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It's January 6th - which can mean only one thing in our world: it's the birthday of Sherlock Holmes. By all accounts, he's 154 today - and still as sprightly as ever.

First popularized by Christopher Morley, the date of January 6th has become the de facto accepted date for Holmes' birthday. Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

1. Canonical evidence
Of all of the quotes in the Canon, I William Shakespeare was the most often quoted author. And there is only one Shakespearean play that Holmes quotes twice - Twelfth Night. In The Sign of the Four, Holmes concludes, "All is well that ends well." This is from from Act IV, Scene 4. And in 'The Empty House,' Holmes states "'Journeys end in lovers meetings,' as the old play says," from Act II, Scene 3.

The reason the date was chosen is that in Christianity, January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, or officially the twelfth day of Christmas. I suppose if we were being truly technical about it, the twelfth night of Christmas would fall on January 5th...

Of course the quote I chose for today's post is another Shakespearean quote, but Holmes paraphrased it for his own purposes. It's from Antony and Cleopatra and properly written, it should be:
"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety."

2. Personality
The second basis for Holmes' birthday being accepted as January 6 is that his personality fits into the sign of Capricorn on the Zodiac. Here's an excerpt from "The Sign of Sherlock Holmes" by Tessa Roberts:
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn the plant of discipline, structure, and isolation. We all know about Sherlock’s discipline and the practical structure he forms as he works on a problem.
If you'd like a further explanation of all of the details, please click on the link to the paper above.

I hope you'll take a moment and wish him happy birthday in your own way. If you'd like to join in the festivities here, please feel free to leave a birthday comment below.

Photo credit: Classic Specialties


Bones said... January 6, 2008 at 10:02 PM

All I can say is Happy Birthday to the Master! What on earth would we, or the MPS for that matter, do without you? Many happy returns old fellow and thanks for the hours of enjoyment as well as the important lessons in the art of deduction and detection! I use them in all my cases.

A toast to you and a very Happy Birthday Mr. Holmes!

EJ said... January 7, 2008 at 10:45 AM

a very Happy Birthday to Mr Holmes. to whom I owe so very much.
His carefully kept archives of historic crimes have been an example and an inspiration to historians as well as scientists.
And what a fine companion with whom to share a warmth hearth on a cold night...
EJ Wagner, " The Science of Sherlock Holmes"