Heritage: December 2004 Archives

December 31, 2004

Beer, food and kisses.

London will witness one of the more entertaining Twelfth Night traditions on Monday when the Holly Man comes for a pint or two:

Arriving by boat at Bankside Pier, he docks and gives a special wassail, or toast, to the river and to the coming year. He then leads a troupe of actors, called mummers, on a procession to the George Inn in Borough for various new year festivities and sketches.

Actors from The Lions Part Theatre Group have been re-enacting the tradition for ten years now, and there's more to it than an excuse for a glass or two of fine real ale--you can stuff yourself with cake and have a snog too.

Monday's festivities also see visitors handed slices of 12th bake - cakes made from Christmas leftovers.

Hidden among the slices are a dried pea and a dried bean. Those who find them are hailed festival king and queen for the day.

But there's good news in store for hopeful singletons, too.

Tie a ribbon to the special kissing wishing tree at the George Inn, and tradition dictates you may kiss the person next to you.

Green giant calls in the new year - icSouthLondon, 31st December 2004.

V1@gRa €0.01

Germany: Germany has some distinctive New Year symbols, and Elizabeth Goetze has taken a look at their origins.

Take the one-cent piece, the lucky penny - now this one seems fairly obvious, right? A piece of money becomes a token to assure financial happiness in the coming year. But there's more to it, as I found out. The copper in the coin is commonly associated with Venus, the goddess of love, and therefore should increase the bearer's lovemaking abilities - an ancient aphrodisiac, if you will. Lucky pennies were also once nailed on stable doors to keep away witches. Carried in your pocket the penny is supposed to ward off sham and deceit in your business dealings. Now that's more than you can ask from a Viagra pill, if you ask me.

The Fliegenpilz, a red-capped mushroom dotted with white spots, has long been associated with witchcraft and sorcery in Germany - good powers to have on your side for the new year. The chimney sweep, on the other hand, has a more practical background. A clean chimney was vital to villages and town centers with wood-constructed buildings: one single fire could easily wipe out an entire settlement. And the pig has been a symbol of fertility and wealth for centuries in many cultures. The Germanic goddess Freya was also known as Syr, which means sow, and the wild boar was a holy animal among Germanic deities.

Good luck! - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Weekly, 31st December 2004.

Four charged over fake ossuary

Four Israeli antiquities dealers have been charged with faking some of the most important Biblical artifacts to come to light in the last few years, including the infamous ossuary:

They included a limestone ossuary box said to have held the bones of James, the brother of Jesus, supposedly the oldest physical link to the New Testament; a tiny ivory pomegranate bought by the Israel Museum for $550,000 (£287,000) as the only known relic of King Solomon's Temple; and a stone tablet, from the ninth century BC, inscribed in ancient Hebrew with instructions by King Joash for maintaining the Temple...

...Mr Golan, a leading Israeli collector, owned the James ossuary, inscribed James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus, and the Joash tablet. Detectives said they found a sophisticated laboratory in his home. The men are accused of painting the improved items with a special coating to imitate the patina that would accumulate over thousands of years.

The Prattle reported an academic's fears that the inscription on the ossuary was wrong, and therefore likely to be fraudulent, back in November 2002.

Israeli dealers accused of antiquity fraud - The Independent, 30th December 2004; see also Jesus artifact a fake - Pagan Prattle, 7th November 2002 and Jesus ossuary made by aliens - Pagan Prattle, 16th November 2002 (thanks, Julian).

December 10, 2004

Should've seen it coming

England: John Dee's crystal has been nicked from the Science Museum in London.

The crystal, used as a tool by mediums and for curing disease, belonged to maverick philosopher, mathematician and astrologer John Dee, a consultant to Elizabeth I.

He lived between 1527 and the turn of the 17th Century, becoming a leading authority on angel-magic and beliefs that man had the potential for divine power.

Also taken was a statement about the crystal's use by author and pharmacist Nicholas Culpeper, written on the reverse of ancient deed manuscripts in the mid-1600s.

Daylight Raid on Science Museum Gallery - The Scotsman, 10th December 2004 (via Steve).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Heritage category from December 2004.

Heritage: October 2004 is the previous archive.

Heritage: January 2005 is the next archive.

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