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5 Facts You Didn’t Know About William Shakespeare!

  1. During his lifetime William Shakespeare is said to have written 37 plays and 150 poems; however, no one can tell the exact number still because a lot of his work has been lost over time.

2. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did from 1585 to 1592. Shakespeare disappeared from the records for 7 years and historians usually refer to this period as “the lost years.”

3. Then in 1592 William Shakespeare magically reappeared in London as an actor and a playwright. However, his rivals criticized him and made fun of his work. Robert Greene, who was another writer, referred to Shakespeare as ‘an upstart crow.’

4. Shakespeare’s parents and children were illiterate. Shakespeare’s father had a lot of different jobs and at one point also got paid to drink beer!

5. Shakespeare did not know how to spell his name right but then again can we blame him?

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Big History History

Congratulations! It’s… Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated worldwide to celebrate motherhood. In the modern form, it originated in the United States and is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Many other countries also mark this day as the celebration of Mother’s Day while some countries mark its observance at other times of the year. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was established by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official holiday in 1914.  In 2021, Mother’s Day landed on May 9th, the second Sunday of the month.

The Great Greek Goddess, Rhea.

However, the origin of Mother’s Day dates back to ancient times when festivals were held to honor mother goddesses. For example, the Greeks held a festival to honor their great goddess Rhea, while the Phrygians held a ceremony for Cybele, The Great Mother of Gods. Some cultures still continue to host such festivals, for example, Durga-pooja in India is still celebrated to honor the great goddess Durja. Thus the history of Mother’s Day stems from these historic practices from thousands of years ago.

The Indian Goddess, Durja, who is still celebrated through Durja-pooja.
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Big History History

The Real Story Behind Let Them Eat Cake!

“Let them eat cake” is a phrase famously attributed to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France during the French Revolution. At some point in 1789, after being told that the French population was facing a bread shortage, because of the poor crop harvest and the rodents, and as a result, was starving, Marie Antoinette replied with “let them eat cake!” Cake, obviously being a more expensive item than bread just went on to show how out of touch she was with her subjects. With this callous remark, the Queen became a hated symbol of the monarchy which fueled the French revolution and ultimately led to her (literally) losing her head a few years later.

Let Them Eat Cake
Source: nation.com.pk

However, the question still remains: did the much-beloved French monarch actually occur those words? For starters the literal translation of the phrase from French to English is inaccurate. Marie Antoinette is said to have said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” which literally translates to let them eat Brioche. While Brioche is a buttery, sweet french breakfast bread much more expensive than a basic Baguette, it is no multi icing layered gateaux one imagines.  However, this still doesn’t change the fact that it showed how arrogant and out-of-touch the French Queen was from her subjects. Now the matter of whether Marie Antoinette actually occurred those words come to question. Well according to historians she did not! Lady Antonia Fraser, the author of a biography of the French queen, believes the quote would have been highly uncharacteristic of Marie-Antoinette. She states Marie Antoinette was a sensible woman who despite her lavish lifestyle showed sensitivity to her subjects. But keeping that aside, this quote has been circulating since before 1789 and was told in a slightly different form about Marie-Thérèse, the Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660. She allegedly said that the French people eat la croûte de pâté” (or the crust of the pâté). This story first appeared in philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau “Confessions” in 1766, when Marie Antoinette was just 10 years old! Thus, whoever occurred those words was definitely not Marie Antoinette.

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History

Happy April Fools!

April Fools Day celebrated on the 1st of every April, has been celebrated for many centuries by people of different cultures and religions; however, its origin still remains a mystery. April Fool’s Day traditional includes pranks and practical jokes often followed by the prankster yelling “April Fools” at the end.

Historians speculate that April Fools Day dates back to 1582 with the switching of the French calendar from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1563. In the Julian calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1. With the shift to the Gregorian calendar, the new year shifted to January 1st; however, the ones who continued to celebrate New Year on April 1st became the victims of the jokes and were called “April Fools.” Pranks included having paper fish stuck to their backs to refer to them as “poisson d’avril” (April fish) which symbolized a young, easily caught fish much like a gullible person.