The best way to see Dublin is to take your time walking around the city. Stop for a Guinness in a local pub, pay homage to a temple of literature at Trinity College’s library and try to see how many different colored doors you spot on the city’s Georgian houses.
Check out the Instagram pics from Gadling’s recent trip to Ireland. If these get you thinking about a trip of your own, our friends at AOL Travel have a great Dublin travel guide.
For more travel inspiration, follow Gadling’s Instagram account @GadlingTravel under the hashtag #OnTheRoad.
A group of about 40 drunks in County Donegal, Ireland, went on a rampage at a prehistoric fort, harassing tourists, defecating in a holy well, and removing stones, Irish Central reports.
The incident occurred at Grianan Fort, a stone ring fort dating to 1700 B.C.
Only two men from the group were arrested. They were found guilty and sentenced to a month in jail, suspended for one year. They also had to pay damages. The two were caught because they lingered at the fort after the rest of the drunks had left. A police officer arrived to find them pulling stones from the prehistoric walls and lobbing them into the parking lot.Grianan Fort is set atop a high hill. It is the best-preserved fort of its kind and is widely believed to have been the seat of the ancient Kingdom of Aileach. The walls are 15 feet thick and 16 feet high, so while the drunks were able to cause cosmetic damage, they didn’t destabilize the ancient structure.
The holy well at the fort is dedicated to Saint Patrick and is one of many throughout Europe that are receiving renewed attention. The holy well at Binsey, Oxfordshire, for example, was all but abandoned a decade ago but is now attracting pilgrims who pray to the local Saint Frideswide for cures to their illnesses.
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.
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.
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.
There are nearly 7,000 languages spoken throughout the world today, the majority of which are predicted to become extinct by the end of this century. Half the world’s population speaks the top 20 world languages – with Mandarin, Spanish and English leading the charge, in that order – and most linguists point to globalization as the main cause for the rapid pace languages are falling off the map.
The problem is, when a language dies so does much of the knowledge and traditions that were passed won using it. So when Mental Floss used data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to post a list of several at-risk languages, we here at Gadling were saddened by the disappearing native tongues and decided to use data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to highlight some in our own list.
Irish Gaelic: Despite the fact that the government requires Irish students to learn this language and it currently has an estimated 40,000 native speakers, it is still classified as vulnerable.
Rapa Nui: The mother tongue of Chile’s famous Easter Island has fewer than 4,000 native speakers, and is quickly being taken over by Spanish.
Seneca: Only approximately 100 people in three Native American reservation communities in the United States speak this language, with the youngest speaker in his 50s.Yaw: Most young people living in the Gangaw District of Burma understand but do not speak this critically endangered language that has less than 10,000 native speakers.
Francoprovençal: There are only about 130,000 native speakers of this language, mostly in secluded towns in east-central France, western Switzerland and the Italian Aosta Valley.
Yagan: This indigenous language of Chile purportedly has only one remaining native speaker. Others are familiar with the language, but it will likely disappear soon.
Patuá: Derived from Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Portuguese, less than 50 people in Macau, China and their diaspora speak this language. It is now the object of folkloric interest amongst those who still speak it.