Video: Watch San Francisco Be Engulfed By An Ocean Of Fog

Photographer Simon Christen spent two years compiling footage of San Francisco‘s famous fog for this 4.5-minute, piece of Zen, time-lapse video. His “love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area” was written during pre-dawn, 45-minute hikes into the Marin headlands to capture the fog gliding over the hills and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The result is quite beautiful. The fog tumbles over the hills like a waterfall, rolling like ocean waves as it streams toward the city. The video is scored with dreamlike music by composer Jimmy LaValle, making it a therapeutic tribute to the soft forces of planet earth. Indeed, the San Francisco Fog itself was impressed with the video, tweeting that it was the “most stunning video of me you’ll ever see.”

North Korea To Turn Grimy Port City Into Beach Resort

Wonsan Beach, North Korea
(stephan), Flickr

Hot on the heels of the Hermit Kingdom building a ski resort out of spite comes news that North Korea is developing a beach resort in a heavily industrialized and militarized bay on the Sea of Japan.

According to a declassified report obtained by South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, the naval city of Wonsan is being developed into a tourist resort. It current hosts a naval base and numerous heavy industry factories, but has apparently long been a favorite holiday destination of the ruling Kim family.

Viewed in the context of other wacky and nonsensical North Korean projects, building a beach resort in a polluted, industrialized and militarized bay seems about par for the course. But contrary to the perceived isolation of the country, North Korea does welcome several thousand tourists every year, and the Kim regime is certainly aware of the financial incentives of increased tourism. Only a few weeks ago did the country open up a city on the border with China to Western visitors.

But North Korea isn’t going to replace Cancun anytime soon. The development project seems to be stuck while the country seeks $1 million of international investment, which will almost certainly run afoul of current UN sanctions.

Photo Of The Day: Whirling Dervishes In Sudan

Whirling dervishes in Khartoum, Sudan
Mark Fischer, Flickr

Dervishes of the whirling variety are most famously associated with Turkey, where they’ve become something of a tourist attraction throughout the country. But the dervish tradition extends far beyond modern-day gawkers and Turkey’s borders. Dervishes are Sufi Muslims who lead an ascetic lifestyle. Whirling dervishes spin rhythmically in order to reach a state of religious or spiritual ecstasy, and are found in many places outside of Turkey. In fact, the whirling dervish ceremony just outside of Khartoum, Sudan, where Flickr user Mark Fischer snapped this photo, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital. If you’d like to see your great shots on Photo of the Day, share them with us in the Gadling Flickr pool.

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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Jamaica’s Air Traffic Controllers Call In Sick

An Air Jamaica 737 landing
Aero Icarus, Flickr

Jamaica‘s airports only experienced a small hiccup this weekend as the country’s air traffic controllers staged a sick-out in protest over low wages and mismanagement of the civil aviation authority. The posts were quickly filled by supervisors and managers and there were no reports of flight safety being compromised.

A Jamaican court has since granted an injunction to the Ministry of Labour, ordering the ATCs back to work, though there has been no response from the union representing the protesting workers.

Flights appeared to be operating more or less on schedule, though there were reports from the capital, Kingston, of delays on inbound and outbound flights. There were no delays at Sangster International in Montego Bay, Jamaica’s busiest airport.

The union had said that the sick-out will affect traffic in Jamaica’s airspace over the coming days. However, with the abandoned posts having been taken over fairly quickly by management, the impact of the protest appears to be less than hoped for.