History of the Holidays

History of the Holidays

articles are written and curated by

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian.

If you’d like to receive these articles on each holiday by email, simply click here to join the mailing list.

Bill Petro earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History at the University of California, Berkeley. He studied Ancient history as well as a comprehensive study of Christian history and early Jewish history.

His history thesis was on 19th Century American Evangelicalism. He has done post-graduate work in history and historical theology, contributing content to several books.

He began writing articles on the History of the Holidays and distributing them by email and the Internet on USENET in 1984, a decade before the World Wide Web.

A Bibliography of some of the sources appears here.

Most recently published articles:

Bill Petro

History Articles by Month

New Year’s DayGroundhog DayDaylight Saving End
New Year’s ResolutionsSuper BowlIdes of March Mar 14
Epiphany, Jan 6Valentines Day, Feb 14St. Patrick’s Day Mar 17
Ben FranklinPresidents’ DaySpring Equinox
Martin Luther King, Jr. World Backup Day
Australia Day Pre-Easter series
April Fools Day. Apr 1May Day, May 1June
April 19Cinco de Mayo, May 5D-Day, Jun 6
Earth DayMemorial DayPentecost
MarathonMemorial Day: Why We FightFlag Day, Jun 14
World Tai Chi Day Father’s Day
Easter series Juneteenth, Jun 19
  Summer Solstice
  All You Need Is Love
  John the Baptist Day, Jun 24
JulyAugustHistory of the Holidays
Canada Day, Jul 1Infinity Day, Aug 8Labor Day
Independence Day, July 4Woodstock, Aug 15Patriot Day, 9-11
John AdamsCalifornia Gold Rush, Aug 19Ethiopian New Year
Thomas Jefferson Talk Like a Pirate Day
John Madison Aspens
John Calvin Autumnal Equinox
French Fries  
Bastille Day, Jun 14  
Moon Landing, Jun 20  
Reek Sunday, parts 1, 2, 3  
Christopher ColumbusElection DayChristmas series
Daylight Saving EndGuy Fawkes, Nov 5Chanukah
InternetVeterans Day, Nov 11Winter Solstice
Kirking of the TartanThanksgiving 
Halloween, Oct 211st Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1676 
Martin Luther, 10-31George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789 
Information ReformationAbraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863 
 Black Friday 


History of Coronavirus & Pandemics series:

History of Pandemics: What Can They Teach Us About Coronavirus?History of QuarantineHistory of How Pandemics End: Implications for Today’s COVID-19
Faith in a Time of PlagueHistory of Vaccines: What This Means For CoronavirusHistory of Coronavirus: How Will It End?

History of Pre-Easter (Lent) series:

Shrove MondayMardi GrasAsh Wednesday

History of Easter series:

EasterHerod AntipasGood Friday
Historical ClimateThe SanhedrinThe Players
Palm SundayMaundy Thursdayfifty days later
Pontius PilateThe TrialPentecost

History of Thanksgiving series:

Thanksgiving1st Thanksgiving Proclamation – 1676Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation – 1863
Squanto: Friendly IndianGeorge Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation – 1789Black Friday

History of Christmas series:

AdventHerod the GreatSanta Tracker
Nativity SeasonPoinsettia, Dec 12Battle of the Bulge
YearSanta Lucia, Dec 13Polish Wafer, Dec 24
TraditionsStarWWI Christmas Truce, Dec 25
Sacred OratorioMistletoeBoxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day, Dec 26
MusicMagiFeast of St. John, Dec 27
Creche: Manger sceneIs Die Hard a Christmas Movie?Fruitcake, Dec 27
Santa Claus, Dec 6Christmas Carol, Dec 19Childermas, Dec 28
12 Days of Christmas5 Christmas MythsAuld Lang Syne
Tree, Dec 8Winter Solstice, Dec 21Epiphany, Jan 6
A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dec 9Caesar Augustus 

History of Jewish Holidays series:

Rosh HashanahChanukahPassoverYom Kippur

Pop Culture Reviews:


Special Topics series:

Geek HolidaysLife of Martin LutherTouching on Star Trek
Founding FathersTravel ArticlesMentions of The Beatles
PoliticsLiberation of Dachau

Miscellaneous History of the Holidays articles:

Leap YearWilliam Wilberforce 9-11-01: America Tested
Charles Dickens: 200 Years09-09-09 9-11-02: One Year On
J.S. BachSummer of Love: Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll Beethoven: 250th Anniversary
Amazing Grace, parts 1, 2 2020: Not the Beginning of the Decade?