I had a “Thursday Thoughts” post all planned out yesterday, but an unexpected internet outage made it impossible to do anything. Here it is, along with some Friday music!
First off, the new moon was last Wednesday (15 July 2015), which also marked St. Swithin’s Day. I first heard that day referenced on an episode of The Simpsons and decided to look up its significance – it’s pretty interesting. From Project Britain:
“St. Swithin’s Day is 15 July, a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.
There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times. copied from projectbritain.com
‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’
dost = does
thou = you
nae mair = no more.
St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.”
Ida B. Wells-Barnett: 16 July 1862 – 25 March 1931
On Thursday, 16 July, the Google doodle honoured Ida B. Wells-Barnett, noted African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, Georgist, and early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. From Black Past:
“Activist and writer Ida B. Wells-Barnett first became prominent in the 1890s because she brought international attention to the lynching of African Americans in the South. Wells was born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862. At the age of 16, she became primary caregiver to her six brothers and sisters, when both of her parents succumbed to yellow fever. After completing her studies Rust College near Holly Springs where her father had sat on the board of trustees before his death, Wells divided her time between caring for her siblings and teaching school. She moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1880s.
Wells first began protesting the treatment of black southerners when, on a train ride between Memphis and her job at a rural school, the conductor told her that she must move to the train’s smoking car. Wells refused, arguing that she had purchased a first-class ticket. The conductor and other passengers then tried to physically remove her from the train. Wells returned to Memphis, hired a lawyer, and sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. The court decided in her favor, awarding Wells $500. The railroad company appealed, and in 1887, the Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the previous decision and ordered Wells to pay court fees. Using the pseudonym “Iola,” Wells began to write editorials in black newspapers that challenged Jim Crow laws in the South. She bought a share of a Memphis newspaper, the Free Speech and Headlight, and used it to further the cause of African American civil rights.
After the lynching of three of her friends in 1892, Wells became one of the nation’s most vocal anti-lynching activists. Calvin McDowell, Thomas Moss, and Henry Stewart owned the People’s Grocery in Memphis, but their economic success angered the white owners of a store across the street. On March 9, a group of white men gathered to confront McDowell, Moss, and Stewart. During the ensuing scuffle, several of the white men received injuries, and authorities arrested the three black business owners. A white mob subsequently broke into the jail, captured McDowell, Moss, and Stewart, and lynched them.”
Ms. Wells-Barnett made a stand against discrimination approximately 70 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on that bus in Montgomery, Alabama. From the Huffington Post:
“When Ida B. Wells was 22, she was asked by a conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man. She refused, and the conductor attempted to forcibly drag her out of her seat.
Wells wouldn’t budge.
“The moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out.”
The year was 1884 — about 70 years before Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat on an Alabama bus.
Wells’ life was full of such moments of courage and principle. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, Wells was a vocal civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist who dedicated her life to fighting inequality.
On July 16, Wells’ 153rd birthday, Google honored the “fearless and uncompromising” woman with a Doodle of her typing away on typewriter, a piece of luggage by her side.”
16 July also marked the anniversary of the first atomic explosion, conducted in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945. “Trinity” was the code name of the test, which was part of the Manhattan Project. That such horror could willfully be used on human beings after witnessing it, simply boggles the mind…
Two centenarians made the news; one local, one national. Locally, a woman who turned 108 years old on Saturday, 18 July, threw out the first pitch at the Seattle Mariners baseball game. She was escorted by a daughter and a grand-daughter and appeared to have enjoyed herself greatly…especially since the Mariners won the game that evening!
Nationally, Ms. Emma Didlake, the oldest living veteran in the United States, met with President Obama in the Oval Office on 18 July – she is 110 years of age. From the Huffington Post:
“President Barack Obama met in the Oval Office on Friday with Emma Didlake, a 110-year-old who is the oldest living veteran in the United States.
Didlake joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943 as a 38-year-old with five children, and served as a private and driver, WJBK reported. She earned the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal for her service. After leaving the military, Didlake joined the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, according to WJBK.”
Last Friday, 17 July, marked the Yamaboko Junko parade, the larger of two parades held during the Gion Matsuri Festival – the smaller parade is being held today. From Japan Guide – Kyoto:
“Gion Matsuri (祇園祭), the festival of Yasaka Shrine, is the most famous festival in Japan. It takes place over the entire month of July. There are many different events, but the grand procession of floats (Yamaboko Junko) on July 17 is particularly spectacular. Very enjoyable, are also the festive evenings preceding the procession (Yoiyama). From 2014, a second procession of floats was reintroduced on July 24 after a hiatus of 48 years. The second procession features fewer and smaller floats than the one on July 17.
Floats and History
The word Yamaboko refers to the two types of floats used in the procession: the 23 yama and 10 hoko. One of the main reasons the Gion Matsuri is so impressive is the enormity of the hoko, which are up to 25 meters tall, weigh up to 12 tons, and are pulled on wheels as big as people. Both yama and hoko are elaborately decorated and represent unique themes. The procession on July 17 features 23 yama and hoko, including most of the particularly impressive hoko, while the procession on July 24 features the remaining ten yama and hoko.
Another reason for the festival’s impressiveness is its long and almost uninterrupted history. It dates back to 869 as a religious ceremony to appease the gods during the outbreak of an epidemic. Even today, the festival continues the practice of selecting a local boy to be a divine messenger. The child cannot set foot on the ground from the 13th until after he has been paraded through town on the 17th.”
That’s something I’d love to see in person, someday.
Finally, today marks the observance of Children’s Day in Vanuatu. In Vanuatu, Children’s Day is celebrated on the July 24. “Stop violence against children”, and “Give a child the chance to express their opinion today”. After the march there are speeches and activities organized by schools, including a dance. Then, after midday, children return home to spend time with their parents for the rest of the day. Children’s Day is a public holiday, set up following a recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A group of people in the United Nations monitor and protect children’s rights. A committee, with both adult and child members, organizes activities. In the past, a committee of adults has chosen the theme – but in the future children may help choose it.
Children’s Day originally took place only in the capital of Vanuatu, but it has now been extended to all 6 provinces. Schools, churches, local governments of the provinces and other local organizations all organize activities. Save the Children supports one Children’s Day activity in each province, selecting it from the many requests they receive for support. In 2008, one of the activities supported by Save the Children was a sports day between many different schools.
I’m sure I’ve rambled on long enough, so I’ll close with a song. I’m enjoying the new acquaintances I’m making online, both in-game and here on my little blog. Nice to meet all of you. Glad you stopped in to visit, and I hope you enjoyed your stay. Have a great weekend, everyone! 🙂