hol*i*day [1] (noun) [Middle English, from Old English haligdaeg, from halig holy + daeg day] First appeared before 12th Century. 1 : HOLY DAY.    2 : a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically : a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event    3 chiefly British : a period of relaxation : VACATION -- often used in the phrase on holiday






All Saint's Day





Rosh Hashanah

/Yom Kippur

April Fool's Day

Columbus Day



New Year's


Arbor Day


Labor Day





Father's Day

Martin Luther King




Ash Wednesday


Mardi Gras


StValentine's Day


The 4th

of July

Memorial Day


Veteran's day



workerPresident Grover Cleveland proclaimed the first national observance of Labor Day, henceforth the first Monday in September. In 1882, Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, first suggested a day to honor workers. That year, on September 5th, the Knights of Labor held the first "Labor Day" parade in New York City. The organization repeated the parade the next two years. In 1884 it adopted a resolution declaring the first Monday in September to be Labor Day.

The Knights of Labor campaigned for national recognition of the holiday, which succeeded ten years later. On June 28th, Congress passed the bill to make Labor Day a holiday in the District of Columbia and for all federal workers in the states.

Because the 1894 law only applied to the District of Columbia and federal workers in the states, each state had to enact its own Labor Day legislation. Eventually, all the states and territories put the law into operation, and Labor Day became a nation

A Celebration of Labor in America    

Bureau of Labor Statistics      Department of Labor     Grover Cleveland Home Page

Inside an American Factory


changing trees


Arbor means "tree" in Latin. Arbor Day is a special day that has been set aside for planting and caring for trees. The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. It was started by J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper publisher who encouraged Nebraskans to plant trees to beautify and enrich the treeless state. He offered prizes for the most trees planted; over a million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day.

After Arbor Day was made a legal holiday in Nebraska in 1885, agricultural associations and town councils spread the idea of Arbor Day in other states. A campaign was also inaugurated to make Arbor Day a school festival. Now, with activities that range from the planting of a single tree to the beautification of public grounds, children are learning the importance of forestry and reforestation.

Today, all fifty states and many Canadian provinces celebrate this holiday every spring. The actual date of Arbor Day varies from state-to-state due to climate. The most common common date is the last Friday in April. In Nebraska, however, Arbor Day is now celebrated on April 22, the date of Morton's birthday.

American Forests  Arbor Day

Arbor and Bird Day Observances: Library of Congress



On June 14, 1777, at Philadelphia, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress offered the resolution which resulted in the adoption of the Flag of the United States. As new states were admitted it became evident that the number of stripes in the flag would have to be limited. Congress ordered that after July 4, 1818, the flag should have thirteen stripes, symbolizing the thirteen original states, that the union would have twenty stars, and that a new star should be added on the July 4th following admission of a new state. The permanent arrangement of the stars is not designated, and no star is specifically identified with any state. Since 1912, following the admission of a new state, the new design has been announced by executive order. The original resolution read:

"Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

June 14th, the birthday of our flag, became a holiday in New York State in 1897. In the next few years other states joined New York. But it was not until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day by national proclamation.

According to the Department of State, red stands for hardiness and courage, white is the symbol of purity and innocence, and blue is the color of vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

American Flag Home Page    Flag Links    The Flag of the USA

Francis Hopkinson Designer of American Flag    History of the American Flag  

Meaning of the Colors in the Flag

Proportions of the Flag     U.S. Code on Respect for Flag



Raising the Flag at Iwo JimaThe location of the first observance of Memorial Day is in dispute. Some claim the custom of honoring war dead began in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Others claim the custom was originated by some Southern women who placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. According to one writer, the first Memorial Day service took place on May 30, 1866, on Belle Isle, a burial ground for Union soldiers in the St. James River, at Richmond, Virginia. The school superintendent and the mayor planned the program of hymns and speeches and had the burial ground decorated with flowers. In 1966, however, the U.S. government proclaimed that Waterloo, New York, was the birthplace of Memorial Day. On May 5, 1865, the people of Waterloo had honored soldiers who had died in the Civil War.

The Northern states and some Southern states celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May. This date was made a federal holiday in 1971. Some Southern states have Memorial Day celebrations to honor Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Mississippi and Alabama celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday in April. In Florida and Georgia, the date is April 26. May 10 is Memorial Day in North and South Carolina, and the holiday is June 3 in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Texas observes Confederate Heroes Day on January 19 (Robert E. Lee's birthday).

Memorial Day Links     The Vietnam War




Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday, the day of Christ's Resurrection. However, its date may fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25, depending on calculations made on the basis of the lunar calendar. Easter is the central point in a long season of religious observances. It is preceded by Lent, a six-and-a-half-week period of penitence and prayer observed by many Christians. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on holy Saturday, the last day of the Holy week, which immediately precedes Easter Sunday. The Easter season lasts until Trinity Sunday, the eighth Sunday after Easter.


Easter is the oldest and most important Christian feast days, commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a joyous occasion because on this day, Christians celebrate Christ's victory over death. To those who believe in Christ, Easter also symbolizes their own participation in His death and rebirth to a new life.


eggThe Easter Egg is associated with beliefs of particularly ancient origin. The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations, including those of India and Egypt. It was commonly believed that the universe developed from a great egg and that the halves of its shell corresponded to Heaven and earth. The egg was also connected with the springtime fertility rituals of many pre-Christian and Indo-European peoples, and both the Egyptians and the Persians made a practice of coloring eggs in the spring. In Christianity, the egg is a symbol of Resurrection, representing the emergence of Christ from His tomb to everlasting life.

eggThe Easter rabbit has become as traditional at Easter time as the Easter egg. Like the egg, the hare or rabbit was a symbol of fertility and new life among the Egyptians and other ancient peoples. How the rabbit became associated with Easter and Easter eggs is unclear, but it may have been intended to symbolize the fertile life that the risen Christ would send His followers. In any case, the Easter rabbit has had a long history in European folklore. Modern Easter rabbits are often stuffed toys or made of candy; especially popular are chocolate bunnies.

eggPerhaps one of the most popular Easter customs in the United States is that of wearing new clothes on Easter Sunday. In New York City many people display their new outfits as they stroll along Fifth Avenue in the famous Easter Parade, which is duplicated on a smaller scale in many other communities. The custom originated within the Church hundreds of years ago, when those who were baptized on Holy Saturday were given new white robes to wear. Other members of the congregation, recalling their earlier participation in the ceremony of baptism, also put on new garments in memory of the occasion

eggChurch bells are silent from Good Friday until Easter in token of mourning for the crucified Christ. Mothers tell their children that "the bells have flown away to Rome". Early on Easter morning the children rush into the garden to watch the bells "Fly back from Rome". As the small folk scan the sky for a glimpse of the returning bells their elders hide chocolate eggs.

eggAgnellino, roasted baby lamb, is universally popular for the Easter dinner, especially when served with carciofi arrostiti, roasted artichokes, with pepper. One seasonal treat that the children in many places enjoy is a rich bread shaped like a crown and studded with colored Easter egg candies.

eggFriends give each other beautifully hand-painted eggs which are made according to distinctive traditional designs. The exquisite patterns were passed down from one generation to another in certain villages. In many places, it was customary for village girls to present their suitors with a red egg. Should the girls fail to have their gifts ready, however, the boys spank them with canes. Ouch!! :-)

eggThroughout the country Easter is celebrated as a great spring holiday. In homes there are charmingly laid tables with decorations of colored eggs and early flowers. Paasbrood, a delicious sweet bread stuffed with raisins and currant, is one of many traditional feast day specialties.

eggThroughout the country the egg, symbol of life and resurrection, is featured in all Easter food and Easter games. Every household has egg coloring parties. Egg rolling contests are the favorite Easter activity of younger boys and girls.

Around the World Links

A Bit of Swedish Easter Traditions

Easter German Word Search   Easter in the Slovakia

Happy Easter    Easter Eggs   Easter Egg Safety    Eggcyclopedia

Egg Facts   Egg Recipes   Eggs With Flair

Faberge Eggs Collection Home Page    Finding Easter Eggs Tips

Great Internet Easter Egg Hunt   History of Easter Egg   History of the Easter Egg

History of the White House Easter Egg Roll (Official Site)

How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs  

Natural Easter Egg Dyes   Natural Easter Egg Dyes from USA City Link

  Pysanky-Story of Ukrainian Easter Eggs

Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs  White House Easter Egg Roll

Why Easter Eggs?


flowerMOTHER'S DAYflower

Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May-a time when flowers are in bloom. Mother's Day is a special time for children to honor their mothers (as well as grandmothers and other "mothers") and show appreciation for their love and caring.

Julia Ward Howe, social reformer and poet, made the first suggestion for a Mother's Day in the United States. In 1872, she suggested Mother's Day be on June 2 and that it be a day dedicated to peace. She sponsored Mother's Day meetings in Boston for several years, and people in other towns began to do the same.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia, began a campaign for a nationwide observance of Mother's Day. She also began the custom of wearing a carnation on that day-a colored carnation if one's mother is living and a white carnation if one's mother has died.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing federal agencies to observe Mother's Day. The following year, Mother's Day was proclaimed as an annual national holiday.

pink"God can't be always everywhere: and, so,
Invented Mothers."




    Anyone who has seen the movie The Ten Commandments is familiar with the story commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Passover is an 8 day observance and a time of family gatherings and lavish meals called Seders. The story of Passover is retold through the reading of the Haggadah, the Book of Exodus.

Pesach, the Hebrew name for Passover, starts on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It is one of the most widely observed holidays in the American Jewish community. Preparation for this holiday includes extensive cleaning and removal of all yeast foods or hametz (meaning leaven in Hebrew). Any food that contains some hametz is considered hametz and is prohibited during Pesah. This would include such things as bread, pasta, cereal and cookies.

The Seder is a special meal prepared following the Haggadah. The seder has several parts including the lighting of candles, special prayers, the telling of the passover story, and the asking of the four questions. The four questions are: Why do we eat matzah? Why do we eat maror (bitter herbs)? Why do we dip the karpas in salt water and the maror in the charoset? Why do we lean? The answers are: Because we left in such a hurry we didn't have time to let the bread rise. To remind us of the bitterness of slavery. The salt water represents our tears, the charoset the mortar used in building Pharoah's storehouses. To mimic the practice of the Romans, who leaned to the left to keep their right hand free, to show we are free.

The centerpiece of the table is the Seder plate which contains five foods that have special meaning for this holiday. The Haroseth is a mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples that represent the mortar the Jewish slaves used to assemble the Pharaoh's bricks. Parsley symbolizes spring and dipping it in salt water is a reminder of the tears of the Jewish slaves. The roasted egg is another symbol of spring. The shank bone symbolizes the offering of the sacrificial lamb. And finally, the bitter herbs is a reminder of the bitterness of slavery.

About 3000 years ago the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaoh Ramses II. According to the Book of Exodus - Moses, a simple Jewish shepherd, was instructed by God to go to the pharaoh and demand the freedom of his people

Moses' plea of let my people go was ignored. Moses warned the Pharaoh that God would send severe punishments to the people of Egypt if the Israelites were not freed. Again the Pharaoh ignored Moses' request of freedom. In response God unleashed a series of 10 terrible plagues on the people of Egypt

Blood    Frogs    Lice (vermin)    Wild Beasts(flies)   Blight (Cattle Disease)

Boils    Hail      Locusts            Darkness              Slaying of the First Born


Valentine's Day

The holiday became Valentine's Day after a priest named Valentine. Valentine was a priest in Rome at the time Christianity was a new religion. The Emperor at that time, Claudius II, ordered the Roman soldiers NOT to marry or become engaged. Claudius believed that as married men, his soldiers would want to stay home with their families rather than fight his wars. Valentine defied the Emperor's decree and secretly married the young couples. He was eventually arrested, imprisoned, and put to death

Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, the eve of the Roman holiday Lupercalia. After his death, Valentine was named a saint. As Rome became more Christian, the priests moved the spring holiday from the 15th of February to the 14th - Valentine's Day. Now the holiday honored Saint Valentine instead of Lupercus

Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. He is known as a mischievous, winged child, whose arrows who would pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's he was Cupid, and his mother Venus

    One legend tells the story of Cupid and the mortal maiden, Psyche. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, and ordered Cupid to punish the mortal. But instead, Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He took her as his wife, but as a mortal she was forbidden to look at him. Psyche was happy until her sisters convinced her to look at Cupid. Cupid punished her by departing. Their lovely castle and gardens vanished with him and Psyche found herself alone in an open field

      As she wandered to find her love, she came upon the temple of Venus. Wishing to destroy her, the goddess of love gave Psyche a series of tasks, each harder and dangerous than the last. For her last task Psyche was given a little box and told to take it to the underworld. She was told to get some of the beauty of Proserpine, the wife of Pluto, and put it in the box.

During her trip she was given tips on avoiding the dangers of the realm of the dead. And also warned not to open the box. Temptation would overcome Psyche and she opened the box. But instead of finding beauty, she found deadly slumber

          Cupid found her lifeless on the ground. He gathered the sleep from her body and put it back in the box. Cupid forgave her, as did Venus. The gods, moved by Psyche's love for Cupid made her a goddess.



Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran "was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation"

It is during this month that Muslims fast. It is called the Fast of Ramadan and lasts the entire month. Ramadan is a time when Muslims concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation

During the Fast of Ramadan strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Muslims. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. Smoking and sexual relations are also forbidden during fasting. At the end of the day the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Muslims to go out visiting family and friends. The fast is resumed the next morning

According to the Holy Quran:

One may eat and drink at any time during the night "until you can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daylight: then keep the fast until night"

The good that is acquired through the fast can be destroyed by five things -

the telling of a lie


denouncing someone behind his back

a false oath

greed or covetousness



                 Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" and of course is celebrated on that day of the week. The date can fall between February 3 and March 9 depending on the Catholic Church. Mardi Gras is always 47 days before Easter Sunday.

The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. These colors where chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex. He chose these colors to stand for the following:

Purple represents justice

green stands for faith

gold stands for power

The Mardi Gras season begins about two weeks before Fat Tuesday. During those two weeks, parades can be viewed nightly and on weekends. Almost all businesses are closed for Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) and for Mardi Gras itself. People all over the world come to New Orleans to enjoy this extravagant holiday.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

Each year on the third Monday of January schools, federal offices, post office and banks across America close as we celebrate the birth, the life and the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples. A time to remember the message of change through nonviolence

The Text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech


QT moviePURIMQT movie

QT movieIn the third year of his reign, the King of Persia, Ahashverosh (also known as Ahasuerus and Ahashuerus) decided to have a feast. It was on the seventh day of these festivities that the King summoned his queen, Vashti, to appear before him and demonstrate her beauty for the King's officials. Vashti refused to appear. (According to the Talmud, G-d afflicted her with leprosy to cause her downfall and Esther's rise.) Incensed, the King asked his officers for a suitable punishment. One advisor, Memuchan (some think he was was actually Haman), argued that Vashti should be killed for her disobedience. The King took his advice and Vashti was killed

QT movieAs time passed the King desired a new queen. To find a suitable wife, a contest was initiated among all the eligible girls in the kingdom. One of those was Esther, a Jewish girl. Esther had been raised by her relative Mordechai after her parents' death. Mordechai instructed Esther not to divulge her Jewishness when she went to meet the king. Each day Mordechai walked by the court and inquired as to her well being. Esther impressed all who met her, including the King, and she was elevated to queen

QT movieYears later the King elevated Haman , a descendant of Amelak, the traditional enemy of the Jews, to the position of chief advisor. Haman was a wicked and vain man who expected everyone to bow down to him. Mordechai refused to bow because Jews are to bow only before G-D. Not content to just punish Mordechai, Haman wanted to destroy the entire Jewish people in Persia. He cast lots or PURIM to determine the day of annihilation

QT movieHaman went to the King, slandered the Jews, and convinced the King to go along with his plans. Upon learning of the plot, Mordechai tore his clothes, wore sackcloth and ashes, and walked through the city crying loudly. When Esther heard of Mordechai's display she dispatched a messenger to discover what was troubling her relative. Mordechai recounted the details of the evil decree and instructed Esther to intercede on the Jews behalf. Esther agreed to appear before the King and instructed Mordechai to organize a three-day fast for all the Jews on her behalf

QT movieAfter completing the three-day fast, Esther entered the king's inner court dressed in her most royal garb. The King inquired as to Esther's desires. Esther replied that she wished to invite the King and Haman to a banquet. After the feast Esther asked the King and Haman to a to return for another banquet the next night. Haman left the banquet consumed with self importance and pride, but these feelings were turned to anger when he saw Mordechai. Haman went home, and his wife, Zeresh, advised him to construct a gallows. Haman joyously acted upon the suggestion

QT movieThat night, the King discovered that Mordechai had never been rewarded for saving him from the assassination plot of two servants. When Haman appeared in the court, the King decided that his trusted servant should determine Mordechai's compensation. Haman , intending to obtain the King's permission to hang Mordechai, unwittingly answered the King's questions. The King asked Haman, "What should be done for the man the King wishes to reward?" Haman, believing that Ahashverosh intended to reward him, replied that the honoree should be dressed in royal clothing, ride upon a royal horse. And be led through the city streets by an official proclaiming "This is what is done to the man the King wishes to honor"

QT movieAhashverosh agreed and instructed Haman to carry it out for Mordechai, Crestfallen, Haman followed the King's orders. Haman's daughter, mistakenly believing that her father was being led by Mordechai, dumped garbage on her father, the horses' leader

QT movieAt Esther's second banquet Haman's downfall continued. Esther revealed Haman's villainous plot and the fact that she was Jewish. She asked the King to "grant me my soul and my people." Ahashverosh consumed with anger ordered that Haman be hanged on the gallows intended for Mordechai. The King elevated Mordechai to a position of great influence and allowed him to issue edicts permitting the Jews to fight their enemies. On the thirteenth and fourteenth of Adar the Jews won tremendous victories and were saved from the threat of total annihilation

QT movieEver since, Jews have observered Purim. The day before Purim is a day of fasting, in memory of Esther's fast. The fast is then followed by two days of dancing, merrymaking, feasting and gladness



  card 1    Father's Day, contrary to popular misconception, was not established as a holiday in order to help greeting card manufacturers sell more cards. In fact when a "father's day" was first

proposed there were no Father's Day cards!

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a "father's day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd's mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a "father's day." In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all be honored on Father's Day.


THE 4th of JULY

Independence Day celebrates the birthday of the United States of America. Founded July 4th 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America is celebrating it's 224rd birthday this year (2000)

The 4th of July is a time for the Red White and Blue. A time for Picnics, Parades and Marching Bands. A time for Beaches, BBQs and "Bombs Bursting in Air."

So turn up the speakers, put another "shrimp on the barbie," and join America for a birthday celebration with fun Holiday things for you and your family



A Small Humble Page With A Broken Heart

Rosh Hashanahshofar audioYom Kippur

The Jewish High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah is observed the first and second day of the seventh month of the Jewish calender, Tishri. Coming in the Fall season of the western calendar, usually in September.

In Israel Rosh Hashanah is the only holiday kept for 2 days as it is considered too important to be observed for only 24 hours. Both days are considered one long day of 48 hours

The traditions of Rosh Hashanah are simple as the only commandment specified for the holiday is the blowing of the shofar. In temple the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah to herald the beginning of the period known as the High Holy Days.

It is believed that on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of all mankind is recorded by G-d in the Book of Life. After Rosh Hashanah services, as the congregants leave the synagogue they say to each other...

"May you be inscribed in the Book of Life"

shofar audioshofar audioshofar audioshofar audioshofar audioshofar audio

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most sacred of the Jewish holidays, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths."

By Yom Kippur the 40 days of repentance, that begin with the first of Elul, have passed. On Rosh Hashanah G-d has judged most of mankind and has recorded his judgment in the Book of Life. But he has given a 10 day reprieve.

On Yom Kippur the Book of Life is closed and sealed. Those that have repented for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year.

Since Yom Kippur is the day to ask forgiveness for promises broken to G-d, the day before is reserved for asking forgiveness for broken promises between people, as G-d cannot forgive broken promises between people.

Yom Kippur is a day of "NOT" doing. The is no blowing of the Shofar and Jews may not eat or drink, as fasting is the rule. It is believed that to fast on Yom Kippur is to emulate the angels in heaven, who do not eat, drink, or wash.

The Five Prohibitions of Yom Kippur:

Eating and drinking   Anointing with perfumes or lotions

Marital relations  Washing   Wearing leather shoes



pumpkinHalloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman's Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.

pumpkinHundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was "he" who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.

pumpkinThe Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of "the season of darkness and cold."

pumpkinThe Celts believed, that during the winter, the sun god was taken prisoner by Samhain, the Lord of the Dead and Prince of Darkness.

pumpkinOn the eve before their new year (October 31), it was believed that Samhain called together all the dead people. The dead would take different forms, with the bad spirits taking the form of animals. The most evil taking the form of cats.

pumpkinOn October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.

pumpkinWhen the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.

pumpkinThe November 1st festival was named after Samhain and honored both the sun god and Samhain. The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.

pumpkinDuring the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They brought with them many of their festivals and customs. One of these was the festival know as Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens. It was also celebrated around the 1st of November. After hundreds of years of Roman rule the customs of the Celtic's Samhain festival and the Roman Pomona Day mixed becoming 1 major fall holiday.

pumpkinThe next influence came with the spread of the new Christian religion throughout Europe and Britain. In the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church would make November 1st a church holiday to honor all the saints. This day was called All Saint's Day, or Hallowmas, or All Hallows. Years later the Church would make November 2nd a holy day. It was called All Souls Day and was to honor the dead. It was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, and people dressing up as saints, angels and devils.

pumpkinThe spread of Christianity did not make people forget their early customs. On the eve of All Hallows, Oct. 31, people continued to celebrate the festival of Samhain and Pomona Day. Over the years the customs from all these holidays mixed. October 31st became known as All Hallow Even, eventually All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe'en, and then - Halloween.

pumpkinThe Halloween we celebrate today includes all of these influences, Pomona Day's apples, nuts, and harvest, the Festival of Sanhain's black cats, magic, evil spirits and death, and the ghosts, skeletons and skulls from All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day.



Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies.

Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.

Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians.

The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious prosecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered. After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children's education and morality.

So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for their working for their backers for 7 years.

On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others ,whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."

The long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days. Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th.

The long trip led to many disagreements between the "Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted a meeting was held and an agreement was worked out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed equality and unified the two groups. They joined together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."

Although they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter.

On March 16, 1621 , what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).

His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England and Spain. It was in England where he had learned English.

Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.

The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.

The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited Squanto and the other Indians to join them in their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.

The following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food.

The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.




When Rome was a great Empire ruled by Caesar Augustus and Israel was governed by King Herod, in the village of Nazareth lived Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was a young virgin who would become his wife. Mary told Joseph of a dream in which she was visited by an angel who told her she had been chosen to bear the Son of God and his name was to be Jesus.

One day the emperor sent notice that all persons were to register for a new tax. They were instructed to return to the towns of their birth. Joseph and Mary left Nazareth for Bethlehem. Mary who was with child, and close to the birth, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked beside her. They traveled for many days and only rested at night.

When they reached Bethlehem it was night. They looked for a place to rest but there were no empty rooms when they reached the inn. As they were being turned away Joseph mentioned his wife was with child and close to birth. The inn keeper took pity on them and told them of some caves in the nearby hills that shepherds would stay with their cows and sheep.

So Joseph and Mary went up into the hills and found the caves. In one cave was a stable room. Joseph cleaned it and made beds of fresh hay. He found a feeding trough which he cleaned and filled with hay to use as a crib. The next night Mary gave birth to a son and they named him Jesus, as the angle had said.

When the child was born a great star appeared over Bethlehem that could be seen for miles around. In the fields nearby shepards were tending their flocks. An angel appeared to them surrounded by bright light. The shepherds were frightened and tried to run.

"Fear Not," said the angel, "For I bring you tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in Bethlehem - a Saviour who is Christ the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

Suddenly the sky was filled with angels, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men."

After the angels departed the shepards set out for Bethlehem. When they reached the cave they found the stable and inside was the child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

As the star shined over Bethlehem, in the east three kings would see it. They knew it was a sign and they set off to follow the star. There was Caspar - the young King of Tarsus, Melchior - a long bearded old man and leader of Arabia, and Balthazar - the king from Ethiopia. They traveled on camels for many days over the mountains, and through the deserts, and plains. Always following the bright star.

When they finally arrived in Bethlehem they found the child in the manger. The 3 kings bowed to their knees and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They would stay the night in the cave and the next day returned to their lands to spread the news.

On the night before Christmas, all across the world, millions of children will be tucked in their beds while "visions of sugarplums dance in their heads." When they awake they will check their stockings to see if Santa Claus has come.

Santa Claus has become the most beloved of Christmas symbols and traditions. The image of the jolly old elf flying in a sleigh pulled by reindeers and leaving toys and gifts for every child is know worldwide.

The history of Santa Claus begins with a man called Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, in what is now Turkey. Saint Nicholas was know for his charity and wisdom. Legends tell of him coming from a wealthy family and giving all his money to the poor. He also was said to posses magical powers. He died in 340 AD and was buried in Myra.

Late in the 11th century religious soldiers from Italy took the remains of the saint back with them to Italy. They built a church in honor of him in the town of Bari, a port town in southern Italy. Soon Christian pilgrims from all over the world came to visit the church of Saint Nicholas. These pilgrims took the legend of Saint Nicholas back to their native lands. As the legend of Saint Nicholas spread it would take on the characteristics of each country.

In Europe during the 12th century Saint Nicholas Day became a day of gift giving and charity. Germany, France, and Holland celebrated December 6th as a religious holiday and gave gifts to their children and the poor.

When the Dutch colonists traveled to America, they brought with them their Sinterklaas, an austere bishop who wore a red bishop's costume and rode on a white horse.

The American image of Sinterklaas would gradually evolve into that of a jolly old elf. He was first described as a plump and jolly old Dutchman by Washington Irving in his comic History of New York. In 1823 Sinterklaas/Saint Nicholas' metamorphosis continued with the publication of Clement Moore's poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas (Twas the night before Christmas...).

In the 1860s cartoonist Thomas Nash drew pictures of a plump and kindly Santa Claus for the illustrated Harper's Weekly. This image of Santa Claus was becoming ingrained in the minds of the American people. As time went on this image of Santa Claus traveled across the globe, back to Europe, to South America, and elsewhere.

Many countries have kept their own customs and traditions of Saint Nicholas. In some cultures Saint Nicholas travels with an assistant to help him. In Holland, Sinterklaas sails in on a ship arriving on December 6th. He carries a big book which tells him how the Dutch children have behaved during the past year. Good children are rewarded with gifts and the bad ones are taken away by his assistant, Black Peter.

In Germany Saint Nicholas also travels with an assistant, known as Knecht Ruprecht, Krampus, or Pelzebock, and comes with a sack on his back and a rod in his hand. Good children receive a gift, but naughty children are punished by the assistant with a few hits of the rod.

In Italy La Befana is good witch who dresses all in black and brings gifts to children on the Epiphany, January 6th. In many Spanish countries; Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and South America, the children wait for the Three Kings to bring their Christmas gifts.

In France Father Christmas or Pere Noel bring gifts for the children. Switzerland has the Christkindl or Christ Child who bears gifts. In some towns children await the Holy Child and in others Christkindl is a girl-angel who comes down from heaven bearing gifts.

The Scandinavian countries celebrate with an elf, called the julenisse or the juletomte who bears gifts. And in England Father Christmas, an more austere and thinner version of Santa Claus, brings gifts.

In North American it is the round and plump "Ho Ho Ho'ing" Santa Claus who flies in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeers delivering toys to the children of the world.


The use of a Christmas tree indoors appears to have begun in Germany. German Christians would bring trees into their homes to decorate. In some areas evergreen trees were scarce so the families would build a Christmas pyramid, simple wooden structures which they decorated with branches and candles.

The tradition of the Christmas tree eventually spread through out Europe. The English Royalty help popularize the tree in England by decorating the first Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841. Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, decorated the first English Christmas Tree with candles, candies, fruits, and gingerbread.

When the German immigrants went to American they also brought along their Christmas trees. In the 1830's most Americans still considered the Christmas tree an oddity. One of the first public displays of a Christmas tree was set up by German Settlers in Pennsylvania. At the time many still considered the tree to be a symbol of pagans and it wasn't until the late 1800's that Americans began accepting the Christmas tree.

Early Christmas trees were often decorated with apples, nuts, cookies, colored popcorn and candles. The invention of electricity in the early 20th century and use of electrical Christmas lights helped spread the use of the Christmas tree.

Almost everyone is familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". If you listen to the words carefully, it seems like nonsense set to rhyme and music. At first blush it really sounds like nothing else but Capitalism run amok, the "true love" purchasing all sorts of things to impress his lady fair. Each year there is an official estimation made about how much it would cost to purchase all the items and services mentioned in the song.

However, this song was written with a vastly different and much more serious purpose. And is not capitalistic at all - it is, in fact, a deeply, even movingly, religious song.

During the period 1558 to 1829 the Catholic Faith was illegal. Priests who attempted to tend their flocks were escorted under guard to the docks at Plymouth, put on a ship and sent in to exile. If they returned - and priests did - and discovered they were executed by being hung, drawn and quartered.

Catholics were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. Catholics were prohibited from voting, inheriting land and from many other basic human rights. They were discriminated against in hiring.

Back in England those few wealthy Catholic peers of the realm who could afford it were taxed heavily for the privilege of discreetly practicing their faith. But many lost hereditary rights that had been in their families for centuries.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a memory aid that young Catholics could sing without fear of imprisonment.

The song's gifts had hidden meanings to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor but it refers to God Himself as the giver of eternal life and all good things. The "me" who received the presents refers to every baptized person, i.e. the Church. The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus, the Son of God. The "pear tree" is the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge in memory of the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but though wouldst not have it so..."

Here is a list of the 12 symbols with their meanings.*

1 - partridge in a pear tree = the One True God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who gave his life to gain heaven for us;

2 - turtle doves - The Old and New Testaments

3 - french hens - the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity;

4 - calling birds - the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists;

5 - golden rings - the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch" or "Torah", which contain the Law of Moses; or it could also be a reminder of the five wounds of Christ;

6 - geese a -laying - the six days of creation;

7 - swans a-swimming - the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the seven sacraments of the Catholic (baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance (now reconciliation), matrimony, holy orders, extreme unction (now anointing of the sick);

8 - maids a-milking - the eight beatitudes

9 - ladies dancing - the nine Fruits of the Spirit

10 - Lords a -leaping - the ten commandments

11 - Pipers Piping - the eleven faithful apostles

12 - drummers drumming - the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.



DreidelLong ago in the land of Judea there was a Syrian king, Antiochus. The king ordered the Jewish people to reject their G-d, their religion, their customs and their beliefs and to worship the Greek gods. There were some who did as they were told, but many refused. One who refused was Judah Maccabee

DreidelJudah and his four brothers formed an army and chose as their name the word "Maccabee", which means hammer. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees wanted to clean the building and to remove the hated Greek symbols and statues. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated

DreidelWhen Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished

DreidelOnly a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days

DreidelJews celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "rededication"

DreidelIn America, families celebrate Chanukah at home. They give and receive gifts, decorate the house, entertain friends and family, eat special foods, and light the holiday menorah

Dreidel  Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel

One of the best known symbols of Chanukah is the Dreidel. A dreidel is a four sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side.

The four letters are:

    SHIN,       HEY,   GIMEL,   NUN




Two days after the feast of the great Irish saint , comes the day of the carpenter of Nazareth, Saint Joseph, "the just man,"of whom the Gospels say little but who is beloved by generations of Italians and Italian-Americans, celebrated on March 19. Though often pictured as an aged man, bearded and bent with years, Joseph has more recently been seen as younger, more fitted to his role as protector of the young Mary and her Child.  Saint Joseph is patron of many places and many trades. He is the guardian of the spiritual home of Christians, the Church, and of the material home, too. The tradition of a St. Joseph's Day began when there was a severe drought in Sicily in the middle ages. In desperation, people asked St. Joseph, their patron, to intervene. They promised, if rain came, they would prepare a big feast in his honor. The tradition says these prayers were answered with rainy weather. In gratitude, huge banquet tables were set-up in public and poor people were invited to come and eat as much as they wanted. Today, special foods, linens, flowers, and statuary adorn the St. Joseph's Altar which is built with three steps representing the Holy Trinity.



Patrick, Saint (389-461), called the Apostle of Ireland, Christian prelate. His birthplace is uncertain, but it was probably in northwestern Italy; his British name was Succat. At 16 years of age he was carried off by Irish raiders and passed his captivity as a herdsman near the mountain Slemish in county Antrim (according to tradition) or in county Connacht (Connaught). The young herdsman saw visions in which he was urged to escape, and after six years of slavery he did so, to the northern coast of Gaul. Ordained a priest, possibly by Saint Germanus, at Auxerre, he returned to Ireland. Sometime after 431, Patrick was appointed successor to St. Palladius, first bishop of Ireland. Patrick put his efforts into on the west and north of Ireland, establishing his parish at Armagh. Patrick's two surviving works are written in Latin and show his knowledge of the Vulgate(Latin) translation of the Bible. In one of these works, the Confessions, Patrick portrays himself as an simple man in an unequal contest with the powerful and learned followers of church doctrine during his time. His reported use of the shamrock as an example of the Trinity led to its being regarded as the Irish national symbol.



The Fourth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. This celebration originated in the 5th or 6th Century. St. Juvenal of Jerusalem stated as early as the Council of Chalcedon in 451 that Our Lady, after her death, was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Pope Pius XII, on 1 November 1950, in Munificentissimus Deus officially defined the doctrine of the Assumption as an article of the Catholic Faith. He stated:

". . . By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed

Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our Own authority, We pronounce,

declare, and define as divinely revealed dogma: The Immaculate Mother

of God, Mary ever Virgin, after her life on earth, was assumed, body

and soul to the glory of heaven." [III, 44]



The Immaculate Conception is the dogma of faith stating that the Blessed Virgin was from the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of God, preserved from all stain of original sin. Not only is Our Lady free from original sin, see is also free from actual sin. That is, she never committed any sin during her lifetime From the time of the Fathers of the Church up to the Middle Ages we find explicit reference to the freedom of Mary from sin from the first moment of her conception. The Eastern Church as early as the second half of the 7th Century celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception under the title "Conception of Saint Anne."

In the Western Church the feast was first celebrated in Ireland. By 840 the feast was also celebrated in Italy and Spain. Pope Pius V in 1567 condemned Baius for holding that "no one but Christ was without original sin, and therefore the Blessed Virgin Mary died in consequence of the sin contracted through Adam, and endured affliction in this life, like the rest of the just, as punishment for actual and original sin." (The Catholic Catechism, JA Hardon at 154). In the following year the great Dominican Pope extended the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Universal Church and made it a holy day of obligation. Although still considered one the most important feasts of Our Lady it is not a holy day of obligation in Australia..

Pope Pius IX on 8 December 1854 issued the Apostolic Letter Ineffabilis Deus in which he defined as an article of Catholic Faith infallibly the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Shortly after this dogma was defined Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1858 and described herself as the Immaculate Conception.



In sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April first. It was celebrated in much the same way as it is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night. Then in 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first. There were some people, however, who hadn't heard or didn't believe the change in the date, so they continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April first. Others played tricks on them and called them "April fools." They sent them on a "fool's errand" or tried to make them believe that something false was true. In France today, April first is called "Poisson d'Avril." French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "young fool" discovers this trick, the prankster yells "Poisson d’Avril!" (April Fish!)

Today Americans play small tricks on friends and strangers alike on the first of April. One common trick on April Fool's Day, or All Fool's Day, is pointing down to a friend's shoe and saying, "Your shoelace is untied." Teachers in the nineteenth century used to say to pupils, "Look! A flock of geese!" and point up. School children might tell a classmate that school has been canceled. Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, "April Fool! "

The "fools' errands" we play on people are practical jokes. Putting salt in the sugar bowl for the next person is not a nice trick to play on a stranger. College students set their clocks an hour behind, so their roommates show up to the wrong class - or not at all. Some practical jokes are kept up the whole day before the victim realizes what day it is. Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The most clever April Fool joke is the one where everyone laughs, especially the person upon whom the joke is played.

"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. "

- American humorist Mark Twain


New Year's Eve  

In the United States, the federal holiday is January first, but Americans begin celebrating on December 31. Sometimes people have masquerade balls, where guests dress up in costumes and cover their faces with masks. According to an old tradition, guests unmask at midnight.

At New Year's Eve parties across the United States on December 31, many guests watch television as part of the festivities. Most of the television channels show Times Square in the heart of New York City. At one minute before midnight, a lighted ball drops slowly from the top to the bottom of a pole on one of the buildings. People count down at the same time as the ball drops. When it reaches the bottom, the new year sign is lighted. People hug and kiss, and wish each other "Happy New Year!"

New Year's Day

On January first, Americans visit friends, relatives and neighbors. There is plenty to eat and drink when you just drop in to wish your loved ones and friends the best for the year ahead. Many families and friends watch television together enjoying the Tournament of Roses parade preceding the Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena California. The parade was started in 1887, when a zoologist who had seen one in France suggested to the Valley Hunt Club in Pasadena, California that they sponsor "an artistic celebration of the ripening of the oranges" at the beginning of the year. At first the parade was a line of decorated horse-drawn private carriages. Athletic events were held in the afternoon, and in the evening, a ball where winners of the events of the day and the most beautiful float were announced. In later years colleges began to compete in football games on New Year's Day, and these gradually replaced other athletic competitions. The parade of floats grew longer from year to year, and flower decorations grew more elaborate.

The theme of the Tournament of Roses varies from year to year. Today the parade is usually more than five miles long with thousands of participants in the marching bands and on the floats. City officials ride in the cars pulling the floats. A celebrity is chosen to be the grand marshal, or official master of ceremonies. The queen of the tournament rides on a special float which is always the most elaborate one of the parade, being made from more than 250,000 flowers. Spectators and participants alike enjoy the pageantry associated with the occasion. Preparation for next year's Tournament of Roses begins on January 2.

In the warmer regions all around the country there are other games whose names are characteristic of the state. People watch the Orange Bowl game in Florida, the Cotton Bowl in Texas, and the Sugar Bowl in Louisiana. In most cultures, people promise to better themselves in the following year. Americans have inherited the tradition and even write down their New Year's resolutions. Whatever the resolution, most of them are broken or forgotten by February!



[Columbus Portrait]This continent was not even named after Columbus, but an Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci. In 1792, a ceremony was held in New York honoring Columbus, and a monument was dedicated to him. Soon after that, the city of Washington was officially named the District of Columbia and became the capital of the United States. In 1892, a statue of Columbus was raised at the beginning of Columbus Avenue in New York City. At the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago that year, replicas of Columbus's three ships were displayed.


Americans might not have a Columbus Day if Christopher Columbus had not been born in Italy. Out of pride for their native son, the Italian population of New York City organised the first celebration of the discovery of America on October 12, 1866. The next year, more Italian organisations in other cities held banquets, parades and dances on that date. In 1869, when Italians of San Francisco celebrated October 12, they called it Columbus Day.


In 1905, Colorado became the first state to observe a Columbus Day. Over the next few decades other states followed. In 1937, then- President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed every October 12 as Columbus Day. Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October.


Although it is generally accepted that Christopher Columbus was the first European to have discovered the New World of the Americas, there is still some controversy over this claim. Some researchers and proponents of other explorers attribute the first sightings to the early Scandinavian Vikings or the voyages of Irish missionaries which predate the Columbus visit in 1492. The controversy may never be fully resolved to everyone's satisfaction, but 1992 marked the 500th anniversary of the Columbus discovery.



Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal holidays to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and George Washington (Feb. 22).

In 1971 President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single federal holiday, the Presidents' Day, to be observed on the Third Monday of February, honoring all past presidents of the United States of America

Quotations from Lincoln

"...As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy"

Letter, August 1858

"If we do not make common cause to save the good old ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage. "

Speech, Cleveland, Ohio,

February 15, 1861


Patron of Internet Users Saint Isadore of Seville

All Saint's Day

Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.

In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (397) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honoured by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a "Commemoratio Confessorum" for the Friday after Easter. In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84).

The Saints Index is an exhaustive list of Saints that contains all known information pertaining to each Saint. There is also information about this months Saints, general FAQ about Saints, Patron Saints, Ethnic Saints and a Feastday List. This site also provides a Saints Search feature that will help you locate a specific Saint quickly and effectively by name or other search criteria and then try SAINT OF THE DAY  


[IMAGE]Ash Wednesday[IMAGE]

The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast. The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead — or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure — of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself, be he bishop or cardinal, receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from some other priest, usually the highest in dignity of those present. In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.

There can be no doubt that the custom of distributing the ashes to all the faithful arose from a devotional imitation of the practice observed in the case of public penitents. But this devotional usage, the reception of a sacramental which is full of the symbolism of penance (cf. the cor contritum quasi cinis of the "Dies Irae") is of earlier date than was formerly supposed. It is mentioned as of general observance for both clerics and faithful in the Synod of Beneventum, 1091 (Mansi, XX, 739), but nearly a hundred years earlier than this the Anglo-Saxon homilist Ælfric assumes that it applies to all classes of men. "We read", he says,

in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.

And then he enforces this recommendation by the terrible example of a man who refused to go to church for the ashes on Ash Wednesday and who a few days after was accidentally killed in a boar hunt (Ælfric, Lives of Saints, ed. Skeat, I, 262-266). It is possible that the notion of penance which was suggested by the rite of Ash Wednesday was was reinforced by the figurative exclusion from the sacred mysteries symbolized by the hanging of the Lenten veil before the sanctuary.



Army Navy Air Force Marines

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over.

November 11, 1919 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States, to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace. On Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in a parade through their home towns. Politicians and veteran officers gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won.

Congress voted Armistice Day a federal holiday in 1938, 20 years after the war ended. But Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began the following year and nations great and small again participated in a bloody struggle. After the Second World War, Armistice Day continued to be observed on November 11.

In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans' Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill introduced by a Kansas congressman renaming the federal holiday to Veterans' Day. 1971 President Nixon declared it a federal holiday on the second Monday in November.

Americans still give thanks for peace on Veterans' Day. There are ceremonies and speeches and at 11:00 in the morning, most Americans observe a moment of silence, remembering those who fought for peace.

After the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, the emphasis on holiday activities has shifted. There are fewer military parades and ceremonies. Veterans gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. to place gifts and stand quiet vigil at the names of their friends and relatives who fell in the Vietnam War. Families who have lost sons and daughters in wars turn their thoughts more toward peace and the avoidance of future wars.

Veterans of military service have organized support groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. On Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, these groups raise funds for their charitable activities by selling paper poppies made by disabled veterans. This bright red wildflower became a symbol of World War I after a bloody battle in a field of poppies called Flanders Field in Belgium.







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