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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History






Jack Be Nimble1


Lawn Mower



Playing Cards

Cell Phones


Father's Day

Mother's Day



"Jack Be Nimble":
Post-17th Century, England

This nursery rhyme has its roots in Britain where it was an old game and a means of peering into the future. In this seventeenth century game, a lighted candle was placed in the center of a room. If you were able to jump over the flame without extinguishing it, you were supposed to be assured good fortune for the following year.

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The Lawn Mower

In 1830, England, an English textile worker, Edwin Budding wondered if a new rotary shearing machine used to cut nap off cotton cloth could be adapted to shear his own yard. By 1830, he was ready to patent his new device which was a nineteen-inch roller mower that contained a set of rotating cutters operating against a set of fixed cutters. To his disappointment, few were impressed with his new device and preferred the old fashion way of swinging a scythe.

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The History of Coffee

Author: Jennifer Jordan

Many cigar smokers enjoy a stogie with a nice bottle of wine or a full glass of whiskey. Others enjoy pairing a stick with a strong beer or setting a cigar up with a sweet girl named "Brandy." Then there are those who simply think cigars and coffee are the ideal combo: move over Wheaties, there's a new breakfast of champions.

This may seem odd, coffee and cigars are so different. Yet, this is often the case when it comes to consumption. From eggs and ham to French fries and chocolate malts, from wine and cheese to peanut butter and jelly, the world is full of very different things that enhance each other.

Though it may seem to be a recent trend, the coffee and cigar match up has been brewing for years.

It is no coincidence that history saw tobacco and coffee gaining popularity at the same time: people knew from the start that cigars were good with a cup of Joe. However, seeing how we have already detailed the history of the tobacco seed (hi, Christopher Columbus), this article will talk about the history of the other. Coffee, this mug's for you.

Your Cup Runneth Over

Throughout the ages, coffee has been good to the last drop, the best part of waking up, and filled to the brim. For many of us, coffee is conducive to our morning functioning: we can't leave home without it in our system. This aside, most of us don't really know that much about coffee, other than how we take it. Not only is coffee rich in flavor and aroma, but it is also rich in past. From the cafes of centuries of yore to present-day Starbucks, where exactly has coffee bean, er, been?

Grinding Out a New Drink

The history of coffee goes all the way back to the 9th century, perhaps even further. No one is completely certain how it was discovered, making the way for several legends. The most well-known legend involves an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi who spotted goats eating coffee berries in the highlands of Ethiopia. He noticed that after the goats ate the berries they possessed more spunk and alertness. Kaldi followed the goats lead and ingested the berries himself: he immediately felt more energetic.

From Ethiopia, coffee was distributed to Yemen, Egypt, Turkey and Persia. Despite its dispersal - and the opening of the first coffee house in 1457 Constantinople -coffee was not well received, at least not at first. By 1511, the rulers of the court in Mecca deemed it forbidden, believing that its stimulating effects were sinful. Coffee, however, had a great amount of fans and just 13 years later, the ban was removed by Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I.

In 1532, Egypt saw a similar ban as places that served coffee and warehouses filled with coffee beans were destroyed. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church also banned coffee around the 17th century, believing its consumption mirrored some sort of pagan ritual.

Coffee, as a word, is believed to have been derived from the Italian word caffe sometime around 1600. Filtered throughout the ages, the word caffe was produced using Turkish and Arabic words, words that translated to mean "the wine of the bean."

Europe of Bust

From the Middle East, coffee made its way to 17th century Europe where it quickly gained popularity. This momentum was spearheaded by the Dutch, who started to import coffee in large quantities and grow it in Java, an island they (at the time) possessed. Coffee was not only thought of as a stimulant, but it was also thought of as everything from a medicine to a luxury.
Coffee came to the American colonies from Europe. Here, it was received with less than open arms: the colonists preferred alcohol. This opinion, however, changed when the rest of the world changed: during the American Revolutionary War.

As Americans fought British forces, the demand for coffee skyrocketed. This demand was largely do to the reduction of available tea (compounded by the 90,000 pounds thrown in the Boston Harbor). Once Americans began to replace tea with coffee, they developed a liking. The taste buds of America looked even more favorably upon coffee during the 19th century. This was catapulted by both the War of 1812, in which access to tea was cut off temporarily, and the Civil War, where coffee reached one of its highest demands. As the Americans were perfecting their taste for the bean, the Brazilians were perfecting the bean itself. In 1727, Brazil built the first coffee plantation and, by the early 1800's, their coffee was quickly becoming some of the best in the world. They took it from being a stimulant, to being a drink for the mouths of the masses.

Today, in America and otherwise, coffee flows like water. Not only is it produced in a variety of regions, but it is a major economic staple for many countries, particularly third world countries, and has succeeded in going from being a drink to being the center of many social gatherings. In the US alone, over six billion gallons of coffee are consumed annually. This amounts to over 22 gallons a person, leaving drinkers both awake and in need of a bathroom.

About the author: Jennifer Jordan is an editor and staff writer for http://www.whatsknottolove. com. At home in a design firm in Denver, Colorado, she writes articles specific to the finer things in life.

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Origin Of Candles And Traditional Trends

Author: Ophelia Smith

The use of candle was originated almost 5,000 years ago in order to get light and celebrate the different kinds of ceremonies according to the social and traditional trends. How and where
the candle was originated? That's the important question to know the answer we take a cursory view of history where a lot of informative stuff is present about the history of candle. However it is too vague idea to know in details the origin of candles.

By knowing the historical background of the candle, we come to know that first candle was invented by Egyptians who used to burn animal fat to absorb reeds in it and get light from it. The candles made of reeds s' essence had no wick. Then time elapsed and Egyptians developed wicked candles in 3,000 B.C while Romans
used to have candles in the form of rolled papyrus dipped in the melted beeswax or tallow before the development of candles with wicks.

Mostly candles were used to brighten home at night, to guide the traveler in the dark places and to celebrate the religious ceremonies devotedly. Candles have been the central part of all kinds of religious and traditional festivities in the ancient as well as present age. The Jewish ceremony of light, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting candles abundantly about 165 B.C. There are many biblical references are found to focus the importance of candles in famous festival, Easter and other religious occasions.

There are many other historical allusions are found in the history how different kind of civilizations devised methods to make wicked candles as some people of ancient age used plants and insects to make wicked candles. Chinese candles of very early age were made of paper tubes in molded form while wick was made of rolled rice paper. In the middle ages, most advanced methods were employed to make refined candles as all methods of
preparation of candles by animal fat were discarded and candles made by beeswax were introduced in the western civilization.

In 18th and 19th century, candle industry had been established to manufacture candles on large scale with variety of candles. The well-known chemist michel Eugene chevreul in 1820s had formulated a method to make candles by the extraction of steric acid from the fatty acids of animals, producing stearin wax,
very long-lasting and neatly burned stuff. The popularity of candles has been remain intact till now, devising new tips of candle making to satisfy the growing interests of people in candles.

Now the candles of modern age are made in different styles, colors, sizes and shapes beautifully. In the current age, candles have become the symbol of romance, decoration, thematic implications in terms of emotions, traditional trends and religious festivals. Now the modern candles are well-developed and well-distinguished models of original candles.

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 The History of Mother's Day

Author: Jane Saeman

Even though Mother's Day has become a commercialized holiday in the past 100 years, it has not always been so. Various individuals believe that this special day was designed as another holiday for products and services. It is recorded as the highest payday of the year for restaurant sales and phone calls. Everyone feels that they need to spend money to show their mothers how special and appreciated they are. This is not true.

The tradition of Mother's Day started thousands of years ago. It has grown and developed through each country over the many years. This day is celebrated in every country, however not always at the same time each year.

This celebration began with the Greeks and Romans. They dedicated an offering to Rhea and Cybele. These famous women were mothers to various different deities. They were celebrated with a spring festival each year. Soon after, the Christians began to celebrate Mary through a festival in Lent.

Then England started the tradition, which they referred to this day as "Mothering Sunday". Various peasants worked for very wealthy individuals. They usually lived on the premises and were not able to visit their family often.

On this celebrated day, the employers gave their workers time off to visit their mothers. When Christianity spread through Europe, they joined Mother's Day together. It was then known as "Mother Church". This was a day to celebrate the church and the mothers together on one day of the year.

In 1872 the quest for Mother's day began in the United States. Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the famous "Battle Hymn Of The Republic", requested mothers to speak up against war and offered peace to the masses. Anna Jarvis was a spokeswomen and mentor for healing after the Civil War.

When she died, her daughter, Anna, began rallying to honor all mother's past, present and future. Anna started a campaign with her mother's church to begin the process towards a national holiday. The advocates of this mission wrote letters to important individuals in the United States. Mother's Day was starting to become a holiday in various states. With the determination of one woman and the supporters she gathered, in 1914 President Wilson signed a bill for a national mother's holiday.

This time of year is on the second Sunday of each May. After Anna's extraordinary accomplishments, Mother's Day started to become rather marketable. This method infuriated the individual that worked long and hard to give a special day to mothers around the country.

This upset Anna so much that she began trying to sue a city that was hosting a Mother's Day festival. She was also arrested on a certain occasion for disturbing the peace while a mothers' group was selling war flowers. It was rumored that Anna stated a few days before she passed away that she was disappointed in how Mother's Day was heavily commercialized and Anna wished she did not start her crusades to have this day nationally recognized.

Mother's Day is a fabulous time to spend with the family. It is a day dedicated to all the hard work and sacrifices that moms do during their lifetime. It is also to celebrate the wonders and amazing feats for women past, present and future.

The holiday is for these wonderful ladies. It is not for the companies that make a substantial profit off this time of year. This Mother's Day, an individual should show their feelings by the little things, not necessarily expensive gifts and dinner.

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Father's Day And Its Origin

Author: Amy Nutt

The third Sunday in June is celebrated as the father's day. This day commemorates all the men who are great dads and also those men who play a father like role for other people. The non traditional family structure is the norm of the day and hence in this light all father figures be it an elder brother or a brother in-law etc are celebrated on this day. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington, in June 1910 through the efforts of a woman Sonora Dodd in United States who felt that just like the mothers the fathers too played important roles in the lives of their children.

The inspiration for her was her own father who after their mother's death had raised her and her five siblings with great love and care. Owing to her father being born in June she encouraged the celebrations in that month. Her efforts had begun in 1909 but it was not until 1972, that Father's day became an official holiday in the United States. It was President Nixon who with the help of a proclamation declared the third Sunday in June as Father's Day and an official holiday.

There were however not the great celebrations that are held today on Father's day in the yester years. It was a solemn church service in which the fathers were honored for the contribution that they made to the lives of their children and the whole day was solemn and respectful occasion. The red rose was a symbol of honoring a living father and a white one for a father who had passed away. In 1924, a Pennsylvanian bible class opted for a more unusual flower: the dandelion as the flower for father's day. This was because of the specialty of this flower that the more it was trampled upon the more it grew.

The fathers too feel special and honored and it arouses in them a sense of duty and compassion for their children even greater than what they already have. It is of course the job of the parents to raise their children but if their efforts are honored and the children show their respect and gratitude then their heart is definitely gladdened.

However some people feel that occasion such as father's day and mother's days are earmarks of a progressive era and are trumped up occasions. No one force sentiments or celebrations so it can be well left to them.

About the author: Flowers for all occasions , Tidy's Online Flower Shop.

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History and Origin of Kwanzaa

Author: Caitlina Fuller

The African American people celebrate their history and their culture with the festival of Kwanzaa. The holiday was created to reflect, congregate within the community, and celebrate. The Festival of Kwanzaa starts December 26th and ends on January 1st, which is New Year's Day. So the festivities are a week long. The reason these specific dates were chosen were to take advantage of the holiday spirit during this time frame and to coincide with the other American holidays. The Kwanza celebration begins the day after Christmas to avoid the holiday buying period.

The way Kwanzaa is celebrated varies somewhat from family to family, but the basics are always the same. For example, every night of the holiday a family member, almost always the family's youngest child, will light a candle and talk about one of the Kwanzaa principles. There are seven Kwanzaa principles to be discussed and the candle lighting and discussion is very similar to Hanukah. The last night of the holiday, which is on New Years Eve, is the night when friends and family get together and enjoy a meal and celebrate the New Year as well as their culture and history. Many times the end of the year feast is accompanied by candy and chocolates too.

Kwanzaa has not been around as long as many of the other holidays that are typically celebrated. In fact, Kwanzaa has only been around since 1966 when it was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The holiday was created during a very disruptive time when African Americans were struggling with civil rights and living in a very tumultuous time. The holiday helped to bring African Americans together so they could gain strength from one another as well as honor and remember their heritage.

There were many reasons behind Dr. Karenga deciding to create a new holiday for African Americans. The biggest reason was that they simply needed a time to come together as one and enjoy their culture and history. Dr. Karenga was inspired with the many harvest festivals that take place in Africa and decided to implement a holiday based on that fact in the United States. The name of the holiday also is a spin off from the African harvest festivals that celebrated the first fruits of the season. In fact, kwanza means "first fruit" in Kiswahili. Although there are many African languages, Kiswahili is the most common spoken language in Africa and that is how it became Kwanzaa's official language. If you noticed that in Kiswahili the word "kwanza" only has one a then you were very observant and it was not a typo. The additional "a" was added for the holiday by Dr. Karenga to give the word more emphasis.

The Kwanzaa celebration is based on several qualities that the harvest festivals in Africa embodied and that Dr. Karenga thought were important. These included that the people gathered together to thank their creator for the harvest, that the culture, ancestors and history was celebrated, that the actual harvest was celebrated, that the new year, history, culture, and creator were celebrated, and that individuals could recommit to the community and become better members in the future. The qualities were about thankfulness for the past and the future and the opportunity for members of the community to become even better stewards of the land and their community in the future. These qualities were the basis for the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These include faith, cooperative economics, collective work, unity, self determination and responsibility, purpose, and creativity. This is what Kwanzaa is based on.

About the author: Caitlina Fuller is a freelance writer, The Kwanzaa celebration is based on several qualities that the harvest festivals in Africa embodied and that Dr. Karenga thought were important.

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The Origins of Halloween
and Its Traditions

Author: Darcy Logan

Summary: An article about the traditions of Halloween including information about trick-or-treating, how Halloween got its name, the origins of Jack-o'-lanterns and why witches and black cats are associated with Halloween. It also includes a list of interesting facts about Halloween and some Halloween superstitions.

Tracing the roots of Halloween can be difficult because it is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. It was first celebrated by the Celts over two thousand years ago in a celebration called Samhain. October 31 was considered New Year's Eve. It was celebrated as the end of summer and the beginning of winter.

During the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated May 13 All Saints' Day to celebrate all the saints that the church had failed to recognize. It was later moved by Pope Gregory to November 1 in an effort to dissuade Christians from celebrating Samhain. The move helped give Halloween its name. Originally called Allhallows Eve (with no space) or All Hallow Even, "hallow" is the old English word for saint, the term was shortened to Hallowe'en, and the hyphen was eventually dropped.

A couple centuries later, the church designated November 2 as All Souls' Day to honor all the faithful who had died but were not saints. During the ninth century, a European custom called "souling" developed. Christians would go door to door begging for currant buns, called soul cakes. In exchange for a cake, they promised to pray for the souls of the person's relatives. This may be one of the origins of trick or treating, but there are several other theories.

The term "trick-or-treat" does not appear in American culture until the early 20th century, although the tradition itself predates it. The concept of wearing costumes goes back to the original Celtic festival. The Celts believed that on Halloween, the dead would come back and walk around as ghosts. In order to avoid being recognized by the ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their houses after dark in the belief that the ghosts would believe they were also spirits. They would also place food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and keep them from entering. This is another possible source for trick-or-treating.

Jack-o'-lanterns also have their roots as means of warding of spirits. The Irish used to carve turnips, potatoes or rutabagas and then place coals or a candle inside in order to ward off evil spirits. When the Irish immigrated to America, they discovered that pumpkins were easier to carve.

The term Jack-o'-lantern comes from a story an old story about a man named Jack. Jack tricked the Devil and made him promise not to claim his soul when he died. Unfortunately, Jack was so mean that he wasn't allowed into Heaven. Jack went down to Hell, but the Devil refused to allow him entrance. The Devil did help Jack out by giving him a piece of coal to light his way. Jack placed the coal into a turnip and used it to light his way as he wandered the earth for eternity. He eventually became known as "Jack of the Lantern," which was eventually shortened to Jack-o'-lantern.

Witches and black cats were not part of original Halloween myth. According to legend, witches gathered twice a year when the seasons changed. Once on April 30, the day before May Day, and on October 31st. Black cats were believed to protect witches from negative forces. It was also believed that witches were capable of turning into cats.

A Few Halloween Facts:

Halloween is the second in consumer spending (Christmas is first). Each year, Americans spend over $2.5 billion on costumes, decorations, and candy. Pumpkins are not vegetables; they are fruits. It is a member of the same gourd family that includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons. In the 1950s, several schools banned UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) boxes because they suspected it was actually a Communist plot.

A Few Halloween Superstitions:

If you see a spider on Halloween, it might be the spirit of a dead loved one watching you. If you want to meet a witch, put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Halloween night. If you take a candle and look into a mirror while combing your hair, your future husband will appear peeking over your shoulder. If you slice an apple in half (so you can see a five pointed star) and eat it by candlelight in front of a mirror, your future spouse will appear over your shoulder. Peel an apple so that the peeling comes off in one long strand. Then throw it over your shoulder. The shape it lands in will be the initial of your true love. If you place an apple under your pillow on Halloween, you will dream of your future husband. A piece of bread crossed with salt and carried in your pocket will keep you safe if you must travel on Halloween.

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The Origin of Playing Cards

Author: Jerry Smith

Playing cards made their way to Europe from the East. They appeared first in France and then in Spain. The reason for the belief that they appeared first in Italy is that the design on the cards closely resembles the Mamaluke design. The pack of cards consisted of 52 cards with suits of swords, polo sticks, cups and coins. Cards with the numbers one through ten and court cards that included the King (Malik), Deputy King (Naib Malik), and Second Deputy (thain naib).

Persia and India had cards that had 48 cards per deck, four suits, ten numerals and two courts in each suit known as Ganjifa. The number of suits doubled. In Arabia card decks became known as Kanjifah.

When playing cards came to Europe the craze took off. In 1377 they appeared in Switzerland. In 1380 they began to appear in Florence, Basle, Regensberg, Paris, and Barcelona. The rest is as they say history.

Early cards were hand made. The designs on the cards were also hand painted. They were also very expensive. They were used more at the time by rich people due to the cost. The craze reached the poor classes as they became cheaper.

Cheaper versions became available as they were mass produced. These cards were disposed of early. They increasingly became popular across all levels of society. Cards are made of stiff paper and some brands are laminated. They now come in mini cards and large prints for the visually impaired.

About the author: Jerry Smith can help you. Find out how thousands of people have been helped with the advice and information. Visit this link for details: Playing Cards Games 

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Origin Of The Cell Phone

Author: Joe Goertz

Fifteen years ago seeing a cellular phone was quite rare, and in today's technologically advanced world, just about everyone has a cellular phone. Adults, teenagers, and even children carry around portable models of the telephone.

Through the interesting history of the cellular phone, one can get the picture of how the portable wonder became what it is today.

In 1843, a skilled, analytical chemist named Michael Farady began exhaustive research to find a space that could conduct electricity. He told of his findings, and these advances of 19th century science and technology have had an incalculable effect on the development of today's cellular phone.

By the year of 1865 a dentist by the name of Dr. Mahlon Loomis became what is thought to be the first person who was able to communicate wirelessly through the atmosphere. Between 1866 and 1873 transmitted telegraphic messages 18 miles between the tops of the Cohocton and Beorse Deer Mountains in Virginia.

Dr. Mahlon Loomis developed a way of transmitting and receiving messages by using Earth's atmosphere as a conductor. He also launched kites enclosed with copper screens that were linked to the ground with copper wires. He was awarded a $50,000 research grant from Congress to continue his studies.

Then, in the year of 1973, a former general manager from the systems division of Motorola, Dr. Martin Cooper, became who is thought to be the inventor of the first portable handset. Dr. Cooper was also the first person to make a call using a portable cell phone.

In New York, he set up a base station with the first working prototype of a cell phone, the Motorola Dyna-Tac. He and Motorola took this technology to New York to show the public.

Later on, in 1977, the cell phone went public and public testing began. Chicago was the home for the first trials with 2,000 people. After Chicago, there were later trials in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and then it spread to Japan in 1979.

Usual technologies changed in 1988 when the CTIA - Cellular Technology Industry Association - was formed to lay out realistic goals for cell phone providers. Research for new applications of development was included.

In 1991 the Telecommunications Industry Association set a new standard with the creation of the TDMA Interim Standard 54.

Cell phones have had quite a long journey. Although there was a great demand for cell phones, it took 37 years for them to become commercially available in the United States.

Wireless service was actually invented almost 50 years ago, so it's hard to believe that cell phones have only become popular over the past couple of decades. Currently, there are more than 60 million people who own cell phones.

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