Still slogging through your kids’ excess Halloween stash? You’ve probably begun to wonder what the names on many of those wrappers mean. Here’s the meaning behind the names of a few popular (and chocolately) confections.
When the Spanish first began exploring the Pacific Coast of North America, they mistakenly believed that California was an island. (Some of the earliest and most fascinating maps of the state depict it as separated from the mainland.) This is considered one of the greatest, albeit short-lived, cartographic errors.
Early mapmakers began labeling the “island” as California, the name CONTINUE READING »
Up until the 17th century, the word CONTINUE READING »
In the U.S., the word “boxing” usually refers to two athletes stepping into a padded ring, each having the intention of knocking the other off his feet.
Also in the U.S., the holiday known as Boxing Day is generally obscure. In Britain, the celebration is ubiquitous. Let’s spend a minute with the origin of the “box” in the pugilistic sense of boxing. The brutal sport most likely gets its name from the Germanic word boke, “a blow.” Rest assured that the day after Christmas has nothing to do with bopping CONTINUE READING »
Perhaps you’ve received a widely circulated email that begins with this nonsensical sentence:
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
If you celebrate Christmas, it’s likely that at some point this season you’ll find yourself puckering up under a mistletoe branch. What is the tradition of kissing under a plant all about? And does the name have anything to do with human toes?
The winter solstice lasts for just one moment. It occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. This usually happens around December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere or June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. The solstice of 2010 is also marked by a full moon and an adjoining lunar eclipse that will make the moon look reddish in a cloudless sky. What exactly is an eclipse, and why will the moon look CONTINUE READING »