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History of April Fools Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: Jeremiah Warren

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.
20130401-113417.jpgIn Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness is an ambiguous reference in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references.

Origins

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.
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In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon.[5] Thus, the passage originally meant 32 days after April, i.e. May 2, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32”, i.e. April 1. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,[6] and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK and those countries whose traditions derived from there, the joking ceased at midday. But this practice appears to have lapsed in more recent years.

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of Halloween – Video Blog

History of Halloween

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.

Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting “haunted houses” and carving jack-o-lanterns. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

celtic halloween, celbation, josh martin blogHalloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”).
The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween.

Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, “Trick or treat?” The “trick” part of “trick or treat” is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

kids in the uk trick or trating, josh martin blog

Kids in the U.K. trick or treating.

The history of Halloween has evolved. The activity is popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, imported through exposure to US television and other media, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. The most significant growth and resistance is in the United Kingdom, where the police have threatened to prosecute parents who allow their children to carry out the “trick” element. In continental Europe, where the commerce-driven importation of Halloween is seen with more skepticism, numerous destructive or illegal “tricks” and police warnings have further raised suspicion about this game and Halloween in general.

In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the night designated for Trick-or-treating is often referred to as Beggars Night.

Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

Yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practiced in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British antecedent. There is little primary Halloween history documentation of masking or costuming on Halloween; in Ireland, the UK, or America before 1900. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York, reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street guising (see below) on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbors to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Another isolated reference appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. Ruth Edna Kelley, in

early irish imagrants, josh martin blog

Early Irish Immigrants, who help start modern Halloween.

her 1919 history of the holiday, The Book of Hallowe’en, makes no mention of such a custom in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America.” It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term “trick or treat” appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845-1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.

Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children’s magazines Jack and Jill and Children’s Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show, and UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treating on the prairie. Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to re-channel Halloween activities away from vandalism, nothing in the historical record supports this theory. To the contrary, adults, as reported in newspapers from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, typically saw it as a form of extortion, with reactions ranging from bemused indulgence to anger. Likewise, as portrayed on radio shows, children would have to explain what trick-or-treating was to puzzled adults, and not the other way around. Sometimes even the children protested: for Halloween 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read “American Boys Don’t Beg.”

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elmo, pumpkin, josh marint, josh martin blogThis was a great holiday. The week before Halloween the whole family went to Anderson Farms, in Erie Colorado. It has all of the thrills a toddler could handle. Hay rides, animals, pumpkin picking, and music. They also have Colorado’s longest running corn maze and pumpkin patch, but My daughter was to young to enjoy it.

On Halloween eve we went to “Boo At The Zoo“, at the Denver Zoo. It’s a great event for kids under 10. They have stations for trick or treating, costumed animals, and a kids friendly corn maze. This event has been running for 27 years and is a great way to support the zoo or a good excuse to go to the zoo before it’s to cold.

Compiled By: Josh Martin

Sources:
HalloweenHistory.org

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Holiday Articles, Parenting

 

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History of Labor Day – Video Blog

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Compiled By: Josh Martin
Sources: Department of labor

 

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The History of Easter, the Easter bunny, and Easter eggs- Video Blog


Video Produced By: History Channel

Easter Bunny

temp2The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday. It was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Frankenau’s De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to an Alsace tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs.

Rabbits and hares

The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus and Aelian) that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. It may also have been associated with the Holy Trinity, as in the three hares motif,representing the “One in Three and Three in One” of which the triangle or three interlocking shapes such as rings are common symbols. In England, this motif usually appears in a prominent place in the church, such as the central rib of the chancel roof, or on a central rib of the nave. This suggests that the symbol held significance to the church, and casts doubt on the theory that they may have been masons’ or carpenters’ signature marks.

Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the March Equinox.
Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, “to breed like bunnies”). It is therefore not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

Eggs

The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the U.S. in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase” (sometimes spelled “Oschter Haws“).Hase” means “hare”, not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of the reconstructed continental Germanic goddess *Ostara

Theological significance

temp2The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.

Easter is linked to the Passover and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper and crucifixion that preceded the resurrection.According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as he prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room during the Last Supper.He identified the matzah and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. Paul states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”;this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.

One interpretation of the Gospel of John is that Jesus, as the Passover lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time as the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, on the afternoon of Nisan 14. The scriptural instructions specify that the lamb is to be slain “between the two evenings”, that is, at twilight. By the Roman period, however, the sacrifices were performed in the mid-afternoon. Josephus, Jewish War 6.10.1/423 (“They sacrifice from the ninth to the eleventh hour”). Philo, Special Laws 2.27/145 (“Many myriads of victims from noon till eventide are offered by the whole people”). This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels. It assumes that text literally translated “the preparation of the passover” in John 19:14 refers to Nisan 14 (Preparation Day for the Passover) and not necessarily to Yom Shishi (Friday, Preparation Day for Sabbath) and that the priests’ desire to be ritually pure in order to “eat the passover” refers to eating the Passover lamb, not to the public offerings made during the days of Unleavened Bread.

In the Early Church

temp2The first Christians, Jewish and Gentile, were certainly aware of the Hebrew calendar, but there is no direct evidence that they celebrated any specifically Christian annual festivals.Christians of Jewish origin were the first to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Since the date of the resurrection was close the timing of Passover, they likely celebrated the resurrection as a new facet of the Passover festival.

Direct evidence for the Easter festival begins to appear in the mid-second century. Perhaps the earliest extant primary source referencing Easter is a mid-second-century Paschal homily attributed to Melito of Sardis, which characterizes the celebration as a well-established one. Evidence for another kind of annual Christian festival, the commemoration of martyrs, begins to appear at about the same time as evidence for the celebration of Easter. But while martyrs’ days (usually the individual dates of martyrdom) were celebrated on fixed dates in the local solar calendar, the date of Easter was fixed by means of the local Jewish lunisolar calendar. This is consistent with the celebration of Easter having entered Christianity during its earliest, Jewish period, but does not leave the question free of doubt.

The ecclesiastical historian Socrates Scholasticus attributes the observance of Easter by the church to the perpetuation of its custom, “just as many other customs have been established,” stating that neither Jesus nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival. Although he describes the details of the Easter celebration as deriving from local custom, he insists the feast itself is universally observed.
Source: Wikipedia

The White House Easter Egg Roll

temp2Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an ‘egg roll’ party. Held on the South Lawn, it is one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolley Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln’s administration. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Children rolled brilliantly dyed hard-boiled eggs down the terraced lawn.

Soon a concern for the landscape led to a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law. The new edict went unchallenged in 1877, as rain cancelled all the day’s activities, but egg rollers who came in 1878 were ejected by Capitol Hill police.
Source: White House.org

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of St. Patrick’s Day – Video Blog

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States:

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St. Patrick’s Day, although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognised and celebrated throughout the country. It is primarily observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the colour green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century.

Saint Patrick Himself:

20130311-090303.jpg Little is known of Patrick’s early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.

In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish church.

Wearing of the green:

denver-st-patricksOriginally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick’s Day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

The first festival:

temp3The first Saint Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009’s five-day festival saw close to 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks. Skyfest forms the centrepiece of the festival.

The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick’s Symposium was “Talking Irish”, during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of “Irishness” rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. The week around Saint Patrick’s Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”).

As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.
The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick’s Festival had more than 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers and was watched by more than 30,000 people.

Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick’s Day. In The Word magazine’s March 2007 issue, Fr. Vincent Twomey wrote, “It is time to reclaim St Patrick’s Day as a church festival.” He questioned the need for “mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry” and concluded that “it is time to bring the piety and the fun together.”
United States

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of Valentine’s Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: History Channel

History of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. Today Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, mostly in the West, although it remains a working day in many of them.

valentines day - HistorySt. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6th and July 30th, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Historical facts

Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae).[13] Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. The flower crowned skull of St Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics are found in the Basilica of Santa Prassede, also in Rome, as well as at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him. Saint Valentine’s head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester and venerated.

February 14 is celebrated as St Valentine’s Day in various Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of ‘commemoration’ in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion. In addition, the feast day of Saint Valentine is also given in the calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church. However, in the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.” The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Second Vatican Council calendar. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on July 6th, in which Saint Valentine, the Roman presbyter, is honoured; furthermore, the Eastern Orthodox Church obsesrves the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, on July 30th.
Source: wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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Consumer Survey: Kia Sorento and Sportage ‘Best Value’ – Video Blog

Video Produced By: Super Car Haul

Kia Motors America (KMA) is one of the fastest-growing car companies in the U.S., and its two popular crossover utility vehicles have acquired an impressive collection of awards and accolades from industry observers. This week, the brand’s two CUVs received a different type of recognition when Strategic Vision revealed that new car buyers identified the 2013 Sorento and 2013 Sportage as the number one ranked vehicles in Total Value in the Medium and Small SUV segments, respectively, in the research firm’s latest Total Value Index@ (TVI) study.

2015 kia sportageMore than 350 new vehicles were vetted and over 77,000 buyers who purchased models from September 2011 to June 2012 were surveyed to compile Strategic Vision’s 16th annual TVI study, which revealed that quality and innovation shaped buyers’ opinion of overall values. “The result shows that innovation is the strongest single predictor of which cars, brands and corporations are seen as the best value, or ‘Total Value’ in our study,” stated Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision.

“Kia takes great pride in advancing value to new levels of sophistication, and Strategic Vision’s ‘Total Value’ recognition is gratifying because it is based on feedback from Sorento and Sportage customers,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing & communications, KMA. “This honor speaks to Kia’s goal of producing cars that are not only affordable but also dynamic in terms of their design, performance and cutting-edge technology attributes.” The Sorento combines fun and functionality in a refined and value-minded CUV with impressive power. Kia’s longest running nameplate, the Sportage, offers design and performance in a compact CUV with modern amenities and a fun-to-drive personality.

Kia’s Unprecedented Growth

Kia Motors is one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling. Kia Motors America’s full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand. In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality[2] and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking[3]. Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S. – the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*. Kia’s value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

About the 2013 Sorento

The 2013 Sorento incorporates all of the comforts of Kia’s signature crossover utility vehicle with the functionality consumers have come to expect. Built at Kia Motors’ U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, the Sorento can be powered by any one of three capable engines including a robust 3.5-liter V6 engine with sportmatic shifting. The Sorento also offers optional All-Wheel Drive, third-row seven-passenger seating, Bluetooth@[4], SiriusXM radio[5], Infinity@[6] surround sound and Kia’s UVO powered by Microsoft@ voice- activated infotainment and communication system[7]. The refined and value-minded 2013 Sorento is offered at a starting MSRP of $23,150[8].

About the 2013 Sportage

The 2013 Kia Sportage offers value-, image- and safety-conscious consumers a striking design and a standout combination of fun-to-drive performance, the latest in-vehicle technologies, and an abundance of comfort, convenience and safety features all at a tremendous value. The sleek and modern Sportage is available with either a 2.4-liter, 176 horsepower engine or a 2.0-liter, 260 horsepower Turbo GDI engine. Inside the cabin, the Sportage offers a host of available technology features, including Kia’s all new UVO Powered by Microsoft@ hands-free, voice-activated infotainment system. The 2013 Sportage features a starting MSRP of $19,000[9].

About Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. [10] Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

About Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy with over thirty-five years of experience in understanding the consumers’ and constituents’ decision-making systems for a variety of Fortune 100 clients, including most automotive manufacturers. Its unique expertise is in identifying consumers’ comprehensive motivational hierarchies, including the product attributes, personal benefits, value/emotions and images that drive perceptions and behaviors.

[1] Based on 5-year cumulative growth between 12-month retail sales for periods ending October 2007 and October 2012 of all U.S.

automotive brands.

*The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally

sourced parts.

[2] Source: Automotive Lease Guide Spring 2011 Perceived Quality Study.

[3] Source: Experian Automotive Q2 2011 market analysis.

[4]The Bluetooth@ word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Kia is under license. Other trademarks and tradenames are those of their respective owners. A compatible Bluetooth@ wireless technology enabled cell phone is required to use Bluetooth@ wireless technology.

[5]Sirius services require subscriptions, sold separately after 3-month trial included with vehicle purchase/lease. Subscriptions governed by SiriusXM Customer Agreement at siriusxm.com5/8 2011 SiriusXM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of SiriusXM Radio Inc.

[6] Infinity is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Incorporated.

[7] UVO is optional equipment and available with select packages. Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

[8] MSRP for Sorento LX excludes $800 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.

[9] Starting prices for Sportage bases are manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), which excludes $800 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.

[10] Based on 5-year cumulative growth between 12-month retail sales for periods ending October 2007 and October 2012 of all U.S. automotive brands.

SOURCE Kia Motors America

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Automotive, technology, Video Blog

 

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History of the Christmas Tree – Video Blog

WordPress no longer allow History channel video content, please click here to see a brief video: History Channel

How It All Got Started

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims‘s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Center tree is located at Rockefeller Center, west of Fifth Avenue from 47th through 51st Streets inNew York City.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree dates back to the Depression Era days. The tallest tree displayed at Rockefeller Center came in 1948 and was a Norway Spruce that measured in at 100 feet tall and hailed from Killingworth, Connecticut.

The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931. It was a small unadorned tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights. These days, the giant Rockefeller Center tree is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights.

Source: History Channel

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in History, Holiday Articles, Video Blog

 

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History of Christmas – Video Blog

<br/>Video Produced By: History Channel

History

The earliest evidence of the celebration on December 25 of a Christian liturgical feast of the birth of Jesus is from the Chronography of 354 AD. This was in Rome, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6.[95][96] The December 25 celebration was imported into the East later: in Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria only in the following century. Even in the West, the January 6 celebration of the nativity of Jesus seems to have continued until after 380.

Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity. These elements, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia, became syncretized into Christmas over the centuries. The prevailing atmosphere of Christmas has also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Ages, to a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation. Additionally, the celebration of Christmas was banned on more than one occasion within Protestant Christendom due to concerns that it was too pagan or unbiblical.

Pre-Christian background

Some early Christian writers connected the sun to the birth of Jesus, which Christians believe was prophesied in Malachi 4:2 as the “Sun of Righteousness.” “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born”, Cyprianwrote. In the fourth century, John Chrysostom commented on the connection: “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”

One ancient source mentioned Dies Natalis Solis Invicti in the Chronography of 354, and Sol scholar Steven Hijmans stated that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas: “While the winter solstice on or around December 25 was well established in the Roman imperial calendar, there is no evidence that a religious celebration of Sol on that day antedated the celebration of Christmas, and none that indicates that Aurelian had a hand in its institution.”

Winter festivals

A winter festival was the most popular festival of the year in many cultures. Reasons included the fact that less agricultural work needs to be done during the winter, as well as an expectation of better weather as spring approached. Modern Christmas customs include: gift-giving and merrymaking from Roman Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year; and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in the late December to early January period. As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan traditions had a major influence on Christmas, especially Koleda, which was incorporated into the Christmas carol. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the word Yule is synonymous with Christmas, a usage first recorded in 900.

Christianity

The New Testament Gospel of Luke may indirectly give the date as December for the birth of Jesus, with the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist cited by John Chrysostom (c. 386) as a date for the Annunciation.[6][18][90][109] Tertullian (d. 220) did not mention Christmas as a major feast day in the Church of Roman Africa. In Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox. The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.

Bishops Theophilus of Antioch (ca. 175) and Hippolytus of Rome (204) are often cited among the earliest Christian references to December 25 being the Date of Christ’s birth. In 245, the theologian Origen of Alexandria stated that, “only sinners (like Pharaoh and Herod)” celebrated their birthdays. In 303, Christian writer Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration. Since Christmas does not celebrate Christ’s birth “as God” but “as man”, this is not evidence against Christmas being a feast at this time. The fact the Donatists of North Africa celebrated Christmas may indicate that the feast was established by the time that church was created in 311.

Feast established

The earliest known reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscriptcompiled in Rome. In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.

Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Catholicism following the death of the pro-Arian Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The feast was introduced to Constantinople in 379, and to Antioch in about 380. The feast disappeared after Gregory of Nazianzus resigned as bishop in 381, although it was reintroduced by John Chrysostom in about 400.

Middle Ages

In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in western Christianity focused on the visit of the magi. But the medieval calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays. The forty days before Christmas became the “forty days of St. Martin” (which began on November 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours), now known as Advent. In Italy, former Saturnalian traditions were attached to Advent. Around the 12th century, these traditions transferred again to the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25 – January 5); a time that appears in the liturgical calendars as Christmastide or Twelve Holy Days.

The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.

By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten. The Yule boar was a common feature of medieval Christmas feasts. Caroling also became popular, and was originally a group of dancers who sang. The group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various writers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that the unruly traditions of Saturnalia and Yule may have continued in this form. “Misrule”—drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival. In England, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day, and there was special Christmas ale.

Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens. Christmas gift-givingduring the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated in England, and by the 17th century the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques and pageants. In 1607, King James I insisted that a play be acted on Christmas night and that the court indulge in games. It was during the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe that many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve.

Source: Wikipedia

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in History, Holiday Articles, Video Blog

 

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The history of Thanksgiving in America – Video Blog

Produced By : History.com

Source: WikipediaThanksgiving History

Norman RockwellPrayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times.[1] The holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date of the holiday
In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans, the radical reformers of their age, wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plague in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, and developed into Guy Fawkes Day.

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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in History, Holiday Articles, Video Blog

 

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American Voting History

Regardless of you political opinion, it’s extremely important that you vote. Knowing your history is the best way to predict the future. In the spirit of voting and democracy, I’ve provided a brief history of the American voting process. If you’re not a history buff, just watch the video and VOTE!

Video Produced By: Rock The Vote

Voting in Early America

Written By: Ed Crews
Published By: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Election day brings, from left, Colonial Williamsburg interpreters Dan Moore, Jay Howlett, Star Galloway, Barbara Tyler, Phil Shultz, Tom Hay, Jack Flintom, Lyndon Howlett, Greg James, Alex Clark, John Needre, Christine Diffel, and Hope Smith to the Courthouse steps.

Election day brings, from left, Colonial Williamsburg interpreters Dan Moore, Jay Howlett, Star Galloway, Barbara Tyler, Phil Shultz, Tom Hay, Jack Flintom, Lyndon Howlett, Greg James, Alex Clark, John Needre, Christine Diffel, and Hope Smith to the Courthouse steps. Requirements shifted by place and time, but in the eighteenth century, the right to cast a vote belonged largely to white, male property holders. Even John Adams, in 1776, opposed broadening the franchise.
First order of business at Jamestown was the 1607 council president election.

First order of business at Jamestown was the 1607 council president election. Shown here, in the church at Jamestown, colonists gathered for the first representative body in the western hemisphere, the House of Burgesses, in 1619. Darin Tschopp reads the ballots.
Liquid cheer, in the pursuit of votes, was supplied by candidates on election day.

Liquid cheer, in the pursuit of votes, was supplied by candidates on election day. From left, interpreters Shultz, Flintom, Smith, Needre, Moore, Lyndon Howlett, James, Galloway, Tyler, and Jay Howlett gather round the keg.
William Hogarth’s Election series unmasks the follies of democracy.

William Hogarth’s Election series unmasks the follies of democracy. A tub full of beer made sober political judgment hard to come by in An Election Entertainment.
In William Hogarth’s Canvassing for Votes, a farmer is besieged by Whig and Tory solicitations.

In William Hogarth’s Canvassing for Votes, a farmer is besieged by Whig and Tory solicitations.
In William Hogarth’s The Polling, candidates argue to the side as collegians of the asylum surge in to cast ballots.

In William Hogarth’s The Polling, candidates argue to the side as collegians of the asylum surge in to cast ballots.
A manic fiddler leads the victory lap for a Tory candidate, surrounded by a free-for-all of pigs and pugilists, in William Hogarth’s Chairing the Members.

A manic fiddler leads the victory lap for a Tory candidate, surrounded by a free-for-all of pigs and pugilists, in William Hogarth’s Chairing the Members.
Tom Hay, as the sheriff, posts notice of an upcoming election.

Tom Hay, as the sheriff, posts notice of an upcoming election.
English jurist William Blackstone, in Gainsborough’s 1774 portrait, thought the temptations of bribery too great for the poor and supported property requirements for voters.

English jurist William Blackstone, in Gainsborough’s 1774 portrait, thought the temptations of bribery too great for the poor and supported property requirements for voters.
On election day, candidates gave refreshments to all voters, friendly and hostile, in the attempt to win favor at this and the next polling

On election day, candidates gave refreshments to all voters, friendly and hostile, in the attempt to win favor at this and the next polling. Shultz, Tyler, Needre, Moore, Flintom, and James conduct business and greet neighbors during the day of voting.

Among the first things the Jamestown voyagers did when they set up English America’s first permanent settlement was conduct an election. Nearly as soon as they landed—April 26, 1607, by their calendar—the commanders of the 105 colonists unsealed a box containing a secret list of seven men picked in England to be the colony’s council and from among whom the councilors were to pick a president. Captain John Smith, reporting from Jamestown, wrote that about eighteen days later, “arriving at the place where wee are now seated, the Counsell was sworne, the President elected, which for that yeare was Maister Edw. Maria Wingfield.”

Because Smith was at first denied his seat on suspicion of concealing a mutiny, six men—less than 6 percent of the population—participated in the choice of President Wingfield. From such moments in early American history, when the franchise was limited to a special few, grew the vote’s extension to broader ranks of individuals with a stake in their government. Derived from English practice, and refined by American experience, from them evolved our belief in the ballot and our ideas about who is entitled to cast one.

Those beliefs and ideas we have reexported to such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. What may become of those endeavors, time will tell. As we wait to see, we might recall that Americans have been experimenting with representative government for 400 years and are still tinkering with the mechanics. As Hofstra University law professor Grant M. Hayden put it in the Oxford Companion to American Law: “The history of voting in the United States has not been characterized by a smooth and inexorable progress toward universal political participation. It has instead been much messier, littered with periods of both expansion and retraction of the franchise with respect to many groups of potential voters.”

The first representative assembly in English America convened in Jamestown’s church July 30, 1619, with two burgesses from each of Virginia’s twenty-one plantations and corporations. From the 1600s to the 1700s, the republican approach to polity spread along the seaboard and developed. By the mid-1700s, Hayden wrote, representative government had become a tradition in the thirteen colonies that became the United States. Voting was commonplace, though not uniform. Each colony pursued its methods, policies, restrictions, and exceptions. But, by modern standards, the right to vote in colonial America was narrow, and there were fewer opportunities for its exercise.

Before the Revolution, colonists generally did not vote for their governors—the chief executives of what they thought of as their countries. The English king appointed most governors, though there were exceptions. Connecticut and Rhode Island voters elected governors. Many colonists did not choose their local officials. Some governors, like Virginia’s, appointed justices of the peace, sheriffs, coroners, and clerks. Some towns in such colonies as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, however, had local elections.

Colonists could vote for legislators to the lower house of their assemblies. In 1730, the number of those legislators ranged from seventeen in New Hampshire to ninety-one in Massachusetts. Legislatures tended to pass few laws. Their greatest power was their power to tax. Governors needed colonial politicians to provide funds for their initiatives, government administration, and their salaries.

Typically, white, male property owners twenty-one or older could vote. Some colonists not only accepted these restrictions but also opposed broadening the franchise. Duke University professor Alexander Keyssar wrote in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States:

At its birth, the United States was not a democratic nation—far from it. The very word “democracy” had pejorative overtones, summoning up images of disorder, government by the unfit, even mob rule. In practice, moreover, relatively few of the nation’s inhabitants were able to participate in elections: among the excluded were most African Americans, Native Americans, women, men who had not attained their majority, and white males who did not own land.

John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later president, wrote in 1776 that no good could come from enfranchising more Americans:

Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.

Colonial Voting restrictions reflected eighteenth-century English notions about gender, race, prudence, and financial success, as well as vested interest. Arguments for a white, male-only electorate focused on what the men of the era conceived of as the delicate nature of women and their inability to deal with the coarse realities of politics, as well as convictions about race and religion. African Americans and Native Americans were excluded, and, at different times and places, the Protestant majority denied the vote to Catholics and Jews. In some places, propertied women, free blacks, and Native Americans could vote, but those exceptions were just that. They were not signs of a popular belief in universal suffrage.

Property requirements were widespread. Some colonies required a voter to own a certain amount of land or land of a specified value. Others required personal property of a certain value, or payment of a certain amount of taxes. Examples from 1763 show the variety of these requirements. Delaware expected voters to own fifty acres of land or property worth £40. Rhode Island set the limit at land valued at £40 or worth an annual rent of £2. Connecticut required land worth an annual rent of £2 or livestock worth £40.

Such requirements tended to delay a male colonist’s entry into the voter ranks until he was settled down and established. They reflected the belief that freeholders, as property owners were called, had a legitimate interest in a community’s success and well-being, paid taxes and deserved a voice in public affairs, had demonstrated they were energetic and intelligent enough to be trusted with a role in governance, and had enough resources to be independent thinkers not beholden to the wealthiest class. English jurist William Blackstone wrote in the 1700s:

The true reason of requiring any qualification, with regard to property, in voters, is to exclude such persons as are in so mean a situation that they are esteemed to have no will of their own. If these persons had votes, they would be tempted to dispose of them under some undue influence or other. This would give a great, an artful, or a wealthy man, a larger share in elections than is consistent with general liberty.

Colonies also restricted opportunities to serve in their legislatures. Immediately before the Revolution, five insisted on significant property requirements for officeholders. But candidates tended to be wealthy anyway.

By twenty-first-century standards, colonial assemblies did not conduct much business. They passed few bills and dealt with a narrow range of issues. They tended to linger, however. Legislative sessions lasted weeks, sometimes months. Tradesmen, merchants, and owners of small and medium farms could not afford to neglect work for extended periods. The wealthy could.

Holding office yielded few immediate benefits and some real costs. Men ran for office from a sense of duty and the prestige associated with a legislative seat.

Colonial elections little resembled today’s. Election intervals often were irregular. Governors called for polls whenever they seemed necessary—though Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, for example, conducted them annually. Sheriffs posted notices of elections in prominent places throughout their bailiwicks. On the appointed day, voters traveled to a courthouse to cast their ballots.

Campaigning by candidates was different from today’s. There were no mass media or advertising. Candidates talked with voters in person, walking a line between undue familiarity and aloofness. Prospective officeholders were expected to be at the polls on election day and made a point to greet all voters. Failure to appear or to be civil to all could be disastrous. In some areas, candidates offered voters food and drink, evenhandedly giving “treats” to opponents as well as supporters.

Some highborn Virginians thought meeting the electorate and making campaign promises were demeaning. In 1776, Robert Wormeley Carter lost an election. His father said his son was defeated even though he had “kissed the of the people and very seriously accommodated himself to others.”

Elections often provided an excuse for people to visit neighbors and to conduct business. Behavior was not so restrained as today. A visitor who arrived by stagecoach on election day 1778 at the courthouse in Virginia’s Hanover County wrote:

The moment I alighted, a wretched pug-nosed fellow assailed me, to swap watches. I had hardly shaken him off, when I was attacked by a wild Irishman, who insisted on my “swapping horses” with him; and, in a twinkling ran up the pedigree of his horse to the grand-dam. Treating his importunity with little respect, I was near being involved in a boxing match, the Irishman swearing that I did not “rate him like a jintleman.”

Diversions aside, the main election-day business was to vote. A few colonies, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Carolina, employed some form of ballot. Others, like Virginia, relied on public voice votes, an English tradition. Voice voting made ballot counts harder to rig and, cast in the presence of friends, neighbors, local officials, and candidates, left no doubt about a voter’s intention. In Virginia, voice voting was a spectator event, every voter occupying center stage for a few moments. In his book Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington’s Virginia, Charles S. Sydnor wrote:

As each freeholder came before the sheriff, his name was called out in a loud voice, and the sheriff inquired how he would vote. The freeholder replied by giving the name of his preference. The appropriate clerk then wrote down the voter’s name, the sheriff announced it as enrolled, and often the candidate for whom he had voted arose, bowed, and publicly thanked him.

Apparently, voter turnout usually was low. Voting, especially in rural areas, took effort. Voters might have to travel a long distance to a courthouse and sometimes paid for food and lodging. The effort and expense, coupled with lost time from shops, inns, and farms, meant some men stayed at home election day.

The Revolutionary War stimulated a desire for reform. Advocates of change said that the conflict was about liberty and representation. They believed in a voting system that embodied those aims for more people. Debates were most intense between 1776 and the adoption of the federal Constitution. The range of disputes was too vast and too complex to cover in depth in this space. The chief concerns, however, focused on extending voting rights to veterans, the implications of a broader electorate, and the validity of property requirements. Property requirements seemed to attract the most attention. They came under attack almost as soon as the Revolution began.

Benjamin Franklin lampooned them when he wrote:

Today a man owns a jackass worth 50 dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies. The man in the mean time has become more experienced, his knowledge of the principles of government, and his acquaintance with mankind, are more extensive, and he is therefore better qualified to make a proper selection of rulers—but the jackass is dead and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?

Property restrictions gradually disappeared in the nineteenth century. Tax-paying requirements replaced property ownership, though they too waned after the 1820s. By the 1850s, most economic barriers to voting had disappeared.

Some Americans hoped the Constitution would clarify, unify, and perhaps expand voting rights nationally. It did not. Hayden wrote: “Under the constitution, then, the breadth of the right to vote for both state and national elections was fixed by state law. And at the time of ratification, this meant that many people—including most women, African Americans, Native Americans and propertyless white men—could not vote.”

By not addressing the suffrage issue more broadly, the Constitution’s authors fostered a long-running battle over voting rights. This struggle lasted well into the twentieth century, forming a focal point for the civil rights and women’s rights movements.

Twenty-first century perspectives on the restrictiveness of early American voting ideas miss a point. By eighteenth-century standards, Americans enjoyed considerable voting rights, according to Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, a University of Virginia history professor specializing in the Revolutionary period.

The 1700s were the time of absolute monarchs in continental Europe. Centuries of skillful political maneuvering by kings had concentrated power in their hands at the expense of their subjects. “All European countries had something like a parliament at some time, but, these began to disappear in the late Middle Ages through the early modern period,” O’Shaughnessy said in an interview. “These groups lost control of the power to tax. Kings found ways to tax without calling an elective body.”

Britain was an exception. Parliament retained the power to tax, ensuring elections and representative government. British voting practices, however, tended to be unfair, uneven, corrupt, and far more restrictive than America’s. Some towns and cities, for example, could not vote, and growing urban areas went underrepresented, though rural areas with declining population retained parliamentary seats. This system, created in the medieval period, remained unchanged in the 1700s. It begged for reform, which came in 1832.

So by comparison, America with its voting imperfections offered a broad-minded and healthy attitude toward the franchise. O’Shaughnessy also argues that representative government and its voting practices served America well in the post-Revolutionary period.

“One reason that the United States was stable after the war was that it did not need to revamp its system of government, and the men in charge had experience in governing,” he said. “This made the country far more stable than places that did not have this tradition and later went through dozens of constitutions and revolutions. In short, when it came to government and voting, Americans had a model to build on.”

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in current events, History, Video Blog

 

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