The Jewish Menorah - A History

The menorah is a seven branched candelabra which has come to represent the Jewish People and Israel. Its origins directly derive from the Torah and its symbolism has proven to be long lasting.

Early coins and pottery containing images of the menorah and dating back to biblical times have been recovered from archaeological sites.


The first menorah was originally made for the tabernacle and later placed in the first and second temples. The Torah records how the great artist, Bezalel, fashioned the menorah in accordance to detailed Divine instructions. These instructions are recorded in Exodus 25:31-40, see excerpt below:

The Jewish Menorah - A History

"31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made, even its base, and its shaft; its cups, its knops, and its flowers, shall be of one piece with it. 32 And there shall be six branches going out of the sides thereof: three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candle-stick out of the other side thereof..."

Listed below are some of the facets of the menorah:

- (as stated above) it was hewn out of a single block of pure gold

- it weighed approximately 150 pounds and just under 5 ft in height

- it had seven branches; a middle branch and three branches extending from each side

- according to Maimonides and Rashi, the side-branches extended from the middle branch in a diagonal line, not in a semi-circular arc as most drawings depict

- extra pure olive oil was used in the cups - gently pressed, not crushed and just the first emerging drops were considered pure enough

- it was positioned beside the southern wall of the temple, opposite the 'shulchan', the table which held the twelve show-breads.

The daily maintenance and lighting of the menorah was a task allocated to the Kohanim (priests). Interestingly, although only the Kohanim were permitted to prepare the menorah, there were no restrictions as to who could light it.

It is written that one branch of the menorah miraculously stayed alight continuously. Synagogues today have a 'ner tamid' (everlasting light) situated opposite the ark, which contains the Torah scrolls. This reminds us of the significance of the menorah during temple times. In addition many synagogues also display a menorah, or an artistic impression of one, in painted decorations or on stained glass windows.

After the fall of the Second Temple, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded that the menorah was taken to Rome and carried along during the triumphant homecoming parade. A depiction of this event is preserved on the Arch of Titus that still stands today in Rome.

During the Jewish festival of Chanukah a menorah is lit on each of the eight nights. This menorah differs from the temple's menorah in that it has nine branches instead of seven.

The location of the original menorah is unknown today but the symbolism lives on; the national emblem of the State of Israel is a menorah, flanked by two olive branches.

The Jewish Menorah - A History

The author of this article researched the origins of the menorah during the development of a range of Judaic themed homeware. []

University of Kentucky Basketball - History

The University of Kentucky basketball program has a history that rivals that of any college in any conference in America. The Kentucky Wildcats, located in Lexington, Kentucky, boast at the top of their resume the most wins in college basketball history. An arguably even more important record held by the University of Kentucky basketball program is the high water mark for the greatest winning percentage of all time. Among the other notable accomplishments in the hundred plus year history of Kentucky basketball are seven national championships (second only to UCLA) and 98 NCAA Tournament wins (second to UNC).

The Kentucky program has had enviable success in every decade of an existence that started with an inauspicious beginning when the inaugural 1903 season was completed with a dismal 1-2 record, the lone win coming against the Lexington YMCA. Underwhelming success for the upstart program nearly resulted in the basketball squad ceasing to exist past the first decade of the twentieth century. With a cumulative record of 15 and 29 after the 1908 season the university administration voted in 1909 to dismantle the program. Fortunately the student body rallied to save the team and effectively what would eventually become the culture of the University of Kentucky.


The first paid head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky was a man by the name of E.R. Sweetland who also concurrently coached the football team. Under coach Sweetland the future powerhouse experienced its first taste of success with its first winning season (5-4) in 1909 and an impressive undefeated season (9-0) in 1912. It was during this era that the nickname Wildcats was first attached to the university. Commandant Corbusier, head of the school's military department, is credited with coining the term after commenting that in a victory over the University of Illinois the Kentucky squad "fought like Wildcats." The nickname stuck and to this day college basketball fans around the world know the University of Kentucky team as the Wildcats.

University of Kentucky Basketball - History

New coach George Buchheit took over the program in 1919 and instituted a bizarre system by modern day standards whereby one player from his team remained under each basket for the entirety of each game. After coach Buchheit a number of coaches preceded the famed Coach Adolph Rupp including C.O. Applegran, Ray Eklund, Basil Hayden, and John Mauer. Maur is particular noteworthy for installing what were at the time novelty offensive components that included screens set away from the ball and the deceptive bounce pass. Opposing teams were so thrown off by the ingenuity of the bounce pass that they referred to the dizzying floor maneuvers simply as the "submarine attack."

Kentucky basketball turned a critical corner with the 1930 hiring of Adolph Rupp who would hold the position of head coach for an awe-inspiring forty two years between 1930 and 1972. Coach Rupp experienced such success and national acclaim during his tenure that when the University of Kentucky opening a new stadium in 1976 the faculty selected Rupp Arena as the name of the 23,500 seat home for the Wildcats.

Although Coach Rupp was a tough act to follow he did cement the groundwork for successful Kentucky teams in the decades following his retirement. Among the high profile coaches that have tried their best to fill his shoes are notable names such as Joe Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, briefly Billy Gillispie, and current head coach John Calipari who at the time of this writing has the Kentucky Wildcats in position to fight for their eighth NCAA national championship. Regardless of whether Coach Calipari wins a basketball national championship at the University Kentucky the one thing that history has taught us is that the quest for an elusive eighth championship is not a matter of if it will happen, but rather when will it happen.

University of Kentucky Basketball - History

Jeff grew up as a hardcore Kentucky basketball fan as is evidenced by the fact that he still has nightmares about when Christian Laettner took a three quarters court inbound pass from Grant Hill and then proceeded to sink a sixteen footer to knock Kentucky out of the Final Four in 1992. From the early days of supporting Rick Pitino to more recent support for Rajon Rondo Jeff has always had University of Kentucky wallpaper of one form or another set as his desktop background.

Jeff asks that all true blue Kentucky fans follow in his footsteps by visiting his website for a wide selection of University of Kentucky computer wallpaper options that are perfectly suitable for work.

A Brief History of Real Estate: The Fee Simple Ownership

Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), Duke of Wellington, is reputed to have been the one to exclaim 'All good things come from England, but cavalry is not one of them' while facing Napoleon's French Army at Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Wellesley had learnt his military trade in India applying his study of the art of war and had became a master of the reverse-slope tactic - keeping his forces screened from artillery fire behind the brow of a hill. At Waterloo, however, Wellesley's Armies were outwitted by Napoleon. The French Emperor had imitated Wellesley's tactics by positioning 200 heavy artillery guns behind a ridge at La Haye Sainte. When the Hussars and Dragoons cavalrymen led by Lord Uxbridge attacked in the famous Charge of the Scots Greys, Napoleon commanded the guns on the topline of the ridge and one of the epic artillery bombardments in history began. It was at this very moment, at the height of the Charge and while his 3,000 cavalrymen were being slaughtered by the rapid artillery fire of Napoleon's heavy guns, that the phlegmatic English General is reputed to have exclaimed his now famous remark, directed at Lord Uxbridge who had apparently ordered the Charge without Wellesley knowing it. The day was saved by Gebhard von Blucher (1742-1819), Field Marshal of Prussia, who led the assault of the Kaiser's Prussian Cavalry against the French right wing, thus causing the entire French line to collapse.

Wellesley's famous remark has been retouched several times throughout the years, depending on one's point of view. The British dropped the second part - the reference to the ill-fated cavalry charge - thus creating the popular short version 'All good things come from England' - period. When about a century later Britain had the unwise idea of attacking the Ottoman Empire and the British and French Armies were fighting the Turks side-by-side in WWI, General Mustapha Kemal - the English-speaking Commander of the Turkish Garrison and victorious defender of Gallipoli - paraphrased the English dictum after 289 days of siege by turning it, somewhat deprecatingly, into: "No good things ever come from England". And Mahatma Gandhi throughout his teachings of non-violent conflicts resolutions makes reference to the fact that "All good things come from India".


Alas, no matter what your point of view is, I shall submit to readers of my Blog that "at least two good things comes from England" : Fee Simple Ownership and Organized Real Estate.

A Brief History of Real Estate: The Fee Simple Ownership

English real estate law (or 'Estate Law' as it was known back then) was imported, through colonization, into the earlier forms of law in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many of these states, or their territories, have since modified this historical law, to varying degrees. A study of the old feudal land system of England provides us with an invaluable glimpse of legal history regulating the most valuable asset of them all: land. In medieval times, land was the sole form of wealth and it depended primarily on possession. You had it, you owned it. You wanted it, you fought for it. You found it, you kept it. There were no courts or police force ready to recognize or enforce "legal rights" as we know them today. All this changed with the Norman conquest of England in 1066. William decreed that he owned all of the land in England by right of conquest. Not one acre of England was to be exempted from this massive expropriation. This sudden vacuum of privately-held land was promptly filled by a variety of huge land grants given by the new King to either his Norman officers or to those of the English who were ready to recognize him as king. The device used by the King to control and administer his land was that of tenure. Tenure was the key component of the feudal system. The King struck a bargain with a Lord for a large chunk of land. The Lords that held their tenure directly from the King were called Tenants-in-chief. It was this group of persons who formed the basis of English aristocracy and began, by the process of subletting the King's land, the implementation of the feudal system.

Tenures were of a variety of duration known as "estates" and the Fee Simple Estate was the most extensive and allowed the Tenant to sell or to convey by will or be transferred to the Tenant's heir if he died. In modern law, almost all land is held in fee simple and this is as close as one can get to absolute ownership in common law. It was in this context that the British began their dominion over the seas and their explorations which led to the modern nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. The concept of developing an informal association of local real estate agents originated in the United States in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century about 15 Real Estate Boards had been established. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was formed in the U.S. in 1908 with 19 boards and one state association. Organized real estate in Canada is almost as old as the country itself. The very first Real Estate Board was set up in 1888 in the growing community of Vancouver. Back then, a commercial lot on Hornby Street near the Hotel Vancouver sold for 0. The Vancouver Board - as it was known then - was active until the start of the First World War, when operations were suspended. It resumed in 1919, and has been operating ever since.

The distinction of the oldest, continuous running Board belongs to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It started in 1903, and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board was the first in Canada to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Toronto Board was incorporated in 1920, followed by boards in Ottawa, Hamilton, Regina and Victoria in 1921. More than half of the existing Real Estate Boards in Canada were created after 1955, in part because of the evolution of the "Photo Co-Op System" that was introduced in 1951. That was the forerunner of today's MLS®, introduced in 1962. The Co-op System not only created a need for an organization to establish rules and promote co-operation among agents, but also to provide funds to operate a real estate board. That's when technology first changed the real estate industry.

A Brief History of Real Estate: The Fee Simple Ownership

Luigi Frascati is a Real Estate Agent based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics and maintains a weblog entitled the Real Estate Chronicle at where you can find the full collection of his articles. Luigi is associated with the Sutton Group, the largest real estate organization in Canada, and is based with Sutton-Centre Realty in Burnaby, BC.

The History of New Years Resolutions

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.


The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.

The History of New Years Resolutions

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.

The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.

Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Ancient New Years

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.

Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.

The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.

In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.

Global Good Luck Traditions

With New Year's upon us, here's a look at some of the good luck rituals from around the world. They are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity in the coming year.

AUSTRIA - The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the new year. It's served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

ENGLAND - The British place their fortunes for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They believe the first visitor of each year should be male and bearing gifts. Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back. Guests who are empty-handed or unwanted are not allowed to enter first.

WALES - At the first toll of midnight, the back door is opened and then shut to release the old year and lock out all of its bad luck. Then at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened and the New Year is welcomed with all of its luck.

HAITI - In Haiti, New Year's Day is a sign of the year to come. Haitians wear new clothing and exchange gifts in the hope that it will bode well for the new year.

SICILY - An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year's Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck.

SPAIN - In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish eat 12 grapes, one with every toll, to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead.

PERU - The Peruvian New Year's custom is a spin on the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the turn of the year. But in Peru, a 13th grape must be eaten to assure good luck.

GREECE - A special New Year's bread is baked with a coin buried in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child, the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.

JAPAN - The Japanese decorate their homes in tribute to lucky gods. One tradition, kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility.

CHINA - For the Chinese New Year, every front door is adorned with a fresh coat of red paint, red being a symbol of good luck and happiness. Although the whole family prepares a feast for the New Year, all knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone from cutting themselves, which is thought to cut the family's good luck for the next year.

UNITED STATES - The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the United States is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the new year.

NORWAY - Norwegians make rice pudding at New Year's and hide one whole almond within. Guaranteed wealth goes to the person whose serving holds the lucky almond.

Chinese New Year

Except for a very few number of people who can keep track of when the Chinese New Year should be, the majority of the Chinese today have to rely on a typical Chinese calendar to tell it. Therefore, you cannot talk of the Chinese New Year without mentioning the Chinese calendar at first.

A Chinese calendar consists of both the Gregorian and lunar-solar systems, with the latter dividing a year into twelve month, each of which is in turn equally divided into thirty- nine and a half days. The well-coordinated dual system calendar reflects the Chinese ingenuity.

There is also a system that marks the years in a twelve-year cycle, naming each of them after an animal such as Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. People born in a particular year are believed to share some of the personalities of that particular animal.

The History of New Years Resolutions

Gary Ryan Blair is the inspiration behind Got Resolutions -

Got Resolutions was founded on the premise, that a single resolution can positively and profoundly create lasting change in your life and help to make the world a better place.

To learn more, visit

Gary can be reached for media requests, television or radio appearances and speaking services at 877-462-5748 or by sending an email to

Why History?

History is widely considered to be a core component of a proper homeschooling curriculum. In fact, according to homeschooling authorities Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, "history is the subject," because it presents "the unfolding of human achievement in every area - science, literature, art, music, and politics." Yet how many of us can say we were excited to learn history as a child, that we emerged from our own youth with a history education that actually empowered us to make our way through the world, and that we regularly engage the past of human civilization as a vital component of our lives?

There is no shame in admitting that you found history dull, that you thought it was a waste of time, or even that you hated it as a child. The way that it was taught, it probably deserved your disdain! Like Kevin Arnold, the young man of the TV show The Wonder Years, you probably remember history as mind-blowingly boring. I'll never forget the episode in which Kevin's history teacher, played by Ben Stein, begins a lesson: "The Hundred Years' War...Year Four!" As a historian, I laughed and I cringed when I first saw that episode. It captures perfectly why for so many people the mere thought of attending a history lecture causes their eyes to roll to the back of their heads.


Honestly, if you like history (or, like me, you love it), you know you are one of only a few.

Why History?

But if history is something almost everyone hated as a child, how can it be something we all believe we need to teach our kids? Is it because we want them to suffer as we did? Of course not. Still, the question remains: "Why history?"

In Wise and Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind, the question is acknowledged, but not really answered. Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is quoted as saying, "History is the study of everything that has happened until now. Unless you plan to live entirely in the present moment, the study of history is inevitable." Unfortunately, this answer just raises the question: why shouldn't one live entirely in the present?

Indeed, comparing present-day American culture with others in history, I can honestly say that with the possible exception of the Dark Ages, there has never been a time in history in which a greater percentage of the population was so absorbed by their own personal sphere of concerns and so ignorant of the vast pageant of achievements and failures that is humankind's past.

What of it?

The world demands that we get busy living. Modern life especially involves the most complicated set of challenges that people have ever faced. On a daily basis we have to adapt to the fast-paced changes of the professional world. We have to juggle our careers with the needs of our families and friends. We have to take care of our homes, service our cars, and upgrade our computers. We have to stay fit, watch our sugar and caffeine intake, and monitor our cholesterol and our trans fats.

Life is the subject, not history. How could anyone possibly argue that the past - a world that is long gone - deserves attention at the expense of the ever-more demanding present? This question deserves a good answer - especially if you are going to dedicate a significant portion of your energy as a homeschooling parent to making sure that your child learns history. Also, you better believe that your child is going to want to know why history is worth the effort, even if he or she does not ask the question out loud.

The first part of the answer is that there is no such thing as the present apart from the past.

The past is not a world long gone. It permeates the world around us. Indeed, it is the reason there even is a world around us. Without the past, the present would not have come into existence!

To grasp this point, sit down in your home school and pick an object - any object - from among your teaching tools and begin dissecting it. But do so historically. My favorite example is an analog clock. It has a clear plastic cover and a plastic casing, but I'm going to leave that aside, along with the dial and the amazing system of Arabic numerals that are inscribed on it. I'm going to focus on the electric motor that powers it, thanks to a current provided by a tiny battery.

Where does that come from? How did it come to exist?

Obviously it was made in a factory. But how did there come to be factories that make this kind of device? The type of motor in modern clocks was first created by Nikola Tesla, "the man who invented the twentieth century."

Tesla's inventions, however, were only made possible by the previous work of scientist Michael Faraday, who sixty years earlier discovered the relationships between magnetic fields and electrical currents. Suffice it to say that Faraday learned that magnets can create a current, and that a current can physically move a magnet. Of course, Faraday himself was building upon a foundation of previous scientific work stretching back to the investigation of magnetism by William Gilbert. Gilbert's On the Magnet, published in 1600, was a milestone in scientific history.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the simple clock, which we all take for granted, would not exist but for the ingenious thinking and strenuous efforts of a host of incredible scientific minds going back over 400 years! Not to mention that Gilbert's work relied on the previous use of the magnetic compass by European sailors, which itself was rooted in the centuries-old use of lodestone by the Chinese.

(For a far more engrossing story about the wonders of another ordinary object, I recommend the essay, "I, Pencil," by economist Leonard Read, which details the mind-boggling complexity of a pencil's creation, told very humorously from the point of view of the pencil. Read it

Applying this method of thinking to an everyday thing is a way of understanding how the world we live in was made. It is an example of how one can gain an essential perspective I call historical-mindedness.

Historical-mindedness is the ability to engage the past as a productive aspect of living in the present. It is the capacity to draw on history as an intellectual resource for living.

There is a big difference between having such a capacity and merely knowing a lot of facts. The most brilliant people are not those who retain everything, but those who have the instinctive ability to discard anything that isn't relevant.

Regarding history, the real power lies not in piling up more facts, but in being able to see relationships between them. When one can grasp fundamental similarities between past and present, despite circumstantial differences, one can learn and apply the "lessons of history," i.e. the principles applicable to all human life. If one can grasp the connection between the actions of people in the past, and the world that those actions produced, one can develop a proper appreciation for the man-made values around us.

Let us look more closely at these crucial values.

When the Founding Fathers created the United States, they realized that many of the problems they faced were unique and required unique solutions. Unquestionably, however, they also looked back on the history of Western civilization, and drew momentous lessons from it, including the fact that the separation of church and state is an objective requirement of progress. Thomas Jefferson, drawing on history, noted, "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." In a previous correspondence, Jefferson remarked, "History... furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government." His great collaborator in the project of American secularism, James Madison, commented in a letter to a friend that "Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together."

Two more historical-minded individuals than Jefferson and Madison one cannot find in all of history. But what of Americans today? Can it be said that our politicians, let alone the bulk of the citizenry, are able to glean the lessons to be learned from the past? How many people have an understanding of the defeat of the Zoroastrian theocrats of Persia by the freedom-loving Greeks deeper than the comic book-like depiction of it in the movie "300"? Do Americans carry the lessons of that era with them when directing the destiny of their own country? Do today's voters think back to the stagnation of the European Dark Ages and compare it to the dynamism of the Islamic Golden Age? Do they think of the regression of Spain under the Inquisition compared to the tolerationist Dutch Republic of the same period? Far too few have such considerations in mind. Consequently, American secularism, and thus the American way of life, is constantly under threat.

This historical example can also serve to illustrate the point that historical-mindedness involves being able to better appreciate the values we enjoy and the people who created those values. No one who has made a proper study of history can deny that the founding of the United States and the institutions that buttress its civilization is the most remarkable accomplishment in human governance ever devised. Whether one is drawn to the noble premises of the Declaration of Independence, to the intricate workings of the "separation of powers," or to the key articles of the Bill of Rights, one finds everywhere the distilled essence of every truth that came before. Of the many things that can be said of the Founders, including an account of their personal flaws or their failure to jettison the legacy of slavery, historical-mindedness demands that one recognize that fundamentally, they were the Founders, and their work is the greatest advance for individual rights and for secularism in history. For the historical-minded American, the 4th of July is not merely a day for fireworks, but a day of most solemn reflection and thanksgiving. It is a way of appreciating the living past.

That's why history is so important. For the historical-minded individual, the same clarity of perception and passion that so many feel towards American rights and freedoms permeates every part of life. It renders the seemingly mundane - an analog clock, or a pencil! - into something wondrous. It gives one the ability to see and enjoy the present on a whole new level.

Sadly, the most recent generations of students have been weaned off of history. They've been fed the replacement pablum of social studies. Can anyone doubt the tragic results of this substitution when considering the new depth of ignorance to which these students have sunk? Young adults emerge from twelve years of education, and indeed from college, without a meaningful awareness of the Magna Carta, the subsequent development of the English Parliament, and the fact that the English brought these great advances with them on board the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant in 1607. Many Americans thus have no idea that representative government in America, in the form of the Virginia House of Burgesses, which first sat in 1619, predates the arrival of the Mayflower by a year!

Why do they have virtually no knowledge of the story of American government? Because social studies presents the spectrum of human experiences as disconnected bits, in no particular order. As so many parents have relayed to me over the years, social studies classes jump from continent to continent, from culture to culture, from theme to theme, quite randomly. The result is that children don't know which came first, the American Revolution or the Civil War, and they certainly can't understand why slavery was so hard to abolish in between the two milestones.

Only history can weave the myriad and disparate elements of the past together. History shows the sequence of events and uncovers the causes - both of which are forms of integration that render each detail intelligible and more retainable. It is thus only history that can give young minds a complete picture of the past and connect that picture to the present. It is only history that can provide both a proper knowledge of the past, and the ability to deploy that knowledge to improve one's life in the here and now.

I hope that in this closer study of the question of the purpose of history, you feel a new resolve to pursue it. As a homeschooler, you have found the courage to reject the educational status quo, which so many people take for granted. This is in itself a demonstration of historical-mindedness, since it involves rejecting what everyone else accepts in the name of a historical model. Already you have immeasurably helped to remake your child's educational world.

Now all you need is more history! The increased historical-mindedness it will bring can reinforce your appreciation of the freedom to homeschool, fortify your belief in the value of pursuing an independent course, and inspire you to continue being the kind of person who shapes the world, rather than merely lives in it.

Why History?

Scott Powell is a historian living in Houston, TX. He is the creator of - a homeschooling history program for students from 2nd to 12th grade. This article was originally published in Secular Homeschooling magazine (, and is reproduced with permission here.

Tomatoes: History, Origin, Facts... or Fiction?

A tomato importer, John Nix, decided to challenge the law after scrutinizing the Tariff Act. His case relied on the fact that tomatoes were a fruit and not vegetable, therefore, it should not be subjected to the Tariff Act. Nix's objections brought the case to the Supreme Court in 1893. Although Nix had a solid case, the Supreme Court rejected the botanical facts and continued to refer to tomatoes as a vegetable.

Plant family


Tomatoes belong to the genus Lycopersicon, while potatoes belong to the genus Solanum; Both of which belongs to the same "flowering plant family" solanaceae. The similarities in leaves and flowers justifies this taxonomic grouping.

Tomatoes: History, Origin, Facts... or Fiction?

The UK - Introduction of the tomato

When the tomato plant was first introduced into the UK, some areas were not willing to consume the fruit because they were considered poisonous. Other plants that were poisonous, and in the same family as the tomato, such as the henbane, mandrake and the deadly nightshade were reasons to be concerned.

The deadly nightshade (Atropus belladonna), in particular, resembled the tomato plant the most, and was used as a hallucinogenic drug, as well as for cosmetic purposes in various parts of Europe. In Latin, the name "belladonna"; literally means "beautiful woman." The women in medieval courts would apply drop of deadly nightshade extract to their eyes, dilating their pupils, a fashionable statement at the time.

When the deadly nightshade was taken for it's hallucinogenic properties, the consumer would experience visuals and a feeling of flying or weightlessness. German folklore suggests it was also used in witchcraft to evoke werewolves, a practice know as lycanthropy. The common name for tomatoes in Germany translates to "Wolf peach," which was simply another reason for Europeans to avoid the plant.

North America - Introduction of the tomato

Tomato plants were transported by colonists from Britain to North America. The plants were most valued for removing pustule (Pimples, Blisters - Pus filled, inflamed skin). The inventor of peanut butter, George Washington Carver, strongly urged his poor Alabama neighbors to consume tomatoes because of their unhealthy diet. However, he had little success convincing them that the plants was edible.

Early efforts by merchants to sell tomatoes were not very successful. It is said that the fruit was brought to the liberal hamlet of Salem, Mass. in 1802 by a painter who also found it difficult persuading people to try the fruit. New Orleans cuisine was reported to have used tomatoes by 1812, however, doubts about the fruit lingered in some areas.

It's thought that doubts about the plant's edibility was laid to rest, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that he will consume a bushel of tomatoes in front of the Boston courthouse at noon on September 26, 1820. Thousands of spectators turned out to watch the man commit suicide (At least, so they thought) by consuming the poisonous fruit. It is said that spectators were shocked when they realized the Colonel will survive after consuming numerous tomatoes. This story is from an old farm journal and may not be very reliable, however, it's quite entertaining.

Tomato popularity on the rise

Throughout the western world, tomatoes began to grow in popularity. In the 1820s, several cookbooks included recipes which required or called for tomatoes. Tomatoes were sold by the dozens in Boston's Quincy Market in 1835. In Thomas Bridgeman seed catalogue, 4 varieties of tomatoes were listed: Cherry, Pear, Large Yellow and Large Squash.

Bruist, a seed merchant commented on the tomato in 1858 - "In taking retrospect of the last eighteen years, there is no vegetable on the catalogue that has obtained such popularity in so short a period as the one now under consideration. In 1828-29, it was almost detested; in ten years almost every variety of pill and panacea was extract of tomato. It now occupies as great a surface of ground as cabbage, and is cultivated the length and breadth of the country." -

That year, Bruits had eight cultivatars listed in his catalogue. A few years later, in 1863, a popular seed catalogue had 23 cultivars listed. One of the listed cultivars was Trophy, the first modern-looking, large, red, smooth-skinned variety which was sold for .00 for a packet of 20 seeds.

Large scale breeding for desirable traits became common in the 1870s in both the US and UK. In fact, by the 1880s several hundred cultivars had been named and it was clear that tomato had grown on the western culture. According to a study conducted at Michigan Agricultural College in the late 1880s, 171 of the named cultivars represented only 61 truly unique varieties, many of which were only marginally different.

Heirloom varieties

Although Central American is thought to be the center of domestication, throughout Europe and later in North America, further domestication occurred on a more intense level. Eastern Europe appeared to produce large numbers of high quality varieties. Tomatoes are self-pollinating plants which tend to become genetically homozygous after many generations. Tomatoes will rarely cross breed and usually produce plants will similar characteristics as the parents.

Because of tomatoes natural breeding process, early cultivars did not change much and were kept in a family or community for a long time, hence the name heirlooms. There are cultivars that dates back to over one hundred years that are still produced today. Most heirloom varieties are different in color, size and shape. Some varieties are black, red with black shoulders, dark purple, rainbow and green. In terms of size, some are the size of a cherry to larger varieties weighing over 2 lb.

Heirlooms - a story

Some heirloom varieties have interesting histories as well; at least I think so. Lets talk about the story of a heirloom name Mortgage Lifter. A radiator repair shop owner, Charlie, experienced hard times, as did much of the nation through the Great Depression. Because of financial reasons, most people abandoned their cars and Ol Charlie's business too a hard hit. He decided to use his four largest fruit producing tomato plants to cross breed repeatedly with each other to create a plant that produced two pounds of fruits.

Claming that his plants could feed a family of six, Charlie peddled the crops for a dollar per plant. Within four years, Charlie generated enough money to pay off the ,000 dollars mortgage on his home, which led to the heirloom name "Mortgage Lifter."

Heirlooms - names & origins

In general, the names of heirloom varieties links directly to their history. For example, the Baptiste family in Remis, Fance cultivated the First Pick variety. Picardy's history also dates back to France (1890). Besser arrived from the Freiburg section of Germany, while Schellenburg's Favorite came from the Schellenburg family near Manheim, Germany.

Elbe was cultivated in 1889 near the Elbe River in Germany. Since the 1870s, the Amish in Pennsylvania cultivated the Amish Paste variety. Brandywine was also cultivated by Amish farmers near Brandywine Creek in Chester County Pennsylvania in 1885. The hills of Virginia is thought to be the origin of the Hillbilly variety. Old Virginia was cultivated in Virginia as well in the early 1900s. In 1953 Campbell Soup Co., introduced the Ace variety which is still popular for canning. On Edgar Allan Poe's estate, a cultivar found growing there bears his mother's maiden name, Hopkins.

Please bear in mind that these heirloom stories may be true or false, in part or whole, and may be inaccurate or exaggerated.

Tomatoes: History, Origin, Facts... or Fiction?

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History of Zodiac Signs

Well, its quite tough and overwhelming task to trace back the history of zodiac signs, as it seems that zodiac signs were being used by our ancestors since centuries either to predict future, weather or destinies of a person. There seems to be consensus when tic comes to the history of zodiac signs, it is strongly believe that the science of astrology and 12 zodiac signs are at least 3,000 years old.

Where these zodiac signs were originated? Well, it is also believed that the science 12 zodiac signs were originated in ancient Egypt and Babylonia, but when it comes to the advanced study of zodiac signs two countries seem to hold a dominating position i.e. India and China. Chinese astrology is also world famous and it uses animals (a 12 year cycle, each named after an animal) for the names of the years. That's because in these countries many astrologers and soothsayers known to use different animal and human signs to predict the future and destiny of people.


As far as documentary proofs are concerned, zodiac signs were known to be in use by Roman era inherited by Hellenistic astronomy from Babylonian astronomy from the Chaldean period. Evidently, earlier fortunes and destinies of highly influensive people such as kings and merchants were told by priests and astrologers so that these influensive people could take all necessary steps to safeguard their own interests and the interests of their people.

History of Zodiac Signs

Let's see some technical information here related to these zodiac signs. These 12 zodiac signs are divided into four main groups of signs i.e. Fire, Air, Water and Earth. How they were divided has closely been associated with their earthly elements. For example, Fire signs deal with the ultimate power of fire or sun (the natural source of fire or heat). Fire signs are: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Similarly, Air signs are also closely been associated with power of wind. They are: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Next come Water Signs, which depict rainy season and soothing nature or moisture. They are: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Finally, the Earth signs Virgo, Taurus, and Capricorn.

So, we can see from the above discussion that the earth's position with regards to the sun and other planets decides the main elements into which each astrological sign is being designated and in which each zodiac sign falls eventually.

History of Zodiac Signs

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Chocolate - History Of Nestle Company

In this article we're going to briefly review the history of one of the largest manufacturers of chocolate in the world, Nestlé.

It was in the 1860s that Henri Nestlé, a pharmacist, developed a food specifically for babies who could not breast feed. He first used this successfully on a premature infant who couldn't tolerate his mother's breast milk. This product saved the child's life and people soon began to see the value of it. Soon, Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé was being sold all over Europe.


In 1905 Nestlé merged with a condensed milk company. By the early 1900s they had factories in the United States, Britain, Germany and Spain. With the outbreak of World War I, there was a great demand for these products. By the end of the war Nestlé's production more than doubled.

Chocolate - History Of Nestle Company

Unfortunately, after the war, contracts dried up and the buying public went back to getting fresh milk. In response to this, Nestlé streamlined their operation and reduced their debt. By the 1920s the company had expanded its operation with chocolate being its number two selling product.

Then World War II broke out and Nestlé immediately felt the effects. Their profits dropped from million a year before 1938 to under million a year by 1939. In spite of this, Nestlé began setting up factories in developing countries expecting a turn around by the war's end. Ironically, the war was responsible for Nestlé introducing one of its most popular products, Nescafé instant coffee, which was the number one drink of the United States military.

The end of World War II, just as Nestlé predicted, was the beginning of a great phase of growth for the company. Nestlé acquired many other companies during this time. In 1947 they merged with Maggi, Crosse & Blackwell in 1960, Libbys in 1971 and Stouffers in 1973.

By the mid 1970s, Nestlé's growth in the developing world offset their slowdown in the more developed countries like the United States. By the mid 1980s they had acquired several additional companies, the biggest of which was the American company, Carnation.

After the mid 1990s, because of the breakdown of trade barriers, Nestlé enjoyed what was probably their biggest growth in history. Their acquisitions included the giant company Ralston Purina, which mainly sells pet food.

In spite of Nestlé's diversification, they are and will always be mostly known for their ever popular chocolate bars and drinks such as Nestlé's Crunch Bar, which is now also made into an ice cream bar, Nestlé's Quick, which is a chocolate flavored powder to put in milk, Nestlé's Carnation, another popular chocolate drink, the Kit Kat Bar, Smarties, Nestlé's Maxibon, Nestlé's Extreme and a host of other products, a list that would take days to go through.

In closing, it should be pointed out that a lot of Nestlé's success was a stroke of good luck. It seems that a man named Daniel Peter figured out exactly how to combine milk and cocoa powder. The result was milk chocolate. Well, Peter just happened to be a good friend of Henri Nestlé. Peter started the company, but ultimately Nestlé took it over as was destined to happen.

Chocolate - History Of Nestle Company


Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Chocolates []


Learning About Photography - The History, Uses And Production of Photography

Learning More About Photography

Photography is the art and process of creating still life pictures by recording radiation on a sensitive medium. This is photographic film, or electronic imaging sensors that can capture the picture. Light is usually used instead of radiation in most cases of photography. When the light is reflected from the objects that are being captured, the objects form a real image on a light sensitive film or plate inside the camera using a timed exposure. This image can then be developed into a visual image for many purposes.


History of Photography

Learning About Photography - The History, Uses And Production of Photography

Photography was initially invented in the 19th century. It created a whole new way to capture images instead of using paintings and sculptures. The usable process of photography dates back to the 1820's however when chemical photography was thought of. The first photoetching was produced in 1822 by Nicephore Niepce. He and Louis Daguerre invented a new way to take pictures quicker using silver and chalk. The first ever photo taken of a person was taken in 1839 with the new invention. Negative images were created in 1840 by a man named Talbot; his print is the oldest known negative in existence to this day. The blueprint was developed by John Herschel in 1819 by the use of silver halides. His discovery allowed pictures to be permanent, and made the first glass negative in 1839.

The wet plate collodion process of photography was used widely between 1852 and the late 1860's before the dry plate was introduced. It involved a positive image on glass, positive image on metal, and then the negative that was printed on salt paper. Advancements in photography continued to expand throughout the 19th century. The plates were replaced with film which is used today in 1884. Colors were introduced in 1908 by Gabriel Lippmann who won the Nobel Laureate in Physics for this creation.

Uses of Photography

A lot of people gained interest in photography for many reasons since it has been introduced. One of the biggest uses was for scientists to record and study movements in space, animals, and humans. Artists also gained interest in photography because they like to capture reality, and also turn reality into fantasy by distorting the images that they take creating art from these images for display. The military also uses photography for surveillance and date storage. Everyday people use photography to capture special moments in life, and to preserve those times in the pictures as well as a source for entertainment.

Production of Photography

Amateur production of photography is when photography is done in a not for profit way, and as a hobby. A person who is an amateur might have the skills of a professional, but do not want to turn their photographs into a professional type of work. Commercial production of photography is when the photographer is paid for their photography and used for a number of different things. Some of these things include advertising, fashion, crime scene photography, still life, museums, food, editorial, photojournalism, wedding photography and other professional portraits, landscape, paparazzi, and also wildlife photography. They are then produced in different outlets such as magazines and newspapers. The photographers are usually paid for their work.

Photography has since been a long time hobby and fun activity for people all over the world. There is a deep history involved with photography, many purposes for photography, and a general love of photography all over the world. Photography might not be for everyone, but it is a hobby or job for some. Whether the photographer wants to use their images for themselves or for a profit, photography is something that helps the world go around to this day.

Learning About Photography - The History, Uses And Production of Photography

Sony Ericsson - The History

When purchasing any type of electronic device, consumers have a tendency to trust brands which have long been in existence. The longer a company has been in operation, the better the brand recognition is.

In the case of Sony Ericsson, despite the fact that they are a relatively young company as compared to the mobile phone manufacturer 'giants' - they have enjoyed a constant stream of customers. These loyal clients avidly subscribe to the Sony Ericsson brand of mobile phones whenever a new one is released in the market.


A Look Back into the History of Sony Ericsson as a Company

Sony Ericsson - The History

But how exactly did the Sony Ericsson company come about? Sony Ericsson is actually a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson which merged in this joint venture which was founded in 2001.

The company's head office is located in London and they currently specialize in manufacturing the following products:

- Hi-tech accessories
- Mobile phones
- Mobile music devices
- Wireless systems
- Wireless voice devices
- Wireless data devices

When Two Companies Joined Forces

Again, Sony Ericsson is a joint venture which was established seven years ago. The two parent companies are Sony Corporation and Ericsson.

Sony Corporation is a Japanese consumer electronics company, which is one of the world's most popular brands. On the other hand, Ericsson is a Swedish telecommunications company.

Rather than individually manufacturing their own lines of mobile phones, these two companies decided to join forces. When Sony Ericsson was formed in 2001, Sony and Ericsson stopped manufacturing their own mobile phones.

Key Dates in the History of Sony Ericsson

To better learn about the history of these two companies, here are some key dates in the history of Sony Ericsson:

1885 - Lars Magnus Ericsson was the name of the man behind the company, and he first mended telegraph equipment in Sweden. It was on this same year that Ericsson started repairing and building their own handsets - which they are still doing up to now.

1958 - The name of Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company was officially changed to Sony.

1968 - Following the popularity of Sony as one of the best consumer electronic brands in the world, Sony UK was founded.

1987 - Ericsson produced the first mobile phone for the NMT network.

1992 - Ericsson built more and more mobile phone models to keep up with the consumer demand.

2001 - Sony Ericsson was established.

The Sony Ericsson Mobile Phone Manufacturer of Today

Over the years, Sony Ericsson has managed to etch a name for itself in the very competitive mobile phone manufacturing industry.

For subscribers who are looking for Sony Ericsson mobile phone deals, you do have a lot of options. You can take you pick from the line of mobile phones that they have which includes:

- Sony Ericsson Walkman Series
- Sony Ericsson Cyber-Shot series
- Sony Ericsson UIQ Smartphones
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Windows Mobile Operating System Phones

Whether you are looking for a good music phone, camera phone or smartphone, there should be Sony Ericsson mobile phone deals which will suit your mobile communication needs to a tee.

Sony Ericsson - The History

Price comparison for mobile phones in the UK. Choose a handset from all mobile manufacturers like Sony Ericsson.

Evil Eye Beads and Jewelry - History, Meaning, and Lore

Humans have long believed the eye symbol to be an amulet that wards off evil spirits. History references the use of "evil eye" beads in the ancient Orient and Sumeria from 3000 B.C. This belief is still prevalent in Turkey and areas of the Middle East, where many believe that when someone sees your good fortune and is envious, some type of bad luck will befall you. In fact, it is thought that any type of praise, even well meaning, has some form of greed and jealousy attached, and can cause harm. In that part of the world people with colored eyes are believed to be especially harmful with their unusual and enchanting gazes.

To protect against the negative energy of envious looks, people of Middle Eastern societies often use an evil eye bead, or talisman, to redirect the bad spirits back onto the world and keep the bearer safe. Turkish people call the bead "Nazar Boncuk" and versions of it are seen everywhere in their culture. Whether it is displayed at the entrance to a home or office, attached to a baby's clothing, or hung from a car mirror, the intent is the same, to disperse the bad luck away from the owner.


Evil eye beads are a single eye image typically set in a blue background color. Usually they are made of glass but other materials include agate, common stone, and Lucite. Blue is symbolic of water and prosperity in the Middle East, where it is a precious resource. Red is also a common color, as Jewish lore associates red with luck and good fortune.

Evil Eye Beads and Jewelry - History, Meaning, and Lore

There are many different colored evil eye beads used in jewelry, and they are worn as a fashion accessory as well as a good luck charm. A brief search on the internet reveals evil eye beads sold as charm bracelets, pendants, rings, and anklets. Thanks to on-line websites one can find antique and newly manufactured beads alike, in an assortment of styles and sizes to coordinate with any wardrobe. As a result they are becoming more visible in Western cultures. Look for them to become collectible items, especially in jewelry as their popularity grows.

Evil Eye Beads and Jewelry - History, Meaning, and Lore

Wanda Fitzgerald is a Florida native and an vintage charm collector who loves to share her adventures in an e-commerce jewelry business with anyone who is interested. Visit her vintage charm bracelet blog to learn more about all types of vintage jewelry, and her vintage charms [] web store, The Charm Cellar, to purchase vintage charms.

Elle Magazine, The History

One of the planet's most famous womens' fashion magazines is, undoubtedly, Elle Magazine, which was created in France in the 1940's (and is still owned by the Lagardere Group of France, but is being publi Elle focus on women's fashions, it also publishes articles on the beauty, health and entertainment inspired by today's modern woman.

Elle Magazine is most definitely the largest fashion magazine in the world with thirty-six editions on six continents throughout the world. The magazine also has offshoot companies such as Elle DÉCOR (with nineteen editions), shed by Hachette Filipacchi Media US to this day). Not only does Elle girl (nine editions), Elle Cuisine (five editions), (sixteen websites) and high quality products such as books, footwear, eyewear and other fashion related accessories. The U.S. edition alone reaches an audience of almost five million women who find in Elle Magazine a sharp style and substance with a more independent point of view than other magazines of its genre.


The innovators behind Elle Magazine are now located in New York where its main focus is on "fashion, beauty and style - with a brain." One of the best creations of the ELLE staff was the online version which has benefited with archival articles from the previous year along with sections on fashion (well, of course!); catwalk trends ("runway"); beauty; and style. Also included and quite popular with the readers is the discussion forum and the opportunity to subscribe to an e-mail newsletter. This site is an amazing insider's style guide with a worldly outlook which provides both leisurely convenience and an addictive high-end inspiration to boot. Not bad, huh?

Elle Magazine, The History

Magazine showcases some of the most affordable designer clothing along with top quality articles that are quite informative (and actually quite interesting!). There are also updated CD, art and book reviews in each and every issue. Subscribers exclaim about the magazine layout and even the quality of both the cover and paper stock are raved about in the forums. Ell Magazine is wonderful for giving its large readership information on the latest pop culture trends both in the United States and abroad while roaming away from what is presented in our present day mainstream culture.

Elle Magazine, The History

David Chase is an internet marketer and runs Cheap Magazine Subscriptions. A website where you can get more information on elle online magazine.

Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

One of the most famous Christmas carols of all time would have to be 'Silent Night.' Its simple and soothing melody and lyrics have made it popular with young and old around the world. The first line of "Silent night, holy night" is well known, but how well known is the history behind this timeless classic? Let's take a brief look at the creation of the 'Silent Night' song.

The Christmas carol originated in Austria, and was originally written in German, with the title "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht". In 1816, a young priest by the name of Joseph Mohr wrote the German words for the original six stanzas of the carol, while assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria.


On Christmas Eve, 1818, Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. Gruber was the church choir director, so Mohr showed him the poem he had written and asked Gruber to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass. The 'Silent Night' sheet music and chords were written by Gruber, to be played on guitar, with the lyrics by Mohr.

Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

Later that evening, the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaus-Kirche) in Oberndorf and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" for the first time. They could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.

It wasn't until 1859, that John Freeman Young published the English version of 'Silent Night', which is most commonly sung today. 'Silent Night, Holy Night' has been such a popular song around the world, that it has been translated into over 44 different languages.

More recently, the Christmas carol has been covered by numerous artists, including Enya, Mariah Carey, and Stevie Nicks, to name a few. Why not pay tribute to this timeless classic by singing your own version this Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

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United States Welfare System - A History: Part 2

The Great Depression in the 1930's brought about the need for the creation of a national welfare system in the United States. In part 1 of this 2 part series, we covered the birth of this welfare system into World War II. In this, part, 2 we will follow that history into the present-day. For the most part, the welfare system grew slowly but steadily during the 40's and 50's in financial aid, but there was little in the way of real change of its basic structure.

All of that changed when John F. Kennedy assumed office in 1960. JFK intended to wage a "War on Poverty" by training Americans and putting them to work by creating educational, functional programs such as the Job Corps. After JFK's assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson carried the mantle in his place. In 1965, Medicaid and Medicare were established to provide medical assistance for the elderly and disabled and those on welfare. This change meant that 1 out of every 4 Americans received some form of federal assistance.


Nixon aimed higher, looking to establish the Family Assistance Plan to guarantee a minimum income to all families in 1972, though SSI (Supplemental Social Income) was passed, establishing a base income for the disabled. Welfare rights were expanded and held up by the Supreme Court. It was to help support minorities and women that were being unfairly denied benefits in the segregated Deep South.

United States Welfare System - A History: Part 2

By the mid 1970's, another financial crisis assaulted the United States. Unemployment soared. Energy prices rose, and inflation came into being. The requirement that single women without the presence of a father in the home were the only ones who could qualify for welfare was lifted. The welfare system and those aided by its benefits grew substantially. By 1980, Ronald Reagan and the conservatives took power because many Americans believed that the welfare system had become swollen. In the mid 80's, unemployment insurance decreased nearly 7%, and the welfare system lost much of its federal subsidy.

In the 90's, the welfare battle continued. Bill Clinton promised to end welfare, though he attempted to launch a sweeping federal healthcare system, while the Republicans vowed welfare reform, led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who stated that the Congress would: "replace the welfare state with the opportunity society."

This led to the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996. Essentially the Act replaced open-ended federal assistance with TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), setting a maximum amount that the federal government would set aside to assist states with in regards to needy families being aided by the welfare system. This Act put much of the responsibility for welfare back on the states, off of the federal government. The thought was that no one is entitled to assistance and that the welfare system had created a welfare mentality. States were urged to train people and reduce their welfare budget, as well. This put many people back into the workforce, but meant they had to take jobs that paid them an income that provided for a life below the federal poverty line. By 1999, 2.2 million families or single parents were receiving welfare assistance. That was 2 million fewer families or single parents than received such aid in 1994.

The economy boomed in the 90's, but in October of 2008, the United States and the world faced a crushing economic crisis, the largest since the Great Depression of the 1930's. The housing bubble burst, unemployment percentages spiked to double-digit figures, banks and the stock market crashed, and America once again saw its unemployment ranks and welfare system swell. The end of the Bush Administration and the beginning of the Obama Administration have seen the federal government once again assist its citizens and its corporations with bail outs, increased welfare benefits, and unemployment duration extensions. The President Obama Administration had passed a national healthcare act at long last, known as Obamacare, though it is unclear if or when the Act will be instituted as a conservative backlash is still fighting the policy. Once again America is faced with financial crisis, and once again the federal government is expanding welfare assistance.

Opponents of a welfare state deride welfare as a bloated system that rewards the weak and robs the productive. They say that welfare burdens businesses. They also claim it causes taxes to increase, and inflation to rise, and that much is historically accurate. Proponents of a national welfare system argue that sometimes people need help, and some people simply cannot fend for themselves. That also is true. Nonetheless, somewhere there must exist a happy medium. Though no one can predict the future, history of the welfare system in this country is clear enough and easy enough to follow and one thing is for sure since its origination in 1935, it hasn't disappeared. It has swelled, and it has slimmed down over the past 7 decades, but it hasn't gone away, and history never lies. Perhaps it is time to stop bickering over whether or not we need a welfare system, it is here, and history says it isn't going anywhere. The advantage of history is that we can acquire knowledge from it. If we agree that welfare in some form is here and here to stay, maybe we can examine what has worked and what hasn't. We can also try to establish a better system that works for the most important institution, not the Congress, not the Presidency, not the Republicans or the Democrats, but the United States of America and its persevering citizens; who, through good times and bad have remained one nation, indivisible, seeking truth and justice for all.

United States Welfare System - A History: Part 2

With 13 years of research experience, History in all its manifestations is Miriam B. Medina's passion, and she loves nothing more than sharing what she learns with everyone. So be sure to check it out at, a one-stop resource center for writers, journalists, historians, teachers and students.

Christian Crusades - History

The Christian Crusades' history has been highly influential in Europe and throughout the world. It managed to eradicate many Christians for about two centuries and directly affected the lives of the surviving Christians. The Christian Crusades' history had eradicated an estimated 6,000,000 Christians during their reign. The estimates actually ranges from 2,000,000 to 6,000,000 based from various estimates and references in history. The Christian Crusades' history had been quite a disorderly and horrifying experience for the Christians. The Christians suffered much from the hands of the Crusaders, not to mention the loss of wealth and the traumatic suffering that they experienced. The elements of war such as tumultuous scenes, crime, disturbance in people's way of living, taking hostages, and other traumatic events often accompanied the holy war between nations and regions. However, most holy wars would result to something good that could last forever. The lessons and the pain that they left behind became the most popular lessons to remember in the history of any nation, sect, or related religion. The Christian Crusades' military campaigns and sanctions highly influenced the following
·       Role of the Catholic church
·       Power of the Catholic church
·       Progress or economy of affected civilization
·       Impact on the politics of the nation
·       Impede social improvement
·       Intellectual development
·       Commerce and feudalism structure
·       Material development including voyages relating to discovery

The Christian Crusades greatly supported the power of the Papacy as well as highly contributed to the wealth of the Catholic Church. The Popes therefore gained more power and influence over the people and the land including the economy when the Crusaders transferred the resources and the armies to their hands. The people eventually adapted the system endorsed by the Crusaders and the Papacy being their new leaders. The wealth of the Church increased immensely because the norm for sale of properties is usually a fraction or a small percentage out of its actual market value. People usually sell properties before they go for expeditions. Most people give lands or properties as a token or a gift in return for the blessings and prayers that they asked from the Popes. The people highly valued the pious benedictions of the Popes done for their behalf.
Across time, crusaders who had failed in their explorations and wars sought for asylum on cloistral retreats. The crusaders who sought the help of cloistered retreat houses brought and offered goods and other wealth. The crusaders appreciated the peace they found in cloistered retreat houses because most of them returned home with problems in health and carried or were mending broken spirits. However, the religious enthusiasts or the fanatics endowed the church with amass wealth and gifts. The gifts of piety significantly augmented the wealth of the church while the religious fervor of the people largely increased the power of the Popes. The wealth of the church and the Popes increased enormously across time.
The Impact of the Christian Crusades History on the Trade and Commerce
The most significant contribution of the Christian Crusades on the people and of the places that they had conquered was trading and commerce. The Christian Crusades themselves created demand on supplies for war and food, transportation for their men, building of ships for their numerous voyages, and trading of the eastern wares and goods across the continent of Europe. During their numerous voyages, the Crusaders brought the goods and other products of the cities of Mosul, Cairo, Damascus, and other known cities across the seas of the Mediterranean. Most of these goods landed on the seaports near Italy where traders transported them to other parts of Europe for trading. The Oriental art and beauty of their tapestries and silks enchanted the Crusaders. The elegance of the Oriental precious stones, ivory, and pearls as well as the spices and scents or perfumes truly enchanted the Crusaders. Their beauty and art captured the hearts of the Crusaders that they called the place as the vestibule of paradise.
The Crusaders and their Impact on the Land's Feudalism Practices
The Crusaders affected the lives of many Europeans. Western Europe improved their feudalism practices through the help and support of the Crusaders. Several knights, barons, and other royalties contributed to their crusading expedition. They even sold their lands to support the expedition. In Syria, the commoners experienced failures and difficulties that they reverted to the old practice of royalty. Private warfare and feud between clans eventually died out when the feudal lords departed from the Holy Land. The departures and the increased of the power and authority of the royalties were more evident in France history of commerce, which was the old home of the Christian Crusades movement.


The influence of the Christian Crusades Movement on the Nation's Politics
During the Crusaders era, most nations adapted the feudal aristocracy. This made the life of the commoners a bit difficult. The Crusaders affected the politics of a certain nation when they help break the feudalism structure. The nobles who participated to the Crusaders expedition were not able to return to their homes, thus, leaving their wealth under the responsibility of their heirs. However, their heirs were not able to keep the properties. The properties and a big part of the noble Crusaders wealth were escheated back to the King for payment of taxes and other liabilities. Most of the crusaders lost their wealth because they sometimes used their own funds to meet the cost of the expedition.
The cities that the Christian Crusaders visited during their expedition greatly benefited from the expeditions of the noble princes as well as the barons. They gained much political advantages from the activities of the Crusaders that, in a way, supported them in increasing their political power. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the burgher or middle social class mostly had the privilege for access on ready money. This special privilege is given by the landlords or the suzerains to the burgher class in return for the borrowings as well as the contributions that they had given to them. The Christian Crusades' history had delayed the fall of Constantinople as well as the conquering activities of the Turks for about three centuries or maybe more. The delay of more than three centuries was enough to make the Germans prepare for the anticipated invasion of the Mohammedan group. The Mohammedan group invaded Europe in the 15th century. The Christian Crusades' history had a wide influence on the social lives of the people.  The Christian Crusades showed the Western people an opportunity for a romantic adventure. This became their major influence for Chivalry. The Crusaders' knowledge and exposure with the Eastern culture provided the West a great deal of influence. This is the greatest refining influence of the Crusaders to the West.

Christian Crusades - History

Intellectual progress and the Crusades - History
The Christian Crusaders learned a lot from the culture and knowledge of other people from the different lands that they had visited during their expedition, which serve to liberalize their minds. The nobles and princes went out of their homeland, far from their families, and far from the familiar scenes of their cities so they can explore and complete the mission of their expeditions. The other objective was to see strange lands, unfamiliar faces, experience the way of living of other people, look at the architecture of their homes and palaces, and see their dress codes or dress styles. The Crusaders enjoyed the elegant manners and customs of the East. During those times, the East had surpassed the civilization of the West and the experience of the Crusaders with the East greatly influenced Europe's intellectual development. The Crusaders returned with new perceptions and broader ideas on a lot of things about life, people, and commerce. They also developed wider sympathies on people.
The Crusaders brought with them new materials, new ideas, and carried new perceptions about other people. This opened a new dimension of life for them. The Latin scholars were greatly motivated with the knowledge that the Crusaders shared. The expeditions of the Crusaders and the knowledge that they brought with them back home awakened Western Europe's mental activities. The shared knowledge finally triggered the period of the Renaissance and initiated the Revival of Learning in Western Europe.

Material development and the Christian Crusades - History
The Holy Wars triggered the material and economic growth in Europe. This paved way to the growth of the business enterprises in the continent. The economic development was very evident among the Italian cities. Most of these cities benefited from trading with the Crusaders needs for their expedition. Genoa, Venice, and Pisa economy significantly grew during the expedition, which included opening up some trade with the East. The Crusaders often sailed across the Mediterranean, Syrian coast, and several ports in Europe. In addition, the Crusaders new knowledge opened up another way of thinking towards artworks, inventions, and other manufacturing activities in Europe. The rich culture and arts of the East influenced the material development of the European people. The influenced were obviously evident in the artifacts showcased by the modern museums in Europe.

Voyages, Discovery, Impact of the Christian Crusades History on Civilization
The interesting news that the Crusaders brought back home after their expedition ignited the interest of some known voyage discoverers such as Sir John Mandeville and Marco Polo. The Italian, Marco Polo, and the Englishman, Sir John Mandeville, travelled to Asia's remote areas and explored the islands. This includes the expeditions of Columbus and Magellan, which the Crusaders interesting news about the Eastern arts and trades awakened. The interesting expedition of the voyager Vasco de Gama could be ignited by the interesting knowledge on geographical matters shared by the Crusaders.

The Influence of the Expeditions
The various sections of the middle ages history contained interesting topics and information about the great travels of the known voyagers in the world. In addition, there were important events in the medieval times that any reader would really appreciate learning. This included the impact of the expeditions made by the noble princes and barons during the era of the Christian Crusades history. The sitemap history could provide all the needed navigation in locating crucial facts and information during the middle ages.

Catholic Church, Wealth, and Power - History
The power of the Popes and the wealth specifically properties of the Catholic Church experienced a remarkable growth during the Christian Crusades' history. The Popes role as well as authority extended to trading and commerce involvement, resources for the spread and sustenance of Christendom, and authority over the armies. In addition, the Pope's involvement with the people's social public sphere and public life as well as their intellectual development increased their influence and authority over the commoners. The community regarded them as powerful guides and brilliant leaders. The Crusaders also sold a big part of their land to the church when they were about to start their expedition. This increased the wealth of the Catholic Church tremendously.
The society in the middle ages perceived the church as a place where they can regain their confidence, heal their broken spirits, and restore physical health conditions. The belief of the people that the Popes prayers could help them gain more wealth and good health remarkably strengthened the position of the Popes as leaders and authority on most matters of their lives. This amplified the Church authority over the people even before the start of the Christian Crusades' long history.

Europe's Intellectual Growth - Crusades History
Although the Christian Crusades History expedition and shared knowledge influenced most of the intellectual growth in Europe, other cultures also contributed to its development. Europe became liberalized when it opened its world through trading and travel with other cultures. This enlightened and improved their civilization. The Crusaders experienced different cultures, noted strange lands, and met new people during their expedition. This made them perceive other cultures in a different way. Their understanding about other people's way of living became broader, which made them more patient and flexible with the practices and ways of other cultures. The Crusaders voyages stimulated a group of Latin intellectuals. This led to an intellectual explosion with lots of translations on Arab texts, Roman literature, and classical Greek. This intellectual explosion was popularly known as the period of the Italian Renaissance or the Revival of Learning.
The influence of the other culture in terms of art, geography, and astronomy initiated the intellectual growth of the Western Europe. Europe also gained much knowledge from other cultures about sugar refining, math, alcohol refining, and papermaking. Although the Crusaders failed the European armies during the Muslim invasion, the Arabs paid by psychologically suffering from their own warring activities. This seems to be more than the material and human loses that the people and the lands they invaded suffered.
Life before the Christian Crusade - History
The Turks and Mongolian army reigned in the Middle East before the Crusaders came to influence their power. The invasions made the Arabic countries realized to keep and preserve their culture. When Europe was on the process of developing its civilization, the Arabs resisted the change. This resistance put them in a disadvantage position with the modern times. This problem still existed even today. The Arab still finds it difficult to adapt and accept the concept and benefits of modernization.

The Impact of the Expeditions - History
The influenced of the Crusaders over the people weakened the forces of the Byzantine Empire. Although the noble princes and barons failed to recover Anatolia from the hands of the Turk army, they had successfully defeated the Byzantine power in 1204 along with the fall of Constantinople. The state only serves as a buffer state for the convenience of the Turk army. The Byzantines initiated the idea of putting a buffer to inhibit and protect the empire from the Europeans in 1300. The Turks found their relationship with the Byzantine Empire useful because they serve as the Turks' point of contact for the West. However, when the empire's usefulness was fully exploited and consummated, they overtook the Byzantine Empire in 1453. The most significant contribution of the Crusaders in Europe was the shared culture, knowledge, and trade that they gathered from their various expeditions. Most Europeans who joined the Crusade had either known or seen some of the Crusaders march or gone during the expeditions.
The nation of Palestine became a place that most people go for refuge. The Bible reflected Palestine as a quasi-mythical place. The Crusader set up their forces in the land of the Palestinians and contacted their families in Europe for importing and exporting of goods. The trading system initiated the development of banks and creation of accounting techniques. This stimulated the trade and commerce between the Mediterranean, East, and Europe. Most of the merchants or intermediaries came from the northern part of Italy if the Crusaders were originally from Germany, France, or England. The Crusaders greatly influenced the economy in the main cities of Europe such as Venice or Genoa. However, the cost of the expeditions as well as their desires to trade through importation and exportation of goods weakened the forces of the Crusaders. The need for more funding that could help finance their expeditions and their commercial activities weakened the noble princes and barons but made the merchant classes stronger, which paved way for their independence.
The Christian Crusades' history greatly influenced the development of the cultural institutions during the medieval times. The knights of the Christian Crusades used emblems and many geometric designs as their identity symbols because they cannot read and write. Most of the knights were illiterate and the designs greatly aided their forms of communication and means for identification. The symbols evolved later into coats of arms or heraldic emblems. The romantic literature also developed during the Christian Crusades' history. Most of the skills and knowledge of Europe about masonry and construction of churches and castles with heavy stones came from the Middle East. The transfer of knowledge includes related activities of tunneling, siege, and sapping technologies.
The tunneling technology served to build sappers for warfare. Sappers refer to sap enemy fortifications. The technology was later used for mining. The Churches also used steeples that were inspired by the minarets during the Christian Crusades. The trend of the technological development ultimately came from the East and transferred to the West by the Crusaders. This included cultural development. During this time, Europe was not able to give much in return for the technological as well as the cultural development that they gained from the East because their civilization was still underdeveloped. However, the Muslims perceived the expeditions and the activities of the Christian Crusades negatively. The Muslims lost their appreciation and deep regard on the army of Europe that they influenced the Turks to become hostile with the Balkans. The Moslems were known as very conservative when it comes to religion or theology. The Crusaders were flexible enough to tolerate the conservative culture of the Moslems but slowly avoided any confrontations by traveling back to the West. It was then that the Mongols invaded the Moslems.
The Muslims had complete control over their Holy Land before the expedition. The Holy Land, known as Israel, is the core of their monotheistic type of religion. The believers of Islam, Christianity, and the Judaism regarded the Holy Land as a very important place that captured most of the important events of their religion's history. The other name of the Holy Land is Palestine. The Muslims controlled other religious sites before the expedition such as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The strong control over the known religious places happened during the Caliphate of Omar. The Caliph refers to a very strong political but also religious leader in Islam.

Various Expeditions of the Crusaders - History

The biggest and most essential forms of expeditions happened during the 11th until the 13th century. There were nine Crusades recorded by the Crusaders as numbers 1 to 9 under this category. The smaller crusades happened within the European continent such as Austria and Germany, which continued until the Renaissance in the 16th century. The definition and context of the Christian Crusades is holy war of the Christians. The term came from the word cross. The holy war of the Muslims is called Jihad. Members of the Jews, Christians, or Muslims were all firm believers of their respective religions. This strong belief about religion and the differences in some of their teachings made most people unable to understand and accept other people's practices. The differences triggered several holy wars between the members that were sometimes incorporated with political agenda. The missions of the Jihads and Christian Crusades' history resulted to illogical loses in terms of human lives, properties, and economy. The conflict that is happening today between the big religions partly came from the old conflict between the Jihads and the Christian Crusades. The Christian Crusades expeditions expended many lives, which influenced the perceptions of the world.

Cultural and Political Influence of the Christian Crusades - History
The influence of the Christian Crusades on Europe's cultural and political development during the Middle Ages was enormous. Most of Europe were united by the Pope during the 14th century. Centralized bureaucracies also developed and spread throughout Europe during this time, specifically on the nations of Burgundy, France, Spain, England, and Portugal. The Crusaders partly influenced the spread of the centralized bureaucracies through their various expeditions across the continent, which became the modern state's foundation for the government and politics.
The Crusaders transferred knowledge from the Islamic to the West especially medicine, architecture, and science. However, Europe's exposure to the culture of the Islamic was also influenced by their Sicilian and Iberian contacts. The designs of the castles in Europe were also influenced by the Crusaders experiences specifically their military activities. A good model of their military influence was the Caernarfon Castle located in Wales. The fortresses portrayed the styles that Edward I noted during their expedition and fights. The Christian Crusades' history introduced the culture of the Europeans as they traveled across the world especially Asia. The most important achievement of the Christian Crusades' history was the establishment of the traffic from the East to the West. The traffic between the two continents triggered respective developments on their civilizations, economy, art, and politics. The sharing of the trade, technology, and other scientific discoveries were made possible because of the traffic. The sharing of knowledge included the refinement of their engineering methods and equipments, optics, and algebra.
The Polabian Slavs lost many lives during the Northern Christian Crusades. However, they did not totally oppose the colonization of the Germans. However, the German invasions stopped the spread of the Lithuanian state that could possibly organize all of the tribes of the Baltic nations. Lithuania was a small nation pressured and forced by the problems of war with their German Crusaders to expand and look for resources to other probable places like the East. The Germans eventually assimilated the Polabian Slavs except the Sorbs. The initial expedition created a long organized war and violence against the Jewish people in Europe.

Trading and Commerce - Christian Crusades History
The needs of the expeditions such as transportation, food, gas, and other supplies needed to support a large army triggered the trading and commercial activities to anywhere the Crusaders would land. The unused roads gained significant traffic when the traders began to travel and expand their trading activities. The reason for the bustling commercial activities was not only for supporting the needs of the Crusaders, but also because most merchants would want to travel to the Middle East after they had seen their interesting products. This started the Italian Renaissance. Europe gained much from the activities. Goods were brought to Europe for trading, such as spices, diamonds, jade, and ivory. They also gained from the shared knowledge of glass manufacturing technology, making of gunpowders, and growing crops such as oranges and apples. These things were considered as rare and very expensive among the Europeans.
The Christian Crusades, for the naval and maritime historians like Archibald Lewis, was considered as macrohistorical event that enhanced the spheres of the European and Eastern civilizations. Europe slowly recovered its civilization from the boundaries of the Dark Ages in 700 to 1000 AD. The Italian city was able to drive away the Islamic pirates at the Adriatic Sea with the help of the Byzantine Empire. The joined forces reduced the Islamic forces at the Mediterranean Sea as reflected in the Byzantine and Muslim war in 1030 to 1035. The Italian cities of Pisa and Genoa helped the Normans in taking over Sicily. They overpowered the Muslims in Sicily during the period 1061 to 1091. This weakened the forces of the Muslims over the Mediterranean. This led to the growth of the Western European trading over the Mediterranean. This also led to the rise of the naval power of the Italian cities of Genoa, Venice, and Pisa including the Sicilian Normans.
The main regions for trading by the Western Europe were the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The Europeans enjoyed the trading and commerce at the core regions during the 11th century. However, during the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire of the Turks invaded the core regions. The Western Europeans contested and the Maritime Republics of the cities of Pisa, Venice, and Genoa allowed the Western Europeans to trade again. The control of the Maritime Republics on the Black Sea and of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea led to the return of the Greeks as well as the Romans ancient knowledge including the East Asian products. The Western Europe and the Mongol Empire successfully traded with the Eastern Asian Merchants. The extensive trading distributed the products to some controlled ports, such as the Kaffa, Acre, and the Antioch.
The 5th as well as the 7th Crusade during the periods of 1248 to 1254 were made to secure the control of the Western Europeans over the Red Sea region trading center. The attempts were directed against the armies of Egypt, which was the main support of the Mameluke and Ayyubid. During the 14th century, the Mamelukes ended the trading activities of the Europeans with the Asian merchants. The Mamelukes successfully invaded the states of the Middle Eastern crusaders. The Mongolian empire trading with Asia also ended during the 14th century.

The Caucasus - History
The Khevsurs, believed to be the descendants of the crusaders lived in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. This is a remote place located in Khevsureti. Many believed that the Khevsurs got separated from the large crusaders' army. They stayed isolated in the highland region and kept some of the culture of the crusaders. The Khevsurs passed down to their generations the weaponry and armor relics including the chain mail technique. The knowledge and the weapons were still used by the communities even in the 20th century.

Christian Crusades - History

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