History of Erasing Unpopular Leaders: Damnatio Memoriae

HeadlessNero

HISTORY OF ERASING UNPOPULAR LEADERS: DAMNATIO MEMORIAE During the early Roman Empire two millennia ago, an emperor might be deified after he died if he was popular and good. (Think: the Divine Augustus.) Alternatively, if he was unpopular and wicked, he was “erased” from society’s memory. The Latin term Damnatio Memoriae means the condemnation of…

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History of Amazing Grace, part 2: William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 2: William Wilberforce As I mentioned in my first article on the History of Amazing Grace, this is the story of the lives of two men and that one song. In the first part, we discussed the life of the song’s author John Newton. The 2007 film “Amazing Grace,” however,…

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History of Amazing Grace, part 1

Amazing Grace

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 1 On February 23, 1807, the British parliament passing a bill banning the nation’s slave trade. In these two articles, we’ll explore the lives of two men and one song that played a large role in that effort. John Newton‘s devoted Christian mother dreamed that her only son would grow…

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History of Ash Wednesday: Where does the Ash come from?

Ash Wednesday

HISTORY OF ASH WEDNESDAY In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends 40 days later, not counting Sundays, with Easter. It…

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History of Mardi Gras: Why is it called Fat Tuesday?

Mardi Gras

HISTORY OF MARDI GRAS In French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated the day after Shrove Monday and the day before Ash Wednesday as a last “fling” before the 40 days of self-denial of Lent which precede Easter. Lent is a word that comes from the Middle English word “lente” which means “springtime” —…

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History of Shrove Monday: Ahead of Mardi Gras

Shrove Monday

HISTORY OF SHROVE MONDAY The Monday before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Monday. The three days before Ash Wednesday is also known as “Shrovetide,” starting with Quinquagesima Sunday and ending on Shrove Tuesday, known more popularly as Mardi Gras. Quinquagesima meant the fiftieth day before Easter, or specifically the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday…

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History of Presidents Day: More than just Washington and Lincoln?

Presidents Day

HISTORY OF PRESIDENTS DAY During my lifetime, two American holidays got consolidated into one. In 1971, a day between both Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and Washington’s Birthday on February 22 became a single holiday, Presidents Day — alternately spelled President’s Day or Presidents’ Day — to be observed on the third Monday in February,…

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History of St. Valentine’s Day

HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE’S DAY St. Valentine was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14. One was a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni.   Context It would appear from legend that…

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History of the Fourth Estate: The Press

Fourth Estate

HISTORY OF THE FOURTH ESTATE: THE PRESS When you hear about The Fourth Estate, it usually means The Press. Where did the term Fourth Estate come from? What do we mean by The Press, and how has it changed in modern times? I conclude with a cautionary tale from early U.S. history.   Origin of…

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History of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

HISTORY OF CHINESE NEW YEAR This weekend marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. This is the oldest, longest, and most important social and economic holiday in China. Chinese New Year, which begins the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It starts this year on February 12, though the celebrations continue for around two…

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History of the Super Bowl: Just another Religious Holiday?

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl™ is a territory acquisition athletic contest played on a fixed agrarian grid using, as a token, an inflated porcine prolate spheroid. It is the most important holiday of the year in America some will say. While it is ostensibly a secular holiday, others argue that it is truly a religious holiday. And…

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History of The Beatles

HISTORY OF THE BEATLES On February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed at JFK Airport in New York. The airport had recently been renamed by a mourning country in honor of President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just 77 days earlier. The airport was now full of 4,000 greeters. Not realizing why there was such a…

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