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La Tempête

John William Waterhouse, "Miranda - The Tempest" (1916)

Stormy Weather Month

Jan 20

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"What is the 'tempest raging o'er the realms of ice'? A tempest in a teapot!"

~Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, 1825

The word tempest, meaning "violent storm," is derived from the late 13 century from Old French meaning, "storm; commotion, battle; epidemic, plague." The idiomatic term "tempest in a teapot" (American English) or "storm in a teacup" (British English) meaning a small event that has been exaggerated out of proportion, has variations in both English and many other languages. Its origins likely derive from the writing of Cicero, circa 52 BC. The translation of his "Excitabat fluctus in simpulo" is often given as "He was stirring up billows in a ladle". Other cultures have versions of the phrase in their own languages. The translation of the Netherlands version is 'a storm in a glass of water', and the Hungarian 'a tempest in a potty'. Interesting, both the popular English and American versions can be traced to first usage by Scottish authors.

La Tempête

For a month of stormy weather in many parts of the world,  we have an appropriate dance, La Tempête.

Shakespeare's play of the same name, The Tempest, is believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone.


Set on a remote island, exiled sorcerer Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the tempest, to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's lowly nature, the redemption of the King, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.

For a video of a variation this dance performed by The Red Thistle Dancers at the Great Christmas Dickens Fair in 2011, see the video below.

And for local weather in your timezone, click the illustration of characters from The Tempest, Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, dancing up a storm!

La Tempête
La Tempête

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