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Articles Categorized History

Saints & Snakes

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. A day to drink green beer, catch a leprechaun, and cheer the Emerald Isle and it’s legends. So, of course, this blog has something to do with St. Patrick, but it has more to do with snakes. In the Christian tradition, it’s fair to say snakes have a bad rap.

Beware the Ides of March

When I was in high school during the last century, students studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 10th grade. Besides grappling with impossible language and syntax, we encountered the soothsayer’s warning in Act 1, Scene 2. Caesar and his advisors make their way through a crowd on a festival day, perhaps the festival of Lupercalia, an

Jumpin’ Jiminy: It’s Leap Year

You may not have noticed, but we have an extra day this month. Leap Day, February 29, is this Saturday. For most of us, it’s just another day, but it’s existence is what keeps our solar calendar in sync with the earth’s orbit around the sun. So let’s do some calendrical history. The Ancient Romans

The History & Impact of Chopsticks

Did you know February 6 is National Chopstick Day? It’s an obscure commemoration for unique eating utensils used by about one-third of the world’s population. Chopstick use requires a surprising amount of dexterity, and involves 30 joints and 50 muscles in the right-hand fingers, wrist, arm, and shoulder.  In other words, using chopsticks is harder

Holly, Ivy & Christmas

Holly, with its dramatic red berries, and ivy are two more evergreen symbols of Christmas that predate the Christian celebration. Romans decorated their homes with holly and ivy during Saturnalia, a year end festival honoring Saturn. Celts used the plants during the winter solstice. Both plants stand out during bleak winter days, with or without

Whitby: The West Cliff & Beyond

There’s one last sight to see before crossing the Swing Bridge to the West Side of Whitby. If you take a left before crossing the bridge, you’ll be on Grape Lane, a narrow thoroughfare of some interest. Some say Grape Lane was known of Grope Lane, a place where prostitutes plied their trade among the

Whitby: Crossing the River Esk

Just below the Abbey and the last stop before leaving the Eastern Headland, there’s a squat church founded by monks from Whitby Abbey in about 1100. Most of the present interior dates from the 18th century, including heat derived from a cast-iron coal burning stove, and candle light from wall sconces and a bronze chandelier.

Whitby: The East Cliff Headland

Writing is an exercise in imagination. And one of my favorite places to let my creativity run wild is Whitby, on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk. This is a photo from the west entrance to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, a Benedictine monastery from the 12th century. With

The Globe Theater, Then & Now

Over the years, countless English literature students have read plays by William Shakespeare and been told these plays were first performed at The Globe Theater. The Globe was one of the first theaters in London. Initially, plays were performed on street corners and in the yards of inns which I’m sure served refreshments. In 1576

The ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Directly across from the Albert Memorial, on the other side of Kensington High Street, stands a solid brick building built in keeping with Prince Albert’s dream for a central hall and a district to promote the arts and sciences.  The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first step in making Albert’s vision a reality. When