History of Groundhog Day

Groundhog day is a bit of a big deal in Pennsylvania, we all gather around to see if Punxsutawney Phil will come out or see his shadow. If his shadow scares him back underground, then winter will be longer. If he stays outside, then Spring is right around the corner. The tradition dates back several centuries if we look for its oldest roots. Evolving Holidays The oldest holiday like Groundhogs Day is the Celtic Imbolc, a celebration of the beginning of Spring. This was traditionally held on February second, what we now call Groundhog’s Day. Christianity eventually turned Imbolc into Candlemas, a holiday revolving around Jesus in Jeruselam. Candlemas brought about the first predications for when Spring would arrive. In some parts of Europe, Christians believed that a clear day on Candlemas meant another forty days of snow and cold weather. A cloudy or otherwise inclement day would mean Spring arriving early. This is starting to sound a lot like Groundhog Day, isn’t it? The Germans would give the holiday the final major evolutionary step: if a small animal emerging from its den is scared back inside, winter will be longer, and if not it will be shorter. Their animal of choice for the holiday was a Badger. Moving to the States Pennsylvania has a massive German Heritage, often called PA Dutch (a mispronunciation of Deutsche by the English speakers of the 1700s). On top of having strong influences of […]

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The History of Presidents’ Day

Another holiday, another deep dive into History. Today we’re celebrating Washington’s Birthday, before his Birthday. We’re also celebrating all the Presidents we’ve had over the past two hundred years or so. Let’s take a trip through History.   George Washington We could spend weeks posting about our first President. He began life as a humble surveyor in Virginia. By 1752 he would survey over 60,000 acres and continued the trade throughout his life. For an era of riding on horseback and careful hand measurement, this was no small feat. Washington’s strong work ethic would eventually see him appointed a Military Adjutant in the 1750s. Washington’s first military action would come as a Major in the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War. His service would eventually see him appointed the a Colonel and the commander of the Virginia Militia. Despite his service the British Army would refuse to grant him Officers’ status and pay in their ranks. Washington was a colonial soldier through and through. There would be a brief, peaceful period for Washington after his retirement in 1758. He would go on to get married, run his plantation, and slowly get involved with politics. He would serve as a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses as an outspoken critic of the British, their taxes, and eventually would try to ban British Imports outright. At the start of the Revolutionary War, Washington approached the Continental Congress in full […]

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The History of Thanksgiving

It’s time for another deep dive into the History of a Holiday. Today we’re going to cover Thanksgiving. Luckily, this is something a little more straight forward than Halloween’s two thousand year history.   The First Thanksgiving There is a long history to the holiday pre-dating what we’ve often be taught was the first Thanksgiving. Among the religious Separatists and the Puritans, there was a tradition of providential holidays. In times of great challenge, it was traditional to declare a religious fast and appeal to God for deliverance. In times of great success and abundance, great feasts to Thank God were a common occurrence. Going farther back, harvest celebrations can be found among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans who feasted and gave thanks to their respective gods for a successful harvest. Throughout the colonization of America, there were multiple “Thanksgivings” held. In 1565 there was a Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, Florida to thank God for the crew’s safe passage from Europe. Another was held in 1619 in Virgina, proclaimed as a “Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God,” by the British Settlers there. Our traditional “Thanksgiving” featured in numerous TV Specials and elementary school history classes was’t held until 1621. Perhaps the success of the Plymouth Colonists has made it a better recorded and remembered celebration. Those colonists, commonly known as the Pilgrims, had just taken in their first successful harvest. Per the tradition, it was a time of abundance and […]

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