A soul cake is a small, round, lightly-sweetened treat which has been made by Christians since the eighth century to commemorate the dead on All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, or All Souls’ Day. However, scholars suggest that the idea emerged from earlier pre-Christian practices.
During the Middle Ages the phoenix rose from its ashes to be reborn, dangerous dragons battled elephants to the death, and the pelican tore out its own breast to feed its young with its life’s blood – in bestiaries, that is.
The impotence trials of pre-revolutionary France sound a bit like a political joke. France had mostly squelched the ability for couples to divorce, and it was in this wake that the impotence trials arose.
In the 1,600 years since Saint Patrick preached his way across the Emerald Isle, the legends and folk stories surrounding his life have become ever more ingrained in the Irish culture. He is credited with expelling all snakes from Ireland and using a shamrock – a three-leaf clover – to explain the Holy Trinity to the Pagan Irish.
Murky, elusive and undefined, the religion of the pre-Christian Vikings has long been subject to debate. Contemporary texts of their spiritual worship do not survive, and the later records that do survive stem from Christian authors. Thus, they are tainted with a Christian worldview and anti-pagan opinions. The magic of the Vikings, however, is somewhat a secondary field of interest.
Aeschylus, widely regarded as the “Father of Tragedy,” was one of the first of classical Athens’ great dramatists. He raised the emerging art of tragedy to new heights of poetry and theatrical power. The legendary playwright wrote more than 90 plays and won with half of them at Athenian festivals of Greek drama. For all his skills in theater, however, he’s trending within the circles of modern pop culture thanks to his very bizarre death.
Grace O'Malley was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the O Maille clan, a rebel, seafarer, and fearless leader, who challenged the turbulent politics of 16th century England and Ireland.
Dogs have been used as powerful weapons of war for at least the last 3,000 years. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Britons, and Romans are all known to have used dogs in combat, or for scouts, sentries, trackers, or executioners. But the Spanish conquistadors employed war dogs on a scale that had rarely been seen before, and with devastating effect.
In 1897, archaeologists uncovered a stunning artifact on a private estate at L'Alcúdia in Valencia, Spain. This find was a statue – a polychrome bust of a woman’s head. Believed to date back to the 4th Century BC, the bust features a woman wearing an elaborate headdress. Now seen as one of Spain’s most famous icons, the bust is known as the Lady of Elche.