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What is Nowruz? Zoroastrians – West Asian holidays

By | 2018-04-25T23:58:29+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

Persepolis may have been built in the 500s BC as a place to celebrate Nowruz. Zoroastrianism became much more popular suddenly when the Persian kings became Zoroastrians around 550 BC. Soon after that, Zoroastrian worshippers began to celebrate the first day of spring as an important holiday. That was the first day of their New Year. Nowruz is [...]

Christmas Trees – American holidays

By | 2017-08-14T14:26:19+00:00 August 14th, 2017|North America, Northern Europe, Religion|

Christmas Tree in Germany (late 1700s, by Joseph Keller) Because Christmas is related to old celebrations of the winter solstice, evergreen trees have always been popular decorations in northern countries at Christmastime. They're green when everything else is dead and white. In the time of the Roman Empire, people sometimes hung small bits of metal from trees at this [...]

Medieval Islamic food

By | 2017-07-23T17:01:31+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Food, Islam|

Orange tree Around the Mediterranean, people continued in the Islamic period to rely on the three main foods from antiquity. Those were wheat (mostly bread), olive oil, and wine. Though technically Islam did not let you drink alcohol, still a lot of people did drink wine. People who didn't drink wine started to drink more tea. The Sogdians brought tea to the Islamic [...]

Who was Ganesh? – Hinduism – India

By | 2017-07-21T08:45:00+00:00 July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Ganesh (Musee Guimet, Paris, from Tamil Nadu, ca. 1500 AD) Ganesh was one of the Hindu gods. He has an elephant head, so he's easy to spot in Indian art. Usually Ganesh also has a big belly and four arms. Sometimes Ganesh is dancing, or eating candy, or riding on a mouse. People in India first began to [...]

Diwali – the Festival of Lights – Hinduism – India

By | 2017-07-21T08:36:06+00:00 July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Flowers and Diwali lamps Diwali is a Sanskrit word originally meaning "a row of lights" - "dipa" is the Sanskrit word for "light". Diwali is an Indian harvest festival celebrating the end of the hard work of harvesting food. People celebrate that now there is plenty of food to last through the winter. Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains all celebrated Diwali [...]

Sugar and the Islamic Empire

By | 2018-06-14T16:09:24+00:00 June 23rd, 2017|Food, Islam|

History of sugar: Sugar also has a lot of carbohydrates History of sugar in the Islamic Empire When the Abbasid army conquered northern India about 750 AD, the troops brought back sugar cane to the rest of the Islamic empire. (More about where sugar comes from) Maybe the climate changes of the Medieval [...]