World Cultures

Happy Story #1

Walk away from your TV’s, turn off news radio and stop reading your news feed for a little while. With the horrible turn of events in the Middle East, Japan, along with many countries, being hit with massive amounts of rain causing landslides and deaths and catastrophic fires burning out of control in the US and Europe we all really need to take a break from stress.

I’ve been reading stories that have relieved stress for me and make me smile so I’m going to share them with you.

Here’s a lovely story about a very ingenious boy.

So, What Is A Tuk Tuk?

Also known as an auto-rickshaw, these vehicles that became popular in Southeast Asia have since made their way around the world. The three-wheeled, open-air vehicles are one of the most unique transportation methods made.

World Cultures

Why Are Olympians Given Bouquets ?

Olympic Games: why do all winners get flowers in addition to a medal?

2020 Japan Summer Olympics Medalist Bouquets

The Olympic Games date back to Ancient Greece where athletes were awarded olive-leaf wreaths to commemorate victories – medals were not awarded until much later in the Games’ history. It was during Victorian times that flowers were first presented to victorious athletes on the winners’ podium, a practice that was adopted when the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896. The Victorians gave each flower a meaning and used the gift of flowers as a form of coded communication known as floriography.

Flowers at The Olympic Games Today

Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) undertakes a thorough process for selecting the florist and flowers for The Olympic Games. The size, availability and provenance of the flowers need to be carefully considered but the flowers also need to be robust and convey a significant message about the host country.

The Japan 2020 Olympic Flowers

The flowers that each winner receives in his or her hands during the medal ceremony has a very special meaning.

More than 5,000 bouquets are presented to athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.The ceremonial flowers are mainly grown in three districts in northeastern Japan that were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the subsequent meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Nearly 20,000 people died in the disaster, which affected Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. The bouquets of yellow, green and blue flowers presented to medalists at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were grown almost entirely in these three districts.

The bright yellow sunflowers that dominate the bouquets were grown in Miyagi by parents whose children died in the disaster. The parents chose a hillside where their children had sought refuge from the effects of the tsunami. Delicate white and purple eustomas and salomonas seals were grown in Fukushima – as part of a non-profit initiative set up to try to revitalise the local economy after the disaster severely damaged agricultural production.

The gentians, a small bright blue flower, are grown in Iwate, a coastal area destroyed by huge waves in the 2011 disaster. To complete the bouquet, there are strong green aspidistras, grown in Tokyo and chosen to represent the host city.

From A Website dedicated to the Equine Community

Holidays, World Cultures

Happy St. Nicholas Day !

In the days leading up to 5 or 6 December (starting when Saint Nicholas has arrived by steamboat around mid-November), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. Often they put a carrot or some hay in their shoes, as a gift to St. Nicholas’ horse. In recent years the horse has been named Schimmel or Amerigo in the Netherlands and Slecht Weer Vandaag (bad weather today) in Flanders. The next morning they find a small present in their shoes, ranging from sweets to marbles or some other small toy. 

When I was little we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day, I think it was a bit more simple but the idea was to remember the real Saint who started the Christmas gifting tradition.

We’d put our shoes out in front of our bedroom doors when we went to bed and found a little candy, a wind-up toy and a St. Nicholas card in the morning.

One year, I got greedy. I figured that, if I had bigger shoes, I’d get more goodies so I borrowed a pair of my Dad’s shoes and set those out. The next morning there was coal inside them. I was sad all day and went to visit my grandpa where I told how I’d been naughty. He comforted me and I forgot about the whole thing.

As if by magic, when we got home that night there were my little shoes by my door with an orange, a chocolate bear and a little toy inside. I was mystified by the whole thing because I couldn’t figure out who had put the goodies there.

This is the wonder and joy of giving. May you find your own magic today and all season long.