History of Advent: Why We Celebrate Christmas on December 25

Advent

THE HISTORY OF ADVENT: WHY WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ON DECEMBER 25 Here begins our series of articles on the History of Christmas. The traditional season of Advent, leading up to Christmas, begins today. It is celebrated in the church calendar as one of the most festive seasons of the year.   Meaning of Advent “Advent,”…

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History of Thanksgiving Indian: Why Squanto already knew English

Squanto

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 Thanksgiving: the Secular and the Sacred

Thanksgiving

HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING The origin of Thanksgiving Day in America has been attributed to a harvest feast held by the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. 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…

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History of Halloween: What’s the Backstory?

Jack-o-Lantern

HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN I did an hour-long interview on this topic on this podcast Halloween (Allhallows Eve’n) is the evening of October 31. This occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas in its strictly religious aspect. There are several names used during this time of year. To eliminate confusion, Allhallowstide includes these three holidays:…

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History of October 31: What’s Martin Luther got to do with it?

October 31

HISTORY OF OCTOBER 31 See my mini-series here on the life of Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, the story goes, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, 95 propositions or theses and marked the beginning of the Reformation. Of course, the Reformation began long…

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History of the Kirking of the Tartans: Is it really Scottish?

Tartan

HISTORY OF THE KIRKING OF THE TARTANS This Sunday, all over the world, many churches will observe the Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans, a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture. What is The Kirking of the Tartans? Kirking Etymologically Kirking, from the Scots word kirk, which means church, in this usage, means “blessing.” Tartans are the…

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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.

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History of J.R.R. Tolkien: A 100-Year Love Affair

jrr tolkien

HISTORY OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN: A 100-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR Tonight begins the Amazon Prime TV series “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” which depicts the Second Age of Tolkien’s legendarium, set over three thousand of years before the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. This is expected to be the most expensive TV series in…

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History of August: Who Is It Named After?

August

HISTORY OF AUGUST What’s in a name? The name of this month wasn’t always August; previously, the Romans called it  Sextilis. This was back in 753 B.C., in the days of the founding of Rome by its first king Romulus in 753 BC, when there were originally ten months (… Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.) The…

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History of William Wilberforce: Champion of British Slavery Abolition

William Wilberforce

HISTORY OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE One hundred eighty-nine years ago today, on July 26, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act passed its third reading in the House of Commons, ensuring the end of slavery in the British Empire. William Wilberforce authored it. August 24 marks the birthday of British statesman and England’s greatest abolitionist William Wilberforce. He…

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History of St James Day: and the Camino de Santiago

Rembrant St James

HISTORY OF ST JAMES DAY: AND THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO July 25 is the Feast Day of St James, and St James Day is accordingly celebrated by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and some Protestants. For Orthodox churches that follow the Julian calendar, it’s April 30. Each summer, pilgrims walk the Camino de Santiago or the Way…

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