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Volunteers Day Worldwide- Dec 5 International Volunteer Day (IVD) - (December 5) is an international observance designated by the United Nations since 1985. The declared aim of this activity is to thank the volunteers for their efforts and increase public awareness on their contribution to society. The day is celebrated in majority countries of the world. The International Volunteer Day is marked by many non-governmental organizations, including Red Cross, scouts and others. It is also marked and supported by United Nations Volunteers.

King's Birthday THAILAND - Dec 5 Bhumibol Adulyadej (born 5 December 1927) is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX (and within the Thai royal family and to close associates simply as Lek). Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world's longestserving current head of state and the longestreigning monarch in Thai history. He was admitted to Siriraj Hospital in September 2009 for flu and pneumonia. Rumors about his illhealth caused Thai financial markets to tumble in October 2009. Although Bhumibol is legally a constitutional monarch, and is not legally allowed a role in politics, he has made several decisive interventions in the Thai political sphere. He was credited with facilitating Thailand's transition to democracy in the 1990s, although he has supported numerous military regimes, including Sarit Dhanarajata's during the 1960s and the Council for National Security in 2006–8. During his long reign, he has authorized over 15 coups, 16 constitutions, and 27 changes of prime ministers. He has also used his influence to stop military coups, including attempts in 1981 and 1985. Bhumibol is advised by a hand-picked Privy Council, many members of which have themselves made controversial forays into politics. Bhumibol is respected by many Thais, although conservative royalists have claimed that there are widespread threats to overthrow the monarchy. Bhumibol is legally considered "inviolable", and insults, claims that he is involved in politics, and criticism of him can result in three to fifteen years in jail. Although he claimed in a 2005 speech that he was not offended by lèse majesté, thousands have been jailed and several governments overthrown due to alleged insults. Bhumibol is credited with a social-economic theory of self-sufficiency. His personal wealth is tremendous: Forbes estimated Bhumibol's personal fortune, some of which is managed by the Crown Property Bureau to be US$30 billion in 2010. He is the wealthiest man in Thailand and the world's wealthiest royal. He currently holds major shares in several private companies, including, more than 40% in Sammakorn, 30% in SCG, 30% in Thai Insurance PLC and 20% in SCB. The Crown Property Bureau claims that its wealth is held in trust for the Thai nation; however, this claim is controversial, and the exact value of its assets is confidential and reported to only Bhumibol. Bhumibol himself has made donations to numerous development projects in Thailand, in areas including agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, water resources, communications and public welfare.Commemoration of Bhumibol's contributions to Thailand are ubiquitous in the Thai media.

life Early Bhumibol was born at the Mount Auburn Hospital in

Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States on 5 December 1927. He was the younger son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej and Mom Sangwan (later HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother: Somdet Phra Si Nakharinthra Boromaratchachonnani). His name, Bhumibol Adulyadej, means "Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power". Bhumibol came to Thailand in 1928, after Prince Mahidol obtained a certificate in the Public Health programme at Harvard University. He briefly attended Mater Dei school in Bangkok but in 1933 his mother took the family to Switzerland, where he continued his education at the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande in Lausanne. He received the baccalauréat des lettres (high-school diploma with major in French literature, Latin, and Greek) from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne, and by 1945 had begun studying Bhumibol (center) with his mother and sibscience at the University of Lausanne, when World War lings Ananda Mahidol (left) and Galyani VadII ended and the family returned to Thailand. hana (right).

Succession and marriage

Bhumibol ascended the throne following the death by gunshot wound of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, on 9 June 1946, in mysterious circumstances, prompting suggestions that Bhumibol had been involved in or responsible for his death. Bhumibol returned to Switzerland in order to complete his education, and his uncle, Rangsit, Prince of Chainat, was appointed Prince Regent. Bhumibol then switched over his field of study to law and political science. While finishing his degree in Switzerland, Bhumibol visited Paris frequently. It was in Paris that he first met Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, daughter of the Thai ambassador to France. On 4 October 1948, while Bhumibol was driving a Fiat Topolino on the Geneva-Lausanne road, he collided with the rear of a braking truck 10 km outside of Lausanne. He hurt his back and incurred cuts on his face that cost him the sight of his right eye. While he was hospitalised in Lausanne, Sirikit visited him frequently. She met his mother, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that Bhumibol could get to know her better. Bhumibol selected for her a boarding school in Lausanne, Riante Rive. A quiet engagement in Lausanne followed on 19 July 1949, and the couple were Bhumibol and Sirikit after their wedding. married on 28 April 1950, just a week before his coronation. Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit have four children: (Formerly HRH) Princess Ubol Ratana, born 5 April 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland; • HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, born 28 July 1952; • HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, born 2 April 1955; • HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, born 4 July 1957. • One of Bhumibol's autistic grandchildren, Bhumi Jensen, was killed in the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. He was the son of Princess Ubol Ratana.

Coronation and titles

Bhumibol was crowned King of Thailand on 5 May 1950 at the Royal Palace in Bangkok where he pledged that he would "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people" ("เราจะครองแผ่นดินโดยธรรม เพื่อประโยชน์สุขแห่งมหาชนชาวสยาม"). Notable elements associated with the coronation included the Bahadrabith Throne beneath the Great White Umbrella of State; and he was presented with the royal regalia and utensils. In 1950 on Coronation Day, Bhumibol's consort was made Queen (Somdej Phra Boromarajini). The date of his coronation is celebrated each 5 May in Thailand as Coronation Day, a public holiday. On 9 June 2006, Bhumibol celebrated his 60th anniversary as the King of Thailand, becoming the longest reigning monarch in Thai history. Following the death of his grandmother Queen Savang Vadhana, Bhumibol entered a 15-day monkhood (22 October 1956 – 5 November 1956) at Wat Bowonniwet, as is customary for Buddhist males on the death of elder relatives. During this time, Sirikit was appointed his regent. She was later appointed Queen Regent (Somdej Phra Boromarajininat) in recognition of this. Although Bhumibol is sometimes referred to as King Rama IX in English, Thais refer to him as Nai Luang or Phra Chao Yu Hua (ในหลวง or พระเจ้าอยู่หัว: both mean "the King" or "Lord Upon our Heads"). He is also called Chao Chiwit ("Lord of Life"). Formally, he would be referred to as Phrabat Somdej Phra Chao Yu Hua (พระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว) or, in legal documents, Phrabat Somdej Phra Paraminthara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej (พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดช), and in English as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He signs his name as ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช ป.ร. (Bhumibol Adulyadej Por Ror; this is the Thai equivalent of Bhumibol Adulyadej R[ex]).

Awards Bhumibol has received numerous royal and state orders as befitting of his stature. In addition, the king was awarded

the William J. Donovan Medal, Award of Friendship OSS, New York, U.S.A.presented by the Office of Strategic Services (CIA) on 29 October 1987. Bhumibol, who serves as head of The National Scout Organization of Thailand, was presented the Bronze Wolf award on 20 June 2006, the highest award of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, for his support and development of Scouting in Thailand by Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden and Honorary President of the World Scout Foundation. The presentation took place at Chitralada Palace in Thailand and was witnessed by Chairman of the World Scout Committee Herman Hui. In May 2006, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, presented the United Nations' first and only Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award to Bhumibol. Bhumibol set a world record for receiving the greatest number of honorary university degrees (136) in 1997. Most of his degrees came from Thai universities: for instance, Kasetsart University awarded him ten honorary doctoral degrees at once.

life Private Bhumibol is a painter, musician, photographer, author and translator. His

book Phra Mahachanok is based on a traditional Jataka story of Buddhist scripture. The Story of Thong Daeng is the story of his dog Thong Daeng. In his youth, Bhumibol was greatly interested in firearms. He kept a carbine, a Sten gun, and two automatic pistols in his bedroom, and he and his elder brother, King Ananda Mahidol, often used the gardens of the palace for target practice. There are two English language books that provide extensive detail - albeit not always verifiable - about Bhumibol's life, especially his early years and then throughout his entire reign. One is The Revolutionary Kingby William Stevenson, ISBN 978-1-84119-451-6; the other is The King Never Smiles by Paul M. Handley. A third and earlier work, The Devil's Discus, is also available in Thai and English. All three books are banned in Thailand. Bhumibol's creativity in, among other things, music, art, and invention, was the focus of a 2 minute long documentary created by the government of Abhibisit Vejjajiva that was screened at all branches of the Major Cineplex Group and SF Cinema City, the two largest cinema chains in Thailand.

Health:

Bhumibol suffers from lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the canal that contains the spinal cord and nerve roots, which results in back and leg pain and numbness in the legs. He received a microsurgical decompression in July 2006. Bhumibol at his coronation at Bhumibol was taken to Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital on 13 October 2007, the Grand Palace. complaining he felt weak down his right side; doctors later found out through scans that he had a blood shortage to his brain. He was discharged on 7 November 2007. On 19 September 2009, he was once again admitted to Siriraj Hospital, apparently with the flu and pneumonia. US diplomatic cables from 2009, published by Wikileaks in 2011, reported that the king is suffering from Parkinson's disease and depression. His youngest daughter HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak confirmed in an April 2011 television interview that the king remains in the hospital. On 17 November 2011, Bhumibol was diagnosed with diverticulitis while being confined in Siriraj Hospital. He is also forced to remain in fast until the disease is cured, the Bureau of the Royal Household announced.

Music:

Bhumibol is an accomplished jazz musician and composer, particularly for his works on the alto saxophone. He was the first Asian composer awarded honorary membership of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna at the age of 32. He used to play jazz music on air on the Or Sor radio station. In his travels, he has played with such jazz legends as Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. His songs can often be heard at social gatherings and concerts. In 2003, the University of North Texas College of Music awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Music.

Sailing:

Bhumibol is an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer. He won a gold medal for sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in 1967, together with HRH Princess Ubol Ratana whom he tied for points. This accomplishment is all the more remarkable given Bhumibol's lack of binocular depth perception. Bhumibol has also sailed the Gulf of Thailand from Hua Hin to Toey Harbour in Sattahip, covering 60 nautical miles (110 km) in a 14hour journey on the "Vega 1," an OK Class dinghy he built. Like his father, a former military naval engineer, Bhumibol was an avid boat designer and builder. He produced several small sail-boat designs in the International Enterprise, OK, and Moth Classes. His designs in the Moth class include the “Mod,” “Super Mod,” and “Micro Mod.”

Patents:

Bhumibol is the only Thai monarch to hold a patent. He obtained one in 1993 for a waste water aerator named "Chai Pattana", and several patents on rainmaking since 1955: the "sandwich" rainmaking patent in 1999 and lately the "supersandwich" patent in 2003.

Wealth

Estimates of the post-devaluation (circa 1997– 1998) wealth of the royal household range from 10 billion to 20 billion USD. In August 2008,Forbes came out with its 2008 version of The World's Richest Royals. King Bhumibol took first place on the list with an estimated wealth of $35 billion. A few days later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand issued a statement that the Forbes report erred in attributing wealth owned by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) solely to Bhumibol. In the 2009 version of its list, Forbes acknowledged the government's objections, but justified the continued inclusion of the CPB's assets on the ground that Bhumibol was its trustee. The 2009 estimate was down to $30 billion due to declines in real estate and stocks. The wealth and properties of Bhumibol and the royal family are managed by the Crown Property Bureau and the Privy Purse. The CPB was estab- King Bhumibol Adulyadej, President Dwight D. lished by law but is managed independently of the Eisenhower, Queen Sirikit and Mamie EisenThai Government and reports only to Bhumibol. hower at the White House in June 1960. Through the CPB, Bhumibol and the royal family own land and equity in many companies and massive amounts of land, including 3,493acres in Bangkok. The CPB is the majority shareholder of Siam Cement (the largest Thai industrial conglomerate), Christiani & Nielsen(one of the largest Thai construction firms), Deves Insurance (which holds a monopoly on government property insurance and contract insurance), Siam Commercial Bank (one of the largest Thai banks), and Shin Corporation (a major Thai telecommunications firm, through the CPB's holdings in Siam Commercial Bank). The CPB also rents or leases about 36,000 properties to third parties, including the sites of theFour Seasons Hotel Bangkok, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Siam Paragon and the Central World Tower. The CPB spearheaded a plan to turn Bangkok’s historical Rajadamnoen Avenue into a shopping street known as the “Champs-Élysées of Asia” and in 2007, shocked longtime residents of traditional marketplace districts by serving them with eviction notices. Bhumibol's substantial income from the CPB, estimated to be at least five billion baht in 2004 alone, is exempt from taxes. The CPB receives many state privileges. Although the Ministry of Finance technically runs the CPB, decisions are made solely by Bhumibol. The CPB's annual report is for the eye of Bhumibol alone; the annual report is not released to the public. In addition, Bhumibol has numerous personal investments independent of the CPB. He is personally the majority shareholder of the Thai Insurance Company and Sammakorn, as well as many other companies. The CPB has a fleet of three aircraft for the use of the royal family, including a Boeing 737-800 and an Airbus A319. The newer Airbus had been purchased by the Thaksin Shinawatra government for government use, but after the 2006 coup, the junta offered it to the king. The other planes are used by members of the royal family. Among other vehicles, Bhumibol owns two custom-built stretch limousines from LCW Automotive Corp. The Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world, was given to him by businessman Henry Ho.

Titles and styles

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Thai full title is "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit" which is referred to in the chief legal documents; and in general documents, the title is shorthened to"Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit" or just "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej." The literal translation of the title is as follows: Phra—a third person pronoun referring to the person with much higher status than the speaker, mean• ing "excellent" in general. The word is from Sanskrit vara ("excellent"). Bat—"foot," from Sanskrit pāda. • Somdet—"lord," from Khmer "samdech" ("excellency"). • Poraminthara—"the great," from Sanskrit parama ("great") + indra ("leader") • Maha—"great," from Sanskrit, "maha" • Bhumibol—"Strength of the Land," from Sanskrit bhumi ("land") +bala ("strength") • Adulyadej—"Incomparable power," from Sanskrit atulya ("incomparable") +teja ("power") • Mahitalathibet—"Son of Mahidol" • Ramathibodi—"Rama, the Avatar of God Vishnu to become the great ruler"; from Sanskrit rama + adhi • ("great") + patī ("president") Chakkrinaruebodin—"Leader of the People who is from the House of Chakri", from Sanskrit Cakrī + • nari ("men") + patī ("president") Sayamminthrathirat—"the Great King of Siam," from Sanskrit Siam (former name of Thailand) + indra • + ati ("great") + rāja ("king) Borommanatbophit— "the Royalty who is the Great Shelter", from Sanskrit parama ("great") + nādha • ("the one who others can depend on" or "Power/Right") + "pavitra" ("royalty")

Day of the Ninja US - D e c 5

In 2003, the creators of Ninja Burger declared that December 5 would be celebrated as Day of the Ninja. On this day, people are encouraged to dress as ninja, engage in ninja-related activities, and spread information on ninja online. December 5 was originally chosen because December 5, 2003 marked the release of Tom Cruise's film The Last Samurai (which featured a scene where samurai battled ninja). Since then the focus has shifted towards the more familiar Pirates versus Ninjas conflict, and the day has served as a virtual counterpoint to International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The first year's events were small, but in 2004 the holiday gained international support from a group of French performers, who staged elaborate ninja poses in front of famous landmarks (such as the Eiffel Tower). This led to increased press coverage from, among other things, the French Disney magazine Picsou. The holiday drew support from the popular Ask a Ninja website in 2006; a podcast on November 30 of that year discussed an alternative explanation for the holiday's origin, set 1400 years ago. The release of the Ask a Ninja DVD was timed to coincide with that year's Day of the Ninja (Dec. 5, 2006), and helped garner additional press coverage. The DVD release party itself was heavily covered by the "blogosphere", with numerous references to the Day of the Ninja. Perhaps not coincidentally, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was also released on DVD on December 5, 2006; the Ask a Ninja website had already added to the Pirates vs Ninjas meme when "the Ninja" gave a blistering review of the film in an earlier podcast. 2007 saw official acknowledgment from the press including NPR's Morning Edition, as well as a coordinated ninjathemed video game announcement from EA and the official release of the Pirates Vs. Ninjas Dodgeball website. G4 Network's Attack of the Show also celebrated 2007's Day of the Ninja by replacing usual host Kevin with the "Ask a Ninja" Ninja, and the network also ran a Ninja Warrior marathon, with many more episodes than usual throughout the day. The Day of the Ninja is one of only two days of the year that players can get the "Arr..." badge in Saints Row II; it is one of the badges required for Kingpin. Ninja Burger's Day of the Ninja website features a Day of the Ninja PSA that was created by Fulltimeninjas.com. Another site, ninjaday.org, has independently declared December 5 as International Creep Like a Ninja Day. Other possible names include Die Like a Pirate Day, Stalk Like a Ninja Day, Sneak Like a Ninja Day, Move Like a Ninja Day, or simply Ninja Day. According to the official website, this site and others of its kind are unrelated to Ninja Burger or the original Day of the Ninja website, although their efforts are supported.

Earthquake Victim's Memorial Day ARMENIA - Dec 7

The Spitak Earthquake (also called Leninakan Earthquake and Gyumri Earthquake) was a tremor with a magnitude of 6.9, that took place on December 7, 1988 at 11:41 local time (07:41 UTC) in the Spitak region of Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union. The earthquake killed at least 25,000 people; geologists and earthquake engineering experts laid the blame on the poorly built support structures of apartments and other buildings built during the "stagnation" era of Leonid Brezhnev. Despite the tensions of the Cold War, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev formally asked the United States, within a few days of the earthquake, for humanitarian help, the first such request since World War II. 111 countries, including Belgium, Chile, China, France, Finland, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, US, West Germany, and Yugoslavia sent a substantial amount of humanitarian aid to the Soviet Union in the form of rescue equipment, search teams and medical supplies. One Soviet plane carrying 78 relief workers, and one Yugoslav transport plane crashed in separate incidents, while supplying aid to the region.

The Earthquake Local housing infrastructure (particularly schools and

hospitals) performed poorly in the earthquake and this resulted in about 25,000 lost lives. It has been estimated that if the earthquake had occurred 5 minutes later, children would have not been in schools' unstable buildings. This short time delay could have saved many lives. The earthquake was followed four minutes later by a magnitude 5.8 aftershock. It cost over £3 billion ($3.5 billion USD) to repair the damaged property. The entire city of Spitak was destroyed, and there was partial damage to the nearby cities of Gyumri (then called Leninakan) and Vanadzor (then Kirovakan). The tremor also caused damage to many surrounding villages. The Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant was also temporarily closed down because of the earthquake. Since most of the hospitals in the area were destroyed, and because of extremely low winter temperatures, officials at all levels were not ready for a disaster of this The Holy Saviour Church in Gyumri after scale and the relief effort was therefore not launched the earthquake properly. The Armenian government let in foreign aid workers to help with the recovery in the earthquake's aftermath, and this was one of the first cases when rescue and relief workers from other countries were allowed to take part in relief works in the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev, on a visit to the United States, cut his trip short and went directly to Armenia to visit the quake-affected areas. Contributions poured in from around the world to help the earthquake victims through the winter and to rebuild much of the housing. Spitak was totally rebuilt in a location next to the previous town, with many neighborhoods having very distinct architecture reflecting the country which donated or built the homes there. A monument expressing the appreciation of the Armenian people for assistance from the U.S. was erected in Washington D.C. in 1990.

Causes:

The region in which the earthquake occurred is part of a broad seismic area, which stretches from Turkey to the Arabian Sea. Here, the Arabian landmass is slowly colliding with the Eurasian plate. The earthquake occurred along a small thrust fault, directly under Spitak. During the earthquake, the northeast-facing side of the Spitak section rode up and over the southwest-facing side. The main shock occurred near the intersection between the Alavar fault and the Pambak-Sevan fault. Despite the fact the earthquake was only of a moderate size, with a magnitude of 6.9, there were various factors contributing to the large scale magnitude and destruction that followed. These included the time of day, freezing winter temperatures, poor soil conditions and inadequate building construction.

Aftermath:

After the seismic disaster, avant-garde musician Pierre Schaeffer led a 498-member rescue team to look for survivors. Motherland – memorial to the Nikolai Ryzhkov, the then Chairman of the Council of Ministers, was dead in Washington, D.C. awarded the National Hero of Armenia for his work in rebuilding the city following the earthquake.

International Civil Aviation Day Worldwide - Dec 7

In 1996 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 7 December was to be the International Civil Aviation Day The day had been celebrated by the International Civil Aviation Organization since 7 December 1994, the 50th anniversary of the signing the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Following the adoption of the resolution, the delegate from the United Kingdom stated the view that the decision for holding of an International Civil Aviation Day did not fall within these guidelines, and that the scarce resources of the United Nations should not be used to support interpretation, printing and other associated costs that will be incurred as a result.

Human Rights Day Worldwide - Dec 10

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly's adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit. The day is a high point in the calendar of UN headquarters in New York City, United States, and is normally marked by both high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organisations. The theme for 2006 was the struggle against poverty, taking it as a human rights issue. Several statements were released on that occasion, including the one issued by 37 United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world. Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is. By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime....Poverty eradication is an achievable goal. —UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, 10 December 2006 The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurred on 10 December 2008, and the UN Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign leading up to this anniversary. Because the UDHR holds the world record as the most translated document (with more than 360 language versions available), organizations around the globe used the year to focus on helping people everywhere learn about their rights.

Discovery Day DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, HAITI - Dec 5

The date in 1492 that Christopher Columbus landed on the Dominican Republic, December 5, is also called Discovery Day. It is celebrated all throughout the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).

SinterKlaas NETHERLANDS - D e c 5

Sinterklaas (or more formally Sint Nicolaas or Sint Nikolaas; Saint Nicolas in French; Sankt Nikolaus in German) is a traditional Winter holiday figure still celebrated today in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as French Flanders (Lille) and Artois(Arras). He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including South Africa,Aruba, Suriname, Curaçao, Bonaire, and Indonesia. He is one of the sources of the holiday figure of Santa Claus in North America. Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas or simply as De Sint. He is celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas' eve (5 December) or on the morning of 6 December in Belgium and Northern France. Originally, the feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas — patron saint of children, sailors, and the city of Amsterdam, among others. Sint Nicholas being a bishop and this geographical spread make clear that the feast in this form has a Roman-Catholic background. Closely related figures are also known in German-speaking Europe and territories historically influenced by German or Germanic culture, including: Switzerland (Samichlaus), Germany and Austria (Sankt Nikolaus); the region of South Tyrol in Italy; Nord-Pas de Calais, Alsace and Lorraine in France - as well as in Luxembourg (De Kleeschen), parts of Central Europe and the Balkans.

History

Pre-Christian Europe:

Parallels have been drawn between the legend of Sinterklaas and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples and worshipped in North and Western Europe prior to Christianization. Since some elements of the Sinterklaas celebration are unrelated to Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Sinterklaas. Non-Christian elements in Sinterklaas that arguably could have been of pagan origin: • Sinterklaas rides the roof tops with his white horse ('Amerigo' or in Flanders 'Slecht Weer Vandaag');Odin rides the sky with his gray horse Sleipnir. • Sinterklaas carries a staff and has mischievous helpers with black faces; Odin has a spear and black ravens as his attributes.

Middle Ages:

Originally, the Sinterklaas feast celebrates the name day, 6 December, of the Saint Nicholas (280–342), patron saint of children. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. Bari later formed part of the Spanish Kingdom of Naples, because it was previously conquered in 1442 by Alfonso V of Aragon. The city thus became part of the Kingdom of Aragon and later to Spain, until the eighteenth century. Due to the fact that the remains of St. Nicholas were in Bari (then a Spanish city), is this tradition that St. Nicholas comes from Spain. His helper is black because at the time Spain was part of the Moor empire. St. Nicholas is well known in Spain as the patron of sailors. That's why St. Nicholas comes to the Netherlands in a steamboat. St. Nicholas fame spread throughout Europe. The Western Catholic Church made his name day a Church holiday. In the north of France, he became the patron saint of school children, then mostly in church schools. The folk feast arose during the Middle Ages. In early traditions, students elected one of them as "bishop" on St. Nicholas Day, who would rule until December 28 (Innocents Day). They sometimes acted out events from the bishop's life. As the festival moved to city streets, it became more lively. Sinterklaas is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Petes). During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for evil. Although the character of Black Pete later came to acquire racial connotations, his origins were in the evil figure. Good and bad play an important role in the feast: good is rewarded, bad and evil is punished. Hence the duplication of the one Saint in a saint and a (frolicking) devil. The feast was both an occasion to help the poor, by putting money in their shoes (which evolved into putting presents in children's shoes) and a wild feast, similar to Carnival, that often led to costumes, a "topsy-turvy" overturning of daily roles, and mass public drunkenness.

16th and 17th Century:

After the rebellion of the 17 Dutch provinces against the Spanish Empire, Calvinist regents and ministers prohibited celebration of the Saint. The Republic of the United Provinces became an official Protestant country following the Reformation, and its governments abolished public celebrations. The South, however, remained a Catholic colony. People there and students in Amsterdam, also Catholic, protested. The governments were forced to allow celebration within the family. The Feast of Saint Nicholas, by

19th Century:

Jan Steen

In the nineteenth century the saint emerged from hiding and became more secularized at the same time.The modern tradition of Sinterklaas as a children's feast was likely confirmed with the illustrated children's book Sint Nicolaas en zijn knecht (Saint Nicholas and His Servant), written in 1850 by the teacher Jan Schenkman (1806–1863). Some say he introduced the images of Sinterklaas' delivering presents by the chimney, riding over the roofs of houses on a gray horse, and arriving from Spain by steamboat, then an exciting modern invention. Although others claim that some of these elements (like putting the shoe and the gray horse that is capable of riding roof tops) stem from much earlier times, dating even back to pre-Christian Europe. It is a fact however, that Sint Nicholas is patron saint of the sailors, that's why many churches dedicated to him are built near harbours. So Schenkman could have been inspired by original customs and ideas about the saint, when he let him arrive via the water in his book. Schenkman introduced the song "Zie ginds komt de stoomboot" ("Look over yonder, the steamboat arrives"), which is still popular in the nation. In Schenkman's version, the medieval figures of the mock devil, which later changed to Oriental or Moorish helpers, was portrayed for the first time as black African and called Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). He is a negro boy who accompanies Sinterklaas and helps him on his rounds (possibly derived from the Dutch colonial experience, or the Moorish occupation of Spain, the main Catholic nation.) Traditionally Sinterklaas only had one helper, whose name varied wildly. "Piet(er)" the name in use now can be traced back to a book from 1891.

World War II:

In the lean times of the German occupation of the Netherlands (1940–1945), Sinterklaas nonetheless came to cheer everyone, not just children. Many of the traditional Sinterklaas rhymes written during those times referred to current events. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was often celebrated. In 1941, for instance, the RAF dropped boxes of candy over the occupied Netherlands. A contemporary poem was the following: R.A.F. Kapoentje, Gooi wat in mijn schoentje, Bij de Moffen gooien, Maar in Holland strooien! This is a variation of one of the best-known traditional Sinterklaas rhymes, with "R.A.F." replacing "Sinterklaas" in the first line (the two expressions have the same metrical characteristics), and in the third and fourth lines, the RAF is encouraged to drop bombs on the Moffen(slur for Germans, like "krauts" in English) and candy over the Netherlands. Many of the Sinterklaas poems of this time noted the lack of food and basic necessities, and the German occupiers having taken everything of value; others expressed admiration for the Dutch Resistance.

Late 20th and 21st Century:

The arrival of Sinterklaas into town became a huge event and is broadcast on national television. Numerous people dress as Zwarte Pieten in various cities and towns across the Netherlands. Their faces were blackened to indicate that Zwarte Piet was an imported African servant of Sinterklaas (though some people said Zwarte Piet was a slave who, when Sinterklaas bought him his freedom, was so grateful that he stayed to assist him). Today however, the more politically correct explanation that Pete's face is "black from soot" (as Pete has to climb through chimneys to deliver his gifts) is used. In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve, 5 December, became the chief occasion for gift-giving during the Christmas season. The evening is called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond (boxing evening). For Belgian and some Dutch children, it is customary to put one shoe in front of the fireplace from the day Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, usually in the third week of November, sing Sinterklaas songs and go to bed. A carrot and/or hay may put in the shoe as a treat for Sinterklaas' horse. The next morning the carrot would be gone and the children may find candy or a small present in their shoes. On 5 December, the living room is decked out in presents, much as on Christmas Day in English-speaking countries. In the Netherlands, most children receive their presents on the morning while adults celebrate in the evening. During the evening, Zwarte Piet will leave a sack with presents. Some parents with older children will knock on the door and leave a sack outside for the children to retrieve; this varies per family. On 6 December, Sinterklaas departs without any ado. The festivities are over. In Belgium, most children have to wait until the morning of 6 December to receive their gifts, and Sinterklaas is seen as a holiday almost exclusively for children. Presents for adults are usually kept for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Appearance Sinterklaas:

Sinterklaas is an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard. He wears a long red cape or chasuble over a traditional white bishop's alb and sometimes red stola, dons a red mitre, and holds a gold-coloured crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top. He carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year. He traditionally rides a white gray.

Zwarte Piet:

A Zwarte Piet (Black Pete, plural Zwarte Pieten) is a servant of Sinterklaas, usually an adolescent in blackface with black curly hair, dressed up like a 17-th century page in a colourful dress, often with a lace collar, and donning a feathered cap. Sinterklaas and his Black Pete usually carry a bag which contains candy for nice children and a roe, a chimney sweep's broom made of willow branches, used to spank naughty children. Some of the older Sinterklaas songs make mention of naughty children being put in the bag and being taken back to Spain. The Zwarte Pieten toss candy around, a tradition supposedly originating in Sint Nicolaas' story of saving three young girls from prostitution by tossing golden coins through their window at night to pay their father's debts. There are various explanations of the origins of the helpers. The oldest explanation is that the helpers symbolize the two ravens Hugin and Munin who informed Odin on what was going on. In later stories the helper depicts the defeated devil. The devil is defeated by either Odin or his helper Nörwi, the black father of the night. Nörwi is usually depicted with the same staff of birch (Dutch: "roe") as Zwarte Piet. Another, more modern story is that Saint Nicolas liberated an Ethiopian slave boy called 'Piter' (from Saint Peter) from a Myra market, and the boy was so grateful he decided to stay with Saint Nicolas as a helper. The Zwarte Pieten have roughly the same relationship to the Dutch Saint Nicolas that the elves have to America's Santa Claus. According to tradition, the saint has a Piet for every function: there are navigation Pieten ("wegwijspiet") to navigate the steamboat from Spain to the Netherlands, and acrobatic Pieten to climb roofs and stuff presents down the chimney, or to climb down the chimneys themselves. Over the years many stories have been added. In many cases, the Pieten are quite bad at their job, for instance the navigation Piet might point in the wrong direction. This provides some comedy in the annual parade of Saint Nicolas coming to the Netherlands, and can also be used to laud the progress of children at school by having the Piet give the wrong answer to, for example, a simple question like "what is 2+2?", so that the child can give the right answer. With the influx of immigrants to the Netherlands starting in the late 1950s, Zwarte Piet is felt by some to be racist. Today, Zwarte Pieten have become more modern servants and parents often tell their children that the Pieten have black faces because they climb down dirty, soot-filled chimneys. Although, this modern variation on the tradition is often critiqued by expatriates and locals as being a "cover story" because it does not explain the curly, black hair and large, red lips. The character continues to be a source of controversy and was the subject of protests throughout the Netherlands during the holiday season of 2011.

Arrival and origin Sinterklaas traditionally arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November (usually on a Saturday) by steamboat

from Spain. Some suggest that gifts associated with the holy man, the mandarin oranges, led to the misconception that he must have been from Spain. This theory is backed by a Dutch poem documented in 1810 in New York and provided with an English translation:

Dutch

Sinterklaas, goedheiligman! Trek uwe beste tabberd an, Reis daar mee naar Amsterdam, Van Amsterdam naar Spanje, Daar Appelen van Oranje, Daar Appelen van granaten, Die rollen door de straten.

English

Saint Nicholas, good holy man! Put on the Tabard, best you can, Go, therewith, to Amsterdam, From Amsterdam to Spain, Where apples bright of Orange, And likewise those granate surnam'd, Roll through the streets, all free unclaim'd [...] The text presented here comes from a pamphlet that John Pintard released in New York in 1810. It is the earliest source mentioning Spain in connection to Sinterklaas. Pintard wanted St. Nicholas to become patron saint of New York and hoped to establish a Sinterklaas tradition. Apparently he got help from the Dutch community in New York, who provided him with the original Dutch Sinterklaas poem. Strictly speaking, the poem does not state that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, but that he needs to go to Spain to pick up the oranges and pomegranates. So the link between Sinterklaas and Spain goes through the oranges, a much appreciated treat in the 19th century. Later the connection with the oranges got lost, and Spain became his home. At his arrival Sinterklaas parades through the streets on his gray horse Amerigo, welcomed by cheering and singing children. This event is broadcast live on national television in the Netherlands and Belgium. His Zwarte Piet assistants throw candy and small, round, gingerbread-like cookies, either "kruidnoten" or "pepernoten," into the crowd. The children welcome him by singing traditional Sinterklaas songs. Sinterklaas visits schools, hospitals and shopping centers. After this arrival, all towns with a dock usually celebrate their own "intocht van Sinterklaas" (arrival of Sinterklaas). Local arrivals usually take place later on the same Saturday of the national arrival, the next Sunday (the day after he arrives in the Netherlands or Belgium), or one weekend after the national arrival. In places a boat cannot reach, Sinterklaas arrives by train, horse, or even carriage or fire truck.

Presents

Traditionally, in the weeks between his arrival and 5 December, before going to bed, children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney of the coal-fired stove or fireplace. In modern times, they may put them next to the central heating unit. They leave the shoe with a carrot or some hay in it and a bowl of water nearby "for Sinterklaas' horse", and the children sing a Sinterklaas song. The next day they will find some candy or a small present in their shoes. Typical Sinterklaas treats traditionally include: hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, pepernoten, letter-shaped pastry filled with almond paste or chocolate letter (the first letter of the child's name made out of chocolate), speculaas (sometimes filled with almond paste), chocolate coins and marzipan figures. Newer treats include kruidnoten (a type of shortcrust biscuit or gingerbread biscuits) and a figurine of Sinterklaas made of chocolate and wrapped in colored aluminum foil. Poems can still accompany bigger gifts as well. Instead of such gifts being brought by Sinterklaas, family members may draw names for an event comparable to Secret Santa. Gifts are to be creatively disguised (for which the Dutch use the French word "surprise"), and are usually accompanied by a humorous poem which often teases the recipient for well-known bad habits or other character deficiencies.

Sinterklaas, Santa Claus, and Christmas

Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus. It is often claimed that during the American War of Independence the inhabitants of New York City, a former Dutch colonial town (New Amsterdam) reinvented their Sinterklaas tradition, as Saint Nicholas was a symbol of the city's non-English past. The name Santa Claus supposedly derived from older Dutch Sinter Klaas. However, the Saint Nicholas Society was not founded until 1835, almost half a century after the end of the war. In a study of the "children's books, periodicals and journals" of New Amsterdam, the scholar Charles Jones did not find references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. Not all scholars agree with Jones's findings, which he reiterated in a book in 1978. Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York existed in the early settlement of the Hudson Valley. He agrees that "there can be no question that by the time the revival of St. Nicholas came with Washington Irving, the traditional New Netherlands observance had completely disappeared." However, Irving's stories prominently featured legends of the early Dutch settlers, so while the traditional practice may have died out, Irving's St. Nicholas may have been a revival of that dormant Dutch strand of folklore. In his 1812 revisions to A History of New York, Irving inserted a dream sequence featuring St. Nicholas soaring over treetops in a flying wagon — a creation others would later dress up as Santa Claus. But was Irving the first to revive the Dutch folklore of Sinterklaas? In New York, two years earlier John Pintard published a pamphlet with illustrations of Alexander Anderson in which he calls for to make Saint Nicholas patron Saint of New York and to start a Sinterklaas tradition. He was apparently assisted by the Dutch, because in his pamphlet he included an old Dutch Sinterklaas poem with English translation. In the Dutch poem, Saint Nicholas is referred to as 'Sancta Claus'. Ultimately, his initiative helped Sinterklaas to pop up as Santa Claus in the Christmas celebration, which returned - freed of episcopal dignity - via England and later Germany to Europe again. The Saint Nicholas Society of New York celebrates a feast on 6 December to this day. The town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, New York, which was founded by Dutch and German immigrants, has an annual Sinterklaas celebration. It includes Sinterklaas' crossing the Hudson River and a parade up to the center of town. During the Reformation in 16th-17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl (corrupted in English to Kris Kringle). Similarly, the date of giving gifts changed from December 5 or 6th to Christmas Eve.

Independence Day FINLAND- D e c 6

Finland officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland. Around 5.4 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the southern region. It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in Helsinki and local governments in 336 municipalities. A total of about one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area (which includes Helsinki, Espoo,Kauniainen and Vantaa), and a third of the country's GDP is produced there. Other larger cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti and Kuopio. Finland was historically a part of Sweden, and from 1809–1917 was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. The Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war in which the leftist side was defeated with German support. Finland fought World War II as essentially three separate conflicts: the Winter War (1939–1940), the Continuation War (1941–1944), and the Lapland War (1944–1945). Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the eurozone since its inception in 1999. Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid. Finland built an extensive welfare state and balanced between the East and the West in global economics and politics. With the best educational system in Europe, Finland has recently ranked as one of the world's most peaceful, competitive and livable countries.

Etymology Finland:

Among the first documents to mention Finland are two rune-stones. There is one in the Swedish province Uppland, with the inscription finlonti (U 582) and one in Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, with the inscription finlandi (G 319), the latter dating from the 13th century.

Suomi:

The name Suomi (Finnish for "Finland") has uncertain origins, but a candidate for a cognate is the Proto-Baltic word *zeme, meaning "land". In addition to the close relatives of Finnish (the Finnic languages), this name is also used in the Baltic languages Latvian and Lithuanian. Alternatively, the Indo-European word *gʰm-on "man" (cf. Gothic guma, Latin homo) has been suggested, being borrowed as *ćoma. The word originally referred only to the province of Finland Proper, and later to the northern coast of Gulf of Finland, with northern lands such as Ostrobothnia still being excluded as late as the 18th century. Earlier theories suggested derivation from suomaa (fen land) or suoniemi (fen cape), and parallels between saame (Sami, a nonFinnish people in Finland) and Häme (a Finnish people and a province) were drawn, but these theories are now considered outdated.

History

Prehistory:

According to archaeological evidence, the area now comprising Finland was settled at the latest around 8500 BCE during the Stone Age as the ice sheet of the last ice age receded. The artifacts the first settlers left behind present Astuvansalmi rock paintings characteristics that are shared with those found in Estonia, Russia and Norway. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, using stone tools. The first at Saimaa, the oldest dating pottery appeared in 5200 BCE when the Comb Ceramic culture was intro- from 3000–2500 BCE. duced. The arrival of the Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3000–2500 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture. Even with the introduction of agriculture, hunting and fishing continued to be important parts of the subsistence economy. The Bronze Age (1500–500 BCE) and Iron Age (500 BCE–1200 CE) were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in theFennoscandian and Baltic regions. There is no consensus on when Uralic languages and IndoEuropean languages were first spoken in the area of contemporary Finland. During the 1st millennium AD early Finnish was spoken at least in agricultural settlements of Southern Finland, whereas Sámi-speaking populations occupied most parts of the country.

Swedish era:

Swedish kings established their rule in the Northern Crusades from the 12th century until 1249.The area of presentday Finland became a fully consolidated part of the Swedish kingdom. Swedish-speaking settlers arrived in some coastal regions during the medieval time. Swedish became the dominant language of the nobility, administration and education; Finnish was chiefly a language for the peasantry, clergy and local courts in predominantly Finnishspeaking areas. During the Protestant Reformation, the Finns gradually converted to Lutheranism. In the 16th century, Mikael Agricola published the first written works in Finnish. The first university in Finland,The Royal Academy of Turku, was established in 1640. Finland suffered a severe famine in 1696–1697, during which about one-third of the Finnish population died. In the 18th century, wars between Sweden and Russia led to the occupation of Finland twice by Russian forces, wars known to the Finns as the Greater Wrath (1714–1721) and the Lesser Wrath (1742–1743). By this time Finland was the predominant term for the whole area from the Gulf of Bothnia to the Russian border.

Russian Empire era:

On March 29, 1809, having been taken over by the armies of Alexander I of Russia in the Finnish War, Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. In 1811 Alexander I incorporated Russian Vyborg province into Grand Duchy of Finland. During the Russian era, the Finnish language began to gain recognition. From the 1860s onwards, a strong Finnish nationalist movement known as theFennoman movement grew. Milestones included the publication of what would become Finland's national epic – the Kalevala – in 1835, and the Finnish language's Urho Kekkonen, 8th President of Finland achieving equal legal status with Swedish in 1892. The Finnish famine of 1866–1868 killed 15% of the population, making it one of the worst famines in European history. The famine led the Russian Empire to ease financial regulations, and investment rose in following decades. Economic and political development was rapid.The GDP per capita was still half of that of the United States and a third of that of Britain. In 1906, universal suffrage was adopted in the Grand Duchy of Finland. However, the relationship between the Grand Duchy and the Russian Empire soured when the Russian government made moves to restrict Finnish autonomy. For example, the universal suffrage was, in practice, virtually meaningless, since the tsar did not have to approve any of the laws adopted by the Finnish parliament. Desire for independence gained ground, first among radical liberals and socialists.

Civil war and early independence:

After the 1917 February Revolution the position of Finland as part of the Russian Empire was questioned, mainly by Social Democrats. Since the head of state was the Czar of Russia, it was not clear who the chief executive of Finland was after the revolution. The parliament, controlled by social democrats, passed the so-called Power Law, which would give the highest authority to the parliament. This was rejected by the Russian Provisional Government and by the right wing parties in Finland. The Provisional Government dissolved the parliament by force, which the social democrats considered illegal, since the right to do so was stripped from the Russians by the Power Law. New elections were conducted, in which right wing parties won a slim majority. Some social democrats refused to accept the result and still claimed that the dissolution of the parliament (and thus the ensuing elections) were extralegal. The two nearly equally powerful political blocs, the right wing parties and the social democratic party, were highly antagonized. The October Revolution in Russia changed the game anew. Suddenly, the right-wing parties in Finland started to reconsider their decision to block the transfer of highest executive power from the Russian government to Finland, as radical communists took power in Russia. Rather than acknowledge the authority of the Power Law of a few months earlier, the right-wing government declared independence on December 6, 1917. On January 27, 1918, the official opening shots of the war were fired in two simultaneous events. The government started to disarm the Russian forces in Pohjanmaa, and the Social Democratic Party staged a coup. The latter succeeded in controlling southern Finland and Helsinki, but the white government continued in exile from Vaasa. This sparked the brief but bitter civil war. The Whites, who were supported by Imperial Germany, prevailed over the Reds. After the war tens of thousands of Reds and suspected sympathizers were interned in camps, where thousands died by execution or from malnutrition and disease. Deep social and political enmity was sown between the Reds and Whites and would last until the Winter War and beyond. The civil war and activist expeditions to the Soviet Union strained Eastern relations. After a brief flirtation with monarchy, Finland became a presidential republic, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg elected as its first president in 1919. The Finnish–Russian border was determined by the Treaty of Tartu in 1920, largely following the historic border but granting Pechenga (Finnish: Petsamo) and its Barents Sea harbour to Finland. Finnish democracy did not see any Soviet coup attempts and survived the anti-Communist Lapua Movement. The relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union was tense. Germany's relations with Finland were also not good. Military was trained in France instead, and relations to Western Europe and Sweden were strengthened. In 1917 the population was 3 million. Credit-based land reform was enacted after the civil war, increasing the proportion of capital-owning population. About 70% of workers were occupied in agriculture and 10% in industry. The largest export markets were the United Kingdom and Germany.

World War II:

During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union twice: in the Winter War of 1939–40 after the Soviet Union had attacked Finland; and in the Continuation War of 1941–44, following Operation Barbarossa, in which Germany invaded the Soviet Union. For 872 days, the German army besieged Leningrad, the Soviet Union's second largest city. The siege of Leningrad resulted in the deaths of some one million of the city's inhabitants. Finnish troops controlled some of the areas around the city but refused to attack or let Germans use those areas for attack; whether they should be said to have helped in the siege or refused to help is controversial. After fighting amajor Soviet offensive in June/July 1944 to a standstill, Finland reached an armistice with the Soviet Union. This was followed by the Lapland War of 1944–45, when Finland forced the Germans out of northern Finland. The treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included Finnish obligations, restraints and reparations – as well as further Finnish territorial concessions begun in the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940. As a result of the two wars, Finland was forced to cede most of Finnish Karelia,Salla and Petsamo, which amounted to ten percent of its land area and twenty percent of its industrial capacity, including the ports of Vyborg (Viipuri) and ice-free Liinakhamari (Liinahamari). Almost the whole population, some 400,000 persons, fled these areas. Finland was never occupied by Soviet forces and retained its independence, however at a loss of about 93 000 soldiers killed, by proportion the third-highest loss rate in World War II. Finland rejected Marshall aid, in apparent deference to Soviet desires. However, the United States provided secret development aid and helped the still non-communist Social Democratic Party in hopes of preserving Finland's independence. Establishing trade with the Western powers, such as the United Kingdom, and the reparations to the Soviet Union caused Finland to transform itself from a primarily agrarian economy to an industrialised one. For example, the Valmet corporation was founded to create materials for war reparations. Even after the reparations had been paid off, Finland – poor in certain resources necessary for an industrialized nation (such as iron and oil) – continued to trade with the Soviet Union in the framework of bilateral trade.

Cold War:

In 1950 half of the Finnish workers were occupied in agriculture and a third lived in urban areas. The new jobs in manufacturing, services and trade quickly attracted people to the towns. The average number of births per woman declined from a baby boom peak of 3.5 in 1947 to 1.5 in 1973. When baby-boomers entered the workforce, the economy did not generate jobs fast enough, and hundreds of thousands emigrated to the more industrialized Sweden, with emigration peaking in 1969 and 1970. The 1952 Summer Olympics brought international visitors. Finland took part in trade liberalization in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Officially claiming to be neutral, Finland lay in the grey zone between the Western countries and the Soviet Union. The YYA Treaty (Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance) gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics. This was extensively exploited by President Urho Kekkonen against his opponents. He maintained an effective monopoly on Soviet relations from 1956 on, which was crucial for his continued popularity. In politics, there was a tendency of avoiding any policies and statements that could be interpreted as anti-Soviet. This phenomenon was given the name "Finlandization" by the German press. Despite close relations with the Soviet Union, Finland remained a Western European market economy. Various industries benefited from trade privileges with the Soviets, which explains the widespread support that pro-Soviet policies enjoyed among business interests in Finland. Economic growth was rapid in the postwar era, and by 1975 Finland's GDP per capita was the 15th highest in the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, Finland built one of the most extensive welfare states in the world. Finland also negotiated with the EEC (a predecessor of the European Union) a treaty that mostly abolished customs duties towards the EEC starting from 1977, although Finland did not fully join. In 1981, President Urho Kekkonen's failing health forced him to retire after holding office for 25 years. Miscalculated macroeconomic decisions, a banking crisis, the collapse of its primary trading partner (the Soviet Union) and a global economic downturn caused a deep recession in Finland in the early 1990s. The depression bottomed out in 1993, and Finland saw steady economic growth for more than ten years.

Recent history:

Like other Nordic countries, Finland has liberalized its economy since the late 1980s. Financial and product market regulation was loosened. Some state enterprises have been privatized and there have been some modest tax cuts. Finland joined the European Union in 1995, and the Eurozone in 1999. The population is aging with the birth rate at 10.42 births per 1,000 population, or a fertility rate of 1.8. With a median age of 41.6 years, Finland is one of the oldest countries; half of voters are estimated to be over 50 years old. Like most European countries, without further reforms or much higher immigration, Finland is expected to struggle with demographics, even though macroeconomic projections are healthier than in most other developed countries. The Finnish markka was replaced by the euro in 2002. As a preparation for this date, the minting of the new euro coins started as early as 1999; this is why the first euro coins from Finland have the year 1999 on them, instead of 2002 like some of the other countries of the Eurozone. Three different designs (one for €2 coin, one for €1 coin and one for the other six coins) were selected for the Finnish coins. In 2007, in order to adopt the new common map like the rest of the Eurozone countries, Finland changed the common side of their coins.

St. Nicholas Day Worldwide - Dec 6

Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος, Hagios ["holy"] Nicolaos ["victory of the people"]) (270–6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker (Greek: Νικόλαος ο Θαυματουργός, Nikolaos o Thaumaturgos). He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of "Saint Nikolaos". His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari, in southeastern Italy; for this reason, he is also known as Nikolaos of Bari. His feastday is 6 December [O.S. 19 December]. The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honored by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, and students in Greece,Belgium, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Albania, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia,Slovakia, Serbia, and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Aberdeen, Amsterdam,Barranquilla, Bari, Beit Jala, Fribourg, Huguenots, Kozani, Liverpool, Paternopoli, Sassari,Siggiewi, and Lorraine. He was also a patron of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors, who protected his relics in Bari.

Life

Nicholas was born a Greek in Asia Minor during the third century in the Greek city ofPatara which was a port on the Mediterranean Sea and was located in Myra, Lycia, a Greek province of Asia Minor (part of modern-day Demre Turkey), at a time when the region was Greek in its heritage, culture and outlook and was part of the Roman province of Asia.He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Epiphanus (Επιφάνιος) and Johanna (Ιωάννα)according to some accounts and Theophanes (Θεοφάνης) and Nonna (Νονά) according to others. He was very religious from an early age and according to legend, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader, and later as presbyter (priest). Nicholas also spent a stint at a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle.

Translation of the relics

On 26 August 1071 Romanus IV, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (reigned 1068–1071), faced Sultan Alp Arslan of the Seljuk Turks (reigned 1059–1072) in the Battle of Manzikert. The battle ended in humiliating defeat and capture for Romanus. As a result the Empire temporarily lost control over most of Asia Minor to the invading Seljuk Turks. The Byzantines would regain its control over Asia Minor during the reign of Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081–1118). But early in his reign Myra was overtaken by the Islamic invaders. Taking advantage of the confusion, sailors from Bari in Apulia seized the remains of the saint from his burial church in Myra, over the objections of the Orthodox monks. Returning to Bari, they brought the remains with them and cared for them. The remains arrived on 9 May 1087. There are numerous variations of this account. In some versions those taking the relics are characterized as thieves or pirates, in others they are said to have taken them in response to a vision wherein Saint Nicholas himself appeared and commanded that his relics be moved in order to preserve them from the impending Muslim conquest. Vials of myrrh from his relics have been taken all over the world for centuries, and can still be obtained from his church in Bari. Currently at Bari, there are two churches at his shrine, one Roman Catholic and one Orthodox. According to a local legend, some of his remains were brought by three pilgrims to a church in what is now Nikolausberg in the vicinity of the city of Göttingen, Germany, giving the church and village its name. There is also a Venetian legend (preserved in the Morosini Chronicle) that most of the relics were actually taken to Venice Saint Nicholas, Russian icon from (where a great church to St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, first quarter of 18th cent. (Kizhi was built on the Lido), only an arm being left at Bari. This tra- monastery, Karelia). dition was overturned in the 1950s when a scientific investigation of the relics in Bari revealed a largely intact skeleton. It is said that in Myra the relics of Saint Nicholas each year exuded a clear watery liquid which smells like rose water, called manna (ormyrrh), which is believed by the faithful to possess miraculous powers. After the relics were brought to Bari, they continued to do so, much to the joy of the new owners. Even up to the present day, a flask of manna is extracted from the tomb of Saint Nicholas every year on 6 December (the Saint's feast day) by the clergy of the basilica. The myrrh is collected from a sarcophagus which is located in the basilica vault and could obtained in the shop nearby. On 28 December 2009, the Turkish Government announced that it would be formally requesting the return of St Nicholas's bones to Turkey from the Italian government. Turkish authorities have cited the fact that St Nicolas himself wanted to be buried at his episcopal town. They also state that his remains were illegally removed from Turkey.

Legends and folklore

Another legend tells how a terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Another version of this story, possibly formed around the eleventh century, claims that the butcher's victims were instead three clerks who wished to stay the night. The man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life. However, in his most famous exploit, a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house. One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes "of age". Invariably, the third time the father lies in wait, trying to discover the identity of their benefactor. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking.

The miracle of wheat multiplication

During a great famine that the Bishop of Myra experienced, a ship was is in the port at anchor, which was loaded with wheat for the Emperor in Byzantium. He invited the sailors to unload a part of the wheat to help in time of need. The sailors at first disliked the request, because the wheat had to be weighed accurately and delivered to the Emperor. Only when Nicholas promised them that they would not take any damage for their consideration, the sailors agreed. When they arrived later in the capital, they made a surprising find. The weight of the load had not changed. The removed wheat in Myra was even enough for two full years and could even be used for sowing.

The face of the historical saint

Whereas the devotional importance of relics and the economics associated with pilgrimages caused the remains of most saints to be divided up and spread over numerous churches in several countries, St. Nicholas is unique in that most of his bones have been preserved in one spot: his grave crypt in Bari. Even with the stillcontinuing miracle of the manna, the archdiocese of Bari has allowed for one scientific survey of the bones. In the late 1950s, during a restoration of the chapel, it allowed a team of hand-picked scientists to photograph and measure the contents of the crypt grave. In the summer of 2005, the report of these measurements was sent to a forensic laboratory in England. The review of the data revealed that the historical St. Nicholas was barely five feet in height and had a broken nose.

Formal veneration of the saint

Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy where the relics of St. Nicholas are kept today.

Among the Greeks and Italians he is a favorite of sailors,fishermen, ships and sailing. As such he has become over time the patron saint of several cities maintaining harbors. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as "The Lord of the Sea", often described by modern Greek scholars as a kind of Christianized version of Poseidon. In modern Greece, he is still easily among the most recognizable saints and 6 December finds many cities celebrating their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of all of Greece. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Nicholas' memory is celebrated on most every Thursday of the year (together with theApostles) with special hymns to him which are found in the liturgical book known as the Octoechos. Soon after the transfer of Saint Nicholas' relics from Myra to Bari, a Russian version of his Life and an account of the transfer of his relics were written by a contemporary to this event. Devotional akathists andcanons have been composed in his honour, and are frequently chanted by the faithful as they ask for his intercession. He is mentioned in the Liturgy of Preparation during the Divine Liturgy(Eastern Orthodox Eucharist) and during the All-Night Vigil. Many Orthodox churches will have his icon, even if they are not named after him. In late medieval England, on Saint Nicholas' Day parishes held Yuletide "boy bishop" celebrations. As part of this celebration, youths performed the functions of priests and bishops, and exercised rule over their elders. Today, Saint Nicholas is still celebrated as a great gift-giver in severalWestern European countries. According to one source, medieval nuns used the night of 6 December to anonymously deposit baskets of food and clothes at the doorsteps of the needy. According to another source, on 6 December every sailor or ex-sailor of the Low Countries (which at that time was virtually all of the male population) would descend to the harbour towns to participate in a church celebration for their patron saint. On the way back they would stop at one of the various Nicholas fairs to buy some hard-to-come-by goods, gifts for their loved ones and invariably some little presents for their children. While the real gifts would only be presented at Christmas, the little presents for the children were given right away, courtesy of Saint Nicholas. This and his miracle of him resurrecting the three butchered children, made Saint Nicholas a patron saint of children and later students as well. Among Albanians, Saint Nicholas is known as Shen'Kollë and is venerated by most Catholic families, even those from villages that are devoted to other saints. The Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on the eve of 5 December, known as Shen'Kolli i Dimnit (Saint Nicholas of Winter), as well as on the commemoration of the interring of his bones in Bari, the eve of 8 May, known as Shen'Kolli i Majit (Saint Nicholas of May). Albanian Catholics often swear by Saint Nicholas, saying "Pasha Shejnti Shen'Kollin!" ("May I see Holy Saint Nicholas!"), indicating the importance of this saint in Albanian culture, especially among the Albanians of Malësia. On the eve of his feast day, Albanians will light a candle and abstain from meat, preparing a feast of roasted lamb and pork, to be served to guests after midnight. Guests will greet each other, saying, "Nata e Shen'Kollit ju nihmoftë!" ("May the Night of Saint Nicholas help you!") and other such bless- Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death ings. The bones of Albania's greatest hero, (oil painting by Ilya Repin, 1888,State Russian MuGeorge Kastrioti, were also interred in the seum). Church of Saint Nicholas in Lezha, Albania, upon his death.

In Iconography

Saint Nicholas is a popular subject portrayed on countless Eastern Orthodox icons, particularlyRussian ones. He is depicted as an Orthodox bishop, wearing the omophorion and holding aGospel Book, sometimes he is depicted wearing the Eastern Orthodox mitre, sometimes he is bareheaded. Iconographically, Nicholas is depicted as an elderly man with a short, full white beard and balding head. In commemoration of the miracle attributed to him by tradition at the Ecumenical Council of Nicea, he is sometimes depicted with Christ over his left shoulder holding out a Gospel Book to him and the Theotokos over his right shoulder holding the omophorion. Because of his patronage of mariners, occasionally Saint Nicholas will be shown standing in a boat or rescuing a drowning sailor. In Roman Catholic iconography, Saint Nicholas is depicted as a bishop, wearing the insignia of this dignity: a red bishop's cloak, a red miter and a bishop's crozier. The episode with the three dowries is commemorated by showing him holding in his hand either three purses, three coins or three balls of gold. Depending on whether he is depicted as patron saint of children or sailors, his images will be completed by a background showing ships, children or three figures climbing out of a wooden barrel (the three slaughtered children he resurrected). In a strange twist, the three gold balls referring to the dowry affair are sometimes metaphorically interpreted as being oranges or other fruits. As in the Low Countries in medieval times oranges most frequently came from Spain, this led to the belief that the Saint lives in Spain and comes to visit every winter bringing them oranges, other 'wintry' fruits and tales of magical creatures.

Saint Nicholas Day

The tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, usually on 6 December (non-orthodox countries [O.S. 19 December (in most Orthodox countries)], is a festival for children in many countries in Europe related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts. The American Santa Claus, as well as the Anglo-Canadian and British Father Christmas, derive from these legends. "Santa Claus" is itself derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas.

France

St. Nicolas comes primarily in Alsace, Lorraine and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (French Flanders). St. Nicolas is patron of Lorraine. A little donkey carries baskets filled with children's gifts, cookies and sweets. The whole family gets ready for the saint's arrival on December 6, with grandparents telling stories of the saint. The most popular one is of three children who wandered away and got lost. Cold and hungry, a wicked butcher lured them into his shop where he attacked and salted them away in a large tub. Through the intervention of St. Nicolas the boys were restored to their Mikulás in Ečka (Vojvodina - Serbia) brings joy to families. This story led to Nicolas being rec- children in 2010. ognized as the protector of children. In France statues and paintings often portray this event, showing the saint with children in a barrel. The evil butcher became Père Fouettard, who has followed St Nicolas in shame ever since. This story is also a popular French children's song. Meanwhile bakeries and home kitchens are a hive of activity as spiced gingerbread cookies and mannala, brioche shaped like the good saint, are baked. At school children learn St. Nicolas songs and poems and draw and paint St. Nicolas pictures and crafts. Saint Nicolas visits nursery schools, giving children chocolates and sometimes even a little present. Though Père Fouettard carries switches to threaten the children, what they really fear is that he may advise Saint Nicolas to pass them by on his giftgiving rounds.

Malta

In Malta, St. Nicholas is the patron Saint of the Village of Siggiewi. The ruins of the former parish church, dedicated to St Nicholas of Bari are still visible today. Lately, great restoration works have been carried out and retrieved its old glory. The baroque parish church, dedicated to the same saint, was erected by the villagers who raised the necessary funds between the years 1676 to 1693. It was designed by the Maltese architect, Lorenzo Gafà but underwent some changes throughout the years. The portico and naves were added by Professor Nicola Żammit in the latter half of the 19th century. He is kind to all people.

Ireland

The saint who inspired the legend of Santa Claus is believed to have been buried in Newtown Jerpoint in Kilkenny some 800 years ago. Originally buried in Myra in modern day Turkey, his body was moved from there to Italy in 1169, but said to have been taken afterwards to Ireland by Nicholas de Frainet, a distant relative. The church of Saint Nicholas was built by his family there and dedicated to the memory of the saint. A slab grave on the ground of this church claims to hold his remains. There is a yearly Mass in relation to the memory of Saint Nicholas, but otherwise the celebration is quite low key.

Italy

St. Nicholas (San Nicola) is the patron of the city of Bari, where it is believed he is buried. Its deeply felt celebration is called the Festa di San Nicola, held on the 7–9 of May. In particular on 8 May the relics of the saint are carried on a boat on the sea in front of the city with many boats following (Festa a mare). On 6 December there is a ritual called the Rito delle nubili. The same tradition is currently observed in Sassari, where during the day of Saint Nicholas, patron of the city, gifts are given to young brides who need help before getting married. In the provinces of Trieste, Belluno and Trentino St. Nicholas (San Nicolò) is celebrated with gifts given to children on the morning of 6 December and with a fair called Fiera di San Nicolò during the first weeks of December. Depending on the cultural background, in some families this celebration is more important than Christmas. Trieste is a city on the sea, being one of the main ports of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is influenced mainly by Italian, Slovenian and German cultures, but also Greek and Serbian.

Spain

St. Nicholas ("San Nicolás") is the patron of the Valladolid, one of the two medieval universities of Spain.

Portugal

In one city (Guimarães) in Portugal, St. Nicholas (São Nicolau) has been celebrated since the Middle Ages as the patron saint of high-school students, in the so called Nicolinas, a group of festivities that occur from 29 November to 7 December each year. In the rest of Portugal this is not celebrated.

The Netherlands, Belgium, and Lower Rhineland (Germany)

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve (5 December) is the primary occasion for giftgiving, when his reputed birthday is celebrated. In the days leading up to 5 December (starting when Saint Nicholas has arrived in the Netherlands by steamboat in late November), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaassongs. Often they put a carrot or some hay in the shoes, as a gift to St. Nicholas' horse. (In recent years the horse has been Russian Orthodox statue of Saint Nicolas, now in a named Amerigo in The Netherlands and corner near the church in Demre. Slechtweervandaag in Flanders.) The next morning they will find a small present in their shoes, ranging from sweets to marbles or some other small toy. On the evening of 5 December, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child who has behaved him- or herself in the past year (in practice, just like with Santa Claus, all children receive gifts without distinction). This is often done by placing a bag filled with presents outside the house or living room, after which a neighbour or parent bangs the door or window, pretending to be Sinterklaas' assistant. Another option is to hire or ask someone to dress up as Sinterklaas and deliver the presents personally. Sinterklaas wears abishop's robes including a red cape and mitre and is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dress, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' ("Black Petes") or "Père Fouettard" in the French-speaking part of Belgium. The myth is, if a child had been naughty, the Zwarte Pieten put all the naughty children in sacks, and Sinterklaas took them to Spain (it is believed that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, where he returns after 5 December). Therefore, many Sinterklaas songs still allude to a watching Zwarte Piet and a judging Sinterklaas. In the past number of years, there has been a recurrent discussion about the politically incorrect nature of the Moorish helper. In particular Dutch citizens with backgrounds from Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles might feel offended by the Dutch slavery history connected to this emblem and regard the Zwarte Pieten to be racist. Others state that the black skin color of Zwarte Piet originates in his profession as a chimneysweep, hence the delivery of packages though the chimney. In recent years, Christmas (along with Santa Claus) has been pushed by shopkeepers as another gift-giving festival, with some success; although, especially for young children, Saint Nicholas' Eve is still much more important than Christmas. The rise of Father Christmas (known in Dutch as de Kerstman) is often cited as an example of globalisation and Americanisation. On the Frisian islands (Waddeneilanden), the Sinterklaas feast has developed independently into traditions very different from the one on the mainland.

Germany

In Germany, Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel (Nikolaus boot) outside the front door on the night of 5 December. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have a tree branch (Rute) in their boots instead. Sometimes a disguised Nikolaus also visits the children at school or in their homes and asks them if they have been good (sometimes ostensibly checking his golden book for their record), handing out presents on a per-behavior basis. This has become more lenient in recent decades. But for some children, Nikolaus also elicited fear, as he was often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht (Servant Ruprecht), who would threaten to beat the children for misbehavior as using this myth to 'bring up cheek children' for a better, good behavior. Any kind of punishment isn't really following and just an antic legend. Knecht Ruprecht was equipped with eight deer legs. In German speaking parts of Switzerland, where he is called Schmutzli, he threatens to put badly behaved children in a sack and bring them away to the dark forest. In other accounts he throws the sack into the river, drowning the naughty children!

Central Europe

In highly Catholic regions, the local priest was informed by the parents about their children's behaviour and would then personally visit the homes in the traditional Christian garment and threaten to beat them with a rod. In parts of Austria, Krampusse, who local tradition says are Nikolaus's helpers (in reality, typically children of poor families), roamed the streets during the festival. They wore masks and dragged chains behind them. These Krampusläufe (Krampus runs) still exist. In Croatia, Nikolaus (Sveti Nikola) who visits on Saint Nicholas day (Nikolinje) brings gifts to children commending them for their good behaviour over the past year and exhorting them to continue in the same manner in the year to come. If they fail to do so they will receive a visit from Krampus who traditionally leaves a rod, an instrument their parents will use to discipline them. In Czech and Slovakia, Mikuláš, in Poland Mikołaj and in Ukraine Svyatyi Mykolay is often also accompanied by an angel (anděl/anioł/anhel) who acts as a counterweight to the ominous devil orKnecht Ruprecht (čert/czart). Additionally, in Poland children find the candy and small gifts under the pillow or in their shoes the evening of 5 December [O.S. 18 December (in Ukraine)] or the morning of 6 December [O.S. 19 December]. In Hungary and Romania, children typically leave their boots on the windowsill on the evening of 5 December. By next morning Nikolaus (Szent Miklós traditionally but more commonly known asMikulás in Hungary or Moş Nicolae (Sfântul Nicolae) in Romania) leaves candy and gifts if they have been good, or a rod (Hungarian: virgács, Romanian: nuieluşǎ) if they have been bad (most kids end up getting small gifts but also a small rod). In Hungary he is often accompanied by theKrampusz, the frightening helper who is out to take away the bad ones. In Luxembourg, Kleeschen is accompanied by the Houseker a frightening helper wearing a brown monk's habit. In Slovenia, Saint Nikolaus (Miklavž) is accompanied by an angel and a devil (parkelj) corresponding to the Austrian Krampus.

Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria

In Greece, Saint Nicholas does not carry an especial association with gift-giving, as this tradition is carried over to St. Basil of Cesarea, celebrated on New Year's Day. St. Nicholas being the protector of sailors, he is considered the patron saint of the Greek navy, war and merchant alike and his day is marked by festivities aboard all ships and boats, at sea and in port. It is also associated with the preceding feasts of St. Barbara (4 December), St. Savvas (5 December), and the following feast of St. Anne (9 December); all these are often collectively called the "Nikolobárbara", and are considered a succession of days that heralds the onset of truly wintry cold weather in the country. Therefore by tradition, homes should have already been laid with carpets, removed for the warm season, by St. Andrew's Day (30 November), a week ahead of theNikolobárbara. In Serbia and among the Serbian people living across the world, Saint Nicholas is celebrated as patron saint of many families, and is as such celebrated in the tradition of Slava. Since the feast of Saint Nicholas always falls in the fasting period preceding the Christmas, feast is celebrated according to the Eastern Orthodox Church fasting rules ("Post"). Fasting refers in this context to the eating of a restricted diet for reasons of Religion. Saint Nicholas'"Slava" is the most celebrated by the Serbian people In the Republic of Bulgaria, Saint Nicholas is one of the most celebrated saints. Many churches and monasteries are named after him. As a holiday Saint Nicholas is celebrated on the 6th of December.

Lebanon

Saint Nicholas is celebrated by all the Christian communities in Lebanon: Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian. Many places, churches, convents, and schools are named in honor of Saint Nicholas, such as Escalier Saint-Nicolas des Arts, Saint Nicolas Garden, and Saint Nicolas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Palestine

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of the town of Beit Jala. This little town, which is located only two kilometers to the west of Bethlehem, boasts of being the place where St. Nicholas spent four years of his life during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Every year on the 19th of December according to the Gregorian Calendar—that is the 6th of December according to the Julian Calendar—a solemn Divine Liturgy is held in the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, and is usually followed by parades, exhibitions, and many activities. Palestinian Christians of all sects, denominations and churches come to Beit Jala and participate in prayers and celebrations.

United States and Canada

While feasts of Saint Nicholas are not observed nationally, cities with strong German influences like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis celebrate St. Nick's Day on a scale similar to the German custom. As in other countries, many people in the United states celebrate a separate St Nicholas Day by putting their shoes outside their bedroom doors on the evening of 5 December. St Nicholas then comes during the night. On the morning of 6 December, those people will find their shoes filled with gifts and sugary treats. Widespread adoption of the tradition has spread among the German, Polish, Belgian and Dutch communities throughout the United States. On the day after Thanksgiving or sometime in December, children and their families put up a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree is a medium-sized pine, fir, or spruce tree that they put in their family room and decorate with ornaments and garlands of all sorts. They also normally put a star or angel on the top, as a symbol of Christ's birth. On 24 December, Christmas Eve, each child puts one empty stocking/sock on their fireplace. The following morning of 25 December, the children awake to find that St. Nick has filled their stockings with candy and small presents (if the children have been good) or coal (if not). Gifts often include chocolate gold coins to represent the gold St. Nick gave to the poor and small trinkets. They also awake to find presents under the tree, wrapped in Christmas-themed paper. This is a very traditional part of Christmas.

In music

• • •

San Nicola di Bari, an oratorio composed by Giovanni Battista Bononcini (1693). St. Nicolas, a choral song for male choir by Edward Purcell (1730). Saint Nicolas, a Christmas cantata by Benjamin Britten (1948).

Operetta St. Nicholas arrives

Salesian priest Dr. Jerko Gržinčič wrote a Christmas operetta in three acts entitled Miklavž prihaja (St. Nicholas arrives). The premiere took place before World War II in the Union Hostel in Ljubljana (now in Slovenia) with great success.

Metamorphosis in Demre

The metamorphosis of Saint Nicholas into the more commercially lucrative Santa Claus, which took several centuries in Europe and America, has recently been re-enacted in the saint's home town: the city of Demre. This modern Turkish town is built near the ruins of ancient Myra. As St. Nicholas is a very popular Orthodox saint, the city attracts many Russian tourists. A solemn bronze statue of the Saint by the Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky, donated by the Russian government in 2000, was given a prominent place on the square in front of the medieval church of St. Nicholas. In 2005, mayor Suleyman Topcu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue, because he wanted the central statue to be more recognizable to visitors from all over the world. Protests from the Russian government against this action were successful only to the extent that the Russian statue was returned, without its original high pedestal, to a corner near the church. Restoration on Saint Nicholas' original church in Demre is currently under way. In 2007, the Turkish Ministry of Culture gave permission for the Divine Liturgy to be celebrated at the site, and has contributed the sum of forty-thousand Turkish Lira to the project..


St. Ambrose Day (Milan Only) ITALY - D e c 7

Battle of the Falklands Day FALK LAND ISLANDS- Dec 8

The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic. The British, after a defeat at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November, sent a large force to track down and destroy the victorious German cruiser squadron. Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee—commanding the German squadron of two armoured cruisers, SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the light cruisersSMS Nürnberg, Dresden and Leipzig, and three auxiliaries—attempted to raid the British supply base at Stanley on the Falkland Isles. A larger British squadron— consisting of the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and Inflexible, the armoured cruisers HMS Carnarvon, Cornwall and Kent, and the light cruisers HMS Bristol and Glasgow—had arrived in the port only the day before. Visibility was at its maximum, the sea was placid with a gentle breeze from the north west, a bright, sunny, clear day. The advance cruisers of the German squadron had been detected early on, and by nine A painting; Battle of the Falkland Islands. o'clock that morning the British battlecruisers and cruisers were in hot pursuit of the five German vessels, these having taken flight in line abreast to the south-east. All except Dresden and the auxiliary Seydlitz were hunted down and sunk.

Background

The British battlecruisers each mounted eight 12 in (300 mm) guns, whereas Spee's SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau each had eight 8.24 in (209 mm) guns. Additionally, the battlecruisers could make 25.5 kn (29.3 mph; 47.2 km/h) against Spee's 22.5 kn (25.9 mph; 41.7 km/h); thus, the British battlecruisers could both outrun their opponents and significantly outgun them. An obsolete pre-dreadnoughtbattleship—HMS Canopus—had also been grounded at Stanley to give a stable gunnery platform and act as a makeshift fortress for the defence of the area.

Spee's squadron:

Following von Spee's success on 1 November 1914 at the Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Valparaíso, Chile, where his German East Asia Squadron sank the cruisers HMS Good Hope (Admiral Cradock's flagship) and Monmouth, von Spee's force put into Valparaíso. As required under international law for belligerent ships in neutral countries, the ships left within 24 hours, moving to Mas Afuera, 400 mi (350 nmi; 640 km) off the Chilean coast. There they received news of the loss of the cruiser SMS Emden, which had previously detached from the squadron and had been raiding in the Indian Ocean. They also learned of the fall of the German colony at Tsingtao in China, which had been their home port. On 15 November, the squadron moved to Bahia San Quintin on the Chilean coast, where a ceremony was held to distribute 300 Iron Crosses second class, amongst the crew, and an Iron Cross first class to Admiral Spee. Spee was recommended to return to Germany if he could. His ships had used half their ammunition— which could not be replaced—at Coronel, and had difficulties obtaining coal. Intelligence reports suggested that the British ships Defence, Cornwall and Carnarvon were stationed in the River Plate, and that there had been no British warships at Stanley when recently visited by a steamer. Spee had been concerned about reports of a British battleship, Canopus, but its location was unknown. On 26 November, the squadron set sail for Cape Horn, which was reached HMS Inflexible picking up German sailors on 1 December, then anchored at Picton Island, from Gneisenau after the battle where they stayed for three days distributing coal from a captured British collier, Drummuir, and hunting. On 6 December, the British vessel was scuttled and the crew transferred to the auxiliary Seydlitz. The same day Spee proposed to raid the Falkland Islands before turning north. The raid was unnecessary because the squadron already had as much coal as they could carry and was opposed by most of Spee's captains, but he decided to proceed.

British preparations:

On 30 October, retired Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher was reappointed First Sea Lord to replace Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg, who had been forced to resign because of public outcry against a perceived German prince running the British navy. On 3 November, Fisher was advised that Spee had been sighted off Valparaíso and acted to reinforce Cradock by ordering HMS Defence, already sent to patrol the eastern coast of South America, to reinforce his squadron. On 4 November, news of the defeat at Coronel arrived. As a result, battlecruisers HMS Invincible and Inflexible were ordered to leave the Grand Fleet and sail to Plymouth for overhaul and preparation for service abroad. Chief of Staff at the Admiralty was Vice-Admiral Doveton Sturdee. Fisher had a long-standing disagreement with Sturdee, who had been one of those calling for his earlier dismissal as First Sea Lord in 1911, so he took the opportunity to appoint Sturdee Commander in Chief, South Atlantic and Pacific, to command the new squadron from Invincible. On 11 November, Invincible and Inflexible left Devonport, although repairs to Invincible were incomplete and she sailed with workmen still aboard. Despite the urgency of the situation and their maximum speed of around 25 kn (29 mph; 46 km/h), the ships travelled at a steady 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h); running at high speed used significantly more coal, so to complete the long journey it was necessary to travel at the most economic speed. The two ships were also heavily loaded with supplies. Although secrecy of the mission was considered important so as to surprise Spee, on 17 November Lieutenant Hirst from Glasgow heard locals discussing the forthcoming arrival of the ships while ashore at Cape Verde; however the news did not reach Spee. Sturdee arrived at the Abrolhos Rocks on 26 November, where Rear Admiral Stoddart awaited him with the remainder of the squadron. Sturdee announced his intention to depart for the Falkland Islands on 29 November. From there, the fast light cruisers Glasgow and Bristolwould patrol seeking Spee, summoning reinforcements if they found him. Captain Luce of Glasgow, who had been at the battle of Coronel, objected that there was no need to wait so long and persuaded Sturdee to depart a day early. The squadron was delayed during the journey for 12 hours when a cable towing targets for practice firing became wrapped around one of Invincible's propellers, but the ships arrived on the morning of 7 December. The two light cruisers moored in the inner part of Stanley Harbour, while the larger ships remained in the deeper outer harbour of Port William. Divers set about removing the cable wrapped around Invincible's propeller. Cornwall extinguished her boiler fires to make repairs, and Bristol dismantled one of her engines. The famous ship SS Great Britain—reduced to a coal bunker—supplied coal toInvincible and Inflexible. The armed merchant cruiser Macedonia was ordered to patrol the harbour, while Kent maintained steam in her boilers, ready to replace Macedonia the next day, 8 December. Spee's fleet arrived the morning of the 8th.

Outcome Ten British sailors were killed during the battle and nineteen wounded; none of the British ships was badly damaged.

2,200 German sailors were killed or drowned in the encounter, including Admiral Spee and his two sons. A further 215 survivors were rescued and ended up prisoners on the British ships. Most of them were from the Gneisenau, nine from Nürnberg and 18 from Leipzig. There were no survivors from Scharnhorst. Of the known German force of eight ships, two escaped: the auxiliary Seydlitz and the light cruiser Dresden, which roamed at large for a further three months before her captain was cornered by a British squadron off the Juan Fernández Islands on 14 March 1915. After fighting a short battle, Dresden's captain evacuated his ship and scuttled her by detonating the main ammunition magazine. As a consequence of the battle, German commerce raiding on the high seas by regular warships of the Kaiserliche Marine was brought to an end. However, Germany put several armed merchant vessels into service as commerce raiders until the end of the war (for example, see Felix von Luckner).

Service trap Secret After the disaster, German naval experts were baffled at why Admiral Spee attacked the base and how the two

squadrons could have met so coincidentally in so many thousands miles of open waters. Kaiser William II's handwritten note on the official report of the battle reads: "It remains a mystery what made Spee attack the Falkland Islands." See Mahan's Naval Strategy." It is generally believed that Spee was misled by the German admiralty into attacking the Falklands. He called a meeting of his officers and announced that he would attack the base which acted as a coaling station and wireless relay station for the British, as his intelligence, received from the German wireless station at Valparaíso, reported the port to be free of Royal Navy warships. Despite objections by the captains of three of his ships, the attack proceeded. However, in 1925 the German naval officer, Franz von Rintelen, interviewed Admiral William Reginald Hall, Director of the Admiralty's Naval Intelligence Division (NID), who said that the Spee Squadron had been lured towards the British battlecruiser squadron by means of a fake signal sent in a German naval code broken by British cryptographers. Broadcast of a false order in a broken naval code would have been against the British Naval Staff's policy as noted by Rear-Admiral Herbert Hope "In a very few months we obtained a very good working knowledge of the organization, operations, and internal economy of the German Fleet. Had we been called upon by the Staff to do so, we could have furnished valuable information as to the movements of submarines, minefields, mine-sweeping, etc. But the Staff was obsessed by the idea of secrecy; they realized that they held the trump card and they worked on the principle that every effort must be made to keep our knowledge up our sleeves for a really great occasion such as the German Fleet coming out in all their strength to throw down the gage of battle. In other words the Staff determined to make use of our information defensively and not offensively" No less than Winston Churchill replied most sharply to Admiral Jellicoe even mentioning the subject by telegraph specifically, so sharp was the concern that the breaking of the German Naval codes might be uncovered.

Immaculate Conception Worldwide- Dec 8

The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain (in Latin, macula or labes, the second of these two synonymous words being the one used in the formal definition) of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology. It is completely distinct from the Virginity of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus, though it is a popular mistake to confuse them. Mary is sometimes called the Immaculata (the Immaculate One), particularly in artistic contexts. The proclaimed Roman Catholic dogma states "that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin". Being always free from original sin, she was from the start filled with the sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth. Although widely-held since at least Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not formally proclaimed until Pope Pius IX did so in 1854 in Ineffabilis Deus.

Distinctions

Original sin and actual (personal) sin:

The defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception regards original sin only: the definition makes no declaration about the Church's belief that the Blessed Virgin was sinless, in the sense of actual or personal sin. However, the Church also holds that Mary was also sinless personally, that she was "free from all sin, original or personal". The Council of Trent decreed: "If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can La Purisima Inmaculada Concepcion avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1678, God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him now in Museo del Prado, Spain. be anathema."

Immaculate conception and virginal conception:

Mary's immaculate conception (her being conceived free from original sin) must not be confused with her virginal conception of her son Jesus. This misunderstanding of the term immaculate conception is frequently met in the mass media. Catholics believe that Mary was not the product of a virginal conception herself and was the daughter of a human father and mother, traditionally known by the names of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, and both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have condemned the belief that Mary was virginally conceived. The Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (when Mary was conceived free from original sin) on 8 December, exactly nine months before celebrating the Nativity of Mary. The feast of the Annunciation (which commemorates the virginal conception and the Incarnation of Jesus) is celebrated on 25 March, nine months before Christmas Day.

Immaculate conception and redemption:

Another misunderstanding is that, by her immaculate conception, Mary did not need a saviour. When defining the dogma in Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX explicitly affirmed that Mary was redeemed in a manner more sublime. He stated that Mary, rather than being cleansed after sin, was completely prevented from contracting Original Sin in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race. In Luke 1:47, Mary proclaims: "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour." This is referred to as Mary's pre-redemption by Christ. Since the Council of Orange II against semi-pelagianism, the Catholic Church has taught that even had man never sinned in the Garden of Eden and was sinless, he would still require God's grace to remain sinless.

History

An 11th century Eastern Orthodox icon

By the 7th century the feast of her conception was widely cel- of the Theotokos Panachranta, i.e. the ebrated in the East, under the name of the Conception (active) of Saint Anne. In the West it was known as the feast of "all immaculate" Mary the Conception (passive) of Mary, and was associated particularly with the Normans, whether these introduced it directly from the East or took it from English usage. The spread of the feast, by now with the adjective "Immaculate" attached to its title, met opposition on the part of some, on the grounds that sanctification was possible only after conception. Critics included Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Other theologians defended the expression "Immaculate Conception", pointing out that sanctification could be conferred at the first moment of conception in view of the foreseen merits of Christ, a view held especially by Franciscans. Writers such as Mark Miravalle and Sarah Jane Boss interpret the existence of the feast as a strong indication of the Church's traditional belief in the Immaculate Conception. On 28 February 1476, Pope Sixtus IV, a Franciscan after whom the Sistine Chapel is named, authorized those dioceses that wished to introduce the feast to do so, and introduced it to his own diocese of Rome in 1477, with a specially composed Mass and Office of the feast. With his bull Cum praeexcelsa of 28 February 1477, in which he referred to the feast as that of the Conception of Mary, without using the word "Immaculate", he granted indulgences to those who would participate in the specially composed Mass or Office on the feast itself or during its octave, and he used the word "immaculate" of Mary, but applied instead the adjective "miraculous" to her conception. On 4 September 1483, referring to the feast as that of "the Conception of Immaculate Mary ever Virgin", he condemned both those who called it mortally sinful and heretical to hold that the "glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin" and those who called it mortally sinful and heretical to hold that "the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin", since, he said, "up to this time there has been no decision made by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See." This decree was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent. Under Pope Pius V, the Pope who in 1570 established the Tridentine Mass, included the feast (but without the adjective "Immaculate") in theTridentine Calendar, but suppressed the existing special Mass for the feast, directing that the Mass for the Nativity of Mary (with the word "Nativity" replaced by "Conception") be used instead. Part of that earlier Mass was revived in the Mass that Pope Pius IX ordered to be used on the feast and that is still in use. On 6 December 1708, Pope Clement XI made the feast of the Conception of Mary, at that time still with the Nativity of Mary formula for the Mass, a Holy Day of Obligation. Until Pope Pius X reduced in 1911 the number of Holy Days of Obligation to 8, there were in the course of the year 36 such days, apart from Sundays.

Definition of the dogma:

During the reign of Pope Gregory XVI the bishops in various countries began to press for a definition as dogma of the teaching of Mary's immaculate conception. Pius IX, at the beginning of his pontificate, and again after 1851, appointed commissions to investigate the whole subject, and he was advised that the doctrine was one which could be Altar of the Immaculata by Joseph defined and that the time for a definition was opportune. Lusenberg, 1876. Saint Antony's On 8 December 1854, in a great assembly of bishops in St Church, Urtijëi, Italy. Peter's Basilica at Rome, he promulgated the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in which the history of the doctrine is summarily traced, and which contains the definition as given above It was not until 1854 that Pope Pius IX, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic bishops, whom he had consulted between 1851–1853, promulgated the papal bullIneffabilis Deus (Latin for "Ineffable God"), which defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful. —Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854 The dogma was defined in accordance with the conditions of papal infallibility, which would be defined in 1870 by the First Vatican Council. The papal definition of the dogma declares with absolute certainty and authority that Mary possessed sanctifying grace from the first instant of her existence and was free from the lack of grace caused by the original sin at the beginning of human history. Mary's salvation was won by her son Jesus Christ through his passion, death, and resurrection and was not due to her own merits.

Later developments within the Catholic Church:

For the Roman Catholic Church the dogma of the Immaculate Conception gained additional significance from the reputed apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1858. At Lourdes a 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed that a beautiful woman appeared to her and said, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Many believe the woman to have been the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray to her as such. In this sense the dogma of the Immaculate Conception defined by Pope Pius IX is also viewed as a key example of the use of sensus fidelium shared by believers and the Magisterium rather than pure reliance on Scripture and Tradition. The Vatican quotes in this context Fulgens Corona, where Pius XII supported such a faith: If the popular praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary be given the careful consideration they deserve, who will dare to doubt that she, who was purer than the angels and at all times pure, was at any moment, even for the briefest instant, not free from every stain of sin? The Roman Catholic tradition has a well-established philosophy for the study of the Immaculate Conception and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the field of Mariology, with Pontifical schools such as the Marianum specifically devoted to this.

Medieval dispute about the doctrine

It seems to have been St Bernard of Clairvaux who, in the 12th century, explicitly raised the question of the Immaculate Conception. A feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin had already begun to be celebrated in some churches of the West . St Bernard blames the canons of the metropolitan church of Lyon for instituting such a festival without the permission of the Holy See . In doing so, he takes occasion to repudiate altogether the view that the conception of Mary was sinless. It is doubtful, however, whether he was using the term "conception" in the same sense in which it is used in the definition of Pope Pius IX. Bernard would seem to have United States National Shrine of the Imbeen speaking of conception in the active sense of the maculate Conception mother's cooperation, for in his argument he says: "How can there be absence of sin where there is concupiscence (libido)?" and stronger expressions follow, showing that he is speaking of the mother and not of the child. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the medieval scholastics, refused to admit the Immaculate Conception, on the ground that, unless the Blessed Virgin had at one time or other been one of the sinful, she could not justly be said to have been redeemed by Christ. Saint Bonaventure (d . 1274), second only to Saint Thomas in his influence on the Christian schools of his age, hesitated to accept it for a similar reason. He believed that Mary was completely free from sin, but that she was not given this grace at the instant of her conception. The celebrated John Duns Scotus (d . 1308), a Franciscan like Saint Bonaventure, argued, on the contrary, that from a rational point of view it was certainly as little derogatory to the merits of Christ to assert that Mary was by him preserved from all taint of sin, as to say that she first contracted it and then was delivered. Proposing a solution to the theological problem of reconciling the doctrine with that of universal redemption in Christ, he argued that Mary's immaculate conception did not remove her from redemption by Christ; rather it was the result of a more perfect redemption granted her because of her special role in salvationhistory. The arguments of Scotus, combined with a better acquaintance with thelanguage of the early Fathers, gradually prevailed in the schools of the Western Church. In 1387 the university of Paris strongly condemned the opposite view. Scotus's arguments remained controversial, however, particularly among the Dominicans, who were willing enough to celebrate Mary's sanctificatio (being made free from sin) but, following the Dominican Thomas Aquinas' arguments, continued to insist that her sanctification could not have occurred until after her conception. Popular opinion remained firmly behind the celebration of Mary's conception. In 1409, the Council of Basel, which is not reckoned an ecumenical council, stated that belief in the immaculate conception of Mary is in accord with the Catholic faith. By the end of the 15th century was widely professed and taught in many theological faculties, but such was the influence of the Dominicans, and the weight of the arguments of Thomas Aquinas (who had been canonised in 1323 and declared "Doctor Angelicus" of the Church in 1567) that the Council of Trent (1545–63)—which might have been expected to affirm the doctrine—instead declined to take a position.

Church Fathers

It is admitted that the doctrine as defined by Pius IX. was not explicitly mooted before the 12th century. It is also agreed that "no direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture". But it is claimed that the doctrine is implicitly contained in the teaching of the Fathers. Their expressions on the subject of the sinlessness of Mary are, it is pointed out, so ample and so absolute that they must be taken to include original sin as well as actual . Thus we have in the first five centuries such epithets applied to her as "in every respect holy", "in all things unstained", "super-innocent" and "singularly holy"; she is compared to Eve before the fall, as ancestress of a redeemed people; she is "the earth before it was accursed." The well-known words of St Augustine (d . 430) may be cited: " As regards the mother of God," he says, " I will not allow any question Immaculate Conception is presented by whatever of sin." It is true that he is here speaking directly artists in Orthodox Church too. Here of actual or personal sin. But his argument is that all men Holy Mary in Perlez, Vojvodina, Serbia. are sinners; that they are so through original depravity; that this original depravity may be overcome by the grace of God, and he adds that he does not know but that Mary may have had sufficient grace to overcome sin "of every sort" (omni ex parte). The bull of definition of the dogma, Ineffabilis Deus, mentioned in particular the patrististic interpretation of Genesis 3:15 as referring to a woman, Mary, who would be eternally at enmity with the evil serpent and completely triumphing over him. It said the Fathers saw foreshadowings of Mary's "wondrous abundance of divine gifts and original innocence" "in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world; in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned; in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully;Exodus 3:2</ref> in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong; in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots; in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains; in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendours, is full of the glory of God; and in very many other biblical types of this kind." The bull recounts that the Fathers interpreted the angel's address to Mary, "highly favoured one" or "full of grace", as indicating that "she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction"; and they "frequently compare her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocence, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent".

Patronage

In 1646, King John IV of Portugal proclaimed Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the nation's patron saint, so that 8 December is a special feast in Portugal. On the eve of the feast of the Conception of Mary, 7 December 1650, when the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland was already well advanced, the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the Confederation of Kilkenny, consecrated Ireland to the Immaculate Conception of Mary as follows: "By a unanimous vote of the Supreme Assembly it was decreed that the Virgin Mother of God, under her title of her Immaculate Conception, should be solemnly and publicly proclaimed Patroness of the Kingdom of Ireland, and that as a perpetual memorial to the happy event, the feast of the Immaculate Conception should be solemnly observed in Ireland from that day forward until the end of time.” By the Papal Bull Quantum ornamenti of 8 November 1760, Pope Clement XIII granted the request of KingCharles III of Spain that the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, should be a special patroness of Spain along with its eastern and western territories, while Saint James the Greatercontinued to be the principal national patron. On 13 May 1846, the United States bishops chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as Patroness of the country. Under the same invocation of the Immaculate Conception, Mary is the patron saint of Brazil, where devotion to her is centred on theBasilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in the town of Aparecida, built to house a small clay statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Who Appeared, which represents her in the traditional form associated with the Immaculate Conception. By the bull Impositi Nobis of 12 September 1942, Pope Pius XII, at the request of the bishops of the Philippines, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, principal patron of the Philippines, with Saints Pudentiana and Rose of Lima as secondary patrons. In that bull, the Pope mentioned that the 1907 provincial council of Manila had called Mary Immaculate principal patron saint of the whole Filipino people, and that there were historical documents that proved that Saint Pudentiana was considered patron of the Philippines from the 16th century and Saint Rose of Lima from the 17th.

Other churches

For differing reasons, belief in Mary's immaculate conception in the Catholic doctrinal form is not part of the official doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches.

Anglicanism:

Belief in Mary's immaculate conception is not a doctrine within Anglicanism, although it is shared by many Anglo-Catholics. In the Church of England's Common Worship prayer book, 8 December is designated a Lesser Festival of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary(without the adjective "immaculate"). The report "Mary: Faith and Hope in Christ", by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, concluded that the teaching about Mary in the two definitions of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception can be said to be consonant with the teaching of the Scriptures and the ancient common traditions. But the report expressed concerns that the Roman Catholic dogmatic definitions of these concepts implies them to be "revealed by God", stating: "The question arises for Anglicans, however, as to whether these doctrines concerning Mary are revealed by God in a way which must be held by believers as a matter of faith."

Eastern and Oriental Orthodox:

Eastern Orthodox Christians say that Mary was without sin for her entire life, but they object to the dogmatic declaration of her immaculate conception. In the tradition of Ethiopian Orthodoxy,, a branch of Oriental Orthodoxy, the Kebra Nagast says: He cleansed EVE'S body and sanctified it and made for it a dwelling in her for ADAM'Ssalvation. She [i.e., MARY] was born without blemish, for He made her pure, without pollution, and she redeemed his debt without carnal union and embrace...Through the transgression of EVE we died and were buried, and by the purity of MARY we receive honour, and are exalted to the heights (emphasis added).

Old Catholic:

While Old Catholics do not reject the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and some of their parishes venerate Mary as immaculately conceived and celebrate the feast of her Immaculate Conception, they do not accept its definition as a dogma, since they reject papal infallibility and with it the Pope's authority to define dogma.

Protestantism:

Martin Luther, who initiated the Protestant Reformation said: "Mary is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil". But in 1532 he denied Mary's immaculate conception, declaring: "Mary is conceived in sin just like us". However, some Lutherans, such as the members of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, support the doctrine. Most Protestants reject the doctrine because they do not consider the development of dogmatic theology to be authoritative apart from biblical exegesis, and because the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, is not taught in the Bible. The formal pronouncement of Mary's Immaculate Conception by the Catholic Church in 1854 alienated some Protestant Churches partly due to its implication that not all have sinned.

Islam

According to Blunt's Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, Muhammad taught the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, saying: "There is not one of the sons of Adam, except Mary and her Son, one born but is touched by the Devil at the time of his birth, and the child makes a loud noise from the touch." Writers such as George Sale have said that Mary's immaculate conception is taught in the Qur'an, but at least in some cases this is due to misunderstanding "immaculate conception" to mean "virginal conception".

Prayers and hymns

The Roman Missal and the Roman Rite Liturgy of the Hours naturally includes references to Mary's immaculate conception in the feast of the Immaculate Conception. An example is the antiphon that begins: "Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te" (You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original stain [of sin] is not in you. Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun. You are all beautiful, Mary, and the original stain [of sin] is not in you. You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people. You are all beautiful, Mary.) On the basis of the original Gregorian chant music, polyphonic settings have been composed by Anton Bruckner, Pablo Casals, Maurice Duruflé,Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki, no:Ola Gjeilo, José Maurício Nunes Garcia, and Nikolaus Schapfl, Other prayers honouring Mary's immaculate conception are in use outside the formal liturgy. The hymn Immaculate Mary, addressed to Mary as the Immaculately Conceived One, is closely associated with Lourdes. The Immaculata prayer, composed by Saint Maximillian Kolbe, is a prayer of entrustment to Mary as the Immaculata. A novena of prayers, with a specific prayer for each of the nine days has been composed under the title of the Immaculate Conception Novena.

Artistic representations

The 1476 extension of the feast of the Immaculate Conception to the entire Latin Church reduced the likelihood of controversy for the artist or patron in depicting an image, so that emblems depicting The Immaculate Conception began to appear. Many artists in the 15th century faced the problem of how to depict an abstract idea such as the Immaculate Conception, and the problem was not fully solved for 150 years. The Italian Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo was among those artists who tried new solutions, but none of these became generally adopted so that the subject matter would be immediately recognisable to the faithful. The definitive iconography for the Immaculate Conception, drawing on the emblem tradition, seems to have been finally established by the master and then father-in-law of Diego Velázquez, the painter and theorist Francisco Pacheco. Pacheco's iconography influenced other Spanish artists such as Bartolomé Murillo, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Zurbarán, who each produced a number of artistic masterpieces based on the use of these same symbols. The popularity of this particular representation of The Immaculate Conception spread across the rest of Europe, and has since remained the best known artistic depiction of the concept: in a heavenly realm, moments after her creation, the spirit of Mary (in the form of a young woman) looks up in awe at (or bows her head to) God. The moon is under her feet and a halo of twelve stars surround her head, possibly a reference to "a woman clothed with the sun" from Revelation 12:1-2. Additional imagery may include clouds, a golden light, and cherubs. In some paintings the cherubim are holding lilies and roses, flowers often associated with Mary.

Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose (c. between 337 and 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church.

Life

Political career:

Bishop of Milan:

In the late 4th century there was a deep conflict in the diocese of Milan between the Catholics and Arians. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, and the Arians challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call "Ambrose, bishop!", which was taken up by the whole assembly. Ambrose was known to be Catholic in belief, but also acceptable to Arians due to the charity shown in theological matters in this regard. At first he energetically refused the office, for which he was in no way prepared: Ambrose was neither baptized nor formally trained in theology. Upon his appointment, St. Ambrose fled to a colleague's home to seek hiding. Upon receiving a letter from the Emperor Gratian praising the appropriateness of Rome appointing individuals evidently worthy of holy positions, St. Ambrose's host gave Ambrose up. Within a week, Ambrose was baptized, ordained and duly consecrated bishop of Milan. As bishop, he immediately adopted an ascetic lifestyle, apportioned his money to the poor, donating all of his land, making only provision for his sister Marcellina (who later became a nun), and committed the care of his family to his brother. Ambrose also wrote a treatise by the name of "The Goodness Of Death".

Ambrose and Arians:

According to legend, Ambrose immediately and forcefully stopped Arianism in Milan. In his pursuit of the study of theology with Simplician, a presbyter of Rome he was to excel. Using his excellent knowledge of Greek, which was then rare in the West, to his advantage, he studied the Hebrew Bible and Greek authors like Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Basil of Caesarea, with whom he was also exchanging letters. He applied this knowledge as preacher, concentrating especially on exegesis of the Old Testament, and his rhetorical abilities impressed Augustine of Hippo, who hitherto had thought poorly of Christian preachers. In the confrontation with Arians, Ambrose sought to theologically refute their propositions, which were heretical. The Arians appealed to many high level leaders and clergy in both the Western and Eastern empires. Although the western Emperor Gratian held orthodox belief in theNicene creed, the younger Valentinian II, who became his colleague in the Empire, adhered to the Arian creed. Ambrose did not sway the young prince's position. In the East, Emperor Theodosius I likewise professed the Nicene creed; but there were many adherents of Arianism throughout his dominions, especially among the higher clergy. In this contested state of religious opinion, two leaders of the Arians, bishops Palladius of Ratiaria and Secundianus of Singidunum, confident of numbers, prevailed upon Gratian to call a general council from all parts of the empire. This request appeared so equitable that he complied without hesitation. However, Ambrose feared the consequences and prevailed upon the emperor to have the matter determined by a council of the Western The body of Ambrose (with white vestments) bishops. Accordingly, a synod composed of thirty-two in the crypt of Sant' Ambrogio basilica. bishops was held at Aquileia in the year 381. Ambrose was elected president and Palladius, being called upon to defend his opinions, declined. A vote was then taken, when Palladius and his associate Secundianus were deposed from the episcopal office. Nevertheless, the increasing strength of the Arians proved a formidable task for Ambrose. In 385 or 386 the emperor and his mother Justina, along with a considerable number of clergy and laity, especially military, professed Arianism. They demanded two churches in Milan, one in the city (the basilica of the Apostles), the other in the suburbs (St Victor's), to the Arians. Ambrose refused and was required to answer for his conduct before the council. He went, his eloquence in defense of the Church reportedly overawed the ministers of Emperor Valentinian, so he was permitted to retire without making the surrender of the churches. The day following, when he was performing divine service in the basilica, the prefect of the city came to persuade him to give up at least the Portian basilica in the suburbs. As he still continued obstinate, the court proceeded to violent measures: the officers of the household were commanded to prepare the Basilica and the Portian churches to celebrate divine service upon the arrival of the emperor and his mother at the ensuing festival of Easter. In spite of Imperial opposition, Bishop Ambrose declared: If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

Ambrose and Jews:

An address by Ambrose to Christian young people warns them against intermarriage with Jews ("De Abrahamo," ix. 84, xiv. 451). But his opposition assumed a more positive and active character in the matter of the bishop of Callinicum in Mesopotamia. It appears that in 388 a mob, led by the local bishop and many monks, destroyed the synagogue at Callinicum. The emperor Theodosius the Great ordered the rebuilding of the synagogue at the expense of the rioters, including the bishop. Ambrose immediately issued a fiery protest to the Emperor. He writes to Theodosius ("Epistolæ," xl. xvi. 1101 et seq.) that "the glory of God" is concerned in this matter, and that therefore he cannot be silent. "Shall the bishop be compelled to reerect a synagogue? Can he religiously do this thing? If he obey the emperor, he will become a traitor to his faith; if he disobey him, a martyr. What real wrong is there, after all, in destroying a synagogue, a 'home of perfidy, a home of impiety,' in which Christ is daily blasphemed? Indeed, he must consider himself no less guilty than this poor bishop; at least to the extent that he made no concealment of his wish that all synagogues should be destroyed, that no such places of blasphemy be further allowed to exist." At the end, he succeeded in obtaining from Theodosius a promise that the sentence should Painting of St. Ambrose with whip and book be completely revoked, with the very natural conse- in the church of San Giuseppe alla Lungara, quence that thereafter the prospect of immunity thus afforded occasioned spoliations of synagogues all over Rome the Empire. That Ambrose could nevertheless occasionally say a good word for the Jews is shown by a passage in his "Enarratio in Psalmos" (i. 41, xiv. 943), in which he remarks, "Some Jews exhibit purity of life and much diligence and love of study."

Ambrose and emperors:

The imperial court was displeased with the religious principles of Ambrose, however his aid was soon solicited by the Emperor. When Magnus Maximus usurped the supreme power in Gaul, and was meditating a descent upon Italy, Valentinian sent Ambrose to dissuade him from the undertaking, and the embassy was successful. On a second attempt of the same kind Ambrose was again employed; and although he was unsuccessful, it cannot be doubted that, if his advice had been followed, the schemes of the usurper would have proved abortive; but the enemy was permitted to enter Italy; and Milan was taken. Justina and her son fled; but Ambrose remained at his post, and did good service to many of the sufferers by causing the plate of the church to be melted for their relief. In 385 Ambrose, backed by Milan's populace, refused Valentinian II's imperial request to hand over the Portian basilica for the use of Arian troops. In 386 Justina and Valentinian received the Arian bishop Auxentius, and Ambrose was again ordered to hand over a church in Milan for Arian usage. Ambrose and his congregation barricaded themselves inside the church, and the imperial order was rescinded. Theodosius I, the emperor of the East, espoused the cause of Justina, and regained the kingdom. Theodosius was threatened with excommunication by Ambrose for themassacre of 7,000 persons at Thessalonica in 390, after the murder of the Roman governor there by rioters. Ambrose told Theodosius to imitate David in his repentance as he had imitated him in guilt — Ambrose readmitted the emperor to the Eucharist only after several months of penance . This incident shows the strong position of a bishop in the Western part of the empire, even when facing a strong emperor — the controversy of John Chrysostom with a much weaker emperor a few years later in Constantinople led to a crushing defeat of the bishop. In 392, after the death of Valentinian II and the acclamation of Eugenius, Ambrose supplicated the emperor for the pardon of those who had supported Eugenius after Theodosius was eventually victorious.

Persecution of Paganism:

Death and legacy:

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (April 4, 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose's body may still be viewed in the church of S. Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated — along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Sts. Gervase and Protase — and is one of the oldest extant bodies of historical personages known outside Egypt..

Character:

Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal Saint Ambrose and emperor Theodosius by Van Dyck. character at that period. But it must also be noted that he used several indirect means to obtain and support his authority with the people. He was generous to the poor; it was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. The applause of the people was mingled with the derision of the court party.

Theology

Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose's administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects. His spiritual successor, Augustine, whose conversion was helped by Ambrose's sermons, owes more to him than to any writer except Paul. Ambrose's intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia. Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are." Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the "right" liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." One interpretation of Ambrose's writings is that he was a Christian universalist. It has been noted that Ambrose's theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists. One quotation cited in favor of this belief: Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. 'Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,' for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection. One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (both for those in heaven and for those in hell). Several other works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example: The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends.

Mariology

The powerful Mariology of Ambrose of Milan influenced contemporary Popes like Pope Damasus and Siricius and later, Pope Leo the Great. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God. • The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human? • We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit. • Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin... But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped. • Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest (Zechariah). While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation. Ambrose viewed virginity as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity. He is alleged to have founded an institution for virgins in Rome.

Writings In matters of exegesis he is, like Hilary, an Alexandrian. In dogma he follows Basil

of Caesarea and other Greek authors, but nevertheless gives a distinctly Western cast to the speculations of which he treats. This is particularly manifest in the weightier emphasis which he lays upon human sin and divine grace, and in the place which he assigns to faith in the individual Christian life. St. Ambrose, by FranDe fide ad Gratianum Augustum (On Faith, to Gratian Augustus) • De Officiis Ministrorum (On the Offices of Ministers, an ecclesiastical cisco de Zurbarán • handbook modeled on Cicero's De Officiis.) De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Ghost) • De incarnationis Dominicae sacramento (On the Sacrament of the Incarnation of the Lord) • De mysteriis (On the Mysteries) • Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam (Commentary on the Gospel according to Luke) • Ethical works: De bono mortis (Death as a Good); De fuga saeculi (Flight From the World); De insti• tutione virginis et sanctae Mariae virginitate perpetua ad Eusebium (On the Birth of the Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary); De Nabuthae (On Naboth); De paenitentia (On Repentance); De paradiso (On Paradise); De sacramentis (On the Sacraments); De viduis (On Widows); De virginibus(On Virgins); De virginitate (On Virginity); Exhortatio virginitatis (Exhortation to Virginity); De sacramento regenerationis sive de philosophia (On the Sacrament of Rebirth, or, On Philosophy [fragments]) Homiletic commentaries on the Old Testament: the Hexaemeron (Six Days of Creation); De Helia et • ieiunio (On Elijah and Fasting); De Iacob et vita beata (On Jacob and the Happy Life); De Abraham; De Cain et Abel; De Ioseph (Joseph); De Isaac vel anima (On Isaac, or The Soul); De Noe (Noah); De interpellatione Iob et David (On the Prayer of Job and David); De patriarchis (On the Patriarchs); De Tobia(Tobit); Explanatio psalmorum (Explanation of the Psalms); Explanatio symboli (Commentary on the Symbol). De obitu Theodosii; De obitu Valentiniani; De excessu fratris Satyri (funeral orations) • 91 letters • A collection of hymns • Fragments of sermons • Ambrosiaster or the "pseudo-Ambrose" is a brief commentary on Paul's Epistles, which was long at• tributed to Ambrose.

Church music Ambrose is traditionally credited but not actually known to

Saint Ambrose in His Study, ca. 1500. polychromy.Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

In a passage of Augustine's Confessions in which Augustine wonders why he could not share his burden with Ambrose, he makes a comment which bears on the history of celibacy: Ambrose himself I esteemed a happy man, as the world counted happiness, because great personages held him in honor. Only his celibacy appeared to me a painful burden.

(Online) “The cyhas berspace opened up a new domain of warfare!” said Defence Minister Csaba Dr. Hende during a conference held in the Árpád room of the County Hall in Debrecen under the title “Hungary in a Cons t a n t l y R e n e w i n g NATO” by the Hungarian Atlantic Council on Thursday, November 24. The event was preceded by the opening of the exhibition entitled “From the Hungarian People’s Army to NATO membership”. In his presentation, Dr. Csaba comHende pared security to air, saying that it’s only natural as long as it is but available, once it has run out, we immediately start gasping for it. Talking about Hungary’s commitments arising from our NATO membership, he said that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, nobody can act as a free rider because “sooner or later they’ll be kicked out of the tram”. Defence The M i n i s t e r stressed that the cyberspace has opened up a new domain of warfare, whose significance is well attested by the earlier cyber attack on Georgia or the one that destroyed

Csaba Hende

Lajos Fodor

Estonia’s system of public administration, or again by the fact that the Chinese military has a staff of 100,000 people working only in this field. State MoD Secretary for Public Administration Lajos Fodor delivered a lecture, in which he said that we adecan quately repreour sent national interests through international military operations. He emphasized that it is an unwritten custom in that NATO 10% of the m e m b e r states’ land forces are deployed in operations. More 1,000 than Hungarian are troops on serving missions abroad on a permanent from basis, the Balkans to Afghanistan to Cyprus, but they are present in Uganda as well, for instance. Prior to the conference Col. Dr. Vilmos Kovács, the Commandant of the MoD Military History Institute and Museum opened the exhibition the “From Hungarian People’s Army NATO to membership”.

Saying Thanks to the Hungarian Troops On (Online) Wednesday, November 23 Defence Minister Csaba Dr. Hende received in his office Abdul Munsi the Majeed, of governor B a g h l a n and Province Rasul Moh. Mohsene (Rasul the Khan), Shura leader of B a g h l a n Province. Also present at the meeting were Lt.-Gen. Zoltán the Orosz, Deputy Chief of the MoD Defence Staff and MoD Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy and Planning Péter Siklósi. The delegations discussed Hun-

gary’s role in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. Munshi Abdul Majeed said thanks to the Hungarian government, the Hungarian Defence Forces

and the Hungarian public for their assistance. It was revealed that the local people of Baghlan Province consider the Hungarian troops as their close loved ones, support and respect them. The Afghan delegation visited the Parliathen ment, took part in a session of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) governmental committee and the following press briefing. In the evening the Ministry of Defence held a gala dinner in honor of the guests.

European Chamber of Agriculture Leaders discuss future of Common Agricultural Policy in Budapest level of direct support. This is a realistic goal, as it is also mirrored by the proposal of the European Commission. Zsolt Feldman pointed out that the success of the "greening" of the CAP also basically depends on whether the new regulations are easy to implement, and the level of bureaucracy decreases. Wiktor Szmulewicz, Polish VicePresident of the European farmers' organisation COPA, indicated: he expects difficult and long discussions with regard to the reform of the CAP, because issues regarding the Common Agricultural Policy are complicated because of the current situation, the economic crisis – he added. The protection of the European internal market is important, as is the winning over of consumers to European products and the motivation of investors in the agricultural sector. In the interests of the above, we must continue to provide the funds required for the operation of the CAP,

and reduce the differences in levels of support between old and new member nations, added the VicePresident. Géza Poprády, Ministerial Commissioner of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture, stated: the leaders of the chambers of agriculture have been invited to take part in these discussions so that they might become acquainted with national views and opinions regarding the new CAP, and so that a common policy may be adopted in future. The Ministerial Commissioner asked that the participants of the summit be open and perform continuous consultation. Géza Poprády reminded those present that the standpoint of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture with regard to its view of the new CAP is concordant with that of the government. The most important task is the simplification of the CAP, the preservation of the real value of resources, and the support of active agricultural producers.

Framework of the Strategy for Hungarian Communities Abroad adopted at the tenth plenary session of the Hungarian Standing Conference (ONLINE) The tenth plenary session of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT) – which took place in Budapest on 23-24 November 2011 – resulted in complete success: it culminated in a spectacular confirmation of national cooperation. Along with Hungarian parliamentary party leaders and high-level government officials, Hungarian parties in the Carpathian Basin were also invited and were official participants at the conference. (Romania– Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), Hungarian National Council of Transylvania (EMNT)and Hungarian Civic Party (MPP); Slovakia – Hungarian Coalition Party (MKP); Serbia – Hungarian Alliance of Vajdaság/Vojvodina (VMSZ) and Democratic Party in Hungarian Vajdaság/Vojvodina (VMDP); Ukraine – Cultural Association of Hungarians in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ) and Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Ukraine (UMDSZ); Croatia – Democratic Community of Hungarians in Croatia (HMDK) and Alliance of Hungarian Associations (MESZ); Slovenia – Hungarian Self-governing National Community in Muravidék/Prekmurje (MMÖNK). All participants signed a document defining the framework of the Strategy for Hungarian Communities Abroad. As laid out in the document, Hungary shall support the territorial autonomy of Hungarians beyond the borders, with the special aim of extending Hungarian language education. The document states that the greatest danger for Hungarian communities abroad is posed by assimilation, and it also states that providing increasing support to these communities is only possible if Hungary’s regional role increases as well. László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly, greeted the audience first at the plenary session of MÁÉRT saying that policies affecting Hungarian communities abroad cannot be fruitful without an economically strong and politically prestigious Hungarian state, and added that Hungarians beyond the borders have the right to achieve prosperity in the land of their birth. The ‘Boldoghy case' was also referred to in detail at the plenary session. The Hungarian government will provide ‘all legal and other kinds of aid’ to Olivér Boldoghy, who has recently been stripped of his Slovak citizenship after he was granted Hungarian citizenship, said Hungary's Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for Hungarian communities abroad Zsolt Semjén, who presided over the Hungarian Standing Conference in the National Assembly. Mr.

Semjén also expressed the Hungarian government's disappointment at the failure of the Slovakian government (which includes the Most-Híd Slovak-Hungarian party) to meet its earlier pledge to annul the law under which Slovakian nationals are deprived of their rights should they apply for citizenship of another country. Under the Slovakian law in question, 126 people have now lost their Slovakian citizenship, including 15 who had been granted Hungarian citizenship. On Wednesday evening President Pál Schmitt met participants of the Hungarian Standing Conference, and said that previous policies should be replaced by a unified policy for the Hungarian nation – both within and outside the borders – that is based on the new Constitution (Fundamental Law of Hungary), which will take effect on 1 January next year, and on actual unity symbolised by simplified naturalisation. Since the political transition of 1989/90, the various policies ‘based on sentiment or reason’ have wrongly made a distinction between Hungarians living in Hungary and those living beyond its borders, said the President, adding that ‘all should struggle for unity, but our belonging together is an inherited asset’. Convening the MÁÉRT and the Hungarian Diaspora Council means closing old debates and opening up new cooperation, while the Hungarian Register facilitates connections and genuine links, pointed out the President. In addition, Mr. Schmitt highlighted the role taken up by churches in the Hungarian communities of neighbouring states, and at the same time he encouraged parties and lobbying organizations to count on ‘this special knowledge’ offered by the churches. The plenary meeting on the second day was addressed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Creating the legal institution of dual citizenship for Hungarians abroad is a historic achievement for Hungary, said the Prime Minister. He went on to say that by granting Hungarian citizenship to ethnic kin under an accelerated and simplified procedure, Hungary has achieved an important goal of nation-strategy, and has put an end to legal discrimination within the Hungarian nation in the Carpathian Basin. Despite the European crisis continuing to ‘rage’ beyond last year’s change in government, Hungary's cabinet is rebuilding the country – even though in doing so it must ‘sweat blood’ and ‘advance brick by brick, step by step’, said the Prime Minister. Mr. Orbán insisted that in making policy the Hungarian

state should always be driven by national interests, and should build an economic model of its own. He said that the Hungarian state should take a stand for Hungarians living abroad and ‘should not tolerate any Hungarian being deprived of their citizenship in their country of residence’. Mr. Orbán stressed the need to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries' governing and opposition parties that ‘are willing and able to work with us’ in the spirit of central European cooperation’. As a close to the two-day event, at a joint press conference MÁÉRT participants welcomed the approval of Hungary's framework of the Strategy for Hungarian Communities Abroad for the next decade. Hunor Kelemen (RMDSZ-leader) said that it was important that implementation of the strategy should be a joint effort. He expressed agreement with the principles of supporting Hungarian institutions of national importance and added that their performance over the past twenty years should also be taken into consideration. He said that expansion of voting rights to Hungarians without a permanent residence in the country was in line with expectations, and noted that the Sapientia Hungarian Science University of Transylvania would soon receive its final accreditation. László Tőkés (chairman of EMNT) said that thanks to a ‘regime change in policies affecting Hungarian communities abroad’ in Hungary last year, Hungarians are now part of a system of national cooperation. He encouraged the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrats to further develop national cooperation, and added that they should have their say in decisions the same way as Hungarians living beyond the borders should also be allowed to have their say in political decisions made in Hungary. He referred to the western Diaspora that had become a stepchild of the mother country, but which can finally be involved in national cooperation. Jenő Szász (president of MPP), said that autonomy efforts were vitally important. These also represented a precondition for encouraging Hungarians not to leave their lands of birth, he added. MKP leader József Berényi said that his party was open to entering an election coalition with the Slovakian-Hungarian Most-Híd party, but they were refused and were offered seats in the Most’s own list instead. Mr. Berényi deemed this offer as questioning the significance of policy-making based on ethnic interest.

International Conference on Minority Rights in Practice – Research Institute for Hungarian Communities Abroad (ONLINE) The Budapest-based Research Institute for Hungarian Communities Abroad has started its work by organising its first conference in its headquarters, in the House of Hungarians in Buda Castle. The Institute has three interrelated missions: it functions as an academic research institute, as a centre for legal assistance and protection of human rights, and as a cultural forum. The task is to convey to policy-makers academic knowledge, standards and advice on Hungarian communities living either in Diaspora or in the Carpathian Basin, said the director of the newly-established research institute. Zoltán Kántor also said that it is extremely important for Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin to have a prestigious Hungarian state, since national pride involves far more emotion and is therefore stronger than pride in having Hungarian citizenship. As a result of historical tragedies, the twentieth century saw the Hungarian nation become a ‘world-nation’, said Zsolt Semjén, Deputy Prime Minister, as he opened the international conference ‘Minority Rights in Practice’ on 25 November. He said that the setting up of the Institute, which stands up for universal human rights and the individual rights of members of Hungarian communities, is a real milestone. The Government shall be familiar with all communities and their peculiar problems, in order to promote their maintenance and prosperity. Responsible decisions must rely on scientific research, and the Government will base its relevant policies on the work of the

(Online) The co-chair of the subcommittee, Máriusz Révész (Fidesz), announced the founding of the new body within the Forum of Representatives in the Carpathian Basin (KMKF). At the meeting on 22 November delegates discussed the question of summer universities, opportunities for Hungarian language teaching in the Diaspora, and the reinforcement of the network of boarding-schools in areas where

Research Institute, said the Deputy Prime Minister. He recalled that the other day they agreed at MÁÉRT on the establishment of a financial framework – a kind of a fund – that is to serve as a form of legal aid for Hungarians falling victim to infringement of their lawful rights. This initiative was also prompted by the case of Olivér Boldoghy, from the Slovakian city of Révkomárom/Komarno. ’We cannot accept that what is a natural human right everywhere in Europe should be restricted in the case of Hungarians’, said Mr. Semjén, noting that State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Zsolt Németh was scheduled to meet Olivér Boldoghy that same day. He added that Hungarians must not be treated as second-class citizens anywhere in the world. He said that this is not only an individual or a national affront, but one that infringes basic human rights; it is a case that is variance conflict with the Slovakian Constitution itself, as this clearly states that no one shall be deprived of Slovakian citizenship against their will. He stated that this action is entirely unacceptable. Citing some simple examples, the Deputy Prime Minister showed how the adopted measure threatens all citizens of Slovakia, irrespective of their ethnicity. For example, a Slovakian citizen belonging to the Jewish faith who wishes to become an Israeli citizen, or a Slovakian bishop taking up citizenship of the Vatican will automatically forfeit their Slovakian citizenship. Double standards should not prevail, concluded Mr. Semjén. Kinga Gál, Member of the European Parliament and co-chair of the EP Minority In-

tergroup, outlined in her introductory speech the EU’s vaguely defined system for protection of minorities. She stressed that the key element in minority protection is the means of asserting certain rights. In practice there are no minority rights at EU level that can be enforced in Member States. The conference was attended by several internationally well-known minority rights experts, such as: Allan Phillips, former director of the London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRGI); Tove Malloy, leader of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in Flensburg, Germany; and Sergiu Constantin, researcher within the Institute for Minority Rights – European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen. These experts all gave lectures on the topics of language rights in practice, the participation rights of national minorities, and the case of South Tyrol. The second part of the day was devoted to roundtable discussions with representatives of Hungarian communities in the Carpathian Basin, in which the invited speakers exchanged views on best practices in diverse fields such as: the civic engagement movement in Romania; opportunities for the Hungarian community in Serbia to assert their rights; the legal aid service of the Round Table of Hungarians in Slovakia; legal protection in the international arena by the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation; minority rights in Ukraine; and the prospects for reclaiming real estate formerly owned by minority organizations.

In this same passage of Augustine's Confessions is a curious anecdote in which bears on the history of reading: When [Ambrose] read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud. This is a celebrated passage in modern scholarly discussion. The practice of reading to oneself without vocalizing the text was less common in antiquity than it has since become. In a culture that set a high value on oratory and public performances of all kinds, in which the production of books was very labor-intensive, the majority of the population was illiterate, and where those with the leisure to enjoy literary works also had slaves to read for them, written texts were more likely to be seen as scripts for recitation than as vehicles of silent reflection. However, there is also evidence that silent reading did occur in antiquity and that it was not generally regarded as unusual.

Further reading

Hexameron, De paradiso, De Cain, De Noe, De Abraham, De Isaac, De bono mortis – ed. C. Schenkl • 1896, Vol. 32/1 De Iacob, De Ioseph, De patriarchis, De fuga saeculi, De interpellatione Iob et David, De apologia • prophetae David, De Helia, De Nabuthae, De Tobia – ed. C. Schenkl 1897, Vol. 32/2 Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam – ed. C. Schenkl 1902, Vol. 32/4 • Expositio de psalmo CXVIII – ed. M. Petschenig 1913, Vol. 62; editio altera supplementis aucta – cur. • M. Zelzer 1999 Explanatio super psalmos XII – ed. M. Petschenig 1919, Vol. 64; editio altera supplementis aucta – • cur. M. Zelzer 1999 Explanatio symboli, De sacramentis, De mysteriis, De paenitentia, De excessu fratris Satyri, De obitu • Valentiniani, De obitu Theodosii – ed. Otto Faller 1955, Vol. 73 De fide ad Gratianum Augustum – ed. Otto Faller 1962, Vol. 78 • De spiritu sancto, De incarnationis dominicae sacramento – ed. Otto Faller 1964, Vol. 79 • Epistulae et acta – ed. Otto Faller (Vol. 82/1: lib. 1-6, 1968); Otto Faller, M. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/2: lib. 7-9, • 1982); M. Zelzer ( Vol. 82/3: lib. 10, epp. extra collectionem. gesta concilii Aquileiensis, 1990); Indices et addenda – comp. M. Zelzer, 1996, Vol. 82/4 Several of Ambrose's works have recently been published in the bilingual Latin-German Fontes Christiani series (currently edited by Brepols). Several religious brotherhoods which have sprung up in and around Milan at various times since the 14th century have been called Ambrosians. Their connection to Ambrose is tenuous.

Independence Day TANZANIA - D e c 9

The United Republic of Tanzania (Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania) is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda,Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean. Tanzania is a state composed of 26 regions (mikoa), including those of the autonomous region of Zanzibar. The head of state is President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, elected in 2005. Since 1996, the official capital of Tanzania has been Dodoma, where Parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996, the main coastal city of Dar es Salaam served as the country's political capital. Today, Dar es Salaam remains the principal commercial city of Tanzania and the de facto seat of most government institutions. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbours. The name Tanzania derives from the names of the two states Tanganyika and Zanzibar that united in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which later the same year was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.

History Tanzania is probably one of the oldest known inhabited areas on Earth; fossil remains of humans and pre-human

hominids have been found dating back over two million years. More recently, Tanzania is believed to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Cushitic and Khoisan speaking people. About 2,000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa in a series of migrations. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived, and continued to immigrate into the area through to the 18th century. The people of Tanzania are associated with one of the most important technological achievements in human history: the production of steel. The Haya people of East Africa invented a type of high-heat blast furnace which allowed them to forge carbon steel at 1,802 °C (3,276 °F) nearly 2,000 years ago. This ability was not duplicated until centuries later in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. Travellers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and western India have visited the East African coast since early in the first millennium AD. Islam was practised on the Swahili Coast as early as the eighth or ninth century AD. Claiming the coastal strip, Omani Sultan Seyyid Said moved his capital to Zanzibar City in 1840. During this time, Zanzibar became the centre for the Arab slave trade. Between 65% to 90% of the population of Arab-Swahili Zanzibar was enslaved. One of the most famous slave traders on the East African coast was Tippu Tip, who was himself the grandson of an enslaved African. The Nyamwezi slave traders operated under the leadership of Msiri and Mirambo. According to Timothy Insoll, "Figures record the exporting of 718,000 slaves from the Swahili coast during the 19th century, and the retention of 769,000 on the coast." In the late 19th century, Imperial Germany conquered the regions that are now Tanzania (minus Zanzibar), Rwanda, and Burundi, and incorporated them into German East Africa. During World War I, an invasion attempt by the British was thwarted by German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who then mounted a drawn out guerrilla campaign against the British. The post–World War I accords and theLeague of Nations charter designated the area aBritish Mandate, except for a small area in the northwest, which was ceded to Belgium and later became Rwanda and Burundi, as well as a small area in the southeast (Kionga Triangle), incorporated to Portuguese East Africa (later Mozambique). British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful (compared with neighbouring Kenya, for instance) transition to independence. In 1954, Julius Nyerere transformed an organization into the politically oriented Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU's main objective was to achieve national sovereignty for Tanganyika. A campaign to register new members was launched, and within a year TANU had become the leading political organization in the country. Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became officially independent in 1961. Soon after independence, Nyerere's first presidency took a turn to the Left after the Arusha Declaration, which codified a commitment to socialism in PanAfrican fashion. After the Declaration, banks were nationalized as were many large industries. After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighbouring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the island merged with mainland Tanganyika to form the nation of Tanzania on 26 April 1964. The union of the two, hitherto separate, regions was controversial among many Zanzibaris (even those sympathetic to the revolution) but was accepted by General von Lettow-Vorbeck in Dar es both the Nyerere government and the Revolutionary Salaam with a British Officer (left) and GerGovernment of Zanzibar owing to shared political valman Officer (right), March 1918 ues and goals. From the late 1970s, Tanzania's economy took a turn for the worse. Tanzania also aligned with China, seeking Chinese aid. The Chinese were quick to comply, but with the condition that all projects be completed by imported Chinese labour. From the mid 1980s, the regime financed itself by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and underwent some reforms. From the mid 1980s Tanzania's GDP per capita has grown and poverty has been reduced.

Hungarian debt downgraded to junk status The Orban government recently turned to the IMF, hoping to avoid a downgrading of the country’s credit rating, which has now proved a fruitless effort. Since that action, Hungary has come under immense pressure. Following the credit downgrading, the yield on 10-year government bonds reached nearly 10 percent at times—far more than the 7 percent mark above which escaping the debt trap is virtually impossible. The Hungarian currency is rapidly losing its value against the euro. Since the beginning of the year, the exchange rate has fallen 13 percent. The Hungarian stock market went into a tailspin last Friday, losing about 5 percent. On Monday, the Hungarian central bank raised its key rate from 6 to 6.5 percent to slow the decline of the currency. But this has also increased the danger of a recession. The rapid devaluation of the forint threatens the economic survival of many Hungarian citizens, businesses and communities who had taken out loans and mortgages in euros or Swiss francs because of low interest rates. The total amount of such foreign currency loans amounts to 4.8 billion forints (€16 billion), or about 17 percent of Hungary’s gross domestic product. The downgrade by Moody’s also weakens the Hungarian government’s negotiating position with the IMF. “The Orban government’s room for manoeuvre is smaller. Without the downgrading they could have been more flexible in negotiations with the EU and IMF. Budapest now urgently needs a deal”, Sandor Richter of the Vienna Institute for Eastern Europe (WIIW) told the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. Western European banks are also affected by the crisis in Hungary. Austrian banks in particular, which have been heavily involved in eastern Europe and the Balkans since the 1990s, are in danger. The three biggest Viennese banks—Bank Austria, Raiffeisen and Erste Bank—are the biggest lenders in the region. According to the Austrian National Bank (ÖNB), at the end of 2009, the latter had outstanding loans and debts of about €35 billion in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia alone. According to Citigroup, Austria’s Erste Bank is threatened by the Hungarian crisis with a loss of up to €1 billion, which would be the case if Budapest ordered all foreign currency loans to be denominated in forints at the expense of the banks. Also, MKB, a subsidiary of Bayerische Landesbank, and several large Italian banks would be seriously impacted. Many finance houses now plan to

dispose of subsidiaries in eastern Europe and cut their lending dramatically. According to a survey by the Polish central bank in November, finance houses have already tightened up their money-lending criteria. Especially in Hungary and the Baltic countries, lending has long been declining. Since the eastern Europe market is dominated by banks from the eurozone, a continuation of this trend would trigger a serious credit crunch and recession. Many eastern European countries are already in major difficulty. For example, the Czech koruna is at its lowest level in 18 months, and the Polish zloty at its lowest point in two and a half years. On Tuesday, Latvia called off a 10-year government bond auction due to lack of demand. The Latvian government cited the nervousness of investors and the bad mood on the European markets. Even before the negotiations with the IMF, the Hungarian government had intensified its attacks on the general population. Although the rise in prices of essential goods (basic foodstuffs, housing, energy) is already well above the official inflation rate, parliament decided on Monday to raise VAT (sales tax) from 25 to 27 percent, as well as make numerous other charges. Liability insurers must pay 30 percent of premiums over to the state. Increases were also made in the vehicle tax and the registration fee for cars. The basic tax rate will rise from 30 to 37 percent of profits, burdening many small businesses enormously. The opportunity to retire early is being severely restricted despite high unemployment. Early retirees who were previously paid from the pension fund will be forced to rely on welfare and must put themselves back on the job market. Disability retirees are now required to undergo a meticulous medical review by state doctors. About 350,000 early retirees will in future have to pay 16 percent tax on their pensions. Support for the Orban government is now plummeting. Fidesz entered government taking over all state positions and virtually abolishing freedom of the press to secure its rule for years to come; now, support for the party has dropped to 32 percent, down from 52 percent in the April 2010 elections. According to a survey by the pro-Fidesz Nezopont Institute, only around 1.2 to 1.5 million voters would now cast their votes for Orban’s party, which received 3 million votes in the last election. Turnout today would be only 40 percent of eligible voters, compared to 65 percent at the last election.

Hungarians are sparsely distributed. RMDSZ member of the European Parliament Gyula Winkler called the audience’s attention to the fact that thousands of young Hungarian people are directly at risk of losing the Hungarian language and identity in the housing estates of big cities, including Marosvásárhely/ Târgu Mureș, Kolozsvár/ Cluj Napoca and Nagyvárad/Oradea. He said that a separate programme was needed to

reverse this process. An action plan that forms part of a series of secondgeneration RMDSZ programmes related to Hungarians in scattered communities will be accepted in midDecember. At the meeting Mr. Révész proposed that a close relation should be developed between Hungarian communities living in the western Diaspora, scattered throughout the Carpathian Basin and in the motherland.

Personal meetings after MÁÉRT

Ambrose and reading:

(Online) The downgrading of Hungary’s creditworthiness to junk status means the debt crisis has now fully hit eastern Europe. Rating agency Moody’s justified the downgrade last Friday by pointing to Hungary’s strong dependence on foreign creditors, the poor economic outlook and the country’s level of debt at 82 percent of economic output. The government of Viktor Orban confronts a debacle. Since the conservative Civic Union (Fidesz) took power in May 2010 with a two-thirds majority, Orban has sought to balance the budget through a combination of cuts in social services and financial tricks. In addition to layoffs and salary cuts in the public service, his administration has undermined the employment protection act and introduced compulsory labour service for the unemployed. Late last year, the government nationalised the private pension funds and stuck more than €10 billion that Hungarians had set aside for their retirement into the treasury. As a result, the Hungarian budget has a surplus this year. Next year, the budget deficit should lie below 3 percent because special taxes on the telecoms and energy sectors will bring further millions into the state coffers. From 2013, the deficit will then rise again, according to calculations by the EU. To dampen the discontent with his austerity measures, Orban is playing the nationalist card and behaves as though he were the enemy of the foreign banks. In September, he issued an order requiring the banks to convert foreign currency loans at a fixed price in Hungarian forints. The banks must bear any difference with the current exchange rate, meaning the latter must effectively take a debt “haircut.” Above all, this move has significantly dampened the confidence of the international financial markets in the Orban government and contributed to the increased pressure on Hungarian government bonds and the forint. Last week, the government was forced to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance, which amounted to a public humiliation. A few days earlier in parliament, Economics Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy had categorically ruled out asking for help from the IMF, and Prime Minister Orban has consistently insulted the IMF. Fidesz could largely credit its 2010 victory to the fact that the previous social democratic government of Ferenc Gyurcsany turned to the IMF in 2008 to avert national bankruptcy, and imposed massive cuts in salaries and benefits in return for IMF loans.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is a priority for Hungary. While addressing this item on the agenda, Csaba Hende stressed that Hungary continues to actively participate in the operation, and welcomes the consensus among the member states over the need for carrying on with it. The mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina is not only a task of the regional and neighboring countries, but also a European concern, the Minister emphasized. He said he agrees with shifting the focus to training activities as the operation goes on, at the same time pointing to the fact that ALTHEA’s executive mandate will continue too. On November 30 Dr. Csaba Hende held bilateral talks with his two new counterparts, Defence Ministers Demetris Eliades (Cyprus) and Dimitris Avramopoulos (Greece).

KMKF sub-committee (Hungarian communities scattered across the Carpathian Basin, and in Diaspora) was founded

Spanish, Palencia. Wood with traces of and Augustine Ambrose Ambrose was Bishop of Milan at the time of Augustine's con-

Ambrose and celibacy:

generating the required military capabilities. As Dr. Csaba Hende noted, “apart from the reduced defence budgets, we have an increasing number of challenges to face”. For this reason, instead of aiming at developing all kinds of capabilities by themselves, the EU member states are seeking ways to implement projects based on the rational principle of “pooling and sharing” the cost burdens and the available capacities. The Hungarian Defence Minister added that the European Defence Agency (EDA) proposed a total of 16 development projects at the meeting, four of which is to involve Hungary’s participation in line with our commitments. The Defence Ministers discussed the ongoing EU military operations, of which the EUFOR ALTHEA in

Hungary in a Constantly Renewing NATO”

(Online) The leaders of several of Europe's Chambers of Agriculture are exchanging views on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy between 2014 and 2020 at the Visegrád Group (V4) nations' chamber of agriculture summit in Budapest. The Chamber of Agriculture summit may help ensure that the CAP system should not be overcomplicated following the reforms, that farmers will have easy access to funding, and that the European Union's agricultural policy continues to provide security, said Zsolt Feldman, Under Secretary for Agricultural Economy of the Ministry of Rural Development. The V4 nations – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – will be represented at the two-day forum, but delegations from the chambers of commerce of the Baltic States, Romania and Croatia will also be present. The Under Secretary added: Hungary would like to retain the current

Under Ambrose's major influence, emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I carried on a persecution of Paganism. Under Ambrose's zealous pressure, Theodosius issued the in391 "Theodosian famous decrees," a declaration of war on paganism, and theAltar of Victory was removed by Gratian. Ambrose prevailed upon Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius to reject requests to restore the Altar.

version, and is mentioned in Augustine's Confessions.

Hungary Joins Shared EU Military Capability Development in Several Areas (ONLINE) Hungary has made commitments to join the shared military capability development projects of EU member states in several “pooling and sharing” areas such as the Helicopter Training Program (HTP), field hospitals, flying training for aircraft pilots and European transport hubs – Defence Minister Dr. Csaba Hende said on November 30 in Brussels. In the break of the meeting of EU Defence Ministers, Hungarian Defence Minister Dr. Csaba Hende told MTI that Hungary intends to join the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) project too, because the Hungarian Defence Forces’ training centre in Szentendre provides a suitable venue for its implementation. In times of budgetary pressures, all European countries have a hard time

Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family between about 337 and 340 and was raised inTrier. His father was Ambrosius Aurelius, the praetorian prefect of Gaul; his mother was a woman of intellect and piety. Ambrose's siblings, Satyrus (who is the subject of Ambrose's De excessu fratris Satyri) and Marcellina, are also venerated as saints. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in the saint's symbology. After the early death of his father, Ambrose followed his father's career. He was educated in Rome, studying literature, law, and rhetoric. Praetor Anicius Probus first gave him a place in the council and then in about 372 made him consular prefect or "Governor" of Liguria and Emilia, with headquarters at Milan, which was then (beside Rome) the second capital in Italy. Ambrose was the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in northern Italy until 374 when he became the Bishop of Milan. He was a very popular political figure, and since he was the Governor in the effective capital in the Roman West, he was a recognizable figure in the court of the EmperorValentinian I. Ambrose never married.

have composed any of the repertory of Ambrosian chant also known simply as "antiphonal chant", a method of chanting where one side of the choir alternately responds to the other. (The later pope St. Gregory I the Great is not known to have composed any Gregorian chant, the plainsong or "Romish chant".) However, Ambrosian chant was named in his honor due to his contributions to the music of the Church; he is credited with introducing hymnody from the Eastern Church into the West. Catching the impulse from Hilary and confirmed in it by the success of Arian psalmody, Ambrose composed several original hymns as well, four of which still survive, along with music which may not have changed too much from the original melodies. Each of these hymns has eight four-line stanzas and is written in strict iambic dimeter (that is 2 x 2 iambs). Marked by dignified simplicity, they served as a fruitful model for later times. • Deus Creator Omnium • Aeterne rerum conditor • Jam surgit hora tertia • Jam Christus astra ascendante" • Veni redemptor gentium (a Christmas hymn) • Text of some Ambrosian Hymns In his writings, Ambrose refers only to the performance of psalms, in which solo singing of psalm verses alternated with a congregational refrain called an antiphon. St. Ambrose was also traditionally credited with composing the hymn Te Deum, which he is said to have composed when he baptised St. Augustine of Hippo, his celebrated convert.

HUNGARY NEWS

(Online) Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén met participants of the Hungarian Standing Conference (MÁÉRT), and urged cooperation between Hungarian political organisations in Romania ahead of next year's general elections in that country. Hunor Kelemen, head of RMDSZ, and László Tőkés, head of EMNT,

were open to cooperative efforts, which the Hungarian government will ‘enthusiastically’ support, said Mr. Semjén following the two-day MÁÉRT meeting. Mr. Semjén referred to the importance of a marked presence of Hungarian representatives in the Romanian Parliament, to prevent Hungarians being integrated into Romanian parties. If this hap-

pened, the political interests of Hungarians would no longer be represented, he said. The Prime Minister welcomed the registration of the Hungarian People’s Party in Transylvania, and expressed his conviction that thereby cohesion among Hungarians in Transylvania can be strengthened.

Slovakian Ambassador to Budapest summoned over Boldoghy-case (Online) The Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikuláš Dzurinda, said that a ‘bad and non-European law on dual citizenship which Hungary passed last year’ led to Slovakian Ambassador to Hungary Peter Weiss being summoned by the Hungarian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs last Tuesday. Zsolt Németh called in Mr. Weiss in order to express Hungary's disapproval at Hungarian entrepreneur Olivér Boldoghy being stripped of his Slovakian citizenship after he had received Hungarian citizenship. This was a result of Slovakia's State Citizenship Act, whereby people granted the citizenship of another country automatically lose their Slovakian citizenship. Peter Weiss said at the meeting that Mr. Boldoghy had not been deprived of

his citizenship; he had in fact lost it under Slovakia's citizenship Act, which is in line with international standards and with European law. The ambassador said he had repeated Bratislava's request to Hungary to hold bilateral talks on citizenship-related issues. He said that it was important to start expert discussions to resolve this sensitive issue as soon as possible. Mr. Dzurinda voiced his hope that Hungary would see that a bilateral agreement would be a good solution for both countries. Both the European Parliament’s Hungarian People’s Party faction and the New York-based Hungarian Human Rights Foundation (HHRF) have protested against the Slovakian government's recent decision. In a

statement last Wednesday, the Foundation branded the measure antiHungarian and an attempted intimidation of Slovakia's Hungarian community. ‘With this measure Slovakia has violated not only its own constitution, but also its international obligations,’ said the HHRF statement, citing Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Slovak Constitution, which states that ‘no one shall be deprived of citizenship of the Slovak Republic against their will’. Olivér Boldoghy told the Hungarian News Agency MTI that the aim of his initiative is ‘to encourage the Slovakian Government to cease its senseless and unrealizable citizenship law’, adding that he will only pursue litigation against the Slovakian state if there is no other choice.

Slovakian-Hungarian municipal TV channels’ cross-border cooperation (Online) Four Hungarian and five Slovakian local television outlets have launched a programme exchange scheme within the framework of the Pons Danubii European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). Cities and towns in Northern

Hungary and settlements in Southern Slovakia have agreed on a regular exchange of stories on cross-border reports that can be watched online on the network's website. The Komarno-based EGTC won funding of 90 million forints (EUR 290,300) for

the project from the European Union. The website is expected to launch in 2012 and to operate until 2014 with further funding. Programmes will be subtitled in Hungarian and Slovakian.

The House of Representatives issues the Rehabilitation Act (Online) Last Tuesday the Serbian House of Representatives issued the Rehabilitation Act. The Act's proposal expands the scope of those who will be entitled to rehabilitation and to regain property confiscated in the middle of the twentieth century. According to Oliver Dulić, Minister of Urban Planning and Environmental Protec-

tion, with this Act justice will be delivered to many families. Dulić explained that rehabilitation and property recovery will not extend to those who were members of the occupying forces and quisling groups in the Second World War, who count as war criminals in Serbia. László Varga, member of Parliament for the Alliance of Hungarians

in Vajdaság/Vojvodina (VMSZ), announced in the parliamentary debate that VMSZ would vote for the Act unless there are no changes after the debate. The new Act would remove the principle of collective guilt from the restitution process, said Mr. Varga.

Twentieth anniversary of the reopened Gábor Bethlen Hungarian Secondary School (Online) The Hungarian secondary school in Beregszász/ Berehove was reopened twenty years ago, after a break lasting nearly half a century. The Hungarian Royal State High School was founded 116 years ago in the small town located in modern-day Transcarpathia; it had to endure many trials and tribulations in the course of being repeatedly transferred from one country to another. The school – which has a great past and tradition – was closed by the Russian authorities in 1944, writes Hungarian news portal karpatinfo.net. According to the article, the local Hungarians of Beregszász had always harboured the desire to revive the school, and this dream was realized when the wind of change reached the town. However, the operation of the Hungarian secondary school –

named after Gábor Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania (1613–1629) – was not restarted in the original building (which is now a Ukrainian secondary school), but first in another school’s building, and then the dormitory of the original high school. The twentieth anniversary of the reopening of the Gábor Bethlen Hungarian Secondary School has been marked in Beregszász, with a jubilee commemoration ceremony attended by local alumni and those from around the world, representatives of partner schools beyond the borders, state and civic organizations, and friends and supporters . In a speech, László Brenzovics, representative of the County Council (general assembly) and Vice-President of the Cultural Association of Hungarians in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ), referred to the

problems of the Hungarian School in Beregszász when he said that the spirit of the new school is worthy of its past, but the building itself is not. At the same time he added that the work of those who reopened the school ‘deserves appreciation’ as ‘they had to fight a fierce battle but they did not surrender – this is worthy of the people of Count Rákóczi’. The State operates only two Hungarian secondary schools In Transcarpathia. Beside Beregszász there is a Hungarian secondary school in Ungvár/ Uzhgorod: the Drugeth Secondary School. The historical churches maintain four secondary schools; two of them are operated by the Reformed Church, one by the Catholic Church and one by the Greek Catholic church, without any support from the State.

Hungary committed to euro adoption: president (Online) Hungary remains committed to adopting the euro despite the crisis surrounding the European currency, President Pal Schmitt said in an interview published Friday. "It continues to be in our interest that we become members of the monetary union," Schmitt said in an interview with The Washington Times published online. "Not only our reserves, but our international contracts, our international trade, is conducted significantly in

euros, so therefore it is in our interest to keep a strong euro." To join the 17-member eurozone, Hungary must fulfill certain criteria on debt, inflation and long-term interest rates, he added. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose centre-right party helped Schmitt to the largely ceremonial presidency in 2010, had said earlier that the country was unlikely to adopt the euro before 2020. In November, Hungary was forced to

ask the International Monetary Fund and the European Union (EU) for assistance to help reassure the markets, which had lost confidence in the government's unorthodox economic policies. The country, which joined the EU in 2004, was downgraded to non-investment status by credit rating agency Moody's last month as its currency fell against the euro and state bonds were shunned by the markets.

Czechs to send 30 doctors to Slovakia (Online) The Czech government has agreed to deploy 30 army doctors in Slovak hospitals after more than a thousand local doctors resigned over low pay. Prime Minister Petr Necas says they could stay for 60 days. Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra said Friday they will be deployed over the week-

end. The Slovak government has asked neighboring countries to send help after 1,200 doctors of some 7,000 in state-run hospitals left their jobs Thursday. The Health Ministry also said other neighbors, including Austria, Hungary and Poland have offered to treat

Slovak patients in their hospitals located near the border, if necessary. Originally, more than 2,000 doctors threatened to leave but some of them accepted an offer for a euro300 ($405) pay increase and withdrew resignations.

Hungary Official: Country Target of Brutal Speculation (Online) It is evident to all reputable western European bankers and investors that the Hungarian forint is the target of brutal speculation, a senior member of the governing party said Friday. Caucus leader of the Fidesz party, Janos Lazar, spoke after Prime Minister Viktor Orban said another wave of speculative attacks is to be expected against Hungarian assets mid-December. Thegovernment repeatedly stated that last week's downgrade of Hungary's sovereign ratings to junk by Moody's Investors

Service Inc. also formed part of this speculation since Hungarian economic fundamentals don't warrant a downgrade. The forint has weakened significantly over the past months against the euro, more than its regional peers. Lazar didn't specifically say what information Orban is basing his statements on. "If there's any one person who has accurate information about the operation and state of the country, it's the prime minister," Lazar said, stressing that Orban's statements are factually

grounded. He reiterated that the government deems the attacks against the forint as a matter of national security and has involved the country's intelligence services to investigate the issue. Societe Generale SA said earlier in the day that Orban is probably hinting that Fitch Ratings will shortly follow Moody's and also downgrade Hungary to junk. resignations.

AmCham Hungary Elected Its New Board At the 22nd Annual General Assembly "The 22nd AmCham Annual General Assembly was held on December 1 at the Budapest Marriott Hotel. After the reports by President, István Havas, outgoing Secretary Treasurer Ferenc Pongrácz and AmCham CEO, Péter Dávid the General Assembly elected the new board members. (Online)

David Young, Managing Partner at Amrop Kohlmann & Young

was re-elected as First Vice President. Dr. Andrea JádiNémeth, Managing Partner at bpv | Jádi Németh Attorneys at Law was elected Second Vice President and Péter Fáth, Director of Stakeholder Relations at GDF SUEZ Energia Holding Hungary Zrt. became the new Secretary Treasurer. Three new members were taken onto the Board: Norbert Fogarasi, General Manager at Morgan Stanley Hungary Analytics Ltd., László György, Managing Director of Cisco Systems Hungary and Frank

Klausz 3rd, Chief Corporate Development Officer of Telenor Hungary Plc.. The General Assembly also gave a forum for the presentation of the Dr. Iván Völgyes Award which recognizes an individual’s significant contribution to the strengthening of US - Hungarian investor relations. This year the award supported by Synergon was presented to Marcel Szabó, a professor of Law and an enthusiastic promoter of the Hungarian-American dialogue and cooperation."


48 Issue | Zarb-e-Jamhoor e-Newspaper |04 Dec - 10 Dec, 2011