Saturday, 22 April 2017

Hernan Cortes the Conquistador

On this day in history, April 22nd, in 1519, the Spanish adventurer, explorer, Conquistador, and total git, Hernan Cortes, established a settlement in Mexico called Veracruz.
 
Cortes had invaded Mexico with his Spanish army in the hope of finding some gold. Or a decent cigar. Or semi-decent massage parlour.
 
In his efforts to find some treasure, Cortes deposed or killed all the kings in and around Mexico, and anyone he met on his way. Even the bloke selling bananas by the pond.
 
The guy was a git. It's a fact.
 
To give an example: Cortes was out walking through the jungle one night, perhaps as part of an expedition, perhaps as part of a mating ritual with the local gorilla population, who knows.
 
He saw King-Now-A-Hostage CuauhtĂ©moc having a laugh with two of his fellow former-kingies. It seems the famous Spanish Explorer and Conqueror, Herman Cortes, didn't like laughter.
 
After asking a bloke to translate what the three were discussing - apparently it was something to do with comparing Breaking Bad with Game of Thrones - Cortes got upset at their conclusion.
 
He immediately ordered all three to be hanged. To Death. All the way. Cortes then invented a story to tell the locals. It involved a boy wizard, a special school in Scotland, and the ginger kid getting the girl.
 
When the locals didn't believe that story - no way the ginger kid gets the girl - Cortes made up another.
 
He informed them that the three kings were plotting his murder. Mwerder. To Death. All the way. And because of this plot, Cortes had no choice but to execute them all.
 
And anyone else who plots his Mwerder. So just you lot all watch yourself. Mwerderers.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Top 5 Strangest Easter Traditions

Top 5 Strangest Easter Traditions

1)  Scoppio del Carro or Explosion of the Cart
 
Ever wondered about starting a tradition where you strap a rocket to a dove and shoot it along a wire into a cart that explodes? You have? Psycho!
 
As it turns out, you don't need to wonder. In Florence, they actually did it. Yep, not kidding.
 
On Easter Sunday, a herd of oxen sprinkled with flowers and herbs, probably for the barbeque afterwards, pull an antique cart that is three-stories high from Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo. The cart is escorted by soldiers, musicians, a flock of people dressed like they've been ejected from the 15th century, which is where this tradition began, and a chef specialising in oxen barbeques.
 
A fire -- Fire ... FIRE ... we're all gonna end up on fire -- is started by rubbing some ancient flints together, which is used to light a candle, which is then used to light some coals, which is then placed in the cart for its journey to the cathedral. I can't think of one possible safety reason as to why you shouldn't place the red-hot coals on that cart. Not one.
 
Speaking of the cart, it comes pre-loaded with fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. And twenty seven combustible hedgehogs. Once the cart arrives at the cathedral, the oxen, which are no longer needed, are stapled to its sides, and sprinkled with some more herbs and a bit of seasoning.
 
Here comes the favourite part, you sicko. A wire is strung from within the cathedral and tied to the cart outside. Then a rocket is strapped to a dove*, the dove to the wire, and step back and watch that sucker go.
 
If all goes well, there will be a good harvest. If all doesn't go well ... better be able to GET THE HELL OUT OF ... Oh, nuts, I'm on fire.
 
(*mechanical)
 
2)  Rouketopolemos - The Rocket War
 
This is one of the more interesting traditions and it thankfully doesn't involve an egg. In the quiet town of Vrontados, on the Greek island of Chios, Easter gets noisy. Very noisy.
 
At the stroke of midnight, before Easter Sunday begins in earnest, two rival churches, St. Mark's and Panaghia Ereithiani, conduct a Rocket War. They fire thousands, and I mean thousands, of home-made rockets across the town in an attempt to hit the bell tower of the opposition church.
 
The tradition dates back to the Ottoman era and they originally used real cannons stuffed with hedgehogs, until those were outlawed in 1889.
 
Each church needs to score a direct hit on the belfry and the hits are counted the following day to see who wins. Every year they both declare themselves the winner, and each vows to get their vengeance the following year. And so it continues.
 
This has got to be one of the best traditions, ever.
 
3)  Smigus-Dyngus or Dyngus Day
 
Basically, boys chuck water over girls and then spank them. Yep, it sounds weird, but it's true.
 
In Poland their Easter tradition involves boys sneaking into a girl's home at the break of dawn on Easter Monday. Can't see anything dodgy so far. Then up to the girl's bedroom. Nope, still nothing wrong with that. And then they throw buckets of water over the girls whilst she is still in her bed. Pretty sure that's still okay.
 
But, then it gets perverted.
 
The boy will say a rhyme.
 
A Rhyme? What the...? What kind of sick son of a...?
 
The traditional rhyme goes, "Dyngus, dyngus, po dwa jaja; nie chce chleba tylko jaja." This translates as, "I can see your nipples." Nah, only kidding. It actually means, "Dyngus, dyngus, for two eggs; I don't want bread but eggs." And a nice pair of eggs they are.
 
Once the boy has emptied his load over the girl (of water-The bucket of water), the screaming girl is carried out of her house and dragged to the local river or lake, usually still in her bed, before both bed and girl are thrown into the water.
 
Attractive girls can expect this repeated throughout the day.
 
As if waterboarding girls wasn't enough, the boys would obtain pussy willows from the local dealer, take them to the church to be blessed by priests, and then use them to whip and spank the girls.
 
Because that's how you show a girl you like them - drenching and spanking.
 
However, it's all okay, as the following day the girls get to do it to the boys. The Czech Republic or Slovakia, have similar traditions.
 
4)  The Egg Dance
 
And again we meet up with the mighty egg. It does seem to be heavily involved with Easter festivities. I blame the Pagans. It's all their fault. Stupid symbolism about Earth's rebirth at spring, and then those early Christians had to go and adopt it, too.

The Egg Dance involves dancing around eggs and trying to damage as few as possible. It can trace its history back a few thousand years to a time of a people in desperate need of a television and the internet.
 
In 1498, the very first reality dance show happened. I believe Bruce Forsyth was the host. Yes, he's that old.
 
A hundred eggs were scattered over the sand and each potential bride and groom were forced to take hands and dance. Dance, I say. Dance little monkeys. Dance. Dance like your feet are on fire.
 
If they completed the dance without breaking the egg, it would go to the judges to make a decision, and when Simon Cowell couldn't decide, it went to a public telephone vote to see if they made it into the next round and be allowed to marry.
 
The first winners were Margaret of Austria and Philibert of Savoy.
 
5)  Pace-Egging
 
There is an Easter tradition in England known as Pace-Egging, where kids would roll decorated hard-boiled eggs down a hill. The kid who rolled it the furthest, or fastest, or highest, or deepest, or something-est, would win a prize - they'd be allowed to eat a hard-boiled egg. Yummy!
 
Many other countries such as Germany, Egypt, Netherlands, Denmark and Narnia, all have a similar tradition known as the Easter Egg roll.
 
Pace Egging in England dates back hundreds of years. It could be, or not, perhaps be symbolic of the rolling of the giant chocolate egg away from the tomb of Jesus before his resurrection.
 
Or, as is more likely, it's to do with the tradition of rolling babies down a hill to symbolise knew life and the struggles a mother goes through in childbirth. If the baby makes it to the bottom of the hill, it's allowed to drink its weight in beer as a prize.
 
There would be dancing, karaoke, piddling on a garden gnome, usually from the roof of a house, and then the night ended with the babies throwing hedgehogs at stray cats. Followed by a kebab.
 
In reality, we really have no idea why the heck it started. But baby-rolling is as good an explanation as any other.
 
About three hundred years ago babies were replaced with an egg because, well, apparently rolling babies down a hill is wrong. Who knew?
 
The original tradition involved decorating a hardboiled egg and rolling it down a grassy hill. There are some towns in England that still use hard-boiled eggs, but some have since switched to chocolate eggs.
 
In an unrelated fact, the number of accidents involving children diving after chocolate-eggs-thrown-down-a-hill increased one-hundred-fold.
 
 
Honourable Mentions
 
Easter Egg Push
 
In America there is an annual tradition of the Easter Egg Push. Every Easter Monday the President gathers hundreds of kids on the White House lawn, who have had to go through an extensive and thorough background check and security screening, and forces them to push an egg across the grass with a long-handled spoon.
 
The tradition is believed to have been started by the wife of President James Madison, Dolley Madison, in 1814, and was originally held in the grounds of the US Capitol, the seat of the US Congress.
 
However, it was moved to the White House lawn in 1877 when Congress decided they hated children. Yes, the US Congress hates children (I mean, hated children, past tense. They may like them now).
 
They also hated Fun.
 
And they specifically hated children having fun.
 
Since they couldn't do anything about banning children having fun, and they spent a load of money researching whether they could, they instead made sure children couldn't have fun within sight and earshot of them. So they passed a law making it illegal to use the grounds of the US Capitol as a children's playground.
 
"Get off our grass, you horrible kids."
 
On the 13th April, 2009, President Obama and his wife ... (err, she's called, hang on, it'll come to me, it begins with an "M". Oh, yes) ... Mrs Obama, hosted their first White House Easter egg roll.
 
The theme "Let’s go play" was meant to encourage young people to lead healthy, active lives.
 
However, most of the kids ignored that and stuffed their faces with chocolate eggs and candy. Because who wants to live a healthy, active life when there's chocolate? Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.
 
Egg Tapping
 
The clue to this Easter tradition is in the title. You hard-boil eggs and tap them together until one of them cracks.
 
In England it is also known as egg knocking, egg pacqueing, egg jarping, or simply as dumping.
 
Be careful when you suggest dumping though, as it can mean a few different things depending on where you are in England.
 
On a Saturday night in Bradford, for instance, blokes get hammered, have a kebab, and do a bit of dumping on a random front garden on their way home (When you gotta go, you gotta go).
 
It's a tradition that can trace its history back to the 15th century. Which is strange, as Egg Tapping can also be traced back to the 15th century (In Poland). An amazing coincidence.
 
Since 1983, a World Egg-Jarping championship takes place every Easter Sunday at Peterlee Cricket And Social Club, in County Durham. A few years ago, international outrage hit the front pages of literally no newspapers all around the world. Two contestants were banned from competing at any international and Olympic events in Egg Tapping. The unscrupulous scoundrels filled their eggs with cement.
 
Marksville in Louisiana claims to have the oldest official Egg Tapping event. They started their competition back in 1956. They even have different categories, from the chicken egg category, to guinea hen egg and flamingo.
 
A new category was introduced in 2015 after scientists discovered a secret cult of seriously grumpy hedgehogs in the Amazon rainforest that squeeze out ostrich-sized eggs instead of live young. Ouch, that'll leave some stretch marks.
 
We will finish our Easter Traditions on a high
 
In Bermuda it's traditional to force children into slave labour by getting them to make kites, the more colourful, the better.
 
And to then fly them.
 
Up to the highest heights.
 
And send it souring.
 
Up through the atmosphere. Up where the air is ... Oh, you get the idea.
 
It's to commemorate Jesus ascending to heaven - as high as a kite.
 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

History Facts April 12th

HISTORY Fun Facts - 12th April

On This Day in 1945 the second most famous Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, died at the age of 63.
 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was only 3 months into his 4th term of office as President when he died, He was replaced by the Vice-President, Harry Truman.
 
Franklin D. Roosevelt has consistently been rated in the top 3 of American Presidents, along with President Martin Sheen, who had a seven year term in the West Wing of the White House, and Morgan Freeman who head butted an asteroid.
 
David Palmer, friend of Jack Bauer, tends to always come fourth.
 
On This Day in 1960, Jeremy Clarkson, former presenter of Top Gear, and now presenter of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime, was born.
 
Jeremy Clarkson, who became future chaos of the BBC car show, Top Gear, sped out of his mother at over 90 miles an hour before performing a handbrake turn and proclaiming his mother's womb the warmest and most comfortable womb ... in the worrrrld.
 
A few minutes later he found out they weren't going to serve him any hot food and promptly punched the midwife in the face.
 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Charles Lightoller and Titanic

On this day in history in 1874, Charles Lightoller was born.
 
Charles Lightoller was the English 2nd officer on board the infamous unsinkable ship that sank, the RMS Titanic.
 
Lightoller was the most senior officer of the Titanic to survive the ship's sinking. He was the officer in charge of loading the passengers into lifeboats. And enforced the "Women and Children First" policy.
 
In fact, he went a lot further than that, and enforced his own "Women and Children ONLY" policy. He actually lowered lifeboats into the water with empty seats, even though there were no women or children to board them, and when there were men waiting.
 
Lightoller only permitted one adult male passenger to board a lifeboat. His name was Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, who had experience sailing and could help the women navigate their craft.
 
Lightoller himself survived, but almost didn't.
 
As the Titanic disappeared beneath the waves, Lightoller was sucked against a grate, being held there by the pressure of the water as the ship sank. A rush of water burst through the grate when the boiler exploded. He was catapulted into the ocean where he swam to a capsized collapsible boat. He gripped the boat, along with 30 others, until they were finally rescued.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Fun Fact for March 21st

HISTORICAL FUN

On this day in history in 1413, Henry V became King of England.
 
King Henry V became King of England after his father, Henry IV, died suddenly of not-alive-no-more.
 
The new King of England was crowned in a magnificent ceremony at Westminster Abbey on the 9th of April. Nothing can compare to the coronation of a medieval king.
 
Apart from the king's eyes. "They flashed from the mildness of a dove's to the brilliance of a lion's."
 
True story.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

History Fun Facts for February 5th

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY 5th FEBRUARY
On this day 5th February 1788, Sir Robert Peel was born.
 
Although he served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 67% of British people who recognised his name, didn't realise. Most will know his as the guy who set up the Metropolitan Police Force in London.
Police officers in Britain are often called "Bobbies" or "Peelers"
as a throw back to Robert Peel, the Met's creator.

Robert Peel actually served as Prime Minister twice. The first term between 1934-1835, and the second between 1841-1846.
 
But, as stated above, he is better known for the creation, in 1829, of the Metropolitan Police Force based at Scotland Yard, London.
When Peel set out the principals of policing a democracy, he said,
"The police are the public and the public are the police."
 
Before adding:
"Which one of you thieving scumbags stole my sandwich?"
It was the first permanent police force of its kind and not at all popular with the criminals. However, it soon became popular amongst their victims. It cut crime in London by a half.
 
In 1857, all cities in the UK were required to establish their own police forces. Nowadays, they're pretty much everywhere.