Popular English Idioms and Their Curious Origins [Infographic}

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


the origins of popular idioms.jpeg

(See the full infographic below!)

If you’ve ever studied abroad or travelled to destinations with the intent to absorb as much of the culture and language as possible, you’re well aware of how difficult it is to learn the intricacies of each spoken word and phrase.

All languages have their own unique phrases and idioms, often derived from local or cultural customs, historical events, important figures, or religious traditions, that don’t have a direct translation. There are approximately 25,000 idioms in the English language alone, all of which have been widely adopted in everyday conversation. We often use these phrases liberally without understanding their root or original context. Some of these idioms were quite literate all the time they were conceived, making their origins that much more interesting to study.

Invaluable created this visual that outlines the origins of some of the most common English expressions, the countries in which they came from, and how we use them in our everyday speech.

Check it out, and become a little more aware of the words we speak everyday!

English Idioms Infographic
Popular idioms and their origins
 



The World's Most Impactful Books To Add To Your Reading List

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Words ignite ideas, and they breathe life into the world.

Those same words come together, and with a stroke of a pen, they bring people books. Books have a lasting impact because they spread remarkable thoughts like wildfire. People read them, and their impact is spread all over the globe. 

From the Torah, written before 1000 CE to The Da Vinci Code of the early 2000s, books stretching between time periods spread hope, direction, and truth to people, while also sparking both controversy and discourse.

These powerful books question political thought, scientific research, and faith, and their literary and philosophical themes are a reflection of each unique writer. 

Sun Tzu wrote his battle theories in The Art of War,  Stephen Hawking explained his views of reality through The Brief History of Time, and George Orwell illustrated his haunting vision of a dystopian society restricting the freedom of thought in 1984.

To celebrate books that have made the largest impact, Largest put together this list highlighting some of their favorites through time.

These works should be on everyone’s must-read list. Crack open the pages and enter a deep, intimate conversation between a select group of leaders and revolutionists of life. Prepare to absorb yourself in their view of the world!

Check out the infographic below at click the link at the end for a deeper dive into each book.



books that made the largest impact

Read more details about each book here. Happy reading!

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the most impactful books in history
the most impactful books in history


15 Spooky Folktales, Creatures & Objects From Around The World [Infographic]

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Telling spooky and scary stories has long been a part of human culture. We’ve been telling all kinds of stories since our most distant ancestors drew rudimentary pictures on cave walls, but the most intriguing tales are the ones that raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

We are universally fascinated with the macabre — this is one of the reasons ghost stories are so popular. Have you ever found yourself drawn to a horrifying or thrilling movie even though you don’t like to be scared? As humans, we have an innate morbid curiosity.

This near obsession with dark legends can be seen in chilling folklore that exists in different cultures across the globe. Especially captivating myths have even extended across cultures, like El Chupacabra and the Headless Horseman. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool — it’s impossible to keep such eerie tales to ourselves.

What’s more, some creepy objects are said to be cursed, usually causing harm or death to those that come into contact with the item. Spooky paintings are credited with fires and mortality while ancient objects are believed to be cursed.

If sinister fables pique your interest (as they naturally should), check out the spooky infographic below that Invaluable created showing 15 ominous folktales, creatures, and objects from around the world.

Spooky folktales, creatures, and objects from around the world
Spooky folktales, creatures, and objects from around the world

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Spooky folktales, creatures and objects from around the world
 



Traditional Temporary Tattoos: The Art of Henna

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


I have always been intrigued by the art of henna  — I've gotten a flower, a swirl, or a nonsense design put on one of my limbs more times than I can count while wandering a local summer festival, or hanging out at the beach. 

What I didn't know was the history behind the art, which is something that I discovered recently when chatting with a local henna artist (and a bit of research after the fact) while she drew a beautiful design on the back of my hand. 

Henna has been used for more than 5,000 years to dye skin, hair, fingernails, and even fabrics in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East. The act of giving intricate henna tattoos is called Mehndi and is traditionally only done on women — never men.

Why henna is not drawn on men

According to the artist I spoke to, these intricate designs are usually applied the night before (sometimes a few days before) a women's wedding day. The elaborate designs cover her hands and feet (often up to her knees and elbows) and tradition goes that as long as they stay on the skin the women does not have to do any housework.

It isn't until the dye disappears that the new bride steps into her new role as a housewife. 

Don't worry though guys, here in the Western world, the rules are a bit different. It is completely ok for you to give henna a try. The artist I met told me that she often gives men tribal or sun designs on their arms or backs. 

And, in some hot desert cultures, both sexes use henna, not for its beautification factor, but its cooling one. Apparently soaking your hands and feet in a paste of henna helps to cool down your core temperature. 

The henna paste goes on black, but dyes your skin a brownish-orange color if left on for at least 5-7 hours

What is henna?

The leaves of the henna plant are crushed and mixed with different oils in order to make the creamy paste that is applied to the skin. My artist used eucalyptus oil and cloves (which left my hand smelling like a spa for the rest of the day).

When applied the paste looks dark brown or black, and stays on the skin until it flakes off naturally (between 5-7 hours), or — in my case — you have to rub it off before you go to bed so you don't wake up with a henna-tattooed face. 

My henna tattoo once the paste was rubbed off.  

This natural dye is completely harmless, and does not discriminate (it works on all skin types).

It works best on the hands or feet, and lasts anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on the type of henna used and how you take care of it (for example if you exfoliate the tattoo every day it won't last as long).

Oh, and it will leave tan lines, so if you lay out in the sun with your tattoo exposed, you will extend the design's shelf-life a little longer. 

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The art of henna
 


Banned Books In The USA: Top Books Banned By Genre + Why They Are Censored

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


As soon as a book becomes banned, people all over the world want to get their hands on a copy to find out what the latest "controversial" novel has to say.

More often than not, they are disappointed as the content of the book seems a lot less shocking than something that you would see on TV on an average night. A few curse words are sometimes all it takes to ban a certain book from the average school.

What makes a book being banned so interesting is what it says about the people, place, and time period that thought it was bad enough to be banned. 

Using data from the ALA — the American Library Association — Invaluable has curated a list of the top books banned organized by literary genre that they've turned into an awesome infographic (below).

Check out the top reasons for banning books, the authors that get challenged the most, and what the three top offenders in each genre were banned for below. 



banned-books

The Infographic above was created by and posted with permission from Invaluable

Sources: American Library Association 1 ,2345 | The Guardian | The University of Tulsa | Writer’s Digest University | Banned Books Week | Unbound Worlds | Dallas News | Banned Library 123 | PBS 

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Banned Books In The USA
Banned Books in The USA



Why Do People In North America Wear Poppies in November?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


November 11, known as Remembrance Day in Canada and the other Commonwealth Nations of the world, is a day that has been observed since the end of World War I to remember the men and women who died in the line of duty. (Many non-Commonwealth Nations, like the United States, also treat this day as one of remembrance, as November 11, 1918, was the day when hostilities officially ended in WWI.)

Starting November 1 and leading up to the 11th, you will see red poppies start to appear on the left lapel of Canadians, and the symbol of the poppy will be displayed in shop windows and on signs all over the country. 

Why a poppy? 

During the war, most of the fighting took place on the Western Front that was largely countryside. While most of the landscape was turned to mud, the bright red Flanders poppy seemed resilient to the non-stop bombing and continued to grow amongst the chaos. They were especially abundant on the mass graves that were the result of bloody battles. 

In the spring of 1915 after losing a good friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was inspired by the sight of the poppies growing amongst the dead and battle-scarred fields to write the now famous poem In Flanders Fields.

 

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
by Lt Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
In Flanders' Fields.

 

The beautiful poem inspired American Moina Michael to make red silk poppies to sell, and the practice quickly spread. Now, poppies are sold (by donation) around the world in November and worn as a symbol of Remembrance and of the heavy cost of war. 

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