Why Does Friday the 13th Scare Us So Much?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 12, 2013   View Article

It’s Friday the 13th, and millions of people are on edge, fearing a calamity with personal or global repercussions-a broken leg, a stock market crash, or the trigger pulled for World War III.

Why all the anxiety? In short, because the fear is ingrained in Western culture, according to experts.

“If nobody bothered to teach us about these negative taboo superstitions like Friday the 13th, we might in fact all be better off,” said Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London.

St. Patrick’s Day Facts: Snakes, a Slave, and a Saint

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 16, 2009   View Article

On St. Patrick’s Day—Tuesday, March 17—millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish in, and around, them with parades, good cheer, and perhaps a pint of beer.

But few St. Patrick’s Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the man, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.

“The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man,” said classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa.

Valentine’s Day Facts: Gifts, History, and Love Science

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 11, 2009   View Article

Where did Valentine’s Day come from? (Think naked Romans, paganism, and whips.) What does it cost? And why do we fall for it, year after year? Read on.

8 Jewish archaeological discoveries

Publication:   Date: December 10, 2008   View Article

The Holy Land continues to produce ancient treasures thousands of years after the events described in the Bible. Learn about eight archaeological discoveries made in recent years that have shed light on Jewish history and the Old Testament.

Week in Photos: Workers Protest, QE2 Says Goodbye, More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 9, 2008   View Article

Captions for photos of events in the news. Shots include World Day for Decent Work protests in France, The Priest’s House of Fanchuanpu Cathedral on the move in China, Yom Kippur in Israel, the Third Americas Social Forum in Guatemala, massive mudflows in Algeria, a farewell to the QE2 in Edinburgh, and the financial meltdown in Iceland.

Christmas Eve Bonfires Light Up Louisiana Levees

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 21, 2006   View Article

Santa Claus and churchgoers traveling to midnight mass should have no trouble finding their way along Louisiana’s levees this Christmas Eve.

More than a hundred towering bonfires will light the way, as they have every year for at least a century.

“War on Christmas” Echoes Past Debates, Expert Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 23, 2005   View Article

Is political correctness killing the Christmas spirit? Some say yes. Others disagree.

Whatever you believe, Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, says the current debate deserves historical context.

“It seems like we are reverting back to the days when Christians were trying to abolish Christmas,” Bryant said.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach