Book of the day
We are all frazzled, all of us …
Five hundred years ago no one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us. Ruby Wax shows us how to de-frazzle for good by making simple changes that give us time to breathe, reflect and live in the moment.
Let Ruby be your guide to a healthier, happier you. You’ve nothing to lose but your stress…
Facts of the day
1969 The British House of Lords voted to abolish the death penalty in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland followed suit on 25 July 1973.
Icelanders take the commercial use of their national flag very seriously.
Selling underwear bearing the Icelandic flag’s image – panties, boxers, thongs and jock straps – is forbidden. It is also illegal to sell or advertise products made in other countries that depict the Icelandic flag.
Seventh Yule Lad
In Iceland, the seventh of the 13 Yule Lads calls in on every home this evening. Tonight, Hurðaskellir (Door Slammer) who delights in waking people up with loud noises caused by slamming doors. Hurðaskellir thinks this is funny; no one else does.
He slams doors so forcefully that he has another nickname, Faldafeykir (‘Skirt Swisher), on account of the draught of wind he generates.
Kissing someone under a sprig of mistletoe hung from a doorframe is a Christmas custom that was believed to bring good health, luck, prosperity and a sound marriage, a vestige of Norse mythology
Ancient Druids held mistletoe as sacred because it grows parasitically on trees in winter, retaining its green leaves and bearing white berries during a season when most other plants appeared to die. Druids would cut springs off the plant with golden sickles and never let the cuttings touch the ground. They thought mistletoe had the power to cure infertility and nervous diseases and to ward off evil.
The name ‘mistletoe’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant’s seeds are spread via bird droppings.
A bibliokleptomaniac is someone who steals books. One of the most famous bibliokleptomaniacs is Stephen Blumberg, who stole more than 23,000 rare books from 268 US libraries worth USD $5.3m in 1990, the year in which he was arrested for his crimes. He had various methods for acquiring his ill-gotten collection, including climbing through ventilation ducts and elevator shafts.
1760 Knud Lyne Rahbek (Denmark)
1819 Yakov Polonsky (Russia)
1826 Alexandre Chatrian (France)\
1835 Lyman Abbott (USA)
1870 Saki [Hector Hugh Munro] (Burma, UK)
1907 Christopher Fry (UK)
1913 Alfred Bester (USA)
1927 Sterling E Lanier (USA)
1939 Wiesje Backer (The Netherlands)
1939 Michael Moorcock (UK)
1961 Thomas Strittmatter (Germany)
1970 Miles Marshall Lewis (USA)
Jokes of the day
Q: What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar?
A: He got 24 days!
Cartoons: Royston Robertson, Question time, RoystonCartoons.com
Quote of the day
Nora Ephron: ‘Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.’