History of Ash Wednesday: Where does the Ash come from?

February 26, 2020

HISTORY OF ASH WEDNESDAY In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends 40 days later with Easter. The custom is still retained in the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran and some Orthodox Churches. The ashes, obtained by burning the remains of the palm branches blessed on the previous Palm Sunday, are placed in a vessel on the altar and consecrated before…

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History of Mardi Gras: Why is it called Fat Tuesday?

February 25, 2020

HISTORY OF MARDI GRAS In French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated the day after Shrove Monday and the day before Ash Wednesday as a last “fling” before the 40 days of self-denial of Lent which precede Easter. Lent is a word that comes from the Middle English word “lente” which means “springtime” — so named for the season of the year in which it usually occurs. While the practice of Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, it has been a tradition in the Christian world since the mid 4th century. It seems to parallel the 40 days…

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History of Shrove Monday

February 24, 2020
Shrovetide Football

HISTORY OF SHROVE MONDAY The Monday before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Monday. The three days before Ash Wednesday is also known as “Shrovetide,” starting with Quinquagesima Sunday and ending on Shrove Tuesday, known more popularly as Mardi Gras. Quinquagesima meant the fiftieth day before Easter, or specifically the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday which marked the beginning of Lent. Shrove is the past tense of shrive and is an Old English word meaning “to repent.” Repentance from sin was a common practice during this season. The Royal Shrovetide Football Match is typically played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash…

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History of Amazing Grace, part 2

February 23, 2020
William Wilberforce

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 2 As we mentioned in our first article on the History of Amazing Grace, this is the story of the lives of two men and that one song. In the first part, we discussed the life of the song’s author John Newton. The 2007 film “Amazing Grace,” however, is about the life of one of Newton’s protégés, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a man well known to the Framing Fathers of the American Revolution. He became in his day, not just a politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, but also a writer of such popularity at the time…

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History of Amazing Grace, part 1

February 22, 2020

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 1 On February 23, 1807, the British parliament passing a bill banning the nation’s slave trade. In these two articles, we’ll explore the lives of two men and one song that played a large role in that effort. John Newton‘s devoted Christian mother dreamed that her only son would grow up to become a preacher. But he lost his mother when he was six years old, and at the age of eleven followed his sea-captain father to the sea. He did not take to the discipline of the Royal Navy and deserted ship, was flogged,…

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

February 17, 2020

HISTORY 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…

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History of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2020

HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE’S DAY 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…

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History of The Beatles

February 7, 2020

HISTORY 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…

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History of Peter Pan: the Disney Classic

February 5, 2020

HISTORY 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 Ash Wednesday: Where does the Ash come from?

February 26, 2020

HISTORY OF ASH WEDNESDAY In the Western church, the first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the ceremonial use of ashes, as a symbol of penitence, in the service prescribed for the day. It follows Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, and ends 40 days later with Easter. The custom is still…

Read More

History of Mardi Gras: Why is it called Fat Tuesday?

February 25, 2020

HISTORY OF MARDI GRAS In French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated the day after Shrove Monday and the day before Ash Wednesday as a last “fling” before the 40 days of self-denial of Lent which precede Easter. Lent is a word that comes from the Middle English word “lente” which means “springtime” —…

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History of Shrove Monday

February 24, 2020

HISTORY OF SHROVE MONDAY The Monday before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Monday. The three days before Ash Wednesday is also known as “Shrovetide,” starting with Quinquagesima Sunday and ending on Shrove Tuesday, known more popularly as Mardi Gras. Quinquagesima meant the fiftieth day before Easter, or specifically the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday…

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History of Amazing Grace, part 2

February 23, 2020

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 2 As we mentioned in our first article on the History of Amazing Grace, this is the story of the lives of two men and that one song. In the first part, we discussed the life of the song’s author John Newton. The 2007 film “Amazing Grace,” however, is about…

Read More

History of Amazing Grace, part 1

February 22, 2020

HISTORY OF AMAZING GRACE, part 1 On February 23, 1807, the British parliament passing a bill banning the nation’s slave trade. In these two articles, we’ll explore the lives of two men and one song that played a large role in that effort. John Newton‘s devoted Christian mother dreamed that her only son would grow…

Read More