Memorial/Decoration Day

ABC has a great article up about the meaning of Memorial Day, for many Americans it marks the beginning of the Summer with a cookout but that is not what the Day is intended to be. The Day began in earnest after the Civil War although there were local Decoration Days where people went and decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers. In 1882, the name what changed to Memorial Day it until 1968 it was on May 30th. In 1968 it moved to the last Monday in May. This has caused some issues for servicemen and women who believe that changing the date has undermined the very meaning of the day and caused it to be looked at by the general public lack of real observance of the day. This is a day to remember those who have died in service of our nation.

Last year we looked at Longfellow’s poem that remembered the day, this time around it Charles Ives. Ives was a modernist composer who I’ve never heard of before but in his four movement symphony A Symphony: New England Holidays the second movement is Decoration Day.

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Washington’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day

This upcoming Monday is Presidents’ Day in the United States and one of the traditions associated with this day is that Congress reads the Washington Farewell Address at some point. I really hope that they listen to the words of the speech and start doing their jobs. There are plenty of problems in America and it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican we have to work together to become that shining city on a hill. Yes, this holiday is complicated as there are different ways and times that it is celebrated around the US. Some states have a Lincoln/Washington birthday others wait until different times of the year to honor their own Presidents. However it is celebrated it is a day to remember not only Washington but all the others as well including Millard Filmore and William Henry Harrison. Sure some weren’t that great but they all tried their best they could and sure reflecting from the present on the events of the past always seems to put them in worse light.

Festivus

It seems like everyone of a certain age will know about “a Festivus for the rest of us.” This is a made up holiday that we all thought was from Seinfeld, but it actually began back in 1966 when Dan O’Keefe’s father, Daniel O’Keefe created the holiday to celebrate the anniversary of his first date with his future wife. It wasn’t until Dan O’Keefe co-wrote the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” which features this new idea of Festivus, this has become what people celebrate. According to the show George Costanza’s father, Frank created the holiday as an alternative holiday in response to the commercialization of Christmas and is celebrated on 23 December.

Festivus is celebrated by putting up a Festivus pole an ordinary aluminum pole with nothing on it, like tinsel. Everyone gathers together and eats a Festivus dinner at which the Airing of Grievances takes place. This is where everyone gathered lashes out at each other and the world for how they have disappointed the speaker, as Frank Costanza begins in the episode “I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!” The celebration isn’t over until the Feats of Strength which takes place right after the dinner. The feats of strength is the head of the household challenges someone to wrestle and when ever the head of the house is pinned Festivus is over.

Over the years some people have come to celebrate it as a real holiday but other do it ironically. Will it last over the next decade or so that really is the biggest question as it didn’t really grow into something until the turn about 2000 which was like three years after the episode aired. If you are celebrating have fun with it, I guess.

Holiday Crush

I can’t believe that we are already in the holiday crush Thanksgiving is in a week and Christmas will be following behind soon enough. It seems like only yesterday it was Halloween and now everyone is talking turkey and wondering about their potatoes/stuffing and all the rest of the menu. If you can all take some time to rest and reflect as we near this end of they year and the holiday extravaganza.  Sure it is nice to see old friends and family members but we also all need to remember to take some time for ourselves. I hope that everyone has a wonder filled holiday season.

Christmas decorations and music

As we all know Christmas has been on people’s minds since Halloween, if you looked at advertisers and companies they totally skipped over Thanksgiving and went right on to Christmas. In  the week since Thanksgiving it is interesting to see how many people already have put up decorations and lights and most of them went up in last weekend since it was a long weekend.  This weekend is when I will be starting putting things up and starting to actually listen to Christmas music. Now I’ve got over two days worth of Christmas music so I’ll put it on shuffle and if I get tired of my selection there is always songza/pandora/music choice or the radio which have stations dedicated to Christmas music.

Lesser Known…

Parents’ Day and Children’s Day fall on the same exact day June 1. This is an odd thing to start in the United States as well as a bunch of other countries these events have been moved to different dates in the US Children’s Day is the Second Sunday in June and Parents’ Day is the Fourth Sunday in June. Unfortunately for me I didn’t know about Children’s Day growing up but on this day children up to 12 get a present or something it really depends on the country, Parents’ Day on the other hand is a day to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship. It’s like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day wrapped up into one.

There is also World Environment Day on June 5 how is this different from Arbor Day or Earth Day I really couldn’t tell you. On June 6 it is UN Russian Language Day as well, it coincides with Alexander Pushkin’s birthday. Pushkin is considered to be the father of modern Russian literature. This is one of the six UN Language Days which are to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and to promote equal use of all six of the UN’s official working languages. This language day is a cool idea and it would be interesting to read some Russian Literature, as well as the other UN languages (Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, English)

The UN does like to make days up like this, all of the days  listed above are made up by the UN.

 

Lesser Known…

There are several observances this week that I’ve never heard of before.

In only Berkley, California Malcolm X Day is celebrated on May 19, there are other places where this is a proposed holiday but nothing official ever happened with it. In fact Charlie Rangel even brought the idea before the House and nothing has come of it since it’s introduction over 20 years ago. It is a shame that Martin Luther King Jr. is the individual who we claim had a lasting influence on America, but Malcolm X still plays a huge role in society today. I feel that today with all the killings of young black men and subsequent riots the words of Malcolm X still ring  “you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence. ” Perhaps one day we will have a Malcolm X Day and a Medgar Evers Day to go along with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

World Turtle Day is also this week on World Turtle Day is celebrated according to the Wikipedia entry “to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.” So I hope on the 23rd we all can take some time and reflect on the role of turtles in our lives.

Franz Jaegerstaetter, OFS (20 May 1907 — 9 August 1943)

I’m sure I brought Franz Jagerstatter up before but I think that he is a role model for all of us today as he took his faith seriously. It wasn’t just a thing he did once a week but it was how he lived his life. Whispers in the Loggia has a piece about the beatification from back in 2007.

Lesser Known…happens

This week is full of interesting days first off is the beginning of Floralia, an ancient Roman festival in honor of Flora (goddess of flowers, youth, and spring) it was a spring festival and lasted five days with ample nudity. The real reason they are being mentioned is that in 30 AD as part of the entertainment was an elephant walking on a tightrope. This sounds like the coolest thing ever witnessed, sure I know that the rope was most likely a little over a foot off the ground but in my mind I pictured an elephant on the high wire at like the circus.

On the April 29 in Japan it is Shōwa Day which used to celebrate the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito)’s birthday but has turned into a day to reflect on his reign. It also marks the beginning of Golden Week a week in which several holidays are celebrated. It would be interesting if this is what President’s day in the United States were something like this, instead of a day that really has no meaning.

Clement Sheptytsky, MSU ( 17 November 1869 – 1 May 1951)
Klymentiy or Clement was born near Lviv and lived in the eastern part of Poland. He began his education at home and in 1892 he earned a doctor of law at Jagiellionian
University in Krakow the very same university that Karol Wojtyla later John Paul II would attend. Clement would then take some time and care for his elderly parents before embarking into Politics. Clement was elected to the Austrian Parliament in 1900 and when it dissolved in 1907 he left politics and decided to become a monk. In 1913 he was ordained a priest in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church), and the communists were not too happy about this. By the time World War II rolled along Clement was the exarch of Russia. and was an important figure in helping rescue many Jews as the Nazi persecution against them began for this Clement is one of the Righteous among the nations. After the war the Soviets returned and after the Metropolitan of Moscow was arrested it was Clement who was the highest ranking member of the church. In 1947 Clement was arrested as well and he would eventually die in prison. John Paul II beatified Clement in 2001 during a trip to the Ukraine.

This week we also celebrate International Jazz Day, it’s on April 30. If you have the chance listen to some Jazz music this week and if you say you don’t like jazz perhaps try some jazz fusion or one of the many genres of Jazz, or maybe Radiohead is more your style.

Thanksgiving

In the past years I’ve done history (Thanksgiving is older than many believe) and last year’s focus was on Hanukkah being on thanksgiving so this year will be a little different as we will be talking turkey.

A typical Thanksgiving day in my family is like most other families we watch the parade and towards the end of the parade we start cooking everything that’s not premade. We might watch the dog show or which ever football game it on while we do thing as well.  As we eat dinner at around 4, it is always an early meal on Thanksgiving. Our eating doesn’t start at dinner with the appetizers before hand.

Appetizers:
There are the typical spread of cheese and crackers nothing too fancy that are found around the country but we have a couple special appetizers as well. It is not a gathering at my parents house without chips and Garlic dip, and this isn’t some rinky-dink garlic and onion dip but full blown garlic as it typically has about a head of garlic in it, my sister adapted my uncle’s recipe. Also we have Grandma’s quiches, typical egg, bacon and cheese in a biscuit crust baked in muffin tins, these were a specialty of Grandma making them bring back memories of her and Thanksgivings past.  This might be supplemented by cereal mix, which is basically homemade Chex Mix and nuts.

Dinner:
As for the meal itself it’s got Turkey and a bunch of carbohydrates. My family does the Turkey which is brined before hand and left to dry before roasting it in the over for however long that takes. One of these year the turkey is going to be deep fried I just never have gotten around to getting a deep fryer. In years past we’d have stuffing along side mashed or sweet potatoes, not sure if that will happen this year as my Mom’s gone gluten-free. Although if Dad wants some stuffing it can be made along with a mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes mashed together. There will be bread of some type as well. With the carbohydrates there is also some vegetables this means broccoli bars and a spinach salad, everyone loves the broccoli bars and are typically one of the things that there are few leftovers of. Also I always made deviled eggs, I’ve been making them forever it seems and usually I use a mixture of mustards in the filling. One of my favorite parts of making deviled eggs is using crackers to eat the rest of the egg yolk mixture after the eggs are filled. There might be an additional vegetable but that is about it and we typcially have a can of cranberry sauce.

Dessert:
This is the time for pies. This year i know we have an apple pie and something else coming. However after all the food at the main meal dessert is really an afterthought of the day. Sure pie and coffee are nice, but I’ve never had any damn fine coffee or pie on Thanksgiving.

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day a day of rest and relaxation or something so why not watch some classic Homestar Runner today. The Sbemail for Labor Day and the Puppet one Labor Dabor as well are both great to watch today. If you want more than animation Time Magazine has complied a list of 6 Movies set on Labor Day, and it you are to lazy to pick anything out I am sure you can stumble upon some marathon on television.

Labor Day in America is a strange holiday as there really aren’t many traditional aspects to the day like other holidays. Labor Day is a day in which we honor the worker, with a day off other nations around the world celebrate the worker on May 1. The biggest part of Labor Day is it signifies the end of Summer Vacation for kids as school begins  around this time, which varies across the nation. Tomorrow is the earliest that Labor Day can fall and kids will be getting ready to go back to school on Tuesday.