Destinations Magazine

Ghostly Gifts And The Charms Of Cleo

By Linda
Ghostly Gifts And The Charms Of Cleo

photo : Faith Gable

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the 11 disciples of Jesus (New Testament, Acts of Apostles 2:1-31) and bestowed ghostly gifts upon them all. You may be surprised to learn that there are links – however obscure – between this and the charms of Cleo (aka Empress Cleopatra) in Austria!

Ghostly Gifts

In case you are wondering why only 11 disciples instead of 12, by the time all the fire and flames that heralded the arrival of the Holy Ghost blew in, Judas Iscariote had hung himself. And therein is the first link to Cleo – but I’ll leave you to think about that for a while before explaining!

In Austria Pfingstsonntag – or Pentecost, as English speaking countries know it – is an important day. It occurs 50 days after Easter Sunday and marks the end of the Easter Cycle, which started on Ash Wednesday. Needless to say, Austrian celebrations involve a lot of church going; green branches of birch trees to decorate the churches; and food. Lots of food. Probably a drop or two of amber or apricot nectar too!

But returning to Pfingstsonntag, the ghostly gifts bestowed upon the disciples were language abilities – they became multi-lingual. No problem for the chap who got Austrian – he only had to get his gums round a couple of words. Lots of smiling and saying ‘Super’ would get him by – so long as he tucked in heartily to the totally unpronounceable delicacy placed in front of him at supper!

Have you got the link to Cleo yet?

No? Well, read on!


Apart from Pentecost being about ghostly gifts, it’s also the time when God set out The Ten Commandments. Things like:

  • worship only one God (hmm, well, He was hardly likely to name anyone else, was He?)
  • keep the Sabbath (free for worship of – let’s guess – it wouldn’t be God, would it?)
  • No Idolatory (I, for one, am totally with Him on that!)
  • No blasphemy (no – won’t argue with that either)
  • No murder (could this be Judas creeping back in….)
  • No theft
  • No adultery – Aha! a definite link to Cleo.

Cleopatra was a luxury loving Queen who – at the age of 18 – married her younger brother. He was 10!!

But he started getting a bit stroppy and wanting to call the shots. Soon after, he was found dead. Interestingly, all her other siblings suffered a similar fate.

She had a bit of a ‘fling’ with Caesar (whilst younger brother was still around, would you believe?) – and look what happened to him. Assassinated!

And not long after that she got together with his mate, Mark Anthony. His ending wasn’t too good either. He committed suicide. It’s alleged that Cleopatra also committed suicide – with an asp. This might sound a little cynical, but for a femme fatale like Cleo do you really think that was likely?

Poisoning by snake bite is a slow and agonising death. Only about 50% of the venom gets injected into the victim, not enough to do a quick job. Maybe she did take her own life (another link to Judas), but if so a more potent form of poison would be needed to drop dead in a gorgeous sort of way befitting a cutie like Cleo.

The Austrian Connection

You may be wondering what all this has to do with an Austrian alpine holiday. Trust me, it does – if you’re planning on visiting the Salzburg Pfingstfestspiele ( a music festival taking place between 25th May and 28th May) where some serious music will be played to the thousands who attend. The theme for this year is ‘Cleopatra’.

It just seems a bit bizarre that a period of religious celebration in a devout Catholic country, should be marked with festival featuring a lady who clearly paid no heed to the Ten Commandments and was seemingly deaf to the Ghostly Gifts.

I’m not sure whether my Chalet Manager truly reflects the Austrian character and wit (though I suspect he does), but his comment was :

You are right in Salzburg they are celebrating music and theater in this days, but is only a commercial event to increase prices for one time more.
I don’t mean the quality of the events and performances, these are exellent.


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