HISTORY OF CHINESE NEW YEAR
Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This is China’s oldest, longest, and most important social and economic holiday. Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
It starts this year on February 10, though the celebrations continue for around two weeks. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and ends with the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese calendar.
It is celebrated across China as a national holiday and in many other parts of Asia with people of Chinese descent. About 20-25% of the planet observes this holiday. In the West, it roughly corresponds to the end of the winter season and the beginning of Carnival.
HISTORY OF THE SUPER BOWL
The Super Bowl™ is a territory acquisition athletic contest played on a fixed agrarian grid using – as a token – an inflated porcine prolate spheroid.
Some will say it is the most important holiday of the year in America. While it is ostensibly a secular holiday, others argue it is truly a religious holiday. And there are several reasons why. Super Bowl has:
- A liturgy
- Multiple prayers
- Special foods
- Formal rituals that have developed throughout history
- 100 million celebrants in front of their TV for worship
HISTORY OF THE AVOCADO: THE SUPER BOWL FOOD
Why are avocados, especially guacamole dip, considered a required food for Super Bowl Parties? What’s the background?
California, which has 60,000 acres of avocado orchards, has an avocado growing season running from March through August… not exactly friendly to the date of the Super Bowl. The popular “Hass” variety does not ripen until March. So, where do Super Bowl Avocados come from?
HISTORY OF THE BEATLES
On February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed at JFK Airport in New York. The airport had recently been renamed by a mourning country in honor of President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just 77 days earlier. The airport was now full of 4,000 greeters.
Not realizing why there was such a crowd, Paul McCartney wondered aloud, “Who is this for?” as the screaming fans rushed the gates to meet The Beatles. Two days later, on Sunday night, they would appear for their first of three consecutive Sunday night appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
HISTORY OF PETER PAN
All of this has happened before,
and it will all happen again.
So begins my favorite Walt Disney animated movie, Peter Pan, which debuted 71 years ago on February 5, 1953. The original movie poster said:
“It will live in your heart forever”
…and indeed it has. Why was this turn-of-the-century tale one of Disney’s favorite stories?
HISTORY OF THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
On February 3, 1959, a plane crash occurred in Iowa during a snowstorm shortly after 1:00 AM, killing three young rock and roll singers who would go down in history: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. They were part of the 24-day “Winter Dance Party” tour.
Their story would later be captured as “long, long time ago” in the 8 1/2 minute hit song “American Pie” by Don McLean, released twelve years later in 1971.
Many attempts have been made to decrypt the lyrics of this abstract song. Though never explicitly stated — except that the song is dedicated to Buddy Holly — these musicians appear to represent:
“the three men I admire most, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost… the day the music died.“
HISTORY OF GROUNDHOG DAY
Groundhog Day comes from Candlemas Day, observed for centuries in parts of Europe on February 2. The custom was to have the clergy bless candles – representing how long winter would be – and distribute them to the people.
A Pagan Holiday
This seems to have derived from the pagan celebration of Imbolc — the Feast of the goddess Bridget.
HISTORY OF FEBRUARY
February is the month we love to misspell, or at least mispronounce, but you’re forgiven for dropping the first “r” as dissimilation causes people to do that when there are two “r”s or “l”s in close proximity to each other in a word.
The word came from the Latin Februa an ancient Roman purification festival around the time of the full moon that lent its name to the Roman deity Februus. Februum in Latin means purification. You might think of it as early Spring Cleaning.
Originally the month was added by King Numa Pompilius to the original 10-month calendar back in 713 B.C. It had the distinction of being, until 450 B.C., the last day of the year, with March 1 being New Year, as I discussed previously. When Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 B.C., the month was assigned only 28 days (29 days in Leap Years). (more…)
HISTORY OF MOZART
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, but he was baptized under the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.
What’s In A Name
As an adult, he referred to himself as “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart,” signing his marriage certificate that way. His baptismal name was Latinized, as was common in those days, and he was christened on the feast day of St. John Chrysostom. Theophilus was the middle name of his godfather, Johannes Pergmayr.
The names Amadeus and Theophilus are equivalents of each other; Amadeus is from the Latin “amare + Deus,” while Theophilus is “Theo + philos” from the Greek for “lover of God” or “beloved by God.” In German, it would be Gottlieb. His father once wrote a letter calling his newborn son “Wolfgang Gottlieb.”
But his middle name was entered into the records of the Vienna Magistrate when he died: “Wolfgang Amadeus.” This has become the nickname modern fans use for the musician, including the title of an eponymous movie about his life.
HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA DAY
Did you know that the history of European Australia has ties to the American Revolutionary War?
When the 13 American Colonies were part of the British Commonwealth, it was convenient for England to transport its convicts to the Colonies. Indeed, it was considered more humane to “transport” prisoners than to execute them, and there were getting to be so many convicts.
Following the 1730s, the British population began to increase, and with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, crime became a more significant problem in England. What to do with all the prisoners? Even the debtors’ prisons were swelling. America seemed to be a likely landing place. In 1732, a royal charter was granted to a group of philanthropists interested in helping the “worthy poor.”
Specifically, it was granted to the Trustees of the Province of Georgia.
HISTORY OF THE LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ: JANUARY 27, 1945
January 27, 1945, was the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, one of the most notorious camps of World War II, by the Soviet Red Army. This date is now known by the United Nations and the European Union as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In America, Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on April 8.
In Israel, it’s called Yom HaShoah, or “Holocaust Remembrance Day,” and begins at sundown on April 27. The Hebrew word Shoah, or “catastrophe,” is often used for Holocaust. Almost 200,000 Holocaust survivors are still alive.
The USC Shoah Foundation, founded by Stephen Spielberg in 1994 after completing his Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List, has recorded over 55,000 stories of survivors. My previous employer EMC Corporation, now Dell Technologies, donated the data storage equipment to hold the 115,000 hours of recording information.
Auschwitz, unlike the slave labor camp Dachau, had become a death camp or an extermination center. More than a million people had been murdered here. For context, that’s about the population of San Jose, CA. It became the most known among the six extermination camps as the symbol of the Holocaust.
By comparison, my visit to Auschwitz was an entirely different experience than my visit to the concentration camp at Dachau, as I’ll recount below.
HISTORY OF MACINTOSH: A 40 YEAR LOVE AFFAIR
The now-famous Macintosh computer turns 40. When Apple President Steve Jobs launched this computer at the Flint Center on the De Anza College campus on January 24, 1984, to the theme from the film Chariots of Fire, he called it “insanely great!”