April 26, 2017

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Easter

FOR many people of the Christian faith, Easter is one of the most important holidays of the year. It is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is usually celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox (the moment when the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator) on March 21. Depending on the occurrence of the vernal equinox, Easter is celebrated anywhere between March 22 and April 25. This year, Easter will be observed on 16 April. Although it is not clear how the word “Easter” came about, some sources claim that it was derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility.

The following are the different ways Easter is celebrated around the world:

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So what exactly is the significance of Easter eggs and bunnies and why is Easter always associated with them? Well, truly, no one knows.

Christians adopted the egg as an Easter custom during the 13th century. The yolk represented Jesus Christ’s emergence from the tomb while eggs were painted red to represent the blood Christ shed during his crucifixion. However, there is no basis in history or evidence that explains how the association came about. Just like how the goddess Eostre is based on conjecture, the same is true to the origin of eggs and bunnies.
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1. Helsinki, Finland – Witches and bonfires

Image by Annelis from Wikimedia Commons. 

In Finland, it is believed that in the olden days, witches and evil spirits roamed around the country on the Saturday before Easter, up to mischief. The Finnish people start large bonfires to keep the evil spirits away and this tradition still continues, even though not many are as superstitious in this day and age. The bonfire is also used as another way to bring the community and families together.

Finnish children dress themselves up in witch costumes and dirty themselves in soot and go around the neighbourhood, knocking on people’s door for candy or money. In exchange, the kids give the residents a decorated twig.
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2. Athens, Greece – Silence and darkness

Image by Flickr user George M. Groutas

In Greece, Easter celebrations start on Good Friday. The body of Christ is wrapped in linen and put in a casket to symbolise the tomb of Christ. The casket is decorated with flowers and then taken to the street for a procession. Some Greeks also honour the dead by lighting a candle at the cemetery.
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On midnight of Holy Saturday, the lights in churches will be turned off to symbolise the darkness and the silence of the tomb. The whole country celebrates Easter at midnight with church bells, ships’ horns, floodlights and fireworks.

3. Haux, France – A gigantic omelette

Image by Getty Images user Remy Gabalda.

In the southwestern city of Haux in France, the people celebrate Easter by having an omelette together. There’s no typing error in the previous sentence – the entire town does share a single omelette! On Easter Day, a group of chefs fry up an omelette big enough for an entire town to consume at the town’s main square. The massive dish feeds up to about 1,000 people.

In the past, the gargantuan dish was about 10 feet in diameter and comprised 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds each of bacon, onion, and garlic. A similar tradition is observed in the town of Bessieres in southwestern France. Every year on Easter Monday, around 10,000 people gather to make a giant omelette, made with 15,000 fresh eggs, a four-meter pan, 40 cooks, and extra-long baguettes.

Many believe this unique tradition harks back to an instance during Napolean’s reign when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army once spent the night in the countryside. After eating an omelette made by a local innkeeper, Napoleon demanded a gigantic omelette to be prepared for his army to eat the next day.
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4. Jerusalem, Israel – Holy Week of Easter

Image from igoogledisrael.

The Holy Week of Easter is an important celebration in Israel, and for many Christian pilgrims that visit Israel to trace the footsteps of Jesus and his last moments.

On April 9 this year, the Christian Holy Week celebrations began with the Palm Sunday procession. The Palm Sunday procession involves thousands of Christian pilgrims climbing Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, to re-enact Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The Palm Sunday procession typically heads down to the Church of All Nations, continues to Saint Anne Church, St. Stevens Gate (the Lions Gate), the Old City and down the Via Dolorosa.

Another interesting manner Easter is celebrated in Israel is The Way of the Cross procession. On Good Friday (April 14), in memory of Jesus’ journey up to Golgotha to be crucified, the streets and alleys of the Old City in Jerusalem will be packed with pilgrims following Jesus’s same path down the Via Dolorosa. To symbolically share in their saviour’s pain on that fateful day, many of those participating carry a cross with them in spiritual support of their Lord.

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Featured image by Pixabay user Couleur(CC0 1.0).

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SHE abused her four year old son until he died, just because he could not count from 11 to 18 in Malay. In a pattern of abuse that lasted from 2012 to 2014, Noraidah Mohd Yussof, 34, would push, stamp on, and beat her son for his mistakes. At one point, Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) even sent the boy to live with an uncle. Noraidah confessed to beating him again on July 30 and Aug 1, 2014, causing her son to suffer head injuries that would prove fatal. Angry that he continued to recite the numbers, even after he was told to get ready to leave the house, as they were about to pick his sister up from school, she held him up by his neck against the wall until he started gasping for air and then stopped moving. Noraidah is being charged with causing grievous hurt, but her family members are trying to convince the court that she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome; the trial continues.

The G will develop “Industry Transformation Maps” for more than 20 sectors to lift productivity, invest in skills, drive innovation, and promote internationalisation. Teams comprising officers from the Economic Development Board (EDB), Spring Singapore, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will engage trade associations and companies, although dates for the unveiling of these roadmaps were not confirmed. It’s a commendable effort from the G, but it begs the question: Why don’t companies do these things themselves? How much of a push do they need from the G to overcome their current weaknesses and reluctance to change… and will these “roadmaps” really do the trick?

Islamabad has launched a crackdown on the group who claimed responsibility for the Easter playground bombing that has taken 72 lives so far, 29 of whom are children. About 340 were wounded, with 25 in serious condition. While the Pakistan Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claims that Christians were the target of the attack, police officials said that most of the dead were Muslim.

Unrest in the South China Sea continues as Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin  Hussein insisted that there was no trespassing by a reported 82 Chinese fishing boats that were escorted by Chinese coast guard vessels and seen in Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone in disputed waters. Just last week, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel interfered with Jakarta’s seizure of a fishing vessel by ramming the Chinese boat as it was being towed away. Japan, meanwhile, has strengthened its military presence with radar installations on an island chain close to the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, provoking China’s ire.

And finally, football fans can expect more French/Liverpudlian influence here as Tampines Rovers signs on legendary manager and coach Gerard Houllier as an international ambassador. The arrangement allows the Stags to consult him on anything football-related… and best of all, Houllier will do it for free. It must be quite a pitch that Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra and vice-chairman Leon Yee made to him.

 

Featured image from TMG file. 

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HAPPY long weekend! Stay calm and click on:

 

Happy Easter!

Can you spot the egg? Try not to click on the solution link, will you?

 

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This set of Singaporean twins are Internet celebrities – click to find out why:

 

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Kids, the struggle is real.

 

Featured image by Flickr user anna carol. CC BY 2.0

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by Elias Wee

THIS year, Easter falls on Sunday, March 27. Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on the cross and buried in a tomb, and came back to life on the third day. It is the Christian tradition to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Apart from the religious importance of Easter, it is also a popular secular holiday. Here are five things you may not know about Easter:

1. The Easter bunny is not the only animal associated with Easter
You have probably heard of Easter bunnies. While the Bible makes no reference to them, these egg-laying hares are closely associated with the modern myth of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. But it isn’t the only Easter animal. In Switzerland, the tradition there is for the cuckoo to bring Easter eggs in a basket. So in the weeks leading up to Easter, in addition to coloured eggs and Easter cakes, chocolate cuckoos are sold in shops too. There is also an old German tradition of the Easter fox. According to this tradition, German children, on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, make nests of moss and hay in preparation for the Easter fox.

2. The Easter Island statues could possibly have “walked”
Three archeologists have hypothesised that the multi-ton Easter Island statues, Moai, could have been made to “walk” to their current locations. They claimed that the Moai were carved from rock and made to stand in an upright manner, with the centre of mass slightly forward. In an experiment, the academics demonstrated that eighteen people, using ropes attached to a replica Moai’s head, were able to rock it from side to side, so that it made small steps forward. The islanders’ Rapa Nui language even has a term for this movement: neke-neke, which means “walking without legs”.

3. Easter is the oldest holiday for Christians
Easter and Christmas are popular Christian holidays, celebrated in both religious and secular ways. The year AD 336 was the first recorded Christmas celebration. It took place during the reign of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine. But the first recorded Easter celebrations began even earlier, in the second century AD. By this time, the Roman church adopted an annual Easter feast.

4. In Russia, Easter eggs have been encrusted with jewels
Peter Carl Faberge, a Russian jeweller, created jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian imperial family for 32 years. The creation of these eggs began in 1885 when the emperor, Alexander III, wanted to present a special gift to his wife. At first, the design was heavily supervised. But by 1887, Faberge was only given one prerequisite: each year’s Easter egg needed to contain a special surprise. Over the years, the surprises have included a miniature coronation carriage, ivory elephant and mechanical swan. You may think of this as an upsized Kinder Surprise, bejewelled for Russian royals.

5. Easter in 2018 will fall on April Fool’s Day
In 2018, Easter will fall on the first day of April. It does not occur on the same date every year. So how is the date for Easter decided? In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea – a group of Christian Bishops and leaders convened – debated, among other things, the proper date to celebrate Easter. It was determined that Easter was to fall on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon. This is the full moon that falls on or after the first day of spring – the idea being that the first day of spring will have equal hours of daylight and darkness.

 

Featured image Polish pisanki – Easter eggs by Flickr user Jarosław PocztarskiCC BY 2.0

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