Secular

History of Ben Franklin

HISTORY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor. Musically he invented the glass harmonica, but he also invented the Franklin stove and started the first lending library and fire brigade in Philadelphia. He did experiments in electricity and developed the lightning rod.…

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History of New Year’s Resolutions: Where did they begin?

HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS As we mentioned earlier, New Year’s Day celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. Where did we get the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and why at the beginning of the year? Roman The month of January gets its…

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History of the 12 Days of Christmas: They’re after 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 Day, December 25) and the coming of the Wise Men, or Magi, to visit at his house in Bethlehem (Epiphany, January…

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History of Christmas Traditions: some pre-Christian?

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Many of the customs that we commonly associate with Christmas come from previous pagan or pre-Christian European backgrounds.   Traditions The word Yule comes from an Old Norse word for a twelve-day celebration among Germanic people. It later became known as Christmastide. Mistletoe was prominent in the traditions of the Druids…

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History of Christmas: Advent

Advent

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS: ADVENT Here begins our series of articles on the History of Christmas. Advent begins this Sunday. Meaning “Advent” from the Latin adventus means the “coming” or “arrival” of the Christ Child and is marked by the four Sundays preceding Christmas, this year starting Sunday, December 2 and ending December 24. It…

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History of Thanksgiving Indian: Why Squanto already knew English

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING: FRIENDLY INDIAN SQUANTO We’ve all heard the story of how the Pilgrims, landing in Massachusetts 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 Pawtuxet tribe named Squanto who befriended them. He taught them…

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History of Thanksgiving: the Secular and the Sacred

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING The origin of Thanksgiving Day has been attributed to a harvest feast held by the Plymouth Colony. In 1621, Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony proclaimed a day of “thanksgiving” and prayer to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first harvest in America the year after their arrival on the merchant ship Mayflower. The…

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