One example is the Land Reform Bill. Crofters (small tenant farmers) now have the right to group together and buy their land from local landlords. This came about as we had a big problem of absentee landlords in Scotland. Huge tracts of land in the Highlands were owned by big estates – often foreigners who bought the land simply as an investment and to have a couple of weeks’ holiday shooting and fishing each year. They had little interest and concern for the livelihoods of the people who lived there all year round. Now several remote communities (the islanders of Eigg and Gigha and the inhabitants of Knoydart and Assynt) have bought their land from the landowners and run their own communities. They’ve received grants from the Scottish Office to do this. We also have our own Public Access laws which gives people the right to access the mountains and remote areas all year round. And finally Scotland has had a ban on smoking in public places since March 2006. England is still considering this. It means when you go to a pub you don’t come home smelling of cigarette smoke which is great for me as I don’t smoke and find smoke irritates my eyes. The smokers aren’t so happy though.

Some issues are still controlled from Westminster like finance, taxes, defence, … so we still have elected representatives in the British parliament as well as MSPs (members of the Scottish parliament). Many English people get annoyed that we still have representatives at Westminster and that Scottish MPs vote on English issues. The answer most Scots would give to this is that we still need to be represented to decide on UK issues but we would be quite happy not to vote on issues that concern only England.

The actual parliament building caused a lot of controversy. It was originally budgeted at £40 million (GB pounds) but the final cost was around £431 million and was several years late finally opening in September 2004.

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The Most Important Fact in My Country's History - Malaysia

The formation of Malaysia is the most important fact in Malaysia history else we will not be seeing Malaysia in the world map now. Like it or not, it is very confusing and there are always debates brought up surrounding this fact. It's a never ending debate. Frankly I got so fed up with it. For me, it doesn't matter! What matter the most is nation building. It's history! HISTORY! Look ahead! Wasting time and energy in debating this issue for what?!?!!? There are much more important issues to solve!

Anyway, the following will be the brief fact to the formation of Malaysia.
On 16 September 1963, the formation of Malaysia which consisted of the Federation of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singaore was formally promulgated. However, Brunei declined to join Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore seceded from Malaysia to form the Republic of Singapore.
According to the above, Malaysia is only 43 years old and not 49 years old. However, we celebrate our national day on 31st August every year because the Federation of Malaya achieved its independence on the 31st August 1957. Confused already? *LOL* Ah well... The debate will never end.

Very important and confusing fact, don't you think?


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The Most Important Fact in My Country's History - United States


Two men are thought to be responsible for being the first European explorers to set foot in what is now the United States of America. John Cabot who first came to see North American mainland and Juan Ponce De Leon who first set foot in what is now the state Florida.

Later on Christopher Columbus sailed to various spots like Haiti and the West Indies (hence the term Indian) and did not find much gold as his sponsors, Spain, had hoped but saw a big market for slavery. This began a long history of slavery in the United States of America.

Eventually England would colonize the east coast of North America with the hopes of raising money via taxation and export of goods to colonists. Many people saw a future for them in America and left England to either seek their fortune, escape political or religious ( isn't that still kind of the same thing??) persecution.

Most famous of all colonist were the Pilgrims. puritans made the long journey on the Mayflower from England to America in the early 1600's. They first landed in Provincetown MA
which I am proud to say is now primarily a gay resort area and just a lovely place to visit full of art galleries, fabulous food, friendly people and my in-laws. Finding no fresh water available nearby during their 3 week stay they ventured further up the coast to Plymouth MA.

Escaping the wicked and loose ways of the Church of England the puritans sought to form a large boring group of religious zealots where they could do nothing but worship and live in a solitary pure existence.
Link
The Pilgrims worked the land, built homes and occasionally had sex to keep warm during brutal New England winters while growing more wary of the Savages who lived in the woods near by. The Pilgrims struggled to feed themselves and to keep warm and many died of disease the first winter while the so called savages, or Native Americans, lived peacefully, happily and with great skill over the land. The Native Americans wore different clothing and did not speak English so the Pilgrims had little use for them and looked down on them. Eventually killing most every single native person in North America. Thousands and thousands of Native Americans died from diseases the settlers brought and from the misuse of land and water around their villages. The settlers, Pilgrims, took land and built houses, created towns, roads and eventually entire States without the permission of the Native Americans. Many Native American cultures did not have the concept of ownership in the same way as the English did therefore the English simply took the land the native peoples had been living in harmony with for centuries displacing thousands of men, women and children.

The most important aspect of the beginning of our history of the United States of America is the we "discovered" a land already inhabited by thousands of people. I suppose we discovered them too.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Most Important Fact in My Country's History - Egypt

My country's rich history is not a stranger to most. In fact, it is due to this rich history that the world's civilizations were able to prosper & become what they are today...ever heard of the Pharaohs? I'll bet you have! ;)





Their inventions include, but are not limited to: the first ox-drawn plows, trigonometry (& hence the pyramids), the concept of organized labor, the 365-day calendar & one of the earliest systems of writing; hieroglyphics.

Incidentally, they were the first to discover & implement the use of ink &
paper!





Now where would the likes of Ghandi, Charles Dickens, Naguib Mahfouz and the vast majority of writers be without those two magical tools? Two simple inventions; the pen & the paper gave civilizations to come a voice. They allowed the weak to be heard & the strong to topple down from power.

They contributed to the birth & re-birth of various disciplines: from science to engineering; mathematics to medicine. They saw the writing of religious texts, political texts & literary prose.

Unfortunately, these two powerful tools, are becoming exceedingly replaced by the computer; the great bulk of machinery I used to type this very piece!! Yet, to imagine life without them, would be unthinkable, if not impossible.

Life would not have been life at all had it not been for the Pharaohs.

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The most important fact in my country's history - Norway

The event most crucial to my country's fate took place when the Gulf Stream begun its journey from Mexico to our northern shores. I'm not sure exactly on which date this would have happened, but if it hadn't, life in Norway would be much more frigid than it currently is.

More entertaining, though, is Snorre's tale of the early constitution of Norway. You see, back in the day there was no Norway at all, just a collection of petty kingdoms ruled by chieftains. Among these was Harald Hårfagre (Harald Fairhair) who came to be the first king of Norway.



Behind every great man stands an equally great gold digger. The most important person in Norwegian history would be a little lady by the name of Gyda Eiriksdatter. She was daughter to a neighboring king, and, as the story goes, a maiden of the fairest sort.

The future overlord sent his lackeys to offer her a hand in marriage, but she refused to waste her virginity on a man whose rule consisted of nothing but a couple of measly parishes. -I find it strange, she said, that there is no king to conquer it all, like Gorm of Denmark and Eirik of Uppsala. On one condition will I accept his proposal, she said: -If he lays the whole of Norway under his rule.

Consequently, the lackeys had to return with unfinished business. They suggested to the king that it would serve the ill-tempered, obstinate Gyda right if she were abducted and forced into marriage. Harald Fairhair, however, found her request reasonable. She had not said anything wrong or acted in a way that called for revenge. In fact, he was grateful for her inspirational words. He should have thought of this long ago, he said, and swore not to cut nor comb his hair until he had conquered Norway.

Then the lovelorn king set out on a murderous spree. The battle of Hafrsfjord stood sometime during the 880s and marked the final crushing of the opposition. At long last, Harald could get himself groomed and send word for his bride. The rest is history.

And so it came to pass that the forming of the Norwegian state rests on a bloody love story. It is in many ways sad, yet fortunate in others, that the nation did not retain a passion like that which took part in its making.

 

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Friday, November 10, 2006

The one thing my country doesn’t have is... Denmark

The one thing my country doesn’t have is mountains.

Denmark is a small country with land mass about a tenth of Spain and California. The country is more or less made of clay, pebble stone and residue from the ice age glaciers. This means that if you look from afar Denmark is flat as a plate.


Photo by NASA

If you go closer you will however see that that is not completely right. There are little bumps. Like this one which once was considered the highest point in Denmark. In Danish it is called Himmebjerget - "The Sky Mountain". Though it has a grandiose name it is only 147 meters above sea level (The tallest point in Denmark is 173 m a.s.l).


Photo by Thomas Bredøl

A short post (like the Danish "mountains").

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The most important fact in my country's history

We're here again brothers and sisters (actually I'm here and you are all over the world, but you got the point), but we wouldn't be here (or there) without some important events that happened in our pasts. In every country there are always a few group of people that will be remembered as the ones who defined the future of many, who was that person in your country? Or maybe the path of your land was defined by some other event, a war perhaps, maybe a natural catastrophe.

The point is that without that "thing" your country would be different, maybe your it wouldn't even exist. How were things before that turning point? How were after? History is not what I do best, please help me.

____________________________________

Results of the poll:

The most important fact in my country's history 36%
Abortion 27%
10 ways to make a better world 18%
The democracy in my country 9%
Gun control and gun laws 0%
Other 9%

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The one thing my country doesn’t have is.. - Norway

It is sad, but it is true. What my country lacks most, are manners.

In Norway, urban culture is a relatively new phenomenon and thus, we tend to get anxious and insecure in situations where we have to interact with people we don’t know intimately. We are clueless on matters of etiquette and utterly helpless at small talk. As soon as more than two people are gathered in a public space, politeness is gone with the wind. It is every man for himself and damned be the poor fellow who happens to crack a smile or catch the eye of a stranger. He must be a loony, for sure. Better to pretend he’s not even there.

People don’t know how to queue properly. They crowd in front of doors, probably out of fear that the bus will leave without them or that someone else will occupy their seat of preference. Escalators are living nightmares. The person getting off always stops and takes a moment to decide which direction to go, effectively bottlenecking his followers, making them drop like human dominos.

The other day I had to take two turns through a revolving door. The people in front of me blocked the exit, dumb as sheep. I also recall with great pain the horrifying incident when I single-handedly had to transport three very heavy turkeys from the shop to my house. I took turns, carrying one turkey a few meters, always keeping the other two in sight, then going back to get another, zig-zagging down the street to Canossa. People stopped, stared and laughed. But not one person showed enough mercy to offer assistance.

Oslo’s provider of public transportation is now planning a campaign in the hope of changing people’s behavior. Knowing how well posters appeal to our moral sensibilities, I have my doubts. One can always pray. The time is ripe.



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The One Thing My Country Doesn't Have Is - Brazil

In a country that has so many things, I was wondering and actually my country is a non-having-things-country. I know that the subject is "one thing", but it´s impossible.

The 1st thing - that I believe it´s the origin of all the problems - is that we don´t have honest politicians. We can count on my two hands the honest ones. A lot of money is taken for personal purposes... a LOT!

The 2nd is that we don´t have fair taxes. The average on taxes on companies in the world is 27,1%, we have 34%!! Brazil is on the 17º position on bigger taxes. ON Ireland, for example, the taxes were 40% in 1993, and now is 12,5%!
I think the real problem is not the big taxes, I don´t mind on paying, since the money is REALLY used for the people (which doesn´t).

Finally the 3rd thing is a good education system. On basic education, the private schools are the best, but few people have enough money to pay for it. And talking about universities, the best are the public ones, but guess who´s "able" to be admited on it? The one that have studied in a public school, or the other guy with some money that studied in a private? So our educational system increases the social inaquality.

Sorry about my english, which is not so perfect!

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The One Thing My Country Doesn't Have Is - Australia

Australia suffers from a lack of distinctive Aussie food.

The only food that even comes close to being a ‘national dish’ is the Aussie meat pie. Unfortunately various other nations, particularly England, claim it as their own.

There is a lot of typically traditional Aboriginal ‘bush tucker’, including crocodile, goanna (a lizard) and witchetty grubs but these aren’t the sort of thing you’d find in an Australian restaurant.




In current times, the kangaroo steak has gained a bit of popularity. The kangaroo is a common native animal – often growing in numbers to pest proportions to the point where culling sometimes occurs to limit their numbers. It has lean, high protein meat and has become somewhat common in supermarkets and restaurants.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Places you should know - Kenya

Every country has its own historical places, i will not talk abt historical sites here, i will talk abt beautiful places.

I come from an island, Mombasa Island. It is considered as one of the most beautiful in the world. White sandy beaches, crystal clear waters with live coral and a variety of fishes, mombasa is tourist heaven. The demand was so good that even British Airways decided to have direct flights to mombasa. There are 2 main parts of mombasa that have wonderful beaches. There is the south coast and there is the north coast. the beaches on the south coast are amazing. The corals on the north coast are jaw dropping, a divers heaven. On the east is the main port of East Africa.

Here are some pictures i took from my home on my last trip. Its on the southern side.









Below are pictures from Tsavo National Park, one of the largest and the best in Africa. Alot of documentaries have been created there. Infact the word SAFARI is a Kiswahili (kenyan language) word meaning ADVENTURE.













Below is a picture of the Great Rift Valley, the longest and deepest in Africa. It stretches from North Kenya down all the way to South Kenya.


(the above picture was taken by a kenyan blogger: http://unganisha.org

Will post more pictures when i get them.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The one thing my country doesn't have is - Colombia

Well, even when I would like to say my country has got everything, I wont be answering the question so here it goes... Things my country doesnt have...

Seasons... Colombia is just on top of the equator, so we dont have seasons (spring, fall, etc..), but anyway we do have snow in the top of the mountains, hot weather close to the beach, warm and cool weather in the mountains, and we even have "the city of the eternal spring (Medellin)", but we do not have seasons, so the temperature in one place doesnt change much during the year...

Good Transportation & Road system... In Colombia we dont have rail system, expect for a few exceptions, so most of the travelling and transportation is done by road. But with all the mountains, rivers, etc... that we have, and with not a very good planning, our roads are usually not in a good state, and it takes a long time to go from one city to another. We also have air transportation, but our airports are usually very small, even the international airport in Bogota is very small for the traffic it has...

Ecological conscience... Even when we have so many natural resources, and such a wonderful biodiversity, the government doesn't seems to care about it, not do most of the people, so there is a lot of environmental destruction, and it is still becoming worse... just in Bogota the pollution is getting worse and worse, just as the Bogota river is still one of the most contaminated rivers in the world and there is no real projects to do something about it...

Justice and a fair society... we dont have and equitative society. we dont have enough schools, hospitals... and we definitely dont have a good social welfare system.

and so on... guess one of the roots of the problem is, just as Patricio from Argentina said, we don't, and probably cannot, have honest politicians...

***

ok, now that I read it again, the topic was... "the ONE thing...", but well, I hope it helps you know more about Colombia... :p

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The one thing my country doesn't have is... Lithuania

While sitting at my computer, I escape the walls of tiny room and wander joyfully around the earth, and the lovely chatter of fellow’ bloggers creates the illusion of the total happiness. Wow! …

The “One at All” question “The one thing my country doesn't have is ...” gave me a good shake. I awoke and looked around. I saw as healthy as sick people. There were as the prosperous as the beggars.
While some had a tedious time in grand restaurants, other searched for a daily bread in dustbins. Each one of them would answer differently what our country is lacking the most, and they all will be right.

What do the disabled lack the most? Is it money for the medicine or the health?

My friend drives a car, I haven’t it but I have a computer. My friend bothers about the fuel cost, and I worry for the traffic to my blog. As you see, our lack is produced by what we have.
I sense that the level of the gratitude for what I have already could be much greater than it is currently and greatly appreciate the chance of the participation in “One at All” project as the healing. Thank you for the recovery.

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The one thing my country doesn't have is... (Macau)

The one thing my country doesn't have is ... ... space and clean air. With less than 28 sq km in land area, Macau has over 490,000 residents staying at here at night. Not to mention an additional 20,000 to 50,000 tourists coming over here on any given day. Out of the existing 28 sq km, over half is reclaimed land from the sea. To make things worse, there are 160,000 cars in this over-crowded place. The traffic is slow in the residential areas and most taxis prefer to stay in tourist spots only. The apartment buildings are so close to each other that everybody turns on their air-conditioners. And this had made the pollution problem much worse for everyone. The air is so polluted now that we see clear blue skies less that 100 days per year.

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The one thing my country doesn't have is...: Malaysia

We do not have spring, autumn, summer, and winter. We have sunshine and rain whole year tru'.

So, that's all. Quick and short one.



Posted by, Sweet Surrender

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The one thing my country doesn't have is... (Kenya)

The one thing that my country is lacking is the political stability. All the policians know is how to downgrade each other and argue. They always have this meeting, that meeting to solve issues but in the end there is never a conclusion. They are always shooting each other and trying to bring each other down. Because of this political instability, the economy is going down the drain. There was a time when Kenya was a pride of East Africa, one of the fastest developing nation in the region but today it has slowed down to a crawl with bribery, cheating, laundering backstabbing topping the vices.

The other thing that is lacking is the mentality to develop as a nation rather than as an indivual. Everyone is trying to develop themselves but no one considers about developing the nation by working as a team.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

The one thing my country doesn't have is... (Argentina)

...honest politicians. A lot of things have happened in my country, a lot of people have learnt their lessons, a lot of companies have changed, a lot of things have changed, but politicians are still corrupt...

Maybe it's unavoidable, nothing in life is free, and favors have to be returned, specially in politics. Those favors are usually the ones that will send your honesty to the thrash-can.

Picture this: you are a young man, trying to make a difference for your country. That's why you decide to join what seems a respectable party. You work hard, you start building a name inside the party, people begin to support your ideas. You are rising as a new political figure.

But you know that if you want to be the guy running the show, you are going to ask for favors, you will have to forge alliances. You can't rise in politics if you don't have some of the big guys supporting you. They are the ones that can make you or break you. They can manage the press, they have the power...

What happens when you discover that some of your allies are corrupt? Do you look the other way or expose them? The dilema here is that if you expose them, you are never going to have the support you need to get to the top, where you can make a difference...

In Argentina, young politicians look the other way, and some day, someone reminds them that nothing in life is free. All the alliances they forged and the favors they asked to gain power have to be paid back...

In my country noone, and I mean noone, can reach the top spot in politics without getting his hands dirty, sadly, that's how things work. Maybe, that's how things work everywhere, just that corruption is less evident in other countries, and they have at least the decency to put politicians in jail whenever corruptions is exposed.

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Places you should know - Argentina

There are a lot of great places that I could recomend in Argentina, but I think I will stick with three of them, they are, maybe, the right spots to begin knowing this beautiful country.


Patagonia - Glaciar Perito Moreno One of our treasures is the Patagonia. I don't have words that could posibly describe its beauty. Try to imagine huge amounts of land, mountains that stretch for miles and cristal clear lakes... well, you are maybe imagining just 10% of it...

If you travel to the Patagonia, one place you can't skip is the Glaciar Perito Moreno, it is just spectacular. Its front has 5km, and its 60m high above the lake's level.


Buenos Aires If you start tracing the origins of argentinians, you will end up believing that half of us are from Spain, and that the other half is Italian... that mix, with a ton of others, has made Buenos Aires a very interesting city. Its architecture has a very european touch, its streets are wide, and invite you to walk and know its secrets. Its night life never ends, and its, for me, one of the best places to live in.


Cataratas del Iguazu Located inside the Iguazu National Park are the Cataratas (Waterfalls). With its 275 falls, 2.000 types of plants and 400 bird species, its one of the prefered turistic destinations. They provide an impressive view, one that you sholdn't miss.


A side note
I will use a few lines to give some advice, an advice that I should listen more... every country has incredible places, spots that everyone should visit. Take the time to know your country, travel, discover it...

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The one thing my country does not have.....--United States

....is a CLUE. A clue regarding treatment of other nations and its people. A clue about how to helpfully intervene between countries that are killing each other because we want to help the innocent involved and not just gain politically and moneitarily for our aggressive efforts. A clue about what it takes to make a strong nation filled with educated, healthy, productive and happy citizens. A clue about how to care for women and children in need of shelter from their abusive partners. A clue as to care for the ailing and aging population with dignity and respect. A clue about feeding the hungry and sheltering the millions of homeless people in our country. We are a country that is trying to starve ourselves to death for some ideal of beauty while millions of people die every day and suffer because of hunger. We have lost our way as a country.

We are considered the most powerful nation in the world and we are apathetic and ignorant of ways of helping that involve sacrifice and a greater good.

There are millions of caring and compassionate people in our country but the richest of our country (about 1% of our total population...) tend to run everything. Our culture has shifted from a country of hard working honest people to a culture of commercialism, capitalism and corruption.

Our local mid-term elections are this Tuesday November 7th...GET OUT AND VOTE. It is the privledged that many countries do not have.

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