It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. It's November 1st - All Saints' Day. In Belgium, it is a National holiday. Many who have adopted graves here at the Ardennes will come by with flowers to place on their soldier's grave. The traditional flower for this day is the chrysanthemum. The florists and even the grocery stores have them in large displays for people to pick up on their way home. I wanted one for our front porch to sit alongside our pumpkins. Now it has more significance than just being a decoration. I will remember all of our family members who have passed from this life.
I remember being back in the States at our various churches where we would recognize and remember family members and congregation members who had died in the past year. We would pray and their names would be read out loud. This led me to look further into the history of today's date.
I googled November 1 and found many interesting events that occurred in history on November 1. Here are a few:
- 1512 – The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.
- 1520 – The Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South America connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, is first discovered and navigated by European explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the first recorded circumnavigation voyage.
- 1570 – The All Saints' Flood devastates the Dutch coast.
- 1604 – William Shakespeare's tragedy Othello is performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
- 1611 – William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is performed for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
- 1683 – The British Crown colony of New York is subdivided into 12 counties.
- 1800 – John Adams becomes the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).
Today, I sit here looking back at all of these events and think about our visit to the Sistine Chapel while living in Rome -- it was interesting but I found it not as breathtaking as I had hoped. It was dimly lit to preserve the paintings for a longer life and it was crowded. It's like many things you look forward to -- they don't live up to your expectations and imagination. Maybe it was the sensation of being crowded into the room and having to look straight up and not being able to relax and take it all in...
I think back to homeschooling with Michael when I read about the Strait of Magellan. We studied World History while we were living in Nettuno. Maybe our own family travels were a part of that history lesson too?
It's hard to imagine the All Saints' Flood in 1570 today because the sky is blue and the sun is shining brightly. I read that 5/6 of the Netherlands was flooded at this time. So much destruction. Right now, friends are experiencing this back in Texas from all of the rain that has been falling. I'm praying that they are all safe and that it soon is a thing of the past.
There's got to be some interesting connection why two of Shakespeare's works were performed for the first time on November 1. Perhaps it is as simple as it was a holiday and even the common man could attend on this day.
It's amazing to me to think that the big city of New York where Kristen lives was once a British Crown colony. So much history has taken place there. So many people from so many countries have passed through there on their way to a new life and a new future. Now, many go there to seek their fortune and their future just like our daughter. It is a vibrant city rich with culture and yet it is a hard and demanding city in which to find your way and your niche.
Finally, John Adams being the first president to live in the now named White House. I just was looking at the news on CNN.com and came across photos from Halloween at the White House. What a contrast from 1800 to 2015! To see the Obamas handing candy out to trick or treaters and the White House adorned in Halloween decorations is sort of surreal.
I have a feeling that our forefathers would consider this a bit garish and inappropriate. I'm torn about how I feel about this display. Maybe I'm just getting older and am a bit too serious minded... I don't see Buckingham Palace doing this for example... What do you think?