Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ligo,Jani and Skandinieki

The annual celebration of the summer solstice, known as Jani is generally viewed as the most important Latvian holiday. Jani is celebrated on June 23 and 24. The traditions and rituals associated with the celebration of Jani are deeply rooted in ancient Latvian folklore and continue to have deep symbolic meaning for the celebrants. Participants gather flowers, grasses and oak leaves which are used to make wreaths and decorate the farmstead, house and farm animals. Jani night activities include the singing of special Jani songs (Ligo songs) around a ceremonial bonfire. Home-brewed beer and a special Jani caraway seed cheese are an essential part of this colourful holiday ritual.
Skandinieki is a collective of singers and instrumentalists (a total of 23 are credited on this recording) that marked its 27th anniversary last November. The core of Skandinieki is the Stalts family. Dāvis, Helmi, Julgī, Marga and Ričards Stalts perform on their new CD(Dzied un spēle Skandinieki) Of note is that the Stalts are of Liv descent. Though their numbers have fallen through the years, the Livs are still alive and well in Latvia
Today there are only about 300 Livonians, most of whom have become Latvianised. Approximately 70 of them understand Livonian partially, maybe ten speak it as their mother tongue.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tony Blair's Ein Hod Connection

SEEKING TO confuse the paparazzi who were not among the invited guests, supermodel Esti Ginzberg and property developer Adi Keizman sent out wedding invitations that listed the venue as a villa in Zichron Yaacov. Only on the night before the wedding did guests receive notice of the correct address, which was in the courtyard of the home of fashion photographer Ron Kedmi, who lives in the Ein Hod Artists’ Village. It was Ginzberg’s first wedding and Keizman’s third. At the time that he and Ginzberg started keeping company around two years ago, he was still married to Ofra Strauss, who chairs the Straus Group. Strauss was previously married for 18 years to Dan Lahat, son of former Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat. Her name has since been romantically linked with that of Middle East envoy Tony Blair, with whom she enjoys a close friendship. Both Strauss and Blair have denied that their relationship is more than platonic, but neither the Hebrew nor the British media have accepted the denials. Keisman, who is more than a decade younger than Strauss, is 16 years older than his 22 year old bride. via JP

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jugs Full of Secrets

Archaeologists in the eastern Mediterranean region have been unearthing spherical jugs, used by the ancients for storing and trading oil, wine, and other valuable commodities. Because we're used to the metric system, which defines units of volume based on the cube, modern archaeologists believed that the merchants of antiquity could only approximately assess the capacity of these round jugs, says Prof. Itzhak Benenson of Tel Aviv University's Department of Geography.