This week is a good week: We've got lots of reasons to celebrate, that couldn't be more different in nature. Which ones, you ask?
Let's start with the oldest one: On November 10, Sesame Street turns 40. The show is still going strong, and I have fond memories of it when I was a child. My favorite characters were always Samson, as well as Ernie and Bert. Only much later I found out to my astonishment that Samson, the big, brown bear, is only present in the German version of the show, and not in its American counterpart. (In turn, Big Bird is missing from the German Sesamstraße). Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!
Number two on the list of this weeks "birthdays" is the reunited Federal Republic of Germany. While reunification wasn't completed until late 1990, the 9th of November, 1989, marks perhaps the most important step in the process. After several weeks of civil protests, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. In a slip of tongue, the announcing politician declared the unprecedented travel permit to be valid "immediately", resulting in an exodus of East Germans to the West.
Witnesses would later describe how the customs officials tried to check passports at first, and after awhile just opened the borders to let people pass, realizing it was futile to try any further checks. Due to this historic significance, the 9th of November was considered for the national holiday of Germany, but it was dropped in favor of the 3rd of October due to its unfortunate coincidence with at least two dark spots in German history. Happy birthday, reunited Germany!
Last, but certainly not least, Mozilla Firefox turns 5 on the 9th of November as well. Firefox 1.0 was released in 2004, and since then, the Web has been changing faster than ever. It has developed into an exciting platform for innovation and collaboration. That the web browser space is now a competitive environment with a number of excellent players in the market, is something Firefox had an essential influence on and it is something the Mozilla community can be proud of. Make sure to watch the video "The Story of Firefox" on the Five Years of Firefox website. Happy birthday, Firefox!
Photograph of West Germans welcoming East Germans, CC by-sa licensed by Bundesarchiv on Wikipedia.