Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

2nd Monday in October

October 8, 2018

In many parts of the United States the second Monday in October is recognized as a holiday. But just which holiday is it, anyway? Americans disagree. A Vox video.

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Labor Day To-Do List

September 3, 2018

Labor Day To-Do List

Happy Labor Day. Now that September is upon us, remember:

1. The 2018 NFL season starts Thursday, September 6th. Get snacks & beer.

2. Air out woolens.

3. Buy leaf bags.

4. Do not wear white shoes after September 3rd. 
Persons in the continental United States wearing white shoes past that date are assumed to be illegal aliens from the Southern Hemisphere, and will be treated accordingly. You have been warned.

More:

“Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?” Kathy Benjamin, Mental Floss

“The Reason(s) Behind the No-White-After-Labor-Day Rule (Blame the One Percent!),” John Surico, Village Voice

Why We Can’t Wear White After Labor Day,” Laura Fitzpatrick, Time

Related:

“When Labor Day Meant Something,” Chad Broughton, The Atlantic

“How Labor Day Was Celebrated When Unions Were on the Rise,” Eliza Berman, TIME

“Early Labor Day parades included cigar-making, beer, and proposed live animal slaughter,” Phil Edwards, Vox

“8 facts about American workers,” Sara Kehaulani Goo, Pew Research Center

“US unions are shrinking. These 7 charts show what that means.” Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox

“Why white men hate unions,” Edward McClelland, Salon

“More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft,’” Steve Greenhouse,New York Times

“No union mines left in Kentucky, where labor wars once raged,” Dylan Lovan, Associated Press

“Workers Organize, but Don’t Unionize, to Get Protection Under Labor Law,” Steven Greenhouse. New York Times

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Labor Day

September 3, 2018

Labor Day“Every dollar that the boss did not work for, one of us worked for a dollar and didn’t get it.”

William “Big Bill” Haywood

Related:

“What Is Labor Day? A History of the Workers’ Holiday,” Karen Zraick, New York Times

“Most Americans view unions favorably, though few workers belong to one,” Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center

“Unions struggle in the courts, but they have a fighting chance in the streets,” Barry Eidlin, Washington Post

“Trump Celebrates Labor Day by Attacking Labor Leader,” Benjamin Hart, New York Magazine

“Trump rolls back worker safety rules,” Ian Kullgren, Politico

“Donald Trump’s war on workers,” Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“A Labor Day Reflection on Unions, Race, and Division,” Dan Kaufman, The New Yorker

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Labor Day Weekend: REAL Men Grill Meat

August 31, 2018

Labor Day Weekend: REAL Men Grill Meat

This is Labor Day Weekend, ceremonial End of Summer in the USA. During this three-day holiday adult American men are obliged to offer up sacrifices to their gods, incinerating animal flesh outdoors behind their homes. Families and  neighbors consume the charred remains, washing them down with copious libations of fermented grain or carbonated sugar-water.

This custom is said to bridge cultural differences and promote family and community cohesion, but the ceremony has a grave, unstated purpose. If American men do not burn meat for them on Labor Day, the angry gods will not end summer, preventing the start of the new pro football season.

More:

“Football: America’s national religion,” Chad Gibbs, Washington Post  blog.

“The Foodspin Cookout Reader,” Albert Burneko, Foodspin

“NFL Labor Day Cookout: Which Food Is Your Favorite Player Bringing?” Bailey Brautigan, Bleacher Report.

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Note: Canadian men sacrifice meat on “Labour Day,” which has something to do with their Ice Hockey cult. Or with “Curling,” maybe. Whatever that is.

Image (“BBQ Grill for Real Men”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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America

July 4, 2018

“America,” composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, from the 1961 film West Side StoryRita Moreno (Anita) and George Chakiris (Bernardo) are the principal singers in the movie; their roles were originally created on Broadway by Larry Kert and Chita Rivera in 1957.

“Life is all right in America, if you’re all white in America”

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4th of July

July 4, 2018

Star Swain of Tallahassee visits the Lincoln Memorial.

“She hesitated to sing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial. Then, she slayed.” Lindsey Bever, Washington Post

Happy Independence Day.

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The Macaroons of Moses

March 30, 2018

The Macaroons of Moses

Tonight many Jewish families hold the Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

Origins of the Passover macaroon are shrouded in mystery. Some believe the dense sweets derive from hastily assembled desserts prepared by the Israelites as they fled Egyptian bondage on a route devoid of donut shops. Others maintain that, in the nineteenth century, rabbinical scholars exploring caves near the Dead Sea uncovered a huge cache of ancient canisters of sweet, rock-hard, unleavened biscuits. Each spring these pious prospectors slapped “Kosher for Passover” labels on the cans and exported them to the growing Jewish community in the United States, and a tradition was born.

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Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

March 29, 2018

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

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.

There’s a cute Passover tradition, breaking a piece of matzoh (unleavened bread) and hiding half of it. The bread can only be eaten at the end of the meal, after the family’s children discover it. That piece of bread has a funny name, afikomen, but its origin isn’t Hebrew. You guessed it, it’s Greek:

“In Greek, the word is epikomen and is made up of two smaller words: epi, which means after (as in an epilogue), and komos, which means a banquet or merrymaking, and is the same word that inspired the English word comedy. For centuries, Jews have taken afikomen to mean ‘that which comes after the meal,’ more commonly known, of course, as dessert.”

– “Breaking Matzah,” David K. Israel, Mental Floss

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Mardi Gras

February 13, 2018

You’re sipping hurricane cocktails and Dixie Beer and watching the Mardi Gras parades. Whoa. Mardi Gras Indians aren’t the only ones dancing today!

“Ain’t No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day” by Benny Antin, from the 1997 album Wild LinoleumLyrics here.

Related:

“93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads among debris removed during citywide catch basin cleaning project,” Helen Freund, The New Orleans Advocate

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Groundhog Day

February 2, 2018

Groundhog Day

It’s February 2nd, time to monitor Marmota monax and dream of winter’s end. Whether or not you believe in woodchuck weathermen, one thing is certain: you can’t have groundhogs if you want a backyard full of fresh garden veggies.

Groundhogs (aka woodchucks, whistlepigs, and marmots) are insecto-vegetarians and confirmed locavores. If you plan to plant this spring, harvest those hairy beasts now. Celebrate Groundhog Day with critter cuisine.

Serving suggestions:

Woodchuck au Vin

Canadian Fried Woodchuck

Groundhog Pie

Woodchuck Recipes from Michigan (Oriental Groundhog,Waco Groundhog in Sour Cream,Woodchuck Stew, Woodchuck Meat Loaf)

More groundhog lore and recipes here and here.

In his book Groundhog Day, Don Yoder reprints a classic groundhog recipe from Cooking with the Groundhog, published as a fundraiser by a hospital auxiliary in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the “official” Groundhog’s Day Festival (there are more than a few others ). A Georgia groundhog is on Twitter.

Seven years ago, whilst stalking the elusive picture book Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather, we espied an ad for the Range Kleen Preseasoned Cast Iron 10 Inch Fry Pan on the book’s Amazon.com page and cooked up today’s graphic. There’s obviously no “storybook ending” to this post if you’re a groundhog.

Related:

“Eight Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American blog

“Groundhogs and Ground Squirrels: Winter Prognosticators,”  Sharol Nelson-Embry, Quest

“40 years of groundhog forecasts, mapped,” Kennedy Elliott and Shelly Tan, Washington Post

“Punxsutawney Phil: incompetent — or evil?” Phil Edwards, Vox

“Depressed Groundhog Sees Shadow Of Rodent He Once Was,”The Onion

“Where Did Groundhog Day Come From? ” Mental Floss

“A Short History of Groundhog Day,” Danny Lewis, Smithsonian.com

“Groundhog Day Explained,” CGP Grey (video)

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Image (“Marmot sauté, after John James Audubon”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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