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We think that our most current change in Presidential administration is contentious. But our national history has seen worse. And it goes back over 200 years to the third Presidential election, and several since then.

Presidential Transition: from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson


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We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor.

Musically he invented the glass harmonica, but he also invented the Franklin stove and started the first lending library and fire brigade in Philadelphia.

He did experiments in electricity and developed the lightning rod. He was considered:

America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical, though not most profound, political thinkers. — Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Ben Franklin in America

Born on January 17, 1706 *, in Boston, he was one of the earliest and oldest of the American Founding Fathers. He served as a lobbyist to England, was first Ambassador to France, and has been called “The First American.” …


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Born on January 15, 1929, we celebrate a holiday in honor of a man who was not a president, nor an explorer, nor a saint. Rather he was a Baptist minister and an American leader of the 1960s civil rights movement named for the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther after his father was inspired by a trip to Luther’s Wittenberg.

Though President Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1977, it was not until 1986 that a day was established on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday.

The only other American federal holidays that honored individuals have been for Jesus, President Washington, and Christopher Columbus. …


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Janus, at Ponte Fabricio, Rome

As I mentioned earlier, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March, but later changed to January by the Romans.

Where did we get the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and why at the beginning of the year?

Roman New Years Resolutions

The month of January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), transitions, time, gates, doors, doorways, endings, and beginnings. …


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Colosseum, the Flavian Amphitheatre

January 1, A.D. 404 marked the last known gladiatorial games in Rome. What part did an obscure Christian monk from the East play in this epic change in Roman entertainment?

This is the story of St. Telemachus, whose festival is celebrated today and has been remembered throughout the last 1600 years.

You may have never heard of the name. Or you know it as the name of the son of Homer’s Odysseus (Ulysses,) who was tutored and protected by Mentor while his father was away fighting the Trojan War.

Here’s the background of the little-known monk and how he brought an end to the Imperial gladiatorial games, and how the story has been adapted over the centuries until that it was used less than 40 years ago by a President at an international event. …


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2020: IT WASN’T THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW DECADE?

With the beginning of the 2020 New Year, you saw articles everywhere that discussed the end of the decade or declared that 2020 was the beginning of the new decade. But 2021 is the beginning of the new decade.

Q: Isn’t 2020 the beginning of the new decade?

  • 2020 is the beginning of a new decade — as any year is
  • But it is not the beginning of the new decade

Q: But the year ends in Zero. If 2010 was the beginning of the decade, and 2000 was the beginning of the new millennium, how can 2020 not be the beginning of the new decade?


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We have the ancient Romans to thank for celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1. It wasn’t always that way. Previous civilizations celebrated it in March to observe the “new year” of growth and fertility.

Before calendars existed, the time between seed sowing and harvesting was considered a cycle or a year. But the Romans moved the date of New Year to January 1, as I’ll explain below, but first a little on calendars.

The word Calendar gets its name from the first day of a month in the Roman (Latin) calendar: kalendae

Calendars

A variety of calendars were developed for all kinds of…


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Why is it that each New Year’s Eve, we sing “Auld Lang Syne,” but do we know what it means?

The song contains words from a language that few are familiar with, in a syntax that is confusing to most, and is from a poem about friends recalling adventures they had long ago but had nothing to do with New Year’s Eve.

What does Auld Lang Syne mean?

Literally, it means Old Long Since, but the syntax is more naturally translated as since long ago or more familiarly for old times’ sake.

The phrase is in the Scots language, which goes back to the 7th century. A great deal of Scots literature was written in the 15th and 16th centuries. When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1603, the Scottish upper classes had adapted and Anglicized their speech and writing, developing Scottish Standard English. But the Scots language experienced a revival among Scottish poets such as Alan Ramsay in the early 18th century and Robert Burns in the later 18th century. …


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Childermas, from an Old English word meaning the Mass of the Infants, is the festival in the church calendar begun in the fifth century — celebrated in the Western Church on December 28 and in the Eastern Church on December 29. It commemorated the date when King Herod ordered the massacre of the children under two years of age in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus, who “was born King of the Jews,” according to the Wise Men as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 2.

How many were killed? Some traditional claims involve as many as 6,000 or 14,000 or even 144,000, though based on the population of male children in Bethlehem at that time, a few dozen is more likely. …


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El Greco — St. John

December 27, since the 5th century, has marked the day in the church calendar for celebrating the life of St. John the Evangelist and is known as the Feast of St. John.

We’ve already mentioned that the day before, December 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen. On the following day, December 28 is the Feast of The Holy Innocents, referring to those babies killed by King Herod the Great in Bethlehem.

Which St. John is celebrated in this feast? It is not John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus; rather it’s the young disciple of Christ, known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Tradition holds that he is the author of the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John (I, II, and III John) as well as the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse. He’s also known as John the Apostle, John the Divine, John the Theologian, and John of Patmos. …

About

Bill Petro

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

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