Category: History

  • Roland the Farter: Humour Never Changes

    Roland the Farter: Humour Never Changes

    Professional farters have existed for a long time. In the 12th century, a man named Roland the Farter paid for his land by performing a jump, a whistle, and a fart for the king on Christmas Day. Why was a fart enough to pay rent, and what’s so funny about farting anyway?

  • The Norse Cat Who Eats Poor People at Christmas

    The Norse Cat Who Eats Poor People at Christmas

    Did everyone get socks this Christmas? If not, you may be overdue for a visit from the Yule Cat. The Icelandic Yule Cat brings an element of terror to the festive season by eating people who didn’t receive a present of new clothes and teaching us the folklore of wild cats and powerful women.

  • The Tears of Saint Lawrence

    The Tears of Saint Lawrence

    In August, the Earth passes through the debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, causing the Perseid meteor shower. When the pebble-sized debris burn up in our atmosphere, we see shooting stars. Christian folklore calls these meteors the tears of St Lawrence, a martyr.

  • Xin Zhui: The Marquise Beneath the Mound

    Xin Zhui: The Marquise Beneath the Mound

    A two thousand year old Chinese noblewoman’s elaborate afterlife preparations give us a fascinating glimpse into a world long gone. Her body is the best preserved mummy ever found.

  • May Morning in Oxford

    May Morning in Oxford

    Over a hundred years ago, Alden’s Oxford Guide described “a curious ceremony annually observed at Magdalen College”. On the 1st of May, the choir ascends Magdalen Tower to sing the Hymnus Eucharisticus as the sun rises. Beneath the tower, people gather to to celebrate the arrival of spring.