The first firecrackers are attributed to a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who in the 10th century put gunpowder into a hollowed piece of bamboo to drive away evil spirits from the city of Liu Yang. This city became one of the world’s biggest producers of fireworks.
The ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain was held at the end of October and was known as All Hallow’s E’en, hence we get the word Halloween. The Celts believed that the veil between the worlds was very thin on that day. To honor the dead they would leave offerings of food to nourish the spirits on their journey between worlds, so they wouldn’t be stuck in this one. This is why we offer candy to trick or treaters, so they won’t do property damage.
1,000,000 Chinese peasants died to build the Great Wall of China.
The ancient Celts used the bagpipes as an instrument of war. It was very effective in scaring their enemies off the battlefield.
In 1419, 100 years before Magellan reached the Philippines, the Chinese mariner Zheng He led his famous “Treasure Fleet” to the Philippines and engaged in trade with the locals. This merchant fleet comprised thousands of crewmen sailing massive ships known as junks, some of which were so big they even carried enough topsoil to create floating farms.
One of the gods in the Viking pantheon was Ullr—the god of skiing.
In Persia, high-heeled shoes were worn as a form of riding footwear, especially among the cavalry. When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively.
Viking women could inherit property, request a divorce, and reclaim their dowries if their marriages ended.
Vikings bathed at least once a week, which is much more frequently than other Europeans of their day.
The Pharisees, of the Holy Lands, paid their tithes in mint, dill, and cumin seeds.
The Chinese were the first to import cloves, and no one could approach the Chinese emperor without first chewing cloves to clear his breath.
In ancient times mustard seeds symbolized fiery potential. In 330 BC, Darius, king of Persia, challenged Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia to battle. Darius presented Alexander with a sack of countless sesame seeds, each seed representing a Persian soldier. Alexander’s response was a much-smaller sack of mustard seed. His soldiers, though fewer in number, were too hot to tangle with.
Brewing was the only profession in Mesopotamia that was protected by a female deity.
The ancient Chinese were the first to color their fingernails.
The Aztecs and the Incas raised the ancestors of modern bronze turkeys as well as Muscovy ducks, the only native waterfowl that was domestically raised.
Traditionally, Viking weddings were held on Friday, which in Norse religion is a sacred day for Frigga, the goddess of marriage.