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Posts Tagged ‘Frantzerland’

So I have to tell you all this hilarious story. Christmas is a big deal in Europe. All the food and wine and festivities abound. But there is something sinister about it over here. Something that makes children weep in terror.

Santa Clause.

Yes, Santa Clause or Papa Noel is an evil monster in France and Switzerland. You see little santas climbing maliciously over balcony railings and I was like WTF is this what he does when there is not a chimney? Hahahaha. No.

Santa is evil. He comes into your home to reward the good boys and girls with toys and candy. But if you were bad you face a horrible fate. You are kidnapped and taken to the north pole, trapped in time as your tiny kid self, to make toys for all the good girls and boys. No elves. No music. You are santa’s slave.

So when you are watching the Rudolph special about the misfit toys, the French people are all laughing. Haha! You want to be a dentist? Maybe you should have thought of that before you were bad. Nope you were bad, you are now a slave forever! Make those toys for all the good kids and think about what you did child slave. Now sing and wear a stupid costume and dream of the life you can never have again. Slave!

So I’m laughing pretty hard at the poor wannabe dentist and how kids here are terrified of Santa with good reason. I don’t want to be trapped on it’s a small world for all eternity either kids. Makes you rethink all the songs now, huh? He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. Santa Claus is coming to town.

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Fete De L’Escalade is a festival in Geneva commemorating an attack on the city in 1600. A French militia in Saint Julien marched on Geneva in the middle of the night on the 11th of December. The townsfolk rang alarms and fought off the invaders, 2 people were killed by a woman who dropped a cauldron of boiling hot soup from the top of the bastion wall, burns killing one and the cauldron to the head killing the other. The invaders, cold and tired, after 2 hours went home and the city rejoiced. The festival commemorates this with a weekend long celebration. Friday and Saturday are events for the kids where they dress up and do a sort of trick or treating, going door to door singing songs and you give them spare change instead of candy. They also play games like egg fighting.

On Sunday, people dress up in their 1600s garb and walk through the streets re-enacting scenes from the battle and using ancient weaponry. They also hand out hot wine, vegetable soup, and giant cauldrons made of chocolate to celebrate the woman who killed 2 invaders. It was really cool. History looks back on this event as pivotal for the Reformation’s success in Europe. Geneva, home of John Calvin, was a stronghold for protestants. If they would have fallen, the entire face of Europe could have been changed with Catholicism reclaiming Protestant lands, which could have gone on to effect the freedom of religion in the New World. Really interesting stuff!

Videos from last weekend at the festival in Geneva.

http://youtu.be/ZAAM_z3L5HE – Marching Drummers

http://youtu.be/CrDgfObPkLM – Flute Players

http://youtu.be/V0kxEdWo4uw
– Horn players in the cathedral

http://youtu.be/XNdWIZPZbq0 – Muskets Firing

And pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100354510769542.2535463.17107679&type=1&l=8f78894fce

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Two representations of wealth in a time we would look back at as poverty. Two representations of grandeur in two different settings. One high atop a hill in a prestigious city, a challenge against the Parisians. The other small, where the priest was probably the only one in the town who knew how to read. Where everyone came together to build something special for them. In their hearts and with their hands, more precious than even St. Peter’s or Avignon because of the sacrifice it took.

And I ask you, which of these is greater?

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A channel runs between two countries, forever separating them with icy cold water. People have gone to great lengths to make their way across, whether it be for war or leisure. Now, a journey taking hours or days, takes but a few minutes as two countries worked together to make a tunnel through the earth, under the water, and bringing us just a little bit closer to each other.

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Today I am grateful for:

*my husband who has been trying to keep my fever down and helped me cook… some. 😉

*my bunny for always being cute.

*loved ones who took time to talk to me and make me feel less isolated.

*friends that feel like family.

*writing

*people that encourage my writing.

*brilliant writing and rp buddies that make me feel like I’m awesome and valued. And that appreciate my craziness.

*starting new traditions.

*my ingenuity and determination

*my homemade from scratch french fried onions which are OMG some of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten!

*a lovely holiday celebrating togetherness with the person I love most in our cozy little world.

*Switzerland and how it has literally stolen my heart because there are Christmas lights EVERYWHERE! I mean seriously, I’ve never seen more lights in one place in my life!

*Even if you don’t celebrate holidays, I send each of you good will and love during this cold and stressful, isolating season because you are all important to me and I love each and every one of you. We only get one chance at life, make it count. And though some of these holidays remind us of our loneliness or sad times, remember you are loved and you have the choice to focus on the bad or the good. I hope you choose the good.

All my love,

me

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Anne Boleyn. The name stirs up some kind of meaning in all of us. From thoughts of a deceitful witch scamming on her husband to ideas of her somewhat twisted nature and beguiling abilities.

But not with me.

I’ve always had a soft spot for people or issues I feel are misunderstood. It was easy, hundreds of years ago, to instill panic in people by making claims of harborings with the devil or witchcraft. Many innocents were lost this way. But I think there’s something more to Anne Boleyn than a pretty little girl who stamped her feet when she didn’t get her way and ensnared a king.

I think Anne, and this is through my limited study, was an ambitious sort, but she was much more than what others expected. Educated and intriguing to those around her, I could definitely see someone like a great King being intrigued and entranced by her ways. So many girls probably acting nervous and coy or overtly throwing themselves at you, but here was a sophisticated and stylish woman who always kept him at arm’s length. For a selfish boy who had grown up never knowing what it felt like to be told no, it must have been maddening to want the one thing that he couldn’t seem to get.

And for Anne, getting the power and favor of a King must have been shocking for her. But to become a wife instead of a mistress, poor Anne lost everything. No longer was she a mystery or a challenge to the King, instead she was a conquest that he had achieved and grew tired of. I could see her getting desperate to regain his affections, especially after investing so much on her own skills and then the deaths of her children.

I would not presume to say that I knew Anne loved him, or anything else for that matter, but when walking around and hearing the Yeoman Wanderers and reading the signs about her, they paint her in a light of disgust. They describe her last speech and lighthearted attitude of going to her death as though she was consorting with darkness. History is painted by the victors, and those out of favor are forever to be remembered in such a way.

If Anne was truly as evil and manipulative as they say, why would her spirit be so uneasy with tales of ghostly apparitions held onto the places where she last remained? I wondered about her walking those same stone steps and looking out of the windows as we wandered around the towers and paths at the Tower, but never had I thought of her with such compassion.

Because at the end of the day, Anne was a woman. Left alone. And sentenced to a horrible fate. How would we have acted in her place?

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A palace covered in gold, as shiny as the sun the king aligned himself with. Versailles, the seat of the monarchy of France. The stomping grounds of the Three Musketeers, Louis Catorce, Charles V, Joan of Arc, and countless other Dumas stories including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, and 20 Years Later.

The opulence was a smack in the pope’s face as the sheer wealth and abundance exemplified throughout the massive grounds competed with Avignon itself. Countless paintings of the royal family as gods among the clouds or huge lifesize representations to forever encapsulate the family within their glorious home. Countless hallways and rooms housed hundreds of servants and people essential to the function of the government. Now these rooms have been turned into alcoves housing pieces of a people lost to time.

The hall of mirrors was a ballroom, dining room, and a place for state meetings is still in use today. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in this room. The echoes of the hundreds of people milling about the art, statues, and light almost drown out the memory of parties, music, and dancing. Napoleon and Marie Antoinette walked these excessive halls and extravagant gardens. Countless other historical figures have wandered these halls in anticipation for the next political move.

The grounds are flawless, kept up by groundsmen looking to mirror the sanctity and grace of their forebearers. Plants grown and doctored like children beneath their careful hands. Each stone meticulously inspected and cleaned. Every day appearing as though new, wondered upon by some dignitary or another for the first time. In this moment, everyone is royalty. I wander about the time, the money, the people that went into this place. The battles that rang out as the musketeers were called to arms. The guillotines rolled into the square bringing hundreds to their death. And while all this is happening, a king lives in opulence and grandeur, a gilded cage to keep him and his countless children safe from the hordes of rabble just beyond the door. And it makes me wonder, who was the real prisoner in those days.

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