WTF Fun Fact 13710 – Sebastianism

Have you ever heard of Sebastianism?

Sebastian’s Legend

In the heart of Portugal, a legend persists about a young king who vanished in battle, igniting a flame of hope that has never died. This legend, known as Sebastianism, revolves around King Sebastian, who ascended the throne in 1557.

Despite his brief reign, his impact was monumental, culminating in the disastrous Battle of Alcácer Quibir in 1578. Against advice, Sebastian led an ill-fated crusade into Morocco, where he and much of Portugal’s nobility were lost. Yet, it was his mysterious disappearance that birthed a myth enduring centuries.

The Essence of Sebastianism

Sebastianism is more than a tale of a lost king. It’s a messianic belief intertwining national identity, faith, and the yearning for a savior. According to believers, King Sebastian would return in Portugal’s darkest hour, emerging from the fog to reclaim his throne and restore Portugal to its former glory.

This belief symbolizes a deep-rooted hope for resurgence and salvation, reflecting the collective psyche of a nation navigating the trials of time.

Beyond the Myth

The essence of Sebastianism goes beyond longing for a monarch’s return. It reflects a collective consciousness, a coping mechanism for a nation facing decline. This sentiment echoed through the centuries, reemerging during times of hardship, symbolizing hope and the undying spirit of the Portuguese people.

Sebastianism in Modern Times

Today, Sebastianism transcends its historical roots, influencing literature, art, and political discourse. It serves as a metaphor for the eternal wait for redemption, inspiring works that delve into themes of loss, expectation, and rebirth. The legend of King Sebastian remains a testament to the enduring power of myth in shaping national identity and consciousness.

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Source: “From Military Defeat to Immortality: The Birth of Sebastianism” — The Luzo-Brazilian Review (via JSTOR)

WTF Fun Fact 12601 – The Origin of Gingerbread Men

People ate well in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Ok, it was British food, but the desserts were good.

Decadent royal banquets were stocked with sweets like marzipan and shaped into elaborate designs of castles, animals, and even other foods. The queen also had a personal gingerbread maker.

At one of these events, she had this gingerbread maker bake cookies to resemble the foreign dignitaries she had invited. Prof. Carole Levin, an expert on Queen Elizabeth I’s court surmised that in a time of political turmoil, the amusing gesture may have even been a part of diplomacy. (We just hope the cookies were flattering and the people they resembled had a sense of humor because it’s easy for those sorts of things to backfire.)

While we don’t know which came first, around the same time, there was another, very different use of gingerbread “men.” Folk doctors (which were more along the lines of what we might think of as witches) would “prescribe” them to women looking for love. According to Levin, the woman would buy the cookie and attempt to get the man she had her eye on to eat it. They were believed to be imbued with magic that would make the man fall in love with the cookie-giver.

We’re not sure how often it worked, but it’s not NOT true that the way to some men’s hearts is through their stomachs.

The delicious-smelling cake had been around for centuries before all of this, but baking them into the shape of little people is a culinary curiosity that traces back to a specific time and place. – WTF fun facts

Source: “The Surprising Reasons Why Gingerbread Men Became a Holiday Classic” — TIME Magazine