Lessons in the "2017" Category

Winter

Winter is one of four seasons. It follows autumn and precedes spring. In the northern hemisphere, winter is between December and March. It’s the darkest and coldest time of the year in Europe, as the nights are long and the days short. The shortest day of the year is December 21.

We associate snow, frost, and ice with winter. It’s when icicles form and hang from buildings and snowflakes really are snowflakes and not just people. It’s the time of the year when you put that winter coat on and wrap up well to keep warm. Inside your house you light that log fire and look out at the snow piled up outside.

Halloween v The Day of the Dead - in Europe, Mexico and beyond

While Halloween is celebrated on the evening of October 31, the Day of the Dead is commemorated on October 31, November 1 and 2.

Halloween sees people dress up as witches and skeletons. There are bats and black cats. Folk like to party. The night is popular in the USA and the UK. The event has spread itself around the world.

One day later, Catholics in Continental Europe, Central Europe, the Philippines, and in Mexico, like to commemorate the Day of the Dead. This is when thousands of people travel, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, to visit graveyards and cemeteries, to place candles and flowers on the graves of deceased loved ones.

Plague warning given: The Black Death spreads in Madagascar

The plague is a disease that killed millions of people across Europe during the Middle Ages. It became known as the Black Death.

It appears the killer disease is back. This time it is in Madagascar, which is a holiday destination island off the coast of south east Africa. Since August, 124 people have been killed by the deadly disease. A total of 1,133 people have been affected by the outbreak of the disease. According to the latest WHO analysis, there is a ‘very high risk’ of the disease spreading.

Nearby countries and overseas territories; including South Africa, Ethiopia, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Mauritius, La Réunion, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, as well as the Comoros Islands, which are a small group of islands near Madagascar, have all been put on alert.

Catalonia declares independence from Spain

Yesterday, in Barcelona, the Catalonian parliament declared independence from Spain. They did so, just before the Spanish government enacted article 155 against them.

The Spanish government immediately dissolved the Catalan parliament and called a snap election. Madrid then imposed direct rule on the newly self-declared ‘independent’ country.

Last night, following the declaration of independence in the Catalonian parliament, the people of Barcelona and Catalonia celebrated, though not all of its citizens agree with the new situation.

Inventions that changed our lives

Today, we are going to look at some of the inventions that have changed our lives.

Automatic washing machines (1962) changed how people did their washing. Many people used to use twin tub washing machines, before moving onto a front loader washing machine. Many people in the USA and Canada use top loaders.

In 1963, the fridge freezer was introduced. It helped revolutionise how we stored food, without having to can, pickle or dry it. Two years later, in 1965, dishwashers first appeared. I got my first one in 2007. My parents had one back in the ’90s.

What is it about Friday 13th?

Today, let’s talk about Friday 13th. What is it about the day that many people are wary about? Why is it unlucky for so many?

Friday 13th is associated with bad luck. Many people avoid traveling on this day, so it’s actually one of the cheapest days to fly. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday 13th. Others won’t buy a property with a number 13 on its door. Some believe that seating 13 people at a table is bad luck. Movie fans like to watch Friday 13th.

So what exactly does your mobile phone do?

So what exactly does your mobile phone do? These days, most mobiles have a vast number of different functions and apps on them. Today, we’ll look at some of them.

Consider though, how you would manage to do all of the things you do now do on your mobile, if they hadn’t been invented. How did we manage to do these things in the past?

Most mobiles, these days, have a camera on them. In fact, the current trend is to have two cameras front and back, for selfies and for taking other photos on. Mobiles also have video cameras on them. We can send and receive messages and talk to people on video using Skype, Viber, and Facebook. Incredible!

Why do the clocks go back in October and forward in March?

Why do the clocks go back in October and forward in March in the UK and Europe? It’s an interesting question with an interesting answer. The clocks go forward in the spring to make the most of daylight hours. They go back in the autumn to allow more daylight hours in the mornings in the wintertime.

Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the US founding fathers, first proposed the idea in 1784. He said jokingly that Parisians should get out of bed early, to economise on their candle use.

A new European map is unfolding

If you look at a map of Europe today, it’s hard to imagine what it might look like in 100 years. It might be much the same as it is now, or it could be totally different, with new countries added and border lines changed.

Consider the situation 100 years ago. One could never have imagined the breakup of the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Who could have imagined the creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia?

The UK has voted to leave the EU. Crimea is now Russian. Catalonia is currently in the news. It wants independence from Spain. Who knows what the outcome will be?

Saudi Arabia agrees to let women drive

Recently the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced that a royal decree had been issued, allowing women to drive in the Kingdom from June 2018. This is a landmark step for the ultra-conservative country.

Saudi Arabian women have been celebrating the news that they will finally be able to drive. Currently, they still need either a male member of their family, or a male chauffeur, to get around. Many women have previously been jailed for trying to drive in the Kingdom.

The gains will be enormous for the oil rich country, as women will now not need to spend vast amounts of their salaries on hiring male drivers, so their spending power will thus increase.