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Fun Friday Fact - hope you respond weekly to give us all a smile

Heather Shay

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In German traditions, St. Nicholas is accompanied by a an imp or mildly evil fellow named Krampus.  St. Nicholas hands out sweet treats and fruit to good children, leaving the treats in a shoe.  Krampus beats bad children with a stick.  

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@miz mirandathank you for adding to the Christmas Traditions list. Again, it's very interesting. As is the story of the actual Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myrna and Bari, the precursor of Santa. I've gotta say, I think I'll pass on the fried caterpillars though.

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Krampus is another different tradition. I first learned about the character on an episode of General Hospital several years ago.

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You have all prompted me to do some research. Being of Scottish descent, I went in that direction and learned a bunch of things, some of the most unusual were:


On Christmas eve, the children leave a slice of mince pie and a shot of whisky for Father Christmas.


A rowan twig is often burnt on Christmas to restore good relationships between neighbors, family members and friends.


And, most unusual of all, Christmas wasn't celebrated openly by Scots from 1647 until the 1950s. Originally, this was because of edicts under Cromwell's rule and later the Presbyterian Church of Scotland discouraged the practice of celebrating Christmas. 

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Ancient Romans celebrated reversals at the midwinter festival of Saturnalia.


Saturnalia parade


A Saturnalia celebration in England in 2012. / Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The holiday, which began as a festival to honor the agricultural god Saturn, was held to commemorate the dedication of his temple in 497 BCE. It quickly became a time of widespread revelry and debauchery in which societal roles were overturned, with masters serving the people they enslaved and servants being allowed to insult their masters. Mask-wearing and play-acting were also part of Saturnalia's reversals, with each household electing a King of Misrule. Saturnalia was gradually replaced by Christmas throughout the Roman Empire, but many of its customs survive as Christmas traditions.

The sun illuminates an ancient tomb in Ireland on the winter solstice.


Newgrange mound in Ireland


Newgrange mound in Ireland / Stephan Hoerold/iStock via Getty Images

Newgrange, a tomb mound built in Ireland about 1000 years before Stonehenge, lights up dramatically during the winter solstice. A roof-box above the entrance coordinates with the light from the winter solstice sunrise so that a beam of light travels the 19-meter passage and then illuminates the chamber for about 17 minutes. The attraction is so popular that visitors can only gain entrance to the chamber on solstice mornings via a lottery held in late September every year.

Some of Peru’s Nazca Lines converge with the sun on the winter solstice.


Nasca lines in Peru


Nasca lines in Peru / lovelypeace/iStock via Getty Images

The 2000-year-old Nazca Lines in Peru are massive designs etched into the ground, depicting a variety of plants, animals, and shapes. Some of the straight lines are as long as 30 miles and the animals and plants as large as 1200 feet.


The geoglyphs are best viewed from the sky and remain a mystery to researchers. American historian Paul Kosok, working in the 1940s, believed the geoglyphs were related to astronomy and may have served as a calendar. Some of the lines appear to correspond to the winter solstice, as they touch the spot on the horizon where the sun sets.

The pagan festival of Yule honored the winter solstice.


Sunset over a snowy field


Sunset over a snowy field / SV Photography/iStock via Getty Images

Despite showing up in a variety of Christmas-related songs and traditions, Yule originated as an ancient pagan winter solstice festival. People would celebrate with a 12-day feast that marked the sun’s rebirth and burn a Yule log, which stayed lit for all 12 nights. Some pagans consider Yule the beginning of the new year, a time when the days start getting longer. Druids would burn Yule logs for 12 days to eliminate evil spirits and bring about good luck.

 Mistletoe was part of some winter solstice celebrations.


Bundles of mistletoe


Bundles of mistletoe / AY Images/iStock via Getty Images

Druid priests believed mistletoe, a parasitic evergreen plant that grows among oak branches, was the soul of the tree. The high priest would climb an oak on the sixth night of the new moon after the winter solstice and cut down pieces of the mistletoe, which people would wear for good luck and protection from evil spirits.

The winter solstice marks one of the most important celebrations of the Hopi.


Winter snow on Arizona mountains


Winter snow on Arizona mountains / Doug Berry/iStock via Getty Images

In northern Arizona, the Hopi people celebrate Soyal, or Soyaluna, the winter solstice celebration. They welcome kachinas, or katsinam, ancestral spirits that guard over the Hopi, to dance with them and bring the sun back to the world. The ritual is usually performed in an underground room, called a kiva, and is meant to bring about a prosperous year.

A world heritage site in North America is aligned with the winter solstice.


Chaco Canyon pueblo ruins


Chaco Canyon pueblo ruins / YinYang/iStock via Getty Images

At Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, where Ancestral Puebloans built an elaborate city more than 1000 years ago [PDF], the sun strikes a particular petroglyph called the Sun Dagger at the summer and winter solstices. The rock carving may have been part of the Ancestral Puebloans’ sophisticated practice of astronomy.

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Winter cold kills more than twice as many Americans as summer heat does.


The Southern Hemisphere typically has milder winters than the Northern Hemisphere. This is because the Southern Hemisphere has less land and a more maritime climate.


While it seems counterintuitive, Earth is actually closest to the sun in December, even though winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.


According to the Guinness World Records, on January 28, 1887, a snowflake 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, making it the largest snowflake ever observed.


While the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, seasonal lag means that the coldest period usually follows the solstice by a few weeks.


Several discoveries happened in a Winter Solstice. The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth on December 21, 1620; Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium on December 21, 1898, and on December 21, 1968 the Apollo 8 spacecraft launched.


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Snow Was Almost Illegal

The 1991-1992 snow season was particularly bad for Syracuse, New York. More than 162 inches of snow fell on the city. So in March of 1992, the Syracuse Common Council passed a decree “on behalf of its snow-weary citizens” that said any more snow before Christmas Eve of that year was outlawed. But Mother Nature must have missed the memo: It snowed two days later, and the following winter brought even more snow.

Some Snowflakes You Can’t Catch in Your Mouth

The largest recorded snowflake was 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. It fell in Fort Keogh, Montana in January of 1887. 

Snow Seems to Really Like Italy

The town of Capracotta in southern Italy holds the record for the city to get the most snow in one day. In March of 2015, more than 100 inches of snow accumulated in just 18 hours. That’s about five inches of snow per hour!

Lots of Snow = Super Tall Snowmen

The Guinness Book of World Records gave the record for Tallest Snowman to one jolly, happy soul in Bethel, Maine. The snow-woman, which took over a month to build, was over 122 feet tall.

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Christmas Trivia


PopSci estimates Santa Claus would have to travel an average speed of 5.083 million miles per hour based on a 24-hour cycle to hit each household on Christmas Eve. It bases this on 2.67 children per household, with 75 million households worldwide. The speed of light is 671 million mph. So if we ever get there, presents for everyone!


The restaurant Denny’s, known for its “always open” motto, decided to give employees the day off in 1988. The only problem was 700 of the franchise’s then-1,221 locations had no locks per the policy. Thankfully, corporate was able to come through with last-minute installations.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are approximately 15,000 decoration-related emergency room visits each holiday season.


The Catalan Region, Spain: Tió de Nadal, or “Christmas log,” is a hollow log with stick legs and other decor. From Dec. 8-24, children “feed” him nuts, dried fruit, and water each night. On Christmas Eve, Slate notes, they beat him with sticks until candy falls out, earning him the dubious nickname of “defecating log.” We poop you not.


The Italy-based emergency services organization Pubblica Assistenza Carrara e Sezioni in Carrara, Tuscany, Italy, captured the world’s longest Christmas stocking title from GWR on Jan. 5, 2011. The final size was over 168 feet in length and more than 70 in width (from heel to toe).

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oooooooooooops forgot to do this yesterday .....


A song that takes 1,000 years to play launched on January 1, 2000.
music sheets

Composer Jem Finer wrote the piece called "Longplayer," which can be heard at London's Trinity Buoy Wharf (or over this live stream). It's being performed by singing bowls and is set to start all over again immediately after it finishes in 2999.

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Some of the shortest songs recorded


Napalm Death 'You Suffer' 1.3 seconds 1989


Smashing Pumpkins '17' 17 seconds


Beatles 'Her Majesty' 23 seconds



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The origins of Friday

There is some dispute about the origins of the word Friday, but most agree that the day is named after the Norse goddess Freyja, known to the Anglo-Saxons as Frigg. It’s thought the name comes from ‘Freyja’s Day’ which was shortened to Fre-day, then Friday. Freyja was the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, sex, war and magic.

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Employees who work at Jack Daniels get a free bottle of Jack Daniels with their paychecks on the first Friday of every month.


McDonald's Filet-O-Fish was created in 1962 for Catholics abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent. According to McDonald's, a quarter of all its Filet-O-Fish sandwiches were sold during Lent last year.


On this day, April 13th, a Friday in 2029, an asteroid more than 1,000ft wide will pass by Earth closer than the moon and will easily be observed with the naked eye.


Hugh Jackman buys lotto tickets every Friday for the entire crew while filming a movie. It's a tradition he started 2 months into filming his first American film when he was embarrassed he didn't know the names of half the crew members.


On 24th October 1975, 90% of women in Iceland went on strike and took to the streets, refusing to work, cook, and look after children. The strike was called "Women's Day Off", and helped put Iceland at the forefront of the fight for gender equality. Men came to know it as "The Long Friday".

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14 minutes ago, miz miranda said:

On 24th October 1975, 90% of women in Iceland went on strike and took to the streets, refusing to work, cook, and look after children. The strike was called "Women's Day Off", and helped put Iceland at the forefront of the fight for gender equality. Men came to know it as "The Long Friday".

Yeah for this--seize the moment 

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The name "bonobo" resulted from a misspelling.
Bonobo Edwin Butter/Shutterstock

"Bonobo," the common name for apes, may sound like some sort of translation of a meaningful term, but in fact, it was the result of a typo. Researchers reputedly first found the animals in the town of Bolobo, Zaire, in the '20s, but the name of the place was misspelled "Bonobo" on the shipping crate in which the animal was placed, leading others to refer to the animal by the name, which stuck.

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Cows have best friends.
Two Cows Astonishing Facts Shutterstock

Cows may seem like simple creatures, but deep down, they are surprisingly social and can experience a complex range of emotions and relationships, including friendship. "When heifers have their preferred partner with them, their stress levels in terms of their heart rates are reduced compared with if they were with a random individual," a researcher from the University of Northampton told the BBC.

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Best friends always bring out the best in us!

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Different breeds of dogs, as well as wolves and coyotes all have the same number of chromosomes and can interbreed. 


Foxes are different. Each type of fox has different genes, so they are unable to reproduce outside their own kind.  While they look, sound, and act in similar ways, they are very distinct species.

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