Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Patron Saint of ... Leap Day?

This is a day that only happens once every four years, except in a year the number of which is divisible by four hundred. So this day didn't happen twenty-four years ago, but it's happening today. Not only that, there is a saint whose feast day is celebrated on this day.

Oswald of Worchester was Archbishop of York, in England, from 972 until his death in 992. He was born of Danish parents, the year being unknown, but raised by his uncle, Oda, who was Archbishop of Canterbury. Oda sent him to the Abbey of Fleury in France, but died prior to his return. He found a patron in Oda's successor, Oskytel. In 961, Oswald was consecrated as Bishop of Worchester, and later, in 972, was promoted to the see of York.

Oswald was a formidable influence on monastic life in the region. He promoted reforms, established new monasteries, and replaced the secular clergy of the cathedral chapter with monks. (It is said that the secular priests refused to give up their wives, which was expected of married men ordained at the time, betcha didn't know that!) He also started his own custom of washing the feet of the poor, and so he was at the moment of his death in 992 -- yes, a leap year.

It should be no coincidence that such a saintly man be remembered on this day, which reminds us to make adjustments; whether in the calendar to conform more accurately with the heavens, or in our own daily lives.

Not such a bad idea during the Lenten season, don't you think?

Or don't you?

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For years other than those with an extra day added, Oswald is commemorated on the day before. He's not the only one. This is the Olympics of February days. The one that only happens once every four years. 29 February. Surely someone has explained to us why this occurs. But honestly, we don’t remember learning why this happens.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

“Kung hei faht choi!”

Today begins the lunar new year in China -- to be more exact, “The Year of the Dragon.” The above what they are saying in China, in the Philippines (where the occasion is known as "Bagong Taong Tsino"), as well as in any country with a large Chinese population, not to mention Chinatowns all over the world.

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I took my son Paul to his first "dragon festival" in DC's Chinatown back in 1987. He was one and a half years old, and fit right in with his bright red snowsuit. Such would be the culmination of a fifteen-day celebration that begins today (or yesterday, depending on your side of the planet).

Meanwhile, the video clip above was taken at the National Building Museum back in 2007 with a phone camera. That was the Year of the Pig, but at least a dragon showed up. Obviously camera phones have come a long way since then, don't you think?

Or don't you?

NOTE: As my beloved Celia is one-eighth Cantonese, the above title is the traditional greeting in that language, as opposed to the more common Mandarin, so the former is the one I'd hear around the house, as opposed to the latter. Meanwhile, learn more than you could possibly want to know about the occasion on Wikipedia.