While we in the West are packing up our Christmas lights, people all over China are beginning to decorate for Chinese New Year. Among the many traditions of this important Confucian holiday is decorating with light—lanterns, candles, and holiday lights—creating a festive atmosphere on both large and small scales.
The origins of Valentine’s Day have always been shrouded in romantic mystery. Whether St. Valentine himself had any romance in his life or not, at the end of the 5th century Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day, and a melding of Christian idealized love with pagan traditions and fertility rites led to some of the Valentine’s Day rituals we observe today. Two Valentine’s Day rituals that have remained constant since the Middle Ages are sending notes, and spending the day on romance.
New Things to Do on New Year’s
If New Year’s Eve celebrations have grown a bit dull, incorporate some (or all) of these ideas from around the world to give your party new life:
The American tradition of decorating evergreen trees, homes, and landscapes, with brightly lit Christmas lights is not as old as many people think. Most of us probably assume that Americans have always used Christmas lights, in one form or another, but this isn’t exactly true. As it turns out, this American tradition has only been around for about 60 years, but the development of the tradition has a story and history that began centuries ago.
“Diwali,” “Hanukkah,” “Pasko,” “Kwanzaa,” “Santa Lucia,” “Loi Krathong.” What do all of these unusual words have in common? They are Festivals of Light from cultures around the world—each one using light to celebrate. This is the perfect time of year for children of all ages to learn how different cultures celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Not many people study Christmas lights. Most people pull the lights out of the closet or attic sometime around Thanksgiving, hang them on the Christmas tree, or drape them over some bushes, and then take them down after New Years. If you are thinking about replacing those old incandescent lights this year with energy-efficient LED string lights you may be surprised at all the options available. There are differences between the options, and it is good to know a little about the choices available before you go shopping.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
If you are like me, selecting the best Christmas lights for your tree is the least of your concerns. I am generally more concerned with making sure the tree doesn’t fall out of the stand, and that it is reasonably straight. However, there are a lot of choices on the market now for Christmas tree lights, and there are a few things you should consider when making your selection.
Though Labor Day is now celebrated as a day of rest and relaxation at summer’s end, it really is a yearly tribute to American workers and their achievements—people who work hard and work efficiently—people who don’t easily quit. Labor Day was started by either Peter McGuire, general secretary of Carpenters and Joiners, or by Matthew Maguire, a machinist. It was first celebrated as a holiday in September 5, 1882 in New York City. It became a national holiday in 1887 and was originally celebrated with parades, picnics and speeches.