Yearly Archives: 2020

  1. Where Does The Name “January” Come From?

    Known for recaps and resolutions, each new year often starts with retrospection and … the month of January. But where did the name January come from and can we learn anything about the name of this first month to inspire us to actually keep those New Year Resolutions intact? What does January mean? January, as we know, is the first month of the year and …

  2. “Placebo” vs. “Nocebo”: The Good And The Bad

    Surely, you’ve heard of placebo before. Wait, no … not that Placebo … not the late ’90s British band. We mean the dummy drug that, despite not having any pharmacological property, can still make you feel better—pretty much like the rock band, right? Well, you might not know that placebo has an evil twin. Its name is nocebo, and it’s the bad guy. At first …

  3. What Is “Mistletoe” And Why Do We Kiss Under It?

    If you celebrate Christmas, it’s likely that at some point this season you’ll find yourself puckering up under a mistletoe branch. What is this tradition of kissing under a plant all about? And does the name have anything to do with human toes? What is mistletoe? Mistletoe is a plant that grows parasitically on trees. Mistletoe can cause Witches’-broom, a symptom of a disease that …

  4. “Pagan” vs. “Wicca”: What Is The Difference?

    In the 1950s, a new spiritual and nature-focused religion started to gain steam. It was deemed wicca, and its followers called wiccans. For people on the outside looking in, there was the possibility for some confusion on what, exactly, wiccans practiced—including how it related to paganism. Which draws the question: are you pagan if you’re wicca? Someone who is wiccan follows “a nature-oriented religion having …

  5. So, What Is Figgy Pudding?

    You know the song. It may start by wishing everyone a merry Christmas, but then the demand starts. “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding…” with its petulant refrain, “We won’t go until we get some.” But do you actually know what figgy pudding is? And why do we sing about it, anyway? While figgy means “containing figs,” and pudding is defined as “a thick, soft …

  6. “Monolith” vs. “Megalith”: What’s The Difference?

    Recently, journalists and social media users were fascinated by large hunks of metal referred to as monoliths suddenly appearing and just as suddenly disappearing around the world. Yet another monolith has appeared on a beach in England https://t.co/1kB7Pz5Bgq pic.twitter.com/huUwolhYCF — Mashable (@mashable) December 11, 2020 While it seems that these mysterious objects may just be part of some publicity stunt or marketing scheme, they’ve inspired …

  7. What Is The “War On Christmas”?

    Christmastime. A festive season for family, food … and warfare? What does the war on Christmas mean? Perhaps, you’re familiar with the “War on Christmas” that’s been raging over the last several years. It stems from the radical belief that inclusivity—that honors other holidays, like Hanukkah, and accounts for those who don’t celebrate Christmas—is overshadowing traditional American values. The provocative phrase has been linked to figures …

  8. The People’s Choice 2020 Word Of The Year: 2020 Was A $#@#%%$@!

    … and the people have spoken! We’ve tallied the thousands of responses we received for our People’s Choice 2020 Word of the Year, and the results are, well, unprecedented. That’s right, the top submission was unprecedented, just edging our own official selection for Word of the Year, pandemic. Is it just us, or are we sensing a pattern here? Now, we know many of you …

  9. “That” vs. “Which”: When Do You Use Each?

    To understand when to use that and when to use which, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. In formal American English, that is used in restrictive clauses, and which is used in nonrestrictive clauses. Not sure what that means? Let’s find out! How do you use that? A restrictive clause contains information that limits the meaning of a noun …

  10. What Are All Of The Different Names For Santa Claus?

    There are few figures as recognizable as Santa Claus. His red-cheeked and cheery visage is seen on TV, on posters, and at malls across the United States in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Though his name and image are just about everywhere, do you know why Santa Claus is called by that name—or Saint Nick, Saint Nicholas, Santa, or any of the other similar monikers? …

  11. “Crow” vs. “Raven”: Do You Know The Difference?

    When the leaves change and we head into fall, you’ll notice some common pieces of autumnal decor that pop up across houses: pumpkins, bales of hay, and scarecrows to keep away ominous black birds. But are these ravens or crows that we’re traditionally guarding against? Or are those just two names for the same type of bird? Let’s take a closer look. What is a …

  12. What Does “Auld Lang Syne” Actually Mean?

    New Year’s Eve is full of traditions that are easy to understand. Counting down the seconds until the day the calendar changes, for example. Others are a little less straightforward. Case in point: singing “Auld Lang Syne”—or at least humming along while it plays on TV in the background. Don’t blame yourself if you don’t know the lyrics despite the song making the rounds every …