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in1876
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Everything that happened in 1876. Nearly.
Everything that happened in 1876. Nearly.

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Tonight is known as Twelfth Night, especially for those who celebrate the Christian feast of the Epiphany.  Some call yesterday the 12th night.  Can't we agree on counting?

Yes. There are twelve days of Christmas.  Nowadays, some folk believe that the twelve days end with Christmas Day; that is certainly myth as it would mean Christmas starts on 15 December.  Everyone knows Christmas now starts at Thanksgiving - well in retail it does.
However you would think that Christmas Day should be the first day of Christmas; as days go, it is definitely quite Christmassy.  That would mean the 5th January would be the 12th day, and the evening of the fifth would be twelfth night.  However, the calculation runs, mostly, with Boxing Day as the first day of Christmas and the 12th day is 6 January.  That means Christmas Day is not one of the twelve days of Christmas.  Got it?

Whichever way you slice it, the Feast of the Epiphany is on 6 January (unless your church decrees it should be a Sunday between the 2nd and 8th January) and marks the day on which the three wise men, the Magi, came to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, revealed his manifestation of God as human, and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.  After having gone to the wrong manger first and advised Brian’s mother that the newborn was a Capricorn.  One tradition (made-up story) is that the gifts were stolen and the two criminals responsible were ironically crucified on either side of Jesus Christ when he got nailed up (thereby helping to launch the joyous feast and celebration of Easter).

The three kings are not named in the published bibles but have acquired identities over the last two thousand years.  They are now
 
• Melchior;
• Caspar; and
• Balthazar.

Unless you are from Syria in which case they are

• Larvandad;
• Gushnasaph; and 
• Homisdas.

Like the Little Donkey, they found Jesus (and Brian) by following that star so bright (Bethlehem, Bethlehem), that star tonight (Bethlehem, Bethlehem).

But for some Christian religions, the Epiphany does not celebrate three men and a manger, but commemorates the baptism of the little baby Jesus.  And some others celebrate the visitation of the Magi on 25 December.  And some (Jehovah’s Witnesses) see the magical star of Bethlehem as an abomination, leading the gullible wise men to Herod which obviously can’t have been God’s work.  Their visit to Herod triggered the Massacre of the Innocents (the execution of all male children in Bethlehem less than 2 years old).  It would be inconceivable to have an all-powerful, omniscient god that allowed that to happen.  Or allowed Catholics to burn Protestants, and vice versa, or for malaria to kill young children.  Some say the Massacre of the Innocents is a made-up story - but that argument can surely be extended further.  

Magi can also be translated as Astronomers.  There is only one gospel that records the star and the Magi, but even two thousand years ago, without SatNav, it is unlikely that a star would have been needed to guide wise men the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  There are no really good candidates for astrological objects or events, and the Star of Wonder, Star of Light, Star with Royal Beauty Bright, may also be made up.  See a pattern emerging?

It is also very unlikely that there was a census that year, and almost impossible that it would have required citizens to relocate back to their original home town.  It was more than likely a literary ploy to get Jesus born in the House of David and fulfil some old prophecies.  Nobody would have wanted to travel for a census at Christmas time anyway.
In Spain and some Spanish speaking countries, the 5th (or  6th) January are days on which children can get presents from the three wise men (not so wise - you can give children too many gifts, you know) who can often be found in shopping centres with children on their knees, much like a trio of Santas at Harrods or celebrities in the seventies.

As a good Jewish boy, Jesus would have been circumcised.  This was an epiphany with a little e, and it must have left its mark.  Jewish tradition prescribes the knife should fall on the eighth day after birth.  Although Jesus’ birthday is celebrated on 25 December, his circumcision was traditionally marked on 1 January.  Its commemoration seems to have fallen out of favour in recent centuries, perhaps to separate Christ from his Jewish roots and perhaps because it is very personal and nowadays is thought of as either a bit silly or Male Genital Mutilation, except where it is directly linked with a reduction in AIDS infection rates.

Due to the Julian - Gregorian calendar differences, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh celebrated the Russian Christmas Day for 1875 on Thursday 6 January 1876 by throwing a ball for the household servants at Eastwell Park in Kent.  The Duke of Edinburgh was Prince Alfred, second son of Victoria and Albert, who was only recently married to the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.  Their daughter, Missy, Princess Marie, was only two months old, and the next one, Ducky, would be born on Saturday 25 November 1876.  This party was in the short gap when Maria was not pregnant.

The Illustrated London News
The Duchess opened the ball with her page, the Duke dancing with the wife of the land steward.  Supper was served at midnight.
Saturday  15 January 1876

Of course you know that if you don’t take down your Christmas decorations by 12th night, you have to leave them up all year.  It used to be different in 1876, but hopefully not literally fatal.

Harper’s Weekly, A Journal of Civilization
The decorations are allowed to remain in the churches from Christmas to the beginning of Lent, but in England, in accordance with the ecclesiastical canons, they must all be cleared away before the 2d. of February, or Candlemas-day.  The same holds good as a custom in regard to private dwellings, superstition rendering it a fatal presage if any of the sylvan ornaments are retained beyond the period just mentioned.
Saturday  29 January 1876
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Road Safety Vs Mental Health
in1876
in1876
in1876.blogspot.co.uk
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Guilty of writing an eBook
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4th of July CANCELLED
A spokesperson for the USA announced, “Gee, sorry for such short notice, but today’s Independence Day celebrations are cancelled.  We have only just checked the paper work and USA’s independence actually dates from the Treaty of Paris on Wednesday 3 September 1783.  There had been a whole war to decide the issue.  Using the Declaration of Independence is a bit like dating your divorce from the first time you say “I don’t love you anymore” instead of from the divorce court.  If you have already got fireworks and extra ammo to shoot up into the air, then please go ahead but save your real celebrations for the new Fourth of July, the Third of September.”  Some concerned US citizens now wonder if hot dogs will still be in season in September.
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Living in the UK it is difficult to understand border problems.  Yes, we still ride on the pendulum between overall unity at one end of the swing and local independence, but we know our collective boundaries.  If you want to travel east from Europe without going through the often frozen northern route, you have to go around or over the Black Sea.  All the neighbouring countries have wanted their boundary to include as much of the Black Sea as possible.  The #Crimea, that peninsula sticking out from Ukraine has often been the location for military arguments on the subject.  The Balkan area likewise is a volatile mix that over the centuries has had less than steady boundaries.  In 1876, even the British tried to lay claim to the area by sending a fleet to Besika Bay while Ottoman and Slavs faced each other across the battlefield with the prospect of Russia joining in then.  While there are still armies and population growth, don't expect it to change.  Watch out for the earthquake due in that area in the next few decades; the earth's natural boundary there is a fault line invisible to us on the top.  
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Let's hope the Cheeki Rifiki crew turn up, and sooner rather than later.  Surviving a shipwreck in 1876 was a tricky business.   On Saturday  22 January 1876, 44 shipwreckees were found and lifted from one of the Crozet Islands in the southwest Indian Ocean.  They had lived off weeds, seagulls and penguins for 7 months.  Here is a lovely picture of them using a water bucket in the shape of a decapitated, hollowed-out penguin.  Oh ……
Long-believed to be lost at sea on the "Strathmore", the world didn't find out about their rescue for another 3 months.
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In 1876: Bananas & Custer.  Really quite interesting.  An eBook designed for use with the iPad.
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