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History

The history of Christmas tree lights: From fire hazards to “festoons”

Christmas tree lights have evolved quite a bit over several centuries.

How poinsettias became the most popular potted Christmas plant

Poinsettias were associated with Christmas long before they were brought to the US from Mexico.

What countries’ names actually mean

Are the literal translations accurate descriptions?

Ancient Roman history revealed beneath St. John Lateran

Archaeologists try to recreate the buildings that once stood on the site of the oldest Catholic cathedral.

Take a virtual reality tour of the Holocaust Museum using your phone

A complete virtual field trip, with lesson plan.

The horrible history of the biblical Assyrians comes to life

A new exhibit at the British Museum shows that even by the standards of the time, their cruelty was legendary.

The lasting impact of the Crusades on Jerusalem

The Crusaders' influence is long removed from Jerusalem, but some of their architecture still stands.

Why are complex things called “byzantine”?

The name of a glorious empire has been reduced to a negative connotation.

The “devil’s chord”: A forbidden medieval musical sequence

If you thought Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was spooky, think again.

The spookiest music for Halloween: “Danse Macabre”

The "Danse Macabre" is a late Middle Ages notion that helped shape the Halloween we know today.

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