Wednesday, 31 August 2011


“Everyone ought to worship God according to his own inclinations, and not to be constrained by force.” - Flavius Josephus

Today is the first day of the calendrical southern Spring and the first day of northern Autumn. All sorts of notable events are celebrated today. Firstly, some famous birthdays:

, Persian mystic (6th century BC);
Lydia Sigourney, author (1791);
Engelbert Humperdinck, composer (1854);
Edgar Rice Burroughs, author (1875);
Jack Hawkins, actor (1910);
Vittorio Gassman, Italian actor (1922);
Yvonne De Carlo (Peggy Yvonne Middleton), actress (1922);
Rocky Marciano, pugilist (1923);
Conway Twitty, US musician (1934);
Seiji Ozawa, conductor (1935);
Lily Tomlin, US actress (1939);
Gloria Estefan, singer (1958).

The common fumitory, Fumaria officinalis, is today’s birthday plant.  Astrologically, it is ruled by Saturn and governs the spleen.  The language of flowers ascribes the meaning “ill at ease” to the plant.

The Anglican Church and some regional Catholic Churches celebrate the feast of St Giles who was a 7th century hermit living in Provence.  He loved wild animals and on one occasion he saved a hind which was pursued by hunters by causing thick bushes to spring around it and conceal it.  The hind is his symbol and he is the patron saint of cripples.  Many fairs were held on this day.  St Giles’s fair in Oxford is one of the oldest surviving British fairs.  Eccles Wake in Lancashire is another one, celebrated around the Parish church dating from 1111 AD, although most of the modern building is from the 15th century.  This is where Eccles Cakes were first made about 300 years ago.  Eccles Cakes may be bought in many bakeries and pastrycooks’ shops in Britain but the original recipe is a prized secret of Messrs Bradburn & Co, a family firm in Lancashire’s Eccles Borough.

Eccles cakes are made from a rich butter puff pastry and are round, about 3 inches (≈ 7.5 cm) in diameter.  They are filled with currants, butter and sugar that are wrapped in the pastry.  The cake is rolled twice, dusted with sugar and three light diagonal cuts are made over its surface.  The cakes are baked, sugar-side up, in a very hot oven for 15 minutes.  They are served cold.  Closely related to Eccles Cakes are Coventry Godshead, Chorley and Hawkshead Cakes.

The Greek Orthodox faith celebrates its Indiction today, which marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year. This is marked by a particularly resplendent and celebratory liturgy, attended by all clergy and officiated by high-ranking clergy. We are accustomed to think of January 1st as the beginning of the year. But the tradition of computing the start of a new year with autumn was common to the lands of the Bible and to all the lands around the Mediterranean. The summer harvest was at an end, the crops were stored, and people prepared for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time to begin a new year.

It is also the Greek Orthodox feast day of St Simeon Stylites, (c. 390 AD – 2 September 459 AD), who was a Christian ascetic saint who achieved fame because he lived for 39 years on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo in Syria.

It is Libya’s National Day (since 1951); Mexico’s President’s Message Day; Syria’s United Arab Republics Day. Libya needs no introduction, these days as it so much in the news. However, geographically speaking, it is a North African country on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It has an area of 1.76 million square km and a population of 6.4 million people. Its capital city is Tripoli and other towns are Nalut, Sebha, Sirte, Tobruk and Benghazi. The country is almost all desert with practically no rainfall. The moister coastal plains are the most densely populated and are the areas where agriculture produces oranges, grapes, peanuts, wheat and barley. Oil is the main export.

indiction |inˈdikSHən| noun historical
A fiscal period of fifteen years used as a means of dating events and transactions in the Roman Empire and in the papal and some royal courts. The system was instituted by the Emperor Constantine in AD 313 and was used until the 16th century in some places.
Its use is still reflected in the Christian church calendars. The indiction in the Orthodox Church is on September 1.
• [ with numeral ] a particular year in such a period.
ORIGIN from Latin indiction-, from the verb indicere ‘proclaim, appoint,’ from in- ‘toward’ + dicere ‘pronounce, utter.’

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Start of the year is all over the place for different cultures and even for us, it has shifted a lot over the centuries.