Watch Night (Eulonia, Georgia)

Watch Night services are held every New Year’s Eve at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in the village of Eulonia, Georgia. The heart of the event is a “ring-shout” performance by the McIntosh County Shouters, made up of call-and-response singing, counter-clockwise dance movements, and interlocking rhythms created with hand-clapping and stick beating. Watch Night is a solemn yet joyful Christian vigil on the last night of the year. Because the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect at midnight on January 1, 1863, African Americans have invested the occasion with added significance. Discuss

Sino-Roman Relations

Indirect contact between the Roman and Chinese empires began around the 2nd century BCE, when the Han Dynasty undertook westward expeditions and found other cultures. By 100 CE, Han ambassadors had tried to reach Rome itself. Ptolemy’s Geographia, written circa 150 CE, contains references to China. In 166, Roman ambassadors finally made direct contact with China, and Roman soldiers are rumored to have settled there. Why did the Roman Senate try to prohibit the wearing of Chinese silk? Discuss

Sanghamita Day

Observed by Buddhists in Sri Lanka, this day celebrates the arrival of Sanghamita, daughter of Emperor Asoka of India, in 288 BCE. According to legend, Buddhism was first brought to Sri Lanka by a group of missionaries led by Mahinda, Asoka’s son. Mahinda later sent for his sister, Sanghamita, who arrived with a branch from the Bodhi tree at Gaya, sacred to Buddhists as the tree under which the Buddha was sitting when he attained Enlightenment. The sapling was planted in the royal city of Anuradhapura, where Sanghamita founded an order of nuns. Discuss

The Eight Immortals

In Chinese mythology, the Eight Immortals are a group of diverse and legendary figures, each of whom possesses a powerful talisman that can be used to perform magic. They are frequently referenced in Chinese art and culture—either individually or as a group—and are revered in the Taoist faith. They are often depicted in the company of other deities. What Chinese proverb was inspired by the story of the Eight Immortals crossing a sea to attend the Conference of the Magical Peach? Discuss