Christmas

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St. Nicholas – Christian saints

By |2018-04-24T23:09:09+00:00August 22nd, 2017|Medieval, Religion, Romans|

Nicholas hands the purses through the window to the poor girls (Chartres Cathedral, about 1200 AD) St. Nicholas is a Christian saint who is one source for the idea of Santa Claus. According to the story, Nicolas was born in the Roman Empire (in modern Turkey) about 270 AD. This was a time when a lot of people were [...]

Puritans – American religion

By |2017-08-14T15:33:52+00:00August 14th, 2017|Modern Europe, North America, Religion|

A Puritan family about 1563 About 1563 AD, some people in England decided that they wanted to follow a way of life that they thought would be more according to what the Christian God wanted. They called themselves "the godly", but other people called them "Puritans." Puritan people, like Calvinists, thought only God decided whether you got into Heaven. [...]

Halloween – American holidays

By |2018-06-04T20:59:52+00:00August 14th, 2017|North America, Religion|

Pumpkins growing Halloween is a pretty new holiday - American children didn't start trick-or-treating on Halloween until about eighty years ago. Halloween is a combination of several different holiday traditions: Native American ones, Irish ones, and old Roman ones. By about 500 AD, Mayan and Aztec people in Central America were celebrating the Day of the Dead. [...]

Christmas Trees – American holidays

By |2017-08-14T14:26:19+00:00August 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 [...]

Christmas – American holiday

By |2018-04-24T11:05:18+00:00August 14th, 2017|History|

Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming (1300 AD) Even before 1500 AD, people in North America celebrated a winter religious festival when the days stopped getting shorter and began to get longer again. Many people built stone structures to make it easier to know when the solstice had arrived. When European settlers arrived, they brought with them some new ideas [...]

‘Twas the Night before Christmas – American poetry

By |2018-04-24T10:41:39+00:00August 14th, 2017|Literature, North America|

Clement Moore A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823) 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their [...]

Francis of Assisi – Medieval Europe

By |2017-08-04T11:34:35+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, Religion|

Francis gives his father back his clothes (Giotto, in Assisi) By 1200 AD, the Catholic Church was very powerful. Bishops and popes were often rich men. They cared more about getting rich collecting tithes than they did about praying or helping poor people. Then in 1205, a young man named Francis, from the town of Assisi in northern Italy, had a [...]

Christmas in medieval Europe

By |2018-04-10T22:50:25+00:00August 4th, 2017|Medieval, Religion|

Nativity mosaic (St. Maria in Trastevere, Rome ca. 1300 AD) Beginning about 300 AD, people began to think that December 25th was the day when Jesus was born. So they celebrated that day as Christmas. Probably this was mainly because there was already an important Roman holiday at this time - Saturnalia. Christian bishops were eager to replace [...]

Where do oranges and lemons come from?

By |2018-04-26T10:08:40+00:00June 22nd, 2017|China, Food|

Oranges and lemons come from earlier fruits; this is a type of citron called Buddha's Hand Wild ancestors of oranges and lemons The first wild ancestors of oranges and lemons probably evolved in Australia and New Guinea. The first people probably began eating them soon after they arrived in Australia, about 30,000 BC. [...]