Hallowe’en is a big festival in the United States, but its origin is from the ancient Celtic people of Britain and northern France.
If you are a football supporter you may know that the star Japanese footballer, Shunsuke Nakamura, played for one of the top teams in Scotland, Celtic.
More than 2,000 years ago the Celtic people celebrated Samhain on October 31st. At that time this was the last day of the year and the Celtic people believed that the spirits of the dead could visit their house on this day. But evil spirits, often appearing as animals (especially cats), could also visit. To frighten the evil spirits people dressed in scary costumes and carried lanterns made from turnips which were painted with scary faces.
Over the centuries the Christian religion spread through Europe and, in the year 835, November 1st was made an important Christian holy day (holiday) to honour all the Christian saints. This day was (and still is) called All Saints Day, or All Hallows (to hallow means to make holy).
On the day before All Hallows people continued to celebrate Samhain, which gradually changed its name to the ‘Evening before Hallows’ to ‘Hallows’ Eve’ to ‘Hallowe’en’.
In the United States the first big Hallowe’en festival was in 1921. The idea of Trick or Treat was started in the US, as did the use of pumpkins for lanterns instead of turnips.
These days Hallowe’en is a fun-day for many people, but there are some who still follow the traditions of Samhain.
Recently a new species of lizard was discovered, which you can see in the photo above. It belongs to the agama family. Agama lizards can be found all across Africa. Colourful, isn’t it?
Here are a few other members of the agama family.
This is a flat-headed rock agama
The word ‘soaked’ came up in one of my classes today. It means very very wet, like the people in the photo below will soon become.
Don't try this at your graduation!
Another photo which is difficult to believe was taken in the UK. This is also in Scotland, in the Isle of Skye.
Does this photo look like somewhere in the UK?
To most people probably not.
However this is Rannoch Moor in Scotland, where some of the finest, rugged countryside can be found.
The first snow hit Mt Fuji over the weekend. Winter is around the corner and this is what Mt Fuji will look like in a few weeks’ time.
Snow-covered boats too
This is my 500th post on this blog, so I thought I would find a funny picture. It didn’t take long to find this one.
I wish those chairs would be quiet
About 14 million live in Malawi
In one of my classes yesterday we looked at the south African country of Malawi. The map on the handout was not so clear, so here is a much better and clearer map.
If you hover your cursor over the map and click then you can get an even bigger and better version of this map. And if you click again then it gets even bigger!
In the east of Brazil
It doesn’t look like a typical Brazilian scene. And it doesn’t look like it is the richest place in the world for its biodiversity. And this is the reason that makes Discovery Coast a World Heritage Site.
But it just looks great to me.
Rainbow across Mariko River in Shizuoka city
There was a huge typhoon which swept across Japan yesterday, and it left behind this beautiful rainbow, which was much lower and thicker than usual.
And here it is again
We don’t often get rainbows with green hills as a backdrop.
Iguacu Falls plus rainbow
This is another World Heritage site to be found in Brazil: the Iguacu National Park.
And in the park can be found the incredible Iguacu Falls.
In the south east of Brazil
Since the city of Rio de Janeiro has won the 2016 Olympics I thought I would check out some of the World Heritage Sites in Brazil.
The small city of Ouro Preto is on of Brazil’s sites.
As you can see it is not only an historic city with stunning architecture, it is also a living, working city.
Yes we can
So Rio de Janeiro has been chosen as the site of the 2016 Olympics, and these are some very happy people celebrating on the Copacabana beach.
The amazing harbour at Rio
Rio was the capital city of Brazil until 1960 when the specially built city of Brasilia took over.
My favourite island just got better
You can see another view from above Bora Bora island here, but I think this one shows it in its full majesty.
Bora Bora has about 8,000 inhabitants, lucky people!