Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Ugliest Rabbit I've Ever Seen!

Today is Easter, a very important Christian holiday. Children celebrate Easter by eating chocolates shaped like eggs, rabbits, and chickens – all symbols of new life. (A more detailed explanation of Easter and its origins & customs follows this Entry.)

Yesterday, we received a small parcel filled with Easter goodies from my mother. Last night while our son was sleeping, my wife & I checked the contents…

When I first saw that little gold animal, I exclaimed; “That’s the ugliest rabbit I’ve ever seen!” My wife agreed.

However, once I studied the wrapping more carefully, I discovered that it’s not a rabbit. It’s actually…

a bilby, a kind of marsupial bandicoot found only in Australia.

Mmmm?! The Easter Bilby – a new Australian tradition?!

Have a happy Easter!

Easter

Without a doubt, the most popular Christian holiday in the world is Christmas. It’s even widely celebrated in non-Christian countries – Japan, for instance. I guess everybody loves giving & getting presents, regardless of their religion! However, probably the most important Christian holiday is Easter.

Easter is closely linked to the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover is held the first Saturday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox [March 20th – when day and night are both exactly 12 hours]. This year, Passover fell on March 22nd – yesterday! Christians believe that Jesus Christ was executed [killed by the government] on Good Friday, the day before Passover. Two days later, he came back to life, proving to everyone that he was the Son of God.

Traditionally, children celebrated Easter by decorating hard-boiled eggs and then giving them to friends & family. Recently, children are given gifts of decorated chocolate eggs, rabbits, and chicks. They are told that the chocolates were delivered to their homes by the Easter Bunny early in the morning while they were still sleeping.

The Easter Bunny with some Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits, & chicks

The eggs, rabbits & chicks are all symbols of new life used in ancient European spring festivals celebrated thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Even the name “Easter” comes from these ancient festivals. Eastre was the ancient German goddess of spring.

Even if you’re not Christian, you can still celebrate Easter. It’s easy – just eat some chocolate!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, a popular holiday all over the world. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. From about 1845 to 1849, there was a great famine [a time when there was no food] in Ireland. About 3,000,000 people died. Also, many people left Ireland looking for a better life in other countries like England, America, & Australia. Today, about 40 million people in America (including Bill Clinton) are descendents of Irish immigrants [people whose grand parents, great-grand parents, and so on originally came from Ireland]. That’s one of the reasons Saint Patrick’s Day is so popular all over the world.

The main way to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day is to drink beer – that’s one of the other reasons that Saint Patrick’s Day is so popular!

Drinking green beer & Guinness at Murphy's Irish Pub, in Shinsaibashi, last Saint Patrick’s Day. Green is the colour of Ireland. If you visit an Irish pub on Saint Patrick’s Day, you should try a green beer and a Guinness. Green beer is just draft beer with food colouring in it. If you have to choose between the green beer & the Guinness, you should choose the Guinness!
There are two really good Irish bars in Osaka. In Umeda, you should go to The Blarney Stone (click on the name for information and a map). In Shinsaibashi, you should check out Murphy's Irish Pub (once again, click on the name for information and a map)
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Freezing my Buns Off (Part II)

Early in February, I wrote about how cold it has been this year (Freezing my Buns Off). Well, it’s still bloody cold!

The view from my balcony just over a week ago
video
A video of me riding to work in the snow
At the end of January, we visited Hatena, on of our favourite restaurants. While there, we discovered a great way to fight the cold. It’s called “muu-kata,” a kind of Thai-style “steamboat” [nabe].

“Muu-kata”(the “steamboat” itself is not spicy – only the dipping sauces)

Be-chan preparing “muu-kata” at our table

“Muu-kata” on the menu board

Me with some of the friendly staff
(that’s Karat, the owner, on the right)

Map & contact information for Hatena
(that number again; 06-4704-8107)

Spring is just around the corner! However, while it’s still cold, it’s a great time to get into Hatena and enjoy the warmth of “muu-kata”!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

March Schedule


Wow! It’s March already! Where does the time go?

Yesterday, I updated our online Calendar and Announcements Page.
You can check out what’s happening at Be & Me in March by clicking on those links.