Well, it's not a spectacular number, when you turn 46 years old... and the date, February 11, doesn't really call for throwing an outdoor picnic or the like...
At least, this year's calendar put the climax of street carnival in Germany, Rose Monday, on my birthday. So, I would have a had a large party for free. But, to be honest, I really dislike the modern, organized happiness, which has turned from its historic paragons, like pagan rites of driving out the winter to welcome spring or making merry at the bacchanalia to mere mass booze fests, where many people dress up in silly costumes and behave like brainless ruffians...
(OK, the bacchanalia of the 2nd century BC were laden with booze and hallucinogenics, too... but they were decidedly merrier than today's carnival. I would have loved to take part in them...)
Fortunately, on Ash Wednesday, everything is over and municipal services will have cleaned the roads and sidewalks. Nice side effect for me, the happy winter barefooter: they sweep away the grit in many places, too...
I really dislike that stuff!
This year's Ash Wednesday, in Catholic liturgy the day of blessing the believers and painting an ashen cross onto their foreheads, Gemen TV news had special reports from the Vatican. And that was not about stressing the meaning of this day, which is: marking the beginning of the forty days of fasting before Easter, symbolizing mortality but also the hope for the eternal afterlife... no, this year, it marks the last public appearances of the current Pope, Benedict XVI, at a general papal audience and celebrating the Ash Wednesday mass in the Vatican basilica.
The Pope chose Rose Monday, February 11, to publish the historic news that he was going to resign at the end of this month. So, aside from being the birthday of great and famous people, this day will now be the cleric history day of another Pope resigning for health reasons (the official version) since 1294.
On a side note: these are the people who would have celebrated their birthday on that day, too:
Thomas Alva Edison (would have been 166 this year):
Leslie Nielsen (would have been 87 this year):
Alan Rubin (would have been 70 this year):
But the Pope kind of shadowed all that with his newsflash. Live TV coverage of the audience and the mass on German TV news network Phoenix was therefore something special: the last flicker of the German "We are Pope!" tabloid hysteria. Now, it's 14 days of "We will have been Pope soon", and then "We were Pope"...
Due to his appearance, Mr. Ratzinger has of course been fodder for Sith Lord memes galore... the latest ones give the "real reason" for him resigning and also celebrate his share to the meme world:
Very ironic side note: Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to Pope on April 20, 2005... a conservative German cardinal, former CEO of the Roman inquisition, becomes Pope on the Führer's birthday... considering the history of the Vatican helping old Nazis emigrating to South America (key word: the "Rat Line"), the irony is so loud, that everyone in the Vatican should be deaf since then.
Many people are now hoping for a new, more liberal pope to succeed Benedict-16. (Hey, spelled this way, it looks like a cool name for a Federation starbase or planet!)
Speculations and hopes are high about a "third-world" pope, from Africa or South America. Some hope, he'll be from the Middle East, where Christianity is clearly a minority.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell (pictured below, protesting) wrote on Facebook:
"A change of Pope must bring a change of policies. Benedict XVI’s resignation is an opportunity to reform Catholic doctrine on human rights issues.
Pope Benedict is notorious for his opposition to key equal rights principles, especially regarding women and LGBT people.
Will his successor be more sympathetic to gender and sexual orientation human rights?
Not likely, because Benedict has packed the college of cardinals - who will choose the next Pontiff - with loyal fellow conservatives. We live in hope of a miracle but....
Why do I care as an atheist? Because Papal teachings cause suffering and menace the human rights of both believers and non-believers. As a human rights campaigner I oppose suffering and injustice, whoever is the perpetrator and whoever is the victim."
A new pope might be slightly more modern than the former inquisition CEO (Ratzinger was head of the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" - modern title of the Roman inquisition). But still, a new pope will have to follow that rulebook, too, in which Sodom and Gomorrha, basically early free love camps, were destroyed by a vengeful being they claim to be God. Not the best chances there, I'm afraid.
"A New Pope"... actually, this cries out to become a new meme for a renamed Star Wars episode... Since we know, the Sith always come in pairs, the next Pope might be someone "less forgiving" than the current one and he might "find our lack in faith... disturbing".
Well, we'll see, what and whom the next conclave will decide upon.
Having started a new personal orbit around the sun several days ago, I personally hope for a stable orbit, and more good times to come, including many happy barefoot and nuddhist days.
*) In the the next years, Ganesh Jayanti (or rather: Vinyaka Chaturthi, to be precise) can be celebrated in February on the following dates:
February 3, 2014 (oh, wow, just one day after my dear friend Sandra's birthday... nice!)
February 22, 2015
February 11, 2016 (Yay! A true double birthday!!)
In 2017, it's twice in January (Jan. 2 and Jan .31) and on March 2... the shifting dates are due to the setting in a lunar calendar. The great birthday celebration in Hindu tradition, Ganesh Chaturthi, is celebrated in September. On a monthly basis, there is the Ganesha blessing day Vinyaka Chaturthi.
Dates from: http://www.drikpanchang.com/vrats/vinayaka-chaturthi-dates.html