The Year was 2019

What was the pin Nancy Pelosi was wearing during the State of the Union Address? It was a mace. So what is a mace? Way back when people weren’t the kind, thoughtful human beings we are today (!), men – and maybe women – settled their disagreements by clubbing each other over the head with…

The Year was 1902

Will there be any little Sweetheart candy hearts for Valentine’s Day this year? No! The first Valentine candy heart with a saying was made by two brothers, Oliver and Silas Chase. They invented and patented a candy-making machine and were in business in 1847. One of them made a new machine that would stamp sayings…

The Year was 1095

They started in 1095 and ended in 1271, but the word we use today only came into existence after 1760. The word? Crusade. In 1570 France, it was croisade. It comes from the Latin cruciare, “to mark with a cross.” In this case, Cross. The Latin base is crux. At the Council of Clermont, Pope…

The Year was 2018

What a park! Originally called Greensward, it is Central Park, New York City; 750 acres, commissioned by the New York State legislature in 1853. By 2017, it had everything – almost. To let people know where they were in the park, 21 gates were designated. To avoid competition, in 1862, the Board of Commissions decided…

The Year was c. 950 BC

Menelik I was the son of the Queen of Sheba. This country was probably Saba (1200 BC-275 AD), a land on the Red Sea which is now Ethiopia. People question whether the queen’s son was fathered by Solomon, king of Israel (970-931 BC). Considering that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and the queen…

The Year was 986

The red-haired, red-bearded Viking, Eric the Red (Erik Thorvaldsson), may well be the greatest public relations genius the world will ever see. His said, “Men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name.” What land was he talking about?  Eric was born in a violent time and place….

The Year was 1582

Or was it 45 BC? Or 1752? Or 1929? Or… This was the year that January 1st became New Year’s Day. The first person to decree this was Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. He was disgusted with the mess the lunar calendar had created over time. And emperors weren’t averse to added or taking days…

The Year was 1955

Santa! Quick! Where is he??? NORAD knows? What? If you call this number, 877-HI-NORAD, someone will answer and give you an update. How did the military in the United States and Canada start this, now operated by some 1,500 military personnel and volunteers? They didn’t. In 1955, someone at Sears got a brilliant idea. Why…

The Year was 165 BCE

That was the year the Jews reclaimed the Temple. Three years earlier, they had been attacked and lost, Judaism was outlawed and the Temple was trashed. Then, with Judas Maccabeus leading them, the Jews fought and won,regaining their land. It was the 25th of the month of Kislev. They cleaned out the Temple and wanted…

The Year was 1441

O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum… We know this is Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas tree…and in fact the Christmas tree comes from early German Protestant celebrations of Christmas. But where did the Lutherans get this idea of decorating greenery in the middle of winter? The Vikings made green bows part of their celebration of mid-winter, perhaps…