18th of February

St Simeon, or Simon, bishop of Jerusalem, martyr, 116. Saints Leo and Paragorius, martyrs, 3rd century.

 

Born. – Isaac Casaubon, scholar, 1559, Geneva; James Cassini, astronomer, 1677, Paris; Alexander Volta, discoverer of Voltaism, 1745, Como; David Bogue, eminent Independent divine, 1750, Dowlan, near Eyemouth, Berwickshire.
Died. – Pope Gregory V., 999; Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, Wittenberg, 1546; John Louis de Balzac, littérateur,  1654, Angoulême; John Ernest Count Bernstorf, Hanovarian Minister, 1772, Hamburg; Baron von Biela, astronomer,  1856.

 

FUNERAL GARLANDS.

Among the many customs which have been handed down to us from early times, but which have now, unfortunately,  become obsolete, one of the most beautiful, simple, and most poetically symbolic, was that of carrying garlands before  the corpses of unmarried females on their way to the grave, and then hanging up the garland in the church as a memento  of the departed one. This sweetly pretty custom was in former ages observed in most parts of the kingdom. Flowers have ever been an emblem of purity, and even in the primitive Christian church it was usual to place them,  formed into wreaths or crowns, at the heads of deceased virgins. In every age, indeed, true virginity has been honoured  in its purity by flowers pure as itself, and fresh from the hands of their Maker. The same feeling which tempts the bride to adorn her beautiful tresses with a wreath of orange blossoms for her nuptials  – which gives rise to the offering of a bouquet of flowers, and to the custom of strewing the pathway she is to tread on  her way to the altar – has been the origin of the custom of adorning the corpse, the coffin, and the grave of the virgin  with the same frail but lovely and appropriate emblems. The same feeling which calls virginity itself ‘a flower,’ is that  which places flowers in the hair of the bride, in the hands of or around the face of the corpse, and in the garlands at the grave.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

The 18th day of February this year, 1601, the Queen was brought to bed of her 3rd son at Dunfermline, and was  christened, [on] the 2nd day of May, Robert.

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

 

Feb. 18 [1624.] – The Town Council of Aberdeen had occasion to consider an abuse which had lately crept into their  burgh, in the form of ‘costly banqueting at the baptising of bairns,’ and the ‘convocating of great numbers of people  thereto.’ It is mentioned that on these occasions there were ‘all sorts of succours [sugars], confections, spiceries, and  dessert, brought from foreign parts, beside great superfluity of venison, and wild meat of all sorts… and withal,  extraordinary drinking and scolling [health-drinking]… to the slander of the town, in sic a calamitous time, when God is  visiting the whole land with dearth and famine, and mony poor anes [are] dying and starving at dykes and under stairs  for cauld and hunger.’ The Council ordained that thereafter no person of whatever degree should have ‘mae than four gossips and four  cummers at the maist’ at their baptisms, that not more than six women be invited ‘to convoy the bairn to and frae the  kirk,’ and that twelve should be the utmost amount of company present ‘at the dinner, supper, or afternoon’s drink.’ All  extravagances at table were at the same time strictly forbidden.

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

 

But we must now condense. When Monday the 18th came parties were as far as ever from agreeing. A Supplication  was lodged by the minority against the merchants’ bill as “dipping on the liberties of their crafts.” They were only 8, the  merchants were 17; it was unfair to vote in such a matter of “fundamentall rights” especially when sub judice in  Parliament. Therefore following the lead of James Borthwick who was deacon of the “chirurgians,” the crafts protested  “in a most tumultuarie and disorderly way.” Bailie John Boyd, on the other hand, “protested against all their protestations”  for the liberty of the Council, the majority of which ultimately referred the controversy for the decision of Parliament.  Accordingly the case was stated to the Legislature by the Council, and 30 closely written pages of the Folio are filled  with copies of Supplications, Answers, Observations and Reasons, all more or less vehement, acrimonious pleadings.

– Scots Lore, pp.78-84.

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