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Statue of Nero with his head removed

During the early Roman Empire two millennia ago, an emperor might be deified after he died if he was popular and good. (Think: the Divine Augustus.) Alternatively, if he was unpopular and wicked, he was “erased” from society’s memory.

The Latin term Damnatio Memoriae means the condemnation of the memory of a person by the Senate. The practice of the abolition of a person’s name is ancient.

Is this similar to the modern “cancel culture?”

Q: Why haven’t we heard more about this?

Because it was erased! Well, not completely, and sometimes not permanently. …


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William Wilberforce

As I mentioned in my first article on the History of Amazing Grace, this is the story of the lives of two men and that one song. In the first part, we discussed the life of the song’s author John Newton. The 2007 film “Amazing Grace,” however, is about the life of one of Newton’s protégés, William Wilberforce.

Wilberforce was a man well known to the Framing Fathers of the American Revolution. He became in his day, not just a politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, but also a writer of such popularity at the time as C.S. …


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On February 23, 1807, the British parliament passing a bill banning the nation’s slave trade. In these two articles, we’ll explore the lives of two men and one song that played a large role in that effort.

John Newton‘s devoted Christian mother dreamed that her only son would grow up to become a preacher. But he lost his mother when he was six years old, and at the age of eleven followed his sea-captain father to the sea. He did not take to the discipline of the Royal Navy and deserted ship, was flogged, and eventually discharged.


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In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends 40 days later, not counting Sundays, with Easter.

It is practiced by Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican denominations, and by Roman Catholics and some Baptists. The Eastern Church practices the Great Lent during the 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Orthodox Easter. The ash represents repentance and a reminder of death…


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In French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated the day after Shrove Monday and the day before Ash Wednesday as a last “fling” before the 40 days of self-denial of Lent which precede Easter. Lent is a word that comes from the Middle English word “lente” which means “springtime” — so named for the season of the year in which it usually occurs. While the practice of Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, it has been a tradition in the Christian world since the mid 4th century. …


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Shrovetide Football

The Monday before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Monday. The three days before Ash Wednesday is also known as “Shrovetide,” starting with Quinquagesima Sunday and ending on Shrove Tuesday, known more popularly as Mardi Gras. Quinquagesima meant the fiftieth day before Easter, or specifically the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of Lent.

Shrove is the past tense of shrive and is an Old English word meaning “to repent.” Repentance from sin was a common practice during this season.

The Royal Shrovetide Football Match is typically played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne, Derbyshire…


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During my lifetime, two American holidays got consolidated into one. In 1971, a day between both Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and Washington’s Birthday on February 22 became a single holiday, Presidents Day — alternately spelled President’s Day or Presidents’ Day — to be observed on the third Monday in February, to honor all the past Presidents of the United States.

Presidents Day History


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1480 image depicting St Valentine performing marriage

St. Valentine was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14. One was a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni.

Context

It would appear from legend that both lived during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (Gothicus) around 270; both died on the same day. Both were buried on the Via Flaminia but at different distances from the city of Rome. A third Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of North Africa about whom little is…


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When you hear about The Fourth Estate, it usually means The Press.

  • Where did the term Fourth Estate come from?
  • What do we mean by The Press, and how has it changed in modern times?

I conclude with a cautionary tale from early U.S. history.

Origin of The Fourth Estate

The term estates is a European word that refers to a great power in the political life of a nation. It goes back to the separation of powers during the Roman Republic. …


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This weekend marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. This is the oldest, longest, and most important social and economic holiday in China. Chinese New Year, which begins the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It starts this year on February 12, though the celebrations continue for around two weeks. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and ends with the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese calendar.

It is celebrated across China as a national holiday and in many other parts of Asia with people of Chinese descent…

Bill Petro

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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