In today's blog, in celebration of it being February 10th, we'll be looking at what strange connection there is between today's date, an alcoholic midwife, convulsive children and umbrellas. Honestly, stick with me on this. We start off with Charles Dickens, who wrote, amongst many other books, 'Martin Chuzzlewit. If you have read this book then you'll certainly remember the character of Sarah Gamp, the alcoholic midwife whose abiding characteristic was her obsession with carrying a tattered black umbrella with her wherever she went. In fact this association led to the Victorians referring to umbrellas as 'gamps'.
Why is this relevant? Well, for two reasons, firstly because today is National Umbrella Day (http://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/umbrella-day/) - not that we'll probably be needing one since the weather forecast suggests icy cold temperatures, snow and ice. Umbrellas aren't much good for that sort of weather. But there's another reason why umbrellas may be of relevance today, as well as convulsive children, and yes, the two are related! Because you see February 10th is a Feast Day for the Christian Church. Specifically, today is St. Scholastica's Day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Scholastica).
Now, apart from the fact that St. Scholastica, born around 1,500 years ago and who died on 10th February, was an Italian nun and a leader of a community for women, what do you suppose she is the patron saint of? If you know your Latin then, like me, you'll have assumed that perhaps she is the patron saint of scholars, or of scholastic learning.
No, not even close. Unfortunately this poor nun, who dedicated her life to God, the Church and theology, has ended up with the unenviable role of being the patron saint of convulsive children. She is also invoked against storms and rain. Frankly it almost doesn't seem worth it does it? Still, if we put St Scholastica's invocation against rain with the fact that today is National Umbrella Day we can at least see a theme running through this supposedly damp and dreary day. The only thing to possibly cheer us all up is the idea of a children's party - although perhaps today might not be the best day to plan such an event given the connotations it has!
If you are celebrating a child's birthday today, then perhaps a brightly coloured or novelty umbrella emblazoned with their favourite characters from stories or films might be a particularly novel and appropriate gift - http://goo.gl/bcF9C. And for the adults of course, the most popular type of umbrella is the one which you can stick in a good drink - and we can definitely help you out there!