History of Black Friday: One Day Only?

HISTORY OF BLACK FRIDAY: ONE DAY ONLY? While it is difficult to connect this term to the start of the Christmas shopping sales season before its use in the mid-1960s in Philadelphia, the concept appears to go back to the 19th century when Christmas sales followed Thanksgiving Day parades. In 1939, President Franklin D Roosevelt…

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History of Thanksgiving Indian: Why Squanto already knew English

massasoit statue

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING: FRIENDLY INDIAN SQUANTO We’ve all heard how the Pilgrims, landing in Massachusetts four hundred years ago on the Mayflower in 1620, were ill-equipped to survive the harsh winters of the New World. We’ve also heard how they met a Native American Indian of the Patuxet tribe, Squanto, who befriended them. He taught them…

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History of Election Day: Why we Vote on a Tuesday in November

Election Day

HISTORY OF ELECTION DAY Why does the U.S. vote on a Tuesday in November? Historically, the United States was an agrarian society where much of the calendar revolved around farming. In 1840, Congress set voting day on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This time provided a convenient month for farmers, who…

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History of 9/11, Twenty-two Years Ago: Patriot Day

9-11 Firefighters

HISTORY OF PATRIOT DAY: 9/11 On 9/11, twenty-two years ago, more Americans were killed on American soil in one day than in any attack since Pearl Harbor in 1941. A series of terrorist airplane highjacking attacks occurred in New York City, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon… and the world changed. As the events of December 7,…

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History of the 12 Days of Christmas: they follow Christmas?

THE HISTORY OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS The Twelve Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church between the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi to visit at his house in Bethlehem (Epiphany, January 6). The…

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History of the Christmas Creche: the Manger scene

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE One of the most beautiful Christmas traditions is setting up a creche during the Advent season. A creche is a model of the scene at the manger on the first Christmas in the stable at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model, set up in the home or a…

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History of King Herod: Why was he called Great?

HISTORY OF HEROD THE KING When the wise men asked Herod the King “Where is he who is born king of the Jews?” their question was not really spoken in a vacuum, for even the Roman author Suetonius wrote, “There had spread all over the East an old and established belief that it was fated…

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History of the Christmas Star: Natural or supernatural?

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled scholars for centuries. Some have skeptically dismissed the phenomenon as a myth, a mere literary device to call attention to the importance of the Nativity. Others have argued that the star was miraculously placed there to guide the Magi and is therefore beyond all…

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History of the Magi: The Wise Men

HISTORY OF THE WISE MEN You’re familiar with the song that begins “We Three Kings of Orient Are…” but it is inaccurate in at least three ways. We don’t know how many there were, but we know they weren’t kings. They did not originate in the Orient, meaning the Far East. How could they have…

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History of Chanukah: The Festival of Lights

HISTORY OF CHANUKAH Chanukah is also spelled hanukkah, meaning “dedication.” It begins this year at sundown tonight, December 11 with the last candle being lit on Friday, December 18. This Jewish holiday traces its roots back more than 2,000 years. At that time the Jewish people were living under the oppressive government of the Syrian ruler…

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History of Santa Lucia

HISTORY OF LUCIADAGEN In Sweden, December 13 is Luciadagen, St. Lucia’s Day, or in English, St. Lucy. It is the beginning of their holiday season. The Lutheran Danes and Norwegians also celebrate this day. St. Lucia was a young woman who lived in first century Rome. She was a Christian who would not give up…

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