Saturday, October 31, 2009

The History and Customs of "Halloween"

Origin of Name “Halloween”

The term Halloween, originally spelled Hallowe’en, is shortened from All Hallows' Even – e'en is a shortening of even, which is a shortening of evening. This is ultimately derived from the Old English Eallra Hālgena ǣfen. It is now known as "Eve of" All Saints' Day, which is November 1st.

History of Halloween
Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated on October 31 every year by children and adults alike. Its roots began with the Celtic festival of Samhain (a festival held at the end of the harvest season which was linked to celebrations held around the same time in other Gaelic cultures, and it was intimately connected with supernatural activity). The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honored and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual. Another common practice was divination, which often involved the use of food and drink. A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced kalan-geyf).

Halloween is also associated to the Christian holy day of All Saints (commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven) now known as "Eve of" All Saints' Day, which is November 1st a time of pagan festivities, Popes Gregory III (731–741) and Gregory IV (827–844) tried to supplant it with the Christian holiday (All Saints' Day) by moving it from May 13 to November. It is largely a secular celebration but some have expressed strong feelings about perceived religious overtones. In the 800s, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were once celebrated on the same day.

Halloween Colors and Activities
The predominant colors of black and orange have become associated with the celebrations of Halloween, perhaps because of the darkness of the night and the color of fire or of pumpkins, and maybe because of the vivid contrast this present for merchandising. Halloween activities often include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

Trick or Treat
Trick-or-treating has become a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children and Adults dress in costumes of all shapes, colors and themes and go from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Ireland and Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of show, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, in order to earn their treats.

Halloween costumes that are worn today are traditionally those of monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, witches, devils... The Celts of the past said costumes were used to scare off demons. Costumes today are also based on themes other than traditional horror, such as those of characters from television shows, movies, and other pop culture icons.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Belize Real Estate / Investing in Belize

The Belizean Government has implemented a series of laws and incentives that promotes foreign investment and ownership in Belize Property. Foreigners are able to own land and property in their own name with equal rights as Belizeans, yes you heard us right equal rights.

Belize is part of the British Commonwealth and the legal system is based on Old British Common Law. As an English speaking central american country, most investors from North America will not require translation of contracts because they are all in English. Please note when purchasing Belize real estate you will need the services of a qualified attorney as well as an experienced real estate professional.
Always perform your Legal Due Diligence to include a review of the property title at the Lands Department, confirmation of tax clearance and make sure the property is free of mortgages (encumbrances), debt or pending legal cases. Certain transactions require technical due diligence to include boundaries,topography, water availability, energy availability, analysis of permissions and permits, highest and best use studies, market studies.
Once all due diligence periods have been fully executed and the property is cleared for sale, the closing is scheduled. At closing a new property title is drawn, signed and funds are transferred.
In order to register the property a property valuation is carried out by the Belize Valuation Department and the transfer confirmed by the Justice of the Peace. Registration takes place at the Lands Registry at which time registration fees and stamp duty are paid.

Title to property in Belize can be held in three different ways; (1) Deed of Conveyance; (2) Transfer Certificate of Title and (3) Land Certificate.
A Deed of Conveyance originates from the British colonial days and is a registered instrument of ownership. A Deed of Conveyance is a valid legal title once an attorney has confirmed that the seller has good title to the property. This form of ownership can be converted to a Certificate of Title via an application for first registration. Any subsequent buyer is issued a Transfer Certificate of Title. A Land Certificate is an absolute title and applies in new or specially designated areas. Under the Registered land Act of 1987, the government is convertting all freehold land (held under Conveyance) to Land Certificate titles to achieve a uniform system as areas are being surveyed.

The costs assocIated with Belize real estate transfers include stamp duty, registration fee, legal fees, realtor commissions and annual property taxes.
■Stamp duty - 5% on the declared property value at the time of transfer.
■Registration (or recording) fee - US $7.00.
■Legal fees (title search, closing and registration) - Between 1.5 to 3% of purchase price (escrow fee of 0.5%).
■Realtors commission - Between 5-10% of purchase price
■Property taxes - Property taxes outside cities are based on land value rather than the developed value. Tax rates vary between 1% and 1.5% of the value of the undeveloped land.

The Doing business project by The World Bank Group calculated the official costs for registering a property in Belize in 2008 as 4.7% of purchase price, based on a business to business purchase. The project reports that the time taken to register a property in Belize is 66 days.

International Title Insurance is available for Belize real estate affording similar levels of protection as a standard policy in the United States. There are two main US companies offering title insurance in Belize: First American Title Insurance Company (NYSE-FAF) and Stuart Title (NYSE-STC).

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Miss World Belize Fundraiser Fashion Show at Fido’s in San Pedro

Upcoming event on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 at 7PM.

Letty Lara, Miss World Belize, will model her ensemble of clothes and dresses that has been given to her by her sponsors for her to wear while she is in South Africa.
Local girls will also be modeling clothing from various surrounding island boutiques. Autographed posters will be available for a small fee to benefit Letty on her quest to the crown. There will be fabulous prizes raffled at the event as well as $1 Hot wings and lots to drink.

Ms. Letty Lara will leave on her quest to Miss World Pageant the following day, November 5th.
Ms Letty Lara NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT AND YOUR HELP, so please make every effort to attend.

Everyone will get a sneak peak of the actual ELEGANT EVENING GOWN she will be wearing for the Miss World Pageant in South Africa on December 12.

Don’t Miss it!
Tickets are ONLY $10.00
Contact (Ms. Letty Lara) @629-5676
Tickets also available at Designing Solutions

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vote for Belize, Vote for Daniela Wolley for "Ms. Teenager 2009"

Belize has a representative at the Miss Teenager Pageant that will take place on October 15, at San Salvador, El Salvador. We have a chance to vote for the Belize contestant Daniela Wolley on an online competition. Please click on the link below the photo to vote for Miss Belize Teenager 2009.

The contest –now in its second edition, 2009- will feature beautiful young ladies from all over the world who will arrive in El Salvador beginning October 9th. They will travel across the country as part of an agenda of activities organized by the local organization, government institutions and diplomatic groups from “El Pulgarcito de America” –America’s Tiny Country-, host country for the year 2009.

The event is being produced under the supervision of Mr. Tony Berganza, owner of the contest, and the direction of Yesenia Mena, from the advertising company Young and Rubicam.

The Final Gala will take place on Thursday, October 15th and will be taped and broadcasted by Channel 12, during a majestic event, with the direction of famous Venezuelan director Luis Anguizones, and the contestants will wear outfits by Salvadorean designer Carlos Herrera.

The successor of Peruvian Lorelei Cornejo –our 2008 winner-, will take the crown valued in USD $1000.00, a cash prize of $4000.00 and another $4000.00 in prizes from our sponsors.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Countries Billionaires Could Buy

by Keren Blankfeld
Friday, October 2, 2009
provided by

These American moguls could buy some of the world's economies

Castles in France. Islands in the Caribbean. Private jets. With a collective $1.27 trillion at their disposal, the members of The Forbes 400 could buy almost anything.
How about a country? A quick glance at the CIA Fact Book suggests the individual fortunes of many Forbes 400 members are as big as some of the world's economies.

Bill Gates, America's richest man with a net worth of $50 billion, has a personal balance sheet larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 140 countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bolivia and Uruguay. The Microsoft (MSFT) visionary's nest egg is just short of the GDP of Tanzania and Burma.

Warren Buffett, who lost $10 billion in the past 12 months and is this year's Forbes 400 biggest dollar loser, still has a fortune the size of North Korea's economy at $40 billion. (The Oracle of Omaha probably would steer clear of that investment, though.)


One Forbes 400 member does actually run a small chunk of a state in an official capacity: Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he is busy serving as the chief executive of New York City and grappling with its sluggish economy, his own personal balance sheet -- amassed through financial information services and media company Bloomberg LP -- equals the value of all the goods and services produced in South Africa's Republic of Zambia's ($17.5 billion).

Some say that land developer Donald Bren, whose assets throughout the vicinity of Orange County, Calif., include 475 office buildings, 115 apartment communities, 41 retail centers, resort properties and new housing, runs Orange County -- he certainly owns most of it. And with a net worth of $12 billion, he could, in theory, buy Haiti's economy, too.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's $9 billion net worth is akin to the Bahamas' GDP ($9 billion). Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay (EBAY), the world's biggest auction marketplace, could theoretically control Somalia's market with his $5.5 billion fortune.

 George Lucas, the famed Hollywood director behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises and ILM, the world's most bankable special effects shop, has a $3 billion fortune, making him worth as much as the GDP of Guyana.

Hedge fund founder David Shaw's $2.5 billion net worth parallels Belize's marketplace.


Investor John Paulson amassed much of his fortune by exploiting the real estate bubble and shorting the subprime market in 2007. Today he has a net worth of $6.8 billion -- the equivalent of Montenegro's gross domestic product.

Although Eli Broad's fortune suffered because of AIG's (AIG) collapse last fall -- he's lost $1.3 billion in the last 12 months -- he still has a bank account that rivals Barbados' economy ($5.4 billion).

 Forbes 400 members with net worths just under $1 billion still possess fortunes that could operate the economies of significant fractions of the globe. Gary Magness, who owns water rights in Colorado through his ranch holdings, has a net worth of $990 million, which barely exceeds Vanuatu's GDP ($988.5 million).

 If this year's three poorest Forbes 400 members were to combine their wealth (a combined $2.9 billion), their amassed fortune would be worth more than the workings of Belize's entire economy.
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