One of the first botanical gardens, made in Padua during the Renaissance, was very strict about the points of the compass; the southern part of the garden had plants from the south, the northern, from the north.
An American mailman quit during World War II. It was all the wives asking if there was a letter this day, over and over and over again.
Crinolines were blamed for the demise of the custom that a man offered a woman his arm to bring her somewhere; also for rheumatism, because closer clothes kept you warmer.
St. Kilda had a regular problem with the "stranger's cough." A ship would arrive and people would start coughing for a couple weeks. (The population was too small for the common cold to not burn itself out.)
The older Nazis were a lot more concerned with public opinion than the younger ones - the ones who could not remember World War I. The older ones really believed that the morale problems on the home front had cost them the war. That was also the reason why they used so much slave labor. Pressuring women, especially wives, into taking war jobs might have horrible effects.
Queen Isabella of Castile went on a frantic three-day journey -- the last night traveling all night -- to arrive before the Order of Santiago elected a Grand Master. The purpose being to stop them and install her husband instead.
In Icelandic sagas, the way to deal with a ghost was to bring a suit against it for trespassing. It had to leave then.
After Henry VIII had an abbey of Cistercians executed for refusing to sanction his position as head of the church, the harvest was horrible. It was commonly said that it had rained every day since the execution.
GPS is so very precise that the engineers had to use both special and general relativity to get it to work right.
In Nazi Germany, during World War II, people distinguished between buttervolksgenossen and margarinevolksgenossen -- folk comrades who could get butter and those who had to settle for margarine.
When one London congregation was told that Anne Boleyn was now queen, and they were to pray for her, they all stood up and left.
A Chinese death custom was that an unmarried daughter could not die at home. She had to be taken to a "Death House" or some outlying building.
The original Green Lantern was inspired by Aladdin. They even intended to name him Alan Ladd, but that name was used by a movie star.
In Nazi occupied Netherlands, Prince Bernhard's birthday saw many evade the specific prohibitions against various shows of support for the royal family, by wearing orange carnations.
Henry VIII had a Treasons Act passed. Prior to that time, to commit treason, you had to attempt to kill the king, wage war against him, or ally with his enemies. It made it treasonous to deprive the king or the royal family of the "dignity, title, or name of their royal estates" -- or even to write, or speak, or wish of it. It also made it a capital crime to call the king a tyrant.
Saccharin was discovered accidentally; the chemist found his bread tasted sweet, but his landlady proved it wasn't the bread. He went back and tested everything to figure out what it was.
In the Odyssey, Athena instructs Telemachus to call the Achaean heroes to assembly -- meaning, the regular assembly, so she's using "hero" to mean "free man."
Marlene Dietrich's naturalization got a very bitter treatment in the Nazi press, with captions saying: a shirt-sleeved Jewish judge administers the oath to Marlene Dietrich that she may betray the fatherland.
In medieval times, tightrope walkers often had a reputation of being in a deal with the devil.
World War I was an enormous boost to the dye industries of Britain and the United States.
Henry VIII owned more royal residences than any English king before or since.
In 19th century Chicago, they needed to put in a sewer system, which meant they needed the city to be on rather higher ground to provide space. So they jacked up the city six feet: streets, sidewalks, homes, businesses, hotels. Several prominent guests at its biggest hotel didn't even notice that their stay was during the process.
Some German POWs of World War II escaped a Kansas camp and were recaptured after three days. They asked how close to Mexico they had gotten, and were told the truth: they had not even left Kansas.