Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures
Monthly Archives: March 2016

Happy Easter

by Elspeth


Still Better Together

by Elspeth


On the day Scotland would have become independent, had we voted to leave the United Kingdom in September 2014, The Bears in the Windows agree that we’re still better together!

Rather ironically it was on this day in 1603 that King James VI of Scotland achieved his lifelong ambition when Queen Elizabeth 1 died and he inherited the throne of England, taking the title King James 1.  Although he would have liked his two kingdoms to be completely united, this didn’t happen until 1707 when the Acts of Union passed by both parliaments led to the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and, until then, Scotland retained its own parliament, established church and educational systems. 

Happy St Patrick’s Day

by Elspeth

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Today is the day when Irish people all over the world celebrate their patron saint, St Patrick with parades, dancing and a glass or two of Guiness!

The colour green is forever associated with Ireland and, this evening, 190 of the most famous landmarks and sites in the world will be illuminated in green to mark the Irish national day.  Joining old favourites like the Colosseum in Rome, Sacre Coeur in Paris, the Great Wall of China and Niagara Falls will be the World Trade Center at Ground Zero, Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Nelson Mandela statue in Johannesburg.  And as you can see, even Yang Guang, Edinburgh Zoo’s male panda, has turned green for the occasion!

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Talking of all things green, I can’t write about St Patrick’s Day without giving you some fascinating facts about the shamrock. Did you know that, technically, there is no such thing as a shamrock?  it’s just a word used to refer to several varieties of clover, mainly trifolium repens.  The word ‘shamrock’ comes from the Irish seamrog or seamair og meaning little clover.  in 2002, the shamrock was classified as a weed in Australia and banned it as a possible carrier of foot and mouth disease.  the official callsign for Aer Lingus is ‘shamrock.’

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For 115 years it’s been traditional for a senior female member of the royal family to present a sprig of fresh shamrock to the 1st Battalion Irish guards.  However, this year Prince William will be the first male royal to perform the pleasant duty. 

The Bears in the Windows like nothing better than a good party and, this year, have dressed for the occasion in various shades of green and boppers topped with leprechaun’s hats and shamrocks!



Beware the Ides of March

by Elspeth

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Today is the Ides of March, notorious as the date in 44 BC when Julius Caesar was assassinated by his friend, Brutus.

In Ancient Rome, ‘ides’ was a term used to mark the appearance of the full moon which happened on the 13th of each month except, as every Latin scholar knows, ‘In March, July, October, May, the Ides fall on the 15th day.’  And so the Ides of March wasn’t anything other than a date on the Roman calendar, corresponding to 15th March until, that is, 44 B.C. when the date took on a whole new notoriety as a day of abrupt change that set off a ripple of repercussions throughout Roman society and beyond.

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In Shakespeare’s play, Caesar is warned by a soothsayer not to go to the Senate that day, a warning he chose to ignore. This was not a not a work of fiction on Shakespeare’s part, but was based on the account of the Greek historian, Plutarch.

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The idea of an Ides of March window was born a few years ago after I found a ready-made Julius Caesar bear in an antiques shop.  The other protagonists, Brutus, the cruel assassin, and Mark Anthony, the great orator, are played by a Roman looking bear and one of a quartet of pandas, who regularly appear in the window in a variety of guises, whose togas are fashioned from bin bags.  Finally, the part of the soothsayer is played by a marble bear who is, of course, gazing into her crystal ball!  The tragic scene in the Roman Forum is completed with an obligatory dog, (after all, you can’t tell people to beware of the dog if there isn’t one there!) and a couple of Roman pillars topped with Caesar’s likeness which, as you may have noticed, bears a striking resemblance to Winnie-the-Pooh (or Winnie-Ille-Pu as Caesar himself would have called him!).  Brutus is a fairly benign looking assassin, making Caesar’s last words: ‘Et tu, Brute?’ all the more poignant.


And Best In Show Is……..

by Elspeth


Strangely enough, although the Labrador Retriever is possibly the most popular breed in the UK, we have to go back to the 1930s to find one winning Best in Show at Crufts.  Bramshow Bob took the title in 1932 and again the following year, while Ben of Banchory took the crown in 1937.  I know I’m probably prejudiced, but I’m delighted to report that both Labs were black.

As usual, this year’s finalists were a motley bunch, of all shapes, sizes and ages.  However, it was a delightfully cute not quite two-years-old little West Highland Terrier called Burneze Geordie Girl, (or simply, Devon to her proud owner, Marie Burns) who beat off the stiff competition from six other dogs to take the coveted title.

As luck would have it, I have a cuddly Westie who was happy to pose for the photo you can see below.

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The Tears of a Town

by Elspeth

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20 years ago today, 16 five-year-old children and their teacher were shot dead in the gym of Dunblane Primary School.  To most of us, the snowdrop means the arrival of spring, but for the people of the small Scottish town, the dainty flower will forever stand for their determination to ensure that some good came out of evil.  

When looking for a symbol for their campaign to change the gun laws in this country, the snowdrop seemed the perfect choice – it only blooms for a very short time, just like the young lives cut so tragically short that sunny March morning.  For me, each creamy white petal of the delicate flower also symbolises the tears of a town in mourning.

In the school that day were two young brothers who would, one day, become Grand Slam tennis champions.  Who knows what great things their 16 lost friends might have achieved.

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The Greatest Show On Earth

by Elspeth

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Crufts, the greatest dog show on earth, opened its doors today for the 125th time.  As well as many traditional favourites, there will be lots of new attractions to enjoy over the next four days when Birmingham’s NEC hosts the annual event which is the canine equivalent of the Oscars.

Naturally, each year, the dog-owners amongst The Bears in the Windows vie with one another for the most coveted title, Best in Show.  As you can see, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed, but we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out whether one of these most beloved of dogs will take the canine crown for the first time since 1937, when Ben of Banchory was declared Best in Show.


by Elspeth


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This is the day when people all over the United Kingdom spoil their mothers.  This charming photo of a proud mother with her two daughters is very special to me though, regrettably, I didn’t have the chance to get to know two of them.  The proud mother is my grandmother, who died many years before I was born.  On the left, is my own mother who, tragically, died when I was only three and, on the right, is my much-loved Aunt Nannie who was like a mother, a grandmother and an aunt all rolled into one and so was the person I used to spoil on Mother’s Day.  How I wish I could travel back in time to join them.  

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Traditionally, the bears celebrate Mother’s Day with two windows.  This year, one features several charming mother and cub groups, some of whom will be very familiar if you’re fans of The Bears in the Windows.  The other is dedicated to Mei Xiang, the National Zoo’s female panda who’s celebrating Mother’s Day with Bao Bao, her two year old daughter, and baby Bei Bei, who’s only six months old.  When I was in Washington a few weeks ago, I was entertained by all three pandas, plus Tian Tian, the proud father, as they climbed trees, played with their toys and generally had a great time!



by Elspeth

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While updating my badly neglected website yesterday, I forgot to include four very special birthdays – my husband’s was on 28th September, while my brother and I shared Snoopy’s special day on 2nd October.  Here is the bears’ birthday tribute to all of us.

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Happy St David’s Day

by Elspeth


My apologies to the Welsh for posting this a day late.  You’ll be glad to know, however, that your window has been admired, now, for nearly a week.  

Once again, you’ll see that I’ve concentrated on the daffodil rather than the leek, the other national emblem of Wales, despite the fact that this humble vegetable has been associated with the country for hundreds of years.  (Interestingly, however, the leek played no part in the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.)  

Nowadays, though the leek was chosen to feature on pound coins and perhaps, most notably, appears on the cap badge of the Welsh Guards, I know that if I were Welsh I’d much rather wear a daffodil on St David’s Day than a leek with its strong aroma!  


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