Top 5 History Myths

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Jesus was born on December 25th

The winter solstice was celebrated by the Romans from December 17 to 25. This yearly festival included gift-giving, family time, and revelry. When Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the early 4th century, the traditional Roman holiday date was appropriated by the Christian church as a parallel holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Easter was already a holiday, so a holiday was needed to celebrate the date when Jesus born. Later, the feast of St. Nicholas was assimilated into the festivities, since St. Nicholas famously distributed gifts on December 25. But there are no records suggesting that Jesus was actually born on that day or its equivalent in the Jewish calendar. There’s no unanimity on the official date, but many scholars believe the historical Jesus was born between 6 and 3 BC, probably some time between spring and fall.

Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas

The New World was new to Columbus, but it may have already been discovered by the ancient Norse missionary, Leif Erickson (i.e., “Eric’s son,” his father was Eric the Red). Historians generally agree that Leif Erickson first landed on Canadian shores almost 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. Erickson was converted to Christianity by King Olaf I in what is now Norway. He set sail as an explorer and merchant, but also to evangelize unsaved nations. Attempting to reach Greenland, he sailed off course and landed in Helluland, Markland, which he called Vinland (perhaps Nova Scotia). He spent a season or two in North America before returning to Greenland, where he later ascended to the throne. Others may have preceded Columbus and even Erickson.

Not to forget Mayans in South America have been living since long, and Mayans or Mayavi are also mentioned in Indian Vedic Texts. Is there a link?

Marie Antoinette once said, “Let them eat cake.”

According to legend, prior to the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, bride of King Louis XIV and queen of France, was notoriously indifferent to the plight of the masses as they cried out for bread amidst a looming famine. There was no bread, and she allegedly responded: “Let them eat cake.” This story is unsupported by the facts, for the phrase “Let them eat cake” was previously ascribed to others. Moreover, even though the queen’s lifestyle was immaculate, she was quite generous to charitable causes, and she recognized the plight of the masses. She was well-educated and intelligent and would have known better than to say something so inflammatory to a biographer or journalist.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb

Contrary to popular belief, the light bulb, a mainstay of modern life, ubiquitous in the developed world, had been around years before Thomas Edison ever created one. Edison’s contribution was to improve on it. Previous versions were unreliable, expensive, and didn’t last very long. Up to 20 others independent inventors were doing the same thing as Edison at the time, trying to build a better light bulb. Edison’s version of the light bulb improved on the filament, used a sealed vacuum bulb, and had a lower voltage than others at the time. The result was a marketable product that could last for hours. Edison’s design has been improved upon over the years. Today standard incandescent bulbs can last for years, even this one that’s still burning after 100 years! Stay tuned. Government rules have banned most incandescent bulbs due to their low efficiency. Light-emitting diodes produce light much more efficiently than incandescent bulbs and will one day supplant them.

Walt Disney never drew Mickey Mouse

One of the world’s most famous fictitious characters, Mickey Mouse, is credited to Walt Disney. However, Mickey was the vision of Disney’s number one animator, Ub Iwerks. Disney, never a great artist, would always have trouble drawing the character who made him famous. Fortunately for him, Iwerks was known as the fastest animator in the business. He single-handedly animated Mickey’s first short film, Plane Crazy (1928), in only two weeks. (That’s 700 drawings a day.) But give some credit to Disney – when sound films began later that year, he played Mickey’s voice.

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