Merry Christmas!

Wise Men

So, in honor of Christmas, today’s lesson is going to focus on the Twelve Days of Christmas, and a little holiday in January called Epiphany.

For years I thought that the Twelve Days of Christmas were the twelve days before Christmas, and I think it’s safe to say that many other have believed that over the years. This idea is perpetuated by all sorts of Twelve Days of Christmas sales and TV specials and whatnot. The truth is, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas Day. In Western Christmas tradition, the Twelve Days begin on the evening of December 25th and end on the morning of January 6th.

So, now that that’s straightened out, the question is: What are the Twelve Days of Christmas for? Are they just a continuation of Christmas Day? Or do they have their own meaning? Well, the tradition varies greatly by region and culture, but essentially, the Twelve Days are a festive time period connecting Christmas and Epiphany. So what is Epiphany? Epiphany is a holiday that falls on or around January 6th depending on culture and region. In Western Christian churches, Epiphany commemorates the day the Wise Men (AKA the Magi or the Three Kings, etc.) arrived to see Jesus which, contrary to popular belief, was not believe to be on the night of Jesus’ birth, but rather about two years later. Alternatively, in Eastern Christian churches, Epiphany commemorates the day Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.

The celebration of Epiphany varies greatly from country to country, but it frequently involved religious ceremonies and feast. The tradition that interests me most as a Spanish major, is the tradition of Epiphany in Spain. In Spain, Epiphany is known as “El Día de los Reyes” meaning “The Day of the Kings.” In Spain they celebrate the arrival of the Kings with parades, and often enjoy a special bread or cake. Also, this is traditionally the day that children receive their gifts, as opposed to Christmas Day (although in modern culture it is common for children to receive gifts on both days). On the eve of January 6th, children polish their shoes and leave them out, and much like Santa leaves gifts under the Christmas tree, the Kings leave the gifts under the children’s shoes.

Now, before I let you go, I thought I’d share with you one more interesting tidbit about the Twelve Days of Christmas: Every year since 1984, PNC Wealth Management has calculated the total value of the gifts given in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. This year, the total value adds up to $25,431.18, which is the first time the value has exceeded $25,000. For more information on the PNC Christmas Price Index, as well as a fun little activity, visit the PNC website here.

Well, this concludes today’s special Christmas lesson. For more information of the various Epiphany traditions, you can check out the Wikipedia page, here. And finally, for a special Christmas treat, click here.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Learning!

-Lizzie

This may come as a surprise, but. . . pterodactyls aren’t dinosaurs.

I know, I know, I was just as surprised as you are when I heard this is my Dinosaurs class this quarter. If you asked my what my favorite dinosaurs were when I was a kid, pterodactyls would probably be on that list, and many of you might have said the same thing. Then there’s the matter of dinosaur toys, books, coloring pages, sticker sheets, and so on. Probably most of the dinosaur related things you may have owned or seen as a kid included pterodactyls in the group. But the truth is, pterodactyls (as well as some other famous reptiles you may have heard of) are not dinosaurs.

Well if they’re not dinosaurs, then what are they?

Well, dear reader, to help answer that question, we’ll start by looking at what a dinosaur is. Merriam-Webster defines a dinosaur as: “any of a group (Dinosauria) of extinct often very large chiefly terrestrial carnivorous or herbivorous reptiles of the Mesozoic era.” If you look closely, you may be able to spot the word that excludes pterodactyls from this group. Did you catch it? The word is “terrestrial,” which means they lived on land. And of course, what is one of the most important characteristics of a pterodactyl? They fly. So, now that we know why a pterodactyl isn’t a dinosaur, what is it? Pterodactyl is the common name for Pterodactylus, a genus belonging to the order Pterosauria. Pterosaurs are closely related to dinosaurs, but the order consists of ancient flying reptiles. Other genera (plural of genus) in Pterosauria include Anhanguera, Quetzalcoatlus, and many others.

So dinosaurs live on the ground, and pterosaurs live in the air, what about the water?

There are actually several orders of Marine reptiles, two of the most famous orders are Ichthyosauria and Plesiosauria (some people believe that the fabled Loch Ness Monster is a plesiosaur), but there are many more. You can read more about the many types of marine reptiles here.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about dear old pterodactyl. And I hope I didn’t completely shatter your childhood. 🙂 Feel free to leave questions and comments in the comment section, and if you’d like, share some of your favorite dinosaurs. If this inspires you to do some more reading about ancient reptiles like dinosaurs and pterosaurs, I would love to hear about some of the things you learned that you found interesting.

Happy Learning!

-Lizzie

It all started with a Facebook post…

Hello there internet wanderer! If you’re reading this, it appears you have discovered my little experiment. In order to introduce myself, why don’t I answer a few basic questions?

Who am I? My name is Lizzie, I am a 21-year-old girl about to graduate with my Associate’s in Arts and a Hispanic Studies certificate.

What do I do? Well, I have been a college student for the last three years, and I am not finished with my intended studies but I am just about to finish my Associate’s Degree. Next, I will be taking some time off to work, so I will be temporarily transitioning from a college girl to a working girl. But as soon as possible I will be transferring to a four-year college to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. I am a Spanish major, and I currently work at my community college as a Spanish tutor.

Why am I blogging? It all started on Facebook. I like to make posts from time to time about things I’ve learned, or share little grammar lessons. One day I made a post explaining the “why” behind a particular grammar error and what the proper phrase is, and my friend Kelsey, who has a blog of her own over at crunchycook.com, shared it. That lead to a joking conversation about how I would now be expected to make such posts regularly, and Kelsey casually mentioned that is sounded like a topic for a blog. So, I gave it a little thought and decided to go for it, and here I am. The timing is actually quite perfect, as this next week I am finishing up my last week at community college and will be taking the next year or so off from school to save up some money. Since I’ll be having some homework-free time in the coming year, why not give myself a new project in the form of this blog? So, there you go, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I have no idea what will come of this, but I’m giving it a try.

What is the idea behind this blog? Well, as a homeschool student from birth through High School, I was raised to look at all of life as a learning opportunity. I like to learn, and I look to learn from all sorts of things. In this blog, I’m going to share with you some of those lessons I’ve learned. Be they lessons on “would of” vs. “would’ve,” the history of Christmas traditions, how to bake a mug cake, or just life lessons on how life works, my goal is to share the lessons I learn with you, and hopefully we can learn together. 🙂

Well, that’s about it. Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Fell free to leave a comment about anything else you’d like to know about me (within reason, I like to maintain some privacy). You could also leave a suggestion on something you’d like to learn about, and I’d be happy to share what I know, or even do a little research for you, and maybe you’ll see it in a future post. I’ve got a few posts planned already, but inspiration is always welcome.

Thank you, and Happy Learning!

-Lizzie