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september

Why the Ninth Month Comes from the Word “Seven”

For many, the month of September signals the end of summer, the beginning of autumn, and the start of a new school year. With respect to the calendar, September marks the beginning of the months that signify nothing other than their numerical position in the year. September comes from the Latin root septem-, meaning “seven,” [...]

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  • Gold medal

    Go for the Gold: The Strange History of Olympic Medals

    At the first Olympic Games back in 776 BCE, competitors did not receive medals. Instead the top athletes were crowned with wreaths made of olive leaves. This tradition continued until Roman emperor Theodosius I (or perhaps his son) abolished the Olympics around the year 400 CE. The revival of the Olympics dates from the late [...]

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  • Place de la Bastille

    What is a Bastille?

    On Bastille Day, the world parties in the name of France. But do you know what makes Bastille Day so important not just for France but the history of all democracies? The occasion is typically honored with military parades and copious consumption of libations. This mix of weapons and wooziness arguably sums up the legacy of July 14, 1789. [...]

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