February 28, 2010

Andalusia Day (Dia de Andalucia) – Spain

This regional holiday celebrates the day in 1980 when Andalusia became an “autonomous community” of Spain. This is a political division rather like a U.S. state, but with more power to make decisions and spend money. Spain is more decentralized than the United States, which means that there is less power at the center (the national government) and more power in the various autonomous communities.

On this day, Andalusians fly their green-and-white flag, put up green-and-white bunting, and hold cultural competitions.

Andalusia is
in the south of Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest of the 17 autonomous communities. Andalusia is the home of flamenco dancing, bullfighting, the painter Pablo Picasso, and (of course) the Andalusian horse. When Christopher Columbus sailed away from Spain on the fateful journey that would result in Europe's discovery of a “New World,” he sailed from a town in Andalusia.

The Gateway

Part of Andalusia is a really important part of the globe, for it is the closest part of Europe to Afric
a, separated by only 7 miles of water. This narrow gap between two continents is called the Strait of Gibralter, and it is the gateway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. That is one reason why Andalusia has been the location of war and conquest—not only have people wanted to control this area, but some people have entered Europe from Africa there (or vice versa). As a matter of fact, scholars think that Andalusia may be the first place in Europe that was ever settled by humans, since the origin of humanity was Africa.

Here are just some of the empires who have ruled Andalusia. See if you can match the picture to the name:

1.the Moors, or Muslims from North Africa

2.the Roman Empire

3.the Byzantine Empire

4.Carthage, including
the famous military commander Hannibal

5.Castille and the worldwide Spanish empire

2.B 3.C 4.A 5.E

Paint like Picasso

Picasso is the first name many people think of when discussing modern art. Born in Malaga, Andalusia, Spain, Picasso drew and painted in many different styles.

Take a look through Olga's Gallery (scroll down, and click any picture that you want to see in a larger format), being sure to go to Picasso's later pictures, (such as the last batch, 216-260).

Mr. Picasso Head is a create-a-cubist-face website. You choose the face and features, the color, and so forth. Pretty cool!

Now try to do your own original Picasso-esque portrait.

More on the Moors

Moorish architecture and decorations have a lot of symmetry—that is, they are the same on both sides of a dividing line (reflective symmetry), or the same if you turn the shape around a central point (rotational symmetry). An example of the latter is shown here, left.

Here are some examples of the symmetry found in Moorish tiles.

Hop's page has some very bright, very cool tessellations taken from Arabic tiles. (Tesselations are when shapes are put together side-by-side so that they fill up a space.)

Now use this computer program to make your own tessellations. I chose "Click here to start Taprats" (under "The Applets" heading), then just fiddled around, trying things out, clicking everywhere. It was fun!

Also on this day...

Happy Not-Leap-Day

This is the day on which most people who were born on February 29 celebrate their birthdays all those years that there isn't a February 29! (Ditto anniversaries and commemorations and memorials.)

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