Io, Saturnalia!

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, whatever your holiday, most of the December holiday traditions that we celebrate today can be traced back to the Ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia (with a healthy dose of inspiration from the Vikings). From tree decorations, wreaths, ornaments, boughs of holly, carolling, gift-giving, and even gingerbread men, most of what we identify as Christmas has roots going back thousands of years. When it comes to celebrations, parties, and downright debauchery, probably no one beats the folks of ancient Rome. And, in this period, around the time of…

Read More

17# The curious story of Zwarte Piet

Before elves and reindeer, St. Nicholas had a much more eerie assistant, such a Black Peter and, interestingly, the physical opposite of St. Nicholas himself! Tall and gaunt with a dark beard and hair, Black Peter was associated with the punitive side of Christmas. Traditionally St. Nicholas would hand out presents to good children, while it fell to Black Peter to dole out coal, and sometimes knocks on the head, to children who misbehaved. The story of Black Peter (or Zwarte Piet in Dutch), began in Holland in the 15th…

Read More

#TodayInHistory – December 17

December 17 – Some important events on this day. 546 👉🏼 Gothic War (535-554): The Ostrogoths of King Totila conquer Rome by bribing the Byzantine garrison. 1398 👉🏼 Tamerlane captures and sacks Delhi, defeating Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud’s armies by setting camels loaded with hay alight and charging them at the Sultans armored elephants 1526 👉🏼 Pope Clemens VII publishes degree Cum ad zero – forms Inquisition 1777 👉🏼 France recognizes independence of British colonies in America 1788 👉🏼 Russian army of Grigory Potemkin occupies Ocharov 1845 👉🏼 German explorer…

Read More