Advent is not just a countdown till Christmas but an important part of the liturgical year in preparation for the birth of Jesus. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans and other Christian denominations observe this special time. Advent is a short period of only four weeks (Sundays and weekdays) leading up to Christmas Day. Usually, Advent begins on or after the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle on 30 November. Eastern Orthodox uses the Julian calendar for their liturgical year, so they start 13 days after the current Gregorian calendar date.
The word Advent comes Latin word adventus, meaning coming or coming to, is a time of preparation for the birth of Christ and a reminder that Jesus will return. Christians are reminded during this period to not be distracted or weighed down by all the commercialization that is going on around Christmas and focus on deepening their relationships with God. For Catholics it will be solemn masses, setting up Advent wreaths, reciting special prayers, and being more concerned about our fellow human beings. There are also special Advent songs and music that are used during this time as well.
Anglicans uses both traditional and modern rituals which include Advent processions, carols, and using Advent calendars (Catholics are doing this as well). Lutherans focus on God’s grace and his redemption. They incorporate Advent hymns, scripture, and lighting Advent candles as well. For Eastern Orthodox, it involves fasting until Christmas Day, daily prayers, and greatly anticipating the important event that is to come.
Whatever the denomination, Christians are preparing themselves for not only the birth of the savior but his return one day (the Final Judgment). So, it is a time of preparation, repentance, faith, and loving our fellow human beings. It also means to seek reconciliation through prayer and going to a priest or minister to get forgiven for our sins. Advent is not a time of merely counting down the clock and buying presents but spending time preparing for this important holy day that is to come. And a time to get closer to God as well.
December is the 12th month on the Gregorian calendar. The name derives from the Latin word decem, which means ten. Originally December was the tenth month in an older calendar as it started in March. Apparently the winter days that followed December were not included in a month until much later when January and February were added. December retained its name though. Anglo-Saxons used the term Yule for December-January, but that now that has largely come to mean December and the Christmas season.
December has the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern. Winter traditionally begins on the astronomical calendar around 21 December or the date of the actual solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and depending on how far north you live, sunlight may only be for a few hours on that day. The symbols for December are the narcissus flower and turquoise, zircon and tanzanite as the birthstones.
Most Christians celebrate Advent in preparation for the celebration of Christmas on 25 December. Jews celebrate Chanukah/Hanukkah, the 8-day Festival of Lights in December as well. Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26-January 1.
On 30 November 1939, in what later be called the Winter War, the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Finland. The objectives were both strategic and territorial. Under the (secret)terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed in August, Finland was placed into their sphere of influence. Prior to the invasion, the Soviet Union wanted Finland to cede land that would provide more security for Leningrad (formerly known as St. Petersburg, changed to Petrograd during World War I, and renamed Leningrad in 1924 after Lenin’s death).
Everyone, including the Russians, believed it would be easy. The Soviet Union had more troops and aircraft. It was expected the Finns would easily surrender. It did not turn out that way at all. After the initial attack and bombing of Helsinki where 61 would die, the Finns instead showed remarkable resistance. The Finnish government used pictures of the raid showing women with dead babies and those crippled by the bombings to engender sympathy from the outside world and to generate the Finnish resistance to the Russians. The Soviet Army, dressed in summer clothing as winter started to set in, quickly realized they were facing stiff opposition. President Roosevelt extended $10 million in credit to Finland (they paid it back after the war). The League of Nations expelled the Soviet Union for its invasion.
The Soviet Union though reorganized and came with different tactics in February 1940. Finnish defenses were overcome and resistance, though still strong, was up against a better organized Soviet Army this time. In March 1940 the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed. The Soviet Union got what it initially demanded and more as well. Finland’s sovereignty was preserved but it came at a cost for the Soviet Union. Most Western governments considered the Soviet Red Army as poorly led.
Hitler and his generals viewed the Red Army as weak and that an attack on it would be successful. They would invade Russia in June 1941. Finland though would go to war with the Soviet Union. as well. There are different views as to why but generally it was to get back the land lost in the peace treaty of 1940. Unfortunately, a faction of Finnish military and political leaders decided to work closely with the German Wehrmacht for a joint attack. While never signing formally the Tripartite Pact that made them an ally of Nazi Germany, the did sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. This pact signed by Germany, Japan and other countries created an alliance against the Soviet Union.
Finland would retake the territories given to Russia but continued on. They participated in the siege of Leningrad by cutting its northern supply. The Soviet Army would eventually push them back and a ceasefire was called on 5 September 1944. The resulting agreement would require the expulsion or disarming of German troops in their territory. Under pressure from the Soviets to expel German forces, Finnish troops fired on German soldiers resulting in exchanges between the two. By November 1944 nearly all German troops had withdrawn. With the end of the war in 1945, the borders were restored to the 1940 treaty. Finland had to pay war reparations to the Soviet Union. Since they fought with Germany, they had to accept responsibility for their part in the war and acknowledge they had been a German ally.
The sinking of the SS Daniel J. Morrell in 1966 during a fierce November storm on Lake Huron is often compared to the Edmund Fitzgerald, but less remembered. It broke up during the storm and only person out of29 crewmen survived.
The ship was launched in 1906 and at 603 feet long was considered one of the largest bulk carriers on the lakes at the time. Her sister ship, Edward Y. Townsend, was of the same length and both worked the Great Lakes transporting bulk cargo. By 1966, they were no longer the largest but were still making bulk freight deliveries. Both the Morrell and Townsend were making their last run of the season on 29 Nov 1966 when disaster struck. The infamous “Gales of November” were roaring on Lake Huron with wind speeds that topped 70 mph (110 km/h). Seas were high with swells that topped the ship. The Townsend decided to seek shelter in the St. Clair River while the Morrell continued its journey to Thunder Bay for shelter.
At 2 am, noises that sounded like a loud banging drove the crew to the deck. They could see the ship was in dire condition, so many jumped into the frigid waters to die. At 2:15 am the ship broke in two. The crew still on the bow got into a lifeboat mostly wearing light clothing since they had come up from below. Some thought another ship was coming, but the aft was still moving as the propellers were turning. It went about five miles before it sank. Since they had no chance to send any messages, there was no SOS sent from the ship. The surviving crewmen fired off flares to get attention to no avail.
The Morrell was deemed overdue the next day at 12:15 pm at Taconite Harbor, Minnesota. The Coast Guard began looking and at around 4:00 pm located a lifeboat with one survivor in it. The other three had perished from the cold. 26-year-old Watchman Dennis Hale was the lone survivor. He was wearing boxer shorts, a life jacket, and a pea coat. He would need many surgeries to deal with the injuries he suffered that night. Most of the bodies of the rest of the crew were found, though two were never located. Hale’s testimony would prove important to the investigation that followed.
Hale would testify that the Morrell was well known as leaky. He reported to Captain Arthur I. Crawley, who responded they did not have time to fix since they were not in port long enough. The Coast Guard inspected the Townsend and found a large crack in her deck caused by the storm. She was immediately taken out service and never sailed again. Ironically, she would sink on her way to be scrapped off Newfoundland during a storm. She was being towed, so no lives were lost when she sank.
The investigation showed that the steel used in her construction had too much sulfur in it resulting it becoming brittle in cold weather. And the ship finally met a storm on a very cold night that finally did her in. Brittle steel has been identified as to one of the reasons the Titanic sank so quickly. Hale would never sail on the Great Lakes again after surviving the sinking. He spoke rarely about his ordeal but did write a book about it.
In the aftermath of World War II, there was debate about how to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and especially the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels were already dead by suicide. Churchill had the simplest approach of wanting to simply execute them but it was decided that tribunal would be a better method. The tribunal would reveal to the world the extent of the crimes upon humanity the persons were responsible for.
The concept of an international tribunal was novel and had never been done before. Then again, no nation had before committed to full scale extermination of whole peoples as the Nazi’s had tried to do. An international tribunal composed of representatives from Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States was formed. Defendants faced charges that varied from war crimes to crimes against humanity. Twenty- four were indicted along with six Nazi organizations such as the Gestapo that were also determined to be criminal. One was declared medically unfit to stand trial and another committed suicide before the trial began.
Each defendant was allowed to choose their own lawyers. They all pled not guilty and either argued that the crimes they committed were declared crimes after the London Charter (meaning ex post facto) or that they were applying harsh standards as they were the victors. The trials would last under October 1946 when verdicts were handed down. Twelve were sentenced to death and others got prison terms. Hermann Goering committed suicide the night before he was to be executed.
The day after Thanksgiving in the United States has been called Black Friday for quite a long time, yet its origins are somewhat confusing owing to some clever remaking of the day by the retailers.
Its historical origins had nothing to do with Thanksgiving but a financial crisis in 1869. On 23 September 1869 a crash occurred in the U.S gold markets that was likely triggered by the actions of Jim Fisk and Jay Gould who tried to buy up as much gold as they could. In doing so, it drove the price of gold sky-high allowing them to sell at a huge profit. When their actions became known, it sent the gold market crashing down but also spread to the stock market resulting in bankers and farmers losing substantial sums of money. Thus, that date on a Friday became known as Black Friday.
The link to retail appears to come from a story about making huge profits on the day after Thanksgiving. In origin story, retailers lived on or near the infamous red line. That red line means they are operating at a near loss or in fact “in the red” meaning they were not making profits. The day after Thanksgiving brought in so many shoppers that they went into the black (meaning making profits), so it became known a Black Friday. While this version is somewhat accurate in that many retailers looked forward to the start of the Christmas season to generate high revenues, it is not the origin of Black Friday either. Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, often considered the start of the Christmas season in the United States, does give an indicator as to what consumers are willing to spend If the economy is good. On the other hand, if the economy is not doing well people may not spend much and only buy things they need and items on sale.
There are some who believe it has ties to racism on Southern plantations in the 1800’s. According to this story, it is claimed that owners would buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. This has led to some in the African American community to call for the boycott of stores on Back Friday. Except there appears to be no basis for this story. So far nothing has been found to show that slave auctions of this kind took place the day after Thanksgiving in that era. Like misinterpreting the word picnic as racist (picnic comes from a French word about eating outside and has nothing to do with race), this appears to have been created to fit someone’s perspective on the origins of the day.
The modern use of the term in fact comes from the 1950’s and from the city of Philadelphia. Police called it Black Friday to describe all the chaos that ensued from shoppers racing to shop before the Army-Navy game that was held on Saturday. The bedlam was so bad that no day off was granted to police on this day to deal with the hordes of cars and people in the city. Another factor was that criminals would take advantage of the large crowds to steal wallets, purses, and of course shoplift as well. Retailers were not happy with this connotation and tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday.” This was unsuccessful, so they tried to remake the day by saying this was the day retailers needed to make a profit. This appears to have worked and the darker roots from Philadelphia have been largely forgotten.
By remaking the day using sales to drive people into stores, it became an event on its own that spawned other major retails days. Black Friday was marketed as a day to get great bargains and all the major retailers jumped aboard. People began lining up early and some retailers decided to open on Thanksgiving (usually in the evening) to take advantage of the desire to buy discounted items. Ironically it then created things that harkened back to Philadelphia. In recent years when stores opened to the throngs waiting outside, chaos ensued when people raced into the store to grab what they wanted. People got trampled, fights broke out between adults bickering over who was entitled to the product. Many stores started to regulate the number of people in their store at any given time. This has been somewhat successful but when a surge of people all stampede at the door, the best the security guards can do is jump aside or be trampled on.
While Philadelphia is rarely mentioned, the chaos outside usually hearkens back to it. Mall parking lots are jammed, streets are full of cars trying to get in or out, and even freeways near those shopping malls are impacted as well. Up in the air, helicopters fly overhead filming the chaos below. And in major cities or areas where crowds are enormous, the police are often around to manage as best they can the traffic and crime that is going on. The Internet has made a dent, but you must wait for the product to arrive, so it is off to the store! In recent years retailers had started opening on Thanksgiving so people could get in early. Some like Target have rethought that and now are closed for Thanksgiving Day. And that is a good sign. Thanksgiving is a special holiday that should be treated on its own. And Black Friday is all about the shopping.
Here are some fun and interesting facts about the turkey and Thanksgiving.
Turkey is native to North America and has two breeds:
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
This is found in eastern and central North America and Mexico.
Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
Found in the Yucatan Peninsula and Central America.
Turkeys were domesticated by native peoples. The Spanish brought back turkeys to Spain and from there they gradually made their way into the cuisine of Europe. English explorers and settlers would bring back turkey to England where they were apparently domesticated since records indicate they were being eaten by the British in the 16th century.
Due to its abundance in North America, Mexico, and Central America, the turkey was not seen as something special due to its availability. This is probably the reason why it was not mentioned as a meat served at the first Thanksgiving though it was likely served.
Beef and pork were seen as holiday meats and were generally only eaten on important days like Christmas, Easter, or other special events. The Irish, for example, preferred pork for St. Patrick’s Day since it was easier than cattle since they take up lots of space while pigs could be kept in a pen. This only changed when Irish came to America and found beef in easy abundance and luckily for them delicatessens had corned beef.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, turkey starts showing up more as a meat to be used when you did not want to slaughter a pig or a cow. Turkey also started becoming popular for feasts as well, though not at center stage just yet. In A Christmas Carol the kids were waiting excitedly for the goose to come back from the baker showing its importance for Christmas feasting. Turkey starts showing up more in books and illustrations as a Christmas food. In 18th and 19th century America lobster was seen as a poor man’s food since people of wealth could afford beef, pork, goose, or turkey.
During the latter part of the Victorian Era (1837-1901), turkey would replace beef and pork for Christmas. As upper-class people and Queen Victoria embraced it, others followed suit and it would replace the goose for Christmas. In the United States, turkey became associated with Thanksgiving due to both images and stories of it being eaten at the first Thanksgiving. As stated earlier, there is no mention of turkeys at that meal, but it is more than likely they were served. As the image of turkeys being part of that Thanksgiving seeped into the American consciousness, it eventually found its way to become part of the celebration itself. Turkey quickly displaced beef and pork (to the displeasure of their producers) as the central part of the feast. Today it is mostly unthinkable to not think of turkey as part of the Thanksgiving feast (with apologies to my vegetarian friends).
Today millions of turkeys are sold at Thanksgiving either frozen, fresh, or sometimes smoked. While the U.S. is a major consumer of the bird, more turkey is eaten in Israel than anywhere else. They really like turkey for their big feasts but of course it is served with Kosher accompaniments so you will not be having mashed potatoes made of milk and butter (since Kosher forbids the mixing of meat and dairy).
Despite their numbers being severely dropped for a while due to hunting and other things, the wild turkey is making a comeback and large flocks have been seen in the wild and sometimes in suburbs as well. Wild turkeys can fly short distances, but their domesticated cousins are flightless. The possible exception might be heritage turkeys raised outdoors and free to roam and eat.
Wild turkeys can be a bit of a nuisance though. They can get nasty, sometimes bite, and they leave some of their presence behind to be cleaned up. Sometimes it requires effort to chase them away though if a coyote or mountain lion should appear (and attack the flock) that generally gives them the hint to move on.
Roasting turkey in an oven is traditional but, in many areas, not always possible. In the early days, many homes did not have ovens as we know them. They might have open hearths or perhaps an area where they could heat up and put a turkey in. This led to bakers, who had ovens, often for a fee leasing out their ovens to cook a bird. Others would cook them in fat in large open containers in pits dug for this purpose. Others found ways to roast over an open fire by turning them often (a sometimes risky and tiring task since you had to stand close and manually turn it like today’s rotisserie sans electricity).
Deep frying turkey may have started in the American South but went back further possibly to England, France and perhaps even to the Romans. Deep frying does cook faster and keeps it moist, but the key is the amount of oil used and how stable the platform to cook is. Some used deep pits, so this prevented fires or leakage. Above the ground requires the cooking platform to be kept clear of anything that might burn if there is a leak resulting in a fire.
The most common reason for mishaps with deep frying turkey is people do not pay attention to the amount of oil used to the weight of the bird. One hilarious video on YouTube had this guy lowering the turkey into the pot outdoors while saying he had followed the Archimedes rule of displacement. He miscalculated, hot oil spilled out of the pot and ignited with the open flame below, and then fully ignited. The other common reason is that people put a frozen bird into hot oil thinking there will be no problem. I am not sure if they didn’t pay attention in chemistry class or never heard why you do not put water into a hot pan with oil in it. The result in an explosion that can, if too close to the home (or foolishly enough inside it) means your home or apartment is going to be severely damaged. Or worse.
During World War II, the military tried to make sure troops everywhere had Thanksgiving even front-line troops. Those who served on military bases, ships, or in London probably had the best. For submarines the cook(s) had to contend with the unexpected action of the sub diving as they were cooking made Thanksgiving meal an adventure both in cooking and serving. And for those on the field with Germans in sight, getting those meals meant coming under direct enemy fire causing some commanders to question the wisdom of delivering meals while in an active fire zone.
And of course, Thanksgiving can be a source of humor as well. Just look at some vintage clips from shows past and present about it. The most classic one of course is the famous and never duplicated one from WKRP. As a promotion they decided to drop turkeys into a parking lot in front of a mall. And, well, you have to watch to find out.
[Note: This has been updated with new source information, grammatical corrections, and more images]
Thanksgiving was not an official national holiday until 1863. A letter from a 74-year-old magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, inspired President Abraham Lincoln to create a national holiday. She wrote in 1863 that we needed to have a national day of Thanksgiving so that everyone could celebrate it on the same day. At the time Thanksgiving was celebrated by the various states but not on the same date. She wanted President Lincoln to make it a national day so it would become a permanent part of “American custom and institution.”
Other presidents had ignored such requests. Lincoln decided to act on her request and directed a proclamation be drawn up. On 3 October 1863, President Lincoln’s proclamation that establishes Thanksgiving as a national day was issued. It sets aside the last Thursday of November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Secretary of State William Seward actually drafted the proclamation which Lincoln signed. Thanksgiving became a national holiday and was celebrated on that date until 1939. President Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 and 1941 changed it to the third Thursday (to extend the Christmas season) causing considerable controversy. A joint resolution of Congress in 1941 resolved it by decreeing Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November.
(Scene from the 1942 movie Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. At the time the movie was made in 1941, Thanksgiving had shifted back and forth starting in 1939. This animation from the movie illustrates this perfectly.)
Lincoln’s proclamation was written during the American Civil War, a terrible time in U.S. history. Today we forget why this day was made a national holiday. It was to thank God for the blessings of liberty but also to ask his help. In our politically correct times, this proclamation is not always read in full or edited. So here is the original proclamation. Read it and understand why Lincoln thought a National Day of Thanksgiving was needed for the United States of America.
Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
On 21 November 1916, HMHS Britannic was sunk by mine near the island of Kea in the Aegean Sea. The ship sank in 55 minutes and 1,035 people were rescued, only 30 perished. Britannic was the third and last ship of the Olympic class liners built by White Star Line. The other two were Olympic and Titanic. Britannic was launched in February 1914. Many design changes were made prior to launch due to lessons learned from Titanic. Those changes were:
Double hull along the engine and boiler rooms raising six of the watertight bulkheads up to B deck.
More powerful turbine installed due to increase in hull width.
Watertight compartments were enhanced so that the ship can stay afloat with six compartments flooded.
Motorized davits to launch six lifeboats (only five out of eight were installed before war service). Manual operated davits were used for the remaining lifeboats. The new design also allowed all lifeboats to be launched even if the ship was listing. There were 55 lifeboats with capacity for 75 each so that 3,600 people could be carried.
When World War I broke out, the ship had to be retrofitted as a hospital ship. Most of the furnishings were stored in a warehouse to be placed back aboard after the war. The Britannic began service as a hospital ship on 12 December 1915. She was sent to the Aegean Sea to bring back sick and wounded soldiers. Her first tour of service was ended on 6 June 1916 and she was sent back to Belfast to be refitted back as a passenger liner. As this was underway, the ship was again recalled to military service on 26 August 1916 and was sent back to the Mediterranean Sea.
On the morning of 21 November 1916, the Britannic under the command of Captain Alfred Barnett was steaming into the Kea Channel when at 8:12 am a loud explosion shook the ship. The explosion, unknown at the time whether it was a torpedo or mine, damaged the first four watertight compartments and rapidly filled with water. Water was also flowing into the boiler room. Captain Bartlett ordered the watertight doors closed, sent a distress call, and ordered the lifeboats be prepared. Unfortunately, while they could send messages, damage to the antenna wires meant they could not hear the responses back from ships responding to their SOS. Britannic was reaching her flooding limit and open portholes (opened by nurses to ventilate wards) were bringing more water in as well.
As the ship was still moving, Bartlett did not order lifeboats be lowered but two lifeboats were lowered anyway. They were sucked into the ships propellor and torn to bits killing everyone in those two lifeboats. Bartlett ordered the ship stopped to assess the damage. The ship was listing so badly that the gantry davits were inoperable. Thinking the sinking had slowed, he ordered the engines back on to try and beach the ship. The flooding increased as more water was coming in aided by the open portholes the nurses had opened to air out their wards early in the morning. Bartlett ordered the engines stopped and to abandon ship. She would sink at 9:07 am, 55 minutes after the explosion. Thankfully the water temperature was high (70 F), they had more lifeboats than Titanic, and rescue came less than two hours. Nearby fisherman were able to help and at 10:00 am, the HMS Scourge arrived and later the HMS Heroic and later the HMS Foxhound.
1,035 survived. Of the 30 lost, only five were buried as their bodies were not recovered. Memorials in Thessaloniki and London honor those lives lost. Survivors were housed on the warships and the nurses and officers were put into hotels. Most survivors were sent home, and some arrived in time for Christmas. Speculation about whether it was a torpedo or a mine was resolved when it was learned that a German submarine (SM U-73) had planted mines in the Kea Channel in October 1916. The loss of two Olympic class ships was a major blow to White Star Line. They would get, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, the German ocean liner Bismarck (renamed Majestic), which replaced Britannic. They also got Columbus which was named Homeric.
Britannic has been largely forgotten except when news of expeditions were made to the wreck site over the years. The wreck itself was bought by noted author Simon Mills, who has written two books on the ship. An expedition in September 2003 located by sonar mine anchors confirming German records of U-73 that Britannic was sunk by a single mine. The expedition found several watertight doors open making it likely the mine strike was during a watch change on the ship. One notable survivor was Violet Jessop. She had been on Olympic as stewardess when it collided with the HMS Hawke, aboard Titanic in the same capacity when it sank, and then aboard Britannic as a stewardess with the Red Cross.
Chirnside, Mark (2011) . The Olympic-Class Ships. Stroud: Tempus
Lord, Walter (2005) . A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin
Mills, Simon (2019). Exploring the Britannic: The Life, Last Voyage and Wreck of Titanic’s Tragic Twin. London: Adlard Coles