Anzac Day is an Australian and New Zealand based public holiday commemorating War time Veterans that takes place on April 25th every year. This public holiday specifically commemorates lives lost in WWI’s battle of Gallipoli. Thousands of Australian’s and their allies were brutally massacred trying to capture the city of Constantinople, and were finally rescued by the British Navy. This experience of war time allies like Great Britain and The US ties into the way we see ourselves as Australians. The image of the white male war time digger is sometimes seen as the ideal personification of the Australian identity. This is becoming increasingly criticized as Australia is a multi-cultural country. For these groups it is hard to challenge this holiday as this is like the Veteran’s Day of America, and is seen as a large part of Australian history. Although this is a celebration of Australia’s participation in war, some argue that it promotes militarism.
Elements of the Anzac myth were deployed to swing people to understand Australian recent intervention on the war on terror. Any marketing that involves drinking and family ties is often linked to this celebration, and is seen as problematic. Anzac representation is used somewhat freely, but the term “Anzac Day” is strictly regulated, and therefore the “anzac myth” continues. Growing up with great grandparents who were “diggers” in the war, my family celebrates this holiday every year by eating a big Australian meal which includes a large roast dinner. We finish off the meal with Anzac Biscuits. These biscuits are only made and eaten during this time, and are related to the recipes used to keep biscuits fresh during war time. We think about our ancestors, and appreciate our military, but there is a feeling that this holiday is more compatible with older generations as we are no longer engaged in any wars.
Having participated in a Songkran celebration myself, I really enjoyed hearing what the informant had to say about it. She very accurately described the thrill of the whole festival and how childish it seems, but actually really important to so many people.
So this is a piece of Jewish Folklore that I learned while living in Prague. Rabbi Loew is buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Prague, which I have visited many times, and I have a statue of the Golem which I purchased at a stall outside of the cemetery. The Old-New Synagogue, built in the 13th century, still has services for the jewish community remaining in Prague. The Golem story has appeared often in literature and film, including Michael Chabon’s novel written in 2000 called “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.”
Once there was a girl in a village. She lived with her terrible sisters who would burn her. The village called her little burnt face. She had the kindest soul.
One day the village chiefs sister told the Village that her brother the great chief was looking for a bride. That anyone who could “see” her brother he would marry.
So all the women in the village lined up one by one to see the chief who had never been seen before.
One after one, the sister would ask the women- “Do you see my brother?”
And they would reply- “yes”
She would ask then what is his shoulder strap made of-
They would reply- “with a strip of rawhide”
She asked: what does he pull his sled with
They replied with a green writhe
She knew that they had not seen her brother.
Now little burnt face decided to go meet the chief to see what the magical chief was all about.
She bathed and dressed in her best birch bark clothes and tatters moccasins.
She went to see the chief-
The sister asked: do you see my brother-
She exclaimed “yes, I see him and he is magical and amazing!”
The sister asked her the question- what is his shoulder strap made of?
She replied- A BEAUTIFUL RAINBOW! Exclaimed little burnt face
His sister asked what is his bow made of;
IT’S THE MILKY WAY!!!!
the sister said ” you have truly seen my brother.”
The sister took little burnt face to her wigwam where she bathed her in magical waters and all her burns disappeared. She dressed her in the best clothes and she took her seat next to the chief for all eternity.
For a more extesive verision of the story see Native American Legends: Little Burnt Face, A Micmac Legend
The Elephant Story and University of Alabama Football
College Football in the south is quite the phenomenon and Alabama has always had a relationship with elephants. It happened during a football game and the story was one my grandfather told me as a little girl. Growing up in Alabama we cheered for Alabama , the Crimson Tide, but my favorite animals have always been the elephant.
The story of how Alabama became associated with the “elephant” goes back to the 1930 season when Coach Wallace Wade had assembled a great football team.
On October 8, 1930, sports writer Everett Strupper of the Atlanta Journal wrote a story of the Alabama-Mississippi game he had witnessed in Tuscaloosa four days earlier. Strupper wrote, “That Alabama team of 1930 is a typical Wade machine, powerful, big, tough, fast, aggressive, well-schooled in fundamentals, and the best blocking team for this early in the season that I have ever seen. When those big brutes hit you I mean you go down and stay down, often for an additional two minutes.
“Coach Wade started his second team that was plenty big and they went right to their knitting scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against one of the best fighting small lines that I have seen. For Ole Miss was truly battling the big boys for every inch of ground.
“At the end of the quarter, the earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow. Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.
“It was the first time that I had seen it and the size of the entire eleven nearly knocked me cold, men that I had seen play last year looking like they had nearly doubled in size.”
Strupper and other writers continued to refer to the Alabama linemen as “Red Elephants,” the color referring to the crimson jerseys.
The informant is an Israeli American who grew up practicing traditions from both her Israeli and Persian culture. She describes a custom surrounding the sending off and return of teenagers who are drafted as soldiers. The informant recalls one of these parties that she attended when she was young.
- Shabbat Khayal is an Israeli tradition having to do with young soldiers. There is a kind of sending off that people do, when they first are um drafted. And so people have you know: goodbye parties, they’ll have um celebrations and then everybody holds their breath until soldiers get through their training which is like an intensive three months that they don’t really see family and its you know really crazy and they don’t really see their families and then there is a homecoming and thats a really big deal. The moms will buy all their favorite food and snacks and cook all their favorite meals and get their rooms ready and its like a whole you know and theres an excitement and build up when the family comes over and everybody wants to hear stories and see how that teenager has changed… so um theres that kind of anticipation and you know people know who’s son is coming home and this home’s daughter is coming home and there is a lot of support in the community around it. And once they’re placed within the army, and they kind of know what they are going to be doing for the next two or three years, then they get weekends off here and there, and those weekends are a really big deal. You know, same thing happens- you know family gets together, everybody comes for shabbat, the soldiers are like center of attention. Again everything with the food, they do their laundry, they make sure that they’re resting, that they’re seeing their friends, its like a whole big thing when a soldier is home. And i think thats in the fabric of pretty much every Israeli family.
- Sometimes people will take them to see a rabbi or someone for a blessing before they send them back out- depending on their background and culture you know if they’re Persian, Ashkenazi Jews, but some people will take them to someone and ask them to kind of say you know thank God, you made it through this far and then before we turn around and send him back you know give a blessing to make sure that he/she is safe and that God watches over them and that they come back to the family. So a lot of people will set something up like that or take them to Jerusalem or something kind of sentimental like that.
- I was apart of one of these rituals when I was a little younger for my cousin- it was such a build up, I mean you don’t really hear from them or have contact with them. I mean I can’t even think about what to compare it to here in America, I mean there is not really much- you’re sending a teenager away, and its a high schooler and they’ve just graduated and all of a sudden they are thrown into this entirely different setting, so I just remember my aunt getting everything ready and going to every different market and getting all his favorites and getting them all together and making sure it was all there. And then him coming home and looking so grown up and different and everybody wanting to hear all his stories and how is was, and what does he think he wants to do in the army, and how did he test, and he becomes that kind of center of attention and it will last all weekend, and people will spend the night, and want to be with them and yeah its very special.
I think that a traditions such at Shabbat Khayal are really important for families who have loved ones at war or in training. I think the whole celebration an already special occasion that much more intimate and important for both the family and the teenager. Most importantly, I believe that people continue to have these celebrations not only because it is tradition, but because it gives the family and the teenager something to think about and look forward too, instead of the family anxiously waiting around for the teenager to return they have the opportunity to run around preparing and gathering friends and family, focusing on what is most important in life.
Something I learned from my Norwegian grandmother. She made lots of apple desserts, especially apple dumplings, which required whole peeled apples. We used paring knives to peel the apples, and she would tell us that if we were successful in cutting away the peel in one continuous spiral, and threw it over our left shoulder, the peel would form the first letter of the first name of our future husband. I remember doing this in her kitchen at about age seven (after many unsuccessful tries, it is harder than it sounds to peel an apple in one unbroken spiral). The peel formed a “J” which, as you know, turned out to be correct.
I’ve only tried this a few times. I remember the first one because my grandmother was there and shared the story with me. It was Thanksgiving and we were making apple dumplings together. I loved baking with my Grandma – she is the one who taught me how to cook – and this memory takes me right back to her kitchen. Just FYI, it is not easy to have the perfect peel – it takes concentration and time. Usually when I am baking, I’m in a bit of a hurry and none of the peels come off in one piece. Even when concentrating, only about one in four apples will peel whole. Plus, the peel must be quite thin – if it is too thick, it will break on hitting the floor – a null answer. I remember getting a “J” more than once, which is funny because I’ve been married twice and both times the first name began with “J”. Anyway, only single women do this (otherwise the magic would be negative – as if one did not want to be married) so my last time was more than 28 years ago. At the last Thanksgiving, I shared this tradition with Caroline, my daughter. (And no, I will not disclose her answer!)