The Queen can’t “Pooh Pooh” this gift.

In my diligent following of all things birthday I am often confronted with yet another article about why the Queen has two birthdays. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is, although the coverage does pick up around May when she is feted in several places. (C’mon she already gets to wear a crown AND she gets multiple birthdays?! Must she rub it in?)

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when recently the coverage around the Queen and her birthdays informed about a new book featuring Winnie the Pooh and her Royal Majesty. Both celebrate 90 years in 2016. Pooh has many fewer wrinkles though.

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh. I was an avid teddy bear collector for years, and even in college had a Winnie the Pooh key fob. One of our favorite games to play on a bridge when my boy was little was “Pooh sticks” where you throw the stick into the water and run to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick would come out first the other side.

So I am particularly pleased to see Pooh still part of the storytelling fabric of the universe. In this case, he and Piglet want to give the Queen a present. Penned by Jane Riordan, the takes Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin and Eeyore through London in an open top red double decker bus, visiting the lion statues in Trafalgar Square, seeing the Buckingham Palace guards and even encountering Prince George (who is given a balloon by Piglet).

The colourful drawings in the classic EH Shepard style are by illustrator Mark Burgess, who also drew the 2009 pictures for the first authorized Pooh sequel. There’s even an audio video version narrated by the talented Jim Broadbent.

In the spirit of embracing the wonder of Winnie further, though, I share some of the New York Public Library’s fun facts about the beloved bear and his 90-year old friends:

 

  • The curious name of Winnie-the-Pooh came from Christopher Robin, from a combination of the names of a real bear and a pet swan. During the 1920s there was a black bear named “Winnie” in the London Zoo who had been the mascot for the Winnipeg regiment of the Canadian army. “Pooh” was the name of a swan in When We Were Very Young.
  • Pooh was purchased at Harrods department store in London and given by A.A. Milne to his son Christopher Robin on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. He was called Edward (proper form of Teddy) Bear at the time.
  • The rest of the toys were received as gifts by Christopher Robin between 1920 and 1928.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh had adventures with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger in the 100 Aker (Acre) Wood (based on the Ashdown Forest in southern England, located near the Milne family home).
  • The stuffed animals range in height from 25″ (Eeyore, the biggest) to 4 1/2″ (Piglet, the smallest).

You can enjoy the birthday book in full and share it with the kiddos in your life for free from www.Disney.co.uk/WinnieRoyalBirthday.

Happy Birthday Officially!

Happy Birthday 2016!

Well before I stayed up late and drank too much bubbly at 2016’s birthday bash last night, I started thinking of all the birthdays that we’ve turned into holidays.

This is one of the best kinds of birthday. Someone else’s birthday is so special we get a day off from work? Yes please! It’s one reason we love celebrating the birth of our countries too. There’s Bastille Day July 14 in France whereas China takes a week off in October to mark its National Day.

But, let’s see what famous folk merit a government-acknowledged holiday to commemorate their birth:

  • Martin Luther King Day, celebrated in the United States since 1983, is on the third Monday of January to mark Dr. King’s birthday January 15 — although this holiday is meant to be commemorated with service.
  • President’s Day is the third Monday in February. Although it started out marking George Washington’s Feb 22 birth, the day now marks all U.S. presidents’ birthdays (though history.com, reports some states do still mark Lincoln or Washington individually).
  • Victoria Day in Canada celebrates Queen Victoria born May 24. The day is officially recognized with the Monday preceding May 25 off. That’s why it’s popularly known as May 2-4 weekend (for all the people who head to the cottage with a 2-4 of beer —Even though Victoria would surely not approve!).
  • Australia marks the Queen’s birthday the same Monday in May, but New Zealanders wait until June 1 (probably since that’s closer to Elizabeth’s birthday).
  • Queen Elizabeth is feted June 9 in England, although her birthday is actually April 21 (the two birthdays for reigning monarchs is quite common apparently).

Oh, and October 6 is a work holiday at my house for the awesomeness that is me, but I’ve yet to persuade others to join me.

What officially-recognized government-sanctioned birthdays did I miss? Let me know! I’d love to add to this list.