Celebrate the New Year with a Good Luck Pig!

Around the world, lucky foods for the new year range from collard greens (representing green cash) to long noodles (representing a lengthy lifespan), or lentils (representing money and luck). However, for many cultures, pork is the favorite for welcoming the New Year. From Cuban roast pig to Okinawan sparerib or pig’s feet soup, the pork starts the year as star and, in several cases, pigs serve as annual good luck charms. For istance, in Lancaster County, a node of the Pennsylvania Dutch, locals spend New Year’s Day feasting on roast…

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Twelve Grapes: a New Year’s Eve tradition of scarfing down 12 grapes for good luck

When clocks strike midnight on New Year’s Eve many revelers are engaged to pop champagne, set off fireworks, or kiss their partner. Others, instead, in Spain and parts of Latin America, as midnight nears on Nochevieja, or “old night,” the last day of the year, are stuffing 12 green grapes in their mouths, as an unusual attempt to ward off bad luck in the new year. Traditionally, the camera of the main national TV channel focuses on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta…

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#TodayInHistory – December 31

December 31 – Some important events on this day 192 👉🏼 Roman Emperor Commodus survives poisoning attempt by his mistress only to be strangled in the bath in assassination plot 406 👉🏼 80,000 Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine at Mainz, beginning invasion of Gallia 1744 👉🏼 English astronomer James Bradley announces discovery of Earth’s nutation motion (wobble) 1775 👉🏼 Battle of Quebec in American Revolutionary War; Americans defeated trying to take British stronghold 1857 👉🏼 Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada 1861 👉🏼 22,990mm of…

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Greece’s New Year tradition: Vasilopita and the Golden Coin

We are in Greece where, on New Year’s Day, a centuries-old tradition is observed in almost every household, that of Vasilopita (meaning St. Basil’s Cake), a sweet-tasting lucky treat. Across the country, recipes are quite a few, but they all have one basic ingredient: the much sought-after flouri, or lucky coin. Its story began in the Greek antiquity period, when ancient Greeks would offer bread and honey-kneaded sweets to honour the gods during the major harvest festivals. Today the New Year’s Day Cake custom is kept everywhere in Greece, and…

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#TodayInHistory – December 30

December 30 – Some important events on this day 1460 👉🏼 Wars of the Roses: Battle of Wakefield (Northern England), Duke of York killed and his forces soundly defeated by forces for King Henry VI 1703 👉🏼 Tokyo hit by Earthquake, about 37,000 die 1853 👉🏼 A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an Iguanodon (ornithopod dinosaur) created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London 1906 👉🏼 The All India Muslim League is founded in Dacca, East Bengal, British India Empire, later laid…

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#TodayInHistory – December 29

December 29 – Some important events on this day 1170 👉🏼 English Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket assassinated before the high altar of Canterbury Cathedral by four knights 1835 👉🏼 Treaty of New Echota is signed between the US government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction to cede all lands of the Cherokee east of the Mississippi River to the United States. It was US President Andrew Jackson’s policy to removing Native Americans from their ancestral lands to make way for settlers and speculators that led to the…

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#TodayInHistory – December 28

December 28 – Some important events on this day 1065 👉🏼 Westminster Abbey in London consecrated. One of the most famous and well-known buildings in all of Britain is Westminster Abbey, the site of numerous royal weddings, coronations and funerals over its 1000 year history. The construction of the present church began in 1245 during the reign of Henry III, who selected the site for his burial, but an abbey of various sorts has existed on the site since around 1060, and an order of Benedictine monks occupied the area…

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How the wren became the King of the Birds

Many years ago, all the birds of the world gathered to decide which of them would be their king. After many days of debate, they decided that they would hold a contest: whichever bird could fly the highest would be the king. Thus, on the day of the competition, all the birds took off into the air. The small song birds quickly tired, with their fragile wings unable to carry them far. They were soon joined by the ducks, crows, and many others. In short order, only the strongest of…

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#TodayInHistory – December 27

December 27 – Some important events on this day 537 👉🏼 Hagia Sophia inaugurated by the Emperor Justinian I as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral. The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) is the third church to be built in this site. The Byzantine emperor Justinian I ordered its construction in 532 after riots destroyed an earlier church on its site in Istanbul. It was finished in just five years in 537 and was then the world’s largest building. It served as the Greek Orthodox cathedral and was the place where Eastern Emperors…

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How to play a hot victorian Christmas game without get burned

In the 19th century, a regular Christmas was a little different. For holiday fun, revelers in the United States, Canada and England scared their friends with ghost stories, fortune-telling, and played boisterous party games. One of these, the so-called snapdragon, was a parlour game popular from about the 16th century and is rarely part of anyone’s Christmas these days. After all, it involves pulling sweets from a puddle of flames! The game itself is simple: take a wide, flat plate, and cover it with raisins. Carry the plate into a…

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#TodayInHistory – December 26

December 26 – Some important events on this day 795 👉🏼 Leo III is elected to serve as Pope on the day his predecessor was buried and is consecrated the following day 1492 👉🏼 1st Spanish settlement La Navidad in the New World is founded by Christopher Columbus (modern Môle-Saint-Nicolas in Haiti) 1792 👉🏼 Trial of French King Louis XVI, court hears the kings defense brought by Raymond Desèze 1825 👉🏼 Decembrist uprising in Russia against Tsar Nicholas I begins 1973 👉🏼 Horror film “The Exorcist” based on book and…

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The Lord of Misrule

In some areas of England, during the late medieval and early Tudor periods, especially through the reign of King Edward VI, a custom emerged in which the lord of a manor or other great house appointed an individual to be in charge of all of the Christmas holidays. This person was titled “the Lord of Misrule”, the tradition expanded from the homes of noble families, and the Yuletide events at a manor house or at Court ran anywhere from a few days to the entire month of December. This entire…

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#TodayInHistory – December 25

December 25 – Some important events on this day 1 👉🏼 1st Christmas, according to calendar-maker Dionysus Exiguus 274 👉🏼 Roman Emperor Aurelian dedicates a temple to Sol Invictus on the supposed day of the winter solstice and day of rebirth of the Sun. 337 👉🏼 Earliest possible date that Christmas was celebrated on Dec 25th 352 👉🏼 1st definite date Christmas was celebrated on Dec 25th 597 👉🏼 England adopts Julian calendar 800 👉🏼 Pope Leo III crowns Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Roman Emperor 1066 👉🏼 William the Conqueror…

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#TodayInHistory – December 24

December 24 – Some important events on this day 563 👉🏼 The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is dedicated for the second time after being destroyed by earthquakes. 1565 👉🏼 Compromise of the Nobles in Habsburg Netherlands closes against inquisition 1777 👉🏼 Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook 1814 👉🏼 Treaty of Ghent signed, ending the War of 1812 between the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies. The Treaty of Ghent, signed in the city of Ghent, Belgium, ended the War of 1812…

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#TodayInHistory – December 23

December 23 – Some important events on this day 962 👉🏼 Byzantine-Arab Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops storm the city of Aleppo, recovering the tattered tunic of John the Baptist 1482 👉🏼 The Peace of Atrecht (now Arras) concluded between Louis XI of France and Maximilian of Austria, ending the War of the Burgundian Succession 1688 👉🏼 King James II, the last Roman Catholic British monarch flees to France from William of Orange 1690 👉🏼 English astronomer John Flamsteed observes Uranus without realizing it’s undiscovered 1783…

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#TodayInHistory – December 22

December 22 – Some important events on this day 1596 👉🏼 Ferryboat Meuniers crashes in Paris, 150 die 1666 👉🏼 The French Academy of Sciences, founded by Louis XIV with Jean-Baptiste Colbert first meets in the Kings Library 1790 👉🏼 Supposedly impenetrable Turkish fortress of Izmail stormed and captured by Suvorov and his Russian armies during the Russo-Turkish War (1787–92) 1808 👉🏼 Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 5 and No. 6, Choral Fantasy and Piano Concerto No. 4 (featuring the composer as soloist) premiere at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna,…

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21# Caganer: the best Christmas souvenir from Spain

The so-called Caganer is a figurine depicted in the act of defecation appearing in nativity scenes in Catalonia and neighbouring areas with Catalan culture such as Andorra, Valencia, despite you can also found it in other areas of Spain (where they are called cagones), Portugal (cagões), some areas of Southern France (Père la Colique), and southern Italy, especially in Naples (cagone or pastore che caga) where nativity culture is a must. The name “El Caganer” means, not by chance, “the pooper”. Traditionally, the figurine is depicted as a Catalan peasant…

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#TodayInHistory – December 21

December 21 – Some important events on this day 1163 👉🏼 Hurricane hits villages in Holland/Friesland, causing floods 1582 👉🏼 Flanders adopts Gregorian calendar, tomorrow is Jan 1 1583 1620 👉🏼 Mayflower Pilgrims come ashore at in Plymouth Bay, traditionally thought to be at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts 1891 👉🏼 1st game of basketball, based on rules created by James Naismith, played by 18 students in Springfield, Massachusetts 1894 👉🏼 Mackenzie Bowell becomes the 5th Prime Minister of Canada 1898 👉🏼 French Scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium 1913 👉🏼…

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#TodayInHistory – December 20

December 20 – Some important events on this day. 1046 👉🏼 Pope Gregory VI abdicates at the Council of Sutri, ending a conflict between himself, Benedict IX and Sylvester III; Clement II becomes the new Pope 1522 👉🏼 Suleiman the Magnificent accepts surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle in Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta. 1790 👉🏼 1st successful US cotton mill begins spinning yarn in Pawtucket, Rhode Island built by Samuel Slater based on Richard Arkwright’s design…

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#TodayInHistory – December 19

December 19 – Some important events on this day. 1642 👉🏼 4 of explorer and seafarer Abel Tasman’s crew killed at Wharewharangi (Murderers) Bay by Māori; Tasman’s ships depart without landing 1732 👉🏼 Benjamin Franklin under the name Richard Saunders begins publication of “Poor Richard’s Almanack” 1776 👉🏼 Thomas Paine publishes his 1st “American Crisis” essay beginning”These are the times that try men’s souls” (date disputed) 1783 👉🏼 William Pitt the Younger becomes the youngest ever British Prime Minister at age 24 1842 👉🏼 US recognizes independence of Hawaii 1843…

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18# Animals in the story of Christmas

Animals play a prominent role a Christmas, regardless of whether or not religious beliefs are behind it. The story of Rudolph, the red nosed reinder, is probably the most popular example of an animal that has become a Christmas icon. However, there are many animals are central to the story of Christmas and, as with all things Christmas we turn back to ancient history to find out the tradition behind it. According to Viking tradition, the northern Germans and Scandinavians celebrated Yule, a pagan religious festival heralding the arrival of…

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#TodayInHistory – December 18

December 18 – Some important events on this day. 218 BC 👉🏼 Second Punic War: Battle of the Trebia – Hannibal’s Carthaginian army heavily defeat Roman forces on Italian soil 1271 👉🏼 Kublai Khan renames his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of China 1603 👉🏼 First fleet of the Dutch East India Company under Admiral Steven van der Haghen departs for the East-Indies 1642 👉🏼 Abel Tasman’s expedition sails around Farewell Spit and into Golden Bay, first sighting local Māori in New Zealand 1719…

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#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…

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16# The legend of Christmas Bells

Bells, especially Church Bells, have traditionally been associated with Christmas for a long time. In some churches it is traditional that the largest bell in the church is rung four times in the hour before midnight and then at midnight all the bells are rung in celebration. In the Catholic Church, Christmas and Easter are the only times that Mass is allowed to be held at Midnight, and It’s traditional that at both midnight Masses, the church and altar bells too in many cases are rung while the Priest says…

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#TodayInHistory – December 16

December 16 – Some important events on this day. 755 👉🏼 An Lushan revolts against Chancellor Yang Guozhong at Fanyang, initiating the An Shi Rebellion during Chinese Tang Dynasty 1497 👉🏼 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama is 1st European to sail along Africa’s East Coast, names it Natal 1598 👉🏼 Seven Year War: Battle of Noryang Point – in the final battle of the war Korean navy decisively defeats the Japanese 1631 👉🏼 Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupts, burying many villages under lava flows and killing around 3,000 people 1653…

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15# Mumming: another unusual Christmas tradition

Just as Wassailing, Mumming is an ancient pagan custom too, and basically an excuse for people to have a party at Christmas. It means literally “making diversion in disguise” and the tradition was that men and women would swap clothes, put on masks and go visiting their neighbors, singing, dancing or putting on a play with a silly plot. Not by chance, the leader or narrator of the mummers was dressed as Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, if you prefer. The custom of Mumming might go back to Roman times,…

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#TodayInHistory – December 15

December 15 – Some important events on this day. 533 👉🏼 Byzantine General Belisarius defeats the Vandals, under King Gelimer, at the Battle of Ticameron 1256 👉🏼 Hulagu Khan captures and destroys Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut, in present-day Iran, part of the Mongol offensive on Islamic southwest Asia 1488 👉🏼 Bartolomeu Dias returns to Portugal after becoming 1st known European to sail round the Cape of Good Hope 1582 👉🏼 Spanish Netherlands, Denmark and Norway adopt the Gregorian calendar 1593 👉🏼 State of Holland grants patent on windmill with a…

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14# Iceland’s Yule Lads: like 13 small amazing Santas

If you arent’t lucky enough to have been born in Iceland, or not have visited the island through a Christmas season, you probably won’t have never heard of the Yule Lads. One by one they’re said to visit children in the 13 days leading to Christmas. Children leave their shoes on the window, and if they’re good they’re filled with candy and toys, while if they’re bad they get a raw potato. They’re also to leave specific treats for each lad, corresponding to his personality: there’s Stekkjarstaur, translated as Sheep…

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#TodayInHistory – December 14

December 14 – Some important events on this day. 557 👉🏼 Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, is significantly damaged by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake 644 👉🏼 Uthman ibn Affan, companion of Muhammad, appointed 3rd Caliph of Islam 1287 👉🏼 During St. Lucia’s Flood in Northwest Netherlands the Zuiderzee seawall collapses with loss of over 50,000 lives. Fifth largest recorded flood in history 1542 👉🏼 Princess Mary Stuart succeeds her father James V and becomes Queen Mary I of Scotland at 6 days old 1774 👉🏼 First incident of…

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13# The terrifying tradition of the Mari Lwyd

Wales is often known for having a rich and interesting history, full of iconic folklore and strange traditions. However, one the weirdest part of the regional tradition involves a creepy horse figure and some rhyming battles. Yes, it’s almost time for the so-called Mari Lwyd, also know as Gray Mary in English or Y Fari Lwyd in Welsh, a pre-Christian tradition believed to bring good luck. Mari Lwyd is basically a Zombie Horse that visits people’s homes during the Christmas season. Many Welsh believe that horse brings good luck in…

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