Category Archives: Almanac

Happy Mother’s Day 2019

This is a reissue of last year’s Mother’s Day post with some new music. Enjoy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. We honor you today, the second Sunday in May because of all you have done for us. Today I want to share a few tidbits of information about this 110-year-old holiday.

Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society.

Establishment of Mother’s Day Holiday

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908. Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine.

She campaigned to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States beginning in 1905. Ann Reeves Jarvis, her mother, died that year. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started. Additionally, she wanted to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

Protests and Carnations

Although Jarvis was successful in founding the holiday, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of the day. Also, she felt the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude. She thought people should do this instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. She protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923. Also, she demonstrated at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, sons and daughters were sending carnations as gifts on this day. Additionally, authorities arrested Jarvis for disturbing the peace when she protested AWM’s carnation selling to raise money.

Sundays With Mom

Families all have traditions and routines. Ours was no different. Each Sunday mom began the day by dressing each of us in suits with clip-on bowties. But these were not ordinary suits. She purchased these suits at Freeman’s clothing store and they required alterations by tailors. We went to Sunday school and then sat through church service. Dad gave us pencils so we could doodle during the service.

Mom prepared Sunday Roast each week. This traditional British main meal is typically served on Sunday (hence the name). It consists
of roasted meat, roast potato, vegetables like broccoli, carrots and onions,  and gravy. She put the ingredients in a roasting pan and put it in the oven before we left for church.

Eventually she tired of preparing Sunday roast and our after church lunch became a visit to the heritage cafeteria.

Easter Bonnets

At Easter let your clothes be new
Or else be sure you will it rue.

Poor Robin, an 18th-century English almanac maker, is credited with writing this doggerel. The notion that ill-luck would follow one who had not something new at Easter expanded in the 19th century.

In the English tradition, the notion of getting new clothes on Easter to signify inner growth and renewal dates back to Shakespeare. In “Romeo and Juliet,” Romeo’s sage and ill-fated confidante, Mercutio, chastises Benvolio. “Did’st thou not fall out with a Tailor for wearing his new Doublet before Easter?”

In the States, it wasn’t until post-Civil War society, towards the latter 1870s, when modern traditions surfaced. Women and children marching in Easter Parades replaced dark-colored mourning smocks with brighter clothing. By the early twentieth century, Americans became more and more invested in the Easter outfit—the hat, in particular.

Current Traditions

Following forty days of Lent, we typically wear drab outfits reflective of a collective “abstention.” Easter Sunday lifts the fog not only in spirit but also in our wardrobe. Fittingly, mom took us to Freeman’s clothing store each year to purchase a new Easter suit and tie.

Today the Easter bonnet is a type of hat that women and girls wear to Easter services. Because Easter coincides with seasonal blooming, women sometimes garner fresh flowers to wear in their hair and bonnets. Lilies, daffodils, azaleas, hyacinths, and red tulips are considered traditional Easter flowers.

The popularity of the Easter Bonnet peaked in 1948 when Judy Garland serenaded Fred Astaire with Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” in a film of the same name. In this number, Garland, who dons a white Derby Hat with pink and violet rosettes, makes no place seem as grand on Easter Sunday as Fifth Avenue in New York City. However, the Easter Bonnet has become a relic, albeit a delicate and artisanal one, of cosmopolitan splendor.

What about you? Will you be donning an Easter bonnet today?



Remembering Super Bowl XXXVI

I will admit. I’m not overly excited about watching tonight’s Super Bowl game. I expected a battle between the two best teams during the regular season. Instead we have to spend yet another Super Bowl Sunday watching Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Even before this season the Patriots had appeared in more Super Bowls than any other franchise (10). The New England Patriots (5–5), Dallas Cowboys (5–3), and San Francisco 49ers (5–1) have five wins. The Pittsburgh Steelers (6–2) have won the most Super Bowls with six. The Denver Broncos (3–5) and Patriots have each lost a record five Super Bowls. With a win the Patriots will move into a tie with the Steelers for most wins. Otherwise they will possess the dubious distinction of biggest losers.

Before the season the Rams played in three Super Bowls. They were 0-1 in Los Angeles and 1-1 in St. Louis.

Pregame Notes

This is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI when the Rams were based in St. Louis. Only one player, Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady, remains on either roster from that contest. Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ head coach in that contest, also remains in that position.

The Patriots defeated the Rams by the score of 20–17. It was New England’s first Super Bowl championship, and the franchise’s first league championship of any kind. The game was also notable for snapping the AFC East’s long streak of not being able to win a Super Bowl championship. The division had lost eight Super Bowls in total (prior to the Patriots victory in XXXVI). It would be the last time the Rams reached a Super Bowl during their time in St. Louis.

Super Bowl LIII features record setting age differences between rival coaches and quarterbacks, pitting the 41-year old Tom Brady against the 24-year old Jared Goff, as well as the 66-year old Bill Belichick against 33-year old Sean McVay.

Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show

The halftime show featured a three-song set from Irish rock band U2. They had just completed their successful Elevation Tour. After a rendition of “Beautiful Day“, the band played “MLK” and “Where the Streets Have No Name” as the names of the victims from the September 11 attacks were projected onto a sheet behind the stage. While singing “Where the Streets Have No Name”, the group’s lead singer Bono replaced the lyrics “take shelter from the poison rain” with “dance in the Louisiana rain”, “high on a desert plain” with “where there’s no sorrow or pain”, and the final line “it’s all I can do” with “it’s all we can do”. At the conclusion of the song, Bono opened his jacket to reveal an American flag printed into the lining. U2’s halftime show captivated the audience as a poignant tribute to those who had been lost in the attacks. In 2009, ranked it the best halftime show in Super Bowl history.