lost traditions

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I recently started following the zventenze blog because they’ve been posting a lot of Eastern European winter festivals and costumes, which introduced me to some of the stylin’est, greatest imagery I never knew about. SO GOOD. 

These remind me of my grandmother’s sets of unedited folklore from around the world, which captured my imagination as a child. The stories were always scarier, more surreal, and more beautiful than their post-Victorian retellings. My favorites – regardless of origin – gave me this same cozy-creepy feeling.

  • First three are Bulgarian kukeri, or mummers.
  • Next two are New Year’s bear dancers in eastern Romania, (which I’ve seen posted everywhere but only just learned the context.)
  • Last two are Kurants from the Kurentovanje Festival in Slovenia. 
There is more underneath the glass and steel of Hong Kong

When it comes to Hong Kong as a travel destination, scenes of the hustle and bustle, all kinds of cuisine and hundreds of shopping complexes probably flood your mind in a blink. No we are not going into the obvious beauty of the city. We are here to unravel the mesmerizing gem of the city’s cultural diversity. Let us freshen your vision and mind with some colorful hues!

HKwalls

For those who want to explore the city from an unconventional perspective, check out the HKwalls! For four years in a row, HKwalls has been making efforts to strengthen the link between art and the public space. Last year, HKwalls took place in Sham Shui Po, one of the earliest developed areas in Hong Kong. The mixed land uses and history has given the district a distinct character, making it an ideal area for the annual street arts celebrations. The festival featured 40 art pieces created by artists from 17 countries, 42 workshops, 3 free film screenings and a pop-up print exhibition.

This year HKwalls reignites the partnership with Vans as part of the Hong Kong Arts Month in Wong Chuk Hang. Unlike other events during the month, there are scattered happenings for the public to stumble upon.  Though Wong Chuk Hang may be a little far from the city centre, it is chosen for a reason. While the art and creative community has been blossoming in the industrial district, the mural art pieces and interactive programs would perfectly compliment the growth. Just remember to have your camera ready!

Feeling revitalized now? Let’s dig deeper into the city’s cultural matrix, here is our recommended guide for you.

Old Town Central

Here we go a compact experience in the culturally diverse city!

Old Town Central (OTC) refers to the rectangular shaped neighbourhood in Central bounded by Wyndham Street, Caine Road, Possession Street, Queen’s Road Central and Hollywood Road. A miniature of the big city, it hosts many must-go including heritage sites, landmarks, historic architecture, religious buildings, designer boutiques, local shops, dining and entertainment outlets. It mirrors the transition of Hong Kong from a fishing village to a British colony to a metropolitan city throughout the decades.

Possession Street

The story of modern Hong Kong began at Possession Street in 1841, where the British soldiers landed and the colonial governance commenced.  Fast forward to 176 years later, it is now the Hollywood Road Park, a Chinese-style garden.  Still, you can find a mix of nostalgic and modern shops at Possession Street.

POHO

Climb a few staircases to POHO; fill yourself with the artsy air. Surrounded by Po Hing Fong including Tai Ping Shan Street, Po Hing Street, Tung Street, Sai Street, and Upper Station Street, the up-and-coming neighbourhood is analogous to Hong Kong’s hipster village with plenty cafes, quirky boutiques and art galleries.

YMCA Bridges Street Centre & Ladder Street

You will find YMCA Bridges Street Centre and Ladder Street at the east of OTC. Constructed in 1918, the YMCA Bridges Street Centre is an architectural epitome displaying a crossover between Chinese green glazed tiled roofs and Chicago School style. Ladder Street, a Grade 1 historical building, which is made entirely of stone steps, connects Queen’s Road Central all the way uphill to Hollywood Road and Caine Road.

Man Mo Temple

At the corner of Ladder Street, Man Mo Temple is a masterpiece of long-lost traditional Chinese architectural craftsmanship. It would certainly take your breath away the moment you step in. The temple was built for Gods worshipping and as “Kung Sor” where community issues were discussed and resolved.

PMQ

Go along Hollywood Road and you will arrive at PMQ, the Police Married Quarters. It has been revitalized as a creative hub where over 100 shops, pop-up stores, design studios and restaurants are nested. The mission of PMQ is to nurture local designers, provide a place for organizing exhibits and for visitors to have a taste of creative lifestyle. With this in mind, you cannot miss this place from your to-go list in Hong Kong.

Gough Street and Kau U Fong

Also known as NOHO, there is a great deal of independent boutiques and contemporary art galleries awaiting your discovery; cafes and old-style dai pai dong (cooked food stalls) ready to fill you up. Be sure to spare some time and belly for them!

Pak Tsz Lane Park

Pak Tsz Lane Park, located at a quiet square behind Aberdeen Street, Hollywood Road, Gage Street and Peel Street, is a park featuring a monument in memory of anti-Qing Dynasty activities in the late 19th century by revolutionaries from Furen Wenshe and Xing Zhong Hui. Enlighten yourself with some knowledge on Hong Kong’s role in overthrowing the monarchy in China.

Hollywood Road

One of the oldest built in 1844, Hollywood Road has evolved into a renowned art hub, accommodating numerous contemporary art galleries, antique shops and boutiques. Get your art and shopping fix here and you won’t be disappointed.

Tai Kwun

At the junction of Old Baileys Street and Hollywood Road stands a gorgeous colonial-style establishment – Tai Kwun, or “big station” in Chinese. That was how the Chinese used to colloquially refer to the former law enforcement complex. Initially where the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison were, it is now under transformation into the next talk-of-the-town hub of heritage, arts and leisure. Stay tuned!

Pottinger Street

Named after Hong Kong’s first governor, Pottinger Street is made of uneven slabs of cobblestone, and thus given the name “Stone Slab Street”. If you need ideas for your costumes and props to Halloween celebrations or themed parties, look no further, you can find everything here.

Lyndhurst Terrace

Lyndhurst Terrace is another featured spot of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail. The old Xing Yan Lou Western Restaurant was one of the secretive bases where Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his comrades meet as well as a refuge for overseas revolutionaries during the First Guangzhou Uprising in 1895. You may be hit by some shiok buttery aroma and it probably comes from Tai Cheong Bakery, renowned for “the best egg tarts in the world” hailed by the last British governor Chris Patten.

This content was produced in partnership with Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Lost Traditions of Wicca: The Fivefold Kiss

The Fivefold Kiss was first introduced to the public in Stewart and Janet Farrar’s “A Witches’ Bible”. The act is performed before rituals such as Drawing Down the Moon among many Gardnarian and Alexandrian circles. Traditionally, a male member of the coven will kneel before a female member and perform the ritual by either physically kissing the areas that are blessed, anointing them with oil using his finger, or touching them with the wand. As he performs the ritual, he speaks these words:

“Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways

Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar

Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be

Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty

Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.”

The female member then returns the blessing, replacing “womb” with “phallus” and “beauty” with “strength”.

During initiations, the Fivefold Kiss immediately follows the ritual Scourging. Unfortunately, like the Scourge, many have discarded this practice because they consider it to be perverse. If done with proper intent, however, the Kiss is an act of exaltation. While the Scourge represents humility and the necessity of pain in order to grow, the Fivefold Kiss is an active recognition of the divine nature present in us all. When a fellow covener kneels before you speaks the words “blessed be”, he or she is saying “I see the God or Goddess in you and I honor it.” Few other Wiccan rituals convey this kind of respect so openly. The God and Goddess are nature. As we are of nature, the God and Goddess are within us. It is of this which Fivefold Kiss serves to remind us.

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This is a story about memories of home.:-)

The strange cult of “El Moz“

Steven Patrick Morrissey, born May 22nd of 1959 in Lancashire, to a working-class Irish migrant family, Morrissey grew up in Manchester where he established the well known band The Smiths in 1982. Six years later he would launch his solo act as Morrissey which is still going on. He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest lyricists in the history of rock with themes that diverge from the typical Rock themes of bravado and glorification. Morrissey is often referred to as one of the most influential artists of modern times, he has been a gay icon and animal’s right activist…but did you know he is also the cult icon of a strange Mexican subculture?

Of all the bizarre connections in the world of music, one of the strangest by far is that of Morrissey and Mexican people. In a culture that is notable for its firm machismo that despises anything that has to do with feelings and expression…why is Morrissey so popular? The answer is in the question, the toxic masculinity of the Mexican culture can only go so far before men themselves begin to feel asphyxiated by it. When you are taught from an early age that men don’t have feelings and men don’t cry and they have to be tough as nails, something snaps.  In comes Morrissey singing of that sense of estrangement and longing that can be found in traditional Mariachi and Ranchera songs of Mexico…the only difference is that men are allowed to feel.

Rancheras often speak of heartbreak and hurt in the only way they are allowed to without showing any emotions that are not manly, this often reduces the themes to anger. Anger that she left, anger that she is sleeping with another. Then the protagonist gets drunk and maybe fires a gun or rides a horse into the sunset. Well everything is different in Morrissey’s lyrics, they have the sentiment of a true Ranchera and the hurt and heartbreak, but it can be manifested in sadness and longing that is not patriotic or hyper-masculine. Basically Morrissey tells us that Boys cry too, and it’s OK.

In the spring of 2000, after seven years of silence, Morrissey decided to tour Latin America for the first time ever. The ¡Oye Esteban! Tour was obviously aimed at his extensive Latino-based fans which had grown out of proportion during those seven years. John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s “Soundcheck,” said about that run of dates. “At a time where he couldn’t get a record contract, here was this audience that was loyal and perhaps kind of unexpected, and he went and played to them. For many of us, that was the first inkling we had that there was something unusual and peculiar going on there.”

This new found awareness took music critics by surprise, they started to question why was Morrissey such a huge deal south of the border? Some made the association between Mexican folk music and Morrissey’s music. Others noticed how Morrissey’s style makes an appeal to the greaser culture of Hot Rods–and-pompadours that’s also quite popular among certain Latinos. Some ethnographers decided to look closer to home and found another answer in the Chicano community. A new generation of American born Mexicans felt displaced in their new land. With Latin roots and traditions but lost at sea in a country where you are not wanted felt the same angst that Morrissey was singing about; a deep-seated melancholy about where to belong. It’s easy to see how many of Morrissey’s lyrics deal with that identity crisis, with a sense of alienation, of being an “other” appeal to the entire Chicano community.

Morrissey took notice of this and for the past 15 years he has been making this link very explicit. His most famous recognition of this was during his ¡Oye Esteban! Tour where he declared in the middle of the concert “I wish I was born Mexican, but it’s too late for that now.” Other examples include him strutting around wearing the uniform of the Mexican soccer team Chivas de Guadalajara, rocking shirts with the most iconic Mexican saint La Virgen de Guadalupe. And then there’s Mexico, one of Morrissey’s newer songs which could double as an anthem of Chicano love for the homeland.

On the other side, in Mexico there are countless Morrissey and The Smiths tribute bands, most of them created by kids that call themselves neo-Mozzers. There are conventions, clubs and events with the only purpose of venerating one Steven Patrick Morrissey.

Is Morrissey’s love affaire with Mexican people legitimate? or only a shrewd business strategy? Only time will tell but the love that people south of the border feel for him is true and is pure as a light that never goes out.

-Schlimazelbabe