Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

In 1908, the Rev. Paul Watson proposed a week-long observance dedicated to Christian unity to be scheduled between the feasts of St. Peter’s Chair (January 18) and St. Paul (January 25), the two great leaders of the first Christians. The World Council of Churches maintains these dates. Each year an inter-denominational committee selects a scriptural theme and prepares the outlines of a worship service for each day of the Week of Prayer. Individual congregations are free to use the material as is, or vary it to suit local practices and traditions. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Akbarnama

Although he was illiterate, Akbar, the third and greatest Mughal Emperor, was a great lover of the arts and learning. His passion for knowledge led him to attract men of genius to his court, including Abulfazl, whom he commissioned to write his official biography. The three-volume work, known as the Akbarnama, contains an account of Akbar’s reign, which lasted from 1556 to 1605; a history of Akbar’s ancestors; and an administrative report of the empire. How many years did it take to complete? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Benjamin Franklin's Birthday

Born in Boston on this day in 1706, Benjamin Franklin helped edit, and was a signer of, the Declaration of Independence. He also helped to frame the Constitution. When he died in 1790 in Philadelphia, he was given the most impressive funeral that city had ever seen: 20,000 people attended. In Philadelphia, the Franklin Institute Science Museum holds a two-day “birthday bash” that often involves people dressing as Franklin. The celebration takes place on the weekend preceding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is the Monday after Jan. 15. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Border Reivers

During the Middle Ages, England and Scotland were almost constantly at war. Born out of these conflicts were the border reivers, English and Scottish raiders loyal only to their families or clans. They raided both sides of the Anglo-Scottish border impartially, rustling cattle, stealing household goods, and taking prisoners for ransom. Considered the finest light cavalry in Europe, reivers sometimes hired themselves out as mercenaries or were forced into army service. What was a “Hot Trod”? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Emirate of Sicily

After the fall of Rome, the island of Sicily passed from the Vandals to the Goths in 493 CE and then to the Byzantines in 535 CE. After two centuries of raiding, the Arabs conquered the island when Euphemius, the commander of the Byzantine fleet, defected. The Emirate of Sicily remained under Islamic rule from 965 to 1060 CE, during which time agriculture, commerce, and arts and sciences were promoted. Who led the Norman conquest of Sicily that ultimately displaced the Arabs? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Suminuri Matsuri

Suminuri Matsuri is a New Year tradition observed for more than half a millennium in a district of Matsunoyama, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. People adorn their homes and streets with decorations made of paper, tree branches and bamboo for Oshogatsu, New Year’s Day. After the holiday, they take down the decorations and burn them, keeping the ashes for the Suminuri Festival two weeks later. People take their ashes outside and mix them with snow, then rub the concoction on each other’s faces for luck in the new year. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary