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INTERESTING STUFF: 7 April 2012

Posted Apr 07 2012 8:30am

Just to get it off my chest because today's is a special Interesting Stuff, this is one of my favorite seasonal ditties:

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The birdies is

The little bird is on the wing
Ain't that absurd
I always heard
The wing is on the bird

No one knows who wrote that (it was not Ogden Nash, as some say) but it is at least as old as I am; I know because my father recited it to me when I was a very little girl.

Today, in a remarkable confluence of different calendars – Hebrew and Gregorian, three (northern hemisphere) spring holidays come together in one weekend. This rarely happens; in many years, Jewish Passover and Christian Easter can be nearly a month apart.

Passover, of course, celebrates the story of the Exodus when Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt.

The Hebrew calendar is lunisolar (look it up), used primarily nowadays to determine the dates of Jewish holidays. Passover always begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan which, this year, corresponds with our secular calendar date, 6 April.

Because Jewish days begin at sundown, Passover began last evening and will continue until the evening of the 14th.

My friend of many decades, John Brandt, sent along this catchy Passover song - set to the tune of Cheek to Cheek - that explains the multitude of symbolism involved in the seder dinner held on the first and second nights of Passover. As John (or someone) said about it: awesome.

The Christian holiday, Easter, as everyone probably knows, marks the end of Lent – a six-week period of fasting, penance and prayer – and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. This year that day is tomorrow, 8 April.

The date of Easter is determined by the Gregorian calendar (except for some Orthodox churches that use the Julian calendar) which is the internationally accepted civil calendar we all use in order to show up on the day agreed to.

But that doesn't mean the holiday falls on the same date each year. Oh no. It's much more complicated.

Supposedly, Easter falls on the Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Got that? Well, not so fast.

Instead of using astronomical observations to determine those two dates, the church uses the “ecclesiastical full moon” to find the date of Easter with the vernal equinox set always to 21 March even if, like this year it arrives (20 March) on a different date.

Oh never mind. If you really care, I'm sure Wikipedia can help.

So here is a song celebrating the story of Easter that is just as much fun and high energy as the Passover song.

Okay, that covers two of the spring holidays. What could be the third? It often arrives with one or the other of Easter and Passover, but hardly ever with both and I cannot recall that it was ever sandwiched so tightly between the two as this year.

So wish me happy birthday. I am 71 today.

Number 64 was fun for The Beatles song and last year – well, 70 is one of those big, fat, round numbers that cannot be ignored. But 71 is a kind of meh year, don't you think. However, I agree with what Christopher Isherwood said at about this time in his life:

“If I had known when I was twenty-one that I should be as happy as I am now, I should have been sincerely shocked. They promised me wormwood and the funeral raven.”

Not yet. Not yet.

Did you know that the Happy Birthday song is copyrighted? That is why you hardly ever hear it in birthday scenes in movies and on television – because the copyright holder charges gigantic royalty fees for commercial uses.

I surely don't want to get on their bad side so here is an entirely different kind of birthday song, Happy Birthday Blues from B.B. King, that's much more to my liking anyway.

The more usual and traditional kind of Interesting Stuff column will return next week.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.

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