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Q&A: Bridges, Christmas, Thanksgiving song

Causeway or bridge?

Can you tell me why the Howard Frankland is called a bridge yet the Courtney Campbell is called a causeway?

Since both fall under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation, we asked FDOT District 7 public information officer Kristen Carson for a response. She writes:

"Causeways are typically filled-in areas of the bay creating a narrow strip of land and roadway. Years ago this technique was used instead of building long bridges.

"The Howard Frankland bridge does have small causeways at each end but is mostly bridge. The Courtney Campbell is mostly causeway with a shorter section of bridge.

"A causeway is a road or railway route across a broad body of water or wetland raised up on an embankment primarily supported on earth or stone.

"Whereas a bridge/viaduct carries a road or railway across a broad body of water or wetland that is supported on piers or columns and is free-standing."

Birth of Jesus

Christ wasn't born on Dec. 25, so when did we start celebrating Christmas in December and why?

Early church leaders debated whether Christ's birth should be celebrated, since pagan gods often were honored on their birthdays, a 2008 Christianity Today article stated. Several dates were discussed before the early church decided on Dec. 25 because it coincided with other winter festivals. The timing would make it "easier to convince Rome's pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire's official religion," History.com states.

Christmas was first celebrated around 336, but Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the wise men and is celebrated in early January, and Easter were considered more important holidays for centuries.

Over the River …

Who wrote the lyrics to the old song, Over the River and Through the Woods? And when?

Lydia Maria Child, who was born and raised in Massachusetts, wrote Over the River and Through the Woods as a Thanksgiving poem in 1844. It originally was called A Boy's Thanksgiving Day or The New-England Boy's Song About Thanksgiving Day and appeared in her Flowers for Children, Volume 2.

The poem was written before Thanksgiving became an official U.S. holiday in 1863 and later was set to music.

"Child never revised the poem herself, but the verses changed over time, especially when they were set to music," according to BostonLiteraryHistory.com. In addition to being a poet, journalist and author, Child was a women's rights activist and abolitionist.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email answers@tampabay.com.

Q&A: Bridges, Christmas, Thanksgiving song 12/26/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:02pm]
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