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International Harp player Alexander Boldachev: Syrian musicians are excellent performers and respect work and art

As part of his world tour,  international Harp player and musician Alexander Buldachev has arrived in Syria with the aim of holding specialized training workshops and a solo evening.

On December 15, Boldachev started his visit by attending a musical evening for the National Symphony Orchestra at Al-Assad House for Culture and Arts.

“During the musical evening  Syrian Rahaf Sheikhani performed one of the difficult works of the Nutcracker Ballet of Tchaikovsky that caught my attention and appreciation,” Boldachev said after the music party.

The History of Christmas

The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals(parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.

Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god - Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year's festival that lasted for 12 days.

The Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.

To spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a "mock" king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the celebration the "mock" king was stripped of the royal clothes and slain, sparing the life of the real king.

The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.

Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.

In Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. Agreat festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

The ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.

The Roman's celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of "Jo Saturnalia!" the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).

Houses form heritage museums in Bosra

Daraa, ST- People of Bosra Al-Sham in Daraa countryside have turned some of the old houses which still preserve their  traditional architectural style,  into museums and galleries of folklore, highlighting the traditional textiles and cuisine that Horan region is famous for.

Director of Tourism, Yasser Al-Saadi remarked with a statement to the SANA that the ancient houses of Bosra are distinguished by their cultural richness and still preserve the old architectural style made of basalt stone, arches and stone roof.

He added that these houses were chosen, due to their distinguished architectural style, to display the products of traditional industries including rugs, mattresses, and some traditional agricultural tools. Also, they were decorated with old musical instruments.

Al-Saadi indicated that the directorate is seeking to turn about 25 old houses into popular hostels that contribute in revitalizing cultural heritage tourism and activating the traditional professions market.

Al-Aghabani, a Damascene craft that adorns cloths and homes with the most beautiful embroideries

Damascus, ST- The Damascene craftsmen from the time of the Phoenicians till our days,  have created the most beautiful embroideries, as the white and wool  cloth embroidered with gold and silver threads was very famous in the city of Damascus more than 500 years ago. This kind of craft is  called al-Aghabani.

Hisham al-Noqtah, one of the ancient professionals in the craft of Al-Aghabani, and one of the few who still have a workshop to manufacture it and display it in the shops of Medhat Pasha Market, said that Al-Aghbani is a pure  handcraft  made of natural silk, gold and reed threads and embroidered by needle with embossed embroideries. This  distinguishes Al-Aghbani from other Damascene fabrics, such as brocade and silk.

Al-Aghbani is also distinguished by its  seven colors and the names of its  drawings, where each embroidered  stitch has a special name such as " Saqf al- Qa'a", " Daqqat al-Lira", "Al-Sultan", and "Lam Alef'" drawing that was embroidered on the turbans which were  worn by the dignitaries and scholars of Damascus. Al-Noqta  also pointed  out that the every piece of Aghabani needs about a month to be completed, so the Damascene families had to wait a long time to complete the bedspreads and clothes.

AL-Noqta told  SANA that he inherited this  craft from his grandparents. He designs drawings and engravings  on cloth that is either silk or cotton, then begins the stage of printing the drawings on wood briquettes. This  is carried out by specialized workers, then the washing and ironing stage are carried out by a manual machine, thus  the piece becomes ready for use.

Al-Noqta  pointed out that most of Al-Aghabani products are  exported to European countries where the Europeans  boast in offering them as presents as a distinguished handmade Damascene industry.


Czech tourist website highlights Damascus historical monuments

Prague ( ST) - The Czech Tourist  Travel Mag. said that the archaeological monuments of Damascus are considered among the oldest and most important antiquities in the world, and they were put on the UNESCO List for Humanitarian and Cultural Heritage.

In a report about the most prominent historical monuments in Damascus, the website said that Damascus hosts one of the oldest and largest mosques in the world, namely the Umayyad Mosque, noting that part of the remains of John the Baptist exist in this mosque.

The website also highlighted other important monuments in the city of Damascus, especially the Citadel which dates back to the Middle Ages and al-Hamideyeh market which is considered the longest marketing street in the world that has been unchanged since the 19th century.