A look at some of the history and holidays on December 9
Anna’s Day, marks the day to start the preparation process of the lutefisk to be consumed on Christmas Eve, as well as a Swedish name day, celebrating all people named Anna in Sweden and Finland.
The preparation process of lutefisk was first described by Swedish writer, scholar and Catholic theologian Olaus Magnus in 1555. According to legend, Viking fishermen dried their cod on tall birch racks. During a neighboring Vikings attack, the racks were set on fire, but a rainstorm doused it. The remaining cod soaked in rainwater mixed with birch ash for months before some hungry Vikings discovered the fish, soaked it in clean water, and had a feast. They liked the taste and declared the lye-soaked cod a delicacy.
Nothing quite says Christmas like the eating of . . . well, rotted fish. To say the least, lutefisk is an acquired taste. Now, for something all of us can enjoy, pass the haggis please . . .
The UN has proclaimed this day as International Anti-Corruption Day. I just note it so that you can savor the irony. I for one prefer the fine smell of lutefisk to the corrupt stench rising out of the fetid swamp that is the UN.
1688 – Glorious Revolution & The Battle of Reading
The Glorious Revolution was England’s third Revolution within fifty years. The 17th century was a busy time in England. And ultimately, a critical time for the future United States.
The first revolution occurred when Parliamentary forces won the bloody, destructive, and costly English Civil War (1642-51). King Charles I had ruled as a tyrant. Victory over his forces vindicated many of the “rights of Englishmen” that are now part of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Rump Parliament, in 1649, executed King Charles I for high treason, disbanded the House of Lords and outlawed the monarchy, turning Britain into an ostensible Republic. That said, it functioned something more akin to an autocracy under the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, as the Lord Protector of the realm. The Puritans won the war, then lost the peace as ten years of puritanical rule — no plays, no Christmas, etc. — was more than enough for Britain.
What followed in 1760 was in essence a second revolution, albeit a peaceful one — the Restoration of the Monarchy. King Charles II, an Anglican, was invited to retake the throne and put the “merry” back in “merry olde England.”
The reign of Charles II went well, for Anglicans and non-Puritans at least. Charles II worked well with Parliament and he was quite colorful. But when he died, his brother, the James II was crowned. James II was a Catholic in a Protestant nation at a time when the population drank in rabid anti-Catholicism with their mother’s milk. So when James II began to rule as a tyrant, when he began to disarm Protestants in their homes and promote Catholics to positions of power, the people rebelled. Several leaders in Parliament turned to James II’s daughter, Mary, a Protestant married to the Dutch Prince William of Orange, and invited Mary and her husband to invade England and take the Crown — a third revolution.
William of Orange thought that a good deal and sailed with an invasion force to England. James II led his army to Reading where lead elements of the two forces met on this day in 1688. Six hundred Irish Catholics of James II’s army were defeated and sent into retreat by 250 of William’s soldiers in the Battle of Reading. Many of James II forces deserted and James II fled from the field of battle two days later, leaving England for the safety of France. The Glorious Revolution was accomplished at negligible loss of life — in England, at least. The story would be different and far bloodier in Scotland and Ireland.
England’s Parliament welcomed William and Mary, but not quite with fully open arms. There would be no more tyrannical monarchs in England. They offered William and Mary the crowns of England on the condition that the two sign a document defining the limits of a King’s power. That document was known as the English Bill of Rights of 1689, one of three documents that defined the “rights of Englishmen” and many of whose provisions made it, in one form or another, into our Constitution and Bill of Rights.