30/03/2011

When the British Isles became Great Britain

The name Great Britain refers to the union of what were  four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  When did it happen?  On March 24th 1603 King James became King of England, but he was already a king - King James VI of Scotland.  He was the first Stuart monarch to rule both countries creating the kingdom of Great Britain.  In 1707 an act of Parliament formally brought the two countries together.



29/03/2011

Borrowing days


The last three days of March are said to be borrowed from April according to a Celt tradition.  These days have a reputation for being stormy.  An old ballad tells how capricious March begged generous April for a loan and then rendered the three days awful:

                              The first of them was wind and wet,
                              The second of them was snow and sleet,
                              The third of them was such a freeze,
                              It froze the birds' claws to the trees.

There are different explanations for this: Scottish folklore proposes that these three days were borrowed from April so that March might extend his power.  READ MORE...

But, Irish folklore says that an old brindled cow boasted that even the rigours of March could not kill her, whereupon March borrowed three days from April and using these with redoubled fury, killed and skinned the poor old cow.  READ MORE...



22/03/2011

The Spring equinox

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess, like Aurora and Eos. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.  MORE
It occurs on or around March 21st  (this year on 20th).  This day has inspired many rituals celebrating the return of warmth, sunshine, and renewed life in the northern hemisphere.  From ancient times, the pagan peoples of Europe and Asia held their spring festivals, re-enacting regeneration myths and performing magical and religious ceremonies to make the crops grow and prosper. The egg, which miraculously bursts forth with life, was therefore identified with this time of year and was believed to have special powers.
Flowers are also identified with Spring, the country comes alive with meadows of richly coloured flowers; some of the first are Daffodils, heralds of Spring.

21/03/2011

03/03/2011

House vocabulary

Practise your vocabulary in this virtual house.  Click HERE.