March 28, 2017

#05-023: April Birthdays - Part I

handsome, smiling old woman dressed in pink; her pink hat has two jaunty red feathers
Queen Elizabeth II

Note: April birthdays (in 2017) included 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom some Muslims believe to be Muhammad's first successor; and Queen Elizabeth, whom some believe to be the ruler of England! Find out more in this lesson on BUZZWORDS!

Get Ready: What do you think of the role of Queen Elizabeth and other "royals" in their own culture? How about on the world stage?

It's interesting to note that numerous birthdays are observed around the globe every month. A cursory examination of these can give us a "window on the world."

Wikipedia lists eleven such observances in April--though two of them are in honor of the same person.

The birth date of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (often called simply "Ali"), the cousin and son-in-law of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, falls on April 20 this year (this was written in 2017). However, as a date on the Islamic calendar it will move. From 2018 it will be on different days in March for the following three years, because the Muslim calendar is not tied to the solar one.

According to some traditions, Ali was the only person born within the sanctuary at Mecca, and was the first young male to accept Islam. The second-largest denomination of Islam, the Shia, believe that Ali was the first successor to Muhammad. He ruled from 656 until his assassination in 661.


Although Queen Elizabeth II of England was born on April 21 (in 1926), the "Queen's Official Birthday" is held on the third Monday in April in the "Overseas Territory" composed of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha, named for the largest islands in each of three groups scattered across the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This year (2017), then, it falls on April 17. History buffs may recognize the name of remote Saint Helena as the place where Napoleon was held in exile for the last five-and-a-half years of his life.

Oddly, the Falkland Islands--also in the Pacific--are the only place where the "Queen's Official Birthday" is actually celebrated on--the Queen's birthday! April 21. In all other parts of the Commonwealth, the Queen or a governor issues a proclamation as approved by the local parliament.

The date is generally set in late May or early June in an attempt to guarantee good weather for the celebrations. In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth's Official Birthday, like that of her father, King George VI, was celebrated on the second Thursday of June until 1959, when it was moved to the second Saturday of June.

We'll see the remaining April birthdays in Lesson #05-024.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. buffs
  2. cursory
  3. denomination
  4. exile
  5. guarantee
  6. Mecca
  7. overseas
  8. remote
  9. sanctuary
  10. the Commonwealth

  1. banishment; being sent away
  2. beyond the sea; not part of the homeland
  3. far away
  4. brief; not detailed
  5. people who are fond of something
  6. a branch of a religion
  7. an enclosed holy place
  8. make certain of
  9. the city that is the spiritual center of Islam
  10. an association of nations and territories formerly part of the British Empire

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 28, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. d; 3. f; 4. a; 5. h; 6. i; 7. b; 8. c; 9. g; 10. j