This weekend we look at the slowdown of weddings in Vegas, jousting in Sulmona in the Abruzzo region of Italy and, finally, the surprising amount of vacation that Europeans take each year.
I don’t: The decline of Las Vegas quickie weddings
The slowdown of visitors to Las Vegas and the slow economy has had a ripple effect on the wedding business. Fewer are taking the plunge because of financial reasons and those who do aren’t doing it in Vegas.
The slump is prompting the 90-plus wedding chapels in the county — where there are no requirements for blood tests or a waiting period — to shift their focus to husbands and wives seeking to renew their vows and “commitment ceremonies” for same-sex couples who can’t legally wed in Nevada. “Just because there is a decline in marriage certificates, there isn’t a decline in love,” says Charolette Richards, owner of the Little White Wedding Chapel, which offers drive-through service in its “Tunnel of Love.” Richards, who in 1987 married Bruce Willis and Demi Moore and has hosted weddings for Britney Spears and Joan Collins, says recommitment ceremonies now make up about a third of her business, a big increase over prior years. “People today are renewing their vows more than ever,” she says.
Lances raised, Italian town prepares to joust
The town of Sulmona in Italy celebrates their jousting tournament. Similar to the rivalry between contrade in Sienna with the Palio, this tournament pits different neighborhoods against each other in medieval jousting. The colorful knight’s outfits and pageantry are spectacular.
The medieval combats, where knights sought to knock each other flying, were long gone by the time Renaissance Sulmonese set down their own rules for a test of knightly prowess. Today, the riders, mostly professional jockeys hired by the competing town districts, race apart, though in the same arena.
In each head-to-head contest, two riders set off in opposite directions from the center of a figure-of-eight track. With their lances, they pick off rings hung from manikin knights set around the piazza. Each half-minute contest ends with the pair racing toward each other to the finish line and a final ring.
The winner will have scored more points — smaller rings count for more — but speed counts too, deciding the outcome in about half the jousts, where points are even, and contributing to calculations of who contests Sunday’s semifinals and final.
Falls, mishaps and controversial umpiring are not uncommon and spectators packing stands around the piazza, hundreds of them in elaborate costume, are guaranteed thrills and drama as local passions flare as rowdily as in any soccer stadium.
Germans and Danes rack up most vacation in EU
Workers in Germany enjoy 30 days of paid holiday a year on average, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) said. Only Danes are afforded as much time off in the EU.
Greeks and Portuguese by comparison each average 33 days vacation a year, including public holidays.
Romanians get the least vacation in the 27-nation EU, with annual paid leave and public holidays totaling 27 days.