History of the Christmas Creche: Origin of the Manger scene

Creche

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE: ORIGIN OF THE MANGER SCENE One of the most enduring Christmas traditions is setting up a creche during the Advent season. A creche is a model of the scene of the Manger on the first Christmas at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model set up in the home…

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History of Christmas Music: More than just Carols?

Christmas Music

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC Music early became a marked feature of the Christmas season. But the first chants, litanies, and hymns were in Latin and deemed too theological for popular use. Under Francis of Assisi‘s influence in the 13th century, we began to see the rise of the carol written in the vernacular. The word carol comes…

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History of Christmas Traditions: Some pre-Christian?

Traditions

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Many of the customs that we commonly associate with Christmas come from previous pagan or pre-Christian European backgrounds. Let’s look at some of these familiar traditions and some connections to other folklore elements with which we may be unfamiliar.   Christmas Traditions The word Yule comes from the Germanic jōl or the…

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History of Christmas: Nativity Season — Snow in Bethlehem?

Nativity

HISTORY OF THE NATIVITY SEASON You’ve seen those greeting cards that show Joseph along with Mary on the back of a donkey making their way to Bethlehem in the wintry snow. Have you ever wondered: could Jesus have been born during the close of the year, perhaps even with snow on the ground?   Nativity…

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History of Veterans Day: Lest We Forget

Veterans Day

HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY A professor once commented, “We write things down so we can forget them.” Now, of course, this is true in the sense of writing down appointments, so we don’t have to worry about missing meetings. But that’s just it; we do forget things. As individuals, we forget things that are important…

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History of Halloween

Jack-o-Lantern

HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN Halloween (Allhallows Even) is the evening of October 31. In its strictly religious aspect, this occasion is known as the vigil of Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day, November 1, observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. In the fourth decade of the 8th century, Pope Gregory III moved this holiday to the…

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History of October: the Pumpkin Spice Saga

October

HISTORY OF OCTOBER: THE PUMPKIN SPICE SAGA October, the tenth month of the year in both the older Julian and the current Gregorian calendar, was the 8th month (Latin octo) in the ancient Roman calendar, but with the addition of January and February, it got bumped to #10. This month is significant because, according to…

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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. It was celebrated each year on September 19; though it started in the United States, it is now celebrated internationally across the Seven Seas. The Tale…

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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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