A minha Lista de blogues

segunda-feira, 30 de abril de 2012

May Day

May Day is on the first day of May. It originally comes from a very old pagan festival. People danced and sang and asked the gods to provide them with a good year. Nowadays it celebrates the beginning of summer.

Maypole Dancing is a traditional May Day dance that is still part of the life of some villages. People cut trees and stick them in the ground and then dance around the poles.

In many countries Worker’s Day is celebrated on May 1.
The historical roots of this day takes us back to Chicago in 1886:

Militant unionists wanted to secure an eight-hour working day and so started a strike. On May 3rd, one person was killed and several injured as police intervened to protect strikebreakers from strikers. In response to this violence, a mass meeting was convened at Haymarket Place the next day to protest against police brutality. When police officers arrived to disperse the crowd a bomb was thrown by someone who was never identified. It killed 7 policemen and injured 60 others. The police retaliated and fired back at the demonstrators, killing more than 12 people. This incident became known as the Haymarket Riot.

Sculpture by Mary Brogger (2004) in Haymarket Place

Eight leaders were taken to trial and condemned: 4 were eventually hanged, 1 committed suicide and 3 remained in prison till 1893, when they were pardoned by the governor of Illinois.

May Day was designated as an international worker’s day by the International Socialist congress of 1889, a day to remember the struggles of workers who were killed in their fight for better wages and improved working conditions.

May Day is recognized as Law Day in the USA. In Canada and USA, Worker’s day or Labour Day is commemorated on the first Monday of September.


Note: Mayday is also an international radio signal used by ships and aircraft when they are in danger . It is taken from the French “venez m’aider”- come and help me, which has a similar sound.

International Jazz Day

On 30th April 2012, International Day of Jazz is going to be celebrated for the first time  in order to raise awareness of jazz as musical genre and its specific qualities and features. This music was born in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century. Its roots come from African rhythms, European musical forms and American gospel. Nowadays jazz has evolved into various styles all over the world.

According to Unesco Jazz must be celebrated because:

Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance; Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression; Jazz is a symbol of unity and peace; Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities; Jazz fosters gender equality; Jazz reinforces the role youth play for social change; Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones; Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.

quarta-feira, 25 de abril de 2012


April 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the release of Casablanca, a timeless epic love story that is one of the best films ever made.

It mixes all of the best ingredients to get the audience enthralled! You´ll watch it over and over again for the Romance! Suspense! Drama! And last but not least Music, “play it again Sam”….
It´s on the list for the “1001 Movies You Must Watch Before you Die” and number 3 on the AFI (American Film Institute) List for 100 best films. So, if you love movies, you must definitely see it! If you enjoy watching some classic black and white films, well make sure it gets on your list. If you want to make your Mom, Grandmother or even surprise your girlfriend with your vintage taste… well, it´s a pretty good choice.
I guess I could have just said: Casablanca is a MUST SEE MOVIE.
Did I mention it won Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay in the 1942 Academy Awards?

Haven´t I convinced you yet?
Well, you have Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund ) as the leading lady, the elegant beauty of the 1950s and Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine) as the anti-hero.
It´s set in Nazi occupied Morocco, in the early days of World War II.
I won´t spoil the storyline for you, but here are some scenes to get you interested:


On April 26th a special encore presentation will take place in USA in select theatres.
Curious Facts:
The plane used in the film was an Aero Portuguesa (AP) company plane owned by  Mr Medeiros e Almeida. The AP was created with the main objective of providing air connection between Portugal, Morocco and Brazil. During World War II, the AP gained the importance of being the only company of a neutral country to be authorized to fly to a belligerent territory.
“Casablanca (1942) was an immediate success, beginning with an accident of history. On November 8, the Allied forces landed in Casablanca, and at once Jack Warner’s publicists prevailed on him to rush the picture to an early release in New York. After a sold- out premiere, every standing-room ticket was gone for subsequent performances… When President Roosevelt returned from the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, the film’s success was guaranteed… Indeed, among the fans was the president himself, who ordered a print for his guests at a New Year’s Eve party he hosted at the country’s own casa blanca, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

 Donald Spoto. Notorious –The life of Ingrid Bergman. Harper Collins, 1997
Well, if I helped you pick your weekend movie, I´m glad… It seems like a “beginning of a beautiful friendship”.

Test your Casablanca knowledge with this quiz

April in Portugal

A peaceful revolution took place in Portugal on April 25, 1974. It was later called Carnation Revolution and was carried out by soldiers and the courageous “Captains of April”.

It put an end to almost 48 years of dictatorship. Consequently,  the Portuguese People showed their genuine happiness with huge crowds celebrating in the streets.

Political prisoners were liberated and democracy became reality. In those first 12 months the democratic rights of freedom of press, assembly and association were established. In 1975 Portugal held general elections, and for the first time the right to vote by secret ballot was extended to all men and women older than 18 years. 

segunda-feira, 23 de abril de 2012

World Book Day

Miniature book stand from Venice, Italy 

On April 23rd WORLD BOOK DAY is organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright (It is also called Copyright Day).


"The Library" by the portuguese painter Helena Vieira da Silva

It is a way of paying a worldwide tribute to books and encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading. April 23rd was the chosen date because Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on this day.

Lello Bookshop in Oporto, Portugal is considered one of the most beautiful in the world

 In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, WORLD BOOK DAY is held annually on the first Thursday in March to avoid the same date to clash with St George´s Day (the national day of England).

domingo, 22 de abril de 2012


Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd.

It has been observed since 1970.

Earth Day was founded by the American senator Gaylord Nelson as a way of promoting environmental awareness.

Happy Earth Day 2012!

sábado, 21 de abril de 2012


Nasreddin Hodja was born in Turkey in 1208. He was very clever and had a good sense of humour. The name NASREDDIN means “Helper of the Faith”. HODJA was an honorary title given to him as a scholar or very educated person.  He is one of the most loved and celebrated personalities of Turkey. His fame has now spread to a number of countries and he has been gaining popularity.

What´s the use?

One Friday (the Moslem´s holy day) Hodja stood up in the pulpit in the mosque to preach a sermon.

-          O Ye true believers, do you know what I am going to talk to you about today?

-          We have no idea, they answered him in surprise, looking at each other.

-          Well, if you have no idea at all, then what´s the use of my talking to you?

With that remark he descended from the pulpit and went home.

The next Friday he returned to the mosque and once again stood up in the pulpit and asked the congregation:

-          O Ye true believers, do you know what I am going to talk to you about today?

-          Yes, answered the clever ones.

-          Well, if you already know then what´s the use of my telling you?

And he again descended from the pulpit and went home.

Again the following Friday, he entered the mosque, mounted the pulpit and asked the same question:

-          O Ye true believers, do you know what I´m going to talk to you about today?

-          Some of us do and some of us don´t!

-          In that case, Hodja said, let those who know tell those who don´t.

And he went home again.


202 Jokes of Nasreddin Hodja. Minyatur Yayinlari Nº1b.

quarta-feira, 18 de abril de 2012

Saint George

St George is the patron saint of England. His day is celebrated on  April 23rd.

St George was a Christian knight. He was born in Cappadocia, Turkey. Later he became a Roman soldier who protested against Rome's persecution of Christians. He was imprisoned and tortured, but stayed true to his faith. He was beheaded at Nicomedia and died on April 23rd, 303 AD. Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

Tintoretto (1518-1594)

The story of St. George and the Dragon was a legend brought back by the Crusaders. It dates back to the Middle Ages when the dragon was commonly used to represent evil and therefore is an excellent tale of good triumphing over evil.


 Raphael (1483-1520) St George Fighting the Dragon

It is said that one day while he was riding in the province of Lybia, near a city called Sylene, he came across a place where a dragon lived. The people had gathered to attack and kill it, but its breath was so terrible that all fled. To prevent it coming nearer, locals supplied two sheep to the dragon every day. Yet, when sheep became scarce, a human victim had to take their place.

When a girl was about to become the next victim, St George attacked the dragon and transfixed it with his lance. He borrowed the girl´s girdle and fastened it round the dragon´s neck, and took the monster into the city. St George told the people to have no fear. If they believed in Jesus and were baptized, he would slay the dragon. The people agreed and the dragon was killed.

In the battle of Antioch (1098) during the First Crusade, it was said that St George helped the French against the Byzantine occupiers. The returning crusaders popularized his cult.

King Richard I, The Lion Heart (1157-1199) adopted St George's cross as a uniform for his soldiers: a red cross on a white background. Since then St. George has been popularly identified with English ideals of charity, chivalry and courage (now known as the 3 C's).

However, St George was probably not recognized as England´s patron saint until King Edward III (1327-1377) founded the Order of the Garter, of which St George has always been the patron.

The battle of Agincourt

What made St George's cross as England's official national flag, was its use by King Henry V during his famous victory over the French at Agincourt, in 1415, in the Hundred Years ‘War.

The flag of St. George

The rise of the British Empire and the need to unify England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland resulted in St. George becoming less popular. The Union Jack replaced the Cross of St. George as the United Kingdom’s national flag. However, St. George’s cross is still the flag of England!

Read an illustrated children's story based on the 'The Seven Champions' by Richard Johnson (1596):


The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in the United Kingdom. It is dedicated to St George, the  patron saint of England. It was founded in 1348 by King Edward III.

The order's emblem is a garter with the motto : "Honi soit qui mal y pense".

King João I (1357-1433) of Portugal married the English princess, Philippa of Lancaster, and was also awarded the Order of the Garter.

The Queen wearing the mantle and the hat of the Order

This Garter badge was worn by George III for the Installation of the Knights of the Garter on St George's Day (23 April) 1805. 

"A very large Brilliant George with rubies, saphires in the drapery & Brilliant Fleur-de-lis at top". Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 

Royal Yacht Britannia

Saint George in Portugal

The Castle of São Jorge was dedicated to Saint George by King João I of Portugal.

St George Anglican Church is situated in the Estrela district of Lisbon


Walsh, Michael. Butler´s Lives of the Saints. HarperSanFrancisco. 1991

terça-feira, 17 de abril de 2012

Narcissus "Diamond Jubilee"

A new hybrid of daffodil, created to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, has begun to flower in the garden of Buckingham Palace in April, 2012.The Narcissus 'Diamond Jubilee' variety was planted in autumn 2011.

This design in the Buckingham Palace garden  depicts one pink diamond for each decade of Her Majesty's reign.

"The British Monarchy"
in Facebook

segunda-feira, 9 de abril de 2012

Food and Ethnicity in America

When you learn a foreign language there are some rules you must know, and some of them are related to culture and have nothing to do with grammar.
If there is a topic people like to talk about when they learn you are Portuguese, that topic is FOOD. Of course we know our “cuisine” is of excellent quality:  the variety of fresh fish, good fruit and vegetables all year round, but it may seem a bit odd to keep a long conversation about this theme.

Most Americans don´t like to change their food habits and try something new (fortunately I know some exceptions) and if you go shopping for fish you will only find the fillet (they all look the same because to show a whole fish with its head, scales and tail isn´t probably good for business).

I remember an American teenager staring with horror at Portuguese sardines (in a restaurant that serves Portuguese food which they like to call “ETHNIC”).

Portuguese sardines "Sardinha assada"

My Uncle Luís was proudly presenting the big fish he had caught

Moreover, I can´t forget some years ago when the Day of Portugal was commemorated in the Boston State House and Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts. He came to the event as the guest of honour. State Representatives and State Senators were present as well as officials from Portugal.

When it was his turn to speak he couldn´t avoid talking about the Portuguese contributions to the state of Massachusetts: the chourico and linguica. Apparently these two types of sausages were all he could think of to discuss the Portuguese heritage in Massachusetts. Also, the speech was very short and he did not speak of other important Portuguese contributions. For example, the former governor could have mentioned the Portuguese connection to the whale and textile industries and, presently their entrepreneurial spirit in developing so many small businesses or even their capacity to integrate themselves successfully in the American way of life.

Mr. Mitt Romney was just trying to fill in the void…but he did not succeed. Again, it is important to bear in mind that the occasion was intended to celebrate the Portuguese Heritage Day, which is in June, the same month of the National Day of Portugal. As Governor of a State with numerous Portuguese, Mr. Romney should have made some references to its relevant contributions to World History or even American History.

Maybe he does not know, but the first neutral country to recognize American Independence was the Kingdom of Portugal, or instead, if he wanted to speak about food and beverages he could have mentioned that the renowned Founding Fathers, when signing the Declaration of Independence, congratulated themselves with Madeira wine.     

I hope that if this well intentioned gentleman ever becomes president of the USA (it seems he is winning more states and may be the chosen republican candidate) he will find someone to write more inspiring speeches, otherwise presidential messages to various ‘ethnical communities’ will be reduced to the Cape-Verdean cachupa, the Brazilian feijoada, the Italian pizza, the German bratwurst or the French Crepe

Also concerning food is the matter of etiquette. Europeans and Americans have different rules concerning table manners.

In the American Way, the Knife is held in the right hand and the fork in left hand. After a few bite-sized pieces of food are cut the knife is placed on the edge of the plate with the blades facing in. They eat their food by switching the fork to the right hand (unless they are left handed). A left hand, arm or elbow on the table is bad manners.

In the European Style the difference is that you don't switch hands. Instead, you eat with your fork in your left hand, and knife in your right. Both utensils are kept in your hands during the meal while you eat.
Cultural habits on etiquette are hard or even impossible to judge. Indeed, when it comes to eating at the table, it is not a political or ethical matter, merely one of taste and habit. So, one should be aware of different practices but avoid being patronizing.  

9th April 2012

quarta-feira, 4 de abril de 2012


Traditionally the main gift at this time of year is an egg. It symbolizes a new life and is a sign of a new beginning, as winter is over. In Victorian England hard boiled eggs were painted and rolled down the hills to symbolize the stone which was rolled away from Christ´s tomb.

Nowadays chocolate Easter eggs are also popular in Britain. Sometimes people hide Easter eggs and children look for them. The first chocolate eggs were introduced in England in the 19th century.

During the 19th century Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), the Russian Imperial Crown jeweller designed a group of elegant ornamental eggs that were exclusively made for Russian Tsars. These eggs date back to 1885, when Czar Alexander III and Czarina Maria Feodorovna of Russia were celebrating their twentieth anniversary and Alexander III ordered an elaborately decorated Easter egg to give to his wife on Easter morning. Each egg is a unique creation encrusted with precious jewels. Inside the eggs were hidden miniature surprises. The eggs were given by members of the imperial Family as Easter gifts.

There are 50 Imperial Easter Eggs in the world. Queen Elizabeth II owns the largest private collection: three. It was King Edward VII and his wife Alexandra who started the royal collection of Faberge works.

These eggs created by Faberge for the Russian royal family have become well-known pieces of art around the world.

The Mosaic egg was made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his wife, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (Queen Victoria´s granddaughter) in 1914. It was later purchased by the British Royal Family in 1934.

The Fabergé Diamond Jubilee Egg
Crafted with precisely 500 grams of rose gold, the one-of-a-kind egg is topped with 60 gemstones—one for each year of the Queen’s reign.The Diamond Jubilee Egg is valued at $157,850 and is the top prize in the
The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. It will be on display at the Fabergé boutique from February 21 until April 1, and then at Harrods in Knightsbridge from April 2 -8.

Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The term “Maundy” comes from the word “mandatum,” Christ’s commandment to love one another.

On this date the Queen distributes Maundy money to an equal number of men and women. The number of recipients is related to the mon­arch’s age. Buckingham Palace says the tradition of the mon­arch handing out money to subjects dates back to the 13th century. The source of the coins and the honour of receiving them make them more valuable than their face value: a few pennies totaling the age of the sovereign.

Hot cross Buns

On Good Friday Christians remember Jesus who died on the cross. In Britain hot cross buns are popular on Good Friday.

No Easter would be complete without these
spiced buns.


Burrell, Paul. In the Royal Manner. Warner Books, 1999