Why does the heart shape look absolutely nothing like a human heart? And on a related note, why is the heart, anatomically correct or otherwise, associated with love? The answer involves herbal contraceptives, pinecones, and Aristotle’s faulty understanding of human anatomy.
Why is a good gardener known as a green thumb? The answer involves a vegetable-loving king, a wartime radio show, and a dishonest corn miller.
Why do brides wear white wedding dresses in Western tradition? The answer involves a parade of British royalty, including Princess Philippa, Queen Victoria, and Princess Diana.
Why is sliced bread our reference for things that are new and incredible? The answer involves wrapped bread, banned bread, and Wonder Bread.
Where does the children’s game duck, duck, goose come from? The answer involves Swedish immigrants, imaginative children around the globe, and a rainbow of aquatic birds.
Where does the phrase “to take a gander” come from? As one of the many delightful goose-related idioms in the English language (see “goose egg” and “silly goose”), the history of “to take a gander” involves male waterfowl and nosy neighbors.
Why do we cut down evergreen trees and decorate them with glittering ornaments and lights during the Christmas season? The answer involves the sun god, the Garden of Eden, and Charlie Brown.
Where do the names of the days of the week come from? And why are there seven days in a week? The answer involves Hellenistic astrology, Roman gods and goddesses, and a takeover by Norse mythology. The concept of the seven-day week was first recorded in the Babylonian calendar of ancient Mesopotamia, which is basedContinue reading “The Days of the Week”
Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? The answer may not be what you think—it’s both more complicated than the “pilgrims and Indians” narrative many of us learned in school and less sinister than many “myth-busting” articles have recently claimed.
Where did the word groovy come from? The answer takes us back to the early days of electronic sound production, to the Jazz Age, and to the outta sight world of the ’60s.