Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

December 31, 2017

December 31, 2017

In Canada, December 31 is commemorated as the Levee.  It’s a social gathering held by the Governor General, Lieutenant General and the military in Canada. Levee had been celebrated for years, but it was first tied to New Year’s Eve, in Canada, in 1646. The Governor of New France held the levee in the Chateau St. Louis, and during the levee he informed the guests of what to look forward to in the new year and that they were expected to renew their allegiance to the Crown. The tradition of the levee continued after the Governor Charles Huault de Montmagny was no longer in charge.

Happy New Years Eve Everybody!

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December 28, 2017

December 28, 2017

While often sung in the lead-up to Christmas, the 12 Days of Christmas actually refers to the twelve days starting Christmas day, or in some traditions, the day after Christmas (December 26) to the day before Epiphany, or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day).  That makes December 28 the 4th Day of Christmas, and the ‘True Love’ gifts 4 colly birds (or calling bird).

The song is often sung, but what exactly is a colly bird? According to Peter Armenti, the literature specialist for the Digital Reference Section at the Library of Congress, a ‘colly bird’ is essentially referring to a Black Bird.

As the song’s recipient receives 7 Swans, 6 Geese, 4 Colly Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge, here’s hoping they really like birds!

December 27, 2017

December 27, 2017

On this day:

1814 – War of 1812: The American schooner USS Carolina is destroyed. It was the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson’s makeshift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

1831 – Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.

1836 – The worst ever avalanche in England occurs at Lewes, Sussex, killing eight people.

1845 – Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Georgia.

1911 – “Jana Gana Mana”, the national anthem of India, is first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress.

1922 – Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō becomes the first purpose built aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the world.

1927 – Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opens at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway.

1935 – Regina Jonas is ordained as the first female rabbi in the history of Judaism.

1945 – The International Monetary Fund is created with the signing of an agreement by 29 nations.

1966 – The Cave of Swallows, the largest known cave shaft in the world, is discovered in Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon.

1978 – Spain becomes a democracy after 40 years of fascist dictatorship.

2004 – Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reaches Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.

From Wikipedia.com

December 26, 2017

December 26, 2017

From the Oshawa Museum, in Ontario, Canada, we wish all of our readers a Happy Boxing Day!  We’ve prefaced this greeting with our location, knowing that some of our readers may not be located in Canada or may not be familiar with Boxing Day, a statutory holiday in our country.

The origins of this holiday are based in England, where ‘boxing’ referred to the distribution of small gifts of money.  Some historians trace this back to the Middle Ages when parish priests would open up alms-boxes on December 26, the feast of St. Stephen, and distribute the money collected within to the needy.  By the 17th century, this tradition of giving boxes of money to adopt the practice of saving tips they had been given in clay boxes and opening them on December 26.  Because of the popularity of this tradition, people had taken to calling the day Boxing Day, and it was declared a holiday in England in 1871.  By the late 19th century, the custom of ‘boxing’ had faced a decline and slowly disappeared from the English holiday customs.

The day itself has survived as a holiday, and for many it may signify the day to ‘throw away boxes that presents came in,’ for others, it is a day for major savings in stores (the Canadian equivalent to America’s Black Friday), or perhaps it is a day many will spend with family, relaxing after a busy Christmas Day.

December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017

Legend tells us that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by a team of eight (or nine) reindeer. Reindeer, or Caribou, are native to most northern climates in North America, parts of Greenland, and Europe.  The caribou adorns the reverse side of the Canadian 25 cent piece, or quarter.

Did you know that both male and female caribou can grow antlers, the only member of the deer family where the females grow antlers.  As well, females typically keep their antlers year round, while male caribou shed their antlers in the fall and grow a larger set the following spring.

That’s right – scientifically speaking, if Santa’s sleigh is depicted with antlered reindeer, then Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen must be female!

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From the Oshawa Museum Archival Collection

December 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

October 21, 1879 saw the invention of the first light bulb by Thomas Edison.  A mere three years later, the world’s first electrically illuminated Christmas tree appeared.  Prior to this invention, Christmas trees were illuminated using candles.  A rather dangerous practice that meant a bucket of water was always kept nearby to put out any fires that could start.

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A colleague of Edison’s, Edward Johnson, decorated his tree with eighty coloured light bulbs.  The bulbs had been hand blown and the tree rotated slowly on a tiny pine box.  The effect must have been breathtaking.  Electricity in the late 1800s was very expensive and was limited to the very wealthy.  Few were able to afford the electricity needed to light a Christmas tree.

December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul.  This happy soul was made popular by the song “Frosty the Snowman”.  This song was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and performed by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys.  It saw its first public release on December 14, 1950.  The song quickly grew in popularity, reaching a height of 7th place in the US Pop Singles chart of 1950.  The song has been adapted into several other media, including a popular 1969 television special created by Rankin/Bass Productions.

The song tells the story of a snowman who is brought to life by a magical silk hat.  He spends the day playing with the children who created him, until he has to leave, claiming that “I’ll be back again someday.”  Despite not making any mention of Christmas in the original lyrics, Frosty has become a well-known icon as a Christmas character.

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From the Oshawa Museum’s archival collection

December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017

Did you know that in the 1950s, Boston tried to ban the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus?  According to Time Magazine:

Boston church leaders tried to have the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” banned in the 1950s because they thought it “promoted physical intimacy.” Singer Jimmy Boyd had to fly to Boston and explain to them why it wasn’t obscene.

Fun fact: Jimmy Boyd recorded the song on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old.

December 16, 2017

December 16, 2017

According to Time Magazine, the record for the most recorded Christmas song goes to Silent Night, which has 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978.  It was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.

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Carollers in Guy House

December 13, 2017

December 13, 2017

Thunder and lightning? What do they have to do with Christmas? Two of Santa’s reindeer have names that translate to Thunder and lightning – Dunder and Blixem!

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