Power od red
Date: 21 Aug 2005 - Subscribe

Different colors have different roles in different cultures, periods of history... I found the following info at webexhibits.org/pigments/indiv/color/reds.html

Red is supposedly the first color percieved by Man. Brain-injured persons suffering from temporary color-blindness start to perceive red before they are able to discern any other colors. Neolithic hunter peoples considered red to be the most important color endowed with life-giving powers and thus placed red ochre into graves of their deceased. This explains funds of skeletons embedded in up to 10 kg of red powdered ochre. Neolithic cave painters ascribed magic powers to the color red. The word "magic" ("Zauber" in German) translates to "taufr" in Old Norse and is related to the Anglo-Saxon "teafor" meaning "red ochre". It can be stipulated that they painted animals in red ochre or iron oxide to conjure their fertility.
Protective powers of the color red against evil influence were common belief. Objects, animals and trees were covered in red paint, warriors painted their axes and spear-catapults red to endow the weapons with magic powers. Some of the Australian aborigines abide by this custom up to the present times. Neolithic hunters and germanic warriors used to paint their weapons and even themselves in blood of slain animals. Roman gladiators drank blood of their dying adversaries to take over their strength. In other cultures, the newly born were bathed in blood of particularly strong and good looking animals.Red painted amulettes or red gems, such as ruby or garnet, were used as charms against the "evil eye". Wearing a red ruby was supposed to bring about invincibility. Red bed-clothes were customary in Germany up to the Middle Ages as protection against the "red illnesses", such as fever, rashes or even miscarriages.
Red garlands and red scarfs were part of wedding customs in many cultures. Red wedding gown was en vogue in Nurnberg of the 18th century, but this tradition goes back to roman times: Roman brides were wrapped in a fiery red veil, the flammeum, which should warrant love and fertility. Greek, Albanian and Armenian brides wear red veils even today. Chinese brides are wearing red wedding gowns and are carried to the ceremony in a red litter. The bride walks on a red carpet and is greeted by the groom who lifts her red veil. Neighbours bring red eggs to the couple after a child is born.
Red rose is the symbol of love and fidelity. According to the Greek legend red roses arised from blood of Adonis who was killed by a wild boar on a hunt. In Greek mythology red rose was a symbol for the cycle of growth and decay, but also for love and affinity. Red rose is dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and daughter of Zeus and also to Roman goddess Venus. In Christianity the red rose is associated with the Cross and the bloodshed.
There are also negative connotations of this color. Israelites in biblical times painted their doorframes in red blood to scare demons. Red in ancient Egypt was the color of the desert and of the destructive god Seth who inpersonated the Evil. "Making red" was synonymous with killing someone, evil doings were refered to as "red affairs". Salvation from Evil is the subject of an ancient Egyptian charm: "Oh, Isis, deliver me from the hands of all bad, evil, red things!" Writers of Egyptian papyri used a special red ink for nasty words.
Good and bad qualities are combined in Phoenix, the firebird. In Egypt, China and Central America it was associated with cleansing and revival. In China its name was the "Vermilion Bird" or the Substance of Fire" and promised luck and longevity.
The effect of the color red used to play an important role in politics. Red is the most frequently used color for national flags, mostly due to its excellent visibility. Red became the symbol of communism and socialism during the Russian Revolution in 1907. Red color had usually a positive connotation in cold countries like Russia throughout history. Red Army's alternative name was "Glorious Army" and Russian words for red (krassnyj) and beautiful (krassivyj) are very similiar. Western cultures frowned upon red color in its political sense. "Better dead than red" was popular in cold war days in the US. Black swastika of the National Socialists was painted on red background to suggest association with the working classes.
nfrared radiation is used for healing purposes due to its warming and pleasant effect. The general effect of red is stimulating and appetizing. Mere perception of red color enhances the human metabolism by 13,4 % (source: Theroux 199cool.gif. It is the favourite color of children. On the other side aggression and violence can be triggered of by red color. Barnett Newman's huge red canvasses were attacked and damaged by the viewers. Spanish bullfighters bait the bulls with red cloth - unnecessarily though - bulls are color-blind and would react to any color whatsoever. The important factor is the mere movement of the bullfighter. Red is the color of emotional outbursts: Shame or anger colors our face red. Loosing control lets one to "see red". Red traffic lights and brake lights announce danger. Animals use red color to recognize its own kind, to announce the mating season or to issue a warning. Red in advertising is used to evoke erotic feelings (red lips, red cars, etc.).

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Japanese toilets
Date: 18 Aug 2005 - Subscribe

Toilets in Japan have very similar accessories as most toilets worldwide, including toilet paper, a toilet brush, a sink, etc. However, there are some Japan-specific accessories that are rarely found outside of Japan.
Many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought that someone else can hear them while they are doing their business on the toilet (a condition known as Paruresis.) To cover the sound of bodily functions, many women flushed public toilets continuously while using them, wasting a large amount of water in the process. As education campaigns did not stop this practice, a device was introduced in the 1980s that, after activation, produces the sound of flushing water without the need for actual flushing. One brand name commonly found is the Otohime, which literally means Sound Princess, and is named after the Japanese goddess Otohime, the beautiful daughter of the sea-king Ryujin. This device is now routinely placed in most new public women's rooms, and many older public women's rooms have been upgraded. The Otohime may be either a separate battery-operated device attached to the wall of the toilet, or included in an existing washlet. The device is activated by pressing a button, or by the wave of a hand in front of a motion sensor. After activation, the device creates a loud flushing sound similar to a toilet being flushed. This sound either stops after a preset time or can be halted through a second press on the button. It is estimated that this saves up to 20 liters of water per use. However, some women believe that the Otohime sounds artificial and prefer to use a continuous flushing of the toilet instead of the recorded flush of the Otohime. So far, there appears to be no demand for these devices for men's public toilets, and the devices are almost never installed in men's restrooms.
In Japanese life, there is a tendency to separate areas into clean and unclean, and the contact between these areas is minimized. For example, the inside of the house is considered a clean area, whereas the outside of the house is considered unclean. To keep the two areas separated, shoes are taken off before entering the house so that the unclean shoes do not touch the clean area inside of the house. Historically, toilets were located outside of the house, and shoes were worn for a trip to the toilet. Nowadays, the toilet is almost always inside the home and hygienic conditions have improved significantly, but the toilet is still considered an unclean area. To minimize contact between the unclean toilet floor and the clean floor in the rest of the house, many private homes and also some public toilets have toilet slippers in front of the toilet door that should be used when in the toilet and removed right after leaving the toilet. This also indicates if the toilet is in use. These toilet slippers are therefore a leftover custom from days when shoes were worn for a visit to the toilet. They can be as simple as a pair of rubber slippers, decorated slippers with prints of anime characters for small children, or even animal fur slippers for those with money to spend. A frequent faux pas of foreigners is to forget to take off the toilet slippers after a visit to the restroom, and then use these in the non-toilet areas, hence mixing the clean and unclean areas. On the other hand, quite a few Japanese people ignore the toilet slippers as well.
SOURCE: en.wikipedia.org
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The Legend of the Claddagh Ring
Date: 16 Aug 2005 - Subscribe

The Legend of the Claddagh Ring
by Bridget Haggerty

According to 16th-century Irish folk lore, a fishing boat from the village of Claddagh was captured by Algerian pirates and the crew was sold into slavery. One of the crew was a young man by the name of Richard Joyce, who was to be married the same week he was captured. Instead, Richard found himself far away from his love and his homeland.
He was sold to a wealthy Moorish goldsmith who taught him the trade and, eventually, he became skilled enough to design a ring of special significance: the hands were for friendship, the crown was for loyalty, and the heart was for love.
Years went by, but Richard never forgot his sweetheart. Somehow, he managed to escape and make his way home to Ireland. When he arrived back in Claddagh, he discovered that his girl had never married. They were wed immediately, and the ring he gave her was the one he had designed and made while he was a slave.
Over the years, the design became extremely popular as a betrothal or wedding ring and took on even more significance. Worn on the right hand with the heart pointing out means that the heart is uncommitted. Worn on the same hand with the heart pointing in means that the heart is taken. Worn on the left hand with the heart pointing in means "Let Love and Friendship reign forever, never to be separated."
In the old days, Claddagh rings were worn widely by women on the west coast and off-shore islands of Galway. Often representing the sole major investment of a fishing family, they were handed down from mother to daughter. Now, many couples, even those not of Irish descent, are choosing the Claddagh symbol for their engagement and wedding rings. They are widely available, as are a wide range of other Claddagh accessories from earrings to cuff links. But one word of caution: it is said to be very bad luck for a person to purchase a Claddagh ring for themselves. It must be given or received as a gift.
source: www.irishcultureandcustoms.com
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Yet another Japanese holiday
Date: 13 Aug 2005 - Subscribe

Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
Traditionally, lanterns are hang in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples.
At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region.
Obon is celebrated from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month of the year, which is July according to the solar calendar. However, since the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Obon is still celebrated in mid August in many regions of Japan, while it is celebrated in mid July in other regions.
The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons, accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates.
In 2005, the peak of the Obon travel season is anticipated to take place between August 12 and 15.
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Date: 12 Aug 2005 - Subscribe

Tanabata, also known as the "star festival", takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet.
Because the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Tanabata is still celebrated on August 7th in some regions of Japan, while it is celebrated on July 7th in other regions.
One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.
Colorful Tanabata festivals are held across Japan in early July and August. Among the biggest and most famous ones are the Tanabata Festivals of Sendai in August and Hiratsuka near Tokyo in July.

source: www.japan-guide.com
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