Christopher Columbus Bio – WIF Confidential

Leave a comment

Fascinating

Facts About

Christopher Columbus

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

 The elementary school lyrics were the first exposure most students had to the Italian explorer. The line would prove to be some of the only truth told to students about Christopher Columbus and the nature of his explorations into the New World. Was he out to prove that the world wasn’t flat? Was he, in fact, the first man to discover the New World? And how exactly does one discover a place that has millions of inhabitants? Sit back and let the TopTenz team give you the 10 facts about Christopher Columbus that you may not know…

10. Did He Care if the Earth was Flat?

Do you remember being in elementary school and your teacher telling you that Columbus was out to prove the Earth wasn’t flat? We do. For many schools around the United States, teachers used the Flat Earth theory to engage students about the heroic expeditions of Columbus. However, the idea that Columbus was out to prove the Earth was round is just a myth.

Yes, for a period, human beings believed that the world was flat; however, ancient philosophers like Pythagoras came to understand that the world was round in the 6th century BC. You might remember Pythagoras from the Pythagorean theorem… or don’t remember him or geometry much at all. Nonetheless his work, authenticated by Aristotle centuries later, made it very clear that the world was, in fact, round.

What is true is that Columbus underestimated the circumference of the Earth, thinking that Europe was much wider than it was and that Japan was farther from the coast of Asia than it actually was. As a result, Columbus had the false belief that he could reach Asia by going West – a massive miscalculation that led to his discovery of a “New World.”

9. He Struggled Finding Funding for his Voyage

The more one learns about Christopher Columbus, the more his presence in the annals of history seems like a massive insult to the great explorers and thinkers of earlier periods. However, he was persistent. Columbus lobbied European Monarchs and was denied, lobbied, and was denied. That process continued for nearly a decade, with advisers to the Kings and Queens of Europe remarking that Columbus’s math was not just wrong, but embarrassingly wrong. However, Columbus remained steadfast in his beliefs and he was rewarded.

Finally, with the Spanish wars against the Moors coming to an end, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella agreed to finance the voyage. Columbus would sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships… which we know by now he commanded with misguided maps and calculations. Who could have guessed that this man would make a discovery that would reshape the world?

8. He Wrecked his Ship

The Santa María was the largest of the three ships that embarked on Columbus’s voyage to… ahem, ‘Asia’. And even then, records show that the Santa María was not a particularly large ship, comparable today to a cruising yacht. The Santa María was only about 100 tons with a single deck and three small masts. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean proved fine for Columbus and his men, but the return journey was where tragedy struck.

As children, we probably all asked our parents to hold the steering wheel. How hard could it be? We’d beg and plead and almost always be met with a resounding “No!” That wasn’t the case on the Santa Maria. On the Christmas Eve, 1492, a cabin boy took the wheel and crashed into a coral reef on the northern coast of Hispaniola, close to present day Haitien, Haiti. After two sleepless nights, Columbus had decided to sleep and the crew followed, thinking that the calm night could bring no trouble. They couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Christmas was spent salvaging the remaining cargo, leaving Columbus to return to Spain aboard the Nina. Before leaving, Columbus instructed the crew to build a settlement on the remains of the ship which, they named “La Navidad.” Nearly 40 crew members were left behind at La Navidad, the first European settlement in the New World.

In the fall of 1493, Columbus returned to the settlement and found that none of the crew were alive, describing the La Navidad settlement as being “ burned to the ground.”

7. He Returned to Spain in Shackles

Unfazed by the destruction of his former crew members’ settlement, Columbus decided to rebuild the settlement in a different location. Promising riches to crown and crew member alike, Columbus and his brothers would rule the new settlement with savage cruelty. Believing the island had  great quantities of gold, Columbus forced the native workers into slavery, exploring and mining for gold and rebuilding the settlement. Failure to comply was met with death or the chopping off of limbs.

Convinced that he had found the outer islands of China, Columbus left the encampment for Spain. On his return, he would find the settlement in disarray. Colonists had become embittered with the management of Columbus’s brothers – with some Spanish colonists even being executed at the gallows. The lack of gold and riches also led to many believing that they had been lied to. As a result, colonists complained to the monarchy and a royal commissioner dispatched to the new colony arrested Columbus and brought him back to Spain in chains.The arrest would not hamper Columbus’s explorations, as he would not only be granted his freedom, but also the finances for a fourth voyage.

6. An Eclipse was his Savior

If finding uncharted territory by accident wasn’t enough for you, Columbus would be the beneficiary of even more good fortune while stranded in Jamaica.

 On his fourth and final journey, Columbus promised King Ferdinand the gold that he had so far been unable to fully deliver. In 1502, Columbus set sail, traveling along the eastern coast of Central America – again believing that he was close to find a route to the Indian Ocean. That, he would not find. What he would find was devastating winds; gusts that would wreck one of his ships. Columbus and his men became stranded on the island of Jamaica, where the men’s demands of gold would irritate the natives and lead to their refusal to feed Columbus and his men. Left with little options, Columbus consulted his almanac, realizing that an eclipse was on the horizon. He sought out the natives’ chief and warned him that his God was angry at the lack of food provided for him and his men. He told the natives that a sign would soon come that displayed his God’s anger.

On February 29, 1504, an eclipse would terrify the native population into providing food and trading with Columbus and his party. Months later a rescue party would arrive and Columbus and his men were taken back to Spain.

5. First to Discover New World?

It seems that our Genoese explorer has gotten more credit than he is due. Researchers have confirmed that Christopher Columbus was not the first man to lead a voyage to the Americas. That distinction goes to a Viking, by the name of Leif Erikson.

The exact date is unknown, but scholars put Erikson’s voyage around the year 1000 AD. Son of Erik the Red, Leif Erikson sailed to what is now the Canadian province of Newfoundland, but didn’t settle in the area deemed “Vinland.” After staying for a few years, Erikson and his party returned to Greenland, where he described his travels. Proof of the voyage was uncovered by Norwegian Helge Instad and Anne Stine Instad, who found an ancient Norse settlement.

Less plausible theories suppose that an Irish Monk in the 6th century was the first to discover the Americas in a wood-framed boat covered in animal skin. Another theory holds that in the 15th century, Zheng He, a fleet Admiral who had explored Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf, and the East Coast of Africa had also visited the Americas 71 years before Columbus. The best piece of evidence for this claim was the discovery of an old Chinese map that displays an understanding of the world that predates European knowledge of the Americas. Since the map has been revealed, scholars have questioned its authenticity while others remain convinced that Zheng He did, in fact, explore the “New World” before Columbus. It’s not hard to imagine that in some schools in Far East Asia, it was Zhen He “who sailed the ocean blue.”

4. His Adventures After Death

Although we have questioned his mental acumen, what cannot be questioned is Columbus’s adventurousness in his pursuits and explorations. Those qualities would seem to continue into death, as the deceased bodies of Columbus and his son, Diego, were shipped across the Atlantic to Hispaniola (on the request of his daughter-in-law). They were to be interred in a Santo Domingo cathedral.

Nearly 200 years later, when the French captured the island, the Spanish dug up the bodies of both Columbus and his son and shipped them to Seville via Cuba. Upon further examination, a box with human remains and Columbus’s name was discovered at his original resting place in Santo Domingo in 1877. The finding led to the DNA testing of the remains in Seville, which confirmed that some of the remains were those of Columbus. What are we to make of the box in Santo Domingo bearing Columbus’s name, containing human remains? The Dominican Republic has refused to let their findings be tested, so it is entirely possible that parts of Columbus are spread across the Old and New World.

3. Columbus – Slave Trader

“Only a few hundred were left.” That’s all that remained of the Taino population 60 years after first contact with Columbus. Conservative estimates hold that more than 250,000 inhabited the Dominican Republic before his arrival. It’s a startling figure to consider when contemplating the impact of Columbus on the native populations of the New World.

On Columbus’s first trip, he ordered six of the natives to be seized, stating in his journal that he believed they would be good servants. Other accounts depict Columbus and his men riding on the backs of natives like they were horses. Unable to find large quantities of gold, Columbus enslaved many of the native population, brutalizing them in his quest for the riches of the island. Any form of rebellion led to massive bloodshed – with Columbus even ordering their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets. Ultimately, it was the disease brought on by the Spanish that killed off most of the population. However, the Taino people live on in their language: Words like “canoe, hammock,  barbeque, and hurricane” have their origins in the Arawak tribe’s tongue.

2. Columbus was Very Religious

Despite his cruel and inhumane acts, Columbus was a fervent Christian. He believed that his voyages were God’s will, and consequently he would go on to name many of the lands he “discovered” biblical names.

The voyages across the Atlantic were not without biblical influence, as Columbus made sure the crew observed religious rites. Every time they turned the half-hour glass, they exclaimed “blessed be the hour of our Savior’s birth/blessed by the Virgin Mary who bore him/and blessed by John who baptized him.” It is also alleged that despite the crude manner of ship life, Columbus never cursed.

His religious feeling were so strong that upon landing on the American mainland and seeing four rivers flowing from the landmass, he was convinced that he had encountered the Garden of Eden.

1. Columbus Brought Syphilis to the New World

Recent reports have come to suggest that Columbus had an even greater impact on world history than we’ve given him credit for. According to skeletal evidence, Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but to syphilis as well. It appears that like Vegas, what happens in the New World will stay in the New World… except for venereal disease.

The sexual nature of the syphilis epidemic made it especially contentious in finding its origins.The first known epidemic of syphilis took place in the Renaissance era (1490s). One of the most notable initial cases was its infection of the army of Charles the VIII after he invaded Naples. The disease would go on to devastate Europe, resulting in 5 million deaths.

While still just a widely held theory, scientists believe they were able to prove the disease’s origin by comparing 26 strains of treponemes from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands. The results were that the “strains that caused the sexually transmitted disease originated recently, with their closest relatives being germs collected in South America. In other words, it seems to have come from the New World.”


Christopher Columbus Bio

– WIF Confidential

Toy Story Religion – WIF Allegories

Leave a comment

Religious Beliefs Hidden

In Toy Story

The Toy Story movies, aside from being a great way to keep your kids busy for a few hours, can be seen as an in-depth discussion of  faith and religion. You may think that we’re reading too much into it, and you’re absolutely right — that’s what makes the Internet fun. Read on to see if we can convince you!

10. The Mutant Toys Represent An Egyptian Myth

toystory1

The Mutant Toys in the first movie live in the house of Sid and Hannah Phillips. Sid is a monstrous young child who steals Hannah’s toys, destroys them and then combines them with parts of other toys to rebuild them. The saga of the Phillips’ toys mirrors an Egyptian myth. The God-King Osiris is tricked by his brother Seth into lying down in a bejeweled coffin. Seth and his cohorts then put the coffin in the Nile, where Osiris subsequently drowns. Osiris’ body is later cut up into pieces. Those pieces have to be put back together by Osiris’ wife, Isis. After Osiris’ body is reconfigured, Osiris is brought back to life with magic.

Many Egyptian myths center around death and the journey to the afterlife. Sid, like Seth, is obsessed with violence and destruction. Sid is often seen wearing a skull on a black t-shirt. Sid’s house is literally a “house of the dead.”

9. Stinky Pete Is A Cult Leader

toystory2

Stinky Pete is one of the main characters in Toy Story 2. He appears to be kind and affable until Woody attempts to escape — then his true colors shine through. He exhibits many traits that cult leaders use in order to keep their followers in line. A local Sheriff once referred to David Koresh as a “nice guy.”Jonestown followers were captivated by Jim Jones’ public speaking abilities.

Many of Stinky Pete’s darker qualities are shown in his relationship with Jessie. He recruited her to his cause while she was emotionally fragile. Jessie was abandoned by her owner, and Pete keeps Jessie subservient with the constant threat of going “back into storage.” A third of people successfully indoctrinated into cults are recruited after a personal loss. Cults then proceed to isolate and threaten their members to ensure their continuing loyalty. Pete has successfully sequestered Jessie and Bullseye within Al’s Penthouse.

Stinky Pete is also perfectly willing to use sabotage and violence to maintain control. Stinky Pete’s indoctrination even works on Woody. Woody is hesitant to accept the escape plan of Andy’s toys in favor of remaining with the Roundup Gang. At that point, Woody had succumbed to the cult indoctrination and sees the Roundup Gang as his “new family.”

8. Potato Head, Mormon

toystory3

When people think of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they generally associate it with Utah. However, nearly a quarter of the residents of Idaho are practitioners of Mormonism. Idaho is universally identified with the potato. Mr. Potato Head has a fairly antagonistic relationship with Woody, who as you’ll learn later can be seen as a representation of evangelical Christianity, during the first Toy Story. There’s still a significant division between Evangelical Christians and Mormons.

At the end of Toy Story, Mr. Potato Head is “gifted” with Mrs. Potato Head. The practice of an arranged marriage is not endorsed by the Church, but theFundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has has been accused of practicing arranged marriages. None of the other relationships in the Toy Story franchise indicate a marriage simply because the relationship was predestined by the toy company. Woody doesn’t have a romantic relationship with Jessie, Barbie helps the other toys conspire against Ken in Toy Story 3. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head seem to share a common belief system that leads to the union.

7. The Humans Are An Example of Dystheism

toystory4

Dystheism is the belief that there is a God, but that God may not necessarily be good or evil. The dystheistic God can range from good to indifferent to completely vile. In the Toy Story universe, the fate of the toys is completely determined by their human owners. Al McWhiggin sees the toys as a means for profit. Emily threw away toys she no longer wanted. Daisy’s parents saw toys like Lotso as being replaceable.

Each of these owners, like Andy, wield absolute power over the fate of the toys. Even though they didn’t make the toys, the relationship is very much like that of a God and its creation. The fate of the creation is dependent on the mood of the God they happen to serve. The toys have little to no choice in their master or the fate of their fellow toys. As a matter of fact, the fates of Bo Peep and Wheezy are completely unknown. The only known element is that their fates were decided by humans.

The unofficial hymn of dystheistic ideals is “He Gives All His Love,” a song from 1971 which portrays a disinterested God looking down at human suffering. The song was written by Randy Newman, who would later work on the Toy Storysoundtracks.

6. The Squeeze Toy Aliens Practice Totemism

toystory5

Totemism is a belief in kinship or a mystical relationship with a totem — something that’s a symbol for a family or a tribe. A totem can also be a person that represents an idea. Totemism is common among aboriginal populations. In the first Toy Story, the Squeeze Toy Aliens worship “The Claw.” The Claw is just a mechanical hand used as part of the game to grab the Aliens. However, the Aliens have turned the Claw into a totem with which they have a mystical relationship. The Aliens the Claw takes are believed to have been chosen for a better fate.

In Toy Story 3, the Aliens are similarly worshipful of a construction vehicle with a claw-like device. The Claw also serves as ancient plot device known as deus ex machina, or literally “God from the Machine.”

5. Lots-‘O-Huggin Bear and the Church of Satan

toystory6

Contrary to popular belief, the Satanism of Anton LeVay as spelled out in The Satanic Bible is not the worship of a Biblical Satan. Satan is merely a symbol of their overall theology. The Church of Satan rejects the idea that there is an external divine being, arguing that divinity is a concept which is self-contained in the individual. The values of right and wrong are left up to the determination of the individual deities, a concept that doesn’t leave room for the worship of an external deity.

Lotso believed that he was abandoned and replaced by his external deity. In this case, the external deity was a little girl who owned him. With the lack of an external deity, Lotso reorganized his belief system into one which only recognized himself as a deity. Morality then became determined by Lotso and his new god-like status. Amorality for Lotso then evolved into a sense of chaotic evil. This belief system is best represented by Lotso when he mocks the other toys before attempting to murder them by screaming “Where’s your kid now, Sheriff?” Lotso is mocking the old belief of external deities controlling the toys’ lives. Lotso’s now in favor of his own personal self-determination.

4. The Toys Existence is a Form of Animism

toystory7

Animism is the belief that all things possess a soul. It’s the the attribution of conscious life to nature and inanimate objects. English anthropologist Edward Tylor coined the phrase in his 1871 book Primitive Culture. Tylor stated that animism appeared mainly in tribal religions, and he goes on to dismiss the idea as superstition. However, the existence of animism in native cultures may indicate that animistic beliefs are in fact older than many organized religions.

The toys have a soul simply because they exist. They instinctively know how to behave around humans and animals. On some levels, these apparently ancient rules must predate them and possibly even toys in general. It’s possible the toys are the evolution of spirits known as dryads. Dryads were nymphs that lived in trees and were worshiped in Druidic ceremonies. If the tree died, the Dryad living in the tree would also perish. This is one of the earliest known forms of animism. The dryads could have evolved into living in objects made from trees and ultimately into living within the toys. This would make the concept of living toys much older than the age of modern action figures.

3. Jessie And The “Backsliding Christian”

toystory8

Jessie is an example of what evangelical Christians would refer to as a“backsliding Christian.” Jessie started out with the same beliefs as Woody and other toys. After her abandonment by Emily, Jessie became “lost” and eventually fell into the cult of Stinky Pete. It’s only when Jessie returns to her core beliefs that she finds safety in Andy’s house. Her continuing belief also allows her to survive to the point where she is finally cared for by Bonnie Anderson, the new owner of Andy’s toys.

The implication isn’t that Jessie was the victim of forces beyond her own control, but that it was Jessie’s own lack of faith and non-adherence to ritual that led her to Al’s Toy Barn. When she found her belief again, Jessie’s life started to turn around. Backsliding, to Evangelical Christians, is when a converted Christian’s lifestyle falls back to a pre-converted state. Jessie was “brought back into the fold” by meeting Woody. In some Christian teachings, backsliding can ultimately result in a loss of the conditional security of salvation.

2. Buzz Lightyear And The Church Of Scientology

toystory9

Did you know that one of the major goals of Scientologists is to achieve a“oneness with Infinity?” This “urge toward infinity” has been conveyed with atriangle overlapped with an infinity symbol. Scientology Leader David Miscaviage is quoted as saying “You are missing the signpost up ahead… the one that reads infinity.”

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was an avid science fiction writer, and in a certain context Buzz Lightyear appears to be a walking advertisement for Scientology. Lightyear’s signature catchphrase is “To Infinity and beyond.” His square jaw and features appear to be a caricature of Hubbard. Lightyear also believes that visualizing having a power is equivalent to actually having that power. This theory is most evident in Lightyear’s belief that he can fly. Scientologists use guided imagery and visualization to attempt to connect with the higher being within themselves. Buzz Lightyear appears to apply Scientology principles throughout the trilogy.

1. Woody and Christianity

toystory10

Sheriff Woody is Andy’s favorite toy. Woody’s very name is evocative of thewooden Christian cross. Furthermore, Sheriff Woody is a symbol of theAmerican West in the nineteenth century. The time frame that Woody represents is the time of tent revivals, a period where many evangelical Christians were crusading to revive the country’s spirituality.

Throughout the movies, Woody is also a study in a belief system that receives many challenges. Woody believes that Andy will always be there for him. At the beginning of the first Toy Story, Woody has never experienced anything which would challenge that belief. Woody’s faith is tested by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, as well as the incident at Al’s Toy Barn. But Woody keeps coming back to his faith even through its challenges. Woody also converts Jessie, and almost sacrifices himself for the other toys. Woody’s beliefs are not shared by all of the other toys. Woody frequently clashes with other toys, even though Woody appears to be their elected leader. Throughout the movies, Woody learns to trust that there is a higher power and plan for him even beyond his time with Andy. That belief is one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith.

Toy Store(y) Religion

-WIF Allegories

Easy Easter Facts from WIF

Leave a comment

 Easter  is More Interesting

Than Just Chocolate

 

As holidays go, Easter is a strange one. We’re here today to look at Easter’s origins, and how it’s celebrated around the world. Just make sure to keep some chocolate on standby in case of cravings.

10. The Name

easter1

We know that Christmas is a combination of “Christ” and “Mass,” and we also know that Halloween comes from “Allhallow-even.” But where does Easter come from?

By far the most prolific explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility known as Eostre. The goddess had 10 variants of her name, including Ostara, Eostur and Austron — which made adding her as a contact on your phone a nightmare — but it’s agreed that the root of her name comes from “eastre,” meaning “spring.” This was adopted and used as a Christian celebration. Despite the fact that this is one of the top explanations, there’s a lot of debate over whether Eostre was even an actual goddess worshipped by people. You know, just to confuse you further.

9. The Rabbit

easter2

Out of all the animals to be designated as the one who delivers chocolate eggs, why a rabbit? The tradition definitely has a back story, but which story you get depends on who you ask. There have been several claims for the origin of the iconic rabbit, and they span different religions and traditions.

One theory states that the Easter Bunny originated from our friend Eostre. The story goes that, once upon a time, Eostre stumbled upon a bird dying from the cold in the snow. She turned the bird into a hare, so that its fluffy coat kept it warm and safe. Because it was once a bird, it still laid eggs, so the rabbit decorated them and left them as gifts to Eostre for saving its life. This is also an explanation for the Easter egg hunt — looking for the eggs that the bird-rabbit hid. Although stealing gifts from a goddess is probably not the best idea.

Another story states that the Easter Bunny came about because, once upon a time, people believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites, making them able to give birth without losing their virginity. This has strong ties to the virgin birth of Jesus from Mary, so people began to relate rabbits to them. Some churches even sport a three hare motif, consisting of three hares connected by their ears running in a circle, a potential symbol of the Holy Trinity. However, these have been found all over the world, and their true meaning is unknown.

A third story points a finger to the first record of the Easter Rabbit in De ovis paschalibus, a German book that translates to About the Easter Egg. It states that the tradition had existed in the Christian-dominated Alsace, carried over to America with German immigrants in the 1700s, and sparked the annual chocolate gluttony ever since. There’s been no historic record yet that says people waited a day later to get eggs much cheaper, though.

8. Semana Santa

IMG_3717

Now that we’ve tackled the myths and legends behind Easter, we can look at the events that take place around the world leading up to, and on, the holy day. One is Semana Santa, held within cities across Spain.

Semana Santa means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. In it, all shops and stores except restaurants close, and the entire city is transformed.55 different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. While a sombre celebration, it’s one that draws tourists from all over the world to see its magnificence.

7. The Epitáphios Threnos

easter4

The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that’s held onGood Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. The Epitáphios Threnos takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater before hymns are spoken. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition — some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

6. Easter Ham

easter5

A prolific theory behind the Easter ham resides in Christianity. The story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Presumably out of spite, and maybe with a love for bacon mixed in, Ishtar designated a Sunday on which people consumed pig.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Killing and eating symbols of good luck seems to be a bad idea, but at least it got ham on the table.

Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime. When did the curing finish?Around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season. It’s a less exciting origin, but it makes good sense.

5. Maundy Money

easter6

In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command “that ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples, who probably felt they could get used to that sort of treatment. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor the chance to buy food and clothing. Thus was born the Maundy Money.

Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. These people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed, so if you see some senior citizens suddenly taking a great interest in the church and goodwill approaching Easter, now you know why.

4. Pysanka Eggs

Mixed Eggs

Painting eggs on Easter is always fun. But it doesn’t have to be child’s play — the Ukrainian Easter tradition of Pysanka eggs are a craft all by themselves. These highly-decorated eggs have been made during Holy Week for generations. Even when Easter is nowhere near, people can’t resist making them. While people once made eggs to ensure fertility and avoid fires and nasty spirits, today they take to the art form for the aesthetic allure.

How do Pysanka eggs differ from regular ones? The preparation, mostly. After designing a pattern on an uncooked or empty egg, it’s then dipped in a colored dye. Between the dyeing stages, the craftsman draws patterns on the egg with wax, so as to seal the color currently on the egg and create the intricate patterns you see on the final product. In short, if the rabbits you paint on Easter eggs end up looking like the one out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps consider purchasing Pysanka eggs instead.

3. Haux Omelets

easter8

After a busy Easter, it’s easy to imagine that people are sick to death of anything based around eggs. It would be a good idea for them to stay away from Haux in France, whose Easter traditions are just dying to have egg-based puns written about them. Every year on Easter Monday, the residents create a large omelet. This isn’t the kind of large omelet you get when you drop a box of eggs on the floor — it’s not unheard of for the final result to come in at three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet saw 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic, which sure beats what you get at Denny’s. You could even call it eggstreme, if you wanted us to come over there and smack you.

2. Passion Plays

Vilagers take part in an Easter Passion Play re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday at Gantang Village near Magelang, in the province of Central Java

One of the longest running traditions of Easter is the Passion Play. Because a lot of people in medieval times couldn’t read, plays were a great way to educate the masses about the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are passion plays held all over the world, but one of the most famous is the Oberammergau Passion Play. Its roots began during the black plague, when the residents of Oberammergau were on high alert to keep the disease out. A farmer coming home from a nearby village brought the plague back with him, which killed one-fifth of the town. With the disease ravaging the town, the elders declared that the church would hold a passion play every 10 years in exchange for God’s blessing and protection (you’d think they’d try every 10 days considering the circumstances, but whatever). The play has been performed every 10 years since 1633, with only a ban in 1770, World War I, and World War II stopping three shows. Thankfully, no outbreaks of plague happened on those years.

1. The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers

easter10

If you’re discussing what you do on Easter with a friend, and they reveal that what they love most about it is the part where people with blackened faces perform a folk dance down the streets, you may have just met someone from Bacup, England. Every Easter, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters,perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. Either way, the custom has come under fire for its potential racist nature, with the Nutters swearing that the blackened faces have no racial aspect whatsoever. Like every dispute around Easter, we hope this one can be solved with chocolate.

Easy Easter Facts from WIF