Costumes

Whitby Goth Weekend is an alternative music festival held in Whitby. The event consists of two nights of live bands  at the town’s largest venue, The Spa Pavilion, and three days of alternative trade stalls at the Spa Pavilion, Whitby Leisure Centre, and Whitby Brunswick Centre.

Dates for 2019 are as follows:

  • 12-14 April
  • 25-27 October

The festival was held yearly until 1997, when it became twice-yearly in April and October. It has grown into one of the world’s most popular goth music events attracting around 1,500+ attendees from across the UK and beyond. The term “Whitby Goth Weekend” is sometimes used as a generic term to describe events during the week in Whitby as a whole, although the name of the event and its associated logo are registered trademarks of Jo Hampshire of Top Mum Promotions.

The main event is held in the town’s largest venue Whitby Spa Pavilion (known as the Spa) and the Bizarre Bazaar ‘Goth Market’ is also held there and at Whitby Leisure Centre and the Brunswick Centre. Access to the Spa in the evening requires a ticket and live bands play on both Friday and Saturday from 08:00 until about midnight.

The “weekend” starts during the day on Friday and fringe events are held on Thursday, Sunday and Monday including club nights, markets, and a charity football match between visiting goth team Real Gothic, and local team Stokoemotiv Whitby.

During the October/November event there is an independent custom car show, ‘Whitby Kustom’ in the grounds of West Cliff School. There are also several “meet ups” aimed at goths with a particular interest, e.g. Lolita Goth.

Newbies who have not attended the event before are referred to as “Whitby Virgins”. To help introduce them to the event, there was a WGW Virgins Meet Up on the Friday morning at the Spa until about 2014.

In the mid-2000s the October weekend on or near Halloween began to attract large numbers of non-goths in Halloween, horror, historical, fantasy and sci-fi costume, which has led to an increase in photographers and visitors. The weekend now attracts other alternative subcultures, including Victorian vampires, rockers, punks and members of the steampunk subgenre.

Some regulars consider it no longer a purely “Goth” weekend, and it was acknowledged by Hampshire in the 2014 Whitby Goth Weekend Guide that in order to survive the event would have to diversify into other areas that have influenced Goth.

Concerns have grown about disrespect being shown to the graves in St. Mary’s Churchyard by photographers using them for photographic purposes which has resulted in a petition to have the area closed during the event, an action that Whitby Goth Weekend fully supports. The Bram Stoker Film Festival, which also took place in the town, rehashed a proposal to build a film set graveyard which photographers would be charged to use.

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Mardi Gras is a carnival celebration that begins on Twelfth Night (the Feast of Epiphany) on January 6th and culminates on the Tuesday before Lent. The best known Mardi Gras is in New Orleans, Louisiana where it is a legal holiday.

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The biggest events happens on this day. The name Fat Tuesday comes from an old custom of parading a fat ox through the streets of Paris on Shrove Tuesday. The term Fat Tuesday also reflects the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

Related popular practices are associated with Shrovetide celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning “to administer the sacrament of confession to; to absolve”

Mardi Gras traditions are rooted in Ancient Greek and Roman customs. Carnival in Rome became popular around the middle of the second century as a way to feast and act wild before the somber days of Lent. They wore costumes and masks. They celebrated Bacchus and Venus and all things glutinous and pleasurable. The Bacchus parade is still held during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras in the United States

It’s believed the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when the French explorers Iberville and Bienville landed in what is now Louisiana. They held a small celebration. Each year, it got bigger with street parties, masked balls, and extravagant dinners. However, when the Spanish took over, the celebrations were banned until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.

On Mardi Gras in 1827, a group of students wearing bright costumes danced through the streets of New Orleans, emulating the revelry they’d observed in Paris. Ten years later, the first recorded New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place.

In 1872, the official Mardi Gras colors were established as purple, green, and yellow when the Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff came to New Orleans during carnival in pursuit of actress Lydia Thompson. These were the colors of the Romanoff house. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and yellow for power.

Carnival organizations are called Krewes. The first krewe was the “Mystick Krewe of Comus”, which began in 1857. The second oldest krewe is the “Krewe of Rex”, which started up in 1872. Balls and galas of elaborate and enormous proportion are held every year, but only members of the Kewes may attend.

Mardi Gras parades fill the streets. Beads, coins, balls, cups, and other trinkets are thrown to the crowds. In 1872, the Krewe of Rex, staged a daytime parade in the archduke’s honor. This parade is still held and is the largest of all the parades.

In 1916, Zulu began to parade featuring characters such as King Zulu, Big Shot, and the Witch Doctor. While Rex rules Mardi Gras with a golden scepter and jeweled crown, King Zulu carries a banana stalk and wears a lard can on his head.

Alabama and Mississippi also have Mardi Gras celebrations.

Mardi Gras in Belgium

In the Belgian city of Binche, the Mardi Gras festival is one of the most important days of the year and the summit of the Carnival of Binche. Around 1000 Gilles dance throughout the city from morning until past dusk, while traditional carnival songs play. In 2003, the “Carnival of Binche” was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Another noteworthy celebration in Belgium is Aalst Carnaval. Mardi Gras is considered the day of the “Voil Janet” or “Dirty Sissy”. Traditionally in Aalst, men dress as their wives or mothers. This custom called “Voil Janet” goes back to the time when Aalst was an industrial time and workers did not have the money to buy dresses. On Mardi Grass the “Voil Janet” gets a parade dedicated to it. Men and woman dressed traditionally get to walk along in the parade, and interact with the viewers.

The word “Voil” in the local dialect, means dirty (= Dutch “vuil”, cognate with English “foul”). For this reason, the parade is sometimes claimed obnoxious, dirty and flat out obscene. Though the parade has mellowed down over the years due to restrictions implemented by the town.

Later that day people gather around an effigy that is lit. This event is paired with a lot of music, emotions and fraternity. The event is known for the fact that almost every person in the crowd starts crying. After that, there is one last night of celebration.

Mardi Gras Around The World

  • Brazil

Carnival is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time, Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in carnival celebrations are observed throughout the multitude of Brazilian cities. Commonality observed among them is the incorporation of samba into the celebrations.

The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The Rio Carnival is where two million people celebrate in the city. The city of Salvador holds a very large carnival celebration where millions of people celebrate the party in the streets of the city with a very big diversity of musical styles together.

  • Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Mardi Gras hosts a popular Monday Food Festival prior to the Fat Tuesday Festivities. Ash Wednesday being a holiday has a daytime party in George Town which coincides with the annual Agriculture Fair which is attended by thousands of residents.

  • Colombia

Carnaval de Barranquilla is Colombia’s Mardi Gras celebration. In 2003, it was proclaimed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

  • Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic it is a folk tradition to celebrate Mardi Gras, which is called Masopust (meat-fast i.e. beginning of fast there). There are celebration in many places including Prague but the tradition also prevails in the villages such as Staré Hamry, whose the door-to-door processions there made it to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

  • France

Carnival parades take place in many cities such as Nice, Alpes Maritimes, Dunkerque, Granville, Sarreguemines as well as in the French Caribbean islands Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The Nice Carnival is held annually in Nice on the French Riviera. The earliest records establish its existence in 1294 when the Count of Provence, Charles Anjou, wrote that he had passed “the joyous days of carnival.” This may make the Nice Carnival the original carnival celebration. Today the event attracts over a million visitors to Nice every year over a two-week period.

  • Germany

The celebration on the same day in Germany knows many different terms, such as Schmutziger Donnerstag or Fetter Donnerstag (Fat Thursday), Unsinniger Donnerstag, Weiberfastnacht, Greesentag and others, and are often only one part of the whole carnival events during one or even two weeks before Ash Wednesday be called Karneval, Fasching, or Fastnacht among others, depending on the region.

In standard German, schmutzig means “dirty”, but in the Alemannic dialects schmotzig means “lard” (Schmalz), or “fat”; “Greasy Thursday”, as remaining winter stores of lard and butter used to be consumed at that time, before the fasting began. Fastnacht means “Eve of the Fast”, but all three terms cover the whole carnival season. The traditional start of the carnival season is on 11 November at 11:11 am (11/11 11:11).

  • Italy

In Italy Mardi Gras is called Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday). It’s the main day of Carnival along with the Thursday before, called Giovedí Grasso (Fat Thursday), which ratifies the start of the celebrations. The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea. Ivrea has the characteristic “Battle of Oranges” that finds its roots in medieval times. The Italian version of the festival is spelled Carnevale.

  • Netherlands

The Netherlands also has a festival similar to Mardi Gras. It’s called Carnaval and is similar to the Venice Carnival. The origin of the word Carnaval is carnem levare which means “to take away meat” in Latin, or carne vale, Latin for “farewell to meat”. It marks the beginning of Lent, leading up to Easter.

The carnival in the Netherlands is mainly held in the southern part of the Netherlands in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg, some parts of Zeeland and in eastern parts of Twente and Gelderland. As with many popular festivals, people tend to loosen some moral codes and become laid-back or loose, which is based in the ancient role-reversal origins of Carnaval, including dressing in costumes.

  • Russia and Ukraine

Both Russia and Ukraine have the festival of Maslenitsa (Масленица, rus.), which on its pagan side celebrates the end of winter and the upcoming summer, and on its Christian side marks the last week before the Great Fasting period before Christian Easter.

The festival includes family gatherings with festive meals and treats of bliny (crepes) that resemble the round shape of sun, and culminates on the weekend with mass outdoors gatherings, festivities and entertaining activities such as pole climbing, where a wheel with variety of presents is affixed on the top of a long pole and the contestants need to reach the top to get them.

Also the festival’s mascot – a feminine figure made out of straw, which symbolizes winter, gets put on fire at the end of the celebration.

  • Sweden

In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen, when you eat fastlagsbulle, more commonly called Semla. The name comes from the words “fett” (fat) and “tisdag” (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat fastlagsbullar.

Mardi Gras Foods

Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat, and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Food in New Orleans is incredible. A Mardi Gras specialty is King Cake. It is a circular sweet roll-like cake with a hidden treasure, a tradition that originated during medieval times. Originally a gold bean was baked inside but today, to avoid choking, a plastic baby is placed inside instead.

The Twelfth Night Revelers, a Mardi Gras krewe, use a King Cake to randomly select the queen for krewe. The one who finds the baby gets to be queen. At parties, offices, and causal gatherings the lucky person who finds the baby gets to bring a King Cake to the next occasion and/or be “king” for the day. Similar cakes and breads can be found in other cultures like Rosca De Reyes in Mexico.

Costumes

Mardi Gras, as a celebration of life before the more-somber occasion of Ash Wednesday, nearly always involves the use of masks and costumes by its participants. In New Orleans, for example, these often take the shape of fairies, animals, people from myths, or various Medieval costumes as well as clowns and Native Americans. However, many costumes today are simply elaborate creations of colored feathers and capes.

Unlike Halloween, Mardi Gras costumes are not usually associated with such things as zombies, mummies, bats, blood, and the like, though death may be a theme in some. The Venice tradition has brought golden masks into the usual round of costumes.

Going Topless

Women exposing their breasts during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, USA, has been documented since 1889, when the Times-Democrat decried the “degree of immodesty exhibited by nearly all female masqueraders seen on the streets.” The practice was mostly limited to tourists in the upper Bourbon Street area. In the crowded streets of the French Quarter, generally avoided by locals on Mardi Gras Day, flashers on balconies cause crowds to form on the streets.

In the last decades of the 20th century, the rise in producing commercial videotapes catering to voyeurs helped encourage a tradition of women baring their breasts in exchange for beads and trinkets. Social scientists studying “ritual disrobement” found, at Mardi Gras 1991, 1,200 instances of body-baring in exchange for beads or other favors.

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After a tough winter the chills have become bearable, the Hemis monastery opens its doors to enjoy festivities. The date every year changes as it is celebrated every year on the tenth day of the Lunar calendar of the Tibetan month. The dates for this festival vary from year to year. in 2017 it falls on July 3 and 4.

The festival highlight is the Dance performances and plays by masked Lamas. The masked dance represents the good prevailing over evil. The participants of the spellbinding performance are dressed in vibrant costumes and bright masks. Every mask has its own place in Tibetan and Buddhist legends. Signifying aspects of good and evil, they are designed as humble, divine faces, animals, skeletons and numerous frightful figurines. Dancers can be seen with slow dance movements and fanciful expressions.

The masked dance performance is created on music medley of sounds of drums, trumpets and cymbals. The famous Padmasambhava dance, the highlight of the dance shows the victory of the ruta demons. The dances are spellbinding as the divine is represented and its said to be purifying your soul.

Here are some video clips:

Origins

Based on Tibetan and Buddhist Legends, Hemis Festival is said to have its origins back in 8th Century. Lord Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rimpoche is believed to be the local savior who banished demons and evil spirits. The spiritual leader is said to have introduced of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan Kingdom. Combining the teachings of Buddhism and Tibetan culture, a new way was established where life was entwined with prayers, austere life and a higher calling.The birth of Guru Rimpoche also known as Lord Padmasambhava is the occasion which is celebrated during Hemis Festival. The spiritual leader is conferred as the local savior.

Celebrations

The mask dance performance is the main attraction of the Hemis Festival

Ever seen Lamas dance? Well here they do, in their tell tale burgundy and mustard yellow attires. The old and the young gather to partake and witness this performance, the re-telling of their ancient mythological stories and folklore. The real spectacle is provided by the masked performers wearing horns, multicolored ribbons and brocade clothes that shine in the bright July sun. And believe me, some of those masks are more expressive than us.

The Chams are a part of the Tantric tradition performed to a cacophony of indigenous musical instruments. The music starts on a slow note and quickly picks up pace as the narrative becomes intense. It keeps building up to a hair raising climax when the leader of the Black Hat dance strikes down the devils idols (made of dough) in combat victory. The message is one that been around for eternity, that good prevails over evil. Its execution through the masked dance performance is what takes your breath away.

Every 12th year known as the Tibetan Year of the Monkey, Hemis Monastery Festival takes an auspicious turn.The unfurling of the largest Thangkha (12 metres) from the second floor of the monastery for the world to see happened in 2016, and won’t happen again for another 12 years. The scripture is worth seeing as it’s so delicately preserved.

Inside the monastery and outside during the festival check out the stalls. From delightful tastes of the mountain Kingdom to unique handicrafts of the region the sight are wonderful. Residents of remote villages, adventure seekers, photographers and travelers make their way here to be a part of the festival.

 Other Ways To Celebrate:

I have been enjoying the book, 365 Goddess. In this book, the author explores a different goddess every day in the context of rituals, feast days, holidays, festivals, and celebrations from around the world. Today is the celebration is the Hemis festival.

This festival includes a ritual play in which all manner of mythic creatures are poised against the Tibetan lamas, symbolizing the battle between good and evil. bells, censers, cymbals, and drums draw in positive magic, banish evil, and win the fight for goodness.

The goddesses assigned for this day are the Ratna Dakinis. In Tibet, these goddesses rule over all gestures of goodness and compassion, which naturally help improve karma. Collectively, their names mean “inestimable,” showing us the true power and value in acts of kindness that are driven by a pure heart.

The book also includes ideas for simple magical rituals and/or easy spells that are in keeping with the theme for the day. And so we find that for the Hemis festival the themes are the: banishing; victory; kindness; karma, and the color yellow.

For today, the suggestions are to wear something yellow, and also try to keep the Ratna Dakinis in mind so that your actions will be gentle and filled with kindness. You could also, using yellow ribbons, string together a collection of small bells for a Ratna Dakinis house amulet. Hold these in your hand and empower them by saying:

Let your goodness ring, let purity sing,
with each wind Ratna Dakinis’ blessing bring!

Hang these where they will catch the wind regularly, releasing the magic.

Other ideas include the following:

Do something nice for someone who’s been feeling blue lately, “just because”. Give them some yellow flowers, offer a hug, or maybe make an extra bell amulet for them too! This boosts good karma, makes both of you feel good, and invokes Ratna Dakinis’ blessings through thoughtfulness.

Note: This post was put together by Shirley Twofeathers, you may repost and share it only if you give me credit and a link back to this website. Blessed be.

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