Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On winter birthdays

It was my birthday recently (thank you, thank you) and a friend of mine suggested I post about birthdays.

What better way than to record Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela's 12th century observation of a Christmas celebration in Constantinople?

"There is a place of amusement for the king there called Hippodrome. Each year the king makes a great public celebration there on the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. All types of people from all over the world appear before the king and his queen, a spellbinding display. They bring lions, bears, leopards, wild donkeys, which combat each other, and also birds, which fight. Nothing like this show can be seen in all the world."


  1. Why is it in the font and style of the Rödelheimer prayerbooks?

  2. Hah. Was nice to see this Fred, as today (Dec 25) just so happens to be my birthday also. Thanks.

  3. Mar G, this is from the 1841 London edition (translation by Asher, notes by Lipman Zunz).

    DF, Happy Birthday! May you, too, be a harbinger of joy to the world.

  4. The בימוסיאות של עכו"ם is the Hippodrome, no?

  5. Offhand, I would say no, unless בימוסיאות refers to an architectural element of hippodromes. I guess I will have to delve into hippodromes and see what I think.

  6. NYC history buffs know that the *real* Hippodrome was this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Hippodrome
    It's a shame that it's gone, but the office building that replaced it has the best parking garage in Manhattan.

  7. Happy birthday!
    I assume your party wasn't that wild?

  8. Spellbinding display, or all manner of magic?

  9. The greatest show on Earth!



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