Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Australia Day

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
January 26, Australia Day (a public holiday), commemorates the day in 1788 on which Captain Arthur Phillip organised and officiated at the first ceremony of the new British colony then called New South Wales. It was for a selected few, done with a little pomp, but generally low key, and was mainly to wish the colony good luck, as was recorded by Phillip:

In the evening of the 26th, the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principal officers and others, assembled around the flagstaff, drank the King’s health, and success to the settlement, with all the display of form which, on such occasions, is deemed propitious because it enlivens the spirits and fills the imagination with pleasing presages.

Why Sydney is such a party city
Arthur Phillip originally named the colony 'New Albion', but for some uncertain reason the colony acquired the name 'Sydney', after the (then) British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney (Viscount Sydney from 1789). The city of Sydney in Nova Scotia is named after him in memory of his efforts on behalf of the loyalist settlers of Canada.

Lord Sydney's name in turn derives from St Denis, patron saint of France, whose name itself evolved from Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, revelry and ecstasy (later known to the ancient Romans as Bacchus, from whom we get the word 'bacchanalia', or drunken revel).

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