Sukkah [sook-uh] City was a 2010 architectural design competition and work of installation art planned in New York City’s Union Square Park. A sukkah is the name given to a structure described in Torah (Jewish Bible). The Children of Israel were instructed to annually commemorate their Exodus from Egypt by dwelling for seven days every autumn in temporary structures reminiscent of those in which they lived during their 40 years of wandering in the desert before settling in the Land of Israel. Many Jews continue this practice to this day, and Sukkah City aims to re-imagine the sukkah in contemporary design.
A committee of art critics and architects selected 12 winners from a field of over 600 entries. The twelve winning sukkot were constructed at Brooklyn’s Gowanus Studio Space, and driven by truck to Union Square Park for display on September 19 and 20 from dawn to dusk. The design chosen as ‘the people’s choice,’ entitled ‘Fractured Bubble’ by Long Island City architects Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan, stood for the requisite seven days of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The competition was the brainchild of journalists Joshua Foer and Roger Bennett. It was sponsored by Reboot, an organization that aims to catalyze innovation in Jewish culture, rituals, and traditions.read more »
Baby jumping (‘El Colacho’) is a traditional Spanish holiday dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in the village of Castrillo de Murcia in northern Spain. During the act, known as ‘El Salto del Colacho’ (‘the devil’s jump’), men dressed as the Devil (the Colacho) jump over babies born during the previous twelve months of the year who lie on mattresses in the street. The Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva organizes the week-long festivities which culminate on Sunday when the Colacho jumps over the babies on the mattresses placed on the procession route traversing the town.
The festival has been rated as one of the most dangerous in the world. The origins of the tradition are unknown but it is said to cleanse the babies of original sin, ensure them safe passage through life and guard against illness and evil spirits. In recent years, Pope Benedict has asked Spanish priests to distance themselves from El Colacho, and to downplay the tradition’s connection with Catholicism. The Church still teaches that it is baptism by water, not a giant leap by an airborne devil, which cleanses the soul of original sin.
The National Hobo Convention is held on the second weekend of every August since 1900 in the town of Britt, Iowa, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, and known throughout the town as the annual ‘Hobo Days’ celebration. It is the largest American gathering of hobos, rail-riders, and tramps, who gather to celebrate the traveling worker. Traditionally there has been a parade on the Saturday at 10:00 a.m., where everyone can let their hobo spirit soar: ‘Some in rags, some in tags, some in velvet gowns.’
Other events during Hobo weekend include a Hobo 5K & Hobo 10K Walk/Run, Hobo King & Hobo Queen coronation, Hobo Museum, Hobo Auction, Hobo Memorial Service, Hobo Sunday Outdoor Church Service, Hobo Classic Car Show, Hobo Arts and Crafts Show, and various forms of hobo musical entertainment. A Hobo Jungle (a temporary hobo meeting place) is open throughout the event.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is one of the largest food festivals in the United States, held annually in the town of Gilroy outside San Francisco on the last full weekend in July. At the last event 108,526 people attended, sampling such diverse creations as garlic flavored ice cream and garlic french fries. Attendees also enjoy three stages full of musical entertainment, a Great Garlic Cook-off, celebrity cooking demonstrations, a garlic braiding workshop, a children’s area, arts and crafts, and many interactive displays.
A Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen is also crowned yearly, chosen by a panel of five judges, based on her personal interview, talent, garlic speech and evening gown. Her court is also chosen, for the purpose of representing Gilroy at various festivities and ‘having a garlicy good time with fellow lovers of the pungent bulb.’ The festival was founded in 1979 by Dr. Rudy Melone, Don Christopher, and Val Filice, and has been a fundraiser for local charities.
National Masturbation Day (NMD) is an annual event celebrated in May to protect the right to masturbate. The first National Masturbation Day was observed in 1995. The NMD is organized to protest against social stigma against masturbation. Sexologist Carol Queen, an organizer of the NMD, argued, although 90% of men and 65% of women in North America masturbate regularly, masturbation is viewed negatively in contemporary culture and deliberately excluded from the formal education system. According to Queen, ‘We gave our heads a shake and said it’s about time we fought back. That’s when we founded National Masturbation Day.’
The NMD in the United States was started by the San Francisco-based sex toy retail chain ‘Good Vibrations’ and its supporters. According to Cory Silverberg, one of the founders of ‘Come As You Are’ (a Toronto sex shop): ‘The message we want to spread is that masturbation promotes health and happiness- that’s what National Masturbation Day and the masturbate-athon are all about.’ The organizers of National Masturbation Day stressed the health benefits of masturbation citing examples such as stress management, healthier pelvic muscles, secretion of endorphins, decrease in chances of prostatitis among men, decrease in candidiasis among women, cardiovascular exercise, and safe sex.
Paper bag parties are African-American social events at which only individuals with complexions at least as light as the color of a brown paper bag were admitted.
Hosts at many churches, fraternities and nightclubs would take a brown paper bag and hold it against a person’s skin. People whose skin was not lighter than a brown paper bag were denied entry The term also refers to larger issues of class and caste within the African-American population.read more »
Bicycle Day is April 19, 1943; Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann performed a self-experiment to determine the true effects of LSD, intentionally ingesting 250 micrograms of the substance, an amount he predicted to be a threshold dose (an actual threshold dose is 20 micrograms). Less than an hour later, Hofmann experienced sudden and intense changes in perception.read more »
Nuit [new-ee] Blanche [blahnsh] (‘All-Nighter,’ literally ‘White Night,’ in French) is an annual all-night or night-time arts festival. A Nuit Blanche will typically have museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions open and free of charge, with the center of the city itself being turned into a temporary art gallery, providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), themed social gatherings, and other activities.
The concept came from Jean Blaise, artistic director for special events, who founded the ‘Centre de recherche pour le développement culturel’ (‘Research Center for Cultural Development’) in Nantes, France, in 1984.read more »
Maslenitsa (also known as Butter Week) is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday. It is celebrated during the last week before Great Lent—that is, the seventh week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter). Maslenitsa corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, and the Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date.
Maslenitsa has its origins in both pagan and Christian traditions. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a celebration of the imminent end of the winter. As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire and Lady Maslenitsa’s ashes are buried in the snow (to ‘fertilize the crops’).read more »
The Gathering of the Juggalos is an annual festival put on by Psychopathic Records, featuring performances by the entire label roster as well as numerous well-known musical groups and underground artists. It was founded by Robert Bruce, Insane Clown Posse (Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler), and their label in 2000. Described by Joseph Bruce as a ‘Juggalo Woodstock’ (‘Juggalo’ being a nickname for fans of the Insane Clown Posse, a Detroit rap group), the Gathering of the Juggalos spans five days and includes concerts, wrestling, games, contests, autograph sessions, karaoke, and seminars with artists. Over its first eleven events, the festival has drawn an attendance of about 107,500 fans.
The first Gathering took place in Novi, Michigan at the Expo Center and lasted for two days, with over 7,000 fans in attendance. While performing on the final night, Insane Clown Posse asked the Juggalos to join them onstage, and about 300 fans rushed onto the stage. After performing for almost 30 more minutes, the concert was abruptly stopped by the venue’s management. The second Gathering of the Juggalos was held in Toledo, Ohio at the Seagate Center for three days, with approximately 6,600 in attendance. Outside artists included Three 6 Mafia, Vanilla Ice, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Like the previous year, hundreds of fans charged the main stage during Insane Clown Posse’s performance. However, this time the group was forced to flee the stage before it collapsed.read more »
SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) is the name of the annual conference on computer graphics started in 1974. The conference is attended by tens of thousands of computer professionals. Some highlights of the conference are its Animation Theater and Electronic Theater presentations, where recently created CG films are played. There is a large exhibition floor, where several hundred companies set up elaborate booths and compete for attention and recruits. Most of the companies are in the engineering, graphics, motion picture, or video game industries. There are also many booths for schools which specialize in computer graphics or interactivity. Dozens of research papers are presented each year, and SIGGRAPH is widely considered the most prestigious forum for the publication of computer graphics research. In 1984, under LucasFilm Computer Group, John Lasseter’s first computer animated short, ‘The Adventures of André & Wally B.,’ premiered at SIGGRAPH. Pixar’s first computer animated short, ‘Luxo, Jr.’ debuted in 1986, and Pixar has debuted numerous shorts at the conference since. Since 2008, a second yearly SIGGRAPH conference has been held in Asia. The first SIGGRAPH Asia conference was held in Singapore; the second one in Yokohama, Japan in the period in 2009; and the third in Seoul, Korea in 2010.
Day of the Dead (‘Día de los Muertos’) is a Mexican holiday where people gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using edible sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl (Queen of the Underworld). The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, ‘Dia de Finados’ is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.read more »