Did You Know...
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.
altitude of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world,
increases several millimetres a year due to the effect of geological
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.
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
first divorce to have taken place in Canada was in the town of
Halifax in 1750.
Elliot Trudeau was the only Canadian Prime Minister to have married
whilst in office.
7lb codfish (3.8 kg) can produce 7 million eggs at one time.
largest island is Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Ele bebeu o veneno e o seu espírito esmoreceu.
(Free Portuguese translation by- Adiaspora.com)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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
Columbus lived on the Islands of Porto Santo and Madeira for some
time and where he married the daughter of Port Captain Bartlomew
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Azorean Town of Angra do Heroismo was the headquarters of Portuguese
government (1580-1583) during the Spanish occupation of Portugal.
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.
from 1693 couriers secured postal service between Quebec and Montreal.
It seems that the first courier was Peter da Silva from Portugal.
Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception)
is the patroness of Portugal. She was so proclaimed in 1646 by
King João IV.
George, the Christian martyr, is the patron of Portugal, Brazil
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".
Chinese invented the toothbrush and the compass.
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".
a marrano and astronomer to King Manuel I of Portugal, invented
the maritime astrolabe in 1501.
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.
Q-tip was invented in the1920's by Leo Gerstenzang, a Polish-born
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.
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.