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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween, unmarried women & mirrors

Halloween greeting cards from the late 19th century and early 20th century illustrated a widespread Halloween superstition. It was believed that if an unmarried women sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of her future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if a skull appeared,  that woman would die before marriage.

Halloween colours & their meaning

If you walk into any retail store that sells Halloween costumes, or decorations, you will find masses of black and orange items. Most Halloween candies are also in black and orange wrappers. You know that it’s Halloween time, because the distinctive colour combination is only used for this season.
Have you ever wondered about the meaning of Halloween colours?

Orange is the colour of autumn (the season when Halloween is celebrated), which is derived from the colour of the leaves. Pumpkins are also orange. Many people use pumpkins to carve them into scary jack-o-lanterns with lit candles inside. Jack-o-lanterns are used to scare off evil spirits. Orange is also the colour of the bonfires that burn at Halloween.
Halloween was once (and still may be in some areas) a festival of the dead. Death is usually associated with darkness, absence of light and mourning signified by the colour black. Black cats, witches’ hats and cauldrons are also black.
Traditionally, Halloween is always celebrated after sunset. The blackness of the night hides the celebrants’ tricks if they don’t receive any treats.
Neon green and purple are also common colours during Halloween nowadays. The green usually represents some sort of witch's brew or monster slime and purple seems to be replacing black because it's brighter and represents the fun of the holiday, instead of the dark side of it.  

Did you know?

Anoka, in Minnesota, was the first city to officially observe Halloween as a holiday in the United States in 1921. It is considered that "Halloween Capital of the World".

Cool Link:

A site containing popular halloween pages such as Halloween Customs, History & Origin, Pranks & Tricks, Recipes, Superstitions, Trivia & Fun Facts and Urban Legends.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The empress behind the cake

Sachertorte is a chocolate cake, invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich in Vienna, Austria. It is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties. The Original Sachertorte is only made in Vienna and Salzburg, and is shipped from both locations.
The real history of the Sacher Torte begins in 1832 when Prince Metternich told his personal chef to create a special dessert for several important guests. As the head chef was ill, the task fell to the sixteen-year-old Franz Sacher, who was an apprentice in Metternich's kitchen. The cake consists of two layers of chocolate sponge cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing on the top and sides. It is traditionally served with whipped cream without any sugar in it.

Prince Metternich was one of the most important diplomats of his era. Through the mediation of Metternich, Napoleon married Maria Louise, daughter of the Emperor Frances of Austria. Marie Louise was also a granddaughter of Leopold II, who was Marie Antoinette's brother. Napoleon had obtained a divorce from his first wife  Josephine because she was too old to have children.
Marie Louise became Empress of the French after she married Napoleon.  In 1821, four months after Napoleon's death, Marie Louise married her lover, Count Adam Albert von Neipperg.

The number 33 and the Chilean miners

For Roman Catholic Chileans, the number 33 has a mystic importance since they believe that Jesus Christ was 33 when he died. The trapped miners in Chile are highly superstitious. It seems that the number 33 has also acquired a special significance for them:
1. There were 33 miners.
2. The rescue shaft had a diametre of 66 centimetres, which is 33 times two.
3. The first note that the miners sent to show they were still alive -- "estamos bien en el refugio los 33" (all 33 of us are in the shelter) -- was 33 characters in length if the spaces between characters are counted.
4. The message was sent on August 22, 2010 (22 + 8 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 0 = 33).
5. The day of the message was a Sunday, which ended the thirty-third week of the year.
6. It took 33 days for the drill to complete the rescue.
7. Director Rodrigo Ortuzar will make a film about the underground tale of despair and rebirth and he has already titled it "The 33." The movie is going to last one hour and 33 minutes.
8. The date of the rescue 13/10/10, adds up to the number 33.
9. Even President Sebastian Pinera mentioned the "magic number" in his triumphant speech after the first miner emerged from the shaft.
10. After the miners were rescued, they were taken to hospital. The journey takes exactly 33 minutes.
Those who believe in numbers will also be surprised to discover another fact: the date of the rescue (13/10/10) coincides with the aircraft crash into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972. The 1993 movie Alive (¡Viven!) is based on that true story.