The month of September: holidays, curiosities and folklore

There are flowers enough in the summertime, More flowers than I can remember— But none with the purple, gold, and red That dye the flowers of September! —Mary Howitt (1799-1888) September, in Old England, was called Haervest-monath, literally Harvest Month, as a time to gather up the rest of the harvest and prepare for the winter months. The Anglo-Saxons called it Gerst monath (Barley month), because it was their time when they harvested barley to be made into their favourite drink – barley brew. September’s name comes from the Latin…

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August 29: celebrate National Lemon Juice Day!

As an old saying goes, when life hands you lemons…make lemonade! And we add…when life hands you a chance to celebrate National Lemon Juice Day on August 29, do it! Lemons have been used for a variety of purposes over the years, but the most popular is probably the classic lemon juice. It can be used in people’s favorite drinks, wellness products, and even some of the tastiest dishes. Lemons are now one of the main ingredients in a whole range of things, and the juice is what is used…

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Last full weekend of August: International Bat Night

Bats have many places in literature and history, and serve roles dark but not only, depending on where you find them. Probably their most common association is with vampires, but there is also the fun-loving bat from Ferngully (Batty Coda) along with a host of other characters from literature and cinema. However, “real” bats have an important role to play in our eco-system, and some of them are becoming endangered. International Bat Night encourages us to learn more about this mostly nocturnal creature, and It takes place each year during…

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Vulcanalia: appeasing the God of fire

In ancient Rome, Vulcan (or Volcanus) was well known as the god of fire, both beneficial and hindering fire, particularly in its destructive aspects as volcanoes. Similar to the Greek Hephaestus, he was a god of the forge, and renowned for his metalworking skills, and he is portrayed as being lame. He was patron also of those occupations having to do with ovens such as cooks, bakers, pastry makers and pizza makers. Vulcan is one of the oldest of the Roman gods, and his origins can be traced back to…

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August 22 – Pecan Torte Day

Pecan Torte, Pecan Pie, and Pecan cakes are all very similar treats, and all of them are incredibly common to find being served in the deep south in the USA. Their delicious flavor is very appreciated, and best enjoyed with a rich topping of whipped heavy cream! But what is the difference between a cake and a torte? Tortes are invariably denser and are naturally creamier. They’re also commonly multi-layered to take advantage of rich creamy toppings like that mentioned above. They are typically prepared without baking powder or soda,…

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Sturgeon Moon: August’s full moon

As we already know, in ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on. For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the Northern Hemisphere seasons, and many of these names are very similar or identical. Today, we use many of these ancient month names as Full Moon names. A common explanation is that Colonial Americans adopted…

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August 19: celebrate National Potato Day!

National Potato Day is today, August 19, so if you like spuds, this one’s for you! A bag of chips, french fries, baked potatoes and mashed potatoes are just some of the delicious things you can make with potatoes, little tubers that have played an important role in the history of the world and was even the primary food crop for an entire nation. Potato Day celebrates the tuber and all the things you can use it for. What’s your favorite potato treat? Potatoes were first cultivated by man in…

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Celebrated International left-handers day on August 13!

International Left-Handers Day is today, August 13! It was started by the Left-Handers Club on 13th August 1992, when they launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere could celebrate their sinistrality and increased public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. According to other sources, the day was first observed in 1976 Campbell, founder of Lefthanders International, Inc. But, in any case, this event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there have been more than 20 regional events to mark the day…

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Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?

Ready for Friday the 13th? Well, depending on where you are, August 13, 2021, is considered a lucky (or unlucky) day. But why exactly is this day often associated with good or bad luck? What is the meaning of Friday the 13th and how did this superstition even begin? Friday the 13th occurs one to three times each year. For example, 2015 had a Friday the 13th in February, March, and November, while 2017 through 2020 had two Friday the 13ths each, and the years 2021 and 2022 will both…

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August 10: Happy National S’mores Day!

Graham crackers, melted chocolate and sticky toasted marshmallows, all in one little sandwich: S’mores are the one of the most popular North American treats, and it is estimated that over 90 million pounds of marshmallows are toasted over a fire there each year. It is also estimated that 50 percent of marshmallows bought during the summer are used for s’mores! Never tried them? Then S’mores Day is the perfect day to get started. And even for those people who have tried them, there is no reason to pass up the…

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August 3: National Watermelon Day

Mark Twain said: “When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” Well, this American literary hero understood the serious deliciousness of this fruit (or vegetable?), and, hopefully, after reading this article, you do, too. National Watermelon Day on August 3 recognizes the refreshing summertime fruit and, since it is 92% water, it is very satisfying in the summer heat. In fact, in the Kalahari desert (in Southern Africa), where they are called tsamma, watermelons are one of the main sources of water during the dry, hot season.…

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The Month of August: holidays, falling stars and folklore

“Summer declines and roses have grown rare, But cottage crofts are gay with hollyhocks, And in old garden walks you breathe an air Fragrant of pinks and August-smelling stocks.” —John Todhunter (1839-1916) Welcome August! What do we celebrate in this month? August is the time to reap what you’ve sown, quite literally even, as most summer vegetables are ready to be harvested. In fact for us it brings the best bounty of the season, including ripened tomatoes, melons and watermelons, sweet corn on the cob, and zucchini. Canning season is…

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Buck Moon: July’s Full Moon

A moon-flooded prairie; a straying Of leal-hearted lovers; a baying Of far away watching dogs; a dreaming Of brown-fisted farmers; a gleaming Of fireflies eddying nigh, — And that is July! James N. Matthews (1852–1910) As we already know, full Moon traditional names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred and not only to the full Moon. July’s long and hot summer days are filled with the…

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July 15: the weather folklore of St. Swithin’s Day

What’s the weather doing outside your window today? July 15th is St. Swithin’s Day and, according to an ancient tradition, if it rains on this day, it will rain for the next 40 days. In short, the story began in the year 971, when the bones of St Swithin (who had died over 100 years before) were moved to a special shrine at Winchester Cathedral, and there was a terrific storm that lasted for 40 days. And People said that the saint in heaven was weeping because his bones had…

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Tanabata: the Japanese Star Festival

Tanabata (Japanese: たなばた or 七夕, meaning literally “Evening of the seventh”), also known as the Star Festival (星祭り, or Hoshi matsuri), is a Japanese festival that celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi, represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively. According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, who are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The festival was introduced to Japan by the Empress Kōken in 755. It originated from “The…

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The ancient origins of the Dog Days of Summer

According to popular folklore: “Dog Days bright and clear Indicate a happy year; But when accompanied by rain, For better times, our hopes are vain.” It sounds good…but what are the Dog Days of summer, exactly? And what do they have to do with dogs? The exact dates of the Dog Days can vary from source to source and probably they have changed over time. However, most sources agree that they occur in mid- to late summer, from July 3 to August 11. This is soon after the Summer Solstice…

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The Month of July: holidays, a Summer Triangle and folklore

Traditionally, July is the month that seems to be dedicated to freedom, independence, and celebrations of countries and culture. It is named after Roman dictator Julius Caesar (100 B.C.–44 B.C.), after his death. Julius Caesar made one of his greatest contribution to history: with the help of Sosigenes, he developed the Julian calendar, the precursor to the Gregorian calendar we use still today. Its celebrations iclude July 1, Canada Day, a Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. In short, this federal statutory…

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July 1: It’s time to celebrate Canada Day!

Canada Day, in French Fête du Canada, is a federal statutory holiday celebrating Canadian Confederation. Originally called “Dominion Day”, the holiday commemorates the unification of the three North American British colonies, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (which at the time consisted of Ontario and Quebec). Historically, it was on July 1, 1867 when the British North America Act formally joined the colonies, creating the unified, semi-independent Dominion of Canada and, basically, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain. The enactment of the British North America…

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Strawberry Moon: June’s full moon

As we already know, in ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on. For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with seasons. However, some years have 13 Full Moons, which makes one of them a so-called Blue Moon, as it doesn’t quite fit in with the traditional Full Moon naming system, even if this is not…

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Midsummer: history, folklore and magic

Litha, or Midsummer, is a celebration that has been observed for centuries, in one form or another. Its exact dates vary among different cultures, but is primarily held close to the summer solstice. The celebration predates Christianity, and has existed under different names and traditions around the world. It is no surprise, then, that there are plenty of myths and legends associated with this time of year. We all have heard of the ancient summer solstice celebrations held at holy places like Stonehenge and Chichen Itza, and we have read…

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The incredible (unsolved) mystery of Kaspar Hauser

Nuremberg, May 26, 1828: a mysterious boy, about 16 years old, wanders in search of the Captain of the 4th Esgataron of the Shwolishay regiment, to whom he has to deliver a letter. Obviously, no citizen of Nuremberg is aware of the boy’s identity. The letter explains that, from 7 October 1812, the boy had been entrusted to the mysterious author and, among other things, instructed the captain that “…if he isn’t good for anything [the captain] must either kill him or hang him in the chimney.” Apparently Kaspar Hauser,…

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The Vestalia: Celebrating Vesta and Purifying Rome

Vesta was an ancient Roman goddess of the domestic and civic hearth whose annual festival, the Vestalia, was celebrated in this period, between the 7th and 15th of June. The Vestalia marked a pause in everyday life as the Romans honoured Vesta and purified her shrine. It was also a time to commemorate the benefits the goddess had brought to the city, and to ensure the continued safety and well-being of Rome and her people. Vesta was an Italic deity whose cult was popular in Pompeii and Latium before either…

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The Month of June 2021: holidays, curiosities and folklore

“It is the month of June, The month of leaves and roses, When pleasant sights salute the eyes, And pleasant scents the noses.” –N. P. Willis (1807-67) The month of June brings beautiful flowers, delicious fruits and vegetables, and an urge to get out there and enjoy the sunshine. June was most likely named for the Roman goddess Juno, patroness of marriage and the well-being of women, or from Lucius Junius Brutus, the one who drove out the last king of Rome and founded the Republic. Another version says that…

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May 31, 1962: the Voghera massacre

May 31, 1962: it is a warm but not sultry night when the fate of 64 people is about to be marked. Shortly after midnight, at 0.02 am, the 8151 freight train from Milan Rogoredo station leaves from Lecco and goes to Arquata Scrivia. The convoy consists of 33 wagons. In the meantime, at 0.45 am, from another Milan station, the Central Station, the fast train 1391 also leaves, expected in Genova Brignole at 5.22 am. The passenger convoy stops at Voghera where it arrives at the third platform 15…

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May’s Full Flower Moon: Full Moon and Bonfire

As we already know, the full Moon names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. May’s Flower Moon name should be no surprise, because flowers spring forth in abundance this month. Its name has been attributed to Algonquin peoples, but also May’s Moon other names tend to speak to the arrival of spring and all that it entails. The Cree names “Budding Moon” and “Leaf Budding Moon” celebrate the awakening of local flora, which really begin to leaf out now in many areas…

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May 14, 1983: the forgotten history of massacre of the Eros cinema in the suburbs of Milan, Italy

Saturday, May 14, 1983: while about thirty spectators were watching the first half of the porn film “Lyla, profumo di femmina” (Lyla, scent of a female), two young people showed up at the Eros Sexy Center cinema in viale Monza 101, near the Rovereto metro stop, they bought tickets, entered the hall and sat in the back rows (after the subsequent arrests, the cinema cashier will recognize Marco Furlan and remember having sold him three tickets, one of the main elements in support of the thesis that Ludwig, the obscure…

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Want to take your pet fish for a walk? Soon it might be possible!

Dear pet fish owners, you don’t need to be envious of fellow pet owners who are able to walk their pets because you may be able to walk your fish too! Well, more or less. A Japanese company is working on a unusual container / bag for live fish, suitable both for pet owners wanting to take their favorite fish on walks, but also for fans of super-fresh sashimi. Ok. This creation is not quite designed for walking your pet, but with the goal of transporting fish that you have…

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History and lore of Beltane, the ancient Celtic festival of May Day

Traditionally, Beltane honours life, and represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. This spring celebration is all about new life, fire, passion, and rebirth, in a time when the earth is lush and green, as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy, and flowers are abundant everywhere. The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of…

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The annual Pidakala battle of Kairuppala

Every April, the people of Kairuppala, a village in Andhra Pradesh state, Southern India, engage in an epic cow dung cake (or Pidakala) battle that often leaves dozens injured. The reason? They believe the tradition brings them good health and prosperit, and, in addition, locals believe the battle brings rains to the village. According to the legend, Lord Veerabhadra Swamy, a fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva, and the Goddess Bhadrakhali fell in love and decided to marry. In order to tease his beloved, Veerabhadra Swamy declared that he…

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Floralia: the festival in ancient Rome in honor of the goddess Flora

The Floralia was a festival in ancient Rome in honor of the goddess Flora, held April 27 during the Republican era, or April 28 in the Julian calendar. The festival included Ludi Florae, the “Games of Flora” which lasted for six days under the empire. The festival had a licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere and, in contrast to many festivals which had a patrician character, the games of Flora were plebeian in nature. The holiday for Flora (as officially determined by Julius Caesar when he fixed the Roman calendar) ran from April…

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