Ukrainian Christmas

The Adoration of the Shepherds, (Поклоніння пастухів). A Ukrainian religious painting taken from an iconostasis, and dated between 1650 and 1700.

The 6th of January is Christmas Eve for Ukrainians of all Christian denominations.

The main Christmas celebrations take place at this time.

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The banning of Christmas

The celebration of Christmas was banned by Puritans in Boston, Colonial America in 1659. The ban was revoked by an English governor in 1681, however Christmas celebrations did not gain popularity in the area until the middle of the nineteenth century.

Through these years the holiday continued to be observed in other parts of America. It fell out of favour after the American Revolution, but returned to favour some years afterwards.

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puritanchristmasbanpublic-notice-from-1659-in-boston-regarding-the-banning-the-celebrations-of-christmas

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated in Great Britain on the 5th of November. Below is an 1867 anti-Irish Guy Fawkes illustration from Punch magazine. Fenian refers to Irish nationalists.

punch_anti-irish_propaganda_1867_guy_fawkesanti-irish-propaganda-from-punch-magazine-published-in-december-1867

American magazine Harper’s Weekly ran a similar anti-Irish image, titled The Usual Irish Way of Doing Thingsin 1871.

theusualirishwayofdoingthingsanti-irish-political-cartoon-titled-the-usual-irish-way-of-doing-things-by-thomas-nast-1840-1902-published-in-harpers-weekly-on-2-september-1871

Guy Fawkes

guy_fawkes_confessionthis-is-a-confession-by-guy-fawkes-a-member-of-the-failed-gunpowder-plot-to-blow-up-the-houses-of-parliament-in-london-on-the-5th-of-november-1605

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This is a confession by Guy Fawkes, a member of the failed Gunpowder Plot, to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, on the 5th of November, 1605.

Fawkes was tortured for some time before his confession, and the damage done to him can be seen in his shaky signatures below. The first is under torture, and the second is eight days after torture:

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On the 31st of January, 1606 Fawkes either fell or jumped from the platform where he was supposed to hang, and broke his neck before he could be executed as intended.

Today the 5th is celebrated in Britain with bonfires and fireworks as Guy Fawkes Night.

On this day: the wedding of Pocahontas and John Rolfe

Pocahontas and John Rolfe portrait 1850s

An 1850s painting of the couple X

Famous Native American woman Pocahontas married English tobacco planter John Rolfe on the 5th of April, 1614.

Pocahontas by Simon van de Passe 1616

Pocahontas in English clothing in 1616 X

After having their son, Thomas, Pocahontas travelled to England, where she became something of a celebrity.

However, the marriage was a short one, as Pocahontas died of an unknown illness in March 1617, shortly after boarding a ship to return home. Her exact gravesite is unknown, as the church where she was buried was destroyed in 1727.

 

On this day: the Great Fire of Meireki

Handscroll depicting scenes from the Great Fire of Meireki. Japan.

The Great Fire of Meireki (also known as the Furisode Fire) began on the 2nd of March, 1657. Between 60% and 70% of Edo (now Tokyo) was destroyed.

Over 100 000 people were killed.

Legend has it that the fire happened because a cursed kimono was accidentally burnt.

The damage was more severe because most buildings in Japan at the time were constructed out of wood and paper.

The fire lasted for three days.

On this day: the last execution for blasphemy in Britain

On the 8th of January, 1697, Scottish student Thomas Aikenhead was hanged for blasphemy. He was the last person in Britain to be executed for the crime, and was eighteen at the time.

An old print illustrating the gallows in Edinburgh in the Grassmarket.

The gallows at Grassmarket in Edinburgh.

Aikenhead was put on trial in Edinburgh and found guilty in December the year before. He was hanged at 2pm.

This final execution for blasphemy came 85 years after the final person was burnt for heresy.