Social Studies 1.01.17
It’s a brand new year! Did you
wear diapers or red underwear?
When the Babylonians celebrated the first New Year 4,000 years ago, not one of them wore red underwear — as they do in Italy to bring good luck — or diapers — as some people do at Times Square on New Year’s eve due to the lack of toilets.
There’s a good chance the Babylonians drank wine, however probably not the sparkling kind, which is called champagne only if the grapes were grown in the Champagne region of northeastern France. Everything else is just sparkling wine. And, by the way, the man Perignon — as in Dom Perignon — didn’t invent champagne. He was a Benedictine monk who worked as a cellar master in a French abbey and implemented safety measures to keep the bottles from popping their corks prematurely.
If you drank a little too much champagne last night, you might take a tip from some people south of the Equator. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, it’s a tradition to stuff a big doll with the year’s memories. They call it Mr. Old Year and they set him on fire a midnight to destroy all of the year’s bad memories.
Julius Caesar created New Year’s Day on January 1 when he established the Julian calendar. But the Ethiopians didn’t get the memo. They celebrate New Years on September 11, and their calendar has 13 months. They’re currently in 2006.
Time to reuse some calendars,
and other fun with numbers
Tired of buying a new calendar to tape to your refrigerator door? Just an obsessive recycler?
In 2017 you can reuse calendars from 1899, 1905, 1911, 1922, 1933, 1939, 1950, 1961, 1967, 1978, 1989, 1995 and 2006. Those years have the same starting weekday and an equal number of days as the next year.
There won’t be another date this year with sequential numbers, or even in the rest of the 21st Century. The last one was on December 13 of 2014 — 12-13-14. The next one will won’t occur for 87 years.
Unless you love prime numbers. A prime number is any whole number greater than one that can’t be evenly divided by anything other than one and itself. In 2017, North Americans will have a sequential prime date on November 13 — 11-13-17.
2016 words of the year
left many people speechless
Surreal. Post-truth. Xenophobia. Whatever.
These words of the year have left your professor nonplussed.
The good people over at Merriam-Webster named “surreal” as their 2016 word of the year. Meaning strange or bizzare or having the “intense irrational reality of a dream,” a surge in online lookups of the word spiked after the U.S. presidential election.
The staid folks at the Oxford Dictionaries selected “post-truth” as their international word of the year, because use of the word skyrocketed after the U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum.
They define the word as, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
One might question that definition, but can who say they don’t know that it’s not true? — at least with a straight face.
And, finally, the silly young people attending Marist College found that the most annoying word or phrase in 2016 was … “whatever.”
They college conducted a poll that found use of the word in casual conversation irritated 38 percent of respondents, which is down from 43 percent last year.
Among young people (yep, that’s still people under the age of 30), the most annoying phrase was “I can’t even.” Whatever that means.
Lame joke du jour
Q: What do reindeer always say before telling you a joke?
A: This one will “sleigh” you!
Thought du jour
“Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance – each beautiful, unique and too soon gone.” – Deborah Whipp