It’s Valentine’s Day. Moonlight and roses, chocolate and Hallmark cards… ahhh, the power of love. But why do we love? What is that irresistible draw to the heart and soul of another human being?
For such a popular holiday, Valentine’s Day is marked by an interesting historical fact—we’re not really sure of its true origins. The actual St. Valentine is a martyred figure associated with three stories from the early Christian Church. In one, St. Valentine was a Christian priest thrown into a Roman prison for preaching his beliefs. On February 14, he was beheaded not only for disputing Roman deities but also for allegedly curing the jailer’s daughter of blindness—a miracle not looked kindly upon by the Romans trying to suppress the upstart religion. His farewell letter to the jailer’s daughter, signed “From your Valentine,” and the letters he received and sent from jail to the friends who cared for him supposedly began the exchange of notes of affection for this holiday. Continue reading
Posted in Biology, Blog, Holidays, Public Life, Science and Technology
Tagged ancient history, AntiquityNOW, brain, Claudius, history, St. Valentine, Valentine's Day
Imagine celebrating the New Year on Halloween. Ghosts, costumes, candy, parties, fortune tellers, bonfires- and champagne toasts at midnight! Our modern Halloween was not always about trick or treating and carving pumpkins. It was influenced by numerous other traditions, including the celebration of the Celtic New Year.
Modern day offerings for the Samhain festival. Image courtesy of Avia Venefica on Flickr.
The largest influence on our modern Halloween is Samhain: the Celtic New Year celebration that fell roughly on October 31st – November 1st. Celts believed that on the evening of the New Year souls of the dead could return to Earth. Continue reading
Posted in Blog, Holidays, Public Life
Tagged All Saints Day, ancient history, AntiquityNOW, Celtic, Halloween, history, New Year, Parentalia, Samhain
Did you celebrate the New Year with fireworks and champagne this year or did you take a polar bear plunge into a freezing body of water? No matter how you celebrated, you probably did it on January 1st. While there are many different cultural celebrations of the New Year, our globalized world generally agrees that the New Year starts on January 1st. It may seem common to us now, but this date was not always standard.