Thursday, 9 January 2014


“I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to.” - Elvis Presley

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
Lowell Mason
, hymn composer (1792);
William Wilkie Collins
, writer (1824);
Frank Doubleday
, publisher (1862);
John Curtin
, Australian Prime Minister (1885);
Jaromir Weinberger
, composer (1896);
Dennis (Yates) Wheatley
, novelist (1897);
Ron Moody
(Ronald Moodnick), actor (1928);
Elvis (Aaron) Presley
, singer (1935);
Shirley Bassey
, singer (1937);
Little Anthony
, singer (1940);
Stephen Hawking
, physicist (1942);
Yvette Mimieux
, actress (1942);
David Bowie
(David Robert Jones), singer/actor (1947).

Laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides, is the birthday flower for this day.  It symbolises pensive beauty and in the language of flowers it carries the message: “Forsaken”.  All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Plough Monday was celebrated in Northern and Eastern England as the first day after the holidays when ploughing and other farm labours could begin.
            Plough Monday, next after the Twelfth Day is past.
            Bids out with the plough: the worst husband is last.

A “Fool Plough” procession was often carried out on this day when young farm labourers called Plough Jags, Plough Boys or Stots, as they were called, paraded through the streets. Sword dances were common, often culminating in a mock execution of a “victim”, who was invariably revived afterwards.  Such traditions can be linked to ancient fertility rituals to ensure good crops.  In particular, the ancient Greek Eleusinian mysteries in honour of Demeter, involved the ritual “sacrifice” of a youth to assure the success of that year’s crops.

On this day in 1896, Paul Verlaine, the French poet died. He took 20 years to sell 500 copies of his Poèmes Saturnias. He briefly taught in a school in Bournemouth in England, but returned to France where he drank heavily and died in poverty.

Also died on this day in 1198, Celestine III (Hyacinth Bobo), Pope of Rome died while in 1713, Arcangelo Corelli, the Italian violinist and composer expired. Another Italian, Galileo Galilei died on this day in 1642. He was a mathematician and astronomer, whose observations led him to accept the Copernican heliocentric solar system, invoking the wrath of the inquisition.

1 comment: