Children often wonder why they must study History when it’s not relevant as a subject now. The reason is that historical incidents over centuries have shaped our culture, our environment, our policies and our politics. In fact, the effects of some events, like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, are still felt today.
Studying history enables the future generation to better understand their past and get a perspective of what happened and why. Here are some interesting facts that are bound to entertain as well as educate you and your child.
- Indian mathematicians have been a force to reckon with since time immemorial. The numbers we use to count (in English) today were invented by our forefathers in the 6th or 7th century. The reason they are also called Arabic numerals is because they were translated by mathematicians in the Middle East and introduced to Europe through them.
- In the movie, ‘The Mummy’, the Book of the Dead comes with a curse and a warning not to open it. In reality, the book existed and was supposed to help the dead in their afterlife.
- The shortest war in recorded history was fought between the UK and the Zanzibar Sultanate and lasted a mere 38 minutes.
- The first sound you hear every morning during the week is the sound of the alarm clock telling you it’s time to get up. However, before alarm clocks were invented, it was the job of some people to wake up the workers. They did so by shooting peas at their windows to alert them that it was time to get up and go to work.
- Actor Ben Kingsley, who famously portrayed the role of Gandhi in the film Gandhi (1982), was known as Krishna Pandit Bhanji at birth and was born to an English mother Anna Lyna Mary and Indian father Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji.
- The English love their tea and there’s no reason why they should miss out on their favourite brew while fighting a battle or a war. So, since 1945, all British tanks come equipped with facilities to make tea.
- The much-loved potato was considered evil for a long time. In France, around 1600, the potato was rumoured to cause leprosy, sterility and even early death, and people were forbidden from cultivating it. The vegetable was even banned from the court of England for several decades. The reason behind this was a banquet that Queen Elizabeth I reportedly held, where potatoes featured in every course. The cooks did not know how to cook them; so, instead of cooking the vegetable, they cooked the stems and leaves, which caused severe food poisoning among the guests.
- Conversing in a secret language with your best friend or sibling can not only be fun and exciting but also beneficial. Thomas Edison also thought so because he taught his second wife Morse code, so they could talk to each other privately in the presence of family members. In fact, he proposed to her using the Morse code.
- Everyone knows that the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, a part of the British crown jewels, comes from India. However, few know that India was the only source of diamonds till 1896.
- Hitler, who was responsible for the death of more than a million people, was a vegetarian and opposed animal cruelty strictly. He also had a sweet tooth and loved chocolate.
- Some people promise the moon to their loved ones. But, this astronaut autographed the moon with his daughter’s name. Eugene A. Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, wrote his daughter’s initials on the surface of the moon.
- Cats are smart animals and the CIA believed them to be smart enough to become spies. Batteries, microphones and antennae were surgically inserted into cats, so they could spy on the Russians. This happened in the 1960s and the programme was called Acoustic Kitty.
- Music superstar Elvis Presley, who sang his way into the hearts of millions, scored a C in music in the 8th grade.
- The great artist and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, was dyslexic and wrote from right to left. This method of writing is often called Mirror Writing.
- The concept of tea bags was born out of an accident. A tea merchant named Thomas Sullivan decided to send samples of tea in silk bags instead of in boxes. The people who received the bags mistakenly thought that the silk bags were meant to be dunked and soon, everyone wanted one.
- In Ancient Egypt, musicians were often employed to entertain the peasants while they harvested crops.
- The popular Christmas song, ‘Jingle Bells’ was inspired by a song called ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’, which was written for the sleigh races that happened in Massachusetts during Thanksgiving.
- Onion was considered sacred in ancient times. People in Ancient Egypt buried onions with their pharaohs and presented them as a funeral offering.
- President Nixon banned soup as a course to be served during state dinners because he often ‘dribbled some soup on himself’ every time he ate it.
- Popsicle was accidentally invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson when he left his drink with the stirring stick inside it, on the porch. The next day he saw that the drink had frozen and stuck to the stick. He called it Epsicle. The name changed to ‘Pop’sicle when his children started calling it by that name. He later patented it.
- Rabbits are not necessarily cute. At least, that’s what Napoleon discovered during a hunt. The emperor’s men brought thousands of tame rabbits, instead of wild mares. When the rabbits were released for the hunt, they thought they were being served food and, failing to see Napoleon as the fearsome predator, attacked him.
- American President, Ronald Reagan, was born to serve and, sometimes, save people. Before becoming the President of the United States, he served as a lifeguard and saved around 77 people from drowning.
- For a general at war, being fit and able-bodied is the most important thing. So, when General Antonio Lopez de Santa lost his leg, he asked for a full military burial for his limb.
- The first casualty of World War II, when the Allies bombed Berlin, was an elephant at the Berlin Zoo.
- A good night’s sleep is very important for a healthy life. Guess what the ancient Egyptians slept on? Pillows made of slabs of stone!
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