Archive for April 23rd, 2011

Bluebells in spring

For some reason I have always loved my name and my birth date.  Now this is not from any egotistical aspect, merely that my name is quite lyrical and somehow my birthday, especially the April bit (not so much the year anymore 🙂 ), appeals to me.

Back in South Africa I was an autumn baby.  April is the start of autumn in the Southern hemisphere, and as far as seasons go it’s not too bad.  Of course what it did mean is that growing up I could never have a ‘pool party’. Not that that was an issue since we didn’t ever have a pool in our backyard, but it was the thought of the delightful possibilities of having a ‘pool party’ that appealed to me.

My birthday usually signified the slow slide into winter and was a time of chilly winds and mornings, not t-shirt type of weather at all.  Not that I minded, since I am a ‘wrap up warm in lots of layers’ type of person; one of the reasons I love the UK so much!

So when I came over to the UK, it was to the sudden realisation that I was no longer an ‘autumn’ person, I am now a ‘spring’ person!!! and how marvellous that is.  I adore spring in the UK and it has become quite my favourite time of year.  Of course I still do love autumn and that season in the Northern hemisphere is something to behold.  So lucky me, I have the best of both worlds.

Now a little secret here…..I never progressed very far in school and left as soon as I reasonably could without being considered an uneducated dunce! 😉 haha!!   In fact I left school in what is Standard 8 (should have been Standard 9 but I failed one year!  What was that I said about being a dunce?). heehee!! ( f.y.i. Standard 8 in South Africa is Grade 10).

So the sum total of that is I never got to study any of the subjects that were on the higher curriculum, one of which was Shakespeare! or the classics for that matter, not that it matters now, since I can read up on whatever I wish, coz thankfully I did learn to read!!!  and we have google!

So where am I going with this?  Well here’s the thing.  I learned about Shakespeare at some stage of my life (don’t we all?) and of course his sayings and quotes and stories are quite well known, aka Romeo and Juliet!  But more than that I did not know!  So when I came to the UK, it was quite a surprise to discover that this dude shared my birthday!!! and not only that, he also died on that date!! how weird is that?

William Shakespeare - born and died April 23rd

So, now of course when I celebrate my birthday I always think of ‘our Will’, and remember that he shares such an auspicious day with me!   Of course I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering all the places he hung out in London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is one of my favourite sights in London (of which there are many).  My daughter and I have visited Stratford-Upon-Avon (his birthplace) and walked through the house where he was born (which was beyond awesome).

In London you are quite unable to miss the man, he is everywhere. I have seen him in so many places, that if you didn’t know who he was before, you would most assuredly get the message that this is one important dude!  So who is Shakespeare?  Here is a wee biography courtesy of wikipedia (of course).

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.
He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon.  At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men.

He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613.  His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, a successful glover and alderman originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer.  He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised there on 26 April 1564. His actual birthdate remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George’s Day. This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar’s mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, since Shakespeare died 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.
Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare probably was educated at the King’s New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter-mile from his home. Grammar schools varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but the curriculum was dictated by law throughout England, and the school would have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar and the classics.

And as if that is not enough!!!! I also discovered that I share a date with……….St George! He who slays dragons.  St George’s day is 23April!!   Which in a weird way is quite apt, since I have often been referred to as ‘a dragon’ and one of my very ex-boyfriends put up at sign at the entrance to my house in R.S.A. ‘Never mind the dog, beware the dragon’.  He didn’t last long! 🙂  The boyfriend that is, not the dragon!!

So what do we know about St George?  Well first of all he is the Patron Saint of England; of course!! heehee.   Secondly he is a Saint (I can’t lay claim to that title for sure), and like the bard, he is everywhere to be seen.

Saint George and the dragon

Saint George (ca. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

Many Patronages of Saint George exist around the world, including: Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Serbia and Russia, as well as the cities of Genoa, Amersfoort, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Kumanovo, Ljubljana, Pomorie, Preston, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Barcelona, Moscow, Tamworth and the Maltese island of Gozo, as well as a wide range of professions, organizations and disease sufferers.

The episode of St George and the Dragon was a legend brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance. The earliest known depiction of the legend is from early eleventh-century Cappadocia, (in the iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century); the earliest known surviving narrative text is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23.  St George is very much honored by the Eastern Orthodox Church, wherein he is referred to as a “Great Martyr”, and in Oriental Orthodoxy overall. His major feast day is on April 23 (Julian Calendar April 23 currently corresponds to Gregorian Calendar May 6) and that very coincidentally is the birth date of my youngest sister!

We, my daughter and I will be celebrating the day with a visit to Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery in the morning and in the afternoon going on a walk……check it out!! heehee!!!

And, in order to celebrate not only my birthday, but Shakespeare’s too, as well as Saint George’s Day I have created a short video.  Hope you enjoy it 🙂

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