In ‘A Christmas Sermon’, a short public domain text available on Wikisource, Robert Louis Stevenson meditates on the holiday season, death, morality and man’s main task in life: “to be honest, to be kind…to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence.”
‘A Christmas Sermon’ appeared in a collection of essays entitled ‘Across the plains: with other Memories and Essays’ (1892) and was written, along with The Master of Ballantrae, shortly after Stevenson’s father had passed away and while Stevenson himself was recovering from a lung ailment at Lake Saranac, New York, in the winter of 1887.
Wikisource, the hyper library hosts over 340,000 out-of-copyright longer texts (plays, poems, short stories, novels, letters, speeches, constitutional documents, songs & more) as demonstrated by the range of texts on Robert Louis Stevenson’s page here.
Yule Lads – on the greatest Open Education Resource: Wikipedia.
Yule lads are 13 trolls from Icelandic folklore who put rewards (or punishments) in shoes laid out on windowsills by children on the 13 nights in the run up to Christmas. Some Yule lads are mere pranksters while some are… homicidal monsters who eat children.
You can find out more about the Yule lads (and when they’re due to arrive in town) on the greatest open education tool; Wikipedia.
But just in case, below is a list of their names & descriptions so you can watch out for them (and their monstrous Yule Cat)!
Harasses sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs.
Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk.
Abnormally short. Steals pans to eat the crust left on them.
Steals spoons to lick. Is extremely thin due to malnutrition.
Steals leftovers from pots.
Hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their bowl which he then steals.
This 1 minute 22 second video demonstrates how quickly & easily timelines can be put together using Wikipedia articles & categories to dramatically visualise events.
By way of example, I was able to create this Santa Claus in the movies timeline in a matter of minutes going from the 1900 movie, A Christmas Dream, by Georges Méliès right up to modern day with films like Trading Places (1983), Miracle on 34th Street (1994) and Arthur Christmas (2012). The published timeline is now available for others to view and add to as a free open education resource where each timeline event can be clicked on to take you through to the Wikipedia article to find out more.
Screengrab of Histropedia timeline for Santa Claus in the movies. (CC-BY)
Further, now that the Histropedia now has a Wikidata Query Viewer option this means that the structured data can now be queried even further. For example, I was curious to find out more about Saint Nick so I was able to ask Wikidata to show me all the saints it had information about and show them on a timeline according to their year of birth and colour coded by their place of birth. Click here to view the result.
Histropedia’s developers, Navino Evans and Sean McBirnie, joined us at Repository Fringe at the University of Edinburgh in August this year where we recorded a short video tutorial in order to demonstrate how to create a Histropedia timeline using their Wikidata Query Viewer – this time on female alumni of the University of Edinburgh; colour-coded by their place of birth and labelled in Japanese, Russian, Arabic & English (depending on whether the query could find an article in these 4 different language Wikipedias).