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Wikimedia Commons

Where Does Tea Time Come From?

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Few things are more British than afternoon tea. Despite the close association, the beverage was enjoyed for more than twenty years in France before it migrated across the English Channel.

Tea-lightful

Until the nineteenth century, British citizens ate two main meals — breakfast and dinner. Dinner wasn’t served until late evening, so most citizens went many hours between meals.

Around 1840, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, began complaining of faintness in the mid-afternoon. At first, the noblewoman would privately consume a pot of tea and a light snack in her personal quarters. Later that summer, she began inviting friends to dine with her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey.

When the summer ended, Russell continued this meal in London during the social season. Here, other hostesses picked up the practice. As it became popular, teatime moved from private quarters to the drawing room. After a while, most of London’s social scene would be drinking tea and eating a light snack in the afternoon.

Revolutionary drinks

Until tea became popular, beer was the daytime drink of choice for the lower class. Since beer is produced with boiled water and antiseptic hops, it was a safer drink than the unsanitary water. At the time, drinking alcohol was a social ritual, a vital source of calories, an escape for the working classes.

As the Industrial Revolution took hold, workers were expected to stay sober during their long workdays at the factory. During the same time, the temperance movement was gaining steam, and more people were turning to “temperance drinks” like coffee, tea, and chocolate.

High Tea?

Though many tea shops call the light, casual afternoon snack “high tea,” they’re misusing the term. High tea actually refers to the slightly heavier meal enjoyed around 5 or 6 at night, usually by the working class during the Industrial Revolution. This meal was often taken during the factories’ longest break of the day – the tea break.

For many workers, high tea was a vital source of caffeine and calories. Since it helped workers to get through long work days, some historians credit the tea break for the spike in productivity that happened during this era. The name is thought to be derived from the high, formal dinner tables it was served on.

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travel
Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
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What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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