On this day in history

January 24, 2020

Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns would have celebrated his birthday today. Held throughout the world on 25th January Burns Night or Burns Supper is a traditional evening event that celebrates his life and work. The first Burns supper was held in 1801 when nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included a meal of haggis, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the great Bard (now known as the Immortal Memory) beginning the tradition still enjoyed to this day.

In 1327, King Edward III ascended to the English throne. He was crowned at the young age of fourteen after his father was deposed by his mother Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer. Mortimer became the de facto ruler of the country until Edward led a successful coup d’état against him and began his personal reign at seventeen and continued to reign for fifty years.

1533 – England’s King Henry VIII secretly married his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Boleyn later gave birth to Elizabeth I but was tragically beheaded and Henry VIII went on to marry four more times – finally outlived by wife number six Catherine Parr.

The largest city in the Southern Hemisphere was founded. in Brazil. São Paulo was officially founded on 25th January 1554. It’s population is estimated at around 22 million, making our own St Andrews population estimate of approximately 20,000 look meagre!

In 1881, on the same day in history, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company. Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor, and engineer who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first US patent for the telephone in 1876. In retrospect, Bell considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study. Did you know he was born in Edinburgh?

The first Winter Olympics opened in Chamonix, France in 1924 where 16 countries gathered to compete in sports like figure skating, speed skating, hockey and curling. Norway finished with the most medals won with 17 (4 gold, 7 silver, 6 bronze). Beijing will host the next Winter Olympics in 2022.

Robert Burns also shares his birthday with former president of the Philippines – Corazon Aquino, Robert Boyle – the founder of modern chemistry (Boyle’s Law), Princess Charlene of Monaco and British novelist – Virginia Woolf to name but a few.

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