The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. What is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen years old. It says that he spent a total of six years working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. The Declaration says that God spoke to Patrick, and told him to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

Irish Government Ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around the globe to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and promote Ireland. The most prominent of these is the visit of the Irish Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) with the U.S. President which happens on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilís, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

According to the tale, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years in the northern half of Ireland and redesigned the religious beliefs of thousands. Patrick’s efforts against the religious leaders were eventually turned into a legend in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland.

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s most memorable saint.

Conventionally, the Taoiseach presents the U.S. President a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. This ritual began when Irish Ambassador to the U.S. John Hearne sent a box of shamrocks to President Harry S. Truman in 1952. From that moment, it became an annual tradition for the Irish ambassador to present the St Patrick’s Day shamrock to an official in the U.S. President’s administration. However, it was only after the meeting between Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and President Bill Clinton in 1994 that the presenting of the shamrock ceremony became an annual event for the leaders of both countries for St Patrick’s Day.

Needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many countries and one of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades occurs each year in Montreal, Canada, whose city flag includes a shamrock in lower right corner. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick’s Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.


In present day, celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions, and wearing green clothing, accessories and/or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century, but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. The events have participants from all walks of life, they generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been criticised, particularly for their association with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Some argue that the festivities have become too commercialized and have become somewhat cut-rate and have strayed from their original purpose of honouring St Patrick and Irish heritage. Journalist Niall O’Dowd has criticised attempts to recast St Patrick’s Day as a celebration of multiculturalism rather than a celebration of Irishness.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have also been criticized for fostering offensive stereotypes of Ireland and the Irish people themselves. An very well known example is the people who partake in dressing in ‘leprechaun outfits’, which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, the Ancient Order of Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes. This year consider your celebrations and the way you can honor Ireland and Ireland’s beloved Saint Patrick.

New Year’s Good Luck Cake

Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe, which contains a hidden coin that is believed to bring luck to the one who obtains the coin. It is associated with Sainr Basil’s day. (Saint Basil’s Feast Day is observed on January 1, the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany season known as the Vasilopita Observance) January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are associated with Epiphany or Christmas The dough in which the coin is placed varies immensely depending on personal preference and location/region. In some families, instead of dough, it is made from a custard base. The pie is known as Chronópita, meaning New Year’s Pie.

On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. 

In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. As time went on, the tradition of a costly coin (in most cases) changed. In more modern times, a gift, money or prize is given to the coin recipient. Many private or public institutions, such as societies, clubs, workplaces, companies, etc., cut their vasilopita on New Year’s Day and the beginning of the Great Lent, in celebrations that range from impromptu potluck gatherings to formal receptions or balls.

How did this tradition start you may ask? In popular belief, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Basil of Caesarea. According to one story, Basil called on the Roman citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the enemy forces from surrounding the city, cutting off essential supplies with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside. Each individual of the city gave what they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the  adversary was so embarrassed by the people’s cooperation that he called off the siege without taking a thing. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way of knowing which items belonged to which family, so he baked all of the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves around the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share.

The 1909 Pennsylvania Train Robbery

It’s 1909 and the Philadelphia mint just produced a fresh batch of coins. East of Lewistown, PA on Route 322 there is an area called the “narrows”, a five to six mile stretch where the mountain sides on both sides of the Juniata river are extremely steep. The highway is on the northern side of the river, and the railroad tracks are on the southern side.

The Lewistown “Narrows”

A train traveling from the Philadelphia mint to Pittsburgh was in the middle of the “narrows” the train was said to be stopped by a single man who had dynamite on the tracks. The train was carrying three large safes containing an undisclosed amount of currency and five bags holding about $6,000 in gold and silver bars, and money was stacked in a corner.

The engine had passed over three sticks of dynamite, which blew off the cowcatcher and headlight. The man then, robbed the train of several sacks of coins and disappeared up the mountainside.The robber threatened the crew and fired several shots at the conductor, Isaac Poffenberger, wounding his hand. The robber then ordered the crew to carry several large bags of coins into the woods, had them re-board the train and fired several shots as the train pulled away.

Example of a VDB

When investigators arrived at the scene, they found the bags still in the woods. The robber had passed up the gold and silver bars and snatched bags containing newly minted pennies. After an inventory was taken, it was realized that the only thing that was missing were several sacks of one cent coins! This man was rumored to be ”Pennsylvania’s Jesse James”, Jesse james would never be reported found.

A week after the search for Jesse James was officially called off, another robbery took place in the area, but it got little notice in the papers. On the 29th of October, a 38-year old man in Philadelphia walked into a police station and confessed to being the robber, but his story was soon found to be false. As time passed, the robbery became famous both for its daring style and for the fact that the bandit got away with so little. Many people came to visit the site of the robbery. One of the most notable visitors was Theodore Roosevelt. While on his whistle-stop campaign tour in 1912, he had his special train stop at the scene for him to inspect it personally.

It was discovered in 1954 that apparently the investigators overlooked some bags that were left in the nearby forest. In 1954, a couple of men were hunting on the mountain, and the one guy stepped, slipped and fell on pennies and they recovered over 3,500 1909 cents that had been laying there in the dirt for 45 years. They were all badly corroded, but were sold by local dealers as the find from the infamous railroad heist.

It has never officially been concluded that all the coins were found. Do you think it’s possible that some of these treasures could still lie in the Lewistown forest?

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The Truth of Brothel Tokens

Experts say that beginning in the 1700s and lasting through the early 1900s, when prohibition halted legal activities at saloons, establishments in the western United States, through the Yukon territories, and into Alaska minted their own currencies known as brothel tokens.

Why were saloon or brothel tokens needed in the Old West? Money couldn’t travel with the ease and speed of our current banking systems. Banks sent money on stage coaches or by Pony Express riders, time consuming adventures. As trains took their places, delivery became easier, quicker but still suffered delays and outright robbery that could cause disaster for a business owner caught without funds. Especially when increased westward travel of the poor and penniless further shortened circulation of money.

Another reason was that saloons and brothels clustered around mining camps. Mine owners hired workers, allowed them to buy supplies from the company owned stores, and then deducted those amounts from the miner’s wage. This system is called payment by scrip. Its popularity curtailed the flow of legal tender (dollars and cents) in mining communities.

Replica Brothel Tokens for Sale

There are brothel tokens that are “real” in the sense that they were or are distributed by functioning brothels. Antique tokens are mostly French and are all highly prized. They do not circulate at flea markets for pocket change, but rather pass through auction houses and coin shops. These antique brothel tokens, which date as early as the 1890s, rarely promise the kinds of services referred to on novelty tokens, but instead advertise the business and occasionally offer the promise of a free drink.

Recent tokens distributed by legal brothels in Nevada have increased in value. Beginning in 1992, a number of Las Vegas casinos began issuing collectable “silver strike coins” made of silver valued at $10 each. Brothels across Nevada such as the PussyCat Ranch in Winnemucca and Sharon’s Bar and Brothel in Carlin began issuing similar collectible silver strike coins that featured distinctive artwork, unique to each establishment. But because a single $10 PussyCat Ranch silver strike coin is a mere fraction of the cost of services, their real value comes as a collectable.

While most of the tokens found today are fake replicas or fun vintage-y collectables they tell a fun story of what life might have been like in the wild west and during a time of prohibition.

Wizarding World Currency

The second movie in the Harry Potter prequel series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premieres in the U.S. tomorrow! With this new release fans are learning more about the magical wizarding world imagined up by author J.K. Rowling. It seems Rowling has thought up everything, from a wizarding judicial system, their own version of SAT’s, and even their own magical currency. In celebration of the new movie release, we are going to explore the coinage of the wizarding world. (For the purposes of this post, all references to specific coins are to replica coins based on the series.)

wwThe most well known wizarding currency is the wizarding currency of the United Kingdom, which consists of three different coins; in decreasing order of value, they are: Galleon, Sickle and Knut. They are gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. According to Rubeus Hagrid, there are 17 Sickles in a Galleon, and 29 Knuts in a Sickle, meaning there are 493 Knuts to a Galleon.

Around the edge of each coin is a series of numerals which represent a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The three denominations of wizarding currency were sometimes represented with the following set of symbols (shown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince):

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According to Rowling, the approximate value of a Galleon is “About five Great British pounds, though the exchange rate varies!”. This is consistent with the “textbooks” Rowling wrote for charity (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages), which states that GB£174 million/US$250 million is equivalent to 34 million Galleons (or 34,000,872 Galleons, 14 Sickles, 7 Knuts to be exact) and works out as approximately £5.12/$7.35 per Galleon.

Note that the Galleon/Pound rate cited by Rowling is probably that offered by Gringotts

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Gringotts Wizarding Bank

bank and bears no relation to the precious-metal value of wizarding coins. The “gold coins the size of hubcaps” mentioned in reference to the Quidditch World Cup would be much larger than the British five-pound Quintuple Sovereign today sold for its bullion value of hundreds of pounds sterling (though this hubcap reference may have been an exaggeration). However, it is unclear whether the coins were Galleons, or the currency of some other Wizard community.

Other wizarding currencies mentioned include, in the United States of America Dragot and Sprink, and in France, Bezant‎.

It should be noted that money in itself is one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration, meaning it cannot be created from nothing. Aside from the Philosopher’s Stone which can convert other metals into gold there seems to be no other method of obtaining it. Attempting to duplicate money with the Geminio spell is also ineffective, as duplicates created from Geminio are worthless.

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Niffler’s Fancy


One of the most ancient forms of wizarding money, used by primitive wizards is
Niffler’s Fancy. Niffler’s Fancy is a plant whose leaves gleam like copper. The plant is named after the creature, the Niffler, because they have an affinity for shiny objects.

 

Other currencies that aren’t widely circulated include leprechaun gold and various other enchanted coins. Galleons made of Leprechaun gold were common at Quidditch games where Leprechauns are the mascots for the Irish team. These Galleons are occasionally in temporary circulation (they vanish a few hours after appearing), but goblin experts at Gringotts Bank can differentiate them from real ones.

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Dumbledore’s Army Coin

A particularly important enchanted coin was enchanted by Hermione Granger for the use of Dumbledore’s Army. The Dumbledore’s Army coin was a fake Galleon created by Hermione Granger in 1995 to inform members of Dumbledore’s Army when the next meeting would take place. The coins would come in quite handy throughout the Second Wizarding War and after the war were kept as badges of honour.

As it became more suspicious for members to keep meeting each other in groups in the halls to set up the time for Dumbledore’s Army to meet, Hermione fabricated fake Galleons, on which she then placed a Protean Charm. Around the edge of each coin was a series of numerals which, on genuine galleons, represented a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The Protean Charm allowed these numerals to change into the time and date of the next meeting of the D.A. whenever the master coin (owned by Harry Potter) was changed. The coin would also warm up to alert the holder to the change.

Hermione stated that she got the idea from Voldemort pressing the Dark Mark on the arm of his Death Eaters, summoning them. However, Hermione chose to engrave the date on the coins, rather than on the members’ forearms. Harry agreed that this way was preferable.

In 1998, Neville Longbottom used the coins to summon former members of Dumbledore’s Army to Hogwarts to fight the Death Eaters and reclaim the school. The former members alerted many others, including the Order of the Phoenix, and set the scene for the Battle of Hogwarts.

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The Battle of Hogwarts

Through wizarding coinage we can get a peek into the fantastical world of magic created by J.K. Rowling. The fictional currency is just one small detail that brings to life the wizarding world.

Restaurants with Cash Pinned to the Walls

Planning a trip or looking for a local restaurant that will also fulfill your love of coins and currency? There is a tradition to stapling dollar bills on the ceiling of bars. Sometimes, with the name and date you were there, and who you were with; other times with stories, wishes, or drawings.

Many say this tradition has roots in the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush brought over 300,000 transplants to California and with the influx of people came the decline of resources and supplies. Many wasted all their money hoping for gold and never were able to make it home, thus staying, and making California their new home. The struggle for jobs, land, food, and other mainstays left people wondering how they could get home and encouraged new transplants to stow money in a safe place, like on the ceiling of a bar. They would write their names on their “Get Home” money and staple it to the ceiling of the local bar. If they did not find gold, they could come back to the bar, still having enough money to get back.

Another theory of how the tradition began is with sailors. Sailors we’re said to have tacked money to the bars before they left for sea. This is so when they returned, no matter what occurred on the trip, they would at the very least have enough money for a drink.

 Regardless of the history of the tradition, it has become a common way for eclectic restaurants and bars to stand out and provide a unique atmosphere for their customers. We have rounded up a list of restaurants across the United States (well, mostly in Florida) that  are famous for using cash as decoration!

McGuire’s Irish Pub | Destin, Florida

destin-moneyMcGuire’s Irish Pub first opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood pub in a shopping center. In 1982 McGuire’s moved to its current location; Pensacola’s original 1927 Old Firehouse. Inside the pub you’ll find a turn-of-the-century, New York Irish Saloon themed 615-seat restaurant.

They are celebrated for their atmosphere boasting more than One Million signed dollar bills hanging from the ceilings and walls of the Pub. In 1996, a second location, McGuire’s Irish Pub of Destin opened on beautiful Destin Harbor with the same great food and live Irish entertainment.

 

Willie T’s | Key West, Florida

CaptureWillie T’s Restaurant & Bar offers some of the best home cooking in Key West Florida. Offering everything from savory steaks to mouth-watering hamburgers. Coupled with large 10-foot screen TV’s for the latest sports game enjoyment and a variety of alcoholic beverages to choose from.

The ‘World Famous’ Willie T’s offers the perfect respite in the middle of all the action of Duval Street.They are known for our constant LIVE MUSIC, daily drink specials, delicious food and friendly service. Visit for a festive hangout for tropical drinks & Florida-inspired American eats in a mostly outdoor setting.

 

Siesta Key Oyster Bar | Sarasota, Florida

siSiesta Key Oyster Bar (or as the locals call it “SKOB”) is a hangout with a laid back, beachy atmosphere that will get you right into the Island Spirit. When you’re at SKOB you feel right at home, like you’re hanging out with good friends on your back patio (although chances are the ceiling of your patio is not covered in dollar bills).

Of course there are burgers and wings – they just happen to be award winning wings and some of the most delicious U.S.D.A. Prime mouthwatering burgers you can get anywhere

From Raw Oysters and Fresh Fish to Crab Legs and Crab Cakes – there is something for everyone on the menu. And with over 21 beers on tap along with Domestic, Imports, and specialty bottled beer – you will not go away thirsty!

 

Cabbage Key | Pineland, Florida

fishLocated in the Old House at the Cabbage Key resort, the open-air restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year. The main room of the restaurant is nestled among live cuban laurels dripping with moss. Previous visitors have taped thousands of one-dollar bills to every surface. You can ask your server for a black marker and tape to add yours to the collection.

The front room is the old porch with a view of the marina and sound. Look around at antique fishing gear, classic Cabbage Key photographs and replicas of tarpon, snook and other game fish.

Known by many as “the bar with all the money on the walls”, the Cabbage Key bar has been serving up drinks to boaters for over 60 years. With active fire places, original hardwood floors and Cypress walls, the bar and the formal dining room make up the other two dining locations.

 

Cantina Captiva | Captiva Island, Florida
33885471_1851288058498067_474686223709896704_nThe final Florida based restaurant, Cantina Captiva is located within the Captiva Island Inn. Enjoy a spicy and unique atmosphere while savoring the fine Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.

A customer from TripAdvisor reviewed the Cantina as ‘Mexican in the Tropics’:

Cantina Captiva is our must have lunch while in Captiva or Sanibel. This last visit, we four ladies had great Margaritas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas for lunch. Everything was excellent including our server. The prices are reasonable and the outside seating is very nice. Definitely worth trying!

 

The Soup Cellar | Leavenworth, Washington

21719_550901808257157_2067690350_nThe Soup Cellar was established in 1988. The current owners took ownership in 1994 and ever since have been striving to create an experience that offers the highest quality of service, food, and atmosphere

A TripAdvisor reviewer states:

What a fantastic experience! It is located in the cellar and the decor is like a bavarian pub. They offer a fantastic salad bar and a soup bar along with the many different brats and other german foods–great saurkraut. The people are very friendly and the service was great! The dinners have great portions on them–so enjoy! They have a big selection of various beers to try also. Very clean place–even the bathrooms!

 

Bill’s Gyro Souvlaki | Atlantic City, New Jersey

11140265_10208091246744969_3071804008456576227_nThis restaurant is the perfect place to stop for gyro while you stroll along the Atlantic City boardwalk. TripAdvisor user reviews it as such:

This is quite the place. The atmosphere is best described as very Jersey but it’s worth it. We all got the gyro sandwich was fantastic. The spinach pie definitely left something to be desired but I also ate it after eating the whole sandwich. The onion rings were pretty good and the fries were decent, but the gyro sandwich is what made me give them such a good rating. There is seating (a lot of places on the boardwalk only have tiny areas or no seating at all. We had a party of 6 and figured 2 of us would sit at the bar but they immediately pulled another table up to seat us together. The staff was pleasant, competent, and efficient. I would definitely go back!

 

Tortilla Flat Superstition Saloon | Tortilla Flat, Arizona

SONY DSCThis saloon is located in Tortilla Flat, an authentic remnant of an old west town, nestled in the midst of the Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountain Range. Tortilla Flat started out as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to take away this historic stop along the Historic Apache Trail.

A visit to Tortilla Flat isn’t complete without a stop in the Superstition Restaurant & Saloon. The decor alone will send you back in time, from the Saddle Bar Stools, to the walls of dollar bills from around the world. The food is incredible; the website says they serves the Biggest burgers, hottest chili, and coldest drinks everyday.

 

Dollar Bill Bar | Oatman, Arizona

oatIf you’re looking for an ice cold beer on tap while enjoying a simple Americana bar with a twist, look no further than the Dollar Bill Bar. Patrons are encouraged to sign a dollar bill and then hang it on the wall, ceiling, or really anywhere they deem appropriate. They tout to have over $100,000 worth of bills covering their walls.

 

The Hideout Saloon | Mariposa, California

348sThe Hideout Saloon is a saloon/pub in the Gold Rush Historic Downtown District of Mariposa. You can find 150 yr old dry stack rock wall throughout main bar, original bar wood floor repaired always with reclaimed local barn wood, and first growth Doug Fir original wood floors in secondary rooms.

The Saloon is open every day into the wee morning hours for all. With live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with special performances as scheduled Sunday through Tuesday. Karaoke Wednesday nights. Open Mic always available for performance and jamming any time scheduled entertainment is not performing.

Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico

 

September 17, 1859, San Francisco Bulletin newspaper:

“At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens…I, Joshua Norton…declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring.”

Signed, “NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.”

 

Joshua Abraham Norton was a British-born businessman before he was “Norton I, Emperor of the United States”. Norton spent a large part of his childhood in South Africa before migrating to San Francisco during the 1849 Gold Rush. While in San Francisco he invested into the real estate business, and by the early 1850s, he’d turned his original $40,000 stake into a quarter million dollar fortune. But common to the Gold Rush-era, Norton’s greed eventually got the better of him. During a rice shortage in 1853, he planned to conquer the San Francisco market, only to land in financial ruin when fresh shipments poured into the harbor and caused the price to plummet. Norton declared bankruptcy and fell off the map for several years. He resurfaced in 1859 with the San Francisco Bulletin royal decree. He genuinely believed that he was the unrecognized sovereign of the United States. There were no reports of Norton ever exhibiting any symptoms of mental instability or delusion during his business career, but it seemed that in his time away he had lost his mind

Following the decree Norton would become a staple of the San Francisco community. Donning a Navy coat, an ostrich feather-plumed hat and occasionally carrying a military saber, he would stroll the streets and enjoy the celebrity status that came with anyone willing to indulge his royal fantasy. Often being greeted with a bow, the city directory listed his occupation as “Emperor”. Despite his lack of a palace and riches he ate at many restaurants free of charge, had free tickets to theater performances, and even issued his own currency.

 

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Emperor Norton in full military regalia, c. 1875

Local newspapers and tourist locations quickly picked up on the popularity of the Emperor. Souvenirs such as photographs of him in imperial dress and Emperor Norton dolls found their way into shops across the city. Newspapers printed his royal decrees in hopes of increased readership despite their absurdity.  On October 1859, he declared in local newspaper, “fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice…in consequence of which, we do hereby abolish Congress.” When congress continued to meet and run as normal Emperor Norton I responded with a decree that demanded General Winfield Scott to march on Washington. In the upcoming year with the Civil War approaching, Norton declared that he had dissolved the Union and replaced it with a monarchy; with him of course as the monarch. With the help of the newspapers these decrees continued to be put in front of the public. When the French invaded Mexico he even added ‘Protector of Mexico’ to his title.

 

As his popularity grew, Norton I became a cherished icon for the city of San Francisco. Theater owners saved him a seat at the opening night of every play; local train and ferry companies let him ride free of charge; and some restaurateurs allowed him to skip out on his tab in exchange for the right to post an imperial seal of approval that read: “By Appointment to His Imperial Majesty, Norton I.” The Emperor remained poor in spite of this; but many admiring subjects ‘paid’ taxes into the ‘imperial treasury’ to support him. In 1871, a local printing firm ran off a special currency emblazoned with a picture of Norton I and his imperial seal. The Emperor passed the notes as his official government bonds until the day he died, and many recipients displayed them as treasured mementos. Army officers gifted him fresh uniform when his old one wore out, and local lawmakers helped furnish the ‘royal wardrobe’ from public funds. When a police officer once dared to arrest the Emperor on charges of vagrancy, the city’s newspapers responded with outrage. The Emperor was quickly released, and from then on, the city’s lawmen saluted whenever they encountered him on the street.

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All the while, newspapers continued to print Norton;s decrees in the papers. Some were bizarre such as in 1872, he declared that anyone who referred to his adopted city by “the abominable word ‘Frisco’” was subject to a $25 fine. Others were more logical, in the early 1870s he announced that the city should appropriate funds for construction of a bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. Ignored at the time, Norton’s decree eventually came to fruition in 1936 with the opening of the Bay Bridge.

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A  depiction of Norton dressed as the Pope at the funeral of the dog Lazarus

Emperor Norton’s character inspired fascination from tourists and great artists alike. Mark Twain, who had worked as a journalist in San Francisco during his reign, went on to use the Emperor as the model for the “King,” a royal impostor who appears as a character in his 1885 novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Various plays and operas were written about Norton during his lifetime. Despite this, his day to day wasn’t as grandiose; he lived in a tiny rented room and spent his days playing chess, attending religious services, reading in libraries or going on long walks, supposedly with Bummer and Lazarus, his two dogs.

It was during one of these royal walks on January 8, 1880, that Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, dropped dead from a stroke. His passing was written about in dozens of newspapers including the New York Times. San Francisco gave Norton a send-off fit for an Emperor. “LE ROI EST MORT” (“THE KING IS DEAD”), read the headline in the Chronicle. “He is dead,” lamented another paper, “and no citizen of San Francisco could have been taken away who would be more generally missed.” At Norton’s funeral a few days later, around 10,000 loyal ‘subjects’ turned up to pay their respects.

 

A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween is an all-American holiday celebrated yearly on October 31st. Kids look forward to dressing up and receiving free candy and many adults use it as an excuse to party and bake festive treats. Halloween traditions date back from a number of practices but there are a few key traditional celebrations that formed the Halloween we celebrate today.

In ancient times, Celts used September 1st to mark their new year; it was the end of summer and harvest, meaning it was the start of the long cold winter. These harsh winters and short days were often associated with death because it wasn’t uncommon for many to not make it through the difficult winter. So on this day of transition from summer to winter, it was believed that the boundary between the living world and dead world were most closely aligned. The night before the new year was to begin; October 31st the Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain

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Depiction of ancient druids

During the days surrounding Samhain, spirits were blamed for a lot of the people’s hardships, such as damaging crops or stealing/misplacing precious goods. Celts would put their trust into Druids and Celtic priests to be close to these spirits and make predictions about the future. Druids would build sacred bonfires and people would gather in hopes of having their futures determined. These bonfires were huge celebrations that while donning costumes, Celts would burn crops and animals as sacrifices to Celtic deities.

The Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory around 43 A.D. and throughout their hundreds of years of ruling the two cultures would intermingle to create a tradition very similar to Samhain. Roman celebration of Feralia and Pomona would translate to a combined celebration of the dead, harvest, and other-worldly beings in late October.

In 1000 A.D. the Christian church proclaimed November 2nd as ‘All Souls’ Day’ as a day to honor the deceased. This was an attempt to replace the Celtic festival with a more puritanical practice.

All Souls Day generally got accepted because many of its festivities were similar enough to Samhain. This included bonfires, parades, and dressing up; although costumes such as saints and angels were more highly encouraged. Over the years the celebration would start to be referred to as All-Hallowmas or All-Hallows with the night before being All-Hallows eve. Which as we know, eventually got shortened to Halloween.

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Modern day Christians celebrating All Souls’ Day

With Christian endorsement of the holiday it slowly trickled over to different parts of England and Europe but struggled at first to make its way to colonial New England. Early settlers had radical Protestant beliefs and didn’t traditionally believe it was a celebration that represented their nation. As time went on, Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

Know as the melting pot, many cultures began to come together to create the early American version of Halloween. American Indians and European immigrants celebrated in various ways and it became popular to have fall community events. Including productions of plays, harvest festivals, storytelling, and playing games that told of the future. Annual fall festivities had become common by the middle of the nineteenth century but it was uncommon for these celebrations to be thought of as Halloween.

By the second half of the nineteenth century millions of Irish were coming to America to flee the Potato Famine. Their presence in America is widely attributed to causing Halloween to becoming a nationally celebrated holiday.

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Girl in a Halloween costume in 1928

In the 1920’s and 30’s Halloween was still often considered to be a community-centered holiday. Regardless of efforts to keep up the festivities, vandalism and trickery began to make the celebrations not feel welcoming to all members of the community. In an effect to change this many town leaders started to cater the events more towards children and with this shift many events began to occur mainly in schools or at ones home.

Around the 1950’s trick or treating was revived as a way of attempting to create an event that the entire community could still share. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.


This is the final post of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Superstitions Around the World

We have rounded up 13 superstitions as we continue on our 13 days of Halloween!

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Don’t Stick Chopsticks Straight Up
In Japan, never rest them by sticking them straight up in your food. It looks like the number 4 spelled out, and in Japanese culture 4 is a very unlucky number – it means death. If you go to Japan you’ll never find anything grouped or sold in 4s.

Don’t Go Home After A Funeral
In the Philippines, there’s this superstition that every time you go to a wake or a funeral you’re not supposed to go straight home. You’re supposed to do this thing called pagpag, which is basically after the wake or the funeral, you go anywhere else that isn’t your home. People usually like go to the mall, they don’t do anything, they just go in and walk out and then they go back home. Because that way you’re kinda like removing all of the bad energy and stopping the spirits from following you home. Because they believe if you go straight home you’re going to bring all that bad energy with you.

Toasting With Water
The belief that you should never make a toast with water in your glass harks back to the time of the Ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, the dead would always drink from the River Lethe in the depths of the Underworld, in order to forget their past, corporeal lives. As a result of this story, the Greeks would always toast to the dead with glasses filled with water to symbolize their voyage, via the river, to the Underworld.
As a consequence of this morbid story, it is considered that proposing a toast to somebody with water, is akin to wishing bad luck, and maybe even death, on him or her. Many people also believe that by toasting with water you are also wishing death upon yourself, as this liquid reflects your future watery grave.

Sitting at the Corner of a Table
According to Hungarian and Russian superstitions, and surely others as well, sitting at the corner of the table is bad luck. The unlucky diner will allegedly never get married. Some say the bad luck only hangs around for seven years, but as with most superstitions, why chance it?

match-549106_1920Never Use the Same Match on Three Cigarettes
In France it is said that lighting three cigarettes with the same match will bring bad luck. This superstition – which is popular elsewhere in the west – is thought to stem from the trenches of World War One when snipers were said to have a better hit rate when smokers took so long holding one match up. The first cigarette alerts the sniper, the second allows him time to take aim, leaving the third smoker dead on their feet. You’ve been warned.

Counting Pierogies
The Polish advice to ever to count the pierogi while they’re still boiling! Should one irresponsibly count the dumplings while they’re still in the pot, without a doubt half of them will end up stuck to the bottom of the pot- or torn letting all their yummy insides out.

Avoid the Broom!
In Italy, If you’re single and hoping to lock down your Principe Azzurro (Prince Charming) then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. If the broom so much as touches your feet then you’ll never get hitched.

Knocking on the Stammtisch
When greeting your German drinking buddies, instead of waving, you should knock on the table. According to legend, this is because the Stammtisch, the regulars’ table in the tavern, was traditionally made of oak. Since the devil is unable to touch oak, considered a holy tree, knocking on it proved you weren’t the devil.

alp-studio-426760-unsplashClocks Aren’t a Good Gift
You should never give someone a clock as a present – in Chinese, “clock” rhymes with the word for “termination” or “sending someone to their end”, meaning inauspicious vibes all around. Watches are not immune from this taboo, either. In 2015, UK transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer gave the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, a watch as a gift. Ko was later quoted as saying that he would either re-gift the watch, or sell it to a scrap metal dealer. To be fair, it might be Ko’s diplomatic skills rather than the Baroness’s etiquette that needed fine-tuning – but to avoid any awkward moments, it’s best just to gift anything other than a timepiece. Still dead set on giving a friend a clock or watch? There is a way to combat this. Simply ask them to give you a dollar – so it’s technically not a gift.

Woman Can’t Eat Goat Meat
In Rwanda, local folklore advises women against eating goat meat because it allegedly causes facial hair growth, as well as stubbornness. However, some people have also offered up the theory that men created this superstition so they could have more meat to themselves.

Be Careful with Scissors
In Egypt, there’s a superstition that scissors should always be bought and never be given as a present, because they will ‘cut’ between the giver and recipient. Another thing to be aware of is if a pair of scissors are dropped, the fates will gather around the person who dropped them if they pick the scissors up themselves. The person instead should ask someone else to pick up the scissors for them. Worse, if when the scissors fall, both points stick into the floor and the scissors remain upright, then a death is said to be imminent. However a more gentle fate awaits if only one point sticks into the floor — a wedding.

Ventilador_Electrico_PisoDon’t Sleep with a Fan On
“Fan death” is a widespread fear among people in South Korea, As a result, many South Koreans will never sleep in a closed room with a fan on. It is commonly believed that prolonged exposure to fans causes hypothermia, loss of water in the body, and even asphyxiation.

A Lucky Penny
And finally, for one good luck superstition, in the USA; finding a penny on the ground, especially if it is heads facing up, is considered a sign of good luck. People often use the saying “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.” It’s apparently


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins

As our thirteen days of Halloween continues we explore the theory that a set of ancient Egyptian coins could be proof that an alien race visited Earth thousands of years ago. A group of people who worked on the renovation of a house in southern Egypt found a number of very rare coins in 2016. One coin seems to depict a spaceship hovering above the ground and another seems to show the head of an extraterrestrial being, with huge hollow eyes, a bald head and thin cheeks.

nintchdbpict000274684660.jpgWhile the original renovation site had no further information or pictures, many more photos of the coins include a number of them carved with OPPORTUNUS ADEST Latin for “it’s here in due time” around the edge and the image of various objects resembling spacecrafts in the middle. A number is on the lower edge that looks like ‘I656’ which is a mash-up of Roman and Arabic numerals.

Many people’s first impressions were that these were real coins or medallions extensively tooled in order to turn the portrait of a ruler or deity into the likeness of an alien – like an elaborate hobo nickel. A hobo nickel is an American practice dating back to the mid-1700s of altering the images on what were then softer metal coins. But why would anyone create the coin, maybe as a hoax? Maybe as a deliberate forgery to deceive gullible collectors? Could it have been the creation of UFO enthusiasts, attempting to fabricate evidence for “Ancient Astronaut” theories?

nintchdbpict000274684650Many theorists believe the coins to be real though and argue they are just one piece of the puzzle in a series of evidence of extraterrestrial life in ancient Egypt. Many have argued for decades that ancestors in Egypt were physically unable to build the incredible Pyramids of Giza. They suggest that advanced lifeforms from space passed on their knowledge or created the monuments before civilizations emerged. The theorists then say because two diagonal lines extend from the pyramids on either side of the Nile River delta, the early Egyptians could not have known this when building them:

“How could the Egyptians possibly have built their pyramid facing the exact magnetic North Pole without even having a compass? Those aliens, abundant in their knowledge and drowning in technology, came along and using their compasses, they landed on earth and found the actual magnetic north and south poles. Then they built the pyramids.”

Another piece of proof from theorist comes from the Egyptians practice of artificially

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A physiologically manipulated Paracas skull

lengthening the skulls of their children. Some ancient astronaut proponents propose that this was done to emulate extraterrestrial visitors, whom they saw as gods. Among the ancient rulers depicted with elongated skulls are pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti. It has been pointed out that the Grey aliens, as described by many alien abductees, have similarly shaped heads.

Among other ‘proofs’ of ancient alien life a final often cited piece of evidence is helicopter hieroglyphs. These Egyptian hieroglyph carvings were found in the Temple of Seti I at Abydos. The so-called “Helicopter hieroglyphs” are argued to depict flying aircrafts such as ones we would imagine aliens would use.

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So what are your thoughts? Do these coins just further proves extraterrestrial life in ancient Egypt? Or are they a hoax? Or a forgery? We will leave that conclusion up to you! But you can’t deny the coins depict a creepy imagery of the alien rulers that may or may not have once ruled Egypt as gods.

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This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween