Thursday, 11 July 2013


“I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” - Albert Einstein

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of:
Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland (1274);
Thomas Bowdler, prude who bowdlerised Shakespeare (1754);
John Quincy Adams, 6th president (1825-29) of the USA (1767);
E. B. White, writer (1899);
Gough Whitlam, Australian PM (1916);
Yul Brynner, actor (1920);
Tab Hunter, actor (1931);
Suzanne Vega, singer/songwriter (1959).

Angelica archangelica, angelica, is this day’s birthday flower, signifying ecstasy, magic and inspiration.  Astrologically, it is a herb of the sun and under the dominion of Leo.  Candied angelica stem is that wonderfully green decorative element of cakes and pastries that always seems to go so well with the red glacé cherries.

On this day in 1533, Pope Clement VII excommunicated King Henry VIII of England, beginning the schism between the Roman Catholic faith and the Church of England.

Today is the People’s Republic of Mongolia, Revolution (National) Day. Mongolia is a vast land to the North of China with an area of 1,565,000 square km and a population of 2.5 million, making it a country with one of the lowest population densities in the world. The capital city is Ulan Bator while other towns are Tamsag Bulag, Mörön, Ulan Göm and Mandalgovi. Most of the country is an undulating plateau with rich grasslands that support the horses and cattle for which Mongolia is famous. Mountains to the North separate the country form the Russian Federation while to the South is the arid Gobi Desert. Rich mineral resources, oil, coal and gas remain still relatively underdeveloped. Wheat and other cereals are the major agricultural product.

Naadam (literally “games”) is a traditional festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed “Eriin Gurvan Naadam” (“the three games of men”). The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling. In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

The biggest Naadam of the country is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

Genghis Khan’s nine yak tails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to the Stadium to open the Naadam festivities. At these opening and closing ceremonies there are impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks. Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Nadaam festivals, tournaments may take place in a separate venue.

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