Friendly fire

As Flag Day and Independence Day draw closer, there will be a greater frequency of posts relevant in some way, close or tangential, to those holidays.

Friendly-fire has long been an issue in wars. During the Revolutionary War, the Pennsylvania Militia discovered that the red and blue color scheme on their uniforms was similar to that of the Hessians. Similarly, a British artillery unit modified its hats to be more distinct at a distance because both British and American gunners wore blue coats.

One of the most famous friendly-fire casualties of all-time occurred during the Civil War when Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson was accidentally shot by a nervous picket when Jackson was returning to camp.

Civil War General Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, was a cavalry officer with the the Virginia Dragoons during the Revolutionary War. Cavalry were mostly used for raiding and scouting during the Revolutionary War because both sides had a terrible time accumulating enough horses and fodder for large scale cavalry actions. In 1779 Light Horse Harry led 300 troops (a mix of cavalry and infantry) on a successful raid on a fort at Paulus Hook, New Jersey, that led to the capture of 159 British troops with the loss of only 2 Americans.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

False.  Cinco de Mayo is not the equivalent of Independence Day in Mexico.  Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th.

NEW QUESTION

A popular musket during the Revolutionary War was named for which monarch?

A. Charles I

B. Elizabeth I

C. James I

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th is the celebration of Cinco de Mayo or the Fifth of May.  It celebrates a military victory of Mexico against France.  It is a popular celebration in the United States, in some ways it is a lot like the way that St. Patrick’s Day is observed by people who are neither Catholic nor Irish.  Cinco de Mayo celebrations are most common in the United States in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

The Haymarket Square in Chicago was the scene of a major labor battle.

NEW QUESTION

True or False.  Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent of the Fourth of July?

Knights soon

I can’t find the piece of paper that I had the answer to my most recent trivia question written down on.  Once I find it, I will repost the question and answer.

In the meantime another question:

Which of the following best describes chain mail armor made of hundreds of links of chain riveted together to form a steel sweater?

A. Extra weight on the wearer’s hips with chain mail

B. Extra weight on the wearer’s shoulders with chain mail

C. The weight for chain mail is evenly distributed

Palm Sunday

Today (April 9th, 2017) is Palm Sunday.  Palm Sunday has been observed since at least the 300s.  The ceremony of the blessing of palms dates back to the 800s.  Palm Sunday commemorates the events of Matthew 21:1-11.  (Jesus entering Jerusalem to “Hosannas” and a crowd of people waving palm branches).  To answer yesterday’s question, The palm in Palm Sunday refers to palm branches.

NEW QUESTION

In the days before advancements in technology made it possible to have palm branches everywhere, what local plant was often substituted for palm branches on Palm Sunday?

A. Ash

B. Pine

C. Willow

More about Ukrainian eggs

“Ukrainian” eggs are also a folk craft in Poland.

(ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION)

Ukrainian eggs are decorated by melting wax.  Different colors of wax are dripped on the eggs.  Dye is also used to give the eggs color.  The eggs are made by alternating coats of wax with coats of dye.  Wax “locks in” a particular color of dye.

The eggs can also be made just by melting different colors of wax on them.  The traditional method involves melting white wax for each wax layer.  The wax is applied with a stylus.

NEW QUESTION

What do the palms is Palm Sunday refer to?

A. Palm branches

B. Palms of hands

C. Palmyra

Yet more Easter Egg lore

While decorating Easter eggs is common in northern and central Europe, before the widespread availability of food coloring, there were many different ways to decorate Easter eggs.  In some places eggs were decorated with simple vegetable based dyes.  In Austria, ferns and plants are carefully attached to the eggs before the eggs are dyed.  After the eggs have been dyed the plants are removed and eye-catching leaf/plant patterns remain on the egg in white.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Around 1300 King Edward I of England gave out more than 450 gilded Easter Eggs to his staff.

NEW QUESTION

What color of Easter Egg is most common Greece?

A. Blue

B. Green

C. Red

Easter symbols: lambs

The answer to yesterday’s question is lamb.  Lambs are symbols of Easter.  Jesus’ sacrifice at Easter is often represented by a lamb.   (Jesus as a sacrificial lamb).  This important symbolism has meant both good things and bad things for lambs at Easter.  It is traditional for lambs to be blessed at Easter.  Lambs are sometimes eaten at Easter.  Fortunately for the lambs there has been a more recent tradition of making pastries in the shape of lambs instead.  In the past it was considered to be a sign of good fortune to see a lamb at Easter by chance encounter.

NEW QUESTION

In what part of Europe did Easter eggs become popular?

A. East

B. North

C. South

D. West

Fire, water and spring

There are many folk rites connected with spring that involve fire or water.  Some of these include, blessing of holy water on Holy Saturday, the tradition that being touched by running water on Easter brings good fortune, and bonfires that burn away winter.  These folk customs come from different parts of Europe and are not all observed everywhere or by everyone.

NEW QUESTION

When were jelly beans invented?

A. 1700s

B. 1800s

C. 1900s

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time was first suggested by Ben Franklin in 1784.  It was widely adopted during World War I.  It was repealed in many but not all countries after the war.  It was reinstated during World War II and then partially repealed.  It did not become widespread again until the 1960s and 1970s.

During two weeks of May in 1965 St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN were on different times.  St. Paul switched when most of the country switched times and Minneapolis switched at the time designated by state law.  Similar problems existed in other parts of the country due to irregular application of daylight savings existed such as: One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore–but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! 

The benefits are greatest at the middle latitudes and less so at the equator and the extreme latitudes.  The benefits are also greater at the eastern side of a time zone compared to the western side of the same time zone.

Generally sports, tourism, and retail have supported daylight savings while agriculture and evening entertainment have opposed it.

Daylight savings saves energy although studies on this subject have had mixed findings about the extent of the actual savings.  It also saves on oil consumption.

Daylight savings reduces the number of muggings that occur.

The Romans did not have daylight savings but the water clocks that the Romans used had different lengths of hours depending on the seasons, so summer hours were longer than winter hours.

The date of Easter

Before 325, the date of Easter was calculated based on the Jewish Passover.  After the Council of Nicaea in 325, Easter was calculated independent of the Passover.  Generally Passover is only a few days before Easter but some years the two holidays are about a month apart.

It has been the general rule since at least the 700s that Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.  However, the full moon is assumed to occur on the 14th day of the lunar month when it can actually occur +/- 0 to 2 days from that time.  Similarly the spring equinox is assumed in the calculation to always be March 21, when the equinox can also occur on the 19th or 20th as well.  These calculations yield a possible date range for Easter from March 22 to April 25.

The differences in the Julian and Gregorian calendars in determining Easter come from an error in the Julian calendar about the length of a year (the Julian year is .002% too long, gaining an extra 3 days every 4 centuries), and differences in how lunar months are calculated.  The Gregorian calendar is more precise and accurate than the Julian one.

The date of Easter

Easter in 2017 is celebrated on the same equivalent day for both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. (April 16th). Those two calendars will not share the same equivalent Easter again until 2025. (I say equivalent date because the two calendars are 13 days apart so looking at a wall calendar it would still be a different day but in terms of people in church on Sunday, celebrating Easter, it is the same day)
 
Over the last decade or so in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2011, 2014 Easter was on the same date for both calendars. It can also be that the Gregorian calendar has Easter in March and the Julian calendar has Easter in May. That circumstance occurred in 2002, 2005, 2013, and 2016. It will happen next in 2024.

There remains ongoing discussion to set Easter as a fixed date in early to mid-April. (So that both churches always celebrate Easter on the same equivalent day) Although the Eastern and Western churches are reported to be close to a deal, this sort of calendar deal has been elusive since the 10th century.

 

A bit about St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.  St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (380-461 A.D.)  He was one of the first Christian missionaries to Ireland and he was later the Bishop of Ireland.  The shamrock is both a symbol of St. Patrick and Ireland.

In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with baked goods (cakes, cookies, etc), parties and parades.  St. Patrick’s Day cards are exchanged among family and friends.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the U.S. was in Boston in 1737.  Now more than 120 cities in the U.S. have St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Old Inauguration Day

Happy Old Inauguration Day!
 
From 1793 to 1933, March 4th was Inauguration Day. With the passage of the 20th Amendment the inauguration date was changed to January 20th.
 
The shortest inauguration speech was George Washington’s second inaugural speech (only 133 words long)
 
William H. Harrison’s 1840 speech was by far the longest at 8,445 words long and was delivered in cold, rainy, weather without a coat and he caught pneumonia and died about a month later. (Taft’s 5,433 word speech is in distant second place).
 
A typical speech is between 1,500 and 2,500 words long.
 
In 1853, Franklin Pierce delivered a 3,329 word speech entirely from memory.
 
Since the start of the 20th century, only Taft, Coolidge, and Hoover have given speeches longer than 3,000 words. Also since the start of the 20th century, only Teddy Roosevelt in 1905 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 have given speeches less than 1,000 words.
 
Note that presidents inaugurated at other times of the year (not March or January) have given shorter or non-existent speeches.

Truce of God and Lent

During the middle ages Lent was one of the times of year that it was hard to be a knight looking to smite something.  To help make life more peaceful the church had instituted the “Truce of God”.  It was against the rules to fight on truce days.  All of Lent (and always Sundays) fell under the “Truce of God” whereby it was considered sinful for knights to engage in warfare on those days.