10 04, 2023

Why Wear Easter Bonnets?  

By |2023-04-08T15:42:49-05:00April 10th, 2023|Holidays|0 Comments

I saw no Easter bonnets at my church on Easter Sunday. I wasn’t surprised. The tradition of wearing any hat much less Easter bonnets seems to have all but disappeared in today’s culture.

Once upon a time, it was very important to have not only a new bonnet but a new outfit for Easter Sunday too. I’m guessing many of us have pictures like this buried in old photo albums.

The practice of new finery for Easter Sunday originated in the early church. Converts wore white garments on Sunday to identify themselves with Christ. The white symbolized purity and newness of life and became a powerful and tangible way to signify the life-altering spiritual transformation that had taken place.

In the 19th Century, there was even an Easter parade in New York City from St. Patrick’s Cathedral down Fifth Avenue. An after-church cultural event primarily for the well-to-do who decked out in new and fashionable clothing, and strolled from their own church to others to see and be seen.

The official parade’s popularity declined significantly as people came to view the frolic in finery as an ostentatious display of wealth and beauty.

Irving Berlin’s 1948 song “In Your Easter Bonnet” from the movie Easter Parade renewed the popularity of wearing an Easter bonnet. That’s why so many of us have pictures like the one above of me, my sister, and my brother posed outside my grandmother’s house on an Easter Sunday morning after church.

Although the parade falderal of bygone days is no longer, you might see some Easter parade strollers if you’re in New York City some Easter Sunday.

Check out these fabulous Easter bonnets from the 2018 New York Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival on 5th Avenue, Manhattan near St.Patrick’s Cathedral.

20 02, 2023

A Strange Holiday

By |2023-02-19T10:45:56-06:00February 20th, 2023|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Today is President’s Day… or is it Presidents’ Day… Presidents Day… Or Washington’s Birthday as the Office of Personnel Management notes on its federal calendar.

All those names are used.

With no official name, it’s hard to know how or what to call the holiday and it’s a grammar nightmare. The apostrophe is everywhere.

Sometimes there’s none, i.e. Presidents Day. Sometimes the apostrophe is placed between the last two letters as in President’s Day. Sometimes it’s after the last letter Presidents’ Day.

Then President is used as plural or singular.

To most people, the day is when banks and federal employees have a holiday and retail stores run sales.

Back in my day, we celebrated two presidential birthdays in February on their actual birthdays –George Washington on February 22 and Abraham Lincoln on February 16.

The 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed all that with the creation of three-day weekends and designated the third Monday of February to honor all presidents, past and present. That blurred the day’s meaning from the original purpose.

You’ll also notice Presidents’ Day never falls on either Washington or Lincoln’s birthdates or any of the other four presidents’ February birthdates—George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan.

Strange holiday, I say.

Whatever you call the holiday and however you choose to write it, enjoy the day.

Maybe do a little reading. Check out my author page for some excellent book choices.

13 02, 2023

Origins of Our Valentine’s Day Traditions

By |2023-02-05T10:37:10-06:00February 13th, 2023|Holidays|0 Comments

judythe morganFebruary 14 is second only to Christmas for gift-giving and sweet treats. A day for romantic dinners and homemade crafts. Both holiday celebrations began with religious roots. Similarities end there.

Historians can’t establish the exact origin but do trace how traditions have evolved over the years. The beginnings of Valentine’s Day are not the stuff of romantic plots. The origin is, in fact, a bit bloody.

Earliest traditions

According to, the holiday’s origin might predate Christianity with the ancient pagan festival of Lupercalia and the Roman festival celebrated in the middle of February that included feasting and pairing off partners.

Lupercalia was filled with debauchery, blood, and sacrifice. The hide of a sacrificed goat would be cut into strips, dipped in blood, and slapped around women. It was believed the ritual would make the women more fertile in the coming year.

Lupercalia was eventually outlawed in the 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day.

The Romans pagan celebrations ended when they embraced Christianity, and their holiday evolved into one honoring St. Valentine.

Who was Saint Valentine?

The most accepted account of St. Valentine says he was a priest arrested for defying a Roman decree that forbade soldiers from marrying and executed when he continued to wed lovers in secret. Problem is, according to NPR, Emperor Claudius II of Rome executed two different men named Valentine on February 14 (in two different years), contends St. Valentine was an imprisoned priest who fell in love with one of his visitors and wrote letters to her signing off with “From your Valentine.”

Both accounts have romantic undertones unfortunately neither can be officially verified.

Add the fact that the Catholic church recognizes multiple priests named Valentine and all we can say for sure is Valentine’s Day was named for a martyred priest.

From honoring a priest to current traditions

Jack B. Oruch says our modern-day traditions are thanks to the 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

An English professor Oruch concluded that Chaucer was the first to associate St Valentine with romantic love. Before Chaucer’s “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars” there was no significant written record linking romantic tradition to St. Valentine’s Day.

By the mid-18th century, giving small tokens and handmade notes to friends and lovers on Valentine’s Day became common practice.

The 19th-century Industrial Revolution enabled printed Valentine’s Day cards.

Then in 1913, Hallmark Cards began mass-producing Valentines and the rest is history.

7 12, 2022

Pearl Harbor Remembrance

By |2022-12-06T10:10:17-06:00December 7th, 2022|Holidays, Wednesday Words of Wisdom|0 Comments

Today is the 81st Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, the day known as a Day of Infamy.

Long before I was born (and probably before most of you were born) on this day in 1941, Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii.

The day after the surprise attack Congress approved President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to declare war on Japan with only one dissenting vote.

Then three days later, Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States. Congress reciprocated. America had finally entered the fray known as World War II.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” Our national history (and many of our personal histories) changed that day forever. Fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, and daughters went off to fight the war. Brave soldiers who answered the call.

My father did.

My uncle did.

So did my father’s sister.

Let’s take a minute this Pearl Harbor Day to remember those men who Tom Brokaw duped the Greatest Generation.

Men who willingly gave their all to provide protection and security to our nation and the world.

5 12, 2022

Christmas Stockings – Tradition and Legacy

By |2022-12-04T10:20:59-06:00December 5th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Holidays|1 Comment

Why do we hang stockings at Christmas? The origin of the tradition comes from a folkloric story. The Cliff Notes version goes like this:

A kindly Saint Nicholas learned of a penniless widower with three daughters and no dowry for them. St. Nick came to the widower’s house and filled his three daughters’ stockings, hanging on the fireplace to dry, with gold coins.

Different versions, each with its own twist, have continued to fuel Christmas decorating for hundreds of years. You can read more details here.

Our family’s Christmas stocking tradition started with my Irish grandmother, who made stockings for each of her grandchildren.

Every Christmas morning we’d go over to her house to find Santa had left our stockings. We never questioned why there and not at our house. Instead, on Christmas morning we piled in the car with our mother and went to her house to find our stockings stuffed with small gifts like jewelry or nail clippers, an orange, an apple, Hersey kisses, pecans, almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.

The orange supposedly represented the gold coins the three impoverished girls found. The nuts, I think, were merely filler. I never ate them as a child.

That ritual continued until I got married. Then Grandmother made a stocking for my husband soon to be followed by three more for our children.

We always hung the stockings and opened them on Christmas morning along with “Santa” gifts from under the tree. Because we never lived nearby, we never got to continue the stockings at grandmother’s house tradition.

Time passed and our children married and had children. We’d lost Grandmother so making Christmas stockings fell to me.

I made four stockings for children’s spouses and twelve grandchildren. Plus, a couple for nieces and nephews.

Our grandchildren started getting married which meant more stockings to make for spouses and three great-grandchildren. I’ve made seventeen!

Grandmother would never make stockings for pets. I couldn’t say no and have stockings for granddogs and grandbunnies.

She’d shortened long names like Stephanie Jean, to the initials S.J., which troubled my youngest all her life. Remembering how she felt, I don’t shorten names on stocking instead I substitute nicknames like Alex for Alexander and Theo for Theodore. I’m hoping the guys won’t mind when they’re older.

Making Christmas stockings is a labor of love, a family tradition, and this Nana’s Christmas legacy.

28 11, 2022

Is It Time to Pitch Your Turkey Leftovers?

By |2022-11-27T16:58:25-06:00November 28th, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

If you live in the U.S., you probably sat down at a Thanksgiving table loaded with enough food to feed a third-world country for a week.

We sure did. And we had leftovers.

For me, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. I love the smell of the stripped carcass simmering with onions and celery in our traditional turkey brown rice soup on Black Friday.

With only two of us now, cooking the whole turkey carcass into soup is too much. This year’s bare Tom Turkey bones went with a granddaughter and her growing family. Instead, we took enough slices of turkey for sliders on Black Friday.

I’m guessing many are still moving leftover turkey or dressing or sweet potatoes around in your refrigerators to eat next week…but is that safe?

It depends upon how long the leftovers sat before being stored. Did you refrigerate perishable foods quickly after your meal?

If not, it may be time to pitch the leftovers or risk foodborne illness – isn’t that a lovely way to say food poisoning?

Bacteria don’t typically change the taste, smell, or look, you can’t tell until the nasty germs attack your digestive tract. Happily, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling.

According to this Forbes article, you should follow these six guidelines for leftover food storage,

  1. Store leftovers within two hours of serving.
  2. Use clean airtight containers or wrapping
  3. Remember the three-to-four-day limit for refrigeration of leftovers.
  4. Froze the leftovers? Remember the three-to-four-month limit for freezers.
  5. Check refrigerator temperature is 40° Fahrenheit or lower.
  6. Heat leftovers to at least 165° Fahrenheit before eating.

My advice, check any leftovers, Thanksgiving or otherwise before you eat them. Better safe than sorry.

21 11, 2022

Thanksgiving Blessings

By |2022-11-15T15:57:16-06:00November 21st, 2022|Holidays|0 Comments

The American holiday is not celebrated in Ireland. Likely as not, my Irish forefathers never heard of an attitude of gratitude. All the same so many Irish blessings and quotations show a deep awareness of the importance of showing appreciation for our blessings.This is one of my favorites:

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness,

So they don’t unravel.”

Chicken Wrangler Sara and I will be gathering with our family this week to count our blessings. See you next week.

9 11, 2022

Veterans Day Gratitude

By |2022-11-06T09:54:13-06:00November 9th, 2022|Holidays, Wednesday Words|0 Comments

Veterans Day is the day set aside to honor all those who have served our country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.

Pause a moment this Veterans Day to say “thank you” to a friend, relative, or co-worker who is a U.S. military veteran or actively serving.

Spectators and veterans hold up “Thank You” signs during the 2012 Fayetteville Veterans Day parade, Nov. 10, 2012 in Fayetteville, N.C.

31 10, 2022

Halloween Costumes

By |2022-10-30T18:13:16-05:00October 31st, 2022|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

A little synchronicity going on with blogs this Halloween.

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s post for last Friday about crayon costumes she’d made for her children arrived for me to schedule as I was searching through my stash of pictures for a Halloween costume photo to use for my blog today. As I told her, great minds think alike.

My search for the photo of her brother and sister in their costumes turned into more of a search than I wanted. I discovered two things:

#1 The albums I used back in the 1970s were disintegrating. The pictures were fine the photo holders not so much.

Not a big problem. Now I know there’s an issue. I’ll switch all those photos to albums like the other years before cell phone photography and cloud storage.

#2 Daughter #2 (the one in the picture) had the photograph.

That proved to be more of an issue. After texting Daughter #2, I learned she did have the photo I wanted for sure along with several others. All taken with permission. However, she couldn’t find the photo of her and her brother in Halloween costumes.

Thus began the great Halloween picture search at our family gathering to watch the opening game of the World Series. She brought a huge pile of pictures for us to search through as we sipped craft beer and cheered the Astros.

No luck that night so her search continued.

No luck the next day or the next. “No worries,” I said through my disappointment.

Then I got a text late Sunday afternoon: “I never did find the original but suddenly remembered that I had scanned it in on my old phone!!” The photo we’d been searching for was included. I had to laugh at the full circle…snapshot to jpg. Computers to the rescue.

Here’s the picture. Our son is in a devil costume I made and daughter #2 is one of the three blind mice. (Back then Halloweens were kinder and gentler.)

After that buildup, you’ll probably find the photo anti-climactic, but don’t miss the paper decorations in the windows.

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