Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a celebration that honours African heritage in African-American culture.

The seven candles in a kinara symbolise the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

It is observed from 26 December to 1 January in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas. It was first celebrated in 1966–67.

Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) was a German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer, and a key figure in the 17th-century scientific revolution.

He is best known for formulating three laws that describe the motion of the planets around the Sun, which are known collectively as Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

Tortuga (Haiti)

Tortuga

Tortuga is a Caribbean island that forms part of Haiti. It is located off the northwestern coast of Hispaniola.

Tortuga

Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover Tortuga. The word “Tortuga” means turtle or tortoise in Spanish, and Columbus named it as such because the topography of the island reminded him of a turtle’s shell.

A 17th century drawing of the island.

Columbus Day

First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World

Columbus Day is a national holiday that celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas on 12 October 1492.

Columbus Day is celebrated in many countries of the Americas. It is also celebrated in Italy (as Columbus was born in Genoa) and Spain (where it is known as Fiesta Nacional de España).

In the United States, Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is the most common motor neurone disease (and is often referred to as motor neurone disease).

In North America it is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, as a result of the eponymous baseball player who famously died as a result of it.

Lou Gehrig

Stephen Hawking suffered from a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of ALS.

ALS causes the death of neurones that control voluntary muscles, and is characterised by stiff muscles, muscle twitching, and muscle atrophy. This results in difficulty speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing.

The cause of ALS is not known in 90–95% of cases, while the remaining 5–10% of cases are hereditary. While there is no known cure nor means of extending life beyond more than around two to three months, non-invasive ventilation can result in both improved quality and length of life.

ALS can present itself at any age, but typically starts at around 50 years of age in hereditary cases, and 60 years of age otherwise. The average lifespan from onset to death is two to four years. Approximately 10% of sufferers survive longer than ten years.

The 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge was launched to raise awareness of ALS and to encourage donations for research.

Bushel

Bushel

A bushel is an imperial and US customary unit of weight or mass.

The old bushel was equal to two kennings, four pecks or eight dry gallons and was mostly used for agricultural products such as wheat.

In modern usage, the weight of a bushel varies depending on the commodity.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, caricaturist and illustrator. He is one of the best-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period.

His parents were first cousins and he suffered from congenital health conditions. He was only 4’8” tall.

Toulouse-Lautrec created a number of works that depict the Moulin Rouge cabaret, including his most notable work, At the Moulin Rouge:

At the Moulin Rouge

Trossachs

The Trossachs

The Trossachs is an area of wooded glens, braes (hills) and lochs located west-northwest of Stirling.

Map of the Trossachs

It forms part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

Sir Walter Scott’s poem The Lady of the Lake is set in the Trossachs, and the SS Sir Walter Scott (launched in 1899) remains in operation on Loch Katrine.

SS Sir Walter Scott