Stuck At The Airport: Edward Snowden Vs. ‘Hippies’

Grandma & Grandpa Woodstock

Last week Edward Snowden got some interesting company in the world of highly publicized airport strandings. Grandma and Grandpa Woodstock’s plight caught people’s attention, albeit in a much different way than Snowden. Here’s the breakdown:

Given name(s) Edward Joseph Snowden Unknown
Nicknames TheTrueHOOHA, Phish Grandma and Grandpa Woodstock
Reason for travels Running from the Feds A Rainbow Family gathering
Stuck at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Salt Lake City Airport
Duration 28 days and counting (arrived in Moscow June 23) Several hours
Reason stuck in the airport Man without a country Woman without ID. “She forgot where she put it, probably 10 years ago,” said Grandpa Woodstock.
Message “This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed,” Snowden said. “All we have to do to have peace and love is learn how to love each other like brothers and sisters,” Grandpa Woodstock said.
Final destination To be determined Woodstock, New York

In other airport stranding news, a group of seven travelers has been stranded in Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s transit area for 14 days.

Should you ever find yourself living at an airport, don’t despair. Here are five reasons it might be kinda nice.

Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Could Impact Tourists

rainbow flag proudly waving
Shutterstock / Natasha Kramskaya

Tourists heading to Russia are being warned that they could be fined, jailed or even deported under tough new anti-gay laws in the country. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed the new legislation into effect earlier this month with the aim of punishing “homosexual propaganda” but critics say the bill is so vague it could stir up trouble for many gay locals and travelers.

The law makes it illegal for anyone in Russia to publicly admit that they are gay or make any gestures that might hint at their sexuality, such as wearing rainbow clothing, holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex.Visitors to the country aren’t excluded from the tough anti-gay measures either. The law gives Russian authorities the right to arrest gay or pro-gay tourists and hold them in jail for up to two weeks. Gay travelers can also be deported from the country for expressing their homosexuality.

The new legislation comes just seven months out from the Winter Olympics, which the country is set to host in early 2014. The event is expected to attract an influx of international visitors, including many gay athletes and spectators.

However, an LGBT organization based in New York has warned gay travelers to be cautious about venturing into the country, saying, “We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”

Photo Of The Day: Anichkov Bridge, St. Petersburg

Anichkov Bridge, St. Petersburg
jrodmanjr, Flickr

The Anichkov Bridge in Saint Petersburg, Russia is an architectural highlight of the city, and draws visitors to drink in the surrounding views and marvel at its ornate ironwork. However, it’s the pair horse tamer statues placed on either end that really leaves an impression. The sculptures are so detailed and lifelike that they appear to be bronze casts. Flickr user jrodmanjr manages to capture the dynamic nature of the sculptures in this powerful black and white image.

If you have a great travel photo you’d like to share, submit it the Gadling Flickr pool. We choose our favorites to feature as the Photo of the Day.

Better Know A Holiday: St. John’s Day (And Eve)

Witch burning on St. John's Day
f_jensen_at_sdr.vinge, Flickr

AKA: Fete Nationale du Quebec (Canada), Kupala Day (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland), Festa Junina (Brazil), Foguera de San Xuan (Brazil), Jaanilaupaev (Estonia), Saint Jonas’ Festival (Lithuania), Jani (Latvia), Dia de Sao Joao (Portugal), Sant Joan (Spain), Johnsmas Foy (Scotland)

When? June 23 (Eve) and 24 (Day)

Public holiday in: Quebec, Canada; Turin, Italy; Catalonia, Spain; Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; Porto, Portugal

Who died? St. John the Baptist. June 24 is his feast day.

What’s a feast day? Certain Christian traditions, notably Roman Catholic, keep track of which liturgies are given when by way of something called the General Roman Calendar, or Universal Calendar of Saints. Around 60 percent of the days of the Gregorian calendar year are associated with one or more saints, martyrs or holy figures. Even some relics have feast days. The feast day for St. Peter’s chair is on February 22. St. John the Baptist’s feast day falls on June 24.

Interestingly, St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, lost his feast day back in 1969. A lot of people think St. Christopher was “desanctified,” or lost his sainthood, but in fact he was just stripped of his feast day because there’s no proof he actually existed.

Also interestingly, the patron saint of travelers is also the patron saint of bachelors and bookbinders, among other things.

You were saying about St. John the Baptist… Right.

So why June 24 of all days? That’s when John the Baptist is said to have been born. But more than that, Christianity has a long tradition of co-opting pagan rituals into Christian holidays. It’s a good way to gain converts. Pagan celebrations generally aligned with the turning of the seasons – equinoxes and solstices. And so Christians have major holidays around these dates: Easter near the vernal equinox, Christmas near the winter solstice and Michaelmas, which celebrates Lucifer being cast out from heaven, near the autumnal equinox.That June 24 is close to the summer solstice is certainly not a coincidence. Even if the summer solstice used to be celebrated on a different date (which it was when we used the Julian calendar), the church would have had a significant feast day to coincide with such a major celebration in the northern hemisphere.

Is that why it’s particularly popular in northern Europe? Bingo, mysterious person. St. John’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but the biggest celebrations occur in traditionally Christian nations well above the equator. In strongly Christian countries like Ecuador, where there is little change in sunrise and sunset throughout the year, it’s not such a big deal. But in Tallinn, Estonia, the sun sets at about 10:45 p.m. on the summer solstice and 3:30 p.m. on the winter solstice. St. John’s Day is just an extension of the reverence these places have for the summer solstice.

But isn’t it celebrated in Brazil? Yes, and other places where colonial powers instilled their traditions. Joao Fernandes, an early Portuguese explorer, was particularly devoted to the holiday and took John the Baptist as the patron saint of his exploits at Pernambuco, which is where St. John’s day is celebrated most in Brazil today. Fernandes had canons fire salutes around the camp all day long in celebration. This was in no small part because he shared the same name with the saint.

John the Baptist is also the patron saint of French Canada. And Turin, Italy and Porto, Portugal and numerous other places as well. That’s why Quebec celebrates June 24 as its national day.

Fete Nationale du Quebec
abdallahh, Flickr

Is it celebrated the same everywhere? Not quite, though most celebrations share one thing in common: fire. If there’s one thing everyone does on St. John’s Eve, it’s get rid of their old furniture and spare kindling in a giant bonfire. Or if you’re in Shetland, Scotland, where wood is in short supply, your excess heather and peat.

The city of Poznan in Poland had a unique take on the fire tradition in 2012, when they released 8,000 Chinese lanterns into the sky on St. John’s Night, setting a world record in the process.

Bonfires are more typical and are found everywhere, from prominent mountain peaks to valleys and plains. If you’re a traditional fisherman from Brittany, France…

I’m not. Well, if you were, you’d even light a fire on top of your ship’s mainmast to celebrate with your fishing fleet. Curiously, Breton fisherman are said to have a fear of tailors, another group that John the Baptist patronizes.

Elsewhere, the celebrations have unique local flavor. In Scandinavia, figures of witches are added to the flames because, as on Halloween, demons and evil spirits are said to be able to roam freely this day. Up until the 1700s, the French would incinerate cats by the sackful and chase a flaming cat through the streets, evil incarnate as they were (the cats, not the French… ostensibly).

Latvians eat a special cheese flavored with caraway seeds. Ukrainians eat eggs, dumplings and liquor for dinner. Ukrainians will also symbolically wash themselves with the morning dew after watching the sun rise, as do the Lithuanians.

Girls celebrating Jani in Latvia
Dace Kiršpile, Flickr

The Irish and others will set a wagon wheel on fire and roll it down a hill to symbolize the sun’s decline. With any luck, there’s nothing flammable at the bottom. Many cultures will dress in traditional costumes. Russians douse each other with water in one of the few actual nods to John the Baptist. The Swedes, celebrating their Midsommar festival a few days before St. John’s Day, raise a giant pole that is supposed to imbue the earth with fertile soil.

Sounds phallic. Indeed. In fact, most rites and rituals surrounding the summer solstice have to do with fertility. Many of the cultures celebrating St. John’s incorporate dancing and singing erotic songs into the celebrations, much to the consternation of the Church, I expect. It’s said to be a good time to predict who will be your future spouse, as well.

No need. Well, another common activity is jumping through the flames. It’s said to cleanse and purify the soul. Or you could wear a garland of flowers.

Not really for me, either. Can I just see some photos? Sure. Check out a slideshow of St. John’s Day (and Night) celebrations from around the world below.

Check out more holidays around the world here.

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Ever Wonder What It’s Like To Ride The Subway With Doors Open? (VIDEO)

If you think subway shutdowns due to malfunctions are bothersome, this video might make you reconsider. When the doors on a train in St. Petersburg, Russia, were stuck open, the conductor decided to just keep chugging along to the next station.

At first passengers look scared, but soon they get curious and start sticking their heads out the doors to have a look. The cameraman does it, too, placing his camera dangerously close to the side of the tunnel. Luckily, this happened when the train was nearly empty, and it appears nobody was hurt (in fact, it looks like the open doors created a nice breeze along the way). Should it have gone down during rush hour, however, this might have been a completely different story.

[via Grist]