Tuesday, 18 February 2014


“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” - Ingrid Bergman
Today February 18, St Simeon’s Feast Day is celebrated by Roman Catholics. Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate St Leo the Pope’s and St Agapetus the Confessor’s Feast Day, as well as Meatfare Tuesday. It is also Gambia’s Independence (National) Day, commemorated since 1965.
It is the anniversary of the birth of:
Alessandro G. A. A. Volta, Italian inventor of the battery  (Voltaic cell -1745);
George Peabody, philanthropist (1795);
Ernst Mach, physicist (1838);
Louis Comfort Tiffany, US glassmaker (1848);
Charles M. Schwab, steelmaker (1862);
Andrés Segovia, Spanish guitarist (1894);
Phyllis Calvert (Phyllis Bickle), actress (1915);
Jack Palance (Vladimir Palahnuik), actor (1920);
Helen Gurley Brown, editor (1922);
Len Deighton, novelist (1929):
Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate (1993) writer (1931);
Milos Forman, director (1932);
Yoko Ono, famous wife (1933);
Cybill Shepherd, actress (1949);
John Travolta, US actor (1954);
Matt Dillon, actor (1964).
The yew tree, Taxus baccata, is the birthday plant for today.  The ancient Greeks thought that the yew tree was the nymph Smilax, beloved of a beautiful youth Crocus. As his sentiments were not returned, Crocus pined away and died, changing into the flower of the same name.  Smilax became the yew tree, presumably sorrowful for her hard-heartedness.  Unhappy lovers were remembered with wreaths of yew, willow and rosemary. Pliny wrote of the yew: “It is unpleasant and fearful to look upon, a cursed tree”.  The tree has stood for a symbol of death, sorrow, immortality, resurrection and faith since ancient times.  Many a cemetery has rows of yew trees planted along their borders.  The tree and its red berries are poisonous, a drug (taxol) being extracted from the plant and used in cancer chemotherapy treatments.
On this day in 1930, the planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh.
On this day, in 999, Gregory V, Pope of Rome died. Also on this day in 1455, Fra Angelico, the Italian artist died. Also dying on this day: In 1535, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, German occultist; in 1546, Martin Luther, the German leader of the Protestant Reformation; in 1564, Michelangelo, the Italian artist; in 1833 Richard Wagner, the German composer; in 1855, Nicholas I, tsar of Russia; in 1956, Gustave Charpentier, French opera composer died; in 1967, Robert Oppenheimer, US physicist, father of the atomic bomb (died with a bang not a whimper!).
Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, with an area of about 11,000 square km and a population of about a million people.  It is situated in Western Africa and is completely surrounded by Senegal, except for the small part of the coast that looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean. The Gambia River divides this thin strip of a country in half and its capital is Banjul, with Mansa-Konko and Georgetown further upstream. The economy depends on peanut cultivation and their products, but tourism is also beginning to become more important.

1 comment:

  1. I love the illustration and how it combines many of the elements in your post!