The Origins of the Olympic Torch Relay

Carl Diem, the organizer of the 1936 Olympic games, hosted by Nazi Germany, wanted an event that would link the ancient Olympics with the modern games, and came up with the Olympic torch relay as not only a link between the past and present, but also as a showcase of German engineering and science.  The Nazis saw Ancient Greece, especially the Spartans, as an Aryan forerunner of their own society.  The first torch was lit in Greece by mirrors made by Zeiss, and the steel-clad magnesium torches used to carry the flame were made by Krupp, two German companies.  The media coverage was constant, masterminded by Josef Goebbels, master of propaganda, who had dramatic photographs taken of the relay and radio coverage of the event.  The torch’s route passed through countries where Nazi Germany was especially desirous of increasing its influence, including Austria, where the passage was marked by pro-Nazi demonstrations.

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Darius and the Burials of the Greeks and Callatians

Darius, the Great King of the Persian Empire, once called together some Greeks and some Callatians, an Indian people, who were at his court.  To the Greeks, who cremated their dead, he asked what it would take for them to eat their dead fathers.  The Greeks were abhorred, and protested that they would not do such an act for any amount of money.  He then asked the Callatians, with an interpreter for the Greeks, what it would for them to cremate their dead fathers, and they protested as strongly as the Greeks had, for the custom of the Callatians was to eat their dead.  “Don’t mention such horrors!” they cried.  Thusly Darius showed that it is custom, not reason, that guides many of our actions.

Carrying the Bride over the Threshold

The reason why it’s traditional to carry the bride over the threshold dates back to the Rape of the Sabine Women.  When Rome was first founded by Romulus and Remus, they mostly attracted the dregs of society, those without connections or families.  Consequently, there was a dearth of women available to the first Romans.  In order to rectify this, Romulus invited the Sabines to a festival and, upon a given signal, the Romans fell upon them, capturing their wives and daughters and bringing them back to their homes unwillingly.  It is this event that is commemorated by this wedding tradition.

White Sheet Ghosts

It was thought that ghosts appeared to the living in the way they looked when they died.  According to Roman tradition, a white burial shroud was placed upon the body at death.  This is why the traditional appearance of a ghost is of a body under a white sheet.  This Roman connection applies to more than just appearance.  It was also though that ghosts spoke Latin, as can be seen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.