At St. Bartholomew's there comes cold dew.

Aug. 25, Tuesday - Moon on Equator. Mount Vesuvius erupted, A.D. 79.Aug. 26, Wednesday - Albert Sabin born, 1906 (polio vaccine approved, 1960). Women's Equality Day.

Aug. 27, Thursday - Mother Teresa born, 1910. Hurricane Cleo, southern Florida, 1964.

Aug. 28, Friday - St. Augustine of Hippo. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963.

Aug. 29, Saturday - Oliver Wendell Holmes born, 1809. Billy "Pop" Shriver caught a ball dropped from the Washington Monument, 1894.

Aug. 30, Sunday - Last concert performed together by the Beatles, 1966.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Were there early precursors to Women's Equality Day?

- P.S.C., Chebeague Island, Maine

Answer: Women's Equality Day, on Aug. 26, is a fairly recent celebration, which is not to say there haven't been matriarchal societies or age-old celebrations, pagan and otherwise, in honor of women. The date stems from the proclamation of women's suffrage on that day in 1920, following Tennessee's ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, stating that, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

In 1970, the 50th anniversary of women's suffrage was the occasion for a nationwide U.S. Women's Strike for Equality. The highlight of the event was a parade down Fifth Avenue in New York with more than 10,000 marchers. Kate Millett, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Rep. Bella (Savitzky) Abzug (then 50, and the first Jewish woman ever elected to Congress) all made speeches for the occasion, with Friedan stressing that "man is a fellow victim" of the gender inequalities present in society.

The following year, on Aug. 26, 1971, another parade down Fifth Avenue drew 6,000 marchers, and Mayor John Lindsay proclaimed Women's Rights Day and evidently agreed to increase the number of women in the city's top jobs.

As a counterpoint, in ancient Greece, long before the advocacy of women's equality, a young lady would count her age from the beginning of her marriage. Her wedding marked the start of her "real" life; before that it was considered not worth counting her age!

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Have you ever heard of deciding on matrimony by "leaving it to the cat"?

- J., Newark, N.J.

Answer: Now you know why felines always look so worldly-wise. The old custom works like this: If a young girl receives a wedding proposal and cannot decide whether to have the man or not, she is sometimes advised to "Leave it to the cat." She then takes three hairs from the cat's tail and wraps them in a bit of white paper. The packet is left under the doorstep for the night. When she opens the paper in the morning, she will note that the hairs have arranged themselves either in an "N," for no, or a "Y" for yes. Old-timers advise that she would do well to heed the advice.

We've heard an addendum to this theory, which is that upon reading the answer, if the girl is disappointed, she knows her heart resides with the opposite answer and she should heed her heart, while if she experiences gladness, she will know the cat has chosen well and she should abide by his wishes.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: What do you know about mermaid myths?

- D.T., Nadick, Mass.

Answer: Why, have you spotted one? Seagoing Yankees have gathered a wealth of superstitions regarding mermaids, those half-fish, half-female creatures of the deep. Interestingly, mariners often forget that there are also mermen in the briny depths, to accompany the mermaids who surface to the rocks to sing and comb their hair. Most superstitions include the belief that the mermaids will lure the mariners to their rocky graveyards, by tempting them too close to the perilous shores. Some stories even cast them as doing so maliciously by pretending to drown so they can keep the men's captured souls trapped in cages beneath the sea.


Additional Information

This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac

August 24-30, 1998

St. Augustine of Hippo, Aug. 28.

Women's Equality Day

August 26 marks the 78th anniversary of woman suffrage, when the 19th amendment went into effect in 1920. The amendment stated that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any state on account of sex." Fifty years later, in 1970, Fifth Avenue in New York saw over 10,000 marchers in the nationwide U.S. Strike for Equality. Today, the question is being asked, "Is feminism dead?" but the struggle for gender equality continues in every political campaign, employment office, hall of justice, and individual heart and home nationwide.

A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold.

- Marlo Thomas (b. 1943)

Tip of the Week

Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight."

- Phyllis Diller

Cantonese Marinade

2 tablespoons soy sauce

6 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

4 scallions, chopped

1 teaspoon hot chili paste (or substitute 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

2 tablespoons rice wine or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesamie oil

Mix all ingredients. Use as a marinade for sparribs, pork chops, or other meat of your choice. Marinate for at least 1 hour, refrigerated, then grill (or broil) as usual, basting with more marinade, if desired. The recipe can be doubled or multiplied, but cut down on the chili paste or red pepper flakes.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

St. Bartholomew (Aug. 24) brings cold and dew.

If it rains on St. Bartholomew's Day, it will rain for forty days after.

Fine, warm days are called weather breeders.

Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. All questions are archived there as well. See Web site address below.