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Happy اليوم الوطني, Saudi friends o’ mine!  Commemorating King Abd al-Aziz’s announcement of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (on this date in 1923), this Saudi National Day let’s celebrate the Nabataeans!  What, you didn’t know about the fantastic Nabataean ruins in northern Saudi?  Well.  After Petra, the site of Mada’in Saleh constitutes the largest known Nabataean complex, with 94 decorated tombs alone, and similar soaring facades to the ones Indiana Jones road hell-for-leather around at Petra.  Despite a history of being thought to be cursed [idol worship, destruction by lightning bolts, that sort of thing], the site of Al-Hijra is gaining popularity as a tourist attraction, and rightly so.  Ummmm…..day trip!

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: September 20, 1985
From: United Nations Office, New York
MC #474

Middle stamps:
Issued in: 1968
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
SW #393, 394, 396

Bottom left:
Issued in: 1934
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
MC #20

Bottom right:
Issued on: October 1, 1949
From: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
MC #30

(Source: colnect.com)

Today is World Car Free Day!  First introduced as a concept following the 1973 oil crisis, the car-free movement gained momentum particularly in the 1990s.  Carbusters (now the World Carfree Network) organized the first World Car Free Day in 2000, and various cities worldwide have worked to socialize the concept, with, it is admitted, limited success (people like their cars) (change is hard) (trains, I want more trains).  Let’s see what a day can be without driving a car (or, if you normally don’t drive a car, what a day would be like when nobody else drives either).  Then let’s see what another day would be like, and another and another and another……

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: May 4, 2010
From: Helsinki, Finland
MC #2035

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: July 8, 2008
From: Canberra, Australia
MC #3028

(Source: wnsstamps.post)

Publius Vergilius Maro, the great Roman epic poet, died on this date in 19 B.C.E.  If you’ve never been forced or inclined to dip into the Aeneid, give her a go—it’s got all that epic stuff that makes ancient literature such a blast.  Aeneas [ancestor of Romulus and Remus, son of Anchises and Venus (the Venus), third cousin of Hector (<3)] survives the Trojan War and bumbles around the Mediterranean, à la Odysseus, inducing queens to run themselves through, &c., before founding what would become Rome.  [Once upon a time, this stamp enthusiast was assigned the Swan of Mantua’s Aeneid and through a rather egregious inattention to detail read a good deal of the Eclogues before realizing the mistake.  So if epic (and, as per usual, rather inept—but I suppose if these ancient vagabonds had thought to stop and ask for directions, world literature would have suffered, what?) wandering doesn’t appeal, a little rustic reckoning could be just what you need—gratifyingly engaging, truth be told.]  Thanking you, Vergilī, for reminding us that LATIN DIDN’T FALL WITH ROME.

Stamp details:
Top, second row, third row, fourth row left:
Issued on: October 21, 1930
From: Rome, Italy
MC #345-354

Fourth row right:
Issued in: 1982
From: Monaco, Monaco
MC #1566

Fifth row left:
Issued on: June 9, 1979
From: Rome, Italy
MC #1661

Fifth row middle:
Issued on: September 19, 1981
From: Rome, Italy
MC #1775

Fifth row right:
Issued on: March 26, 2002
From: Tunis, Tunisia
MC #1518

Sixth row:
Issued in: 1981
From: Vatican City, Vatican
MC #783-784

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: June 4, 1982
From: Paris, France
MC #2293

(Source: colnect.com)

Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn began the siege of Jerusalem on this date in 1187, eventually liberating the city from Frankish rule and spelling the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem [the crusader state established after the First Crusade (1096-1099) and enlarged after the Second Crusade (1145-1149)].  During much of its existence, various Muslim forces fought to regain control of the lands that had been invaded and subsequently controlled by the Franks, but Salah ad-Din was the first leader powerful enough successfully to bring forces against Frankish control.  After Salah ad-Din regained Jerusalem and much of modern Syria, however, the European kings (including the newly crowned King Richard I) put their heads and armies together and set forth to reconquer Jerusalem in the Third Crusade (1189-1192).  Richard the Lionheart secured much of the lands lost to Salah ad-Din, but he did not wrest control of Jerusalem back—and indeed, after the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), no major military campaign to reconquer the Holy Land was raised [despite the following (almost halfhearted) Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusades, depending on how you count them] [we’ll let the Tenth Crusade alone for now] [just please read Amin Maalouf or Karen Armstrong].

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: August 2, 1934
From: Damascus, Syria
MC #385

Top right:
Issued on: October 1, 1999
From: Baghdad, Iraq
MC #1610

Middle stamp:
Issued on: April 17, 1970
From: Damascus, Syria
MC #1102

Bottom left:
Issued on: February 20, 1971
From: Doha, Qatar
MC #440

Bottom right:
Issued on: July 26, 1957
From: Cairo, Egypt
MC #511

(Source: colnect.com)

It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, friends!  Read some piratical works, fiction [I rather think a little Stevenson might go down easily these highly Scottish days, for instance] or otherwise, for inspiration, if you fancy it.  That means you, too, ladies—give Mary Read and Anne Bonny [and others, many fascinating others!] a run for their booty.  [But maybe don’t follow their example.  What with both of them “pleading their bellies” when caught and sentenced to hang for piracy….and Read dying before the gallows could get her, presumably in childbirth, and Bonny disappearing, seemingly without a trace…..a pirate’s speech for me, but maybe that’s enough.]  [Well, and a bottle of rum wouldn’t go amiss.]  [And also: go Buccos!]

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: October 22, 2001
From: London, England
MC #1962

Top right:
Issued on: 1998
From: Castries, Saint Lucia
MC #1057

Second row:
Issued on: 2006
From: Quito, Ecuador
MC #3025/3029

Third row left:
Issued on: 1972
From: Port Louis, Mauritius
SG #461

Third row right:
Issued on: February 25, 1993
From: Moscow, Russia
MC #293

Fourth row:
Issued on: November 3, 1969
From: Victoria, Seychelles
MC #265-266

Fifth row:
Issued on: May 10, 1971
From: Kingston, Jamaica
MC #334

Sixth row left:
Issued on: June 2, 1987
From: Nassau, Bahamas
MC #644

Sixth row right and bottom left:
Issued on: February 1, 1970
From: St. George’s, Grenada
SC #348, 346

Bottom right:
Issued on: November 16, 1970
From: Road Town, British Virgin Islands
MC #225

(Source: shipsonstamps.org)

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm on this date in 1905.  She became an international film star, appearing in a total of 28 films before retiring at the age of 35.  She was one of the most private successful actors Hollywood has ever seen (and is likely ever to see again), avoiding public functions, never answering fan mail or signing autographs, and becoming indelibly linked to her iconic line in Grand Hotel, “I want to be alone; I just want to be alone.”  She never married, but had a number of affairs, reportedly with both men and women, and later in life amassed a significant collection of art and had early on invested wisely, eventually leaving everything ($32 million in 1990) to her niece.  Swedish Sphinx, indeed!

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: September 23, 2005
From: New York, NY
SC #3943

Top middle and right:
Issued on: September 23, 2005
From: Stockholm, Sweden
MC #2485, 2486

Bottom left:
Issued on: November 13, 2001
From: Berlin, Germany
MC #2221

Bottom right:
Issued on: October 10, 1981
From: Stockholm, Sweden
MC #1170

(Source: wnsstamps.post)

Operation Market Garden, an Allied airborne attack [the largest airborne attack in history to that date] on German strongholds in the Netherlands, including a number of bridges spanning the Rhein, particularly at Arnhem, commenced on this date in 1944.  Ultimately unsuccessful (which ensured the war would last past Christmas 1944), Market Garden is still commemorated by the Dutch (including with parachuting events) on September 17 annually.

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: June 6, 1994
From: Washington, DC
SC #2838d

Top right:
Issued on: February 6, 1992
From: Douglas, Isle of Man
MC #499

Middle stamp:
Issued on: May 10, 2005
From: St. George’s, Grenada
SW #5633

Stamp on bottom:
Issued on: August 15, 1994
From: Amsterdam, Netherlands
MC #1521

(Source: topical-stamps.com)

Owain Glyndŵr, last Welsh Prince of Wales, was declared thusly by his followers on this date in 1400.  You might remember him (with an anglicised name of Owen Glendower—he who could “call spirits from the vasty deep”) from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1.  [Or if you’re a YA fantasy fiction reader, from Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven cycle.]  [Or, you know, from history.]  If not, he was the Welsh leader who led the Welsh uprising against King Henry IV—initially very successfully, although [alas!] eventually the superior arms and resources of the English brought Wales back under English sovereignty.  Despite the huge rewards offered for Glyndŵr’s capture, he was never betrayed and remained hidden after the final Welsh defeat in 1409 [including the loss of his stronghold at Harlech Castle] until his recorded death in 1416.  Whether he actually died then is unknown—many folktales survive about his masquerading as various mysterious personages for years after his supposed death, and the location of his grave has either been lost or closely [like, mega-closely] guarded.  The echoes of the spirits from the vasty deep are stirring up this stamp enthusiast’s Welsh blood, and no mistake.

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: February 20, 2008
From: London, England
MC #2618

Top right:
Issued on: September 15, 2011
From: London, England
MC #3161

Bottom left:
Issued on: May 2, 1966
From: London, England
MC #420

Bottom right:
Issued on: July 10, 1974
From: London, England
MC #655

(Source: blog.stampmagazine.co.uk)

On this date in 1935, the Nazi Party adopted a new flag incorporating the ancient swastika symbol [also known as a whole slew of things, including: gammadion cross (or croix gammée or crux gammata), crooked cross, fyflot (heraldry!), tetraskelion, or cramponnée (more heraldry!)].  Now, alas, it is primarily associated with Nazism (or, as the case may be, neo-nazism), but its history and symbolism in cultures across the world dates back thousands of years, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Graeco-Roman history, various Native American traditions, the Celts, the Slavs, the Sami, and many others, often symbolizing eternity or the blessing of a particular god.  Even in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the swastika was associated with good luck, particularly among aviators, for instance.  The power of language and historical association is potent, but not unbeatable—tetraskelion, this stamp enthusiast feels, rolls nicely off the tongue.  Let’s start calling that “equilateral cross with its four legs bent at 90 degrees” a tetraskelion, shall we?

Stamp details:
Stamp on top:
Issued on: April 9, 2004
From: Kathmandu, Nepal
MC #781

Middle stamp:
Issued on: April 6, 2001
From: New Delhi, India
MC #1828

Stamps on bottom:
Issued on: March 26, 1943
From: Berlin, Germany
MC #843

(Source: flagstamps.blogspot.com)

Georg Friedrich Händel completed his Messiah oratorio on this date in 1741, after an astonishing 24 days of composition.  And regardless of whether it’s a myth that King George II stood during the "Hallelujah" chorus or not, that’s one historically unsubstantiated tradition this stamp enthusiast is willing to maintain without complaint.

Stamp details:
Top left:
Issued on: May 7, 1985
From: Bonn, West Germany
MC #1248

Top right:
Issued on: March 19, 1985
From: Berlin, East Germany
MC #2932

Second row:
Issued on: September 8, 1959
From: Bonn, West Germany
MC #315

Third row left:
Issued on: January 1, 1935
From: Berlin, Germany
MC #575

Third row right:
Issued on: July 5, 1952
From: Berlin, East Germany
MC #308

Stamps on bottom:
Issued on: April 27, 1959
From: Berlin, East Germany
MC #682-683

(Source: colnect.com)