Wednesday 5 January 2011

    Twelfth Night, or What You Will


    Festivities of drink, dance, laughter and make merry…

    If music be the food of love, play on;

    Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
    The appetite may sicken, and so die.
    That strain again! it had a dying fall:
    O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
    That breathes upon a bank of violets,
    Stealing and giving odour!

    Twelfth Night love and merriment

    Twelfth Night, or What You Will is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601-02 as a Twelfth Night’s entertainmentfor the close of the Christmas season. It is set in Illyria, an ancient region to the south of Europe. The play is comedy of errors which take place due to mistaken identity.

    the story

    Orsino, the Duke of lllyria,is in love with his neighbour, the Countess Olivia. She has sworn to avoid men’s company for seven years while she mourns the death of her brother, so rejects him. Nearby a group of sailors arrive on shore with a young woman, Viola, who has survived a shipwreck in a storm at sea. Viola mourns the loss of her twin brother but decides to dress as a boy to get work as a page to Duke Orsino.

    Despite his rejection Orsino sends his new page Cesario (Viola in disguise) to woo Olivia on his behalf. Viola goes unwillingly as she has already fallen in love at first sight with the duke. Olivia is attracted by the ‘boy’ and she sends her pompous steward, Malvolio, after him with a ring.

    Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, her servant Maria, and Sir Toby’s friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who is also hoping to woo Olivia, and is being led on by Sir Toby, who is trying to fleece him of his money, all plot to expose the self-love of Malvolio. By means of a false letter they trick him into thinking his mistress Olivia loves him. Malvolio appears in yellow stockings and cross-garters, smiling as they have told him to in the letter. Unaware of the trick the Countess is horrified and has Malvolio shut up in the dark as a madman.

    Meanwhile Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, who has also survived the shipwreck, comes to Illyria. His sea-captain friend, Antonio, is a wanted man for piracy against Orsino. The resemblance between Cesario and Sebastian leads the jealous Sir Andrew to challenge Cesario to a duel. Antonio intervenes to defend Cesario whom he thinks is his friend Sebastian, and is arrested. Olivia has in the meantime met and become betrothed to Sebastian.

    Cesario is accused of deserting both Antonio and Olivia when the real Sebastian arrives to apologise for fighting Sir Toby. Seeing both twins together, all is revealed to Olivia. Orsino’s fool, Feste, brings a letter from Malvolio and on his release the conspirators confess to having written the false letter. Malvolio departs promising revenge. Maria and Sir Toby have married in celebration of the success of their device against the steward.

    The play ends as Orsino welcomes Olivia and Sebastian and, realising his own attraction to Cesario, he promises that once she is dressed as a woman again they, too, will be married.

    {Images from the film: Helena Bonham Carter as Olivia; Imogen Stubbs as Viola;  Toby Stephens as Orsino}

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    Wednesday 5 January 2011

    Twelfth Night, the holiday that time forgot


    “Now Christmas is past, Twelfth Night is the last
    To the Old Year adieu, Great joy to the new.”
    School of the Seasons

    Today is Twelfth Night, the last day of the 12 days of Christmas, and the day when the wise men finally got to see the little baby Jesus. Twelfth Night has its roots in pagan tradition, the Roman winter solstice festival of Saturnalia.

    In medieval times, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa.

    The ancient Roman tradition of choosing the master of the Saturnalian revels by baking a good luck bean inside a cake was transferred to Twelfth Night. In Italy, the beans were hidden in focaccia rather than a cake: three white beans for the Magi and one black one. Whoever found the black bean was made king and could choose his queen and rule the banquet. In colonial Virginia, a great Ball was held on this night. The King wins the honor of sponsoring the Ball the following year; the Queen the privilege of making next year’s Twelfth Night Cake.

    At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition date back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

    A recent tradition in some English-speaking countries holds that it is unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after Twelfth Night, a belief originally attached to the festival of Candlemas.

    Grand Twelfth Night balls {18th-century}
    Twelfth Night was widely celebrated in the homes of the wealthy, gentlemen in powdered wigs and ladies in the finest silk gathered in mansion ballrooms to listen to chamber music, toast each other with crystal glasses and politely applaud the arrival of the magnificently decorated Twelfth Night Cake.

    By the 17th and 18th centuries the cake itself was often made into elaborate and even fantastic shapes, such as ships and castles, with guns which could be fired. As late as in the 19th century confectioners’ shops were lit up on Twelfth Night to display cakes.”

    Twelfth Night Cake (aka Rosca de Reyes, Gateau des Rois, King Cake)

    It was on Twelfth Night that some of the famous cake, in which was hidden a bean and a pea, was handed to every guest. The man and woman lucky enough to find these in their portions were acclaimed respectively “King of the Bean” and “Queen of the Pea,” and presided over the revels which followed.

    The cake honors the Three Wise Men who visited the baby Jesus on the 12th day after his birth. This Christian holiday is called Epiphany, Twelfth Night, and Three Kings Day.

    The cake is a basic yeast-based brioche filled with dried fruits and nuts. The recipe descends from Ancient Arab recipes. The practice of serving this particular cake, often with a prize or bean inside, around Christmas time actually predates Christian times. Ancient Romans served a similar item. The traditional King Cake, as we know it today, was made by Christians throughout most of Europe by the Middle Ages. King cakes were introduced to America by European settlers. In places settled by Spanish missionaries (Mexico, South America, Florida, California), Rosca de Reyes was served.

    In France the cake was known as gateau des Rois; in Germany it is Dreikongskuchen; it is the Black Bun in Scotland; in Portugal it is bola-rei; and in Spain it is Rosca de Reyes.”

    If you are inspired to bake, try this Twelfth Night Eggnog Pound Cake, from my own sweet thyme

    Twelfth Night around the world

    Italy ~ This final day of the Christmas season, was considered the beginning of Carnival in Italy, where it was associated with jokes and tricks. In Tuscany, a man used to dress up like a witch (Befana?) and surround himself with befanotti, low-life characters wearing false beards and inside-out jackets. Booths were set up in the piazzas, offering toys and games. Vendors dressed up young boys like women, with blackened faces, caps on their heads, a long reed in one hand, a lantern in the other and hung them with baskets of oranges and golden pine cones. All of these resemble Saturnalian customs (December 17) and Twelfth Night does partake of the quality of Saturnalia with its emphasis on light-hearted fun, social satire and role reversals.

    France ~ the special cake served on this night is the galette des rois. It is thin and round and is cut into pieces in the pantry, always one more piece than there are guests, and carried into the room covered with a white napkin. The youngest member of the party gets to distribute the pieces. A small china doll (formerly a bean) is baked into the cake and the person receiving this piece becomes the Queen or King and gets to choose a consort. The extra piece is called le part a Dieu, and is set aside for the first person to come through the door.

    Portugal ~ the bolo-Rei cake is ring-shaped and, besides the dried lima bean which designates the King (who must make the cake the following year), contains amulets and fortune-telling trinkets.

    England ~ the Twelfth Night cake is usually a rich and dense fruitcake which contains both a bean and pea. The man who finds the bean is the King, the woman who finds the Pea is the Queen. But if a woman finds the bean, she can choose the King, while the man who finds the pea can choose the Queen. The royal pair then direct the rest of the company in merriment. They assign the revelers ludicrous tasks or require them to behave in ways that are contrary to their usual roles.

    Traditional Twelfth Night foods served in England include anything spicy or hot, like ginger snaps and spiced ale. If you didn’t try out the Snapdragon game on Solstice or Christmas, try it on Twelfth Night. It’s the perfect game for this wild and rowdy holiday.

    This is also a traditional day for wassailing apple trees. In southern and western England, revelers gathered in orchards where they sang to the trees, drank to their health, poured hot cider over their roots, left cider-soaked toast in their branches for the birds and scared away evil spirits with a great shout and the firing of guns.

    Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, or What You Will was written to be performed as a Twelfth Night entertainment.

    {Source: School of Seasons and  My Life in Cakes}

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    Wednesday 5 January 2011

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…


    twelve drummers drumming…

    eleven pipers piping…

    ten lords a-leaping…

    nine ladies dancing…

    eight maids a-milking…

    seven swans a-swimming…

    six geese a-laying…

    five golden rings…

    four calling birds…

    three french hens…

    two turtle doves…

    and a partridge in a pear tree!

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    Wednesday 5 January 2011

    Blessings Of The Earth


    more drumming ~ experience the nergy of the taiko drumming ensemble, TaikOz.

    To beat with every muscle, bone and sinew in our bodies,

    with an open and joyous spirit.

    ‘Blessings Of The Earth’ features the full range of TaikOz’s dynamic taiko drums, including the 250kg odaiko Grand Drum and a Solo from Kaidan: A Ghost Story, choreographed by the internationally acclaimed Meryl Tankard.

    More than the beating of drums: it incorporates a complete world of drumming, song and dance that on the one hand harks back to ancient Buddhist and Shinto rituals and on the other, is a reflection of contemporary musical life, irrespective of nationality. The performance features beautiful melodies for the bamboo flutes, as well as traditional and contemporary songs.

    TalkOz is Australia’s internationally acclaimed taiko drumming ensemble.

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    Wednesday 5 January 2011

    drummers drumming


    on the twelfth day of Christmas,

    the High Energy Drums of Japan

    Traditional Japanese Music – Kodo Ibuki Taiko Drums

    Yamato – The Drums of Japan: The ancient Japanese art of Taiko drumming is being rejuvenated by a group of men and women who combine music and dance from the ancestral Japanese beliefs about the power of the drum.

    Taiko drumming has been part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years, with its roots originating during religious festivals and ceremonies at temples and shrines. During feudal times in Japan, taiko drums were often used to set cadence on marches, motivate troops, or to announce orders, similar to a drum and bugle corps.

    The eleven piece group blend drums, theater and musical arts into a performance of tightly synchronized percussion mixed with explosive solos.  Using the koto (the 13-string Japanese zither) and three-string shamisen (a Japanese lute) along with cymbals, gongs, flutes, and a series of drums ranging from six inches to six feet across. Yamato was founded in 1993 in Nara, Japan, known as the birthplace of Japanese culture. The term Yamato is the original name of Japan.

    {Images Kodo Ibuki Taiko Drums via The DC Traveler}

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    Tuesday 4 January 2011

    pipers piping


    On the 11th day of Christmas,

    take a walk in the woods…

    Morning Beauty, UK Vogue Magazine December 2007

    Photography Mario Testino

    Model Sasha Pivovarova

    View the full editorial at Morning Beauty.

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    Sunday 2 January 2011

    ladies dancing


    On the 9th day of Christmas,

    nine models posed like Greek goddesses, wearing glamorous frosted pastel gowns.

    Models in dresses by Charles James Dresses, 1948

    Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906-1978)

    Vogue, June 1948 Photograph by Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980)

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    Friday 31 December 2010

    several swans a swooning


    Patrick Wolf, singer-songwriter, with the cygnets of the Ballet West,

    in the Stag Ballroom of the Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar, Scotland.

    These portraits by Tim Walker accompanied the 2007 Vanity Fair article “England Made Them,” by Christopher Hitchens.

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    Friday 31 December 2010

    Swan girl


    On the 7th day of Christmas,

    swans go a swimming…

    {Image: Tim Walker via ghost mascara}

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    Thursday 30 December 2010

    six geese


    On the 6th day of Christmas, Tim Walker’s many geese

    Tim Walker and stylist, Shona Heath use the backdrop of paper geese and dried grass for a modern day interpretation of Mother Goose. Erin O’Connor’s playful pose and the insipid ground in contrast showcases the drama of Alexander McQueen’s plumed grey dress.

    {Image: Tim Walker - Pantomime; Model, Erin O’Connor, Vogue UK, Dec 2004}

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