December 12 - National Festival of Lights and Renewal in Saint Lucia

Posted on December 12, 2018

St. Lucia's Day is tomorrow, December 13. Because of this, December 13 is celebrated by Saint Lucia island as its National Day.

But tonight is a sort of "National Day Eve," and since St. Lucia is considered the saint of light, the capital city of Castries is lit up with decorative lights, decorated lanterns, and fireworks!


In the past, the celebration would last ALL night long, until sunrise of December 13!

Nowadays, maybe partly to attract more tourists, the festivals of lights tend to be spread out over a couple of weeks. One day there is a competition for decorated lanterns, with many different categories for age and theme. There are parades and performances as well as fireworks shows. 





Also, these days, many people merge this holiday with Christmas, so their house decorations combine lights with Christmas themes.

Here are some examples of lanterns: 





 By the way, Saint Lucia is located in the Caribbean Sea, so people living there are not going to have a "white Christmas." Unless you mean white sands!








Also on this date:






December 11 - Happy Birthday Robert Koch

Posted on December 11, 2018

The "Father of Bacteriology" may not sound super wonderful - but I suppose it's better than the "Father of Infectious Diseases"!

"The Person who Saved Humanity" is a really nice title!

Born in the Kingdom of Hanover (now Germany) on this date in 1843, Robert Koch did tons of great science that led to much better understanding of infectious diseases and other medical concerns. And he received a Nobel Prize for some of these discoveries.

Here are some of his most important accomplishments:

He figured out the cause of tuberculosis, including the specific slow-growing bacteria that causes it.





He realized that anthrax spores can remain dormant under some conditions, only to become activated and cause a deadly disease under other conditions.

He isolated the bacterium that causes cholera. 




He observed and described cases of acquired immunity.

He developed methods of growing bacterials cultures in agar.

He developed experimental support for the concept of infectious disease.

He developed a way of researching possible bacterial causes of new or unknown diseases using four postulates (Koch's postulates) - and these postulates are still used today.
1) The bacteria must be present in every case of the disease. 
2) The bacteria must be isolated from the person (or other organism) that has the disease; in other words, it must be grown in pure culture. 
3) Samples of the bacteria taken from the pure culture must cause the same disease when inoculated into a healthy animal in the laboratory. 
4) The bacteria must then be isolated from the inoculated animal, and must be compared to the original organism first isolated from the original person (or other organism). The two samples of bacteria must be identified as being the same species of bacteria.






December 10 – Happy Birthday, Clarice Lispector

Posted on December 10, 2018

Born in Ukraine...
Jewish...
Brazilian...
A writer known for being innovative...

When you first start reading about Clarice Lispector, you might wonder why she is "Brazilian" if she was born in the Ukraine.



But she was born on this date in 1920. And World War I had just destroyed much of the Ukraine. And the people of the Ukraine had fought on both sides of the war, so conflict continued and maybe even got worse during the civil war started by the Russian Revolution. 

Lispector's family fled when she was just an infant - and they moved to Brazil.

So Lispector grew up in Brazil. She left the nation for around 15 years, because she was married to a Brazilian diplomat who served in a variety of European nations and in the U.S. 



Lispector decided to be a writer at age 12, and her first published story appeared when she was around 20. Her first novel - published three years later - made a huge sensation in Brazil, and some considered it the greatest novel ever written by a woman in the Portuguese language. (Brazil's official language is Portuguese.) 


However, Lispector's most famous writings were produced after she returned to Brazil from all those diplomatic travels. That was in 1959. Lispector's later books and stories earned amazing praises like: the best book of stores ever published in Brazil, the most influential Jewish writer in the entire world since Kafka, an instant masterpiece...

Most of Lispector's works are for adults, but one award-winning piece is for kids: The Mystery of the Thinking Rabbit