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Scottish Book Trust will be running the first Book Week Scotland, a national celebration of books and reading, from 26th November to 2nd December 2012.

They will work with a wide range of partner organisations, including libraries, schools, museums and workplaces, to deliver a packed programme of free projects and events, bringing Scots of all ages and from all walks of life together to celebrate the pleasures of books and reading.

As part of the celebrations, Scottish Book Trust will be publishing a special book of writing celebrating Scotland‘s favourite places. Written by members of the public and well known authors, thousands of copies of My Favourite Place will be distributed free throughout Scotland during Book Week Scotland. There is still time to submit your entry for possible inclusion in the book.

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My Favourite Place



Submit your entry to the My Favourite Place writing project



Radishes for Christmas…

radish virgin w/ 9 radish stars
When: 23rd December every year.
Where: Zocalo area of Oaxaca city, Mexico.

While you are peeling sprouts and stuffing your turkey the good citizens of Oaxaca in Mexico are carving radishes. La Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) is a unique folk art festival that takes place in the run up to Christmas.

The Night of the Radishes is one of the most anticipated events in Oaxaca. Every year, this humble vegetable is carved into intricate sculptures of animals and saints, conquerors and kings, and anything else you can possibly imagine.

Nobody really knows how this festival started, although it is believed to have originated towards the end of the 1800s when markets during Christmas eve sold salt-dried fish and vegetables for customers coming out of midnight mass. To differentiate the fish from the veg (and no doubt pass the time as they waited for customers) the vendors sculpted their radishes into tiny figures. These carved radishes then became a popular addition to the Christmas table and more and more intricate carvings were made each year.

(via Somewhere in the world today)

The winter solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s polar hemisphere is farthest away from the star that it orbits.

Earth’s maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26′.  More evidently from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. Since the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, other terms are often used for the day on which it occurs, such as ‘midwinter’, ‘the longest night’ or ‘the first day of winter’.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time (e.g. Dōngzhì Festival in East Asia, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, to name but a few).


Role reversal in Ancient Rome…

When: December 17th to 23rd.
Where: Ancient Rome.

The tradition during the popular Roman festival of Saturnalia was for slaves and masters to switch places in a reversal of roles. The slaves were allowed to treat their masters with mock disrespect and hold a banquet which was served by their masters. However, this role reversal was mostly superficial as the banquet was often prepared by the slaves in the first place whilst preparing their master’s dinner as well.

Children headed the family, cross-dressing and masquerades took place and general merriment of all kinds prevailed. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten, wars were put on hold, gifts exchanged. Candles and lamps chased away the spirits of darkness. A mock king (the Lord of Misrule) was also crowned chosen by bean ballot. This evolved into the practice of baking a cake containing a bean, whosoever finds the bean is crowned king.

Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BC to raise morale after a particularly crushing military defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians. It was based upon the Persian holiday (Sacacea) and the Egyptian mid winter celebrations. Originally only celebrated for a day it became so popular (probably more with slaves than masters!) that it grew into a week-long extravaganza.

Saturnalia is believed to have had the first parade floats, called the ‘carrus navalis’ and could be the origins of today’s carnivals.

(via Somewhere in the world today)

On 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day.

On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly had adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

THE Scottish Government has in recent years sought to increase Scotland’s falling population and introduce initiatives to attract and retain new migrants.

The Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in launching a workers’ rights poster for migrants said:
Migration to and from Scotland is not a new thing. For generations, people from all over the world have come here to start new lives. We recognise the need for Scotland to continue to attract skills and talent from overseas – to help us weather the current economic storm and to enable Scotland to flourish in the longer term.

You can read about the experience of immigrants in Scotland from 1830 to 1939 here.

Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
Come even if you broke your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the portal of hope, come as you are.

The Whirling Dervishes Festival is one of the world’s most intriguing sights, a mesmerising spectacle of dizzy twirling. The ritual whirling is an act of love and a performance of faith for the Sufi arm of Islam.

Whirling DerwishThe dervishes are a kind of monk of the Mevlevi Order, (see for more info) named after their founder Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, the great 13th century Sufic saint and poet, from Konya, Turkey who made this whirling dance famous. Mevlana taught tolerance, positive thinking, and forgiveness, and as a way of connecting with God, he would whirl through the city streets. He encapsulated his religious philosophy in one of his poems, the philosophy which gave fame to the Sufi branch of Islam and brought about the Mevlevi order of whirling dervishes.

Every December on the anniversary of Mevlana’s death thousands of pilgrims flood to Konya to witness the whirling at his Mausoleum. The ceremony known as Sema, takes place in the evening through an intricate tradition of mystical dances. The dancers are accompanied by the “Ney” (one of Mevlana’s longer poems) and a reed pipe which is symbolic of the mythological trumpet that will be blown on the Day of Judgement. With downcast eyes, the dancers spin faster, their long white skirts spinning open like umbrellas. Their leader represents the sun and the spinning dancers the orbits of the stars and moon. There are four dances symbolising the four seasons, the four elements and the four ages of man.

(via Somewhere in the world today)

International Mountain Day is an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the world’s mountains and highlands.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as International Mountain Day”. 

This year’s International Mountain Day theme will focus on Mountains and Forests. It aims to raise awareness about the relevance of mountain forests and the role they play within a Green Economy as well as in climate change adaptation measures.

Healthy mountain forests are crucial to the ecological health of the world. They protect watersheds that supply freshwater to more than half the world’s people. They also are the home of untold wildlife, provide food and fodder for mountain people and are important sources of timber and non-wood products. Yet in many parts of the world mountain forests are under threat as never before and deforestation in tropical mountain forests continues at an astounding rate. Protecting these forests and making sure they are carefully managed is an important step towards sustainable mountain development.

By linking this year’s International Mountain Day to the International Year of Forests 2011, we can benefit from the international existing attention and focus on the theme as well as twinning certain communication activities and products to produce a more effective awareness raising exercise.





The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main UN rights official, and her Office play a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observance of Human Rights Day.
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This year, millions of people decided the time had come to claim their rights. They took to the streets and demanded change. Many found their voices using the internet and instant messaging to inform, inspire and mobilize supporters to seek their basic human rights. Social media helped activists organize peaceful protest movements in cities across the globe – from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York – at times in the face of violent repression.

Human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. As a global community we all share a day in common: Human Rights Day on 10 December, when we remember the creation 63 years ago of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On Human Rights Day 2011, we pay tribute to all human rights defenders and ask you to get involved in the global human rights movement.

Visit and make a wish.

Since it’s conception by the International Union of Soil Sciences in 2002, the 5th December is internationally recognised as World Soil Day; a day to advocate the importance of soil for human survival and to raise awareness of the threats facing it and the vital nature of sustainable management.

‘DIRT! The Movie’, narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, provides an excellent tool for awareness raising and to help generate support for the protection of this much under valued natural resource.

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Tree Dressing Day takes place on the first weekend of December each year.

 In different parts of Britain, Ireland and northern Europe, there is a tradition of fastening rags to trees (usually hawthorn) near holy wells. After taking the water, people tie a piece of their clothing to the tree. The tree is a symbol of long life and health. In Scotland these are known as clootie (cloth) trees.

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Download a free interactive advent calendar from the Woodland Trust:

Snow angel


Winter wonderland

Hidden in this snowy woodland are 24 baubles, each one hiding a festive activity.


Secret doors

Reveal a daily surprise behind each door.