The Star Spangled Banner is in fact British !…..

America acquired the song that is its national anthem about thirty-eight years after the country won its independence from Britain. It is somewhat ironic that the melody is British, and came from a song extolling the pleasures of wine and getting laid. The American lyrics were of course penned by …

A brief history of the match……..

  Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern man, accidentally discovered fire through the friction generated by two sticks rubbed together. But 1.5 million years would pass before a British chemist, John Walker, produced instantaneous fire through the friction of a match rubbed over a coarse surface. Ironically, we know more …

A very short history of Chopsticks……

  As mentioned in a previous post on forks, the early Europeans were confused with the new vogue of cutting food at the table into small, bite-size pieces. They found the custom, recently introduced by merchants trading with China, tedious and pointlessly fastidious. Unknown to thirteenth-century Europeans was the Oriental …

A very short history of the bra……

  The very first modern bra was introduced to the ladies of New York by Mary Phelps Jacob (1891 -1970), a prominent socialite. Her primary concern was not comfort, bearing in mind corsets were still in vogue, but appearance. In 1913, in preparing to go to a swanky ball, she …

Why do we call a comet, a comet?…..

  “Comet” is from two Greek words. Kometes means “with long hair,” and is derived from kome, meaning “the hair of the head.” To name the stars that orbited the sun and trailed long, cloudlike tails, the Greeks used their noun aster (“star”) and added kometes. This combination meant “a …

A very short history of the sneeze……

  “Gesundheit,” say the Germans; “Felicità,” say the Italians; and the Welsh  say “dduw bendithia chi” whilst the Arabs clasp hands and reverently bow. Every culture believes in a benediction following a sneeze. The custom goes back to a time when a sneeze was regarded as a sign of great …

Why do we call Monday, Monday?……

  The ancient Greeks and Romans named the days of the week after the sun, the moon, and the planets, which they had already named for their gods The Germanic and Norse peoples adopted this practice and simply replaced the Roman gods’ names with those of similar deities. Six of …

A very short history of wedding cakes……

    The wedding cake was not always eaten by the bride; it was originally thrown at her ! It developed as one of many fertility symbols integral to the marriage ceremony.  Wheat, long a symbol of fertility and prosperity, was one of the earliest grains to ceremoniously shower new …

What exactly is a Villain?

  As ancient Rome grew in power and influence, wealthier Romans began to build country houses outside the city. In Latin, such an estate was called a villa. Caretakers, groundskeepers, and domestic help were needed to maintain the house and property, so the Roman landowner built other small dwellings around …