Salomé, 1909, by Paul Antoine de la Boulaye (1849-1926)
Many may not be familiar with the story of Salomé, and those that do not are probably quite unaware with exactly what they are looking at when staring right at this painting. First of all, artist Paul Antoine de la Boulaye truly had exquisite talent at giving his female subjects a subtle yet readable expression. Here we see, what you’d assume - and partly correct - a young, light-hearted dancing girl. A girl seemingly more childish than sultry. This, however, strongly contrasts with the story of the infamous Salomé. A young girl whose beautiful erotic dancing pleased her king so greatly, he granted her wish to have John the Baptist’s head on a platter. When paired with the description “an icon of dangerous female seductiveness,” this painting does not exactly hold it up. This painting is a perfect example of how knowing the story behind a work of art can be the key to “reading between the lines” of paintings.
Isaiah 43:18-19 - "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Eastern Orthodox Romanians celebrate on January 6th the Baptism of Jesus Christ.
Known as Boboteaza, this holiday holds a special place in the religious calendar, and is traditionally considered the coldest day of the year.
Days prior to this date, priests go to bless people’s households with holy water; in some regions, groups of boys come to people’s houses to wish them for this occasion, a custom known as Iordanul, coming from the name of the river (Jordan) in which Jesus Christ was baptised;
On 5th and 6th, special religious masses take place, priests sanctifying water; usually, people who attend the mass take holy water (agheasmă) for them, their families and households.
Traditions, beliefs and practices regarding this holiday are aboundant in every region of the country. A popular custom is the throwing of a wooden cross in the water (river, sea) by priests, while men compete, swimming to find it, thus the one who manages to recover it, is considered to be blessed the entire year.
On this night it is believed that unmarried girls who put basil under their pillow will have a dream about the man who will become their husband.
The following day, Saint John the Baptist is revered; people named John, and derivatives from this name, celebrate their name day (it is considered to be the most popular saint name in Romania), and thus, officially, the religious winter holidays come to an end.
Burford Hill Cottages-1 by Bob Radlinski Via Flickr: There is a row of beautiful cottages along the hill above the commercial section of the high street. This is the west side catching the morning sun.