Carpe Diem Haiku *Mirror Rice Cakes (Kagamimochi)*

I decided to take a touch personal twist on this prompt. Each year for New Year’ s Eve a friend of mine is baking special cookies – little “pockets”, filled with home-made marmelade and dusted with caster sugar on the top. Next to being delicious they also have a slip of paper within, telling what future holds for the finder. Yes, they sound a lot like the well-known fortune cookies, just look (and taste) completely different. This has become a lovely tradition that adds a lot of laugh to the evening.

* * *
sugar-dusted nose tip
well hidden in New Year’ s cookies
the path of fate

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Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

winterlandscape new Carpe Diem Logo

Carpe Diem Haiku *Summer Solstice*


Līgo (Sway) – the summer solstice is one of favourite Latvian holidays, celebrating the shortest night and longest day of a year. It is held in the night from the 23rd to the 24th of June and usually spent in the countryside. The way Līgo is celebrated has much to do with pagan traditions but the most important thing is togetherness and being on the same “wavelength” with nature.

Līgo is thought to be the time when the forces of nature are at their most powerful, and the boundaries between the physical and spiritual worlds are thinnest. Just like ages ago, people still decorate their houses with rowan, oak and birch branches in order to protect themselves from evil. Women wear wreaths made from meadow flowers as well as gather different herbs. Another important detail is fire that must be kept from sunset till sunrise. There are various types of bonfires all around the country that night, which traditionally people jump over to ensure prosperity and fertility.

A well-known part of this celebration is searching for the mythical fern flower, though some suggest that the fern flower is a symbol of secret knowledge; today it is almost always synonymous with having sexual relationships. Young couples traditionally search for the flower and many believe there is an increase in births nine months later.

Traditional food during Līgo is a special type of cheese with cumin seeds, made out of curd, and the traditional drink is beer.

* * *
last embers of bonfire
shortest night meets longest day
celebrating light

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Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Happy Grandma March Day!

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“Chestita Baba Marta!” (Bulgarian: Честита Баба Марта! ) or “Happy Baba Marta!” is the greeting heard all across Bulgaria on the 1st of March every year as they celebrate Grandma March Day.

There’s much folklore about Grandma March Day and the character of Baba Marta herself. She is presented as a sister or a wife of the great long-horned beetle (January) and the small long-horned beetle (February). She is always dissatisfied with them because they are either drunk on wine, or they do some other harm . The old woman (bride) becomes angry, hence the weather breaks.

Martenitsa – usually in the form of a wrist band, woven by combining red and white colored threads, or as small dolls, called “Pizho and Penda” – are worn on that day and through March, until a stork or a bloomed tree is seen, symbolizing warmer weather and well being. The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring in Bulgaria and life in general. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, thus some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and of the sorrow and happiness in human life.

Not being Bulgarian, I still really enjoy this tradition and wish that spring will bring along everything one’ s heart is longing for! /

Carpe Diem Haiku *Ulan-Ude*

As our Carpe Diem journey continues, the next stop is Ulan-Ude (Улан-Удэ), the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. It means we have a chance to celebrate New Year for the second time because it is the White Month in Buryatia. New Year there is celebrated also by the lunar calendar, next to the traditional New Year’ s Eve.

Time of Sagaalgan or Festival Of White Month varies, according to the solar calendar, but it always means a celebration that lasts whole month. There will be travelling from house to house to visit relatives, friends and neighbours, a special ritual of “burning sins” from the previous year, different ceremonies at local Buddhist temples, Shamanistic rituals, and appreciation of white food (any milk products and mutton) as a symbol of purity. Nowadays this holiday has become very popular and it is celebrated by all residents of Buryatia, regardless of their nationality and religion.

* * *
beginning of road
old sins disappear in flames
spotless moon

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Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Carpe Diem Haiku *Yenisei River*

Bahtia is the taiga village on the Yenisei River (Енисе́й) where indigenous people live according to the laws of nature, their own values and cultural traditions, with their daily routine barely changed over the last century. There are no roads in the village and the movement takes place according to the “state” of the Yenisei – in sleighs (8 months a year there’ s the desert of ice around) or in boats. Post gets delivered once a week by a helicopter, the nearest doctor’ s office and police station is 150km (almost 94 miles) away down the river. No government, taxes or any social restrictions – only freedom. There are around 250 people in Bahtia and only 50 of them receive salary. All the others are into hunting (animal trapping) and fishing.

“Happy People” – that’ s the title a German film producer Werner Herzog came up with for his documentary about Bahtia. Why not? After all those are the last leftovers of the natural happy life, nowadays pretty much lost for and forgotten about by the European civilization.

* * *
samovar steam
dogs and snowshoes at the barn
ready to go
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Līgo Haibun Special

“LĪĪĪGOOOO!” I shouted from the top of my lungs as we jumped over the fire and I felt the flames reaching the part of my body polite people usually avoid mentioning in public. This was the 5th time and I knew we had many more to go. After all I had lost the bet: how could I have possibly known he would agree to be a part of that nude run across the bridge?! But he did! And even won to be crowned, though I am still not sure if because of coming in the first or for some other quite…um…obvious reasons. So, now, for the rest of the night, I was about to surrender to making the fruits of his fertile imagination ripe. Jumping over the fire was only the beginning. Ah, and the ancient story about searching and finding the only blossoming fern in the Līgo night…it turned out to be true. Surprisingly enough, without any connection to some botanical phenomena…

shortest night of year
fern blossom uncovered
-last glowing ember

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Līgo Haibun Special