Geishas are not necessarily prostitutes. A geisha is a member of a professional class of Japanese women who provide entertaining company for men, particularly businessmen. Some geishas sing, dance, or play instruments; most are skilled only at conversation.
Asia, by far is the most populous continent. Its population in 1989, including the Soviet Union’s, was estimated at 3.35 billion. The next most populous continent, Africa, had only 646 million people. Antarctica, the least populous continent, is virtually uninhabited.
Wheat, the food base of Western civilization, is by far the most widely grown plant. It has been cultivated for more than 7,000 years in every continent except Antarctica.
About 700,000 people worldwide speak Basque. Most of them live in a narrow area of about 3,900 square miles in Spain and France. Basque is not Indo-European; it is the only remnant of the languages spoken in southwestern Europe before the region was Romanized.
British colonials from India brought pajamas to their home country about 1870, at which time they became popular. Women began wearing pajamas in the early years of the twentieth century, initially as garments for sleeping and later as lounge wear.
Part of the reason for the orientation of buttons on clothing is custom. Men usually dressed themselves, and because most men are right-handed, buttoning from the right made sense. Women were more often dressed by maids, and maids found it easier to work from their right, the wearer’s left.
Angora wool does not come from sheep. Angora is harvested from a domesticated rabbit of the same name. The wool is white, black, blue, or fawn. The rabbits are sheared every three months; each one yields about 12 ounces of wool annually. These rabbits first appeared in the eighteenth century in France.
The beverage we know as tea was originated in China around 2700 B.C. It became popular in England, Holland, and America by the early eighteenth century A.D. The British custom of afternoon tea was introduced about 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford. Iced tea was first introduced at the 1904 world’s fair, called the Louisiana […]
The medieval term the four humors refers to what were thought to be the primary bodily fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. These represented a human’s four basic temperaments: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. The idea remained popular into the Elizabethan Age.
Gypsies call themselves Rom, or “man.” Not knowing the origin of Rom, the English called them Gypsies (derived from Egyptians); the French, Bohemians; the Spanish, Flemish; and the Swedes, Tatars.
Panama hats have always been made in Ecuador, where their manufacture helps to support the economy. They were once distributed through Panama.
In 1960, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was founded to unify the members’ petroleum policies and regulate prices. The founding members were: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Since then, the following nations have also become members: Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Tower of Hercules, outside La Coruna, Spain is the oldest lighthouse still in use. The 185-foot-tall working lighthouse dates from the reign of the Roman emperor Traj an, A.D. 98-117.
There are four: monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, and group marriage. Monogamy is one wife, one husband. Polygyny is one husband, several wives. Polyandry is one wife, several husbands. Group marriage is several wives, several husbands. Group marriage is by far the rarest and has never been the prevailing form of marriage in any known society.
Yes, it’s true. Canadian Eskimos used igloos as temporary winter homes or camp dwellings. Igloos were usually made of blocks of hard-packed snow, but sometimes of sod, stone, or wood. Most Eskimos now live in more modern dwellings, but igloos can still be found in the area between the Mackenzie River delta and Labrador.
The Russian Bloody Sunday was January 9, 1905, when a workers’ march on the czar’s Winter Palace was cut down by cossacks. About a thousand people were killed or wounded; the event sparked the Revolution of 1905. The Irish Bloody Sunday took place on January 30, 1972, when British soldiers shot and killed 13 Catholics […]
According to Adam Smith (1723-1790), the “invisible hand” of economics is competition that regulates the marketplace. He first made this observation in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776).
Kosher pareve means food that is neutral. That is, fruits, vegetables, and eggs, and can be eaten with either meat or dairy products. The two other main categories of kosher food are mikhig (dairy) and fleishig (meat).
Lieutenant Harry Burnett of the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides was responsible for soldiers wearing khaki today. In December 1846, the English officer was told to develop a “mud-colored” uniform that would camouflage soldiers in dusty surroundings. By early 1847, Burnett had clothed his troops in the light-colored uniform named khaki, which comes from the […]
From ancient times, the color blue was considered a precaution against evil spirits, since blue was the color of the heavenly sky. Dressing a baby boy in blue protected him from the evil spirits who wanted to cause him harm. Since girls were considered inferior, it was assumed that evil spirits would not bother with […]
Arabian philosopher and physician Avicenna introduced coffee as a beverage about A.D. 1000. He called the drink bunc; he believed it to be useful as a medicinal tonic. Not until about the sixteenth century did coffee become accepted as a social beverage in Arabia and Persia.
There are no fixed rules that only royalty or noted public leaders may be interred in Westminster Abbey. The decision rests solely in the hands of the deans of the Abbey.
Bananas did not come from South America. Bananas first grew in tropical Asia and were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Banana plants were transported from the Canary Islands off northwest Africa to the Americas soon after the New World was discovered.
In days of old, tables were generally more crowded during mealtime and one’s elbows could get in the way of other diners. Today elbows are allowed on the table by certain etiquette authorities, but the general idea of keeping elbows away from dinnerware and other diners is still a good one.
The original cheese comes from the city of Gouda in the western Netherlands, chartered in 1272.
Use of camouflage became standard practice in World War I. This was when airplanes were used to reconnoiter enemy encampments and to direct artillery fire. Armies found it necessary to camouflage uniforms, helmets, and equipment with the colors of leaves and brush.
The news agency the Associated Press was organized in 1848.
For 41 years, under the reign of the Medicis, citizens of Florence, Italy, paid what we now know as an income tax. Called the Scala, the tax was instituted in 1451, supposedly on a progressive scale. The tax turned into an easy type of political blackmail, and as such it was repealed when the court […]
There are more physicians in the USSR than anywhere else. The United States holds top honors for psychiatrists, psychologists, and dentists.
As of the early 1980s, the United States held the largest supply, with nearly 27 percent of the world’s uranium reserves. Other countries with large supplies were: Australia, with 18 percent; Sweden, with 16 percent; South Africa, with 15 percent; and Canada, with 9 percent.
The rum ration was an allotment of the liquor apportioned daily to members of the British navy. The practice, introduced in 1731, was discontinued on August 1, 1970.
The official languages of Belgium are Flemish Dutch and French. The country is bounded by the North Sea, the Netherlands, West Germany, Luxembourg, and France.
In 1989, the United States was the fourth most populous country. The top five ran as follows: 1. China. 1.104 billion 2. India. 835 million 3. USSR. 289 million 4. United States. 248.8 million 5. Indonesia. 184.6 million
The largest, though not the tallest office building was the World Trade Center in New York City. Each of its twin towers contained 4.37 million square feet of space.
The gypsies probably came from India. Romany, the Gypsy language, is Indic; but it is not known when or why the Gypsies left India. Living as aliens in every country, they reached Persia by A.D. 1000 and northwest Europe by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The original members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization known as NATO formed in 1949 during the Soviet blockade of Berlin, were: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952; the Federal Republic of Germany in 1953; and […]
The term liberal arts arose in the Middle Ages from the Latin artes liberales. It refers to the seven branches of learning: logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, and grammar. The number seven derives from a quote in Proverbs 9:1: ‘Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn our her seven pillars.”
The Code Napoleon is the French civil code enacted in 1804 and introduced into areas then under French control. New Orleans, by that time, was under U.S. control, but the Louisiana state civil code of 1825 (still in effect, with modifications) was influenced by the French code. The Napoleonic Code covered everything from civil rights […]