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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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