History Articles

History of Presidents Day: More than just Washington and Lincoln?

February 17, 2020 /
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lincoln.gifwashington.gifHISTORY OF PRESIDENTS’ DAY

During my lifetime, two American holidays got consolidated into one. In 1971, a day between both Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and Washington’s Birthday on February 22 became a single holiday, Presidents Day — alternately spelled President’s Day or Presidents’ Day — to be observed on the third Monday in February, to honor all the past Presidents of the United States.

History

When I was a school child, both Washington’s and Lincoln’s pictures were typically displayed prominently in school rooms. School children in many states have felt cheated out of an extra day off of school ever since with the two Presidents’ birthdays being combined into only one holiday. Is this a way of consolidating holidays for advertisers for “Presidents Day Sales?” Indeed, some state and local governments observe it as Presidents Day. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 established more three-day weekends.

Nevertheless, Washington’s Birthday is still observed by U.S. Federal employees, though it rarely falls on Washington’s actual birthday. His birthday was officially recognized as a holiday back in 1885. Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 is not a Federal holiday, though some states observe it, going back to 1873 or 1874 in Buffalo, NY.

Black History Month

Though Black History Month finds its origin in 1926 as “Negro History Week,” and in the 1970s as Black History Month, it traces its history back to celebrations of Lincoln’s Birthday in the late 1800s. (more…)

History of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2020 /
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HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE’S DAY

St. Valentine

St. Valentine

St. Valentine was martyred on February 14. However, Valentine or Valentinus is the name of at least three martyred saints. The most celebrated are the two martyrs whose festivals fall on February 14. One was a Roman priest, the other, bishop of Terni.

Context

It would appear from legend that both lived during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (Gothicus) around 270; that both died on the same day; and that both were buried on the Via Flaminia but at different distances from the city of Rome. A third Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of North Africa about whom little is known. This Claudius the Cruel had banned his soldiers from getting married, believing that unmarried members were more reliable on foreign military campaigns. Valentine was beaten and beheaded because he secretly married soldiers to their wives contrary to the ban.

It seems that the first celebration of the Feast of St. Valentine was declared to be on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I in 496. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeeping, epilepsy, as well as the plague, fainting, and traveling. And of course, he’s also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages. Many authorities believe that the lovers’ festival associated with St. Valentine’s day comes from the belief that this is the day in Spring when birds begin their mating. But there is another view.
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History of The Beatles

February 7, 2020 /
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The BeatlesHISTORY 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 the President, who had been assassinated just 77 days earlier. The airport was now full of 4,000 greeters. Not realizing who they were for, 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.

First American Record Album

Meet The Beatles was the first record album I ever bought. A monochrome cover and a dozen monophonic songs opened with the clap-track augmented I Want To Hold Your Hand, then followed by I Saw Her Standing There, both were already massive hits in the US. To get a glimpse of the kind of cultural impact it had in America, watch the Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do.”

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History of Peter Pan: the Disney Classic

February 5, 2020 /
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Peter Pan PosterHISTORY 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 67 years ago today 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?

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History of The Day The Music Died

February 3, 2020 /
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Day the Music DiedHISTORY OF THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED

On February 3, 1959, a plane crash occurred in Iowa during a snow storm shortly after 1 am which killed three young rock and roll singers who would go down in history: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

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, and 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.

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History of Palindrome Dates: 02/02/2020

February 2, 2020 /
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HISTORY OF PALINDROME DATES: 02/02/2020

Today, February 2, 2020, is considered a palindrome date meaning that it reads the same forward and backward. The Greek word palindromos means running back again.

Of course, there are lots of palindrome dates, even within the last century. I’ve written about 07/07/07 and 08/08/08.

But today’s type of palindrome, with a four-digit year where the two-digit month and day are the same — no matter what culture you’re in, whether MM/DD or DD/MM — is unique and happens only about every millennium. Except for 12/12/2121 which is only 101 years away. Stay tuned for that article.

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History of Groundhog Day

February 2, 2020 /
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Groundhog

HISTORY OF GROUNDHOG DAY

Groundhog Day comes from Candlemas Day, observed for centuries in parts of Europe on February 2 where the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. This seems to have derived from the pagan celebration of Imbolc — the Feast of the goddess Bridget, or in Christian Ireland St. Bridget’s Day and alternatively “The Purification of the Virgin” commemorating the time when St. Mary presented Jesus at the Temple at Jerusalem. It comes at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The Roman Legions, it is said, originally brought the tradition to the Germans.

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History of the Super Bowl: Just another Religious Holiday?

January 31, 2020 /
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Super Bowl LIV

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. It is the most important holiday of the year in America some will say. While it is ostensibly a secular holiday, others argue that it is truly a religious holiday. And there are several reasons why. It has:

  • A liturgy
  • Multiple prayers
  • Special foods
  • Formal rituals that have developed throughout history
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History of Australia Day

January 26, 2020 /
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AustraliaHISTORY OF AUSTRALIA DAY

Did you know that the history of European Australia is tied to the American Revolutionary War?

Back 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 was becoming a greater 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.

Georgia

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