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.




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 The ban was revoked by an English governor in 1681, however Christmas celebrations did not gain popularity in the area until the middle of the nineteenth century.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.



Guy Fawkes



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:



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 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.

On this day: The London Gazette was first published

The London Gazette later reprint of the front page from 3–10 September 1666, reporting on the Great Fire of London.

A reproduction of the edition from the 3rd-10th of September, 1666. It reports on the Great Fire of London.

One of the United Kingdom’s oldest surviving journals, The London Gazette, was first published on the 7th of November, 1665. When it was first published it was called The Oxford Gazette.

The publication began in Oxford rather than London because the Royal Court had moved out of the capital to escape the plague. People at court were unwilling to touch anything that had been printed in London.

The London Gazette, dated 14 May 1705.

14 May 1705

The Gazette claims to be the longest-running journal in the UK, but there are also a few others that make the same claim.