Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trivia Tuesday


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The award of a blue ribbon for first place dates back to the 1500’s when the knights who were part of France’s Order of the Holy Spirit, founded in 1587, wore a cross on a blue ribbon around their necks. The blue ribbon was known as Le Cordon Bleu - the blue ribbon - the phrase becoming extended over time to other high class distinctions including cordon bleu cooking. Passenger liners racing across the Atlantic in 1830 were awarded a notonal trophy, the Blue Riband, although it was not until 1935 that the trophy came into existence in physical form. Winners from then on could fly a blue pennant. The award today, for first prize, a blue ribbon, reflects the blue riband origin.

Knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit wearing their crosses on blue ribands.

The Cross of the Holy Spirit: 
A Maltese Cross with eight points that are rounded, and between each pair of arms there is a fleur-de-lis. Imposed on the centre of the cross is a dove. The eight rounded corners represent the Beatitudes, the four fleur-de-lis represent the Gsopels, the twelve petals represent the Apostles, and the dove signifies the Holy Spirit

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The red and white colours of barber poles harks back to medieval times when barbers didn’t just cut hair, they also carried out bloodletting (believed to be thereapeutic), tooth extractions and minor surgery. 

After a bloodletting procedure, the barbers washed the bandages which were hung outside on a pole to dry. This also acted as signage for the barber shop. Flapping in the wind, the long strips of bandages would twist around the pole in the spiral pattern we now associate with barbers. 


This early barber pole was simply a wooden post topped by a brass leech basin, with a basin that received blood at the base . The pole represented the staff that the patient gripped during bloodletting procedures. Later the basin was replaced by a ball and painted poles of red and white spirals took the place of the pole with the bloodstained bandages.

After the formation of the United Barber Surgeon’s Company in England, barbers were required to display blue and white poles, and surgeons, red ones. In America, however, many of the barber poles were painted red, white and blue, probably as a patriotic gesture.


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The earliest known reference to walking a red carpet in literature is in the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus, written in 458 BC. When the title character returns from Troy, he is greeted by his vengeful wife Clytemnestra who offers him a red path to walk upon:

"Now my beloved, step down from your chariot, and let not your foot, my lord, touch the Earth. Servants, let there be spread before the house he never expected to see, where Justice leads him in, a crimson path."

Agamemnon, knowing that only gods walk on such luxury, responds with trepidation:

"I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path."

Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting often show rugs and carpets, patterned but with red often the main background colour, laid on the steps to a throne, or on a dais where rulers or sacred figures are placed.

A red carpet was rolled out to a river to welcome the arrival of United States president James Monroe in 1821. In 1902, The New York Central Railroad used plush crimson carpets to direct people as they boarded their 20th Century Limited passenger train. This is believed to be the origin of the phrase "red-carpet treatment". Red carpets are now a common feature at film awards ceremonies and premieres.


Workers furiously seek to get the red carpet dry in time for the 2014 Oscars ceremony.

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