Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Juneteenth

June 20, 2022
Juneteenth

(General Orders. Department of Texas June 19, 1865)

Today is officially “Juneteeth, Observed,” a federal holiday, but yesterday was the historical holiday. On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger sailed into Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, which began: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This ended the legal institution of chattel slavery in the former Confederate States, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, 10 weeks after Appomattox.

Contrary to popular belief, Juneteenth didn’t end slavery in the United States. It still existed in states which hadn’t seceded from the Union, like Kentucky, New Jersey, and Delaware, until January 1, 1866, six months later, when the 13th Amendment became effective. Slavery among the tribes of Indian Territory (today’s Oklahoma) did not effectually end until August 1866.

More:

“Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day,” Kenneth C. Davis, Smithsonian.com

“Juneteenth,” Teresa Palomo Acosta, Handbook of Texas Online

“Juneteenth,” Stephanie Hall, Folklife Today

“What Is Juneteenth?” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., PBS

“Juneteenth,” Teresa Palomo Acosta, Handbook of Texas History

“The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth,” NMAAHC

Related:

“Freedmen’s Bureau,” Cecil Harper, Jr., Handbook of Texas History

Updates:

“Juneteenth holiday marking the end of slavery becomes law after decades of inaction,” Seung Min Kim, Washington Post

“How the US Military Helped Create the Juneteenth Holiday,” Blake Stilwell, Military.com

“When Did Slavery Really End in the United States?” J. Gordon Hylton, Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog

“Here are the four myths of Juneteenth that are not based on facts,” John Burnett, NPR

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Memorial Day 2022

May 30, 2022

Memorial Day 2022

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday once known as Decoration Day, the time to remember those who fell in defense of our country.  Memorial Day is now officially observed on a Monday to form a three-day holiday weekend, and the original significance has been distilled down to a 60-second Moment of Remembrance.

But there are 259,199 more minutes to a three-day weekend, and human nature abhors a semantic vacuum, so the holiday has acquired meanings in other realms:

Ceremony: Solemn ritual processions.

Ritual garb: White footwear.

Nutrition: Ceremonial meals.

Transportation: The Brickyard.

Economics:  Door-Busters.

Calendar: Memorial Day is the official Unofficial Start of Summer.

The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3:00 PM to 3:01 PM (local time in each time zone) on Monday, May 30, 2022. U.S. Code, Title 36,114, Stat. 3078, Sec.(2)(7): “… reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble event that that day is intended to be.”

For more about the origins of Memorial Day, see Burying the Dead but Not the Past by Dr. Caroline Janney.

Related:

“The forgotten history of Memorial Day,” Richard Gardiner, Quartz

“Why Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day (but shouldn’t be),” Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

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Cinco de Mayo, fiesta grande en los Estados Unidos

May 5, 2022

Cinco de Mayo, 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 may 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 of the Sixties were co-opted by marketers for big brewers, tequila importers, and mega-food purveyors. In other words, it’s 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

“How Corona Made Cinco de Mayo an American Holiday,” Adam Teeter, VinePair 

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

“Mexicans don’t understand why you are celebrating Cinco de Mayo,” Allison Jackson, GlobalPost

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

“Gringo de Mayo,” Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly

“Cinco de Mayo: A New American Holiday,” Cesar M. Melgoza,Huffington Post

“Cinco De Mayo: Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?” NPR

“How Not to Be Awful This Cinco de Mayo,” Kelly Williams Brown,Daily Beast

 

Note: ¿Chilaquiles? Mira aquí.

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DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

April 15, 2022

DC Emancipation Day, 1862: It Was Slaveowners Who Got Reparations.

On April 16, 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act freeing the 3000 enslaved people in the District of Columbia. This was nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Confederate states, many of whom actually remained in bondage until the the war’s end in 1865, and 20 months before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which definitively outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Tomorrow Saturday, April 16th, the District of Columbia will celebrate District Emancipation Day, with speeches, concerts, fireworks and parades. There’s a bit of rain on that parade, though, if you take a closer look at history. That 1862 act was called the Compensated Emancipation Act, and it authorized payments to DC slaveowners rather than liberation of enslaved people on moral grounds. It even sought to promote emigration of former slaves outside the borders of the United States.

In any case, Black Washingtonians had their freedom. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

More:

“When Slaveowners Got Reparations,” Tera W. Hunter, New York Times

“D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day,” Cuneyt Dil, Axios Washington D.C.

“D.C. celebrates its 160th Emancipation Day this weekend,” Elliot C. Williams, Alexya Brown, and Rachel Kurzius, WAMU News

“Bondage to Freedom: Commemorating DC Emancipation Day,” Karl Racine, Medium

“The DC Emancipation Day Celebration Is Back After Two Years. Here Are the DC Street Closures for Saturday’s Parade and Concert.”  Damare Baker, Washingtonian

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April 1, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII Invents April Fools’ Day. Maybe.

April 1, 2022

April 1, 1582: Pope Gregory XIII Invents April Fools’ Day. Maybe.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII instituted the (you guessed it) Gregorian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day from March 32nd (really) to January 1st. People who didn’t know that March 32nd was now April 1st and were still celebrating the old New Year looked pretty foolish that day, hence April Fools’ Day.

Or maybe the story is just a prank. Pretty good tale, anyway.

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St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2022

St. Patrick (née Maewyn Succat) was a 5th century Brit, abducted as a teenager as a forced laborer and carried to Ireland, where he got religion. He later escaped to France and became a priest before returning to proselytize in Ireland. A millennium later, North America’s early Irish immigrants and their descendants began to celebrate the day of his death as a joyous holiday, which seems a wee bit ghoulish.

The party ramped up after the Potato Famine increased Irish immigration to the US in the mid 19th century. St. Patrick’s Day became a celebration of parades, corned beef and cabbage, fiddle music, soda bread, and green beer rather than the solemn saint’s day it had been in the Auld Sod, but that’s America for you. US tourists in Ireland expected a big bash on March 17th, and the host country was glad to oblige, in celebration of greenback dollars. The holiday has now gone global. Faith and begorrah!

A National Georgraphic video.
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Washington’s Birthday

February 21, 2022

Washington's Birthday

Today is officially Washington’s Birthday (observed) according to the federal government. This date is also known as Presidents’ Day in some states, combining observance of all your favorite chief execs (Millard Fillmore?) into one holiday.

Birthday boy and first president George Washington enslaved 319 human beings in Virginia during his lifetime, but the state’s current governor, Glenn Youngkin, won’t let that be taught in the Old Dominion’s schools. Virginia’s kids will need a field trip to Mount Vernon to learn about it. President Washington also signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, requiring authorities in free states and territories to allow slave-catchers to seize escaped refugees and transport them back into bondage.

Happy Black History Month.

More:

“George Washington, Slave Catcher,” Erica Armstrong Dunbar, New York Times

Related:

“More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation.” Julie Zauzmer Weil, Adrian Blanco and Leo Dominguez, Washington Post

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February 14th

February 14, 2022

February 14th

It’s Valentine’s Day. Love & Happiness, y’all.

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Valentine

February 14, 2022

“Valentine,” written and recorded by Willie Nelson, 1993.

Willie Nelson website

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Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2022

“Valentine’s Day,” written and recorded by David Bowie, 2013. David Bowie (vocals), Earl Slick (guitars), Tony Visconti (bass), Sterling Campbell (drums). Music video directed by Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri and Markus Klinko. It’s not a romantic song. It’s about a school shooting on February 14, 2006.  In 2018, there was another school shooting on that date, at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

Happy Valentine’s Day, kids. It’s a good day for remote learning.

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