Thursday, October 4, 2012

But do you realize why today is World Animal Day?

OK, you may not have even realized that today is World Animal Day, but it is.

It is also World Stray Animals Day, and for the same reason: Today is the Feast of St. Francis Assisi. Although never ordained a priest, St. Francis founded a great religious order. Though born into wealth, he voluntarily adopted a life of extreme poverty, preaching in the streets and begging for his meals. He must have been a heck of a preacher to attract so many to his decidedly unattractive way of living.

In addition, St. Francis was something of a real-life Dr. Doolittle of the Late Middle Ages. Whether he could really 'talk to the animals' is hard to tell at this distance, 786 years after his death, but there are many legends of his preaching to beasts and birds alike, with the animals snuggling up to him and the birds alighting on his hands.

Not coincidentally, St. Francis is also credited with introducing the custom of the creche at Christmastime -- the manger scenes that are prominent decorations in so many homes.

Francis is the patron saint of animals (many denominations will hold pet blessings or other animal blessings around this time of year) and of the environment.

Feel free, of course, to celebrate World Animal Day without so much as another thought about the Italian beggar who inspired it. But at least, now, you know where it came from.

Everybody thinks they know where vodka comes from, namely, Russia -- but Wikipedia reports that vodka may have been first distilled in Poland, not Russia. Either way, today is also National Vodka Day.

And something that most definitely came from Russia was launched on this date 55 years ago today. Today is also Sputnik Day, when Russia launched the first orbital satellite and, with it, the Space Age.

And, finally, yes, today is also CB Day. Pull out your copy of C.W. McCall's Convoy and celebrate. That's a big 10-4; we gone, bye-bye.

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