This month, the last one of the year in Western time keeping, has got some interesting facts that you may not know of. So, here they are:
Saint Nicholas’ Day
Today, December 6, is known as Saint Nicholas’ Day. It is a tribute to the Greek Christian bishop Nicholas of Myra, known for miracles and giving gifts secretly, who died on 343-12-06, and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students. In Germany, it is a tradition to put a boot outside of own’s house on the evening of December 5, so that Nikolaus (as he is called in Germany) can stuff it with treats. But do not put out both boots, you may seem too greedy!
Saint Nicholas is of course the origin of the name Santa Claus, who comes in person to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. See also reference #1 below.
Interesting facts from Finland
Exactly three years ago, on 2017-12-06, I wrote about the centennial of independence of Finland. My mother’s family had roots there, so I was accustomed to hear the greeting “Hyvää joulua” (i.e. Merry Christmas) when the time was right, but I had not idea that the whole month in Finnish had a direct linguistic connection.
Whereas many Western languages base there naming of the months on Latin traditions, in Finnish, which belongs to a different group of languages, they have a totally different scheme. In that sense, the month of December is called “joulukuu”, which literally means “Christmas month”. And as you can see from reference #2 below, the other months of the year are also different, basing their names on different events in nature.
At midnight today we will stand before a fact that only happens once in a calendar year. You might remember from your school days a mnemonic to remember the length of a certain month. Start with your left hand and where there is knuckle that corresponding month has 31 days, the valleys in between are for months with normally 30 days, except for February. Put your to hands together and you have two knuckles without any valley between them. This is of course July and August.
So how come this phenomenon? This, as many other things, has its origin in Rome, around the beginning of the Christian era of counting the years. The former month namned sextilis, meaning the sixth month, was renamed to that of Emperor Augustus as a tribute to his many feats during that certain month. But why 31 days also in August, and as in July? There is a common misconception, invented in 13th century, that Augustus wanted to have his month equal to that of the great Julius Caesar. Well, that is fake news! It is was already that way when the Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. And furthermore, the two consecutive months December and January, both also have 31 days. So, really, there is no good, plausible reason for this question. See also reference # 1 below.
Now over to some geography. My good old friend Arthur and his family recently visited the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. And as you have seen before, when they travel, my friends spread out over the world, remember me! They send me photos of the place, so that I can show them to you. My warmest thanks to Arthur, and all his predecessors in this great habit!
The photo above was taken in the center of the capital of Luxembourg, which also is called Luxembourg (and sometimes Luxembourg City)! The building in the middle is famous for, among our things, to have been the seat of the High Authority of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), consisting of six member countries. This was the origin of the current European Union (EU), and the High Authority these days is called the European Commission. So it is no coincidence that you see all those flags from Luxembourg and the EU in the forefront. See also references # 2 and 3 below.
Below are some more photos from Luxembourg, enjoy!
You have probably heard and seen that NASA has sent another mission to explore Mars. It was launched yesterday, and as a tribute, all articles in a newsletter from HowStuffWorks (HSW) on the same day were also about Mars, quite interesting stuff! In reference # 4 below is an article the new NASA Perseverance Rover which will search for signs of a ancient Martian Life. Look up the article and while you are on the HSW website, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter, so that you will have many interesting stories to read in the future.
The following subject is something that is constantly on everyone’s mind these days, the Covid-19 pandemic. So, why not take it from the humorous side, for once?
Finally, tomorrow I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of my favourite online game, Wordfeud. I have been addicted since April, 2012. Don’t know Wordfeud? Look at my post from 2016-03-18 !