Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Name Day, Ondřej! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Ondřej.  Happy Name Day, Ondřej!
The name Ondřej is the Czech form of Andrew, which is of Greek origin and means "man, warrior".

A very special shout out goes to my cousin, Ondřej - Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Name Day, Zina! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Zina.  Happy Name Day, Zina!
The name Zina is a variant of Xenia, which is of Greek origin and means "quest, stranger".

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy"

Anyone who knows me knows that I love summer; that I live for summer.  Nevertheless, there is something about Prague in the winter that makes me feel so very happy and peaceful inside...so much so that I forget all about the bitingly cold air.  

It was Anton Chekhov who said, “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy."  Wintertime in Prague, especially when it snows, makes me oh so very happy.

Happy Name Day, René! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor René.  Happy Name Day, René!
The name René is the short form of Irene, which is of Greek origin and means "peace".  It is also used as an independent name, mainly since the early 20th-century.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Name Day, Xenie! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Xenie.  Happy Name Day, Xenie!
The name Xenie is the Czech form of Xenia (ZAYN-yah), which is of Greek origin and means "guest, stranger".  The New Zealand production of the TV series "Xena:  Warrior Princess" has brought attention to Xena (ZEE-nah) as a girl's name.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Name Day, Artur! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Artur.  Happy Name Day, Artur!
The name Artur is the Czech form of Arthur, which is of Celtic origin.  King Arthur of Britain (6th-century) and his Round Table of Knights have become legendary figures.  His name was first found in the Latin form Artorius, which is of obscure origin.  other possible sources include "artos", the Celtic word for "bear"; an Irish Gaelic word meaning "stone"; Arnthor, an Old German name meaning "Thor, the eagle".  The name was often used in the Middle Ages, and was uncommon until the early 19th-century when Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, vanquished Napoleon.  

King Arthur presides at the Round Table with all of his knights

King Arthur

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Name Day, Kateřina! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Kateřina.  Happy Name Day, Kateřina!
The name Kateřina is the Czech form of Katherine, which is of Greek origin and means "pure".  It's a name that has been used since at least the third century AD.  The early Latin forms Katerina and Caterina became Katherine and Catherine.  

It has been borne by illustrious women such as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, an early martyr; Empress Catherine the Great of Russia; and three of Henry VIII's wives.  

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is today, Nov. 25th.  She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers

Empress Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine of Aragon (Dec. 16, 1485 - Jan. 7, 1536)
Also known as Katherine or Katharine, she was the Queen of England as the first wife of Henry VIII

Catherine Howard was Henry VIII's fifth wife (1540-1542).  She was sometimes known as "the rose without a thorn".  Henry was informed of her alleged adultery on Nov. 1, 1541, thus she was deprived the title of Queen and was beheaded at the Tower of London.

Catherine Parr (about 1512 - Sept. 7, 1548)
She was the 6th and last wife of Henry VIII (1543-1547).  Catherine also has a special place in history as she was the most married queen of England, having had four husbands in all...Henry was her third spouse.  She married again after his death. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and readers in the States!

In the Czech Republic, we give thanks for a bountiful harvest too, but for us it's called Obzinky, and it's celebrated in late August/September.  People in countries throughout the world set aside certain times of year to give thanks and usually these harvest holidays coincide with when the harvest occurs in that particular country.

Czechs and Slovaks celebrate the harvest with a folk festival, Obzinky, which was originally held to celebrate the end of the harvest and to honor landowners, who in turn treated their farm servants to a feast.  Farm workers make wreaths of rye, wildflowers, straw or ears of wheat.  These wreaths are placed on the heads of  girls as well as on the landowner's head...then they all dance and feast!  The landowner's wreath is then placed in an honorable place until the next harvest.

Czech potato dumplings stuffed with smoked bacon and served with sauerkraut

Poppyseed kolache

Happy Name Day, Emílie! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Emílie.  Happy Name Day, Emílie!
The name Emílie is a variant of Emily, which is of Latin origin and means "rival; laborious; eager".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Name Day, Klement! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Klement.  Happy Name Day, Klement!
The name Klement is the Czech form of Clement, which is of Latin origin and means "merciful".

Klement is a name borne by saints, popes, and the early Christian theologian, Clement of Alexandria (3rd century).

St. Clement of Alexandria

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Name Day, Cecílie! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Cecílie.  Happy Name Day, Cecílie!
The name Cecílie is the Czech form of Cecilia, which is of Latin origin and means "blind".

Saint Cecilia was a semi-legendary 2nd- or 3rd-century martyr who was sentenced to die because she refused to worship the Roman gods.  After attempts to suffocate her failed, she was beheaded.  She was later regarded as the patron saint of music and musicians.  Today is her feast day.

St. Cecilia

The name was introduced by the Normans into England, often in the form of Cecily, as borne by one of the daughters of William the Conqueror.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Name Day, Albert! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Albert.  Happy Name Day, Albert!
The name Albert is of Old German origin and means "noble, bright, famous".

The name was revived in the 19th-century, mainly in honor of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria, who was noted for his enthusiastic support of the application of science to the modern industrial age.  Queen Victoria's many children and grandchildren carried the name to most of the royal families in Europe, but her eldest son's first move as king was to drop it.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

The name Albert was also made famous by Albert Einstein who devised the theory of relativity as a young man.

Albert Einstein

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"A brother shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams" Author Anonymous

Today is my brother's birthday so let's all wish him a very Happy Birthday!!!!  

As kids we lived together...we fought, we laughed, we cried,
We did not always show the love that we both had inside.
We shared our dreams and plans, and some secrets too,
All the memories we share is what bonds me now to you.
We grew to find we have a love that is very strong today,
It's a love shared by our family, and will never fade away.
I love you, George. 
So many wonderful memories...

Days with Babi & DinDin...

I highly doubt we were taking out the trash...more like using them as a drum set!

Toys-r-Us trips...

Summers in Maine...

Maplewood Park with Babi & DinDin...

Island Beach State Park...who knew that as adults we'd still go here...

Remember the race track we had in the basement of Norman Rd.?  
Look how determined I am to beat you!

Happy Name Day, Nikola! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Nikola.  Happy Name Day, Nikola!
The name Nikola is a variant of Nicola and Nicole, both of Greek origin.  The meaning of Nikola is "people of victory".

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Name Day, Alžběta! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Alžběta.  Happy Name Day, Alžběta!
The name Alžběta is the Slovak version of Elizabeth, which is of Hebrew origin and means "God's promise; God is my oath".

Elizabeth has been a popular name since the 16th-century reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Name Day, Romana! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Romana.  Happy Name Day, Romana!
The name Romana has its origins in the Latin language.  It is used mainly in Czech, German, Italian, Romanian, and Slavic.  The meaning of Romana is "woman from Rome", and it is derived from the word romanus, which means "citizen of Rome".  Romana is the feminine form of the name Roman.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Den boje studentů za svobodu a demokracii, 1989 (Students' Fight for Freedom and Democracy, 1989)

Today marks a very important day in history, for on November 17, 1989, a Friday, riot police suppressed a peaceful student demonstration in Prague.  That event sparked a series of popular demonstrations from November 19th to late December.  By November 20th, the number of peaceful protesters assembled in Prague had risen from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated 500,000.  

Twenty-one years ago today, it started off as a peaceful officially-sanctioned march in Prague to commemorate Czech student Jan Opletal, who died at the hands of the country's Nazi occupiers 50 years ago in 1939.  Students, however, soon started to chant slogans against the communist regime.

Jan Opletal (Jan. 1, 1915 - Nov. 11, 1939)

Home of Jan Opletal

It is said that about 15,000 students had joined the demonstration.  They walked to the grave of Jan Opletal and - after the official end - continued from the Czech National Cemetery at Vyšehrad to Wenceslas Square calling for democratic reforms.  They never made it there, however.  At about 7:30 pm, when they were halfway through their march at Národní Street, the students were stopped by a cordon of police.  The students offered flowers to the police while singing songs and shouting "we have bare hands", but the police suddenly began to beat the young demonstrators with night sticks.  

Prior to this, the police managed to block all escape routes.  Nearly 200 people were injured.  One student was reportedly beaten to death.  Although this was later proved false, it served well for mass student support amongst the general public.

There is a memorial to November 17th at Wenceslas Square, and each year people place flowers and candles there to remember this day's events.  The President of the Czech Republic always lays flowers there as well.  

Memorial to Jan Opletal

Along Národní třída, inside the arcade near No. 16, is a bronze plaque with a cluster of hands making the peace sign and the date "17.11.1989" in memory of students clubbed in the street by police on that date.

Student Memorial on Národní třída

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Name Day, Otmar! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Otmar.  Happy Name Day, Otmar!
The name Otmar is of Germanic origin and means "wealth, fortune; great, famous".

Monday, November 15, 2010

"The Festival of Taste"

Now through November 30th is your chance to experience cuisines from all over the world.  Don't miss out on this culinary journey.  For more details, including participating restaurants, please visit http://www.festivalplnychuti.cz/en

Happy Name Day, Leopold! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Leopold.  Happy Name Day, Leopold!
The name Leopold is of Old German origin and means "brave people".  Leopold is also a saint's name, and it's a royal or aristocratic name in Belgium, Austria, and Britain.

St. Leopold

St. Leopold was born in Melk, Austria, in 1073.  As the age of 23, he succeeded his father as military governor of Austria.

In 1106, Leopold married Emperor Henry IV's daughter, who bore him 18 children, 11 of whom survived.  Known for his piety and charity, in 1006 he also founded 3 monasteries.

In 1125, Leopold refused to become Emperor upon the death of his brother-in-law, Henry V.  He died in 1135 at one of the monasteries he had founded.  He was canonized by Pope Innocent VIII in 1486.

When one carries out the duties of one's state of life with fairness, justice, and virtue, as did Leopold, many people are won over not only to a peaceful political scene, but also to a life of faith and virtue.  

St. Leopold is the patron saint of Austria and today is his feast day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, DinDin!

Today is a very special day for me...my DinDin's 94th birthday!
A poem for my DinDin
Your wisdom seems to put my mind at ease
As a little girl you always made sure I said "thank you" and "please".
I love the talks and stories of the places you've been and things you've seen
Just being with you makes me happy, makes me feel serene.
I miss you so much, for we live an ocean apart,
But not a day goes by when you're not in my thoughts, you're always in my heart.
This is my chance to tell you just how much you mean to me
Just how very much I love you, DinDin!

Happy Name Day, Benedikt! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Benedikt.  Happy Name Day, Benedikt!
The name Benedikt is a variant of Benedict, which is of Latin origin and means "blessed".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will we see our first snowflake today while sipping on St. Martin's wine?

Today is St. Martin's Day and according to a weather lore, this saint is supposed to bring the first snowflakes to us.  Although snowflakes are pretty, I'm not much for snow.  I much prefer the wine that is associated with today.  That's right, a day when you have to drink wine...I love it!  

At precisely 11 am sharp, every winery and restaurant across the Czech Republic opens the first wines produced this year - the young wines.  Because of the date, this wine is also known as St. Martin's wine.  The St. Martin's tradition is very similar to the French Beaujolais Noveau, however, the Czech ritual is much older.

St. Martin's wine is the first wine from the autumn harvest.  The wine hits the market just a few weeks after its harvest, thus it's intended to be instantly consumed (um, no problem!).
This celebration of opening and consuming young wine dates back to the period of Emperor Joseph II.  It was he who gave permission to begin serving new wine from the autumn harvest just on St. Martin's Day.  The day was symbolic of the end of harvest work - it was the end of the main farming season and the beginning of winter.

Joseph II

The trademark "Svatomartinské víno" (St. Martin's wine) was not registered until 1995.  Since 2005, it has been owned by the Wine Fund of the Czech Republic.  The wine varieties and the character of the wine are firmly specified.  The brand name "Svatomartinské víno" may be used by any wine producer registered in the Czech Republic who is capable of meeting the strict criteria.

 Young wine is dry, light and fresh, with low alcohol content (damn) of about 12%.  Four wine species are used for this special product - Müller Thurgau and Veltlínské červené rané for white wine and Modrý Portugal and Svatovavřinecké for red or rosé wine.

On St. Martin's Day, you should eat goose, goose liver, stuffed chicken, St. Martin's cake or special feast doughnuts... delicious!

I got so focused on the delicious wine that I forgot to mention St. Martin.  It's quite an interesting story really...

St. Martin was born in 316 AD as Martin of Tours.  His father was a pagan Roman senior officer in the Roman province of Upper Pannonia, present-day Hungary, and forced Martin to become a soldier as early as 15 years old.  Legend has it that on a cold, dark night, Martin encountered a half-naked beggar who asked him for alms.  However, Martin had no money on him and, as he wanted to protect the beggar from the cold, he cleaved his coat into two halves and gave one to the beggar.  The following night, Christ appeared in front of him dressed in one half of the coat.  It's likely that this apparition caused Martin to be christened at Easter 339 and to decide to devote his life to God.  However, he could not leave the army for another 15 years when he reached the rank of officer. He was named Bishop of Tours in 372, but continued to lead the life of a monk in a hut by the Loire River, where the Marmourtier abbey was founded later. 

St. Martin died at the age of 81 in Candes near Tours in 397.  He is the patron saint of soldiers, horses, riders, geese and wine makers; most often he is depicted on horseback with his half coat and the beggar.