Mardi Gras, Masks and Typography

In advance of Fat Tuesday! Here’s a combination of Venice and New Orleans. This is Gabriela Coutinho’s Venice Carnavale 2008. The costumes are wonderful:

And from Irishaikidoka on YouTube: Hermes Wrestling for Pollens Float 18, just this past Friday night:

I’ll have to ask my brother it this was his float.

Here’s an interesting story behind a commissioned  Sri Lankan Mask.

And something we use everyday — not a cover up but maybe a hidden art —  of creating typography. There is an interesting lecture tonight at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, called “The Designing Type: The Work of Matthew Carter. He is a founder of the fonts: Verdana, Georgia, Tahoma and Postoni — ones we may use everyday. Personally, I’m a fan of Verdana.

Christmas Trees

The photos and text (in italics) in this post have been circulating the email network so I can’t take credit and I do not know the original author. However, it’s definitely worth posting because just seeing the photos with their descriptions, helps me get in the Christmas mood, and and I hope it does you as well. I am fascinated how each country displays their Christmas trees differently, and the very artistic takes on some like Murano, Tokyo and Libson. It’s very comforting in these stressful times to see how widely Christmas is celebrated.

My boys are back in town (isn’t that a song?) and we’re looking forward to a few relaxing days, hopefully. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope you enjoy the visual feast below.

Subject: Christmas Trees ‘Round the World

1. Christmas at Rockefeller Center in New York.

Rockefeller Christmas tree. N & S Silverman/Taxi/Getty ImagesBefore the ball drops in Times Square, the Big Apple turns on its holiday charm with the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

2. A holiday tree is shown lit in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

Capitol Hill Christmas tree. Photo Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., is decorated with 3,000 ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling evergreens in the ‘Pathway of Peace’ represent the 50 U.S. states.

3. Italy, Umbria, Gubbio town, Christmas tree on hillside.

Gubbio Christmas tree Italy. Photo Fantuz Olimpio/SIME-4Corners ImagesThe world’s largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy’s Umbria region. Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire, the ‘tree’ is a modern marvel for an ancient city.

4. A 100-meter tall Christmas tree is illuminated on the wall of a Tokyo hotel for the upcoming holidays.Tokyo Christmas tree. Photo Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty ImagesA Christmas tree befitting Tokyo’s nighttime neon display is projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.

5. Czech Republic, Prague, Teyn Church at Christmas time.

Prague Christmas tree. Photo Schmid Reinhard/SIME-4Corners ImagesIlluminating the Gothic facades of Prague’s Old Town Square, and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains in the southern Czech Republic.

6. Glass Christmas tree in Murano.

Murano Christmas tree. Photo Sandra Raccanello/4Corners Images

Venice ‘s Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern
reflection of the holiday season.

7. A Christmas tree is shining at the Manezh Square in Moscow (?Maxim Marmur/AFP/Getty Images)

Moscow Christmas tree. Photo Maxim Marmur/AFP/Getty ImagesMoscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with festivities in anticipation of Father Frost’s arrival on his magical troika with the Snow Maiden. He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year tree, or yolka, which is traditionally a fir.

8. A 72-meter-tall Christmas tree stands at Praca do Comercio in downtown Lisbon (?Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images)

Portugal Christmas tree. Photo Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty ImagesThe largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall) can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special enchantment of the city during the holiday season.

9. Chapel in winter, christmas tree, Klais, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Karwendel mountains.

German Christmas tree. Photo Paul Freytag/zefa/Corbis‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree’: Even in its humblest attire, aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany’s Karwendel mountains, a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.

10. Large Christmas tree inside the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris.

Paris Christmas tree. Photo Marco Cristofori/CorbisOoh la la Galeries Lafayette! In Paris, even the Christmas trees are chic. With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and high fashion, it’s no surprise this show-stopping department store draws
more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

11. Faithful surround the Christmas tree in St. Peter.

Rome Christmas tree. Photo unkown originIn addition to the Vatican’s heavenly evergreen, St. Peter’s Square in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.

12. Christmas Tree at Puerta del Sol in Madrid (?Marco Cristofori/Corbis)

Madrid Christmas tree. Photo Marco Cristofori/Corbis

The Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol is dressed for a party. Madrid’s two-week celebration makes millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world’s biggest lottery.

13. Trafalgar Square at night with Christmas tree, London,

Britain Christmas tree. Photo Romilly Lockyer/The Image Bank/Getty ImagesA token of gratitude for Britain’s aid during World War II, the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.

14. The Romer and Christmas tree at night in Frankfurt, Germany.

Frankfurt Christmas tree. Photo Wilfried Krecichwost/Stone/Getty ImagesDrink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer Frankfurt’s city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.

15. Three trees in forest decorated with lights, location unknown.

Christmas trees-unkown location. Photo Werran/Ochsner/Getty ImagesAgainst a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of Christmas trees lights up the night.

Twelve Days of Christmas

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? This week, I found out. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol…so pass it on if you wish.’

Now check out the facts on snopes. Even though I like the symbolic Christian reference, this is actually a secular song that could have been confused with “The New Dial,” also known as “In Those Twelve Days,” which did assign religious meaning to each of the twelve days for the purpose of catechism:


tomb-of-unknown-soldier-christmas. Photo origin unknown.

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths — some 5,000 — are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington,Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He’s done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

arlington-national cemetery-wreaths. Photo credit unknown.