The True Meaning of Christmas

Witches' Night, Heidelburg, Germany


Setting Sun

Have you ever caught yourself wondering, what is the true meaning of Christmas? When you step back and take a real look at the strange and obscure things we do for the holidays, it doesn’t make any sense. Why do we decorate trees and exchange gifts? What is so special about December 25th? To uncover the roots of this winter holiday we must dig deep into the past, to the first “Christ Mass” during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine, further back to the pagan Yule festival, and then eons ago when a light, warm and bright, was your only source of hope in an illimitable and terrifying darkness. So keep a close circle around the fire while we delve into the Christmas past, and together we may yet uncover its true nature.

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Romanian Myths, Monsters, and Heroes

Carpathian Giant, Pietrele Doamnei , Romania

Carpathian Giant, Pietrele Doamnei , Romania

The epitome of dark myths and legends began deep within the wide forests of Romania, a country that was once harsh and full of mystery. Natural disasters, disease, wild animals, and war always felt too close to home and threatened to decimate the lives of the Romanian folk. Seemingly powerless against these terrible forces, the Romanian people created tales of monsters and heroes to give them hope and understanding. Earthquakes occurred only because your lack of faith erodes the Pillars that hold up the world. It was a vicious Pricolici that killed your cattle and a blood-sucking Strigoi that caused your mother to grow ill. Long ago, these superstitions were what helped the Romanian people deal with the harshness of life, as well as providing entertainment around a fire on a cold, winter’s night. All things begin and end with a story.

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A Crash Course in British Castles

Caernarfon Castle, Wales

Before coming to Britain, even before embarking on our European journey, I would often sit and dream of treading through stone passageways, patrolling the length of rocky defences, and keeping watch from the tallest turrets on a windy night. Castles were raised by the ruling powers through the blood and sweat of their toiling subjects; impenetrable fortresses of carved stone blocks atop rocky crags, castles are truly an awesome sight to behold. They were, at many times, scenes of bloodshed: from sword clashing medieval battles to the assassination of nobles. They were once the seat of lords and kings, protecting, as well as dominating, the countryside. They have stood for hundreds of years and will hopefully continue to stand for centuries more (partially thanks to the National Trust).

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