February 2 is more than Groundhog Day for Christians, it is Candlemas, which commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Candles are blessed and carried in a procession. In England, the feast is associated with Groundhog Day. If the weather is sunny on Candlemas, winter will remain; if cloudy, spring will come.
The observance of May Day as a workers’ holiday began in 1890 in Europe. It celebrates the support of laborers’ demands for an eight-hour working day in the United States. The Soviet Union made it a national holiday, and it is observed as such in Socialist and Communist countries.
Christmas is associated with the Lord of Misrule. In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was the leader of Christmas revelries.
Burma. January 4 (1948) Greece. March 25 (1821) Cuba. May 20 (1902) Nigeria. October 1 (1960) Lebanon. November 22 (1943)
Santa’s reindeer were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, arguably the most famous reindeer of all, was a later creation.
Groundhog Day is observed in February because of latitude. German immigrants to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, brought an older version of Groundhog Day to America, one in which badgers predict the weather. The immigrants discovered that, in the United States, groundhogs are easier to find. At the latitude of Punxsutawney, a groundhog emerges from hibernation in February.
Easter Sunday always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21, the vernal equinox. The holiday can occur any time between March 22 and April 25.
Christmas is abbreviated as Xmas because the Greek letter x is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Xristos. The word Xmas, meaning “Christ’s Mass,” was commonly used in Europe by the sixteenth century. It was not an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas.
Thanksgiving was made a national holiday in 1863, after a concerted campaign by ladies’ magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale. That year, President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, to be held on the last Thursday of November. In 1939, to stimulate the Depression economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date of Thanksgiving […]
For the first 19 years of his life, George Washington (born in 1731) celebrated his birthday on February 11. After the British parliament replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar (in 1752), Washington celebrated his birthday 11 days later, on February 22.
Julia Ward Howe, women’s suffrage leader and author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” made the first known suggestion for Mother’s Day in 1872. She saw it as a day dedicated to peace, to be celebrated on June 2. But it was Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia, who, in 1907, began campaigning for […]
Christmas Eve, December 24 was observed as Adam and Eve Day on the medieval church calendar. One element has survived from the medieval plays put on that day depicting Adam and Eve’s fall: the paradise tree, representing the tree that bore the forbidden fruit. The paradise tree, set up in many German households by 1561, […]
In Scottish auld lang sync literally means “old long ago.”
Over a 60-year period, groundhogs have been only 28 percent accurate in guessing when spring will start. This may be because their staying out of their burrows or rushing back into them has more to do with sexual desire or hunger than with weather or shadows.
In the middle of the second century, Christians in Antioch were already celebrating Christ’s birth on that day. The day was not officially recognized by the Church as the date of Christ’s birth until A.D. 350. Why December 25? The day was formerly celebrated by worshippers of the god Mithra as the Dies Invicti Solis, […]
Hanukkah was first celebrated in 165 B.C. The word Hanukkah means Rededication. It refers to the cleansing and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees after defeating their Syrian-Greek oppressors.
According to Pennsylvania Dutch and French tradition, Santa’s brother’s name is Bells Nichols. He visits every home on New Year’s Eve after the children are asleep, and if plates are set out for him, he fills them with cakes and cookies.
No, Jews outside of the United States do not display menorahs in their windows during Hanukkah. The menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum, is a traditional symbol of Hanukkah. However, displaying it in the window is largely an American custom.
Evergreen trees and wreaths have been used as symbols of eternal life since the ancient times of the Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. After the coming of Christianity, evergreens were still used in Scandinavia, to scare away the devil. In the Middle Ages, the Christmas tree, decorated with candles and wafers (symbols of Christ and the […]
364 gifts were mentioned in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
In the Republic of China, Taiwan, they observe Constitution Day, a national holiday on December 25.
Arbor Day is a holiday for planting trees and was first observed on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. It is now usually observed on the last Friday in April.