Secular

History of Oktoberfest: Why is it in September?

HISTORY OF OKTOBERFEST Why is the famous German beer festival held in September if it’s called Oktoberfest? Officially, the beer festival starts the third Saturday in September through early October for 16 to 18 days. History The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the royal wedding in Munich — the capital of the…

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History of Talk Like a Pirate Day

HISTORY OF TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY The International Talk Like A Pirate Day began not back in the Golden Age of Pirates in days of yore but in 2002. Celebrated each year on September 19, though it started in the United States, it is now celebrated internationally across the Seven Seas. The Tale The legend…

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History of Ethiopian New Year: What is Enkutatash?

HISTORY OF ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR: WHAT IS ENKUTATASH? Why is your friendly neighborhood historian writing about the Ethiopian New Year? A couple of years ago the Washington Post interviewed me for an article they were publishing on the subject. The Washington D.C. area has over 200,000 Ethiopian-Americans who celebrate the holiday this year on September 12. A group…

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History of Patriot Day: 9-11

9-11 Firefighters

HISTORY OF PATRIOT DAY: 9-11 With the following words and many others, President George W. Bush designated September 11 to be regarded as Patriot Day or America Remembers: By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation: On this first observance of Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the…

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History of Labor Day

HISTORY OF LABOR DAY Labor Day is the day we celebrate the process our mothers went through to deliver us at birth. Sorry, wrong holiday. Labor Day in the U.S. is the day we celebrate the achievements of the American labor movement. While it is still disputed whether the holiday was first proposed by Peter…

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History of the Holidays

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HISTORY OF THE HOLIDAYS Welcome to this year’s edition of the History of the Holidays. I’m Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian. From now through the Spring or vernal equinox, we celebrate most of the major secular and sacred holidays. This is a series that recounts the history behind the major American holidays, some of…

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History of the California Gold Rush

HISTORY OF THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH On August 19, 1848, the New York Herald reported the news along the American East Coast of the California Gold Rush. It was not new news to those further West, as the gold rush had started in January and was publicized in San Francisco in March. However, the New…

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History of August

HISTORY OF AUGUST What’s in a name? The name of this month wasn’t always August, previously it was called Sextilis by the Romans, back in the days of Romulus in 753 BC when there were originally 10 months (Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.) The Roman Senate, in 8 B.C. decided to honor their first Emperor, Augustus…

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History of Bastille Day

Bastille Day

HISTORY OF BASTILLE DAY Each year on July 14 Bastille Day is celebrated to commemorate the Storming of the Bastille in Paris on this date in 1789, an important date in the French Revolution. Also known as French National Day, it features feasting, fireworks, public dancing, and an address by the French President. However, the…

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