Cremation Day

Cremation Day takes place annually on 9 December. Cremation is the combustion, vaporization, and oxidation of cadavers to basic chemical compounds, such as gases, ashes and mineral fragments retaining the appearance of dry bone. Cremation may serve as a funeral or post-funeral rite as an alternative to the interment of an intact dead body in a coffin or casket. Cremated remains (also known as “cremains” or simply “ashes”), which do not constitute a health risk, may be buried or interred in memorial sites or cemeteries, or they may be retained by relatives and dispersed in various ways. Cremation is an alternative in place of burial or other forms of disposal in funeral practices. Some families prefer to have the deceased present at the funeral with cremation to follow; others prefer that the cremation occur prior to the funeral or memorial service. In many countries, cremation is usually done in a crematorium. Some countries, such as India and Nepal, prefer different methods, such as open-air cremation.

Cremation dates from at least 42,000 years ago in the archaeological record, with the Mungo Lady, the remains of a partly cremated body found at Lake Mungo, Australia. In the Middle East and Europe, both burial and cremation are evident in the archaeological record in the Neolithic era. Cultural groups had their own preferences and prohibitions. The ancient Egyptians developed an intricate transmigration-of-soul theology, which prohibited cremation. This was also widely adopted by Semitic peoples. The Babylonians, according to Herodotus, embalmed their dead. Early Persians practiced cremation, but this became prohibited during the Zoroastrian Period. Phoenicians practiced both cremation and burial. From the Cycladic civilisation in 3000 BCE until the Sub-Mycenaean era in 1200–1100 BCE, Greeks practiced inhumation. Cremation appeared around the 12th century BCE, constituting a new practice of burial, probably influenced by Anatolia. Until the Christian era, when inhumation again became the only burial practice, both combustion and inhumation had been practiced, depending on the era and location. Romans practiced both, with cremation generally associated with military honors.

In Europe, there are traces of cremation dating to the Early Bronze Age (c. 2000 BCE) in the Pannonian Plain and along the middle Danube. The custom became dominant throughout Bronze Age Europe with the Urnfield culture (from c. 1300 BCE). In the Iron Age, inhumation again becomes more common, but cremation persisted in the Villanovan culture and elsewhere. Homer’s account of Patroclus’ burial describes cremation with subsequent burial in a tumulus, similar to Urnfield burials, and qualifying as the earliest description of cremation rites. This may be an anachronism, as during Mycenaean times burial was generally preferred, and Homer may have been reflecting the more common use of cremation at the time the Iliad was written, centuries later.

Hinduism and Jainism are notable for not only allowing but prescribing cremation. Cremation in India is first attested in the Cemetery H culture (from c. 1900 BCE), considered the formative stage of Vedic civilization. The Rigveda contains a reference to the emerging practice, in RV 10.15.14, where the forefathers “both cremated (agnidagdhá-) and uncremated (ánagnidagdha-)” are invoked. Cremation remained common but not universal, in both ancient Greece and ancient Rome. According to Cicero, in Rome, inhumation was considered the more archaic rite, while the most honoured citizens were most typically cremated—especially upper classes and members of imperial families.

The rise of Christianity saw an end to cremation, being influenced by its roots in Judaism, the belief in the resurrection of the body, and following the example of Christ’s burial. Anthropologists have been able to track the advance of Christianity throughout Europe with the appearance of cemeteries. By the 5th century, with the spread of Christianity, the practice of burning bodies gradually disappeared from Europe.

In early Roman Britain, cremation was usual but diminished by the 4th century. It then reappeared in the 5th and 6th centuries during the migration era, when sacrificed animals were sometimes included with the human bodies on the pyre, and the deceased were dressed in costume and with ornaments for the burning. That custom was also very widespread among the Germanic peoples of the northern continental lands from which the Anglo-Saxon migrants are supposed to have been derived, during the same period. These ashes were usually thereafter deposited in a vessel of clay or bronze in an “urn cemetery”. The custom again died out with the Christian conversion of the Anglo-Saxons or Early English during the 7th century, when Christian burial became general.

During the Middle Ages cremation was forbidden In parts of Europe, and even punishable by death if combined with Heathen rites Cremation was sometimes used by Catholic authorities as part of punishment for Protestant heretics, which included burning at the stake. For example, the body of John Wycliff was exhumed years after his death and burned to ashes, with the ashes thrown in a river, explicitly as a posthumous punishment for his denial of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

The first to advocate for the use of cremation was the physician Sir Thomas Browne in 1658. Honoretta Brooks Pratt became the first recorded cremated European individual in modern times when she died on 26 September 1769 and was illegally cremated at the burial ground on Hanover Square in London. The organized movement to reinstate cremation as a viable method for body disposal began in the 1870s. In 1869 the idea was presented to the Medical International Congress of Florence by Professors Coletti and Castiglioni “in the name of public health and civilization”. In 1873, Professor Paolo Gorini of Lodi and Professor Ludovico Brunetti of Padua published reports of practical work they had conducted. A model of Brunetti’s cremating apparatus, together with the resulting ashes, was exhibited at the Vienna Exposition in 1873 and attracted great attention, including that of Sir Henry Thompson, 1st Baronet, a surgeon and Physician to the Queen Victoria, who became the chief promoter of cremation in England.

Sir Henry Thompson’s main reason for supporting cremation was that “it was becoming a necessary sanitary precaution against the propagation of disease among a population daily growing larger in relation to the area it occupied”. In addition, he believed, cremation would prevent premature burial, reduce the expense of funerals, spare mourners the necessity of standing exposed to the weather during interment, and urns would be safe from vandalism. In 1874, some advocates of cremation, including Anthony Trollope, John Everett Millais, George du Maurier, Thomas Spencer Wells, John Tenniel and Shirley Brooks, held a meeting at Thompson’s house in London and formally founded the Cremation Society of Great Britain ”

e first duty of the Cremation Society was to ascertain whether cremation could be legally performed in the country, and then to construct a first crematorium. In 1878, Sir Henry Thompson bought a piece of land in Woking as a site for the crematorium. Professor Gorini was invited to visit Woking and supervise the erection of his cremation apparatus there. They first tested it In 1879 by cremating the body of a horse. However, the inhabitants of Woking showed strong antipathy to the crematorium, and appealed to the Home Secretary, Sir Richard Cross, to prohibit the use of the building.

Legalization of cremation came about through the eccentric activities of Welsh Neo-Druidic priest, William Price. After his first child died in 1884 and believing that it was wrong to bury a corpse, thereby polluting the earth, Price decided to cremate his son’s body. He was arrested by the police for the illegal disposal of a corpse. Price successfully argued in court that while the law did not state that cremation was legal, it also did not state that it was illegal. The case set a precedent that, together with the activities of the newly founded Cremation Society of Great Britain, led to the Cremation Act 1902. The Act imposed procedural requirements before a cremation could occur and restricted the practice to authorised places.

In 1885, the first official cremation in the UK took place in Woking. The deceased was Mrs Jeannette C. Pickersgill, a well-known figure in literary and scientific circles.By the end of the year, the Cremation Society of Great Britain had overseen two more cremations, a total of 3 out of 597,357 deaths in the UK that year In 1886 ten bodies were cremated at Woking Crematorium. During 1888, in which 28 cremations took place, the Cremation Society planned to provide a chapel, waiting rooms and other amenities there. In 1892 a crematorium opened in Manchester, followed by one in Glasgow in 1895, Liverpool in 1896 and Birmingham Crematorium in 1903.

Crematoria in Europe were built in 1878 in the town of Gotha in Germany and later in Heidelberg in 1891. The first modern crematory in the U.S. was built in 1876 by Francis Julius LeMoyne after hearing about its use in Europe. During that time it was thought that people were getting sick by attending funerals of those recently deceased and that decomposing bodies were leaking into the water systems. LeMoyne built the crematory to cremate bodies in a controlled environment primarily for sanitary reasons. Cremation was used to destroy any organic matter that could cause illness and give families a better way to preserve ashes. Before LeMoyne’s crematory closed in 1901, it had performed 42 cremations.

Some of the various Protestant churches came to accept cremation, with the rationale being, “God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as he can resurrect a bowl of dust.” The 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia was critical about these efforts, referring to them as a “sinister movement” and associating them with Freemasonry, although it said that “there is nothing directly opposed to any dogma of the Church in the practice of cremation.”[In 1963, at Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI lifted the ban on cremation, and in 1966 allowed Catholic priests to officiate at cremation ceremonies.

In the U.S. only about one crematorium per year was built in the late 19th century. As embalming became more widely accepted and used, crematoria lost their sanitary edge. Not to be left behind, crematoria tried to make cremation more beautiful. They started building crematoria with stained-glass windows and marble floors with frescoed walls. By 2008, the cremation rate was 36.2% and was growing about 1 percentage point a year.

Australia also started to establish modern cremation movements and societies. Australians had their first purpose-built modern crematorium and chapel in the West Terrace Cemetery in the South Australian capital of Adelaide in 1901. This small building, resembling the buildings at Woking, remained largely unchanged from its 19th-century style and was in full operation until the late 1950s. The oldest operating crematorium in Australia is at Rookwood Cemetery, in Sydney. It opened in 1925.
In the Netherlands, the Association for Optional Cremation was founded in 1874 . Laws against cremation were challenged and invalidated in 1915 (two years after the construction of the first crematorium in the Netherlands), though cremation did not become legally recognised until 1955.

The cremation occurs in a cremator that is housed within a crematorium and comprises one or more furnaces. A cremator is an industrial furnace that is able to generate temperatures of 870–980 °C (1,600–1,800 °F) to ensure disintegration of the corpse. A crematorium may be part of a chapel or a funeral home or may be an independent facility or a service offered by a cemetery. Modern cremator fuels include oil, natural gas, propane, and, in some areas like Hong Kong, coal gas. However, coal and coke were used until the early 1960s.

A cremator is not designed to cremate more than one human body at a time; cremation of multiple bodies is generally illegal in the United States and many other countries, though exceptions may be made for (for example) still-born twins, or a baby and mother who died during childbirth. The chamber where the body is placed is called a retort and is lined with heat-resistant refractory bricks. Refractory bricks are designed in several layers. The outermost layer is usually simply an insulation material, e.g., mineral wool. Inside is typically a layer of insulation brick, mostly calcium silicate in nature. Heavy duty cremators are usually designed with two layers of fire bricks inside the insulation layer. The layer of fire bricks in contact with the combustion process protects the outer layer and must be replaced from time to time. The coffin or container is inserted (charged) into the retort as quickly as possible to avoid heat loss through the top door. The container may be mounted on a charger (motorised trolley) that can quickly insert it, or on a fixed or movable hopper that allows the container to slide into the cremator.

Some crematoria allow relatives to view the charging. This is sometimes done for religious reasons, such as in traditional Hindu and Jain funerals. In some countries including the United States, there is increasing use of the alkaline hydrolysis process, trademarked as Resomation, which involves the use of lye heated with the body at high pressure, allowing the body to be broken down into its chemical compounds. A cremator is not used. The process is described by its inventors as more ecologically favorable than other forms of cremation.

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World Techno Day

World Techno day takes place annually on 9 December to honour the American musician Juan Atkins who was born on Dec 9, 1962 in Detroit and is widely credited as the originator of techno music, specifically Detroit techno.

He attended high school together in Belleville, Michigan, near Detroit. along with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Who were sometimes called the Belleville Three. Juan Atkins learned how to play bass, drums, and “a little lead guitar” at an early age. After moving to rural Belleville, Michigan, Atkins met Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The three were among the few black students at their school, they were exposed to electronic and funk sounds from a five-hour, late-night genre-defying radio show called “The Midnight Funk Association” on WGPR, hosted by DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson. At the age of sixteen, Atkins heard electronic music for the first time, which would prove to be a life-changing experience.

He soon abandoned playing funk and bought his first analogue synthesizer , a Korg MS-10, and began recording with cassette decks and a mixer for overdubs. He subsequently taught Derrick May to mix, and the pair started doing DJ sets together as Deep Space. They took their long mixes to Mojo, who began to play them on his show in 1981. Atkins, May, and Saunderson would continue to collaborate as Deep Space Soundworks, even starting a club in downtown Detroit for local DJs to spin and collaborate.

The 1982 single “Cosmic Cars” also did well. Cybotron recorded their debut album, Enter, and were soon signed to Fantasy Records. One track, “Clear,” was a forerunner to “techno” music. The song took Kraftwerk-like electronic elements and fused them with club music. Atkins considered Cybotron’s most successful single, “Techno City” to be a unique, synthesized funk composition. He was inspired by the sound of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock”. In 1985, Atkins left the group due to artistic differences with bandmate Rick Davis. Davis wanted the group to pursue a musical direction closer to rock, while Atkins wanted to continue in the electro-style vein of “Clear”.

Atkins began recording as “Model 500” in 1985 and founded the Metroplex label. His friends Eddie Fowlkes, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson all recorded singles on the label. Atkins’ first single as Model 500, “No UFOs,” was a hit in Detroit and Chicago. He followed it with a series of landmark techno tracks, earning him the nickname “the godfather of techno.” Within a few years, Atkins’ work was re-released in Europe. Over the years, Atkins has also released works under the name Infiniti, consisting of him and Orlando Voorn which is more song-oriented with melodies, not just dance track.

Other Events and holidays taking place on 9 December

Cremation Day
Christmas Card Day
International Anti-Corruption Day
National Pastry Day
National Salesperson’s Day
Weary Willie Day

Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS FRAS

Writer, Amateur Astronomer and Television personality Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS FRAS, sadly passed away on 9th December 2012 aged 89. He was Born 4 March 1923, in Pinner, Middlesex, on March 4 1923, and was the son of Captain Charles Caldwell-Moore, MC. Later the family moved to Sussex, where Patrick was to live for the rest of his life. He was educated at home owing to ill health, and wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 13 — his chosen subject was the features in a lunar crater he had seen through a small telescope. At the end of 1941 he joined the RAF to train for aircrew duties during World War II; however his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war. during 1943 left for Canada for training as a navigator. He was commissioned in June 1944 and completed his training at a bomber conversion unit at Lossiemouth in northern Scotland but, due to epilepsy, was declared medically unfit for further flying duties and He left the Service in 1947.

From 1952 he was a freelance writer until One day in 1957 the BBC broadcast a somewhat sensationalist programme about flying saucers. Producers wanted a counterview by a “thoroughly reactionary and sceptical astronomer who knew some science and could talk”, consequently The Sky at Night was born, and it went on to become the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter & attracted millions of viewers. Moore’s Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television, where he became celebrated for the thunderous fervour with which he would utter the words: “We just don’t know!” to emphasise that our comprehension of the universe is incomplete. The secret of the program’s success lay not only in his tremendous learnedness but also in his gusto and humour & he soon attained a prominent status as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter and did more than anyone, with the possible exception of Arthur C Clarke, to educate the British public about astronomy and space travel.He would also happily appear on chat shows, quiz shows and comedy shows, among them The Goodies; Morecambe and Wise; Blankety Blank, and Have I Got News For You. He even starred in digitised form on the children’s video game show GamesMaster.moore was also a connoisseur of music, and sometimes played a xylophone on television. He also wrote the score for an opera about Theseus and the Minotaur. He was a keen sportsman too – particularly on the cricket pitch, where he proved a demon spin bowler. He also played golf and once at his local course set a club record – of 231, including a 43 on the third hole. Chess was another passion (he often carried with him a pocket chess set) and even dabbled in politics.

In 1982 he wrote a humorous but inflammatory book called Bureaucrats: How to Annoy Them. It advised that imposing a thin layer of candle grease on those parts of a form marked “for official use only” would prevent the recipient from writing anything and probably drive him mad. “Useful when dealing with the Inland Revenue,” said Moore. He was also A keen pipe smoker & was elected Pipeman of the Year in 1983. In addition to his many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party. After his fiancee was killed during World War II, he never married or had children.

Moore was also a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books most of them about astronomy, As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. In 2002 Moore was appointed honorary vice-president of the Society for the History of Astronomy. He also won a Bafta for his services to television. He also continued to publish books to the end of his life. Recent titles include Patrick Moore on the Moon (2000, new edition 2006); The Data Book of Astronomy (2001); Patrick Moore: the autobiography (2005); Asteroid (with Arthur C Clarke, 2005); Stars of Destiny (2005); Ancient Lights (2008); and Can You Play Cricket on Mars? (2009). This year alone he published Astronomy with a Budget Telescope: An Introduction to Practical Observing; The Sky at Night: Answers to Questions from Across the Universe; Miaow!: Cats really are nicer than people!; and The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age.

During his distinguished career Sir Patrick Moore received many honours. In 1968 he was appointed OBE then CBE in 1988 and finally knighted in 2001 .In 1982 a minor planet was named after him by the International Astronomical Union. He also held the posts of president of the British Astronomical Association and director of the Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland. Yet the Royal Society refused to elect him as a Fellow — one of their number declared that he had committed the ultimate sin of “making science popular”. In 2001, however, he was elected to an honorary Fellowship.

Anti Corruption Day

The United Nations’ (UN) International Anti-Corruption Day is observed annually on December 9th each year. The aim of International Anti corruption day is to raise public awareness of corruption and to inform people concerning methods they can use to fight it.

Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Government, or ‘political’, corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.

Political corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. corruption can also include actions to (a) secretly provide (b) a good or a service to a third party (c) so that he or she can influence certain actions which (d) benefit the corrupt, a third party, or both (e) in which the corrupt agent has authority. Legal Corruption takes place when power is abused within the confines of the law—as those with power often have the ability to make laws for their protection. The effect of corruption in infrastructure is to increase costs and construction time, lower the quality and decrease the benefit. Corruption can occur on different scales. Corruption ranges from small favors between a small number of people (petty corruption), to corruption that affects the government on a large scale (grand corruption), and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the everyday structure of society, including corruption as one of the symptoms of organized crime.

Anti Corruption Day has been observed annually since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 31 October 2003. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a multileral convention negotiated by members of the United Nations. It is the first global legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. In its 71 Articles divided into 8 Chapters, UNCAC requires that States Parties implement several anti-corruption measures which may affect their laws, institutions and practices. These measures aim at preventing corruption, criminalizing certain conducts, strengthening international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, providing effective legal mechanisms for asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange, and mechanisms for implementation of the Convention, including the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP).The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) promotes the convention and its implementation.

Richard Baxter

English Puritan church leader, poet, hymnodist, and theologian, Richard Baxter sadly died 8 December 1691. He was born born12 November 1615 in Rowton, Shropshire, and baptised at High Ercall. In February 1626 he went to his parents’ home (now called Baxter’s House) in Eaton Constantine. Richard’s early education was poor, being mainly in the hands of the local clergy, themselves virtually illiterate. He was helped by John Owen, master of the free school at Wroxeter, where he studied from about 1629 to 1632, and made fair progress in Latin. On Owen’s advice he went to Ludlow Castle to read with Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the Council of Wales and the Marches. He was reluctantly persuaded to go to court, and he went to London under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, but soon returned home, resolved to study divinity.

After three months spent working for Owen as a teacher at Wroxeter, Baxter read theology with Francis Garbet, the local clergyman, adding to his reading (initially in devotional writings, of Richard Sibbes, William Perkins and Ezekiel Culverwell, as well as the Calvinist Edmund Bunny at age 14, and then in the scholastic philosophers) orthodox Church of England theology in Richard Hooker and George Downham, and arguments from conforming puritans in John Sprint and John Burges. Around 1634, he met Joseph Symonds (assistant to Thomas Gataker) and Walter Cradock, two Nonconformists.

In 1638, Baxter became master of the free grammar school at Dudley, having been ordained and licensed by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester. His success as a preacher was at first small; but he was soon transferred to Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, assisting Mr Madstard and remained at Bridgnorth for nearly two years, during which time he took a special interest in the controversy relating to Nonconformity and the Church of England. He disagreed with the Church on several matters; and rejected episcopacy in its English form becoming a moderate Nonconformist. Though regarded as a Presbyterian, he was not exclusively tied to Presbyterianism, and often seemed prepared to accept a modified Episcopalianism. He regarded all forms of church government as subservient to the true purposes of religion.

One of the first measures of the Long Parliament was to reform the clergy; with this view, a committee was appointed to receive complaints against them. Among the complainants were the inhabitants of Kidderminster. The vicar George Dance agreed that he would give £60 a year, out of his income of £200, to a preacher who should be chosen by certain trustees. Baxter was invited to deliver a sermon before the people, and in 1641 was unanimously elected as the minister of St Mary and All Saints’ Church, Kidderminster, Where he stayed for 19 years; accomplishing many reforms in Kidderminster and the neighbourhood. He formed the ministers in the country around him into an association, uniting them irrespective of their differences as Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Independents.

On the outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642, Baxter blamed both parties and recommended the Protestation; however Kidderminster is in Worcestershire which was a Royalist stronghold, however Baxter’s comments angered many in Kidderminster so He temporarily moved to Gloucester. On 23 October 1642, he was preaching at Alcester, during the Battle of Edgehill and was evicted again and moved to Coventry (a Parliamentary stronghold) and found himself with 30 fugitive ministers, among whom were Richard Vines, Anthony Burges, John Bryan and Obadiah Grew. He became chaplain to the garrison, preaching a sermon each to the soldiery, and the townspeople and strangers. Included among the congregants were Sir Richard Skeffington, Colonel Godfrey Bosvile, George Abbot the layman scholar. Following the Battle of Naseby he became chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley’s regiment, until 1647, he also wrote the controversial novel Aphorisms of Justification.

Baxter joined the Parliamentary army to maintain a constitutional government rather than a republic. However He regretted rejecting Oliver Cromwell’s offer to become chaplain to the Ironsides. Cromwell avoided Baxter after he argued with Cromwell about liberty of conscience, and even defended the monarchy he had subverted. In 1647, Baxter was staying at the home of Lady Rouse, wife of Sir Thomas Rouse, 1st Baronet, of Rous Lench in Worcestershire. There, though debilitated by illness, he wrote the most of a major work, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (1650). he was also an energetic campaigner for the establishment of a new University in Shrewsbury. After recovering he returned to Kidderminster, where he became a prominent political leader and his sensitive conscience led him into conflict with almost all the contending parties in state and church.

After the Restoration in 1660, Baxter, settled in London. He preached there until the Act of Uniformity 1662 took effect, and looked for such terms of comprehension as would have permitted the moderate dissenters with whom he acted to have remained in the Church of England. The goal of comprehension was obstructed by conforming churchmen and dissenters alike. The Savoy Conference resulted in Baxter’s Reformed Liturgy, and although it was rejected Baxter continued to advocate for a comprehensive “national church” until his death.

Baxter reputation grew in London, The power of his preaching was universally felt, and his capacity for business placed him at the head of his party. He had been made a king’s chaplain, and was offered the Position of Bishop of Hereford, but refused after which he was not allowed to be a curate in Kidderminster, and was prohibited from preaching in the Diocese of Worcester by Bishop George Morley. In 1662, Baxter married Margaret Charlton, sadly she died in 1681 whereupon Baxter composed the hymn Ye Holy Angels Bright. In 1687 He retired to Acton in Middlesex, where he was imprisoned for keeping a conventicle. After being freed He went to preach in London after the licences granted in 1672 were recalled by the King.

In 1680, he was taken from his house and books and goods were seized. In 1684, he was carried three times to the sessions house, being scarcely able to stand, and without any apparent cause was made to enter into a bond for £400 in security for his good behaviour. His worst encounter was with the Chief Justice, Sir George Jeffreys, in May 1685 when he was committed to the King’s Bench Prison on the charge of libelling the Church in his Paraphrase on the New Testament. Baxter was sentenced to pay 500 marks, and stay in prison till it was paid, and was bound to his good behaviour for seven years. Baxter was now approaching 70 years old, and remained in prison for 18 months, until the government, remitted the fine and released him.

Sadly Baxter’s health began to deteriorate however he wrote 168 or so separate works, including major treatises such as the Christian Directory, the Methodus Theologiae Christianae, the Catholic Theology and a Breviate of the Life of Mrs Margaret Baxter. He also published A slim devotional work in 1658 entitled Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live which formed one of the core extra-biblical texts of evangelicalism until the 19th century. Richard Baxter sadly died in London and his funeral was attended by churchmen as well as dissenters

Tió de Nadal

The Tió de Nadal ( “Christmas Log”), also known simply as Tió (“Trunk” or “Log”, a big piece of cut wood) or Tronca (“Log”), is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia and some regions of Aragon. A similar tradition exists in other places, such as the Cachafuòc or Soc de Nadal in Occitania. In Aragon it is also called Tizón de Nadal or TozA. Tió de Nadal  is a hollow log about thirty centimetres long. Recently, the Tió has come to stand up on two or four stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on its higher end, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose. Those accessories have been added only in recent times, altering the more traditional and rough natural appearance of a dead piece of wood.

Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to “eat” every night and usually covers him with a blanket so that he will not be cold. The story goes that in the days preceding Christmas, children must take good care of the log, keeping it warm and feeding it, so that it will defecate presents on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day or, in some households, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to defecate. The fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread as it once was, since many modern homes do not have a fireplace. To make it defecate, one beats the tió with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

The tradition says that before beating the tió all the kids have to leave the room and go to another place of the house to pray, asking for the tió to deliver a lot of presents. This makes the perfect excuse for the relatives to do the trick and put the presents under the blanket while the kids are praying. The tió does not drop larger objects, as those are considered to be brought by the Three Wise Men. It does leave candies, nuts and torrons. Depending on the region of Catalonia, it may also give out dried figs. What comes out of the Tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone there.

National Brownie Day

National Brownie Day takes place annually on 8 December. Brownies were created in the United States at the end of the 19th century. A cross between a cookie and cake, they soon became very popular across the country. There aretwo types of food based brownie chocolate brownies and  blonde brownies. A blonde brownie is made with brown sugar and no chocolate and is often called a blondie. Chocolate Brownies were created after a group of ladies a requested A small cake-like dessert that could be eaten from a boxed lunch while they were attending a fair in the late 1800s. So A Chicago chef, working at the Palmer House Hotel, created the first brownie for the ladies. This featured an apricot glaze and walnuts. The Palmer House Hotel still serves their original recipe for brownies on their menu.

The earliest recipes for brownies comparable to those familiar to us today are found published in regional cookbooks and newspapers around the turn of the last century. The 1904 Laconia, NH Home Cookery, the 1904 Chicago, IL Service Club Cook Book, and an April 2, 1905, edition of The Boston Globe are three early examples. In 1906, Fannie Merritt Farmer published a recipe in an edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. There are Three myths that have gained popularity over the years, regarding the creation of the brownie, that A chef accidentally added melted chocolate to biscuit dough. Acook forgot to add flour to the batter and A housewife did not have baking powder and improvised with this new treat.

More events and holidays occurring on December 8

  • Take It in the Ear Day
  • National Brownie Day
  • National Christmas Tree Day
  • Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day

Oliver Postgate

Influential and Prolific English Animator Oliver Postgate sadly died in Broadstairs on 8 December 2008, aged 83. He was born in Hendon, Middlesex, England, on 12 April 1925. He was the younger son of journalist and writer Raymond Postgate and Daisy Lansbury, making him the cousin of actress Angela Lansbury and grandson of Labour politician, and sometime leader, George Lansbury. His other grandfather was the Latin classicist John Percival Postgate. His brother was the microbiologist and writer John Postgate FRS. Postgate was educated at the private Woodstock School on Golders Green Road in Finchley in north-west London and Woodhouse Secondary School, formerly known from 1923 onwards as Woodhouse Grammar School, also in Finchley (and now renamed Woodhouse College), followed by Dartington Hall School, a progressive private boarding school in Devon.

In 1942 Postgate joined the Home Guard while studying at Kingston College of Art, but when he became liable for military service during the Second World War the following year, he declared himself a conscientious objector, as his father had done during the First World War. He was initially refused recognition; he accepted a medical examination as a first step to call up, and then reported for duty with the Army in Windsor, but refused to put on the uniform. He was court-martialled and sentenced to three months in Feltham Prison. This qualified him to return to the Appellate Tribunal, where he was granted exemption conditional upon working on the land or in social service, the unserved portion of his sentence being remitted. He worked on farms until the end of the war, when he went to occupied Germany, working for the Red Cross in social relief work.

On return to the UK, from 1948 he attended drama school, but drifted through a number of different jobs, never really finding his niche. In 1957 he was appointed a stage manager with Associated-Rediffusion, which then held the ITV franchise for London. Attached to the children’s programming section, he thought he could improve upon the low budget black and white television productions. Postgate wrote Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse born to be king. Using an Irish-produced magnetic system – on which animated characters were attached to a painted background, and then photographed through a 45-degree mirror – he persuaded Peter Firmin, who was then teaching at the Central School of Art, to create the background scenes.

After the success of Alexander the Mouse, Postgate agreed a deal to make the next series on film, for a budget of £175 per programme. Making a stop motion animation table in his bedroom, he wrote the Chinese story The Journey of Master Ho. This was intended for deaf children, a distinct advantage in that the production required no soundtrack which reduced the production costs. He engaged an honorary Chinese painter to produce the backgrounds, but as the painter was classical Chinese-trained he produced them in three-quarters view, rather than in the conventional Egyptian full-view manner used for flat animation under a camera which made the characters look short in one leg, but the success of the production provided the foundation for Postgate with Firmin to start up his own company solely producing animated children’s programmes.

Postgate and Firmin Set up their business in a disused cowshed at Firmin’s home in Blean near Canterbury, Kent, producing children’s animation programmes. Firmin did the artwork and built the models, while Postgate wrote the scripts, did the stop motion filming and many of the voices. This enabled Smallfilms to produce two minutes of film per day, ten times as much as a conventional animation studio, with Postgate moving the cardboard pieces himself, and working his 16mm camera frame-by-frame with a home-made clicker. As Postgate wholly voiced many of the productions, including the WereBear story tapes, his distinctive voice became familiar to generations of children.

They started in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam locomotive who wanted to sing in a choir, based on Postgate’s wartime encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, who used to be the fireman on the Royal Scot. (It was remade in colour for the BBC in 1976 and 1977.) This was followed by Noggin the Nog for the BBC, which established Smallfilms as a reliable source to produce children’s entertainment, when there were only two television channels in the UK. Postgate would go to the BBC once a year, show them the completed films and they would say: “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?” We would tell them, and they would say: “That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now”. Postgate had strict views on story-line development, affecting each particular series development. The Clangers adventures were surreal but logical. Postgate disliked fantasy for its own sake and felt that Once things become unbelievable science fiction becomes science nonsense. Everything must be strictly logical aand abide by the laws of physics.

During the 1970s and ’80s Postgate was active in the anti-nuclear campaign, addressing meetings and writing several pamphlets including The Writing on the Sky. In 1986, in collaboration with the historian Naomi Linnell, Postgate painted a 50-foot-long (15 m) Illumination of the Life and Death of Thomas Becket for a book of the same name, which is now in the archive of the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury. In 1990 he painted a similar work on Christopher Columbus for a book entitled The Triumphant Failure. A Canterbury Chronicle, a triptych by Postgate commissioned in 1990 hangs in the Great Hall of Eliot College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus

Postgate also narrated the six-part BBC Radio 4 comedy series Elastic Planet in 1995. In his later years, he blogged for the New Statesman. in 2003 Postgate narrated Alchemists of Sound, a television documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 2007, he was guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. He was also a guest on The Russell Brand Show on 19 January 2008 where he discussed the making of Bagpuss and his subsequent work in TV and Film. In 1987 the University of Kent at Canterbury awarded an honorary degree to Postgate, who stated that the degree was really intended for Bagpuss, who was subsequently displayed in academic dress. His autobiography, Seeing Things, was published in 2000.

Postgate had a huge influence and effect on British culture, and was held in great affection for the role his work had played in many people’s lives. His work was widely discussed in the UK media and many tributes were paid to him and his work across the internet. Charlie Brooker dedicated a portion of his Screenwipe show to Oliver Postgate, and the way he influenced his own childhood.