Daily Update: Monday, December 26th, 2016

Stephen and 12-26 - Second Day of Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa and Christmas - Federal Holiday and Hanukkah - 3rd Night

Alleluia! on the Second Day of the Octave of Christmas. Today being December 26th, it is the Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (died c. 33). Today is also the Second Day of Christmas, and is also known as Boxing Day in English Commonwealth countries. And today is the First Day of Kwanzaa, created in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday. Since Christmas Day was on a Sunday, today is the Federal Holiday for Christmas. And tonight begins the Third Night of Hanukkah.

All we know of Saint Stephen is from the Acts of the Apostles, where he was selected as one of seven Deacons. While preaching the Gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob (and approving their action), was a man who would later be known as Saint Paul the Apostle. Stephen is known as the First Martyr, as he died testifying to the reality of the Risen Christ (John the Baptist was killed, but not for testifying the Risen Christ); he is the Patron Saint of deacons, altar servers, casket makers, and masons, and his aide is invoked against headaches. (In the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”, the King ”looked out, on the feast of Stephen, when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.”) A tradition holds that the three Feasts after Christmas (Saint Stephen, Saint John the Evangelist, and Holy Innocents) represent the three paths of Christian discipleship: willing to be martyred and indeed martyred (Saint Stephen), willing to be martyred but not martyred (Saint John the Evangelist), and involuntarily martyred (Holy Innocents). Today is also the Second Day of Christmas, with two turtle doves being given, according to the song. The “turtle” in the name of the bird comes from the Latin turtur, which referred to the sound the bird makes. Today is also Boxing Day in English Commonwealth countries. Originally the day when presents would be given to servants and working people by their betters, it is now in many Commonwealth countries a movable secular holiday that is the next working day after Christmas Day. Finally, today is the First Day of Kwanzaa, created in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift giving; the name of the holiday comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza“, meaning “first fruits”. Since Christmas Day was on a Sunday, today is the Federal Holiday for Christmas. And tonight begins the Third Night of Hanukkah.

Upon waking up to get ready for work, I did my Book Devotional Reading. I then taped Liz Ellen’s back with KT Tape, brought in the Christmas Flag, and put out my United States Flag. Richard helped Liz Ellen dose Widget with Benedryl, and we said our goodbyes to Liz Ellen and Widget, and headed out the door to head for work. I posted to Facebook that today was the Federal Holiday for Christmas, and did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my Holy Family Novena. When we got to work I put on my Santa Hat, but Richard objected to me wearing it, as Christmas was over, so I put it back in my locker. When we clocked in (today was the first day of the two-week pay period) Richard was on Let It Ride, closed that table, and was on the Sit-Down Blackjack table for the rest of the day. I was on Mini Baccarat, and due both to today being a Federal Holiday, and possibly because they did not schedule enough people to work on our shift, on my Mini Baccarat table I was working an hour and twenty minutes between breaks.

On our way home Richard stopped at Valero for gas. Liz Ellen and Widget, of course, had left the house some hours before we got home. Richard sniffed my salad for me that had been sitting in the refrigerator since December 15th and said that it smelled ok, so I ate my lunch salad and read my morning paper. (My longterm readers – both of them – know that I was born with no sense of smell, so Richard does my smelling for me.) I then came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update; it has been a very busy week and some for me, what with Liz Ellen and Widget visiting (I will say here that I very much enjoyed my sister and her cat visiting us, and was sorry to see both of them leave us), and I plan to go to bed for the duration after I finish this Daily Update. Our New Orleans Pelicans (11-21, 0-6) will be playing a home NBA game with the Dallas Mavericks (9-21, 1-6)tonight, and I will record the score of the game in Tuesday’s Daily Update. And tonight begins the Third Night of Hanukkah.

Tomorrow is the Third Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!). Tomorrow is also the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (died c.101). And tomorrow is the Third Day of Christmas, with the gift from one’s true love being three French hens. My earliest call-in will drop off the calendar tomorrow at the casino; my next call-ins to drop off will be on March 27th, 2017. We will work our eight hours tomorrow at the casino and not sign the Early Out list (we plan to do so on Saturday). I have nothing exciting planned for the afternoon. And at sunset begins the Fourth Night of Hanukkah.

Our Parting Quote on this afternoon of the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!) comes from Stanisław Barańczak, Polish-born poet, educator, and translator. Born in 1946 in Poznań, Poland, his older sister was novelist Małgorzata Musierowicz, and they were raised by their mother, a dentist. Barańczak studied philology at Poznań’s Adam Mickiewicz University, where he obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. He became a lecturer at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and broke into print as a poet and critic in 1965. In the 1970s he was banned from publishing in Poland, though he continued to write for underground outlets, and his work became a samizdat pass-around. Barańczak was on the staff of the Poznań magazine Nurt from 1967 to 1971; he also married during this same time. He became a co-founder of the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR) in support of laborers who had been injured during or persecuted after the June 1976 riots in Warsaw, set off when the government raised the prices on many food staples; this activity lost him his position at the university, He was also a co-founder of the clandestine quarterly Zapis. Barańczak was a leading poet in the “New Wave” and one of the outstanding Polish writers to begin his career in the communist period, combining literary work with scholarship and politics. He eventually regained his post as Solidarity gained political traction. By then Harvard had offered him a job in the department of Slavic languages and literatures, but he was unable to accept it for nearly three years because the Polish government denied him a passport. In 1981, the year Poland declared martial law, he left the country and accepted a three-year contract to work as a lecturer at Harvard University, and only left Harvard in 1999 due to his health. He was a co-founder of the Paris Zeszyty Literackie in 1983, and a regular contributor to the periodical Teksty Drugie. He also served as editor of The Polish Review from 1986 to 1990. Baranczak’s best-known prose collection was Breathing Under Water and Other East European Essays (1990). Baranczak also wrote a book-length study of the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, and he translated the work of Polish writers into English, including, with Seamus Heaney, the 16th-century poet Jan Kochanowski, and, with Clare Cavanagh, the 1996 Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska; this last translation earned him and Cavanagh the PEN Translation Prize. In the other direction, from English to Polish, he was singularly prolific, translating much of Shakespeare, the verse of Robert Herrick, John Donne, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Philip Larkin, among other poets, and even light verse and song lyrics.  His book Surgical Precision (Chirurgiczna precyzja) won the 1999 Nike Award. His last translation from English to Polish was William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well (Wszystko dobre, co się dobrze kończy) in 2001 (died 2014): “Does someone who simply wants a breath of fresh air deserve to be called a dissident?”

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