The Nobel Peace Prize medal depicts 3 naked men with their hands on each others shoulders.
- Fortune cookies were actually invented in America, not China!
- Of the 17,000+ words used by Shakespeare, more than 1,700 are recorded for the first time.
- During our lifespan the average human grows approximately 590 miles of hair. How do we know? Well, consider this, hair grows approximately 6″ annually and the average lifespan is 67.2 years. So we multiply: 6 x 100,000 x 67.2 = 40,320,000 inches = 636 miles. Hair growth is not uniform however this calculation would be a highly likely average.
- The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days when the fire engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and soon figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
- A hurricane releases more energy in 10 minutes, than all the world’s nuclear weapons combined.
- The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.
- According to one study, 24% of homes with lawns have some sort of lawn ornament in their yard.
- 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321. Go ahead, grab your calculator and verify it.
- The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.
- The chances of you dying on the way to get your lottery tickets is greater than your chances of winning.
- If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19.You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
- Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do. (Sorry for that news sis.)
- In ancient Egypt, Priests plucked every hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.
- More people have a phobia of vomiting than death.
- The human brain holds between 1 and 7 terabytes (1 and 7 million megabytes) of data.
- Men buy an average of 3.4 pairs of underwear in a year.
- Testosterone in males decreases 10% every 10 years.
The monkey flower, looks like a monkeys face.
- The location of the Mars face on Mars matches the location of Stone Henge in England.
- Venus’s day is longer then its year.
- The rotation of the Earth will eventually slow down to match the moon. So they say.
- President George W. Bush was once a cheerleader! Give me a G-E-O-R-G-E!
- The most popular boy’s first name in the world is Muhammad.
- Sound does not travel in space.
The Christmas and New Year holidays are traditionally the most celebrated annual events worldwide. As the new year begins to unfold a large majority of us seek ways to find a more balanced and fulfilled life.
A friend recently shared with me the acronym S-P-I-C-E-S which is a stress management and overall wellness concept in filling your life with a balance in the six areas of Social, Physical, Intellectual, Career, Emotional, and Spiritual. Each element plays an important role in leading and successful living a well-rounded life and being genuinely happy with your life and the decisions/choices made.
As many know in a balanced life, “being well/wellness” is much more than being free from illnesses and/or a sick body. It encompasses a positive attitude which incorporate a person’s sense of responsibility and uniqueness.
Being socially active allows one to build and maintain relationships, both personally and professionally.
This is just as it states…being physical, exercising and maintaining the physical movement for balanced wellness (physically and emotionally.)
Being involved in mental activities which are stimulating and creative.
Never underestimate the power of having goals and/or a direction in your life.
Being aware of your emotions and feelings and express or respond in a positive manner. You’ll be happy you did.
What describes you? What are your personal beliefs, values, and ethics? These things have an impact on your “balance.”
Let’s strive to add balance to all areas of our life this new year. Learn to be a little more patient with others, choose our words so they correctly express our true feelings without breaking down others. Make it a goal to genuinely convey our gratitude to others and build them UP with encouragement.
Make 2015 your best year yet. Try something new, make life an adventure, make a new friend or two and make memories! Get out there…you’ve got a life to live!
Julie T. Lusk, M.Ed., R/CYT, Stress Solutions Now
Christmas Returns to England
Christmas was legitimized when the English monarchy, led by Charles II, returned to power in 1660. The holiday could be observed freely, and people were happy. The popular sentiment of the time was expressed in this verse:
Now thanks to God for Charles’ return,
Whose absence made old Christmas mourn;
For then we scarcely did it know,
Whether it Christmas were or no.
With the goodwill of the new leaders, and with the lifting of the formal bans instituted under the Puritans, Christmas seemed to be positioned for a comeback of titanic proportions in England. But it was not to be.
The holiday was, at the outset of the Restoration, a shadow of what it had been. The pagan excesses and riotous elements were not the only things lost to the Puritan purge; the Christmas spirit seemed to have left many hearts and minds.
Indeed, although the Puritans had been deposed, much of their philosophy still carried a lot of weight , and many carried on as if they were still in power. Christmas may have been legal, but it was still opposed by some powerful members of the clergy. This left a good many parishioners in a bind, and kept the holiday from making much of a public recovery. The middle of the eighteenth century brought still more obstacles.
In this time of the Industrial Revolution, all thoughts had seemingly turned toward work; everything took a back seat to the quest for money and progress. In this fast-paced atmosphere, it appeared, there was simply no room for the holidays.
The numbing, inescapable want of most English workers and their families was one of the chief reasons that people had a hard time finding much to celebrate during this period.
Common people didn’t have much to celebrate with and they didn’t have much time, either. England had entered into an era of child labor, miserable working conditions, and endless work weeks.
Throughout this period, there were small, quiet groups of people who kept the holiday alive in their hearts and homes. But mass enjoyment of the holiday would not take place again until the Victorian Era.
The Germans Kept the Flame Alive
While Public celebrations of Christmas faced both religious objections and adverse social conditions in England, the German people were enjoying a wonderful and expansive Christmas tradition that had been building up over the centuries. It is very likely that the American love affair with Christmas that began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so influential in the way the whole world now views the holiday, would never have occurred if it had not been for the enthusiastic influence of Christmas-loving German immigrants.
The Germans had long espoused the idea of keeping the spirit of Christmas alive inside – in one’s heart, mind, and spirit – and turning that feeling outward in mass celebration. The German Christmas is one filled with trees, gingerbread houses, cookies, feasts, and carols; but most of all, it is the Christmas of childhood wonder and joy.
The Christmas season in Germany is about the longest anywhere; a month and a half. Starting with St. Andrew’s Night on November 30, the country throws itself into a festive abandon that doesn’t wind down until January 13, the Octave of Epiphany. Between those days, sixteen holidays are observed, and life is filled with both strict devotion to the Christ Child and joyous merriment. The cities are brimming with Christkindlmarkts (Christ Child Markets), fairs, parades, and carolers. The smell of gingerbread and other delicious treats is in the air, and Christmas trees are everywhere. Other German contributions to the world’s celebration of Christmas include the timeless carols “O’Tannenbaum” (“Oh, Christmas Tree”) and “Silent Night.”
One of the beneficiaries of the German love of Christmas was Victorian England. Queen Victoria assumed the throne in 1837 at the age of eighteen; three years later, she married Prince Albert, who became Prince Consort. Albert, being of German descent, brought with him to England many of his homeland’s wonderful Christmas traditions.
In 1761, the Bank of England closed for forty-seven holidays over the course of the year; in 1834, it closed for only four. Employees of the mid-nineteenth century considered themselves lucky to get a half-day off for Christmas.
The German people have had an enormous part to play in shaping Christmas into the form we know and love today. It has been said that the Germans had such an abundance of Christmas spirit that they gave some of it to the rest of the world.
Christmas is Outlawed
It’s not surprising that some members of the clergy objected to the way in which Christ’s birth was being commemorated: Aside from the gluttony and games, they worried about observing Jesus’ birth as if he were a person rather than the Incarnate God. They argued that celebrations of the Nativity should be more spiritual, or perhaps abolished outright.
The more Christmas became established in the customs and hearts of the people, the more worried the clergy became. Old worries about the pagan elements of the celebration began to surface again, and some church officials questioned the prudence of having allowed them to continue in the first place.
With the Protestant Reformation in Europe, these objections gained the backing of an organized power. Beginning in 1517 with the posting of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses, the Reformation attacked religious feasts and saint’s days, among other things, as corrupt practices. Christmas was outlawed in Scotland in 1583.
The Protestants and Puritans of England also condemned the gluttony, drinking, and partying associated with Christmas celebrations and argued for all pagan customs to be done away with. Most Protestants observed Christmas as a day of quiet reflection; the Puritans pointed to the commandment to devote six days for work and one to rest. Unless Christmas happened to fall on the Sabbath, it was considered a workday.
By the middle of the seventeenth century, the holiday was under fire. The feelings of previous small pockets of objectors began to have a bigger impact as the political situation in England became increasingly unstable. From 1642 to 1649, the country was engaged in civil war as a result of the power struggle between the Stuart kings and Parliament. During this time, England entered its Commonwealth period and was ruled by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. The government issued official policies outlawing all religious festivals.
The era of the Puritan government was filled with such laws, updated over the years to become even more strict. At first, such declarations caused a great deal of upheaval among the people, who were unprepared for such a step. In the initial days of these ordinances, the people tried to disobey and there was even some rioting. Gradually, however, the Puritans won out. Christmas was outlawed, and those who celebrated it in any way were outlaws. Carols were deemed illegal and churches were locked, even to the clergy.
Technically, the Puritans objected to Christmas not as a Christian event, but as an excessive festival with pagan roots. Apparently, they believed the only way to deal with such impious doings was to abolish the day and everything associated with it. They meant to banish this wrong not only from the country, but also from the hearts of its subjects. They came very close to succeeding – but then came the Restoration.
(Jeffrey, Yvonne, “The Everything Family Christmas Book”)
“Whereas some doubts have been raised whether the next Fast shall be celebrated because it falleth on the day which, heretofore, was usually called the Feast of the Nativity of our Saviour, the lords and commons do order and ordain that published notice be given, that the Fast appointed to be kept on the last Wednesday in every month, ought to be observed until it be otherwise ordered by both houses; and that this day particularly is to be kept with the same solemn humiliation because it may call to remembrance our sins and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this Feast, pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him, by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights.”
(1644 English proclamation outlawing public Christmas revelries)
Christianity gradually made it way across Europe, brining Christmas with it. The holiday came to England, for example, via St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, who reportedly baptized more than 10,000 English people on December 25, 598. Acting under the direction of Pope Gregory I, Augustine was also instrumental in bringing the celebration of Christmas to the area.
At the end of the sixth century, the pope instructed Augustine to make over the midwinter Yule festival into Christmas observances, emphasizing the importance of condoning any customs from the festival that could be found to contain Christian significance. It was a well-tested strategy, and it worked.
In ninth-century England, Alfred the Great declared that the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany should be reserved for seasonal festivities, thus formalizing observation of the twelve days of Christmas in England.
Alfred was serious about celebrating: As par of his declaration, he made working during this period illegal. He followed his own rules, and at great cost. In 878, he refused to go to war during the twelve days of Christmas. His failure to do so is said to have caused England to lose the Battle of Chippenham to the Danes.
Christmas arrived in Germany in 813, via the Synod of Mainz, and was brought to Norway in the mid-900s by King Hakon the Good. By the end of the ninth century, Christmas was observed all over Europe with trees, lights, gifts, and feasts. The items that had held significance for the old religions were either tossed aside or altered to fit within a Christian context. Over the centuries, the holiday was increasingly reformed to contain fewer of the old pagan elements.
While Christmas today is thought of as a time of joy and peace, Christmas is medieval England after 1066 instead achieved heights of extravagance and rowdiness. Celebrating the season for the full twelve days was no problem: People would attend church in masks and costumes as on Halloween, and churchgoers would sing off-color songs and even roll dice on the alter.
Christmas during this period was a time for some good-natured ribbing of the church’s solemnity. A touch of comedy was added to the sermons, which were so serious during the rest of the year. The festivities weren’t entirely irreverent, however; There was also devout caroling and Nativity plays, although in the latter Herod was often portrayed in a comic vein.
The king and court has a grand time trying to outdo each other with outrageous abundance. Henry III had 600 oxen killed and prepared for a single feast – and that was just the main course. Merchants and other higher ups paid their respects to thee king by giving him gifts and cash, and there were guidelines for gift giving based on one’s social position. Henry once closed merchants until they paid their proper dues, although in 1248 he seemed to regain a bit of his Christmas spirit when he established a custom of giving food to the needy for the holidays.
Gambling was also a big part of the festivities around the court; stories of royalty using loaded dice to insure against losing seem to capture the spirit of the age. Buy royal excess at Christmas surely reached its height in 1377. In that year, Richard II has a Christmas feast for more than 10,000 people. Records don’t indicate whether the 2,000 employed at the feast enjoyed the holiday.
The fourteenth century also saw the beginning of widespread caroling. Carols had been used in Roman churches as early as the second century, but they came to England much later, by way of France. In the Middle-Ages, they were used in conjunction with Nativity plays to convey the Christmas story to those who could not read. By the 1500s the mummers, a traveling band of costumed carousers somewhat like street actors, were out and about.
In 1533, Henry VIII made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England, taking on the power of regulating religious holidays, including Christmas. He then proceeded to rival Henry III in yuletide extravagance.
Under his rule, Christmas became a very big deal indeed, both socially and ecclesiastically, and Christmas celebrations were filled with dancing, plays, general carousing, and of course, food. This tradition was carried on by his daughter, Elizabeth I, and upon the accession of James I in 1603, by the Stuarts.
(Jeffrey, Yvonne, “Everything Family Christmas Book”)
There are some who believe that King Arthur celebrated the first English Christmas in 521 with his Knights of the Round Table, without the input of either Augustine or Gregory. Given the legends surrounding King Arthur, however, this remains the territory or myth, rather than fact.
Fortunately, for historians and carol lovers alike, a young man named Richard Hill kept a written record of, among other things, the popular English carols of the time. Spanning the years 1500-1536, Hill’s diary was extremely valuable in helping to keep alive such secular songs as “The Boar’s Head Carol.” The song lyrics are below.
The boar’s head in hand bring I, (Or: The boar’s head in hand bear I,)
Bedeck’d with bays and rosemary.
And I pray you, my masters, be merry (Or: And I pray you, my masters, merry be)
Quot estis in convivio (Translation: As many as are in the feast)
Caput apri defero (Translation: The boar’s head I offer)
Reddens laudes Domino (Translation: Giving praises to the Lord)
The boar’s head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedeck’d with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico. (Translation: Let us serve with a song)
Our steward hath provided this
In honor of the King of Bliss;
Which on this day to be served is
In Reginesi atrio. (Translation: In the hall of Queen’s [College, Oxford])