Did You Know?

Did You Know...

Considered to be the rarest gem in the world, ammolite is the product of the fossilization of the ammonite, a prehistoric creature that abounded, some 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, in the seas that once covered the region of Alberta in western Canada. The stone is extremely popular among Orientals, especially among followers of Feng Sui, a Chinese philosophy based on Bhuddist concepts that studies the flux and irradiation of energies. With chromatic properties that include the seven colours of the prism, ammolite is considered by Feng Suists to be the Stone of Prosperity, bestowing upon its user spiritual, mental and material well-being. Throughout the centuries native prospectors have sought out the stone for its magical properties. Today, ammolite is mined industrially in Alberta in the only mine of its kind in the world.

The duckbilled platypus is an amphibian oviparous (lays eggs) mammal native to Australia and Tasmania. It has fur and webbed feet as well as a beak similar to that of a duck.

The altitude of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, increases several millimetres a year due to the effect of geological forces.

The first climber to reach its summit (about 8, 850m above sea level) was New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.
The first woman to perform this feat was Junko Tabei from Japan on May 16, 1975.

The first Portuguese was João Garcia on May 18, 1999, but the adventure resulted in the loss of his fingertips and nose reconstruction.

In 1850 the population of the city of Toronto, Canada, was
30 000 and a happy lot they were because back then one could purchase alcoholic beverages in any one of the city's 152 taverns and 206 beer shops.

The first divorce to have taken place in Canada was in the town of Halifax in 1750.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau was the only Canadian Prime Minister to have married whilst in office.

A 7lb codfish (3.8 kg) can produce 7 million eggs at one time.

Canada's largest island is Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the greatest English poets of the Victorian Era. Caught between the rigid moral standards of her time and the flight of a free spirit Elizabeth Barrett finally meets Robert Browning, a young talented Scottish poet with whom she falls in love after having lead a cloistered and isolated life due to her fragile health and the demands of a severe father. They marry in secret and run off and settle in Italy.

The anthology Sonnets from the Portuguese is compiled of love sonnets she wrote to her beloved Burns. He had nicknamed her the Portuguese because of her dark olive skinned complexion. Nonetheless, the title does intimate possible Portuguese literary influences on her work.

Sonnets from the Portuguese

Sonnet IX

Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Resighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations? O my fears,
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers,
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That givers of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love, which were unjust.
Belovèd, I only love thee! let it pass.

Catherine of Braganza, besides being responsible for the habit of tea drinking among the British people, also introduced the use of the fork to the English court.

The oldest standing academic premium in the United States was instituted by the 18th century Portuguese physicist, John Hyacinth Magellan. It is the Magellanic Premium Award of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. The renowned American scientist and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, founded the society. The award is given to the best discovery or invention in navigation, astronomy or natural philosophy. John Hyacinth Magellan - a descendent of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan -was born in the town of Aveiro, Portugal, home of the John Hyacinth Magellan Foundation (Fundação João Jacinto Magalhães). A respected scientist in the scientific milieu of his time, he dedicated much of his work to the development of scientific instruments. He lived for the better part of his life in London where he died in 1790. He was a member and correspondent of the Academia das Ciências, Lisbon; Académie Royal des Sciences, Brussels; Académie des Sciences, Paris; Imperial Academy of Science, Saint Petersburg; Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin; American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia; Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, Haarlem; Real Academia de las Ciencias, Madrid; the Literary and Phylosophical Society, Manchester and the Royal Society of London.


See http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/exhibits/magellan/

The secular ties between the English and the Portuguese have greatly influenced the eating habits of both peoples. To think food and Portuguese is to think "bacalhau" (codfish). But most likely the Portuguese owe their taste for cod to the English, who commenced cod fishing in the colder waters of the British Isles as back as the 14th century. The fish was salted and dried to preserve it on the return journey. Britain's climate did not favour viticulture and thus the British had to look to neighbouring countries on the European mainland for wines. Thus, surplus production of salted cod was used in exchange for wine. In Portugal this trade was initially centred in and around Ribadavia, The Ave River Valley, region that produces vinho verde. The Reformation started in the middle of the 16th century further diminished the demand for fish on the English market, largely due to the conversion of a vast segment of the English population to Protestantism. As these no longer followed the Catholic precepts regarding the consumption of meat, English traders were forced to augment their codfish outlets abroad, further enhancing the consumption of cod on the Portuguese markets.

Port wine was not always greatly appreciated by the English. For centuries Portuguese wines were seen as poor substitutes for French Wines as can be seen in this ditty dating back to the Jacobite Revolution in the 17th century. King William's Loyalists expressed their disdain for the Highlander supporters of Charles Stuart or Bonny Prince Charlie and pretender to the throne, in ditties such this:

Firm and erect the Highland chieftain stood,
Sweet was his mutton and his claret good,
"Thou shalt drink Port," the English statesman cried;
He drank the poison, and his spirit died.

Firme e altivo apresentou-se o chefe de clã das Terras Altas,
Dulce a sua carne de carneiro e bom o seu clareto
"Beberás Vinho do Porto," o estadista inglês vociferou:
Ele bebeu o veneno e o seu espírito esmoreceu.

(Free Portuguese translation by- Adiaspora.com)

King Alfonse IV of Portugal and not King Ferdinand ordered the edification of the Fernandine Walls in Porto as their designation might imply. The latter simply completed the 40-year Afonsine project started in 1336.

The historical veracity of the existence of Vimara Peres (9th century), supposed Delegate of the King of the Asturias in the province that later was to become the earldom of Portucale is shrouded in doubt. The Town of Guimarães, Cradle of the Portuguese Nation, owes its name to this historical personage. Some historians believe that he was a mere invention of the new State regime (Salazar) to incite patriotic fervour in the people of Porto by inaugurating a statue of the Lord of Vimara on a presidential visit to the Unconquered City by Américo Tomás.

Note: Porto is often called the Invicta or Unconquered for no invading force has ever been able to take the city.

To date there has been only one Portuguese Pope, Pedro Julião better known as Pedro Hispano (Peter, the Spaniard). He ascended the Throne of Peter in 1276, having died one year later when the ceiling of his quarters collapsed. Pedro Hispano was a man of letters and science and among many other important positions he held during his lifetime was that of Professor of Medicine at the University of Siena.

The first patron saint of Portugal and protector of King Afonso Henriques. When in battle against the Saracens in Santarém, it seems the first Portuguese monarch requested aid from on High. It was granted in the form of a cloud from which descended the winged fist of Saint Michael, the Archangel, branding a sword with which the enemy was warded off. The King gave thanks by founding the Order of São Miguel da Ala (St. Michael of the Wing) and consecrating the country to the Warrior Angel.

Prince Henry, The Navigator, and the driving force behind the Portuguese Maritime saga was born in the locality of Ribeira, Porto on March 4, 1434. Tradition has it that the birth took place in what is today the Casa do Infante.

The long, celebrated and fruitful Anglo-Portuguese alliance began with the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 and the subsequent marriage of King João I of Portugal with the Phillipa of Lancaster in the City of Porto the following year.

According to the annals of history a party of immigrants from the Island of Madeira, Portugal, under contract to work on the sugar plantations, landed in Hawaii in 1879. One of them, overjoyed at the prospect of a new and better life to come, started dancing on the quay and singing songs of the old homeland to the tune of the braquinha. The Hawaiians were so impressed by the musicality, timbre and simple execution of the instrument that they soon incorporated the braquinha into their own popular music. Its syncopated rhythm and sound reminded them of a jumping flea or, that is, a ukelele.

The persecution that targeted the Iberian Jews forced them into exile or conversion to Christianity. Many took on the external trappings of Christianity but secretly practiced the Jewish rites in the privacy of their homes, far from the eyes of Inquisition informers. That renowned Portuguese delicacy, the Alheira, was created as a means of self-preservation. The slaughtering of the pig and pork sausages was the custom among the Christians. So the marranos, forbidden by the precepts of the Judaism, came up with a sausage made of a mixture of bread, venison and chicken which, when hung before the fireplace, as did the Christians, would fool any more inquisitive or over zealous neighbour. The alheira has come to be part of the gastronomic culture of the County of Mirandela, (Province of Trás-os-Montes, Portugal) and bears witness to the presence of the Sephardic Jews in the region.
Note: Marrano is a Portuguese term for converted Jews who practiced Judaism in secret.

Winston Churchill had great affection for the Island of Madeira where he would often spend time painting its landscapes. It was the illustrious British statesman who first described Madeira as "The Pearl of the Atlantic".

The Madeira Archipelago was discovered by João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristan Vaz Teixeira and Barthlomew Perestrello purely by chance in 1418 when they were driven off course by a bad storm while sailing to the West African Coast.

The origin of the toponym, Island of Madeira, resided in the existence of great forests and subsequently wood on the island when it was first discovered. The Portuguese word "Madeira" means "wood".

Christopher Columbus lived on the Islands of Porto Santo and Madeira for some time and where he married the daughter of Port Captain Bartlomew Perestrello.

Immediately after the death of his father King João I of Portugal, and with the consent of his brother Duarte, successor to the throne, Prince Henry, The Navigator, consecrated the Madeira Archipelago to the Order of Christ, to which he belonged.

The Island Of Bombay was handed over to England by Portugal as a result of the marriage in 1662 of Charles II of England, the first constitutional monarch, to the Portuguese Infanta, Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal. The island was part of her dowry.

Catherine of Braganza introduced tea drinking in England. It became so popular with her English subjects that tea is now very much part of British culture and world image.

When the British took over the former Dutch Colony, New Amsterdam was renamed New York after the Duke of York and brother of Charles II of England. The popular N.Y. borough of Queens was so called in honour of Catherine of Braganza, wife to Charles II and its first queen.

Vasco de Gama's brother, Paulo, came to die in the Azorean Town of Angra do Heroismo on the return leg of their first and historical trip to India.

The Azorean Town of Angra do Heroismo was the headquarters of Portuguese government (1580-1583) during the Spanish occupation of Portugal.

Brianda Pereira wreaked havoc during the attempted invasion of the Island of Terceira, The Azores, by the Spanish in 1581. During the Battle of Salga she intrepid and ingeniously steered her cattle towards the invading troops, stopping them in their tracks. Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, took part in this battle.

As from 1693 couriers secured postal service between Quebec and Montreal. It seems that the first courier was Peter da Silva from Portugal.

Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception) is the patroness of Portugal. She was so proclaimed in 1646 by King João IV.

Saint George, the Christian martyr, is the patron of Portugal, Brazil and England.

The Japanese lexicon did not contain a word to express thanks until the arrival of the Portuguese on the archipelago in the 16th century. The Portuguese word for thanks, "obrigado", now appears in the Japanese language as "arigato".

The Chinese invented the toothbrush and the compass.

The illustrious British physicist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton, was a premature baby and so small that he was said to fit "in a beer mug".

Zacuto, a marrano and astronomer to King Manuel I of Portugal, invented the maritime astrolabe in 1501.

Behaim Martin, German mapmaker and navigator, built the first globe, "The Nurnburg Terrestrial Globe". He was also advisor to King João I of Portugal on matters of navigation and accompanied Diogo Cão on his exploratory journey to the West African coast (1485-1486) when the mouth of the River Congo was first uncovered by Europeans.

The Q-tip was invented in the1920's by Leo Gerstenzang, a Polish-born American.

Labrador owes its name to the Portuguese explorer, João Fernandes, a farmer on his native Island of Terceira, The Azores. He is said to have reached the coast of what is now Greenland in 1500, having given the name of Lavrador (or farmer in Portuguese) to these lands. In the course of time, however, the toponym came to designate the lands further south, namely modern day Labrador.

There was at least one probable attempt to establish a Portuguese colony in Newfoundland. João Alvares Fagundes of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, who explored the south coast of Newfoundland in 1520, headed the expedition. It is said that finding the land too cold the colonists moved further west to less inhospitable lands. Some historians speculate as to whether they may have settled in the Cape Breton area or Mira Bay (Bahia de Mira). Apparently, the colony failed due to the hostility of local natives.