Like the chance reference to mufti dress found in Ian Rankin, I’ve had another chance reference lead me down a little rabbit hole of historical discovery.

November illustration book of days

I was reading The Hogmanay Companion– borrowed from the library, since the book is not currently in print. I would dearly like to be part of a Scottish New Year celebration, and was reading up on what to expect if I decided to travel to Scotland at that time of year.

Besides cold.

The author, Hugh Douglas, referred to Robert Chambers’ Book of Days several times, until I was convinced that this must be a valuable sort of cultural artifact in itself, and should be consulted. Look what I found!

For lovers of the 19th century and earlier, it is a goldmine.

In 1864, Chambers pulled together a mountain of information through research into disappearing ‘common knowledge’ that related to dates in history. This includes holidays, births and deaths of important figures, superstitions, customs and traditions, and this fabulous category: “Oddities.”

I mean, look at this one, the day (just passed, Sept. 30th) on which the French and Spanish ambassadors engaged in battle with over a hundred soldiers in order to claim the right for one’s carriage to be before the other’s in the King’s entourage. Seriously.

I bet perusing such a searchable index could yield some highly entertaining titbits


Image via Of All Arts