Name That Day!

via Name That Day!

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Name That Day!

 

Americans may be able to name that tune, but we are behind many countries when it comes to naming the days.  Yes, sure we have names for the days of the week, but we don’t have people’s first names assigned to specific days of the year.  Gasp!  We here in the U.S. have overlooked the name day celebration.

How is this oversight even possible? If we have Hug Your Cat Day (6/4), Sewing Machine Day (6/11), Meteor Watch Day (6/30), Lazy Day (8/10), and Pickle Day (11/14), shouldn’t we observe name days as well?  You’d think retailers would have jumped on another opportunity to empty consumers’ pockets due to crass commercialization.

While Pickle Day may a silly celebration, name day celebrations are respectable and venerated observances in numerous countries including, but not limited to, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Spain and France.  The tradition involves having one day of the year  associated with a person’s given name.  Its observance is similar to a birthday, but it has nothing to do with age.

Name day is a custom which developed in the Middle Ages.  It is widely observed in Catholic and Orthodox traditions because it originated with the Christian calendar of saints.  Catholic believers who were named after a saint would celebrate on the saint’s feast day while Orthodox believers would (morbidly) celebrate on the day of the saint’s death.  The church was inclined to celebrate name days over birthdays as the latter was viewed as a pagan tradition.  Although name days are still observed today, there is no longer any direct connection to Christianity.

So, how is a name day celebrated?  The answer depends on the country in which the event is being observed.  In Greece, these days are huge events and are celebrated much more than birthdays.  In most cultures name day celebrations take the form of open house parties.  Of course, there’s no birthday cake.  Doesn’t that take the cake?

In Hungary, women typically receive flowers to mark their name day. Sticking to the name theme, perhaps it would be fitting for Rose to receive roses. Iris to receive irises, and Daisy to receive daisies on their name day.  Men, on the other hand, generally receive a bottle of alcohol as a name day gift.  Jose Cuervo coming up for Jose!  Jim Bean on the way for Jim! Children often take sweets to school to share with fellow students on their name day.  The teacher, however, might not find it so sweet to have her pupils hyped up on sugar.

Name day appears in some literary works such as Anton Checkov’s  play “Three Sisters.”  Act I finds Irina celebrating her name day.  Good move on the playwright’s part to cleverly work in a name day celebration so we know what the character’s called.  Not familiar with Chekhov’s story?  Well, you are in good company as I haven’t read it either.  I’d lose big time on “Jeopardy” if the category was Russian works written in 1900.

Name day was a huge hit with the Russian czars and emperors who typically celebrated the event in a lavish way.  Alexandra Fyodorovna, spouse of Nicholas II, decided to have a sumptuous luncheon on her name day in 1897.  The menu listed four types of wine (including champagne). duck, trout, and mutton chops, but no cake.  The Russian imperial family also followed a tradition of giving name day gifts such as diamonds and pearls.

And how does one know when to plan his big name day celebration?  Official lists are issued with the current assignment of names to days.  These name day calendars vary by country.  Don’t want to spring for a name day calendar?  Not to worry.  In Hungary, at least, the name of the day is identified in the daily paper.  Better read all about it to make sure you aren’t missing your name day or that of someone near and dear to you.  Don’t subscribe to a newspaper?  No problem.  Name day calendars for the country of your choice can be found on line.

Since it is a small world after all, I am considering celebrating my name day on each day it is observed.  Never fear if you missed wishing me “Happy Alice Day” back on June 6th (German calendar) or on June 11th (Austrian calendar).  “Happy Alice Day” will occur again on September 16th in Estonia, on December 16th in France, on January 9th in Italy and on January 15th in the Czech Republic.  In a nod to my name, you may want to give me an arrangement with alyssum, a flowering plant which caterpillars love but bunnies won’t touch, as a name day gift.

While a name day might be fun, I am not sure that such an observance would be easy to establish here in the U.S.  Let’s just say that there are plenty of unusual names out there.  Would an individual be emotionally scarred if forced to celebrate a name day designated for odd names beginning with Q? Moreover, most of us are so busy on a day to day basis that we are doing well to know what day of the week it is much less whose name day it is.  Why don’t we just enjoy each day as it comes and treat all those around us with kindness like it really was their name day?

Just WONDER-ing:  How did you get your first name?  Is that a story worth celebrating? Would you celebrate name day if it was observed here in the U.S.?  If so, how would you celebrate?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Are You? Who? Who?

 

Ever stop to ponder the answer to the question posed in the song lyrics for “Who Are You?,” the title track on The Who’s 1978 album?  Coming up with the answer may be harder than you think.

I was forced to confront this question when drafting a cover letter for a proposed article being submitted to a magazine.  The publication required that the piece I wrote be accompanied by a letter explaining to the editors who I was.  Apparently, the obvious answer–author of the article being submitted–was not a sufficient explanation.

Typically the first thing I tell anyone about myself is my name.  But a name is merely a form of identification, one I did not even choose for myself.  A name might reveal something about one’s parents, i.e., they might have a strong sense of family if their child is a Junior or named for a relative.  In my case I am named for my paternal grandmother.  Nevertheless, my  name does not convey to someone who I really am as a person.  In fact, with some names today, you may not even be able to tell a person’s gender much less his personality or character.

People confuse the question “Who are you?” with “What are you?”  Yes, my occupation will give some insight into me.  Obviously I am not a dummy if I obtained a law degree; however, I could be book smart, but lack common sense.  (Thankfully, I do have common sense.)  What I do for a living is not who I am  In fact, I rarely let people know I am a lawyer when I first meet them.  I want them to get to know me for me and not from a starting point of preconceived notions about attorneys.

When telling someone who I am, it is common to indicate where I live or where I am from.  Just because I am a GRITS (Girl Raised In The South) does not mean that you have a wealth of information about the real me.  You might suspect that I like to eat grits (I do) and that I love sweetened tea (I don’t–unsweetened with lemon, please), but so what?  While growing up I spent my time in the Yankee part of Georgia (also known as Atlanta).  To paraphrase a famous line from “Gone With The Wind,” I don’t know nothin’ about living on a farm or a plantation either for that matter.  No one even thought I had a Southern accent until I moved to Ohio where I was dubbed “Georgia Peach.”  And, gasp, I don’t even like country music.

Describing who I am may encompass a relationship title.  Yes, I am a mother. Yes, I am a wife.  But my personal identity is neither determined by nor dependent upon these relationships.  I thought it funny when I would attend officer’s wives meetings and the civilian spouses would act like extensions of their husbands.  Just because your husband has eagles on his shoulders (i.e., has the rank of colonel) does not make you who you are–or better than I am.  I’ll admit that I did answer to “Heather’s mom” or “Kevin’s mom” when my kids were young, but that does not mean that I did not have a separate identity from my offspring.  My son found this concept hard to accept and repeatedly asked me what I would do with myself when he graduated from high school.  Hmmm.  Probably the same things I enjoyed prior to becoming his mother….

Who I am may depend on the situation in which I find myself.  That’s why when references are sought, an applicant is often asked to give references from different spheres–home, school, work, church.  If you deal with me in a professional setting, you would likely assume I am an extrovert.  Nope!  That’s me acting in a professional role and being friendly and engaging with clients, other attorneys, etc.  If you know me from a personal encounter, you would think I am a shy, introvert.  Yes, that’s me.  Many would describe me as quiet and reserved.  These are obviously people who have never been present with me as I watched my beloved Georgia Bulldogs playing football.  GO DAWGS!!!!

So how do I tell someone who I am?  I respectfully suggest that a one page cover letter accompanying a piece of my writing is not going to cut it.  Want to truly get to know me?  Take a trip with me.  You can them observe how I am under different circumstances and at different times of the day.  I am a morning person who cannot function without coffee to start my day and some alone time to end it. I do not do well when I am hungry or tired. I am a planner and am uncomfortable proceeding by the seat of my pants.  Spending time with me is the best and only way to get an accurate picture of who I truly am..

The bottom line is that every individual is like a jigsaw puzzle.  The finished picture is only achieved by fitting together a myriad of pieces to achieve the whole.  Observing one or two of the pieces of the puzzle may give you some idea of what the big picture is, but it is an incomplete view.  Who I am and who you are is a product of our experiences, vital statistics, relationships, etc.

If you have read to the end of this post, you have learned a few things about me.  Obviously I like to write, I am an attorney with children, and I have a sense of humor.  (Well, hopefully you think I have a sense of humor.) But do you know the real me from merely reading this post?  No, and neither will that magazine editor who reads my one page cover letter.  If you want to know who I am, spend some time with me.  If you want to know about me, just read the cover letter for the proposed article I am submitting for possible publication.

Just WONDER-ing:  What’s the first thing you tell people about yourself?  What would people be surprised to learn about the real you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hungary For Information

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it makes my life much more interesting.  Curious George gets into trouble checking things out, but Curious Alice get more enjoyment out of life by looking into things.  Digging for information is particularly fun when planning a trip to a new place.  With a trip to Budapest scheduled for the fall, I am hungry for information on Hungary right now.

If you took geography while in school, at this point you are shaking your head.  What could possibly be interesting about getting the facts and figures about a geographical location?  So Budapest is, yawn, the capital of Hungary.  If Alice gets excited about that information, she’s the real life of any party, you are sarcastically thinking.

I agree.  What we learned in geography in school about far off places was pretty dull and lame.  But with a shift of focus on the subjects considered, learning about new places is pretty cool.

Take Hungary for example.  In preparing for my upcoming trip, I am writing down a new fact each day.  But these aren’t just any facts.  These are fun facts.  Let’s consider what I’ve learned and see if you view geography in a different light.

VAMPIRES!!!  Got your attention? Anyone who knows anything about vampires knows that Dracula was from Transylvania.  Transylvania is a historical region in today’s central Romania.  But Transylvania was formerly part of the Kingdom of Hungary.  Romania borders Hungary on the east, so it’s entirely possible that vampires reside in Hungary or at least visit Hungary from neighboring Romania.  Good thing to keep in mind if I am checking out the nightlife in Budapest.

GYPSIES!!!  The Roma (Gypsies) are an officially recognized minority in Hungary.  In fact, they are the largest minority in the country and make up about 5% of the population.  Several hundred thousand Roma reside in the country.  The Roma are renowned musicians, but their music hardly uses instruments at all.  Thus, Cher’s  #1 hit “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” is not a traditional Gypsy song and unlikely to be heard being performed by Hungarian Roma.

BAR ETIQUETTE!!!  Yes, that phrase sounds like an oxymoron as the social graces are typically not a top priority in a bar.  But there’s at least one social rule to be sure and observe while in Hungary.  NEVER clink glasses full of beer.  The alleged historical reason for this prohibition is that the Austrians celebrated their victory over Hungary in 1849 with a few mugs of beer that were clinked together.  Should you ignore this bar etiquette, rude stares or a bar fight might be on tap for you. Not a problem for me–I don’t drink beer.

DRINKING BULL’S BLOOD!!!  Since I don’t consume beer, perhaps I should order Bull’s Blood instead.  Don’t worry.  No livestock would be slaughtered to fill my order.  Surprisingly, Hungary is a large wine producing country with 22 official wine regions.  Bull’s Blood of Eger is a famous red wine produced in Hungary’s Eger region.  The wine gets its name from something that happened in Eger in the 16th century.  Hungarian troops, who were defending the town of Eger from a Turkish siege, were fed local food and wine.  That wine included the red wine produced from nearby vineyards.  Rumor had it that the dark red wine had been fortified with bulls’ blood to give strength to the small band of Hungarian soldiers facing a much larger Turkish army; this provision saved Eger from sacking at that time.  No bull!

YOU’RE IN HOT WATER!!!  Budapest is only one of two capital cities in the world which has thermal springs.  Hungary’s capital boasts approximately 80 geothermal springs.  The Szenchenyi thermal spa bath complex with 18 pools (3 indoor and 15 outdoor) is the biggest in Europe.  Thermal baths differ from normal baths or swimming pools in that hot water is drawn up deep from the earth’s surface where temperatures are higher.  Think of them as a natural hot tub.  That’s the kind of hot water that I want to be in!

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING COUNTRY!!!  Hungary has literally shrunk since its inception.  Its current borders were set in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon following World War I.  As the result of that treaty, Hungary lost 71% of its territory, 58% of its population and 32% of ethic Hungarians.  Clearly the losers took a figurative bath causing territorial shrinking.

HOT AND COLD!!!  No matter how you like your soup, you can get it in Hungary.  Some like it hot.  One of the hottest dishes on the European continent is a Hungarian soup called Halaszle, a spicy paprika-based river fish soup.  Some like it cold.  At the other extreme is a summer delicacy, chilled sour cherry soup (megyleves), made from the fruit of the sour cherry tree which is found in abundance in Hungary.  Eating megyleves would be the cherry on top of your dining sundae.

SEEING RED!!!  Hungary is a major source of commonly used paprika, a ground spice.  This red powder seasons many Hungarian dishes, including Hungarian goulash, a soup of meat and vegetables.  Paprika comes from a word meaning “pepper” and is a symbol of Hungarian cooking.  Nevertheless, Hungarians cannot take credit for initially cultivating the plant from which the spice comes.   The Turks grew that plant in 1529 in Buda (a city later combined with the city of Pest to form Budapest), and are likely seeing red at paprika’s association with Hungarians.

See how much fun you have had learning about Hungary by reading this post?  Geography can indeed be entertaining and educational at the same time.  You’ll be hungry for information on Hungary and other places as well if it the facts are presented in an appealing and palatable manner.  Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; it was a boring lecture on dry geographical facts and figures that killed the cat’s curiosity.

Just WONDER-ing:  How much do you remember from taking geography in school? Do you think you will remember some of the fun Hungary facts from this post?  What fun facts would you want to know about a place where you intend to travel?

 

 

Sniffing Out The Story On Stamps

If you go to the post office next month, you may not smell a rat, but you might smell a popsicle.  No, USPS has not resorted to selling frozen goodies to raise money for its budget; however, it will unveil Frozen Treats Forever Stamps on June 20th, one day before the first day of summer.  And these aren’t just any forever stamps.  They are scratch and sniff stamps!

What postal customer could resist buying whimsical stamps with images of fruit bars and ice cream pops?  Who wouldn’t want to plop down fifty cents to  be able to affix a kiwi, watermelon, blueberry or strawberry fruit bar stamp on the envelope containing your mortgage payment?  Why, I’ll bet there will be lines out the door to snap up these “cool” stamps.  You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream stamps. NOT!

USPS may not have thought of the many issues with scratch and sniff stamps.  For example, who gets to do the scratching and sniffing?  If it’s the recipient of the letter, then the purchaser has no way of confirming he is getting what he paid for.  Sure, the stamp depicts a kiwi fruit bar, but does it SMELL like a kiwi?  And must the sender be PC and select an appropriate flavor for the recipient?  Should one send Aunt Bertha a birthday card bearing a  strawberry fruit bar stamp if she’s allergic to strawberries?  What if Grandpa doesn’t like chocolate ice cream?  Should he be forced to open a letter with a chocolate ice cream pop stamp blatantly affixed to the envelope?

Even more concerning is how long the smell will last. The stamp is advertised as a FOREVER stamp.  This leads the purchaser to believe that the stamp’s smell should last forever.  Is this false and misleading advertising?  And what remedy is there should the stamp’s smell fade away before the envelope’s addressee receives the stamped correspondence?

The post office would have to provide tester stamps for potential purchasers.  I mean who buys body spray or perfume without being offered a sniff sample from a tester?  Shouldn’t stamps with a smell receive the same treatment?  As a savvy stamp buyer, I’d say yes.

Producing scratch and sniff stamps isn’t the first time that USPS had used technology to tantalize the consumer.  In June 2017 Total Solar Eclipse stamps were released which utilized temperature sensitive ink to change the image on the stamp.  The stamp started off with an eclipse image, but put your hot little finger on it and the image changed to a full moon.  Wow!  How many more letters I would have written had I known about these scientific show stamps?  In actuality?  None.

Why this focus on stamps rather than timely and accurate delivery you might ask?  Good question!  Basically, USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses; it relies solely on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.  Thus, if it can sell more stamps, then it has more income.  Every year USPS commissions artists, illustrator and designers to develop twenty-five different stamps.  The rationale apparently is that new stamps will equate to more stamp purchases.

For the average John Doe, what is pictured on a stamp likely makes little difference.  Now, if it is Jane Doe, she might desire LOVE stamps to place on wedding invitations, but otherwise she probably could not care less about the design on the stamps.  Both John and Jane might want Christmas themed stamps for Christmas cards.  However, the same number of Christmas cards and wedding invitations will be sent regardless of what stamp design is utilized.  It does not seem that a design would significantly increase stamp sales.

The story might be different for a stamp collector.  A philatelist, who views stamps as miniature works of art, wants to add to his collection and might snap up newly issued images to fill his stamp albums.  (This desire makes the term PHILatelist apropos.)  There are an estimated 5 million people in the U.S. who collect stamps with regularity according to Linn’s Stamp News, one of the preeminent stamp authorities.  But most of these individuals are not serious collectors, so USPS cannot count on all stamp collectors to purchase each new stamp.

USPS may be trying to cash in on niche markets.  The just released Sally Ride forever stamp might capture the attention of postal customers who are aviators or scientists.  The Mister Rogers forever stamp released back in March might have a nostalgic appeal to older Americans who might actually still write letters and pay their bills via snail mail.

And speaking of snail mail, perhaps issuing snail stamps might be a humorous touch for stamps USPS could sell.  Wonder if Cuba, which has issued more than twenty stamps featuring snails, has made a mint from gastropod stamps.  I am fine with snails being pictured on a stamp as long as the speed of delivery is not commensurate with the speed at which a snail moves.  Let’s just make sure that any snail stamps issued are not of the scratch and sniff variety.

Scratch and sniff stamps leave me scratching my head.  The scratch and sniff feature is a mere bell and whistle which provides little value and not much entertainment to the scratcher/sniffer.  In my opinion, USPS needs to scratch below the surface of its financial woes and focus on improving service instead of offering gimmicks.  Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night should deter USPS from providing efficient service as opposed to envelope embellishment.

Just WONDER-ing:  Thumbs up or thumbs down on scratch and sniff stamps? Would a new stamp design or feature spur you to buy more stamps?  What stamp design or feature would you like to see?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As The Windsor World Turns

Although “The Crown,” a historical drama series produced for Netflix, has received critical acclaim for its biographical portrayal of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, nothing beats a reality show.  Millions of viewers are waiting with bated breath for the season finale of “As The Windsor World Turns” slated for broadcast on Saturday.  Huge ratings are guaranteed because so many juicy plot lines will come to a head.

Not since the days of the U.S. TV series “Dallas” has such an interest in the lives, loves and scandals of a family been so captivating.  While “Dallas” gave Americans the fictional Ewings, “As The Windsor World Turns” gives us the living, breathing Windsors.  Of course, no one refers to the family members by their last name.  They are known merely by one name with a title sometimes preceding it.  Instead of Ellie, J.R., Sue Ellen, Bobby, Pam, and Lucy from the American Ewings, the English Windors have Elizabeth, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry.  But, families are families, so squabbles, scandals and snubs are to be expected and enjoyed–at least by the viewers.

“Dallas” famously ended one season with the shooting of older son and love to hate him bad guy, J.R.  Viewers were abuzz with the oft-repeated question  “Who shot J.R.?”  Guns are frowned upon in jolly old England, so no shooting is anticipated in this week’s Windsor season finale.  The Brits, as well as many of us across the pond, are buzzing with concern as to “Who’ll escort Meghan?”

How clever of the Windsors to end their season with the much anticipated wedding between Harry and Meghan, a time for family members to put on their best duds and behave their worst.  A wedding, of course, is a good venue to bring family drama to a head because relatives are forced to come face to face.  As the previews have revealed, the Windsors may be royal, but they are really just like the rest of us when it comes to a weddings. Love may be in the air for the bride and groom, but a wedding is a time when simmering family feuds rise to the surface.  The Windsors will be no exception.

For those who have not been keeping up with the story line, let’s provide a bit of a background.  The groom is the handsome son of a beloved princess who, unfortunately, took after her name, i.e., Di did die, and tragically at that.  But before her death, she did not live happily ever after because her hubby, Prince Charming–er Prince Charles, was carrying on with a former flame during their marriage leading to a DI-vorce.

The former flame ultimately married her Prince Charming to the great chagrin of the Queen who has referred to her daughter-in-law as “that wicked woman.”  (Hope the seating chart at the wedding reception keeps these two women on opposite sides of the castle.)  Prince Charles, in the meantime, is fixated on if Mummy Dearest, age 92 and still going strong, will ever retire and give him the opportunity to sit on the throne before he is forced to sit in a wheelchair.

The groom’s older brother, William, is none too happy about having to get all gussied up to attend the royal wedding.  His latest bundle of joy has been keeping him up at night to the extent that he is nodding off at official functions.  And, gosh darn, the wedding celebration conflicts with a big polo match he wants to attend.  He hopes to sneak out unnoticed to attend it.  Ha! Good one, Wills!

William’s wife, Kate, is also tired from popping out the third heir to the throne she has produced in the last five years.  Who said a princess has an easy life?  Just last month she left the hospital mere hours after giving birth having to be impeccably dressed and coiffed for a photo shoot outside the hospital door.  Now she has to get all dolled up and corral her four year old son and three year old daughter into being a page boy and a page girl at their uncle’s wedding  Bet Kate would probably be napping.  Perhaps she could hire a lookalike to attend in her place.

Then there’s poor Princess Eugenie, Harry’s cousin.  Although she’s engaged as well, no one cares about her.  Her cousins have succeeded not only in stealing her engagement limelight as well as pushing her down in the line of succession to the throne.  How much press has her upcoming October wedding to what’s his name received?

But as snubbed as Eugenie feels, her mother has gotten the public shaft.  Fergie (no relation to the Black Eyed Peas singer), the ex-wife of Prince Andrew with whom she still shares a home (two can live as cheaply as one, you know), has not been invited to the exclusive evening wedding reception being thrown by her former father-in-law, Charles.  You know Charles–the Queen’s son, Di’s ex, Harry’s father and “that wicked woman’s” current husband.

Just to add a little comic relief to the Windsor family drama, there’s the bride’s family.  Well, they aren’t much of a family, but they are related by blood, seemingly bad blood.  Meghan’s half-brother wrote an open letter to Harry telling him to ditch Meghan.  With family like that, who needs enemies? Meghan’s half-sister, in cahoots with Meghan’s father, arranged for some staged paparazzi pictures of the father of the bride.  The arrangement became public, things blew up and the FOB had a heart attack at some point causing him to announce he’d forgo walking his little girl down the aisle.  Wait!  Just kidding!  He’ll do it after all.  Oops!  Now he can’t because of the urgent need for heart surgery.  Who can keep up with all these plot twists?

Which brings us back to the big question of who we will see coming down the aisle on Saturday.  Sure all eyes will be on the bride if only to see whose arm she is holding as she makes her way down the aisle to her own Prince Charming, Harry.  What a crazy start for this couple trying to live happily ever after.

Yes, I confess I will be watching “As The Windsor World Turns” on Saturday.  Sadly, the show is not a fictional series but people’s real lives.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.  And given the reality of Windsor life, clearly being a royal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Royals may live in castles, but they also live in a fish bowl.

Just WONDER-ing:  Do you plan to watch the royal wedding?  Is there a place for royalty in today’s world?  Would YOU want to a royal?