Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holidays and Observances for November 18 2014

Married To A Scorpio Support Day

November 18 is Married to a Scorpio Support Day.

Don’t refresh your page, you've read right! Thomas Roy of wellcat.com is the owner and founder of this and many other original holidays.

As you might have already guessed, Thomas Roy is married to a Scorpio; and it seems like this is no easy task, as he asks for a day of support for him and all spouses of Scorpios.

I’m not a Zodiac expert, so I did a little bit of research online to find out more about Scorpios and what the big deal is. (Sources credited below)

Scorpios are born between October 23 to November 22, it is the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Scorpios are a fixed sign like Taurus, Leo and Aquarius, meaning they have strong willpower and are very stubborn.

They are said to be one of the most, if not the most, intense and powerful characters in the zodiac. Don’t let their calm appearance fool you; there might be an explosion of emotions and ideas going on inside. Quoted to be, “…like a volcano not far under the surface of a calm sea, it may burst into eruption at any moment.”

Yikes! We now understand why a support day is at hand. But there’s good and bad in everyone, so let’s take a look at why anyone would put up with a Scorpio.

Some characteristics and traits include:
  • Although they hide their emotions, appearing cold and uncaring, they are very loving.
  • Driven by instinct.
  • Are very observant and good at reading others.
  • Once they attach to someone, they might be obsessive and controlling.
  • Extremely patient and generous.
  • They are the most loyal in the Zodiac.
  • Have exciting and magnetic personalities that quickly draw others in.
  • Are good at solving problems.
  • Charming and polite.
  • If you cross a Scorpio they can be very resentful.
  • Love being involved and working in teams.
  • Are very persuasive.
  • Tend to be shy and not like the spotlight.
  • Can’t stand shallow relationships and motives.
  • Very secretive.
If you fell for the mesmerizing look of a Scorpio, the staff at Wellcat recommends that you buy a stress ball and take up some meditating classes.

Mickey Mouse Day

Mickey Mouse is an animated anthropomorphic mouse created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in the year 1928. Mickey is, by far, The Walt Disney Company's most famous character and serves as the company's mascot.

Fancifully estimated as standing 2 ft. 3 in. (69 cm) and weighing 23 pounds (10 kg), Mickey rapidly rose to the pinnacle of American culture, being more widely recognized overseas than any other American icon but the U.S. flag.

For over 86 years, he has signified The Walt Disney Company, animation, goodwill, fun, laughter, and most of all Walt Disney himself. It was said by Lillian Disney, his wife, that over the years, Mickey and Walt grew together and were mirrors of each other's personality. They both started off mischievous and cheeky, but as they grew older preferred to step out of the spotlight and observe others work their magic. President Jimmy Carter once said; "Mickey Mouse is the symbol of goodwill, surpassing all languages and cultures. When one sees Mickey Mouse, they see happiness".

Mickey's 3-circle silhouette serves as the logo for most of Disney's subsidiaries, save for the ones that don't carry the 'Disney' or 'Walt Disney' label. Andy Warhol's portrait The Art of Mickey Mouse used Warhol's famous pop art techniques on the classic mouse. Mickey is often cited as the world's most famous cartoon character of all time.

Mickey was originally created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier star created by the Disney studio. Oswald had been created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for Charles Mintz of Universal Studios. In fact, Mickey closely resembled Oswald in his early appearances. However, Disney received an unpleasant lesson when he asked Mintz for a larger budget for his popular Oswald series: in reply, Mintz fired Disney and Iwerks and taken all of Disney's artists to draw Oswald, to which Mintz and Universal owned the rights. From that point on, Disney made sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company. Oswald would eventually return to the Disney fold in 2006 as part of a trade between NBC Universal and Disney, with NBC getting the contract of sports announcer Al Michaels as compensation.

In order for Walt and his older brother and business partner Roy to keep their company active, new characters had to be created to star in their subsequent animated shorts. One day, during a train ride, Walt desperately wanted to come up with a money-making character to replace the one he lost, Oswald, whom he loved dearly. He had visions of a mouse in the back of his head (he had previously made silent cartoon shorts with animated mice). He wanted to name his new creation Mortimer Mouse, but his wife Lillian Marie Bounds thought the name was too pretentious, so she suggested he change it to Mickey Mouse, which he did. (The name Mortimer would later be used for a character who became a new rival for Mickey in one cartoon.) It has been suggested that Walt Disney was influenced by an actual mouse that he almost tamed by feeding it crumbs on his desk at the Laugh-O-Gram Studio.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Mickey's flapper girlfriend) debuted in the cartoon short Plane Crazy, first released on May 15, 1928. The short was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks was also the main animator for this short, and reportedly spent six weeks working on it. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were credited for assisting him; these two had already signed their contracts with Charles Mintz, but he was still in the process of forming his new studio and so for the time being they were still employed by Disney. This short would be the last they animated under this somewhat awkward situation.

The plot of Plane Crazy was fairly simple. Mickey is apparently trying to become an aviator in emulation of Charles Lindbergh. After building his own aircraft, he proceeds to ask Minnie to join him for its first flight, during which he repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempts to kiss her, eventually resorting to force. Minnie then parachutes out of the plane. While distracted by her, Mickey loses control of the plane. This becomes the beginning of an out-of-control flight that results in a series of humorous situations and eventually in the crash-landing of the aircraft. A non-anthropomorphic cow that briefly becomes a passenger in the aircraft is believed to be Caroline Cow making her debut.

Plane Crazy apparently failed to impress audiences, and to add insult to injury, Walt could not find a distributor. Though understandably disappointed, Walt went on to produce a second Mickey short: The Gallopin' Gaucho. It would not be until Mickey's third, probably most famous, and first sound cartoon Steamboat Willie, that Mickey began to gain the popularity that he has today. The short's original release date - November 18, 1928 - was later declared to be Mickey's official birthday in the early 1970's.

National Apple Cider Day

November 18 is National Apple Cider Day! Apple cider is a raw unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic drink made from apples. Apple cider can be differentiated from apple juice in that apple juice is typically filtered to take out apple particles, pasteurized to maximize shelf-life, and sugar and water are often added to the beverage. Because of its limited shelf-life, untreated cider has become a seasonal beverage produced mostly in fall and winter months, making it a popular holiday beverage.

Apples are not a fruit native to the North American continent. After finding only inedible crab apples on the continent, apple seeds were brought to America by colonial settlers from England in the 17th century. The first apple orchard in North America was planted in Boston in 1625. Seeds from Europe were cultivated on Colonial farms as well as spread throughout Native American trade routes. John Chapman, known by many as “Johnny Appleseed,” traveled ahead of western-bound settlers in America and began to plant small cider apple orchards across the Midwest.

Cider can be enjoyed cold or “mulled” by making the cider hot and adding spices like clove and cinnamon.

National Entrepreneurship Day

We're a country made of entrepreneurs. Men and women who built something from nothing. Created jobs. Made America what it is today. Our present was built by them. Unfortunately, for the first time in 35 years fewer new businesses are being born than are dying. And, even though 43% of all kids in 5th through 12th grade say they want to be an entrepreneur some day, only 7% say they had an experience (a mentor, an internship, or a job) to help them get there. Isn't it time we honor our entrepreneurs and help aspiring entrepreneurs succeed?”

National Entrepreneurs’ Day is an American holiday held in November that celebrates the American men and women who promote entrepreneurship, business, innovation, and new jobs. The holiday falls on the last day of Global Entrepreneurship Week during National Entrepreneurship Month.

National Entrepreneurs’ Day was started in 2010 by David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos, co-founders of Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system, and Amir Tehrani, entrepreneur and co-founder of The Legacy Foundation. The concept came to fruition after the group went to the White House to discussStartup America and the Presidential Innovation Fellows, both government programs that support innovation and entrepreneurship. The Kauffman Foundation also supports this endeavor.

Believing that entrepreneurs can fuel American progress and should be recognized each November, these leaders publicized the initiative and campaigned for the holiday by sending letters to Congress. They also created a video campaign called “Entrepreneurs Can Change the World.”

In 2012, President Barack Obama declared November of that year as National Entrepreneurship Month and to celebrate November 6, 2012 as National Entrepreneurs’ Day. Supporters of National Entrepreneurs' Day are trying to make it an official US holiday that will fall on the third Tuesday of every Number through legislation.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to thank mentors, give funding and advice, and spread the word on this day.

National Vichyssoise Day

You're hot and you're cold - November 18 is National Vichyssoise Day!

If you're still trying to figure out how to spell or pronounce this soup with flair, we'll fill you in on all the little details.

Pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock all come together in this thick soup. And while it is almost always served cold, we don't blame you for wanting a hot bowl on a cool day - it's just as tasty either way.

Food lovers and chefs alike are simply baffled over the origins of this chilled soup, mainly begging the question "is it American or is it French?!" Julia Child referred to it as an "American invention."

Let’s start with the origin and definition of vichyssoise and the correct pronunciation, which is vee-shee-SWAHZ. While it sounds like an old, classic French dish, this cold, creamy leek and potato soup was invented in America in 1917 and named after the French town of Vichy—long before Vichy would become the seat of France’s Nazi collaborationist government.

While the soup may have had its origin at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City, to give France its culinary due, a French chef born in a town near Vichy is credited as the creator.

Louis Diat was the chef at the hotel for most of the first half of the 20th century. In 1950, he recounted to The New Yorker magazine the potato and leek soup of his childhood, and how he would cool it off during the summer by pouring in cold milk, which resulted in a delicious summer soup. He decided to make something similar for the patrons of the Ritz.

The soup was first called Crème Vichyssoise Glacée. Culinary historians point out that the French chef Jules Gouffé published a similar recipe with potatoes, leeks, chicken stock and cream, in Royal Cookery, in 1869, but did not serve it cold. There is also a form of the hot recipe called Potage Parmentier after Antoine Auguste Parmentier, who returned from a German prison-of-war camp after the Seven Year War (1756 to 1763) to find his countrymen starving, and set up potato soup kitchens throughout Paris to assist the poor.

See for yourself the delights of this comforting soup by making up a pot to get you through the weekend.

Occult Day

Occult Day is celebrated on November 18th of each year. We were unable to locate the origin of Occult Day, though believe it was established in an attempt to enhance religious understanding and freedom.

The occult (from the Latin word occultus "clandestine, hidden, secret") is "knowledge of the hidden". In common English usage, occult refers to "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to as science. The term is sometimes taken to mean knowledge that "is meant only for certain people" or that "must be kept hidden", but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends beyond pure reason and the physical sciences. The terms esoteric and arcane have very similar meanings, and in most contexts the three terms are interchangeable.

It also describes a number of magical organizations or orders, the teachings and practices taught by them, and to a large body of current and historical literature and spiritual philosophy related to this subject.

Occultism is the study of occult or hidden wisdom. To the occultist it is the study of “truth”, a deeper truth that exists beneath the surface: “The truth is always hidden in plain sight”. It can involve such subjects as magic (alternatively spelled and defined as magick), alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, lithomancy, and numerology. There is often a strong religious element to these studies and beliefs, and many occultists profess adherence to religions such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Luciferianism, Satanism, Thelema, and Neopaganism. While Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are generally not considered occult, some of their modern interpretations can be, as the interpretation of Hinduism within Theosophy or the various occult interpretations of the Jewish Kabbalah. Orthodox members of such religions are likely to consider such interpretations false; for example, the Kabbalah Center has been criticized by Jewish scholars.

To the occultist, occultism is conceived of as the study of the inner nature of things, as opposed to the outer characteristics that are studied by science. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer designates this "inner nature" with the term Will, and suggests that science and mathematics are unable to penetrate beyond the relationship between one thing and another in order to explain the "inner nature" of the thing itself, independent of any external causal relationships with other "things". Schopenhauer also points towards this inherently relativistic nature of mathematics and conventional science in his formulation of the "World as Will". By defining a thing solely in terms of its external relationships or effects we only find its external or explicit nature. Occultism, on the other hand, is concerned with the nature of the "thing-in-itself". This is often accomplished through direct perceptual awareness, known as mysticism.

From the scientific perspective, occultism is regarded as unscientific as it does not make use of the standard scientific method to obtain facts.

Occult qualities are properties that have no rational explanation; in the Middle Ages, for example, magnetism was considered an occult quality. Newton's contemporaries severely criticized his theory that gravity was effected through "action at a distance", as occult.

Push-button Phone Day

The push-button telephone is a telephone that uses buttons or keys for dialing a telephone number to place a call to another telephone subscriber.

Western Electric experimented as early as 1941 with methods of using mechanically activated reeds to produce two tones for each of the ten digits and by the late 1940s such technology was field-tested in a No. 5 Crossbar switching system in Pennsylvania. But the technology proved unreliable and it was not until long after the invention of the transistor when push-button technology matured. On 18 November 1963 the Bell System in the United States officially introduced dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology under its registered Touch-Tone® mark. Over the next few decades Touch-Tone service replaced traditional pulse dialing technology and it eventually became a world-wide standard for telecommunication signaling.

Although DTMF was the driving technology implemented in push-button telephones, some telephone manufacturers used push-button keypads to generate pulse dial signaling. Before the introduction of Touch-Tone telephone sets, the Bell System sometimes used the term push-button telephone to refer to key system telephones, which were rotary dial telephones that also had a set of push-buttons to select one of multiple telephone circuits, or to activate other features.

The concept of the use of push-buttons in telephony originated around 1887 with a device called the micro-telephone push-button, but it was not an automatic dialing system as understood later. This use even predated the invention of the rotary dial by Almon Brown Strowger in 1891. The Bell System in the United States relied on manual switched service until 1919, when it reversed its decisions and embraced dialed, automatic switching. The 1951 introduction of direct distance dialing required automatic transmission of dialed numbers between distant exchanges, leading to use of in band multi-frequency signaling within the Long Lines network while individual local subscribers continued to dial using standard pulses.

As direct distance dialing expanded to a growing number of communities, local numbers (often four, five or six digits) were extended to standardized seven-digit named exchanges. A toll call to another area code was eleven digits, including the leading 1. In the 1950s, AT&T conducted extensive studies of product engineering and efficiency and concluded that push-button dialing was preferable to rotary dialing. On November 18, 1963, the first electronic push-button system with Touch-Tone dialing was offered by Bell Telephone to customers in the Pittsburgh area towns of Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

This phone, the Western Electric 1500, had only ten buttons. In 1968 it was replaced by the twelve-button model 2500, adding the asterisk or star (*) and pound or hash (#) keys. The use of tones instead of dial pulses relied heavily on technology already developed for the long line network, although the 1963 Touch-Tone deployment adopted a different frequency set for its dual-tone multi-frequency signaling.

Although push-button Touch-Tone telephones made their debut to the general public in 1963, the rotary dial telephone still was common for many years. In the 1970s the majority of telephone subscribers still had rotary phones, which in the Bell System of that era were leased from telephone companies instead of being owned outright. Adoption of the push-button phone was steady, but it took a long time for them to appear in some areas. At first it was primarily businesses that adopted push-button phones. By 1979, the touch-tone phone was gaining popularity, but it wasn't until the 1980s that the majority of customers owned push-button telephones in their homes; by the 1990s, it was the overwhelming majority.

Some exchanges no longer support pulse-dialing or charge their few remaining pulse-dial users the higher tone-dial monthly rate as rotary telephones become increasingly rare. Dial telephones are not compatible with some modern telephone features, including interactive voice response systems, though enthusiasts may adapt pulse-dialing telephones using a pulse-to-tone converter.

William Tell Day

November 18, 1307: William Tell shot an arrow through an apple on his son's head and launched the struggle for Swiss independence. Or did he?
In the center of the town square stands a heroic bronze figure, a stern, sturdy, bearded man in homespun clothes, crossbow over his shoulder, his arm around a barefooted boy. Before him stands another stern, sturdy man, this one in a neat business suit, respectfully silent, with his arm around another small boy, this one wearing Reebok running shoes. The man points to the ground. “This,” he tells the boy, “is the spot.
The boy nods. He knows what spot this is: the birthplace of their country. He knows that the bronze statue is of William Tell, who with one shot of his crossbow started the centuries long series of events that turned a few isolated settlements of poor, backward medieval mountaineers into the prosperous modern nation of Switzerland. He has heard the story of William Tell at his bedside and in the classroom. He has seen it on television and in comic books and acted out at country fairs and in school theatricals. He knows that here, many hundreds of years ago—in a.d. 1307, according to the statue’s inscription— Tell, a local farmer and famous hunter, came striding with his son through the market square of Altdorf, then as now the only town of any size in the canton of Uri.

In the center of the town square those many years ago, bailiff Gessler, agent of the Hapsburg duke of Austria, placed a Hapsburg hat on a pole and, to the blare of trumpets, announced that all passersby must uncover their heads before it. But William Tell of Uri kept his hat on his head. He was promptly dragged before Gessler, who ordered an apple placed on the head of Tell’s son and told the farmer that if he failed to shoot it off with a single arrow at a distance of 120 paces, both he and the boy would be put to death.

Tell paced off the distance, loaded and aimed his crossbow, shot his arrow, and the apple fell. “Your life is now safe,” Gessler said to him, “but kindly tell me why I saw you putting a second arrow inside your jacket?”

“If my first arrow had killed my son,” Tell answered, “I would have shot the second at you, and I would not have missed.”

Enraged, Gessler ordered Tell bound, carried down to Lake Lucerne and thrown on a boat that would take him to a dungeon in the grim castle of Küssnacht. There, he declared, “You will never more see sun or moon.”

Today, the square in Altdorf where all this took place is the first stop in a pilgrimage that takes contemporary Swiss fathers and sons, not to mention thousands of tourists of many nationalities, to the chapel built on the site of Tell’s home in the village of Bürglen, then on to the landing where Gessler and his prisoner set off on the treacherous waters of Lake Lucerne. Next, a few miles to the east, visitors come to a spot on the lake’s south shore where a steep path descends to a flat rock by the water’s edge known as Tellsplatte—Tell’s ledge. It was here that Tell, released from his bonds when a violent wind sprang up and he was the only man aboard with the strength to bring the boat to safety, steered close to the rock, leapt ashore and, with a mighty kick, sent Gessler and his crew back into the waves.

Calculating that the men would somehow reach shore, Tell made his way 20 miles through dark forests and over mountain passes to the Hohle Gasse (narrow pass), a sunken road leading to Küssnacht. There he hid behind a tree, waited for Gessler and shot him dead with that famous second arrow. Finally, modern pilgrims return to the lake, to a bank on the shore opposite Tell’s ledge. Here, after killing Gessler, Tell met in a forest meadow, known today as Rütli, with three other men from neighboring cantons who had been wronged by the bailiff or by other hired hands of the Hapsburgs. The four swore an oath, which Swiss boys know by heart: “To assist each other with aid and every counsel and every favor, with person and goods, with might and main, against one and all, who may inflict on them any violence, molestation or injury, or may plot any evil against their persons or goods.” Then orders were given for mountaintop bonfires to signal the start of a war of national liberation and the destruction of castles like Gessler’s, built by the Austrians to awe the natives.

Tell’s story is cherished by the Swiss and central to their sense of origins—witness the image of Tell’s crossbow stamped on every item of export that passes Switzerland’s borders, as proof that it is truly made in Switzerland. The tale’s popular celebration continues undimmed: this summer, for example, a special festival in and around Altdorf marks the 200th anniversary of the première of German dramatist Friedrich von Schiller’s William Tell, a box office smash (directed on its opening night in March 1804 by Schiller’s friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) that spread Tell’s inspirational story far and wide.

There is just one small problem: many historians doubt that Tell ever made those two famous arrow shots in 1307, and many are convinced that no such person as William Tell ever existed.

For one thing, his story wasn't set down fully until 1569- 70, some 250 years after the events it describes, by historian Aegidius Tschudi, who, among other things, got his dates wrong. In 1758, nearly two centuries after Tschudi’s death, up turned a forgotten copy of the original Oath of Rütli made by the representatives of the three forest cantons, none of whom was named Tell. It was dated “the beginning of August 1291,” so the whole episode had to be moved back 16 years (only Uri remains stubbornly faithful to the old date of 1307). Swiss Independence Day, established officially in 1891, is now celebrated with bonfires on August 1.

Also in the mid-18th century, a Bernese scholar named Gottlieb de Haller read, in an old history of Denmark, a tale involving King Harald Bluetooth, who reigned from 936 to 987, and a Viking chieftain named Toko. One drunken evening Toko boasted that he could do anything with his bow and arrow; he could even shoot an apple off a pike at the other end of the hall. “Good,” said the king. “I will now place an apple on the head of your little son and you will shoot it off.” There was no arguing with a king, so Toko took up his weapon, told the boy to look the other way and shot off the apple. When the king inquired why he had two more arrows inside his vest, Toko replied, “To kill you, sire, had I killed my son.”

Bluetooth took the answer as perfectly normal for a Viking and forgot all about it. But Toko was not a man to forget or forgive and eventually joined the young crown prince Sweyn Forkbeard in revolt against his father. In the course of battle, he came across Bluetooth relieving himself behind a bush and put an arrow through his heart.

De Haller’s subsequent book, William Tell: a Danish Fable, provoked outrage in Switzerland. There was a court action, a copy of the book was publicly burned in the Altdorf square once dominated by the tyrant’s hat, and the author might have been set ablaze himself had he not made abject apologies, saying it was all just a literary exercise, not meant to be taken seriously.

But the door was now wide open for skeptics, and other scholars rushed in. They discovered there had been no organized uprising in the forest cantons after the Oath of Rütli, that the castles had been sacked either well before or well after 1291, and that, in fact, there was no documentary evidence that a man named William Tell had ever lived, let alone shot an apple off anyone’s head. They concluded that Tell was a fictional character based on muddled memories or ancient legend. The most recent comprehensive history of Switzerland— a thousand-page tome published in 1988 in French, Italian and German—dismisses Tell in just 20 lines. (Even so, a bronze statue of a heroic Tell graces the book’s cover.)

Jean-François Bergier, a former professor of history at Zürich’s Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and author of what many consider the best Tell biography, Guillaume Tell, concedes that the apple story was likely imported from Scandinavia. But he insists that something very important did happen in the mountains of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden (the latter now split into Obwalden and Nidwalden) around the beginning of the 14th century. There, in a remarkable break with the past, was established the principle that a people could revolt against a great power and constitute themselves as a self-governing entity. And the Swiss federation founded at Rütli, or someplace like Rütli, in 1291 (or 1307) is still going strong after 700 years.

History did unquestionably turn around in those obscure gorges, although exactly how remains a matter of speculation and debate. The ancestors of the inhabitants of these forest cantons—among them Celts, Teutons, Helvetians, Burgundians— had come, in distant centuries, eastward or westward over the great plateaus north of the Alps in search of richer lands to cultivate or to loot, or in hopes of escaping the law. They pushed their way up the narrow Alpine valleys till they came up against sheer rock walls and settled down.

They lived in splendid isolation. Forced to cooperate among themselves, they elected officials at assemblies of landowners. As in mountain communities everywhere, they were bound by a common devotion to their own long-settled ways, and they presented a united front against foreigners on the other side of their mountains.

It all began to change, though, with the climatic warming trend that started around a.d. 1000. As the snow line receded, there was more pastureland and there were more cows to sell. The mountain men began looking for wider markets and found them just over the Alps in Italy. The St. Gotthard pass leading south was easy to navigate, but an impassable gorge blocked access from the north. Sometime in the mid-13th century, somebody—perhaps the men of Uri, who had learned to build sturdy houses on impossibly steep slopes—stretched a bridge across the gorge, changing the economic map of Europe. The St. Gotthard now offered the most convenient route between northern Europe and Italy, and all who traveled that way had to take a three-day journey through Uri, paying the men of the canton for food, shelter and the use of their mules.

But even as Uri was becoming more prosperous, it was torn by internal strife. In desperation, the community appealed, in 1257, to a neighboring nobleman, Count Rudolph von Hapsburg, to settle a feud among warring clans. Only too happy to oblige, Count Rudolph came with a glittering retinue, settled matters between the feuding clans and began poking his nose into everyone’s business. Since his underlings wore the arms of the Hapsburgs and had soldiers to back them up, they soon came to feel that they owned the place. The people resisted, first sullenly, then violently.

Still, more than 20 years passed after the Oath of Rütli before the Hapsburgs bothered to send an actual army to bring the insolent peasants to their senses and 60 years before they sent a second one. Each time, they came in great force, and each time they let themselves get caught in unfavorable terrain, where their gaudily armored knights were mowed down by the stolid, fierce mountaineers hurling boulders and wielding their pikes, battle-axes and crossbows.

It was enough to shake the world: a handful of rustic louts putting to rout one of the great powers of Europe. In time, more and more cantons, including those surrounding the thriving cities of Zürich, Bern and Basel, joined the confederation that came eventually to be known as Switzerland (a name derived from the little canton of Schwyz). No wonder the Swiss were proud of their exploits, and no wonder they listened eagerly to songs and stories about the courageous ancestors who had first won their freedom.

Above all, they listened to the story of a man named Tell, also known as Thall or Thaell or Tellen—the Wilhelm was added later—who had boldly kept his hat on in the square of Altdorf. Bergier speculates that the tale might have evolved thusly: a band of Danish pilgrims on their way to Rome might have been in an inn one night, listening to old favorite stories like the one about Bluetooth and Toko. Men of Uri might have been drinking there too, catching the drift of the tale about the apple on the little boy’s head.

An apple on the head of a child! Here was the luminous detail that lit up for the simplest soul what life was like under the capricious cruelty of a foreign tyrant. Here was a story that perfectly illustrated how a stubborn, solitary man could stand up and fight back. The next time these men felt like passing on to their neighbors or their children the ever-popular, ever-evolving tale of Tell, it was easy to slip in the apple, which soon became the center of the parable and made Tell a living symbol of the national character: independent, capable, not to be pushed around.

Bergier sees Tell as a father figure the Swiss have created for themselves over the centuries, “a point of reference, unspoken but always present, to which the Swiss constantly attach themselves and in which they recognize themselves.” As when a farmer in Altdorf, explaining the fierce opposition of the people of Uri to Daylight Saving Time, told me bluntly, “We live on Wilhelm Tell time.”

The Swiss turn instinctively to Tell whenever they feel their country is in danger. In the past four centuries, they have had three civil wars, and in each of them both sides marched under the banner of William Tell. He inspired them in the dark days of World War II, when they were surrounded by the armies of a madman who regarded Switzerland as part of the German Reich.

In turn, Tell’s influence and example have extended far beyond the nation’s borders. Moved in part by his fight against their shared enemy the Hapsburgs, French revolutionaries named a street after him in Paris at about the same time they were beheading Queen Marie Antoinette, who had been born a Hapsburg princess. Schiller’s play helped to stoke the fires of European liberalism and, later in the 19th century, provided an important symbol for the founding of Germany. When Rossini’s 1829 opera William Tell was first produced at La Scala in Milan, the city was still part of the Hapsburg Empire, so the setting was changed discreetly to Scotland, and Tell and his son appeared wearing kilts. When the Nazis took power in Germany, casting themselves as the liberators of ethnic Germans in other lands, they made a movie glorifying Tell, with the mistress of Hermann Goering in a leading role. But when those same Nazis began invading other countries a few years later, Tell’s story of liberation sent the wrong message, and they banned the production of any theatrical work about the Swiss hero, not least Schiller’s play.

Movies and television spread the Tell legend further and wider still. In 1940, Hollywood produced an animated cartoon titled Popeye Meets William Tell, in which Popeye plays the son and has a can of spinach shot off his head. And for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1935, Rossini’s heroic William Tell Overture introduced “The Lone Ranger,” first on radio and later on television.

Perhaps the question of whether a man named William Tell actually lived in Uri 700 years ago is no more material than the question of whether a masked Lone Ranger actually roamed the Old West righting wrongs. If it is impossible to prove that Tell existed, it is equally impossible to prove that he didn’t. Nobody can be sure if a man called Tell or Thall or Thaell or Tellen dared to disrespect the hat of a Hapsburg that day in 1291 or 1307. But for hundreds of years—and even today—anyone who takes a stand against thugs from the other side of the mountain can be sure that the spirit of William Tell stands with him.

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