Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

July 2nd: Independence Day

July 2, 2014

July 2nd: Independence Day

The Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” — John Adams

On July 2, 1776 the Second Continental Congress approved the resolution to declare the United Colonies a sovereign nation, independent of the British Empire.

More:

“Why July 2 is really America’s independence day,” Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

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Image (“Declaration Drafting Committee, after Jean Leon Gerome Ferris”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Bloomsday

June 16, 2014

Bloomsday
We hope you’re enjoying the holiday. That’s right, it’s Bloomsday.

On June 16, 1904, James Joyce and his future bride, Nora Barnacle, took a stroll in Dublin. In Joyce’s novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom walks the same streets on the same date. Years later, a literary holiday was born:

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Wardrobe Adjustment

May 26, 2014

Wardrobe Adjustment

Today is Memorial Day, a special time when this great nation pauses a moment to look for its white shoes and straw hats. This is the official Unofficial Start of Summer, so get your seersucker suits out of storage.

In Baltimore, “Straw Hat Day” was May 15th; farther south, other rules apply. But remind yourself that today is about more than wearing light clothing, burning meat, or buying major appliances. There’s a reason we observe a moment of silence at 3:00 PM.

Related:

“National WWII Museum Poll Shows 80 percent of Americans Unfamiliar with Memorial Day’s Real Meaning” (Press Release).

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The Fallen

May 26, 2014

The Fallen

“If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung.”

– James A. Garfield, May 30, 1868, Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day is not about barbecues, car sales, concerts, parades, or discounts on refrigerators. Don’t celebrate Memorial Day. Observe it. Thoughtfully.

National Moment of Remembrance
A minute of silence.
Monday, May 26, 2014 3:00 PM local time.

More:

“National Moment of Remembrance,” Memorial Day Foundation

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Rolling Thunder

May 25, 2014

Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally
Sunday, May 25, 2014

Departure from the Pentagon 12:00 Noon for Reflecting Pool via Memorial Bridge
Speaker Program and Musical Tribute 1:30 p.m. at the Reflecting Pool across from The Lincoln Memorial.

More information here

2014 Buffalo Thunder Memorial Motorcycle Ride
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Departure from Sears parking, 2101 Brightseat Road, Hyattsville, MD 10:00 AM for the African American Civil War Memorial

African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, 1925 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Burnt Offerings

May 24, 2014

Burnt Offerings
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and patriotic citizens honor America’s fallen heroes by incinerating and ingesting meat outdoors. Other observances include mass motorcycle runs, traffic jams, parades of children and pets, and ceremonial retail frenzy.

This weekend will fatten U.S. meat sales and heat up the economy. Citizens who do not eat meat grill veggies; religious Jews grill kosher meat. It might be said that burger burning, bargain-hunting Americans are celebrating the values our fallen heroes were defending, but only if gluttony and consumerism are mistaken for expressions of freedom.

Anyway, have a thoughtful weekend. Observe the traditional moment of silence on Monday at 3:00 PM. And try to avoid the traditional outbreak of Memorial Day motor accidentsboating mishapshouse fires, and food poisoning.

Related:

“National WWII Museum Poll Shows 80 percent of Americans Unfamiliar with Memorial Day’s Real Meaning” (Press Release).

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com [Note: I imagined this outrageous grill a few years ago; now someone is selling it].

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Mothers Day, a Horror Story

May 11, 2014

Mothers Day, a Horror Story

This is a tale of love, obsession, madness, candy, and carnations. It is the story of Mother’s Day.

The holiday was passionately promoted by single-minded spinster Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), described by Michael Farquhar as “… a woman of fierce loyalty and tireless enterprise and a total raving lunatic.”

Miss Jarvis worshipped her mother’s memory, and no wonder. Her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 – 1905), was truly a saint. Daughter of a clergyman, Ann Maria Reeves married merchant and minister Granville E. Jarvis and gave birth to 11 children, only four of whom survived into adulthood.  In 1851 Mrs. Jarvis, a Sunday School teacher, founded Mothers Day Work Clubs in West Virginia. These met in local churches but were no parish sewing circles.  The clubs dealt with health care, disability, infant mortality, poverty, employment, worker safety, food safety, and sanitation issues. Mrs. Jarvis’ brother, James E. Reeves, MD, a public health authority, was a supporter and frequent club lecturer.

The Civil War divided West Virginia communities and families, but Mrs. Jarvis kept Mothers Day Work Club members together. The women treated wounded soldiers on both sides and helped combat typhoid fever and measles epidemics.  After the war Mrs. Jarvis organized an annual Mothers’ Friendship Day to help reunite neighbors who had supported opposing sides. People honored mothers with carnations. After her husband died in 1902, Mrs Jarvis (and her daughters) moved to Philadelphia and lived with her son Claude, a prosperous businessman.

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Seis de Mayo

May 6, 2014

Last night, the 5th of May, millions of people commemorated the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla (1862) with volleys of shots — of tequila — bravura barrages of beer, and murderous margaritas. Unsurprisingly, this morning finds heads held hostage and stomachs seared from nacho napalm. Today’s Spanish vocabulary lesson: crudo means ” hangover.”

If you celebrated Cinco de Mayo with cerveza, celebrate Seis de Mayo this morning with el desayuno de los campeones, the Breakfast of Champions. The traditional Mexican hangover cure is menudo  tripe soup or stew.

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El Cinco de Mayo, un día de fiesta grande en los Estados Unidos

May 5, 2014

El Cinco de Mayo, un día de fiesta grande en los Estados Unidos

Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, is the biggest Mexican holiday in the entire United States. Oh sure, the holiday commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, so kids in that Mexican city get the day off to watch a parade, and gringo-infested beach resorts get a little loco, but the rest of Mexico carries on as usual.

North of the border, it’s a different story. The community-based Mexican-American celebrations were co-opted by marketers for big multinational brewers, tequila importers, and mega-food purveyors. In other words, St. Patrick’s Day with mariachis. Is this a great country, or what?

More:

“Cinco de Mayo: A History Obscured by Beers and Burritos,” Jason Ruiz, Long Beach Post

“U.S. Marketers Turn Cinco de Mayo Into Pan-Ethnic National Celebration, Joel Millman, Wall Street Journal

“Does Mexico Celebrate Cinco De Mayo? Find Out How Holiday Became Mainstream,” Susmita Baral, Latin Times

“Why is Cinco de Mayo More Popular in America Than in Mexico?” Brian Greene, U.S. News & World Report

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Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

April 15, 2014

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?T

The Haggadah (הַגָּדָה‎) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ritual meal, the Seder.

“There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called ‘symposium literature’. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation.”

–”Platonic Form,” Judith Shulevitz, Tablet Magazine

The ancient Greek symposium (συμπόσιον) was a drinking party; drinking four glasses of wine is a Passover obligation. Diners are supposed to recline while they do so, just like the Greeks.

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