Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I just finished reading the book Siddhartha* by Herman Hesse.  The book was written after Herman Hesse's journey through India. It takes place many years ago in India. 

Siddhartha is Brahmin as a young boy, and he leaves home with his friend Govinda to try and fulfill his need for knowledge. Govinda loves Siddhartha and sees him like no other person.  Siddhartha is perfect. They become possession-less Samsara, who travel, and think, and fast.

 After many years, Siddhartha decides that life as a samsara isn't right for him, and he Govinda go to see Gotama, the Buddha. Govinda accepts Gotama's teachings and way of life, and becomes a monk, but Siddhartha is not satisfied and he leaves.  

Siddhartha travels to a town, and meets a beautiful woman.  He lives there with her and works and makes money.  He eats rich food and wears fine clothing.  

After many years of this life, he abandons it and moves in with ferryman by the river.  The woman he used to love is traveling to see the Buddha with their son.  She meets Siddhartha again, but she dies of a snake bite and leaves their son to Siddhartha.  The son is spoiled and eventually leaves home, and Siddhartha is saddened.  

Govinda comes upon Siddhartha, after hearing from people about the peaceful god-like ferryman. Govinda realizes that it is Siddhartha and talks to him for a while. Siddhartha realizes that none of the words he followed in the past were real.  He decides that the best thing to do is to love everything.  He says it is okay to love people, animals, food, sins, and riches. After years of traveling, going from being unhappy and possessionless, and unhappy with riches, he realizes that it is all okay and has reached his own nirvana.

*Siddhartha Gotama was Buddhas real name. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas Around the World: America


Christmas in America is usually celebrated with gift giving and family visits.  Children are given a couple of weeks off of school for the holiday.  On Christmas Day, children open presents delivered by Santa Claus the night before. 

Santa Claus was brought to America by the Dutch in the 17th century, but did not become an important part of Christmas until 1809, when Washington Irving included him in a novel.  He flew around in a wagon with no reindeer and smoked a pipe.  He brought presents to the children, but didn't live in the North Pole or have a red coat.

Thomas Nast started the creation of the Santa Claus we know today by making drawings of him in the 1860's.  In 1931, Coca Cola choose one of Nast's drawings to star in a Christmas time ad, and the image has stuck ever since.

On Christmas Eve, big meals are often eaten with families, including turkey or ham, cranberry sauce, potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, Christmas cookies, egg-nog, and other things.  For some families, this is followed by midnight mass.

Houses in America are heavily decorated.  Lights are hung outside, along with pine branches and wreaths.  Mistletoe is sometimes hung in the home, in-between doorways. Stockings are hung by fire places, or from hooks, to be filled with small treats. Christmas trees are decorated, by most people, with lights, ornaments, candy canes, tinsel, popcorn, and other things. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Around the World: South America

Christmas Nativity Scene by krisdecurtis.


The most important day of festivities is Nuche Buena or "good night"  which is celebrated on the 24 night of December.

If the family can afford it, a whole turkey is usually roasted.  Eaten along with the turkey is applesauce.

People who are guests should bring a gift such as pannetone or a beverage.

Children are brought gifts by Santa Clause, who was introduced by the Americans.

Fireworks are often lit off by families, even though they are banned in Peru.

Children are sent to bed after midnight.  Then the adults parties begin.  Dinning rooms and living rooms are transformed into dance floors.  People flirt, and drink, and make new friends. These house parties can last until 5 or 6 a.m. on the 25 of December.  Not a lot happens on the 25 because people sleep in so late.


Brazilians are a mix of people from around the world, and therefore, their Christmas celebrations and traditions are diverse.  

Nativity scenes are set out in homes, shops, and churches.  This is a very important part of the holiday for Brazilians.  

Father Noel bring the gifts to the children, he wears silk while delivering presents due to the hot summer heat.

Despite the heat, huge Christmas dinners are eaten.  They include turkey, ham, colored rice, vegetable, and fruit dishes.

Catholics attend midnight mass on the 24.  They also attend an afternoon mass on the 25.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas Around the World: Australia

Chirstmas in Australia is the start of the summer holiday, it's all about sun, surf, and shopping.  Chirstmas is celebrated in many different ways in Australia due to the amount of people from all around the world living there. 

Up until about thirty years ago, traditional English style Christmas was celebrated.  People roasted turkey and steamed pudding.  Now the celebrations are heavily influenced by ethnicity.  Common sense also played a role in the change of the celebration.  People now commonly have family gatherings in back yards, picnics in parks, gardens, and on the beach. Most people enjoy time with family and friends, and exchange gifts.

Food eaten around christmas is also influenced by ethnicity, some examples of what is eaten are:  
-seafood, glazed ham, duck, or turkey
-cold deli meats
-desserts of fruit salads, pavlova, ice cream, pies, fruit cake, shortbread, and chocolate

Some say the "Swag Man"  may have taken Santa Clauses place in the Australian Christmas celebration.  Swag Man wears a brown akubra, a blue singlet, and long baggy shorts.  He spends his winters under Uluru and drives a four-wheel-drive vehical.

Some families in Australia have real Christmas trees.  Others decorate gum tree branches.  Young children often sing Christmas Carols around the holidays.