Other Holidays to Look Forward to

Since I'm single this Valentine's Day, I figured rather than mope about it, I should be more proactive and get my social calendar in order. That's why I'm penciling in a bunch of holidays to celebrate in advance, just to make sure that when the time comes I'm prepared. Sure, I might have "forgotten" to get myself a lady friend this Valentine's Day, but I guarantee you when The Festival of Snakes comes around, there's no way I'm going to be caught without my official Apollo t-shirt or my X-tra strength burlap snake sack!

If you dig:
Legless creatures with forked tongues
Your holiday is: The Festival of Snakes, Italy
Celebrated every March 19th in the mountainous areas surrounding Abruzzo, the festival goes back to when the land was supposedly covered in so many slithering creatures that they were affecting human life spans. The solution, as prescribed to shepherds by Apollo, was to capture the dangerous beasts, tame them by draping them around the shoulders of his statue, and then release them back into the wild. The trick was so effective that the villagers have kept doing it ever since. Over the years however, Christianity's taken its toll, and Apollo's morphed into St. Domenica. Pyrotechnics have also been incorporated as fireworks are now a major part of the event.

If you dig: piercings (and pain)
Your holiday is: Thaipusam
mal_penang_thaipusam_zada.jpg Celebrated in late January (mostly by Tamil Hindus in India, Singapore and Malaysia) Thaipusam honors the birth of Lord Shiva's youngest son, who was given a spear to kill an evil demon. Spear's the key word. While most religious folk celebrate with prayers, fasts, and a small pilgrimage, others shave their heads and show off their devotion by piercing their skin with giant skewers. The most extreme of the bunch drag a 6-foot high altar on their pilgrimage route that's tied to their body through 108 piercings/skewers on the chest and back.

If you dig:
Your holiday is: Festivus
festivus.jpg Strangely enough, the Costanza klan's holiday, featuring a stark aluminum pole instead of a Christmas tree, a hearty feast, "The Airing of Grievances" in which complaints are voiced about how friends have wronged you, and "The Feats of Strength" where someone has to wrestle and pin down the head of the household for the event to end, has existed since before the show. Back in the 60s, one of the staff writer's fathers researched a bunch of obscure European holidays, and bundled them together as an excuse to gripe about his magazine job (he worked for Reader's Digest). Today, Festivus is actually celebrated across the country in December in colleges, elderly homes and most anywhere that Seinfeld is watched religiously.

If you dig: Making fun of cults
Your holiday is: X-day
time_mag.jpg X-day was the satirical "end of the earth" when alien sex goddesses were supposed to destroy the world, and only save members of the Church of the Sub-genius. When nothing happened on July 5, 1998, the Church officially declared that modern calendars are wrong, and that July 5, 1998 simply hasn't arrived yet. Today X-day is celebrated in underground and some pagan communities for 3-5 days in Burning Man style. Festivities tend to be greatest in Sherman, New York where underground bands perform, bonfires occur, and baptisms take place where people's sins are washed away, so that they can promptly be given new ones.

If you dig: Bathing in salsa
Your holiday is: La Tomatina
tomatina.jpg Essentially, for two hours, Valencia, Spain turns into a giant rotten tomato fight. While no one quite knows how it officially started (theories about anti-socialism, and class-warfare abound), here's what's definite: 30,000 revelers show up each year to eat paella, watch parades, and pelt food at each other's faces. The town has vehicles dump truckloads of overripe ammunition on the streets, and once it begins it's every man for himself. The town does have a few rules: they encourage people to wear goggles, white clothes and they ask that you squish the fruit before it's tossed at someone. They also frown heavily on ripping other people's wet clothes off, and bringing any item to the event that could cause serious injury-- like a bottle, or say, a leadpipe.

Afternoon Map
8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]

China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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