(Illustrated by J. J. Grandville, 1845)
The Forbidden Fruit was an apple? “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29. The interesting thing about this statement, is that apples have seeds in them. The exact type of fruit the Tree of Knowledge (עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע) produced is never described in the Book of Genesis.
Fortune Cookies don’t actually come from China, nor are they popular in China. Originally the Tsujiura Senbei (辻占煎餅) were invented in Kyoto, Japan. Sold in Hong Kong called “American Fortune Cookies”. The modern fortune cookie is believed to have come from a bakery in San Francisco, called Benkyodo.
Executioners didn’t usually hide their faces beneath black masks. There are accounts of executioners being alleged to have worn masks, such as the execution of King Charles I of England, 1649. But only in very rare controversial executions did this occur. Executioners, especially across England were closer to being described as well-paid, easily recognizable celebrities of the day.
Were there “Three” Wise Men? There is no direct number associated with the Wise Men (Biblical Magi or Kings) that witnessed the birth of Christ. Likely assumed to be three due to the three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Napoleón Bonaparte had a height complex? His height of 5’6 by today’s standards can seem short, compared to the average adult US male height being around 5’8. But according to a research paper by John Komlos and Francesco Cinnirella: “We estimate the height of various European populations in the first half of the 18th century. English and Irish male heights are estimated at c. 65 inches (165 cm), and c. 66 inches (168 cm) respectively.” The average male height at the time was 5’5, 1 inch shorter than Napoleón’s height.
The Curse of the Pharaohs. No treasure or any mummy has ever been discovered in any of the great pyramids of Egypt. While there were ingenious methods for sealing and hiding tombs, Egyptian booby-traps are essentially non-existent. Westerners also took a lot of creative license with the concept of “curses” and the wrath of the mummy. Much of our misconception comes from the romanticization of Ancient Egypt by writer Louisa May Alcott. Her book ‘The Mummy’s Curse’, 1868 along with a string of other texts did for idea of “The Mummy and Egyptian Curses” what Bram Stoker’s Dracula did for the concept of the Vampire (around the same time).
The Iron Maiden, possibly one of the most famous torture devices in human history. Though there’s no tangible evidence it ever existed, let alone was used to torture someone. Believed now to be the remnants of a myth during the 18th century to sensationalize how barbaric the middle-ages were.
Voodoo dolls in no variation of Voodoo/Vodou/Vodon are used to inflict harm on an individual. The dolls, mistakenly popularized to be a source of dark magic are actually effigies of the deities known as Loa. The most well known alleged use of effigies used to magically harm someone are poppets in some forms of European Witchcraft. Sometimes referred to as imitative or sympathetic magic.
Bulls are enraged by the colour red? It’s generally believed that most bovine species are partially colour blind. Their sight is comprised of shades of blue, yellow and grey. It’s not the colour of the Matador’s cape but the fluttering motion that encourages the bull to charge.
Viking helmets didn’t have horns. Despite the popular depiction, there is no evidence to suggest Vikings ever wore horned helmets. There were horned helms discovered that led to this belief, but they actually predated the Viking era. The helms discovered were also likely ceremonial and unlikely to have been used in battle, despite the fact they were never worn by Vikings. Instead it’s likely the Vikings wore crude, simple helmets of metal and leather.