Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Piazza la Fondue a Lugano

This is the tip of the week!

Piazza la Fondue is the new gastronomic event promoted by the City of Lugano to be held in conjunction with "Natale in Piazza", adding a delicious gastronomic component to the rich pre-Christmas atmosphere!

Enjoy a unique opportunity to to spend time with friends before the holidays enjoying a delicious cheese fondue with friends in one of the city's most beautiful squares at the foot of Lugano's cultural center (LAC).

Click here to enter Piazza la Fondue's website where you can reserve a kit consisting of 1 caquelon and 5 forks with 250 g per person of delicious cheese and bread at the price of CHF 20.- per person.

In case of bad weather the event will move to the city's municipal facilities at Campo Marzio, Pavilion MAC 3 (entrance Viale dei Faggi). IN any case make sure you dress warm!

Venue: Piazza la Fondue
Where: Piazza Bernardino Luini, 6900 Lugano
Date: Sunday, December 17th, 2017
Time: 11:45 to 13:30
Price: CHF 20.- p.p.
Reservation before Friday, December 15th, 2017 here: https://www.piazzalafondue.ch

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Swiss Christmas cookies: Zimtstärnli & Brunsli

Having shared my all-time favourite groovy Christmas albums with you, I would like to let you in on my absolute favourite Christmas biscuits of all times.

Switzerland has a very strong tradition of making Christmas biscuits and there is a vast varitey of them. Today’s Christmas cookies can trace their history to recipes from Medieval Europe biscuits, which when many modern ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruit were introduced into the west. By the 16th century Christmas biscuits had become popular across Europe.

It is a treat and a great deal of fun to prepare these every year with my children. Of course, they think the best part is licking the kitchen utensils and bowls once the biscuits are in the oven. Ideally you would invite a friend and her kids to bake along with you....the more, the merrier!!!!

Zimtstärnli/ Cinnamon stars
3 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
250gr powder sugar
1,5 tbsp cinnamon
350 gr ground almonds
0.5 tbsp Kirsch (Swiss cherry schnapps)

1.) Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff.
2.) Mix in the powder sugar.
3.) Put aside and cover about 1dl of the above mixture for icing later.
4.) Mix cinnamon and ground almonds, add Kirsch and combine with the remaining egg whites/sugar mixture until you obtain a dough-like texture.
5.) Roll out the dough on a plastic bag or on a sugar-covered base. The thickness of the dough should be about 1cm.
6. ) Cut out the stars carefully with a cookie cutter which you dip into sugar before every use.
7. ) Lay out the cookies on an oven tray covered with baking paper.
8.) Glazing / drying:  Dip a little glaze onto the middle of each star, pull the icing towards the star tips with a wooden toothpick.
9.) Let the cookies dry at room temperature for about 6 hours or overnight.
10) Bake approx. 5 min. in the middle of a preheated oven at 250°C. Take out and let cool on a cookie rack.

Brunsli/Christmas brownies
150 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
250 g ground almonds
¼ tea spoon cinnamon
1 pinch of clove powder
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of flour
2 fresh egg whites 
100 g bitter chocolate
2 tea spoons of kirsch

1.) Mix sugar, salt, almonds, cinnamon, clove powder, cocoa powder and flour in a bowl.
2.) Add egg whites and stir until ingredients are evenly distributed.
3.) Cut chocolate in real small pieces, pour hot water over the chocolate, let rest for about 5 minutes, then pour off all water except about half a tablespoon, stir until even. Now immediately proceed with the next step.
4.) Add melted chocolate from the previous step and the kirsch, knead to a soft dough.
5.) Roll out dough on a flat surface (sprickle surface slightly with sugar so the dough does not stick to it), approximately 10 mm thick. Cut out different shapes with cookie cutter and put them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
6.) Let them rest for about 5 to 6 hours or over night in a dry place.
7.) Bake for about 4 to 6 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven at 250 °C. Let cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

San Nicolao or Samichlaus

One of the most important events on Switzerland's Christmas calendar is St Nicholas Day on December 6th. Samichlaus in the Swiss German part is known as San Nicolao in the Italian-speaking Ticino.

In some homes he comes unseen during the night of December 5th and leaves his offerings in shoes that have been filled with hay for his donkey and put outside the door.

In most parts of Switzerland, however, "Samichlaus" usually comes in person on December 6th, wearing a hooded red robe, ringing a small bell and carrying a burlap sack of gifts. He tends to be on the thin rather than fat side, and lives in the forest as opposed to the North Pole.

He quizzes children about their good and bad deeds of the past year. Once praise and blame have been distributed and the children have recited their obligatory verses, "Samichlaus" rewards them with "grittibänz" (bread men), chocolate, clementines and nuts.

Often the sack-bearer is not "San Nicolao" himself but his companion, a dark clothed figure with a blackened face who may threaten to carry bad children off in the sack. He answers to many names, depending on where he appears: Schmutzli, Père Fouettard, or l'uomo nero. Over the years though, and despite retaining his foreboding appearance, Schmutzli has evolved into a more benign figure.

So have you been good this year?

Following is a lovely Samichlaus good night story written over 60 years ago.
Santa's Grand Tour in English: samichlaus/english
Die grosse Reise des Nikolaus in German: samichlaus

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

De Samichlaus chunnt...

Tomorrow is Samichlaus. December 6th is a very important date in my personal calendar. It brings back fond memories of my early childhood. Growing up in Zürich it is the day St.Nicolas (Samichlaus) comes to town bringing mandarines, nuts and chocolate to all the good girls and boys.

At school we used to receive a Grittibänz (St.Nicolas bread). In exchange children were asked to recite a poem about Samichlaus. Here is a sample of a Samichlaus poem:

De Wald isch wiis und voller Schnee,
ich glaub, ich han de Chlaus grad gseh.
Mis Herzli chlopft ganz fescht und gschwind,
gaht er no zu andere Chind?
Chum ine, liebe Samichlaus,
und lär Diin Sack grad us,
chumm, bliib doch no es Wiili i öisem warme Huus

Tonight I am baking my Grittibänz to surprise my kids at breakfast tomorrow morning. Feel like joining me?

Samichlaus Grittibänz recipe / Pupazzo di San Nicolao

500gr plain flour or Zopf flour
1,5 tsp salt
3 tbsps sugar
1/2 cube of fresh yeast (approx. 20 grams)
60gr butter
2,5dl milk
1 egg
1 tbsp cream
hazelnuts, almonds, raisins and decorating sugar for decorating

1.) In a large bowl mix flour, salt and sugar.
2.) Add the fresh yeast (crumbled up), and mix again.
3.) Melt the butter. Add the milk and heat the butter milk mixture until it’s lukewarm. Add half the beaten egg.
4.) Pour the milk, butter, egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes using a machine.
5.) Cover the dough with clingfilm and let it rise at a warm place for one hour.
6.) Knock the air out and form little bread men decorating them with nuts and raisins forming eyes, nose, mouth and buttons (similar to a snowman)
7.) Put them onto a baking tray and let them rise again for approx 45 minutes on baking tray at room temperature.
8.) Using a brush, apply the egg wash (half egg & cream) onto the bread men.
9.) Sprinkle with coarse sugar and let your imagination flow.
10.) Bake at 200 C for 25-30 minutes. The breads should look nicely browned and sound hollow when you knock the base with your finger.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas countdown Kindness Calendar

It is still not too late to start an Advent calendar. Even if my kids' favourite Advent calendars are the chocolate ones from Coop supermarket, this doesn't mean I can't add another one this December. She Lives Free has posted a lovely Acts of Kindness countdown to Christmas printable calendar.

Ideally, you'll be holding the door open to a stranger or giving out free hugs more than once a month but maybe doing these acts of kindness consciously might spark the impulse to do more.

And don't forget, you can always modify the acts that don't feel right and replace them with your own. So, go ahead and start making some space on your kitchen fridge to hang up this very sweet Advent calendar.

Click here: Happy Advent!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Shopping in Lugano for a cause

If you are reading this today and wondering what to do, don't miss the Annual Christmas Bazaar organised by the IWCL Evening Group.

You are invited to join the IWCL (International Women's Club of Lugano) on December 3rd, 2017 for an afternoon of Luxury Christmas Shopping in favour of Progetto Avventuno!

Progetto Avventuno is an association that supports people with Down syndrome providing activities both recreational and informative, supporting families, training for professionals, and raising awareness.

The doors of the fair will open at 14:00 and there will be something for every pocket, don't be shy and come around!

At 15:00 there will be a free snack time to cure that sweet tooth, along with coffee and tea.

At 16:00 a free wine tasting will begin, by all means with some tasty savoury snacks. Craft activity is offered for little people!

Venue: Christmas Luxury Shopping in collaboration with the IWCL
Where: Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, 6901 Lugano
Date, Sunday December 3rd, 2017
Time: 14:00 to 18:00

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Natale in Piazza a Lugano

With numerous entertainments and events, the Christmas holidays are a fabulous time to spend in Lugano. Christmas in Lugano starts with the lighting of the tree in Riforma Square. From that moment, the heart of the city becomes a bright village, bestowing opportunities for entertainment, musical performances, a market and surprises until the Epiphany.

From November 23rd, the City will be transformed with Christmas lights, sounds and colours. The most beautiful festival of the year is celebrated with the markets, a children’s village, concerts, entertainment, the New Year’s Eve open-air party and many other events that will fill the city with the magic of Christmas up until January 7th, 2018.

Lighting of the Christmas Tree (in the presence of the city authorities, Julie Arlin)
01.12 / 18:00 Piazza della Riforma

There will be a distribution of little gifts for children offered by Migros Ticino. Acoustic concert with Charlie Row, followed by Brass Band T-X-Project.

The Christmas Market
23.11 – 23.12 / 11:00 – 19:00
24.12 / 11:00 – 17:00 City centre
23.11 – 07.12 Piazza della Riforma and via Nassa
08.12 – 24.12 City centre

Christmas Village
23.11 – 07.01 Piazza della Riforma and Piazza Manzoni

Food huts, musical entertainment and family entertainment with the special programme “Christmas for children”.

Exchange of Christmas wishes
21.12 / 18:00 Piazza della Riforma

In the presence of the Lugano Municipality and members of the City Council. Panettone and mulled wine are offered to all.

Mass on Christmas Eve
24.12 / 22:00 Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

City Tour on board the tourist train
Saturdays and public holidays from 02.12 to 17.12 / 10:30 – 16:30 (every 30 minutes)
Saturdays and public holidays from 23.12 to 07.01 / 11:15 – 16:30 (every 45 minutes)
Weekdays from 27.12 to 05.01 / 12:45 – 16:30 (every 45 minutes) Piazza Manzoni

50 free tickets will be on offer for kids aged three to ten years accompanied by an adult every Saturday in December and on Saturday, January 6th, 2018.

Shopping: special opening hours
08.12 / 10:00 – 18:00
10.12 / 10:00 – 18:00
17.12 / 10:00 – 18:00
24.12 / 10:00 – 17:00

Great prize-winning competition
Christmas competition of the Lugano Shop Owners Association, in which three great prizes (shopping vouchers worth CHF 1’000.–, 500.– and 250.–) can be won, as well as many other surprises. To take part, simply fill in one of the postcards that can be found in participating stores. The winners will be drawn in mid-January.

Music in the Piazza
30.12 / 20:00 – 01:00 Piazza della Riforma

For the 30 year-anniversary of RETE TRE, the “New Year Swiss Rock Festival” will offer entertainment, DJ sets and many live guests: the CorLeoni, the Dögz, Andrea Bignasca and the Vad Vuc.

New Year’s Eve celebrations
31.12 / 22:30 – 02:30 Piazza della Riforma

RSI will see in the New Year in the Piazza, bringing the evening to life with music and entertainment from some of RETE TRE’s best-loved DJs, the contagious beats of Ridillo and the Frontaliers Bussenghi and Bernasconi.

New Year’s Day ceremony
01.01 / 11:00 Palazzo dei Congressi (Convention Center)

In the presence of the city authorities and the Lugano Volunteer Corps an Aperitivo will be offered to everyone (departure of the procession from the Piazza della Riforma at 11:00).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Open your world

Honestly, I am no beer drinker, never have liked beer, never will... but this Heineken ad caught my attention. The beer company went in a wonderfully different direction from parties and loud music. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what we've come to expect from decades of beer ads.

The ad features people who disagree on issues like climate change, feminism, and transgender rights.
There's one important catch: The two people don't know they disagree with each other when they first sit down.

Take a look for yourself:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Lugano free City Tour

If you hurry you can participate in a free city tour of Lugano today. You might feel at home along the Lago Ceresio but have you ever taken a tour of your own city... just for the fun of it?

Autumn in the region of Lugano gives magic emotions… the glowing “palazzi”, the flavours of the local cuisine and sunny days that can warm up one’s face and heart. Pretend to be a tourist for a day.

Lugano Turismo wishes to promote its city and let you spend unforgettable moments by offering a guided excursion in the city center. You'll discover the most hidden corners and enjoy a small tasting experience of local products.

The guided tour will be held in the two prevalent languages from 10:30 to 12:30.
Meeting point is at the Information office: Ente Turistico del Luganese in Piazza Riforma. For more info call: +41 91 605 12 26

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving is a time
For reviewing what we treasure,
The people we hold dear,
Who give us so much pleasure.
Without you as my friend,
Life would be a bore;
Having you in my life
Is what I'm thankful for"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How NOT to talk about the weather

With the holiday season coming up... you might have a social event or two on your agenda. So what DO you discuss to avoid the awkward silence? Need ideas? Well, here are 32 party conversation starters to get you through the holiday season and beyond. Just a few positive subjects to discuss that go past commenting on the weather. Cheers!

What are your vacation plans for the holidays?
What’s on your bucket list in 2018? Why do you want to go there?
Have you done any short weekend getaways recently? I’d love some recommendations.
Do you prefer a summer or winter vacation?
What’s the most amazing hotel you’ve stayed at?
What’s the best travel experience you’ve ever had?
What’s the most beautiful beach you’ve ever visited in the world?

Ask the longest-married couple at the table to tell the story of their wedding day.
Do you think that telling the truth is always right—even when someone gets hurt?
Tell a fun and hysterical story about the person to your right.
Ask the parents at the table to describe what happened on the days their children were born.
What’s the best surprise that you’ve ever received?

I’m really into [new fitness class]. Have you done it before?
Have you ever tried eliminating alcohol from your diet for New Year' resolutions? Would you do it?
What’s the craziest wellness trend you’ve tried? Did it work?

What was your most memorable meal of the year?
What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever been to?
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
What is your favorite kind of cheese?
What’s your signature dish?
What’s your favorite recipe book and why?

If you could have any job in the world, what would you do?
Ask older family members to describe their first jobs.
Did someone at the table experience a career milestone this year, such as starting a new job, graduating, or receiving a promotion? Ask them to share how it’s going.
What’s your passion? Would you ever want to turn it into a business?
Do you agree with the quote “find something you love and turn it into your job”?

Black Friday: yea or nay?
What show are you most excited about right now?
Where were you when [insert topical event] happened?
How did you celebrate last Thanksgiving?
What holiday movie are you looking forward to seeing?
What are you most thankful for?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Two million foreigners in Switzerland

Today there are over two million foreigners living in Switzerland. They account for almost a quarter of the total population. But who are these foreigners who are often at the center of political debates?

Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest proportion of foreigners (24.9% in 2016) in its territory. Only a few individual cases, such as oil countries or city-states like Luxembourg, have even higher rates than Switzerland.

The chart below shows the nationalities of all foreigners living in Switzerland. Over 80% come from European countries. German, Italian, Portuguese and French citizens alone account for almost half of all foreigners in Switzerland.

Did you know that the permanent and non-permanent resident population of Ticino was 354 375 for 2016?

Take a peak at the latest statistics chart by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Click here for a cool interactive chart from SwissInfo.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

7th World Peace Forum in Lugano

Established in 2011, Culture Ticino Network is a non-profit, apolitical and non-religious association located in Lugano. It promotes a culture of peace, the protection of the human physical and mental integrity and the protection of the environment by organizing many national and international events.

Culture Ticino Network aims to create a network of associations, foundations, schools, universities, public and private institutions, companies and the whole population in the Ticino, in Switzerland and other countries all over the world.

As part of the 7th World Peace Forum, Lugano (Nov. 13th - Dec. 7th, 2017) and on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of formal relations between the Philippines and Switzerland, Dr. Ricardo Trota Jose will explain the Filipino identity, focusing on Filipino psyche and behavior coming from more than three centuries of Spanish rule and more than 40 years of American occupation.

You are all warmly invited to “Bridging East and West: The Philippines in Asia and the World, commemorating 60 years of Philippines-Switzerland Relations and More”, a lecture by Dr. Jose, Professor of History and Director of the Third World Studies Center, University of Diliman (Philippines).

The event is sponsored by the Embassy of the Philippines (Bern) in collaboration with the association Culture Ticino Network (Lugano).

Venue: 7th World Peace Forum, Lugano - Guest lecture by Ricardo Trota Jose
Where: Nielsen Auditorium, Franklin University Switzerland, Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6924 Sorengo
Date: Tuesday, November 21st, 2017
Time: 19.00 till 20.00
Programme: 7th World Peace Forum, Lugano

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Anglican Church's Advent Market

The Anglican Church of St. Edwards have a brand new web site where you will find details about who they are, a little of their history, and news of current and upcoming events in and around the English-speaking church.

But why not check it out yourself and visit their yearly Advent Market on Saturday, November 18th, 2017.

You'll be spoilt with homemade cakes, puddings and preserves, coffee and light snacks, Tiffany’s Treasures and Children’s Christmas Gifts. This is a major fundraising initiative for the church and any support is welcome. There are many parishioners currently working very hard behind the scenes to make it a success.

St Edward’s welcomes visitors as well as permanent and temporary residents from all over the world. Whatever your background or circumstances, everyone is invited.

Venue: St. Edward's Advent Market
Where: Casa Benson, Via Clemente Maraini 6, 6900 Lugano, Tel: 091 968'11'49
Date: Saturday, November 18th, 2017
Time: 10:00 - 15:00

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homesickness fix

We moved from Lugano to Paris many moons ago and nothing cures homesickness like indulging in local foods when travelling back to the Ticino for the holidays. Not only do we Export food shop before we leave Switzerland, we treat ourselves to all kinds of culinary delights that have become part and parcel of our family's how-to-cure-homesickness menu. Here are just a few...

There is no denying that Ticino architecture, cuisine and culture is closely related to that of neighbouring Italy.

A Ticino autumn classic: roasted chestnuts

Cheese from the local alps, most notably Gottardo

Infiltrated from Italy no doubt! ;)

October is game season in Ticino. Personally I prefer the side dishes of spätzle, chestnuts, red beets, sprouts and wine-soaked pears.

Coop yoghurts still look like they did in the 70s and taste the same too...

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

Lindt marketing at it's best... just morph the traditional chocolate easter bunnies into Christmas bears.

The classic of all classics: Swiss Milk Chocolate

The most iconic Swiss chocolate, now declined into creative panoply of flavours.

Kids' Export shopping

Thursday, November 9, 2017

World Freedom Day

In many parts of the world, freedom is something that is taken for granted. The freedom to choose any religion we want or no religion at all, the freedom to be in a relationship with the person we love, the freedom to travel…the list goes on. Unfortunately, there are many, many places in the world where these freedoms are not available to people.

If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about.

The History of World Freedom Day

The World Freedom Day is a federal observance commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. The day commemorates the end of communism in Eastern and Central Europe and was designated in 2001 by President George W. Bush. It was created to celebrate the reunification of loved ones separated by the Iron Curtain and differing ideologies, and ultimately serves to acknowledge that the resolve of the masses can shift boundaries, break unfavorable resolutions and ultimately determine the type of leadership they desire so as to live is a freer, more fair society.

World Freedom Day is celebrated every year on November 9th.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lugano in B&W

Back in the Italian part of Switzerland for the autumn break and we are falling in love with this corner of the world all over again.

Ticino is a land of artists where culture is still a way of life. It is a place where art, architecture and history are intertwined with breathtaking nature and impressive landscapes.

With its lakes and mountains Ticino is typically Swiss but with added sunshine and Mediterranean flair. The mix inspires lifestyle as well as food and drink.

Parco Ciani is the green heart of the city of Lugano, a beautiful public park of 63'000 sqm.

Villa Ciani, a beautiful mid-1800’s mansion with sober neoclassical shapes 
featuring 30 frescoed rooms. 

In 1912 the villa and the park were purchased by the city of Lugano.

The funicular Angioli is (was) the fourth funicular of Lugano and certainly the most unknown.
In 1910 this funicular was built and started to link the lake promenade to the big hotels in 1913. In 1973, the owner gave the funicular to the City of Lugano whom decided to suspend the exploitation in 1987.

The church of S. Tommaso at Agra. The church initially belonged to the parish of S. Pietro in Pambio and then became an under-parish in 1591.

Happy Hour Ticino Style.
Waterfront lounging in Morcote.

The picturesque village on the shores of lake Lugano prevailed over 12 contestants to win the title of “Most beautiful village of Switzerland 2016”.

 With its characteristic small alleys, the arcades of old patrician homes, valuable architectural monuments and its natural beauty, Morcote is considered “the Pearl of Ceresio”.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Swiss Cuisine: facts & figures

Switzerland owes its rich culinary heritage to its great many regional specialities. Many traditional dishes have their roots in Switzerland’s farming culture.

- Around 400 different Swiss products, such as “Gruyère” (cheese), “Longeole” (a sausage from Geneva) and “Basler Läckerli” (biscuits) are officially recognised as part of Switzerland’s culinary heritage.
- The Swiss eat the most chocolate in the world, consuming close to 11kg of chocolate, per person, per year.
- Switzerland has over 450 different cheeses.
- The Swiss consume 21.5kg of cheese per person, per year.
- There are more than 1,680 artisan bakeries in Switzerland.
- Switzerland has a huge assortment of sausages and dried meat specialities, which vary from region to region: “La Longeole” in Geneva and the “Saucisson Vaudois”, the “St. Galler Bratwurst” (veal frying sausage), “Jura boudin à la crème“ (blood sausage ), “Bündnerfleisch”, and “mortadella di fegato” (liver mortadella) from Ticino, to name but a few.
- Around 200 grape varieties are grown in Switzerland. 40 of these are indigenous varieties.
- Valais is the largest wine-making region. Over 50 different grape varieties are grown there.
- Absinthe, a plant-based spirit, was banned in Switzerland following a popular initiative in 1908. The ban was lifted in 2005.
- Many homes in Switzerland use the powdered seasoning “Aromat”, which was invented by Knorr in 1952. In 1908 Maggi created its now famous and extremely popular stock cubes.
- “Cenovis”, a spread made from yeast, carrot and onion extract, was launched in 1931. “Parfait”, another popular Swiss speciality, has been around since 1942.
- “Ovomaltine”, which was invented in 1865, is a milk-flavouring product made from malted barley, skimmed milk and cocoa.
- “Rivella” is a carbonated soft drink made from milk serum. It was launched in the 1950s.
- “Ricola” is a boiled sweet made from a blend of 13 herbs and has been manufactured since 1940.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Capital of the World

The scariest, silliest, sugariest night of the year is finally here. Halloween is spreading around the globe like a zombie outbreak.

From Germany to Japan, young adults are embracing the holiday, particularly its costume parties, as they escape the status quo for a night. Americans take their Halloween pretty seriously, even if many don't know exactly why we carve pumpkins, hang fake ghosts, hand out candy, or dress up like something dragged in by a graveyard cat.

European immigrants brought Halloween to the United States, where different Old World traditions mingled in America's cultural stew. The celebration gained steam with the explosion of Irish immigration to the United States in the 1800s.

Anoka, Minnesota is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from Halloween pranks. When Anokans awoke to find their cows roaming Main Street, their windows soaped and their outhouses tipped over, they decided something had to be done.

In 1920, George Green and other Anoka civic leaders suggested the idea of a giant celebration. The idea was adopted by the Anoka Commercial Club and the Anoka Kiwanis Club; both giving their full support. In September of that year, a Halloween committee was organized.

Working hand in hand were businessmen, teachers from the Anoka public and parochial schools, parents, and students. For weeks before the big event, more than a thousand Anoka school children made plans and costumes for the big event.

By the 1930s, the festivities had expanded as had the attendance at the parades. There were over 2,000 costumed children marching down Main Street. It was estimated that 20,000 spectators lined the streets to watch this night-time spectacle. In 1937, 12-year-old, Harold Blair, donning a sweater embellished with a Halloween Capital insignia, carried with him to Washington, D.C. a proclamation naming Anoka the Halloween Capital of the World.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The most spectacular sunset ever...

“Tonight the sun has died like an Emperor ... great scarlet arcs of silk ... saffron ... green ... crimson ... and the blaze of Venus to remind one of the absolute and the infinite ... and along the lower rim of beauty lay the hard harsh line of the hills ...” 

John Coldstream

Friday, October 27, 2017

A walk along the lake

Back in town and it is a fabulous sunny autumn day. How many pictures can you take while strolling along the lake of Lugano? Take a look...

Never get tired of this view

This bench has my name written all over it

Indian summer in Lugano

Geometric visual games

A shot right out of a Hollywood movie

Sometimes you need to change your angle.

A black and white impression 

Feel like a ride?

Playing with shadows

An exotic touch

Time to call it a day!
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