Invisible Leprechauns Are Not Real. The Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is the time of the year where people like to represent their colors,  drink alcohol, and chow down on some corned beef and cabbage. Whether you’re Irish or not, Catholic or Protestant, or someone who just needs an excuse to get drunk, March 17th is a holiday that can make anyone a-wee-bit of Irish for a day.  What is Saint Patrick’s Day really about? And what is up with the pinching for not wearing green?

SAINT PATRICK PAINTING (2)_0

Saint Patrick

Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from his own self declaration.  He came from a wealthy Romano Britain family in the fourth century. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest.  At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and was taken as a slave back to Ireland. After spending 6 years in Ireland as a shepherd, Patrick heard the voice of God.  God told Patrick to escape his capture by fleeing to the coast where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After fleeing Ireland Patrick became a priest. Patrick returned to Ireland on a mission to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.  Traditionally it is believed that Saint Patrick died on March 17th and was buried at a cathedral in Downpatrick Northern Ireland.

What About the Snakes?

It was a common belief that Saint Patrick rid Ireland of their overwhelming snake population by playing a special flute that enticed the snakes away from the villages and led them into the ocean.  According to fossil records, Ireland has never been a home to snakes due to Ireland being too cold to naturally host any reptiles. The snake was a metaphor used as a derogatory image to dehumanize the pagans of Ireland.

170px-Irish_clover

The Shamrock

According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish Pagans.  This legend started to appear in writing in 1726. The pagans of Ireland had many triple deities.  It is believed that Saint Patrick redirected these pagan beliefs by using the three leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity concept (Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost) to convert the Irish pagans to Chistianity.

1920px-Flag_of_Ireland.svg

The History Behind the Colors of Ireland

The 5th century saint’s official color was blue.  The color green first became associated with Ireland in a 11th century pseudo-historical book called Lebor Gabála Érenn, (The book of the Taking of Ireland).  There is an Irish mythological story about Goídel Glas, a man credited for being the father of the Gaels and creator of the Goidelic languages, ie.  Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, and Manx. As the story goes Goídel Glas was bitten by a poisonous snake and was saved by Moses. Moses placed his staff on the snake bite and absorbed the venom from the bite but left a permanent green mark as a replacement to serve as a reminder of the incident.  An Irish chivalric order was founded in 1783 and turned Saint Patrick’s Day color association back to blue again. That didn’t last long..

In 1798 an  Irish rebellion was ignited against the British rule and the color green was used to inspire Irish nationalism and unity.  Keep in mind that not all Irish wore or wear green, the color green represents Irish Catholics and the color orange represents Irish Protestant.  William of Orange, the Protestant king of England, Scotland, and Ireland; who in 1690, defeated the Roman Catholic King James II. On Saint Patrick’s Day, Protestants would protest and wear orange instead of green.  The white stripe between green and orange represents a truce between the Catholic majority and Protestant Irish minority.

800px-Totally_Irish_in_London

Today’s Saint Patrick’s Celebrations

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Territory of Montserrat.  It is commonly celebrated by the Irish diaspora in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.  The first Saint Patrick’s parades started in North America in the 18th century after the Revolutionary War.  Irish soldiers who fought in the war held the parade to connect with their roots after moving to America. The parades in Ireland didn’t start happening until the 20th century.  Eating the traditional Saint Patty’s day meal of corned beef and cabbage didn’t start happening until the 19th century, when most Irish Americans were poor and could only afford the cheapest meat, corned beef.  With cabbage being a Spring vegetable it was a convenient choice as a side vegetable that compliments the traditional meal.

Final Thoughts on Blaming Leprechauns as an Excuse to Pinch 

Have you ever been pinched on Saint Patrick’s day for not wearing green?  If the assailant says something on the lines of, “there’s an invisible leprechaun afoot and they pinch those who don’t wear green”.  The first thought going through my head in that moment would be to turn my head straight to them with the most serious expression on my face while looking them dead in the eyes and in a lightly condescending but in a jokingly way say, “You dummy, you’re not invisible, I can see you” and just watch their facial expression.  Or, pinch them back for believing that they are leprechauns, it’s justified.

References

Hackman, M. (2016, March 17). How America manufactured St. Patrick’s Day as we know  it.  Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.vox.com/2016/3/17/11250046/st-patricks-day-google-doodle

Leung, A. (2016, March 16). On St. Patrick’s Day, Why Do Some People Wear Orange Instead of Green? Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.mic.com/articles/138159/on-st-patrick-s-day-why-do-some-people-wear-orange-instead-of-green

Mulraney, F. (2020, March 1). Wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day or get pinched: the rules. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.irishcentral.com/culture/craic/wear-green-saint-patricks-day-pinch-rules

Saint Patrick’s Day. (2020, March 22). Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day

The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day. (2017, February 20). Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.gpb.org/education/origins-of-st-patricks-day

The Story of El Caganer and The Defecating Christmas Log

Menja bé, caga forti no tinguis por a la mort!

(“Eat well, shit heartily, and don’t be afraid of death!”)

Celebrating the Holidays 

the Catalan Way

The caganer in the 2011 nativity scene in Bacelona

The caganer in the 2011 nativity scene in Barcelona (source Wikipedia)

El Caganer 

El Caganer is a figurine depicted as a peasant wearing the traditional Catalan red cap (the barretina), often seen smoking a pipe, and having his pants down showing his backside commiting the act of defecating.  The origins of this notorious figure is unknown. According to the Amics del Caganer Society (Friends of the Caganer), it is believed that the tradition started in the late 17th or early 18th century, during the Baroque period.  Originally, El Caganer was depicted only on tiles that told the story of the birth of Jesus. El Caganer eventually developed into a figurine that played a role in the nativity scene in the 19th century.

In Catalonia, Spain, most of Italy, and Southern France, the traditional nativity scene depicts the city of Bethlehem, not just the typical manger scene.  A Catalan masia (farmhouse) is the central piece of the Pessebre (nativity scene) that represents the manger that houses baby Jesus. The outlying scenery includes a washerwoman by a river, a woman spinning yarn, shepherds herding their sheep, the Three Wise Men approaching the manger on camelback, and somewhere hiding in the backdrop of the scene is the caganer committing the act of defecating.  Or dare I say…taking the holiest of craps. (Apologies, I couldn’t refrain myself)

Caganer al pessebre (source Wikepedia)

Caganer al pessebre (source Wikepedia)

What is the meaning?  What is considered acceptable and blasphemous? 

Catalan ethnologist and folklorist, Joan Amades, stated that El Caganr’s, ”…deposit on the ground was symbolic of fertilizing the ground of the nativity scene…it brought good luck and joy for the next year and not doing so brought adversity.” (wikipedia)  Traditionally, the figurine is placed in the backdrop of the nativity scene, placing it in the foreground is considered disrespectful.  Catalan anthropologist Miguel Delgado pointed out that it could be seen as blasphemous due the negative aspect of defecation, “…for what could be more grotesque than the crucification of Jesus Christ, a bloody public torture and execution as the defining moment in the story of Christianity?” ( wikipedia)  The practice of using the caganer as part of the nativity scene is tolerated by the Catholic church within the areas where the caganer is popular.  Despite the popularity, some opinions are divided and not all Catalan nativity scenes include caganers.

Modern caricalture caganers (source Wikipedia)

Modern caricature caganers (source Wikipedia)

 

El Caganer Going Mainstream

Due to the rise of the popularity of the defecating character manufactures are now creating caganers as political figures, members of the royal families, celebrities, and professional athletes.  These cageners are not only being used for nativity scenes but are now commonly used year round to bring luck or show disrespect to a sports teams, a particular athlete, or certain politicians, etc.

A contemporary Tio (source wikipedia)

A contemporary Tio (source wikipedia)

Tió de Nadal – Christmas Log

Also known as Tió or Soca is Catalan for (“Trunk” or “Log”), or Tronca (“Log”) is a Catalan mythological character that is part of a Christmas tradition that takes place mainly in Catalonia and Aragon regions of Spain.  At the start of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, children would give the Tió a little bit to eat every night and cover him with a blanket to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve or day, the children will command Tió by beating him with sticks while singing songs about Tió de Nadal…And then tió (“the magical log”) will poop out presents such as candies,nuts, and or small toys.

Lyrics of a song about Tió de Nadal

“Caga tió,”           ………………………”Poop log,”

“Caga torró,”       ……………………….”poop nougats,”

“Avellanes i mató,”…………………………. “Hazelnuts and mató cheese,”

“Si no cagues bé,” …………………….”if you don’t poop well,”

“Et daré un cop de bastó,” ……………”I’ll  hit you with a stick,”

“Caga tió!”   …………………………….”poop, log!”

Final Thoughts…

During the process of writing this blog post, I really tried hard to hold back on the silly dirty-minded poop jokes that were running through my mind.  And, I like to think that I was very well behaved, with just one slip. To make up for that slip I would like to finish this blog post with old wise words that have been passed down from generations to generations.

“You never really appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

“Toilet paper, is just one of many good examples.”

From The Weird and The Odd

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, eat well,

And to many healthy bowel movements to you.

 

References

AncientPages.com, & Did Etruscans Solve The Mystery Of Synchronicity And The Secret Language Of The Stars?  Civilizations | Jul 5. (2017, December 17). Caganer: The Pooping Man Is Part Of The Catalonian Christmas Tradition And Nativity Scene. Retrieved December 23, 2019,from http://www.ancientpages.com/2017/12/17/caganer-pooping-man-part-catalonian-christmas-tradition-nativity-scene/.

Caganer. (2019, December 19). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caganer.

Jessop, T. (2016, November 14). What Is the Caganer, the ‘Defecating’ Catalan Christmas Figurine? Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-catalan-caganer/.

Patterson, L. (2017, December 22). A Catalan Log That Poops Nougats At Christmas. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/12/22/572569325/caga-ti-a-catalan-log-that-poops-nougats-at-christmas.

Tió de Nadal. (2019, December 17). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tió_de_Nadal.

What Is a Caganer and Why Is It Part of a Catalan Christmas? (2010, December 24). Retrieved December 23, 2019, from http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/12/24/what-is-a-caganer-and-why-is-it-part-of-a-catalan-christmas/.

 

 

Rapist Thwarted by a Flying Vagina

A Hawaiian folk legend about sexism, chauvinism, and a goddess with a flying yoni.

 

The_goddess_pele_by_arthur_johnsen

Pele

Pelehonuamea

According to ancient Hawaiian legend Pelehonuamea, commonly referred as Pele, was 1 of 6 daughters and 7 sons of Haumea (the Earth goddess) and Kane Milohai (the creator of the sky, earth, and the heavens.  Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes. She came to the Hawaiian islands after being exiled from Tahiti because of her hot flaming temper. It is believed that she made Halema’uma’u Volcano her home. Pele is referred to as  “She who shapes the sacred land”.

Stories over time have developed of Pele traveling throughout the islands appearing as a beautiful young or old woman sometimes accompanied by a white dog.  When humans encounter her she will make small requests. If the person refuses to accommodate her needs they will face her wrath. Pele was reported by tourists of photo bombing her face in their vacation pictures of lava lakes.

Halemaumau_Crater,_March_2013

Halema’uma’u Valcano, March 2013

 

Tourist beware, when visiting the Hawaiian Islands it is forbidden to remove a lava rock from the islands.  Lava is a sacred piece of the fire goddess. If you remove a piece bad luck will fall upon you. Also when visiting Halema’uma’u, around the edges of the caldera, grow ohelo berries.  It is considered offensive to eat these berries before offering them or at least asking for permission from the goddess. Remember, a fire goddess is not someone you want to offend, they tend to have a reputation of having explosive tempers.

Kapo

Kapo

Kapo is a Hawaiian goddess of fertility, sorcery, and dark powers.  She is believed to take on any shape that she pleases and has the ability of detaching her vagina from her body.  It is also believed female mediums serving as a host to Kapo must cover their genitalia with a ti leaf. If they fail to do this, the mediums would be victims of having their vaginas ripped off.

 

Kamapua'a

Kamapua’a

Kamapua’a – The Pig God

Kamapua’a translates to pig child.  Born on the island of Oahu through human parents he was known to be an adventurous and a mischievous character.  Kamapua’a has the powers of turning his human form into a hog. Kamapua’a was a demigod that was only worshiped by commoners.  In human form, Kamapua’a was described to be a very strong, attractive, and charismatic man. He had a reputation with the females in villages that he traveled through on his journeys.

There are many different variations to this story.  According to one source, Kamapua’a falls in love with Pele but was quickly rejected by her calling him a “child of a pig”.  With time, they fell in love but their short lived romance ended in a heated feud.

 

Feminism vs. Male Chauvinism

One Hawaiian legend tells of a situation where Kamapua’a was stalking Pele.  After several rejections from Pele, Kamapua’a tried to force himself on her like a lusting animal.  Somehow feeling something was wrong, Pele’s sister came to her aid. When Kapo arrived and saw Kamapua’a trying to rape Pele, Kapo pulled up her hula skirt, grabbed and ripped her own vagina off.  She threw her heavily scented womanhood across Kamapua’a face enticing his lust away from Pele redirecting him like a dog fetching a flying stick hurling across the horizon. His pig instincts on overdrive caused Kamapua’a to run off of a cliff and land on his face.  Some variations of the legend are saying that this magical vagina sprouted wings and flew about 200 km to the south-eastern point of O’ahu. The Kohe lele, another word for vagina, made an imprint on the ground after landing. The Hawaiian volcano crater is referred to as kohelepelepe, Hawaiian for fringed vagina.

Hanauma Bay, koko Crater, and hawaii Kai

Kohelepelepe aka Koko Head

 

Final Thoughts…

The story of Kapo and her flying vagina has many deeper meanings depending on how one perceives the telling of this story.  Some people say that Kapo was an ancient feminist fighting against a male dominated culture. Kamapua’a, the pig god, coincidentally or intentionally played the role of a modern day reference to a “male chauvinist pig”.  While reading about this legend, I’ll be honest, it lured me in the moment I saw the words magical flying vagina.
References

Oliver, M. (2017, April 09). Top 10 Truly Bizarre Folktales And Legends From Around The World. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://listverse.com/2017/04/09/top-10-truly-bizarre-folktales-and-legends-from-around-the-world/

HAWAIIAN GODDESS OF THE DAY: KAPO. (2014, July 04). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://glitternight.com/2011/04/01/hawaiian-goddess-of-the-day-kapo/

Yamanaka, K. Y. (n.d.). Pele, Hawaiian Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.hawaii.com/discover/culture/pele/

Kamapua’a – The Pig God. (2015, July 26). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from http://www.privatetourshawaii.com/blog/kamapuaa-the-pig-god

Camphausen, R. C. (n.d.). The Flying Yoni of the Goddess Kapo. Retrieved July 25, 2018, from http://yoniversum.nl/yoni/kohelele.html

Traditions of Maunalua: Ko’olaupoko: Stories of an Ancient Island: Asia-Pacific Digital Library. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from http://apdl.kcc.hawaii.edu/oahu/stories/koolaupoko/makapuu.htm

WikiVisually.com. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Kapo_(mythology)

 

The Folklore Behind Easter

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Fertility, rebirth, and resurrections have been apart of human culture since the dawn of civilization.  The bunny and the egg are universal symbols representing fertility and rebirth. Cultures throughout time have been celebrating the rebirth of life by paying homage to old gods and goddesses of spring, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus, or still pondering the unsolved philosophical question, “which came first the chicken or the egg?”.

220px-Punic_ostrich_egg_from_Villaricos_(M.A.N._1935-4-VILL-T.609-7)_01

A decorated ostrich egg over 60,000 years old

Ostara or Eostre

Anglo-Saxons were Germanic inhabitants of Europe between the 5th and 11th century until the Norman Conquest.  Before the 8th century, Eostre was a Saxon goddess of Dawn and Spring. The hare was considered to be her sacred animal representing fertility and the egg was a symbol for rebirth.  The Scandinavians of this time period referred to her as Ostra and those who lived in the area now known as Germany called her Ostara. In Germany today they celebrate Ostern which is Easter to the english speaking world.  There were many other gods and goddesses worshiped by ancient cultures during the spring equinox around the Mediterranean Sea, but Eostre is so far the only pagan goddess that has a direct influence on the modern holiday Easter.

ostara_by_johannes_gehrts

Passover

In Judaism, Passover is one of the three Shalosh Regalim, or 3 pilgrimage festivals.  People would gather in Jerusalem at springtime with their agricultural offerings. On the first night of Passover a seder (order) meal that has 15 separate steps in a traditional order is prepared.  At sometime during the seder the telling of the story of Exodus from Egypt and the first Pesach (Passover) is told. The seder ritual objects can vary by tradition but most common are a shank bone, lettuce, an egg, greens, a bitter herb, and a mixture of apples, nuts and spices.  The egg represents the Passover offering of ancient days as well as the wholeness and continuing cycle of life.

A Ukrainina 19th century seder table

The Resurrection of Jesus

Christians celebrate Easter as a remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was crucified and resurrected during Passover. In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea determined that Easter should be the Sunday that follows the first moon, after the Spring Equinox.  On the Gregorian calendar, (named after Pope Gregory XIII) that would fall between 22nd of March and 25th of April. The Christian custom of Easter eggs started with early Christians of Mesopotamia who colored eggs red to represent the blood of Christ.

Red_Paschal_Egg_with_Cross

 

The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is the egg-laying bunny that leaves colored Easter eggs on Easter Sunday.  In the 1700’s German immigrants brought this tradition into America. The parents told their children to use their bonnets or caps as nests and leave them out at night before going to bed and if they were good, the Easter Bunny (Oschter Haws or Osterhase) would leave them eggs in their nests.  Eventually traditions evolved where the egg-laying bunny would lay and hide the eggs for the children to hunt.

no evil bunnies

Final Thoughts…

For those of you who have been losing sleep over the metaphysical question,  “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. It’s simple of course; the magical bunny laid the egg and out hatched the chicken.  Now you can get some sleep and have a good night.

funny bunny

References

Patterson, R. (2011, April 19). Is the Name “Easter” of Pagan Origin? Retrieved April 25,      2018, from  https://answersingenesis.org/holidays/easter/is-the-name-easter-of-pagan-origin/

The Pagan origins of Easter. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter1.htm

Ēostre. (2018, April 18). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ēostre

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/1062/archives/issue-2007-1509/jews-revive-the-sanhedrin-with-plans-for-a-passover-sacrifice/adventists-and-easter

Passover: Customs and Rituals. (2018, February 06). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://reformjudaism.org/passover-customs-and-rituals

Easter egg. (2018, April 20). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg

Travers, P., & ABC Radio Canberra. (2017, April 13). Origin of Easter: From pagan rituals to bunnies and chocolate eggs. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-15/the-origins-of-easter-from-pagan-roots-to-chocolate-eggs/8440134

Origins of Easter. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2017/04/13/origins-of-easter.html

Origin Of Easter. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/origin-of-easter.htm

Is it true that the name Easter is pagan in origin? (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://billygraham.org/answer/is-it-true-that-the-name-easter-is-pagan-in-origin/

Sifferlin, A. (2015, April 01). Easter Bunny: The Origins of Easter Day’s Rabbit. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from http://time.com/3767518/easter-bunny-origins-history/

London Bridge is Falling Down

children-playing-london-bridge-image-thm-graphicsfairy-320x320

The history and the hidden meanings behind a classic childhood game that can serve not only as a cheap form of entertainment for the little ones but also as: a quick history lesson of the Thames River, a “How to Build a Bridge For Dummies” guide, a very subliminal way to scare the kiddos into behaving, or a way to express our sexual desires through innuendos and maneuvers.  Yes; that’s right!  “London Bridges”, is not just for kids.

Song Reference

How to play the game

Two children face each other and form an arch by raising their arms forward and interlocking each other’s hands together.  The rest of the children take turns walking under the arch while singing the song and on the last word of the verse “lady” is said, the arch comes down and captures one of the children.  The game continues until all of the kids are captured or the little tikes get bored and restless.

london_bridge_1616_by_claes_van_visscher

Short History Lesson

Bridging the Thames River was a long and tedious task that began during the late Roman empire era.  In 43 AD, the Romans established Londinium (London) as the capital of England.  During this time period the Romans made several attempts of building bridges over the river and finally succeeded around 50 AD.  Then, the shortly lived wooden bridge, was burned down during the Viking and Saxon invasions.  Bridges were rebuilt many times also due to natural disasters such as the 1091 tornado and the 1136 fire.

In 1176, the construction of the first stone arch bridge in Britain, “Old London Bridge”, started in efforts to replace the wooden bridges that survived from the Roman occupancy.  Peter, a priest and chaplain of St. Mary’s of Colechurch, was the architect and project leader until his death in 1205.  The construction of the bridge was completed in 1209.  The new stone bridge had 19 arches including a gatehouse with a drawbridge.  To create a source of income from the bridge, shops and homes were constructed and lined on both sides of the roadway of the bridge.  For thrills locals would shoot the bridge from their small boats.

ilondob001p1

Three years after being completed a fire destroyed all the buildings on the bridge and killed thousands of people.  The houses and shops were quickly rebuilt narrowing the pathway to four meters (approx. 13 feet).  Do to the pressure of winter ice, five arches collapsed in the winter of 1282.  The arches were rebuilt as well.  The constant additions to the buildings eventually created a tunnel like passageway across the Thames River.  Queen Elizabeth I, ordered to have water mills added onto the structure of the bridge in the 1580s.  Despite the bridge having a bad reputation of constantly being under repairs and more and more additions being added to the shops and houses, the Old London bridge was the only crossing of the Thames River in London until 1750 when the Westminster Bridge was completed and opened.

london-bridge-watercolour1799

Shortly after the city decided to repair the London bridge the project was taken upon Charles Labelye.  All of the houses were removed and the roadway over the bridge was expanded to 14 meters ( approx. 45 feet) and the two center arches were replaced with one great arch at the middle of the bridge.  After completion in 1762, the remodeling of the arches led to erosion of the riverbed.  Eventually the city decided to give up spending resources to fix the bridge and gave the New London Bridge project to John Rennie.  The new bridge was built several yards upstream from the old bridge.  Rennie died in 1821 before construction of the new bridge could start and was picked up by his two sons.  The project was completed in 1831.  After serving the Londoners for 622 years the Old London bridge was demolished.  Rennie’s  bridge lasted almost 140 years until it was dismantled and shipped across the Atlantic ocean to the United States, where it now resides at Lake Havasu, Arizona.  The modern London bridge was built between 1968 and 1972.

The origins and meaning

Similar rhymes have been found all over Europe that pre-dates the earliest London Bridge version.  “Knippelsbro Går Op og Ned” from Denmark, “Die Magdeburger Brück” from Germany, “Pont Chus” from France, and “Le Porte” from Italy, are all suspected to be the influence of the “London Bridge” version.  The earliest reference to the English version was in the comedy “The London Chanticleers” printed in 1657.  No words of the rhyme or mention of the melody were stated, however the popularity of the rhyme and melody was greatly influenced by Henry Carey and his satire play, “Namby Pamby” in 1725.

Namby Pamby is no clown,

London Bridge is broken down,

Now he courts the gay Ladee,

Dancing o’er the Lady-Lee.

In 1823, a more popular version was printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine.

London Bridge is broken down,

Dance over the Lady Lea,

London Bridge is broken down,

With a gay lady.

Then we must build it up again

What shall we build it up withal?

Build it up with wood and stone,

Wood and stone will fall away.

etc…etc…ete…

The meaning behind the rhyme is not really clear and numerous theories have developed.  The modern version was first recorded in the late 19th century.  The game that is associated with the song resembles arch games that date back to the middle ages.  The theory of the meaning about the constant struggle of repair and rebuilding the many bridges that allowed Londoners for centuries to cross the Thames River may have some small truths, but the original rhymes regarding the London Bridge were very different compared to the earliest forms of the modern version.

 

The Fair Lady

The identity of the “fair lady” reference within the rhyme is uncertain, nothing has been proven, but suspicions of the identity to the reference are:

  • The River Lea – another river that feeds into the Thames River.
  • The Leigh family of Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire– a family linked to a story about a human sacrifice that lies under the bridge.
  • Matilda of Scotland– The Queen of England, Henry I consort, who was responsible for building the series of bridges between 1110 -1118.
  • Eleanor of  Provence– Henry III consort, who had custody of the revenues of the Old London bridge from 1269 -1281.

The Human Sacrifice theory

Alice Bertha Gomme, a folklorist, who wrote The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland (1894-1898);  presented the idea that the Old London Bridge could be involved in a human sacrifice during the constructions and/or reconstructions of the bridges.  Gomme pointed out that in certain variations of the “London Bridges” rhymes there is a watchman or a prisoner mentioned in the later stanzas of the songs.  Human sacrifice was believed to be necessary to protect the structures, to serve the purposes as guardians or “watchman” and protect the building from supernatural forces.  In 1880 Calcutta India locals were afraid to be out at night due to people disappearing.  Sacrificial offering towards the construction of the Hooghly Bridge was a popular suspicion to the explanations of the missing people of the area.  The prisoner reference is suspected to be metaphor for a live or dead human sacrifice to be entombed in the structure for eternity.  However, there were never any reports found stating that human remains were ever found when the Old or New London Bridges were torn down or, shall I say… falling down.

Meanwhile…

london-bridge-945499_960_720

London Bridge Today

According to the Urban Dictionary, London Brides is also a modern slang word for panties. When a lady says “you make her london bridges fall down”, she is saying you make her hot… sexually.  It is also a sexual position involving four consenting adults, two males and two females, or four females with attachments.  For further explanation look that up for yourself.

References

Gomme, A. B. (1894, January 01). The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/fable/traditional-games-of-england-scotland-and-ireland/index.html

Grenby, M. O. (2014, February 13). The origins of children’s literature. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/the-origins-of-childrens-literature

Billington, D. P. (2002, October 25). London Bridge. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Old-London-Bridge

Library, W. P. (n.d.). London Bridge Is Falling Down. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://www.worldlibrary.org/Articles/London%20Bridge%20Is%20Falling%20Down?&Words=the origins of london bridges falling down

 

Gateway to Evil or Just a Game

ouija-board

The belief and/or desire to communicate with ghosts of loved ones, historical, famous, or infamous, is a common human behavior and has always been a part of human culture.  Examples of communing with the dead can be found in the Bible, mythology, classic literature, and on the shelves of your nearby children’s toy store.  Does the Ouija Board really work or is it just a game for entertainment purposes only?  

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Spiritualism in America

During the year of 1848, the obsession of spiritualism, already popular in Europe, spread like a wildfire in the U.S. when Kate and Margaret Fox; two sisters who lived in Hydesville, NY, became instant celebrities by claiming they contacted the spirit of a dead peddler.  The word “medium” is used as a label that identifies the talented or “gifted” person who has the ability of communicating with the dead by using various methods such as table turning (tilting or taping).  The medium along with the attendees would sit around a table and place their fingers lightly on the edge of the table top.  The medium would ask questions and then call out letters or numbers and if the table taps the floor on the letter or number the answer is presumed to be the spirit communicating back.    Another method was developed by placing a pencil sticking through the center of a small basket and the spirit would write out the answer of the questions  asked by the medium.  Later this tool developed into what is now known as the planchette, French for small plank.

hisc  Interesting historical tidbit…

Mary Todd Lincoln conducted a séance in the White House after their 11 year old son died from illness in 1862.

Other methods and tools were also used and developed to commune with the spirits but failed in the market.  The planchette tool became the most popular method of communing with the other side, due to the cost of manufacturing, this device was cheaper than its competitors such as the various types of dial plate instruments which were sometimes referred to as psychographs.  

In 1886 certain variations of talking boards where becoming the latest craze in the spiritual culture.  Business partners Charles Kennard, Elijah Bond, and a few other investors created their first version of their talking board.  They managed to convince a patent worker that it worked and the first patent talking board gave credit to Kennard and Bond in 1890.  The Ouija board got its name supposedly from a séance that took place with Kennard, Bond, and Helen Peters, Bond’s sister-in-law, who had a reputation of being a strong medium.  When Miss Peters asked the board “what would you like to be named?”  The board responded by spelling out Ouija.  Miss Peters asked, “What is the meaning of the word Ouija?”  The board answered back, “Good Luck”.

william-fuld

William fuld

Starting as a varnisher for the Kennard Novelty Company, Fuld managed to climb the company’s ladder and became a major stockholder and eventually ended up running the company.  Fuld never claimed and is not the creator of the Ouija board, but somehow the New York Times  reported  this misinformation by declaring him the inventor.  In 1927, Fuld died from falling off the roof of his new factory.  Ironically, supposedly the Ouija board told Fuld to build the factory in the first place.

Does the board work?

If you have ever used an Ouija board at a party there are always those who will try to get a scare or a quick laugh, but it is also common when people are using the board to claim that they  are not the ones moving the planchette and accuse the other person and of course the other person denies it and says the same thing.  The ideomotor effect is the culprit behind this phenomenon.  Ideomotor actions are unconscious movements that occur when we focus on not trying to move.  The movement of the planchette on the board can occur naturally for the same reason dowsing is believed to be a good way to find water.

Is the Ouija Board evil?

Spiritualism was a very popular trend during the Civil War era.  During and after wars it is very common for people to try to contact lost loved ones.  In 1967, a year after Parker Brothers bought the rights from Fuld’s company, the Ouija board sold 2 million boards which outsold Monopoly that year.  The year 1967 was also the same year where more American troops were sent into Vietnam and also the year of  “Summer of Love” in San Francisco.  The evil reputation of the Ouija board didn’t really start developing until the movie The Exorcist was released in American theaters in 1973.  Then more horror movies used the Ouija board and helped create the evil reputation of the Ouija board that is now known today.

References

Waxman, O. B. (n.d.). ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ and the True History of the Ouija Board. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://time.com/4529861/ouija-board-history-origin-of-evil/

Jackson, J. (n.d.). The ideomotor effect. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.critical-thinking.org.uk/psychology/the-ideomotor-effect.php

Museum of Talking Boards: History of the Talking Board. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/history.html

Museum of Talking Boards – Board Gallery Page One. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/gal1.html

McRobbie, L. R. (2013, October 27). The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board. Retrieved November 24, 2016, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/

 

 

Warning! Potential Water Hazards

Half human and half fish or half human and half bird folklore lives and breathes in religious texts, literature, film, and big fish tales shooting from the mouths of drunken sailors spreading their over embellished stories of their voyages of the seas.  Folklore involving merfolk is embedded in cultures throughout the world, landlocked to coastal regions.

Era or Oannes

oannes

Babylonian deity Era aka Oannes is the Fish-god that is represented on seals and sculptures that date back to 5,000 BCE.  This fish god was usually depicted to have a bearded head with a crown and a half upper half man with a scaly fish tale instead of legs. This is the first known depiction of a merman.

Atargatis

oriental-mermaid-goddess-atargatis

Atargatis is a Syrian origin goddess whose influence spread to Greece, Rome, and beyond. Atargatis is the first depiction of a  mermaid.  Over the hundreds of years of being worshiped she was referred to be the goddess of fertility, goddess of the earth and water, and the goddess of love.  She is believed to be the direct inspiration to the Greek love goddess Aphrodite.

Folklore

The lore of merfolk can be greatly diverse from culture to culture.  Some folklore portray the mermaids/mermen as benevolent beings who are responsible for prosperous harvests. The morning dew on plants was believed to be the results of mermaids or water sprites dancing on land under the moon lit nights.  Other cultures perceive these merfolk to be malevolent beings that lure unsuspecting travelers with false promises of romance or luck that lead the victims to their watery deaths.

Rusalka…

rusalka

a slavic myth of a ghost, water spirit, succubus or mermaid like demon that dwells at the bottom of the rivers, lakes, or wells.  Rusalki (plural) are spirits of young women who died a tragic death anywhere near a body of water.   In some versions, unbaptized babies who were drowned by their mothers were believed to be the creations of Rusalki.  Rusalki were cursed to live in the form of a mermaid and reside in the waters to where they originally met their fate.  They would sing enchanting melodies to entrap men, women, or children to their watery deaths.  Rusalki can live on water or land and are commonly described to be pale or to have translucent skin, and to have no visible pupils.  Some stories state that they have green fiery eyes with green or golden hair which is always wet.  This variation with the wet hair description states that if the hair of the Rusalka drys, she will die.  In some versions, the Rusalki had a positive effect on crops.

Sirens…

viktor-mikhailovich-vasnetsov-the-birds-of-joy-and-sorrow

a Greek mythological creature described to be a half bird and half woman who lure sailors to their deaths with their beautiful melodic voices.  Homer, the ancient Greek poet, mostly known for The Iliad and The Odyssey, claimed to have seen two sirens on an island in the western sea between Aeaea and the rocks of Scylla.  In The Odyssey, the Greek Hero Odysseus wanted to hear the beautiful sounds of these creatures.  Under advisement from a sorceress named Circe, the crew stuffed wax into their ears to silence out the temptresses.  Odysseus had himself tied to the mast of the ship to prevent the temptation of the beautiful sounds that would lead to impending death.

A little History tidbit..

In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed out from Spain to find a western trade route to Asia. Taken from his journal entries, On January 9, 1493, near the Dominican Republic, Columbus noted that he spotted three mermaids.  Later, the conclusion was drawn that Columbus could have mistaken manatees for the creatures that he described in his journal entry.

References

Sullivan, K. (n.d.). Rusalka: The Mythical Slavic Mermaid. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/rusalka-mythical-slavic-mermaid-006738

Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/columbus-mistakes-manatees-for-mermaids

Took, T. (n.d.). Atargatis, the Phoenician Great Goddess. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/atargatis.php

The Beautiful Monster: Mermaids. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://blog.biodiversitylibrary.org/2014/10/the-beautiful-monster-mermaids.html

Siren. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

SEIRENES. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Seirenes.html

Sirens. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Sirens/sirens.html

Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html