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European Sammelsurium 4

by Fran Sat Feb 13th, 2010 at 11:01:26 AM EST

Remember - this Sunday is the 14th February, thus it is Valentinesday! I was reminded of it, when I was shopping today and saw a few men heading home with red roses.

This seems another tradition from the Anglo sphere that has taken root here in Europe. The first time I became aware of Valentine's Day, was in the early 60s while going to school in the US. All the excitement about who would receive more cards and from whom, etc...

Photo: Valentine's Day flowers and candy. (Andrea Church)

Well, not everyone has a Valentine in his or her life, thus you might be relieved to learn that the opaque theory of astrophysics can help you to figure out your chances of finding true love.

Valentine's Day: How do I love thee? Let me the count the probabilities - Telegraph

A mathematics tutor at Warwick university has calculated the probability of ever finding true love.

Outside a pub on the Caledonian Road in Islington, north London, a blackboard urges people to come inside and "enjoy a romantic three-course Valentine's dinner" on Sunday. A certain young man waiting in there will not be among those spooning sticky toffee pudding into their loved one's mouth this weekend.

Peter Backus - a maths tutor at the University of Warwick - is the author of a controversial thesis: Why I Don't Have A Girlfriend. In it, the 31-year-old estimates that our chances of finding love are just one in 285,000. By applying Professor Drake's opaque theory of astrophysics N = R* x Fp x Ne x Fi x Fc x L (in which the pioneering scientist predicted that there could be 10,000 civilisations in our galaxy) to singledom, Backus has discovered that out of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would make suitable girlfriends for him. Isn't he just being picky, though?

If you missed the opportunity to get those red roses, this might not be the end - a love letter, in todays time of sms, mails and tweets, might do the work too.

Valentine's Day: don't write off love letters yet - Telegraph

Fresh from editing a collection of literary billets-doux, Victoria Glendinning discovers that the tradition of writing love letters is thriving.

"I sort through the letters, when the postman brings them up the steps at about 10 o'clock in the morning, with shaking hands." These are the words of Elizabeth Bowen, the distinguished novelist, writing to Charles Ritchie, the Canadian diplomat with whom she sustained an intense relationship for more than thirty years, largely through letters (a collection of which I've recently edited). For most of that time they were thousands of miles apart. Their affair took off a full half-century before mobile phones and texting and email, and when a long-distance telephone call was only made with difficulty and in an emergency. "I don't know how I should live," she told him, "if it were not for your letters."

The letters she sorted with her shaking hands in the hope of spotting the "beloved blue envelope" were, bills apart, real letters from friends, family and fellow-writers, many of them long and personal. Does anyone write and receive love letters, let alone ordinary ones, any more? Our mail nowadays is mostly rubbish: fliers and publicity material, the odd postcard from a holidaying friend, mail-order catalogues, appeals. All the envelopes are addressed in type, and the majority of it goes straight into the recycling. My personal and professional life takes place almost entirely on email. On the rare occasions when in the daily scattering of junk mail I glimpse a real letter, with my name and address written in real handwriting, my heart leaps. There is still no substitute. But does anyone wait for the postman now with quite Bowen's excruciating mixture of hope and anxiety?

And to end this topic for today, here some wiki-excerps about Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Valentine's Day[1] (commonly shortened to Valentine's Day)[1][2][3][4] is an annual holiday held on February 14 celebrating love and affection between intimate companions.[1][4] The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). The holiday first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards.[5]

We have been talking about a lot of peaks here on ET - well, there is a peak, here in Europe, this coming week - peak Carnival or Fasnacht. Especially in the Germanic areas. Last week I wrote about the beauty of the Carneval in Venice, which is unique. The Carnival and Fasnacht in many places in the Germanic areas is rude and often very political.

Berlusconi, Breasts and Obama: Cologne Carnival Floats Ready for Action - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Every year, Carnival in Cologne and Dusseldorf is an orgy of political satire, as floats making fun of world leaders take to the streets. This year, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a particularly easy target.

There are those who refuse to even consider going to Cologne for Carnival, that costumed orgy of excess which grips Germany's Rhineland every year. Too much drinking, they say. Too much childish overindulgence.

And despite the crisis the Carnival seems to be good for local business and the economy.

Carnival revelers spite economic crisis | Business | Deutsche Welle | 11.02.2010

The economic downturn may have most Europeans scrimping and saving. But in Germany's carnival strongholds, people are opening up their wallets for the six days of celebrations. 

The latest European Consumer Study showed that almost half of Germans plan to eat out less in 2010 in an attempt to limit their daily expenses. Forty percent plan to make fewer visits to pubs, bars or cafes, said the GfK market research institute, which commissioned the survey, earlier this week.

But carnival in Germany's largest state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is a different matter. The so-called "fifth season" season officially begins on November 11, but the festivities reach their peak in the pre-Lent period between Shrove Thursday and Fat Tuesday. It's during these "crazy days" of carnival that revelers crowd the streets - especially in Cologne and Dusseldorf - for parades and parties.

Though the names are different, Carnival and Fasnacht seem to have similare meanings and are celebrated in various places around Europe and even some non-European countries. Both have to do with Lent and fasting.

Carnival - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carnival (Carnaval, Καρναβάλι (Carnavali), Carnevale, Carnestoltes, Carnaval, Karneval, Carnaval and Karnawał in Portuguese, Greek, Italian, Catalan, French, Dutch, German, Spanish and Polish languages) is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, masque and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.

Carnival is a festival traditionally held in Roman Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Orthodox societies. Protestant areas usually do not have carnival celebrations or have modified traditions, such as the Danish Carnival or other Shrove Tuesday events. The Brazilian Carnaval is one of the best-known celebrations today, but many cities and regions worldwide celebrate with large, popular, and days-long events. These include the Carnevale of Venice and the Carnevale of Viareggio, Italy, the German Rhineland carnivals, centering on the Carnivals in Dusseldorf,Cologne and Mainz; the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; in Andalusia(Spain)Carnival of Cádiz ; the carnival of Cape Verde; of Torres Vedras, Portugal; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rijeka, Croatia; Barranquilla, Colombia; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica; the Carnaval and the Llamadas in Montevideo, Uruguay and Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. In the United States, the famous Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, date back to French and Spanish colonial times.



The origin of the name "carnival" is disputed. Variants in Italian dialects suggest that the name comes from the Italian carne levare or similar, meaning "to remove meat", since meat is prohibited during Lent.[1]

A different explanation states that the word comes from the Late Latin expression carne vale, which means "farewell to meat", signifying that those were the last days when one could eat meat before the fasting of Lent. Yet another translation depicts carne vale as "a farewell to the flesh", a phrase embraced by certain carnival celebrations that encourage letting go of your former (or everyday) self and embracing the carefree nature of the festival. However, explanations proceeding from carne vale seem to be folk etymologies and are not supported by philological evidence.[1]

Another possible explanation comes from the term "Carrus Navalis" (ship cart), the name of the roman festival of Isis, where her image was carried to the sea-shore to bless the start of the sailing season.[2] The festival consisted in a parade of masks following an adorned wooden boat, that would reflect the floats of modern carnivals.[3]


Swabian-Alemannic-Fastnacht - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Swabian-Alemannic Fastnacht is the pre-Lenten carnival in Alemannic folklore in Switzerland, southern Germany, Alsace and western Austria.

It is also known in parts of Pennsylvania Dutch Country as Fasnacht Day and is celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the last Tuesday before Lent.



Fastnacht in Mainz also Fassenacht, in Swiss German Fasnacht, in Swabia Fasnet, Fasent is often connected to fasten "to fast" by popular etymology, allegedly from celebrations on the eve preceding fasting. Comparison of dialect variants however yields an OHG *fasanaht, with an element fasa- of unclear meaning. A likely derivation is from PIE pwo- "purify" (cognate to pava-mana), or alternatively connected with Middle High German vaselen "prosper, bud" and interpreted as a fertility rite.

Fasching (MHG vaschanc or vaschang) is related, probably originally with a second element -gang instead of -nacht.

And the last item today is about craftmanship - 300 years of Meissen. Though I do not care much about possessing these kind of things, I admire the beauty  of some of them and the kitch of the others. And think it is great, that even today were so much is produced with computer and machines craftmanship is still of value.

Holding Court for 300 Years: A Porcelain Legend Reinvents Itself - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

After centuries of crafting Baroque figurines and ornate tableware for European royalty, Meissen is reinventing itself as a modern luxury company offering sushi dishes, jewellery and contemporary interior design. Its new manager says the overhaul is necessary so that the company can continue to create the traditional designs that have made it a favorite for collectors and royal courts.

There's a monastic atmosphere of silent concentration in the workshops of Meissen, Europe's oldest porcelain factory. Expert artisans sit bent over their benches gently sculpting finely detailed clay figurines or painting miniscule flowers on decorative vases.

"This one took 1,380 minutes," said Andrea Pankhans, 41, holding up a "Teapot with Snowball Blossoms" she had just crafted. It's covered in hundreds of three-dimensional blossoms she has applied by hand. The work is far from finished. Every single one of those blossoms has yet to be painted with five petals, once the clay has been fired. It will be priced at €45,000 ($63,000).

Happy Valentine's day to you, if you are celebrating it. :-)
by Fran on Sat Feb 13th, 2010 at 11:02:49 AM EST
Here in the bastion of Lutheranism we have no truck with gaudy displays. The only traditional celebration on Shrove Tuesday is to go tobogganing and then home to hot pea soup and Shrove buns. No day off and no flags.

We save the gaudy, rowdy displays till the 18th, when the 3rd year high school students (who get their white hat this summer) let off steam (literally, in this weather).

Valentine's Day hardly gets a mention in today's Finnish media, though hearts have been visible for about a week in the shops.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 14th, 2010 at 03:31:20 AM EST
...Though I just read in one of the Finnish business papers (they take an interest in this kind of thing) that 24 million roses have been imported for Valentine's Day, Suomi-style.  The EU has used the equivalent of 10 MD-11 cargo aircraft to bring in fresh roses from Africa.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 14th, 2010 at 04:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WOW, what ecological nonsense! But good for business, here the roses usually cost about 4.90 a piece since Thursday they went up to 5.50 and I make a bet by Tuesday they are down to 4.90 again.
by Fran on Sun Feb 14th, 2010 at 04:10:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I read that Valentine's Day actually had some historic significance as opposed to the commercial nonsense it is presently, I may reconsider to celebrate it... But then I'll have to try something a tad more original than flowers from Africa, or chocolate hearts...

Another fun edition! Easy reading...

by Nomad on Sun Feb 14th, 2010 at 09:16:47 AM EST
Thanks, Nomad, glad you enjoyed it. :-)
by Fran on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - European Sammelsurium 4
Backus has discovered that out of the 30 million women in the UK, only 26 would make suitable girlfriends for him. Isn't he just being picky, though?

No, just being geeky enough to be right.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 02:57:19 PM EST
It may be worth pointing out that he is an American. As he says
"I do find it extraordinary that the British race has been able to perpetuate itself," he concurs. "The passivity and reliance on alcohol in order even to talk to a member of the opposite sex here boggles my mind.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it extraordinary that he can say "British race".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:18:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What a knob. He's never met any of my friends.  It is easy to walk into a pub and find a bunch of drunken idiots and extrapolate that as a generalisation applying to everyone in the country.

And ditto what Colman says...

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 05:01:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often heard it said that the invention of the bicycle has saved large swaths of the (British) rural population from inbreeding... :)
by Nomad on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 08:57:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah but only having a tenth of the population density, that would explain the model T fords breakout success in rural America.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 05:50:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another demonstration that Americans are utterly alien.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 11:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 10:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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