Wednesday, 18 December 2013


“People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.” Robert Keith Leavitt

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
Charles Wesley
, co-founder of the Methodist sect (1707);
, empress of Russia (1709);
Joseph Grimaldi
, English pantomimist “the greatest clown in history” (1779);
Carl Maria von Weber
, composer (1786);
Edward Alexander MacDowell
, composer (1860);
(Hector Hugo Munro), author (1870);
Paul Klee
, painter (1879);
Edwin Armstrong
, FM radio pioneer (1890);
Christopher Fry
, writer (1907);
Willy Brandt
, German chancellor (1913);
Betty Grable
, US actress (1916);
Boris V. Volynov
, Russian cosmonaut (1934);
Steven Spielberg
, director (1947).

The holly, Ilex aquifolium, is today’s birthday plant.  It is symbolic of domestic happiness, good wishes, friendship and goodwill.  In the language of flowers, holly asks: “Am I forgotten?” Christian symbology ascribes the thorns of the leaves with the meaning “Christ’s passion”, while the red berries stand for the drops of blood of Christ.
            The holly bears a berry red,
            The ivy bears a black ‘un,
            To show that Christ His blood did shed,
            To save our soul from Satan.

In Latvia on this day a winter festival called the “Greeting of the Four Brothers” is celebrated. The festival celebrates the return of light and the birth of God called Diev. The Four Brothers Ziemassvétki are celestial being bearing gifts and are heralds of the solstice. Latvians decorate their houses gaily and cook all kinds of good food for the four-day feasting.

Edward Alexander MacDowell (1861–1908) was an American composer born in New York City. His outstanding works are four piano sonatas and his Indian Suite (1897) for orchestra. Woodland Sketches (1896) and Sea Pieces (1898) for piano are popular. The MacDowell Colony for artists, writers, and composers (Peterborough, N.H.) was founded by his widow.

Today is the Feast Day of Santa María de la Soledad (Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Maria Santisima, Nuestra Señora Dolorosisima de la Soledad, Virgen de la Soledad) or Our Lady of Solitude. This is a title of Mary (mother of Jesus) and a special form of Marian devotion practised in Spanish-speaking countries to commemorate the solitude of Mary on Holy Saturday.

María de la Soledad is the patroness of Badajos and Parla, Spain; Porto Covo, Portugal; Oaxaca and Acapulco, Mexico; and of Cavite Province, Philippines, under the name Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga. The Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad in Soledad, California was devoted to María de la Soledad. The given name María de la Soledad, often shortened to Marisol or Soledad, is used in Spanish-speaking countries.

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