The Largest Snowflake Ever Observed

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The largest snowflake ever observed supposedly appeared on 28 January, 125 years ago, in Fort Keogh, Montana. It was reportedly 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. However, this record seems to be based on the word of a ranch owner named Matt Coleman, who described the snowflake as “larger than milk pans” to the Monthly Weather Review journal.

This record seems a bit dubious, however, as the National Snow & Ice Data Center notes in its FAQ section regarding how big snowflakes can get:

“Snowflakes are agglomerates of many snow crystals. Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across. Under certain conditions, usually requiring near-freezing temperatures, light winds, and unstable, convective atmospheric conditions, much larger and irregular flakes close to two inches across in the longest dimension can form. No routine measure of snowflake dimensions are taken, so the exact answer is not known.”

Twelfth Night

Friday, 6 January 2012

Twelfth Night is traditionally the time to take down your Christmas tree and any other festive decorations. To leave evergreens up in the house after this point is to bring bad luck on the household!

Here are some other Twelfth Night traditions that you might - or might not - be familiar with.

1) Twelfth Night is also known as Epiphany, the date on which the Christian Church celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child.

2) The feast of the Epiphany originated in the East during the third century, in honour of Christ’s baptism.

3) During a special service held at St James’s Palace, London, on 6 January, members of the Royal Household present the Chapel Royal with the three gifts brought to the Christ child by the Magi.

4) At one time, the highlight of the Twelfth Night celebrations was the cutting of the twelfth-cake, which was supposed to have a dried pea or bean hidden somewhere inside it. Whoever found the bean was proclaimed king or queen for the rest of the evening’s fun and frivolity.

5) Another tradition involving a cake, upheld by the cast of the play currently being performed at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is the eating of the Baddeley Cake. This is as a result of a stipulation made in the last will and testament of one Robert Baddeley, an actor from the eighteenth century, after whom the cake is named.

6) In the West of England Twelfth Night is the time when wassailing ceremonies are carried out.

7) At one time in England, Twelfth Night was known as being a good occasion on which to carry out various good luck rituals, as well as for its religious processions which almost went hand-in-hand with the spirited, and good humoured, revels.

8) One such ritual had farmers lighting bonfires to drive evil spirits away from their farms and fields, the tipsy agriculturalists cheering as they circled the fires to hasten the hobgoblins on their way.

9) There was also the time-honoured guessing game, whereby the (now probably inebriated) farmer had to guess what was being roasted in the kitchen before being permitted to re-enter his own home. This was not as easy as it might sound because his good wife might have something as ridiculously inedible as a shoe turning on the spit.

11) On 6 January you would also find Morris men dancing in the streets, along with fools and hobby-horses.

12) Practical jokes were the name of the game on Twelfth Night and the playing of games – particularly games of chance – with everyone determined to make the most of the last day of the holiday season.

So if you're planning to see Christmas out with a bang...

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you, and send you
A happy New Year,
And God send you
A happy New Year.

And it's goodbye from me until next Christmas. Remember, if you have any questions about the festive season whatsoever, you can contact me via this blog or here.

Happy New Year - 2012!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Made any New Year's resolutions this year? I have, twelve to be precise, and you can find out what they are here.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!

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