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.
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 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.
Why do most question words in English begin with wh? The answer involves a hypothetical ancient language, a semantic root shared with cheese, and curious people throughout the ages. To explore why we say why (and who, whom, whose, what, when, where, whether, which, whither, whence, whatever, whoever, and wherefore!), we first need some backstoryContinue reading “Who, What, When, Where, WHY?”
Who invented the cookie? The answer involves the luxuries of the Persian Empire, cookery books, and Dutch funerals.
Why do children trick or treat on Halloween night? The answer involves traditions spanning centuries and continents—including placating mischievous spirits, praying for the dead, and playing pranks on unsuspecting neighbors.
Why are Hollywood stars received with a red carpet at events? The answer involves Greek gods, Renaissance paintings, and railroad cars.