When New Year Falls on January 13th

In parts of Eastern Switzerland, the New Year is still celebrated on the 13th of January. New Year’s Eve, i.e. the 12th, is a festival day for everybody and schools and shops are closed. On this day, the Claus is on the loose going from house to house to bring good luck.

Johann Sebastian Bach Plagiarized

Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio lay in musical archives for over 100 years. They were rediscovered around 1850. And music historians were amazed and dismayed: Bach had composed and used important parts of it before and plagiarized earlier compositions into the work. The originals, however, had very different texts, and these were not at all for Christmas or any liturgical use. 

Christmas Trees Through History

Christians love to put up a Christmas tree before the 25th of December. Many think of it as traditional. Depending on how narrow minded one is, the tradition is either not very old, or rather older than one imagines. The Christmas tree has a history. It was promoted, demoted, forbidden and it developed to its modern form through many stages. Some of its Christian symbolism has even been completely lost. 

History in The Alps: Fluela Pass

The Fluela Pass in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland connects Davos to Susch in the Lower Engadin Valley. The pass is open only in summer. In winter, it is highly exposed to avalanches from the surrounding mountains. And make no mistake; travelers have been caught in snow storms on that pass in August. 

Digging For Gold in Europe

At the end of the Victorian era, a peculiar trade route opened between the United States and Britain. Nouveau riche American millionaires married off their daughters to titled British nobles. The influx of money into Britain was considerable.