Saturday Scenes

Wed 30 December 2009

Wren Day

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:41

This week, Saturday fell on a very important date: the 26th of December.

Many celebrate Boxing Day, some celebrate St. Stephen’s Day but a most interesting celebration on the 26th of December is the Day of the Wren.

Observed only in Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Newfoundland, Wren Day is one of those celebrations that is good for everyone but the wren. The tradition was, apparently, to hunt and kill a wren on this day and take it, nailed to a stick, around the city to collect money for that evening’s dance. These days, the boys still dress up in straw suits but it is a fake wren which is paraded around the town on a pole. Why a wren? No one is really sure.

Wren’s Day, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Mysteriously, the wren has a reputation for treachery. A wren is said to have betrayed Irish soldiers fighting the Norsemen by beating its wings on their shields. The wren, too, is blamed for betraying St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This is the usual explanation why the wren is the hunted bird on St. Stephen’s day. It has also been argued that the antipathy shown towards the bird dates from early Christian opposition to the Druidic rites that surrounded it. Today, the wren — as a feature of the event — survives only in the rhyme and in the name of the day.

On the 26th of December in 2009, these wonderful photographs were taken. It’s a small set this week but every single photograph is a treasure – take a look:

Take a moment to visit the twitter streams of our valiant photographers, submitting even in the very depths of the old year:

And that is the last SatScene of the year! Thank you to everyone who has submitted in 2009 and I hope to see photographs from all of you in 2010!

(It’s easy! Just take a photograph on Saturday the 2nd and tweet the link @Satscenes with a location.)

Thu 24 December 2009

The Ghost of an Idea

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:14

On the 19th of December in the year 1843, “A Christmas Carol” was published. Charles Dickens said that he had endeavoured to raise the Ghost of an Idea … which he hoped would haunt his readers’ houses pleasantly.

If you are looking for something quiet to do at the computer, you can read the whole book online: A Christmas Carol at

The well-known Yuletide story begins like this:

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

It is one of my favourite stories ever, even after all this time.

Just over 18 months ago, I had the Ghost of an Idea to ask people on Twitter to take a snapshot, everyone on the same day so we could compare our days and activities. Since then, there have been 1,113 photographs shared on Saturdays from people all over the world.

And on the 19th of December, in the year 2009, I received Saturday Scenes from England, Israel, Switzerland, Egypt, USA, and Spain. I’m simply amazed by all the great photographs that show up every week. Take a look!

See the twitter streams to go with the photographs:

Or follow the Saturday Scenes list which includes all of our recent participants.

If you’d like to be included, just take a photograph on a Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with your location. We’d love to see what you see!

Wed 16 December 2009

Here Be Dragons

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 16:12

On the 12th of December in the year 1408, Sigismund, King of Hungary, created the Order of the Dragon. This chivalric order was created to gain favour with the Catholic Church and to help to defend his lands from the expansion of the Ottoman empire. A copy of the statute from 1707 still exists and states that its initiates must defend the Cross and do battle against its enemies. The Order’s original symbol was a circular dragon with its tail coiled around its neck and the red cross of St. George on its back.

One of the men that Sigismund recruited was the Duke of Wallachia, who was at the time “serving as frontier commander guarding the mountain passes from Transylvania into Wallachia from enemy incursion”. This man, a claimant to the Wallachian throne, was very proud of being included and took on the nickname Dracul (as in draco or dragon) to refer to his membership of the order.

Order of the Dragon

His son Vlad (better known as Vlad the Impaler) used the sobriquet “Dracula” in the context of “son of Dracul” or “son of he who was a member of the Order of the Dragon”.

Once again it was used as a term of honour. On a number of occasions, Vlad (the Impaler) signed documents using the name. The word “dracul”, however, took on a second meaning (“the devil”) which was applied to members of the Dracula family by their enemies and possibly also by superstitious peasants. It was this second meaning that found its way into William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (1820), the book in which Bram Stoker found the name “Dracula”. There is no evidence whatsoever that Stoker knew about the Order of the Dragon.

And thus it turns out that Sigismund, who later became the Holy Roman Emperor, actually gave us the name for the most famous vampire ever.

On the 12th of December in the year 2009, there were many seemingly trivial (but probably equally auspicious) events, all documented on camera:

These gorgeous December photographs were taking by these wonderful people on Twitter:

You can also keep track of everyone at once by checking out the Saturday Scenes list which includes all of our participants. We’re already up to 36 photographers after only a month!

If you’d like to join in, just take a photograph on Saturday and send it to @SatScenes with the location! We’d love to see your corner of the world.

Wed 9 December 2009

Gold Rush

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:35

The first gold of the California Gold Rush was found at Sutter’s Mill on January 24th, 1848. Sutter wanted to keep it a secret as he’d just established his agricultural settlement, New Helvetia, and feared that a mass search for gold would ruin his plans for an empire.

It was an impossible secret to keep. The rumors began to spread and then confirmed by Samuel Brannan, clearly a more focused business man. Instead of worrying about his livestock, Brannan quickly bought up every shovel he could find in the area and then set up a store at Sutter’s Fort to sell gold prospecting supplies. Then, he spread the word all over San Francisco by carrying a vial of gold around the streets, shouting “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!” The word was out.

California Gold Rush on Wikipedia

On December 5, President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in an address to Congress. Soon, waves of immigrants from around the world, later called the “forty-niners,” invaded the Gold Country of California or “Mother Lode.” As Sutter had feared, he was ruined; his workers left in search of gold, and squatters invaded his land and stole his crops and cattle.

The result? Sutter was ruined and Brannan’s store at Sutter’s Fort sold $150,000 worth of goods in 1849. That is about four million US dollars in today’s value.

Just think what he could have done if he had a Twitter account!

Meanwhile, our Saturday Scenes from December 5th are pure gold (without a trace of grit):

Make sure to pop by the Twitter streams of everyone who took a photograph so we could see a scene from their Saturday:

Every person who submits a Saturday Scene gets added to the Saturday Scenes list, so you can watch that page and see what people are doing the rest of the week!

Would you like to join in? Simply take a photograph on a Saturday and tweet it to SatScenes with the location.

Wed 2 December 2009

Veintiocho de Noviembre

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:27

On the 28th of November, 1959, a small coal mining town was established in Argentina by government personnel who were merging several settlements in the Río Turbio area, near the Chilean border. They called the town 28 de Noviembre. No, honestly, they did.

A taste of their tourist information on Patagonia Argentina, Viajar a Santa Cruz Patagonia, Turismo :: Localidades, which I ran through the online translation system Babel Fish:

But far from to demotivate, the present settlers have removed to shine the seasoned and visionary spirit of the first colonists and immigrants, and they drew up the objective to locate to the Carboniferous River basin in the tourist map of the province. By force of a serious and constant work, in just a short time they have achieved its objective. The results are in view of any visitor: the center of winter sports of Valdelén was first in South America in having tracks with artificial lighting and the summer activities so are varied and captivating that they attract all the people who approach the Austral Region. Who visits the zone will not be able to stop admiring itself and being surprised yet what River Turbio and 28 of November must to offer, beyond its mining past.

Yeah, so lessons learned: don’t allow government staff to name places and don’t use online translation services.

Meanwhile, exactly fifty years later on the 28th of November 2009, these wonderful photographs were taken by people spread out all over the globe:

I love this set, the variety and the details and aren’t the colours glorious?

Make sure to pop by the Twitter streams of the participants and say hello!

Or find out what all of our submitters are up to simply by following our Saturday Scenes list.

Or better yet, join in! Simply take a photograph on a Saturday and send it to @SatScenes with a location!

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