Chocolate History & Facts
Use of Chocolate began more than 2500 years ago in Central America. The Mayan civilization considered Cacao it as a divine gift. On many occasions, it was also used as a form of currency. The name 'Cacao' is a Maya word which means 'god food’. To make a pound of chocolate, it requires up to 270 cocoa beans, so it takes about 6-7 pods as one cocoa pod contains an average of about 42 beans. Christopher Columbus introduced these to Europe in 1502,when he brought a few beans to Spain during his last voyage to the Caribbean islands. Current name ‘chocolate’ comes from the Aztec word xocalati which means’ bitter water’. You would be surprised to know that more than 66 % of the world’s cacao beans are produced in Africa but almost half of the world's chocolate is consumed in America. On Halloween, it is the number one choice in candy picks. But America may be the biggest consumer of chocolate in the world but Swiss people top the list when it comes to per capita consumption, it is 22 pounds per person as compared to 11 pounds in the US. Do you know why it just melts in your mouth- it is because the melting point of cocoa is just below normal human body temperature.
Do you know Coffee is the most popular and most consumed beverage worldwide? The main ingredient of coffee is caffeine; it is a natural energy-booster. It is believed that it started with dancing goats, few Ethiopians shepherds realized that their goats appeared to be dancing & overactive after eating coffee berries while grazing. The word coffee originated from Arabic word ‘qahwa ‘ from where this name traveled to Turkey & Italy & was pronounced ‘kahveh’ & ‘caffa’ from where English picked it & slowly it came to be known as ‘coffee’. You would be surprised to know that Coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world. The first is petroleum. So one can easily understand the importance of coffee for modern human society. There are two kinds of coffee, Arabica & Robusta. Arabica is mild & aromatic, 70 % of the world consumes this .Robusta is of bitter taste, balance 30% of the world consumes this type.A coffee tree takes 3 to 4 years to mature.Once it matures,each tree bears one to two pounds of coffee beans per growing season.
Santa Clause (St. Nicholas) History & Facts
Today we think Santa Claus as a noble toy distributor who comes in a sleigh led by eight flying reindeer, on Christmas Eve. Actually it is based on a real man, his name was St. Nicholas. He was the Bishop of Myra, a town in Turkey. In 3rd century, he became famous as an anonymous gift giver as he would provide dowry to poor girls on their marriage and hand out gifts to kids. It is believed that he would leave these in their shoes at the night-time; which were kept outside of home as part of old traditions In Netherlands, few of the people kept this tradition alive for many centuries, but the name of the bishop who went house to house to give treats to children changed to Sinterklaas. In 1773, this name changed to Santa Claus from a story published in a New York City newspaper .Few other aspects; like characterizing Santa as a portly, bearded man & coming down the chimney; got added to this slowly developing tradition by a book named A History Of New York ,written by Washington Irving in 1809.Similarly a poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas (commonly known as ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’) written by Clement Moore in 1822 popularized the sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. The modern image of Santa Claus, which we see in every mall, actually appeared in Coca-Cola advertisements in 1931.This image was created by an artist named Haddon Sundblom. Santa first appeared in a department store in 1890.A businessman James Edgar came with an idea of keeping a person; in Santa costume ; outside the store to attract children to his store .
Dead Sea Facts
Do you know Dead Sea is not a sea ?It is actually a big salt lake between Israel & Jordan.The Arabs (people from Gulf countries) call it stinking 'Stinking Sea' & ancient Greeks called it the 'Dead Sea'.The river Jordan flows into it & the only way water leaves the Dead Sea is by evaporation.Also it is surrounded by hot deserts, which makes th evaporation faster.Due to this lot of evaporation,there is huge quantity of salt left behind.So it makes it saltiest water zone in the world.The salt density is so high that no plant or animal can survive in this.Also due to this density of salt ,one can even float on the water without fear of drowning
Potato Chips Facts
Sometime in 1883, a chef named George Crum ,in a restaurant in Sara-toga Springs ,New York found this delicacy out of anger & by an accident. One day, one customer kept sending fried potatoes back saying that they were neither crisp nor thin enough.In anger ,the chef threw all the paper-thin slices of already cut potatoes in ice-cold water.He forgot about these until another customer asked for fried potatoes,he took the small chips out of ice-cold water & put them in boiling oil.When served, the customers loved these fried crispy potatoes.Thus ,this is how potato wafers were discovered. Initially these were called Sara-toga chips because of the name of the place where these were first made.In USA, March 14th is celebrated as National Potato Chip Day.
Facts about Flags
Do you know study of flags is called 'vexillology'!Flags as a symbol of nationality came much later.The earliest usage of flags was during wars,to differentiate between friends and enemies.The oldest state flag is that of Denmark's,it goes back to 13th century.It was only towards the end of the 18th century that flags were used for nationalistic purposes.All national flags are rectangular in shape except Nepal which looks like two combined triangles.The other odd ones are of Switzerland and Vatican City,which look like squares.
Facts about Honey & Honey Bees
Honey is one of the oldest food sources known to humans. This sweet fluid is made by honey bees from the nectar of flowers.Do you know that honey never gets spoiled! You can place honey anywhere for thousands of years and it would remain intact.Honey does not have any fats,cholesterol sodium. One can actually live off a just-honey diet because it is assumed to be the only kind of food that has all necessary substances to sustain a normal human life.A honey bee could visit around 2000 flowers in a day, flying around 25 kilometers per hour! You would be amazed to know that it takes about 2 million flowers for these little bees to visit to make just half a kilogram of honey! Not only that, you would be really surprised to know the fact that just one single honey bee colony can produce between 30 to 40 kilograms of honey in a year..
Christmas Tree -Few Interesting Facts
- An acre of Christmas trees can provide the daily oxygen requirements of at least 18 persons !
- You would be surprised to know that usage of Christmas trees (then called evergreen trees) began even before the birth of Christ .It was widely used to celebrate winter season !
- Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas trees from White House for environmental reasons.
- The first decorated Christmas tree was in Liga,Latvia in 1510
- The most popular Christmas trees are :Scotch pine,Douglas fir ,Noble fir & Fraser fir & white pine.
- Besides evergreens, cherry plants were used as Christmas trees in the past
- Usage of small candles to light a Christmas tree started in 17th century! Later on, it was Edison’s (inventor of Electric bulb) assistant, Edward Johnson , who came up with the idea of using electric lights for Christmas Trees in 1882 .They were first mass produced in 1890.
- Denmark is a major producer of live Christmas trees whereas China is the largest producer of artificial Christmas trees!
With kind courtesy from Dr . James Clive,Head Librarian,London