Why are wedding banns announced before a marriage?

The custom of proclaiming wedding banns began in 800 AD when Roman Emperor Charlemagne became alarmed by the high rate of interbreeding throughout his empire.

He ordered that all marriages be publicly announced at least seven days prior to the ceremony and that anyone knowing that the bride and groom were related must come forward. The practice proved so successful that it was widely endorsed by all faiths.

Why are barns usually painted red?

Paint coats wood, protecting it from sunlight and rain damage and making it last longer. When early farmers had enough money to paint their barns, they usually used inexpensive paint because the structures were so large. Ferrous oxide, a chemical powder that gives paint its red color, was readily available and cost little. Thrifty farmers in New England, New York, and the upper Midwest region painted their barns red. In those places, red barns remain a tradition. But there are plenty of barns in other parts of the country that are not red. Early farmers that were poor—especially in regions like Appalachia and the South—left their barns unpainted because they did not have the money to do the job.

Unpainted wood usually weathers to a soft gray color. And in places like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and some southern Midwestern states, the most frequently seen barn color is white. Some people think that white barns grew popular when dairy farming became more important after the Civil War; white suggests cleanliness and purity, desirable qualities to be associated with milk production. Special farms where fancy horses or prize livestock were raised sometimes had barns painted unusual colors, like yellow, green, or black.

How long is each year?

Each calendar year is exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. This is the amount of time between two successive crossings of the celestial equator by the Sun at the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). The fact that the year is not a whole number of days has affected the development of calendars, which over time generate an error.

The current calendar we use, called the Gregorian calendar, attempts to fix this by adding an extra day to the month of February every four years. These years are called “leap years.”

Why are there sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour?

Around 2400 BC, the ancient Sumarians, who used six as their mathematical base, divided a circle into 360 degrees, with each degree subdivided into another 60 parts, and so on. The Romans called these units minute prima, or first small part, and secunda minuta, or second small part. This system was perfect for round clock faces, and that’s why we use minutes and seconds as divisions of time.

Should I tell my parents I am being bullied?

Yes. Even though it may feel awkward or embarrassing, it helps to tell your parents, a teacher, or a counselor about a bullying experience. A trusted adult can make you feel better by explaining why bullies behave the way they do and by reassuring you that what a bully says about you has nothing to do with who you really are.

Adults can help keep you safe if you’re being threatened, and come up with solutions to deal with the bullying. Many states have bullying laws and policies, and many schools have programs in place that educate parents and kids about bullying.

Who was Mortimer Mouse and whatever happened to him?

Mortimer was Walt Disney’s original name for a cartoon mouse in the historic 1928 cartoon “Plane Crazy.” When Walt came home and told his wife about the little mouse, she didn’t like the name “Mortimer” and suggested that “Mickey” was more pleasant-sounding.

Walt thought about it for a while and then grudgingly gave in, and that’s How Mickey, and not Mortimer, went on to become the foundation of an entertainment empire.

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs bark to communicate with other dogs and with humans. Dogs are descendants of wolves, which are social animals that live in packs, and they share many of the behaviors that define the complex relationships that exist within such animal groups. Few domestic dogs live together in packs (though they often consider their human family their group), but they still use complicated behaviors that involve smell, sight, and hearing to communicate. A dog has many scent-producing glands that it uses to communicate. The scent that a dog leaves behind (in its urine, feces, and paw prints) can reveal its sex, age, and even its mood to other dogs that come sniffing by.

A dog uses its posture, facial expression, and ear and tail position to communicate with other dogs, too. And it uses its voice to communicate by whining, growling, howling, or barking. A dog usually whines or whimpers when it is in distress: when it is hungry, cold, or in pain. Growls indicate that a dog is angry and ready to fight. Barks usually show excitement.

What did people use before toothbrushes were invented?

Early in human history, people used anything that they could find to keep their teeth clean. Usually a thin, sharp object, like a stick, was used to pick out food left between teeth. Chewing on the end of certain sticks would fray the wood, making a kind of brush, which could then be rubbed across the teeth. (Even today, members of primitive tribes chew sticks to keep their teeth clean. The constant chewing produces more saliva than usual, which helps wash food away.) Later, people found that if they rubbed abrasive elements, like salt or chalk, across their teeth, they could get rid of grime. They also used water and pieces of rough cloth to clean their teeth. Toothpicks made of all kinds of materials also became popular. Rich people had jeweled toothpicks made of gold and silver. Toothbrushes for the wealthy, with fancy handles and hog bristles, came into use in the eighteenth century.

Only much later, when cheaper, woodenhandled toothbrushes were made, and the importance of good dental hygiene became known, did most people start to regularly use them.

How are countries formed?

Often it is a group of people with something in common, whose members identify with one another, that makes up a country. It may be a shared race, religion, language, history, or culture that makes people feel that they belong together as a nation. Because of its uniqueness, the group feels that it should govern itself as an independent country. This feeling of shared identity and loyalty to the group is frequently behind the rise of nations. Some countries are so large and have such complicated histories of war and conquest that they are home to many different groups of people who have their own separate beliefs, languages, and customs.

The differences between these groups sometimes make it difficult for them to get along. A nation is weakened by such groups if they put their own interests ahead of those of their country. But a population of many different groups can also enrich a country with diverse ideas and cultures if a spirit of acceptance and cooperation exists.

When was the first post office in the United States established and how did the system grow?

Governor William Penn established Pennsylvania’s first post office in 1683. Central postal organization came to the colonies after 1692, when Thomas Neale received a 21-year grant from the British Crown, whose settlements dominated the Atlantic seaboard, for a North American postal system. It wasn’t until 1774, however, that William Goddard, a newspaper publisher and former postmaster, set up the Constitutional Post for intercolonial mail service.

Colonies funded it by subscription, and net revenues were used to improve mail service rather than to pay back to the subscribers. By 1775, when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Goddard’s post was flourishing, and thirty post offices operated between Williamsburg, Virginia, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Constitutional Post provided security for colonial messages and created a communication line that played a vital role in bringing about American independence during the Revolutionary War.