Avignon Festival

The month-long Festival d’Avignon was founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, a well-known French actor and director who selected bold and innovative productions. Throughout its evolution, the Avignon Festival has not strayed from the fresh experimentation that was Vilar’s hallmark, thus continuing to attract new audiences after more than 50 years of existence. The festival presents a different program each year, with about 40 performances given in 20 venues including the Popes’ Palace (Palais des Papes), cloisters, and churches, and approximately 120,000 people in attendance. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was a fanciful plant from Central Asia that grew lambs as its fruit. The stalks bent down to allow the lambs to graze nearby, and when the lambs ran out of food, the plant would die and the lambs could be harvested. The plant is described in a much-embellished 14th-century travelogue attributed to Englishman John Mandeville. Though the story of a wool-bearing plant was used to explain the existence of cotton, what other actual plant inspired this legend? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Festival of Ancient Greek Drama

The ancient city of Kourion, on the southwest coast of Cyprus, was buried by volcanic lava in 365. Extensive excavation in recent decades has uncovered a stadium, a basilica and sanctuary of Apollo, and a Roman amphitheater that dates from 50 to 175 CE. Held since 1961, performances during the Ancient Greek Drama Festival are held in the restored amphitheater, which seats 2,400. Both international and Cypriot drama companies participate in the festival, which focuses on the classical Greek dramatists and Shakespeare. There are also moonlight concerts overlooking Episkopi Bay. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Cyanide Poisoning

There are numerous cyanide compounds, and, whether inhaled or ingested, most are deadly. Some occur naturally in almonds and in fruit seeds and pits. Cyanide deprives body tissues of oxygen, and symptoms of poisoning include bitter almond-scented breath, dizziness, convulsions, and collapse. Though antidotes exist, cyanide can kill within minutes, making it a historically notable murder weapon. What might explain why Rasputin survived after eating cyanide-laced cakes and wine? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Douai Festival of the Giants (Fête des Géants)

For three days and nights during the Fête des Géants in Douai, France, the figure of Gayant is carried through the streets to the accompaniment of drums and church bells. About 25 feet tall and wearing a military uniform, Gayant is followed by his wife, Marie, and then their three children. The giants go to the town hall to salute the mayor, after which they continue on to the Place D’Armes and take part in the festivities. Another famous procession of the giants takes place in the city of Lille on Whit Monday, when more than 100 of these fabulous figures are carried through the streets of the town.

Source: The Free Dictionary

Sandboarding

Sandboarding is a sport similar to snowboarding, except that instead of sliding down the side of a snowy mountain, participants slide down sand dunes—some of which can be hundreds of feet high. For practical reasons, it is most prevalent in desert or coastal regions, and several sandboarding competitions and championships are held around the world. One significant drawback to boarding on sand instead of snow is that, unlike on mountains, dune riders do not have what convenience?

Source: The Free Dictionary

Dunmow Flitch Trial

The custom of awarding a flitch of bacon (“flitch” refers to the side of a hog) to any married pair who have neither regretted their union nor quarrelled for a year and a day since their wedding dates back to the 13th century in England. The trial formerly took place on Whit Monday, but these days it is held every four years in July. Today, claimants for the Dunmow Flitch are required to answer questions about their marriage at a mock trial, presided over by a judge. A jury consisting of six spinsters and six bachelors gives the verdict, and the proceedings are usually lighthearted. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary