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The History of Valentine’s Day!

Contributed by guest author, Grace Sammons Vintage engraving Amour tire de l’Almanach des Muses de 1807 (Love pulls from the Almanac of the Muses of 1807) As we enter the season of rose bouquets and heart-shaped candies, I thought it’d be interesting to share the not-so-lovely story about how Cupid’s holiday came to be what it is today. The history of Valentine’s day is a bit patchy, with not a whole lot of specific details, but the story is definitely worth a share. So, to start out this story, let’s journey back to 269-270 A.D. during the reign of Roman…

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Happy Ground Hog Day!

(courtesy of Guest Author, Grace Sammons) Groundhog, groundhog, in your burrow, do we get to spring forward or will you see your shadow? With spring just around the corner, it’s that wonderful time of year where we look to our furry forecaster, the groundhog, to see if spring is here early or if we have 6 more weeks of winter. So why exactly do we do this? It’s actually quite an interesting story! Groundhog Day is a very old annual tradition dating back to 1887! The unique holiday is celebrated on the 2nd of February each year and it is…

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History… Gone to the Dogs! (Part 1): 4 Furry Friends from Ancient Greece and Rome

I might be a little bit obsessed with dog breeds.  About a year ago, I found myself looking for a new dog.  Given my background in research, it might not surprise you that I spent quite a bit of time reading about different breeds.     I made a spreadsheet with our criteria and assigned a point value to each category, then ranked my top 25 breeds from most compatible to least compatible. (We ended up with a collie, if you’re curious).  All this to say: please make sure that when you choose a dog, you make sure you understand the…

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History… Gone to the Dogs! (Part 2): 5 Furry Friends from Ancient China

I’m still on my imaginary, time-traveling quest for the perfect dog. Today, I am headed to Ancient and Medieval China.   I am going all the way back to The Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China, lasting from 221 to 206 BC. Named for Qin state, where it began, the dynasty was founded by Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of Qin. The Qin Dynasty unified China and created The Great Wall of China and the Terra Cotta Army.  During the Qin Dynasty, the Shar Pei appeared. Shar Pei were bred as fighting dogs and continue to be…

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Sugarplums! Recipe for a Victorian Holiday Treat

In the Victorian era, sweets made of dried fruits, with nuts, spices and sugar, were special holiday treats. These “sugar plums” were carefully prepared and then put in cones of festively colored paper to hang on the Christmas tree or packaged in pretty boxes for gifts. To create a special treat, and give yourself a taste of history, try our Victorian Sugarplum Recipe. You Will Need: A pinch of ground cinnamon A pinch of ground nutmeg A pinch of allspice 1 teaspoon of orange zest 1.75 ounces of crystalized ginger, chopped 2 ounces of chopped almonds 2 ounces of chopped…

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Fashion and History: 7 Fun Facts!

Courtesy of Guest Contributor, Grace Sammons . As the saying goes, everything old is new again. . Fashion is one of those things that has been, and always will be, relevant. No matter how many new trends there are, clothes are something we use each and every day. Fashion is always evolving, but sometimes something that seems new to us, isn’t really all that new. Fashion tends to repeat itself. A lot of the trends we know and love today, were the same trends that our grandparents loved too! In this post, I thought it would be fun to share…

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Gross and the Glorious: History Hygiene Habits

Ewwww!!! or Ahhhh!!!???  Although popular in some ancient cultures, bathing fell out of favor in Europe during the Middle Ages. (Imagine how you would smell after a few days, not to mention a few months!)  You see, people believed bathing was a health risk. They didn’t understand how germs spread and thought disease could enter the body’s pores from sitting in dirty water.  The Church did not help the cause of personal cleanliness either, concluding that bath houses were dens of sin.  While it didn’t stop Charlemagne, it stopped plenty of other people from regular bathing.   For starters, for your…

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The Story of Jack (AKA, Mr. O’Lantern)

Photo by Beth Teutschmann on Unsplash With October coming to an end, for many people, it’s time to carve pumpkins into Jack O’ Lanterns. Have you ever wondered where this fascinating tradition comes from? In this post let’s take a dive into the history of the Jack O’ Lantern. It all starts with an Irish folktale called The Legend of Stingy Jack.  So who exactly is this “Stingy Jack?” As the story goes, Jack lived in a small Irish village. He was known among the villagers as a drunk and not a very nice person. In fact, the Devil himself…

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Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

by Stephanie Hanson Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! Or, as you might call it where you live, Columbus Day.  Why are some areas changing the name of this federal holiday? Let’s take a closer look at Christopher Columbus and find out!  When you were growing up, did you learn a poem about how “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?”  The poem goes on to describe the very nice Arawak natives and how Columbus was brave and bright. You might have learned that he was “brave and bright” because he believed the world was round when everyone else…

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Game of Thrones Unboxed!!!

by Stephanie Hanson Unless you have been hiding under the proverbial rock, you have heard of the television series Game of Thrones. Known for its high body count and fantasy setting, the series is widely popular. But did you know that Game of Thrones is based on the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R.R. Martin? And, did you know that Martin was inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (Hmm… check out those middle initials!) and the War of the Roses, as well as other historic events. Want to have a little fun?!!! Let’s…

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STEM, History and Penicillin…What?!!!

by Carol Bettencourt, History Unboxed Marketing Manager There is a lot of talk these days about the value of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – in education. Proponents of a STEM-based education argue that: >       To remain competitive, countries must educate their next generation of innovators, engineers and scientists. >       Job prospects and income tend to be higher for those with STEM-based degrees. >       STEM skills are essential to solving lots of the world’s problems, such as environmental changes and an expanding population. All of these things are true,…

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Five Ancient Civilizations You (Probably) Never Studied in School

When I was in 5th grade, we had an Ancient Greece festival. It was a lot of fun, especially since I pretended to be the Oracle at Delphi and told fortunes to all my classmates.  We talked about ancient Greece during several different grade levels at school.  I think we also studied the Egyptians and Romans in elementary school. In high school history, we learned about ancient history in Mesopotamia, India, and China.  Taking a peek at today’s standards in the state where I live, not much has changed. Imagine, when you go beyond the range of Alexander the Great’s…

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