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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘holidays

[LINK] “St. Patrick’s Day tradition made in U.S., not Ireland”

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CBC’s Meagan Fitzpatrick writes about how the modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is really a product not of Ireland but of the Irish-Americans.

Irish immigrants in the U.S. began their own St. Patrick traditions in the 18th century. According to [academic Mike] Cronin’s research, a group of elite Irishmen first gathered for a celebratory dinner in Boston on March 17, 1737.

The parade tradition was born about 30 years later in New York City in 1766 when Irish Catholic members of the British army took to the streets.

“What the Irish start doing is parading on St. Patrick’s Day as a way of declaring their ethnicity,” said Cronin.

Not all Irish immigrants to the U.S. were welcomed. They were characterized by some as drunken, violent and disease-carrying. The parades offered Irish-Americans an opportunity to showcase their pride and cultural identity.

As more immigrants arrived they felt strength in numbers, and the Irish started climbing the social ladder, moving into positions of power in local police forces, for example, and in commerce.

They kept marching, in more cities, in more public spaces, and not just in typically Irish neighbourhoods.

“We are here, we’re not going away, and we are powerful,” Cronin said of the attitude behind the parades.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 18, 2015 at 2:53 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • On St. Patrick’s Day, blogTO offers a guide to Irish Toronto.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the existence of chaotically-orbiting Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting that the Yucatán peninsula was hit by a tsunami a millennium ago.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an anti-gay American who claims that Obama orchestrated the Ukrainian crisis at the behest of gays who wanted to punish Russia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the interest of Chinese in California real estate.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on Prince Edward Island’s latest snowfall.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the prospects for subways in Scarborough.
  • Torontoist notes that Build Toronto has failed to provide affordable housing on nearly the scale promised.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the dismissal of a civil case brought by a man who had sex with a minor he met through Grindr brought against Grindr.
  • Window on Eurasia observes a Russian nationalist’s call to partition Belarus, suggests that Russia has been trying to split Ukraine for a while, and wonders if the families of Russian gastarbeitar from Central Asia could fall into support for Islamist terrorism.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams considers the perhaps implausible magnetic sail.
  • Crooked Timber looks at William Gibson’s new novel, The Peripheral.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that half of all red dwarf stars might host Earth-like or super-Earth-like planets.
  • D-Brief looks at the latest findings from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Irish same-sex marriage activists turning to their Irish-American counterparts.
  • Language Log considers the distinction, in official Chinese, between “accident” and “incident”.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers the dynamics of the geysers and subsurface ocean of Enceladus.
  • Savage Minds notes that the 17th of February is national anthropology day.
  • Towleroad notes that Scotland has hosted its first pagan same-sex wedding.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an odd dispute, one parent suing another for writing a book about their moderately famous autistic son.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s proposal to try a Russian soldier accused of murdering an Armenian family in a Russian court in Armenia, and points to armed unrest in Turkmenistan.

[ISL] On the New Year’s Day levee of Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island blogger Peter Rukavina did his readers the service of posting the schedule for the New Year’s Day levees of Charlottetown and area. What is a levee, you might ask? (The é is almost never used.) Wikipedia has it.

The word levée (from French, noun use of infinitive lever, “rising”, from Latin levāre, “to raise”) originated in the Levée du Soleil (Rising of the Sun) of King Louis XIV (1643–1715). It was his custom to receive his male subjects in his bedchamber just after arising, a practice that subsequently spread throughout Europe.

In the 18th century the levée in Great Britain and Ireland became a formal court reception given by the sovereign or his/her representative in the forenoon or early afternoon. In the New World colonies the levée was held by the governor acting on behalf of the monarch. Only men were received at these events.

It was in Canada that the levée became associated with New Year’s Day. The fur traders had the tradition of paying their respects to the master of the fort (their government representative) on New Year’s Day. This custom was adopted by the governor general and lieutenant governors for their levées.

[. . .]

Today, levées are the receptions (usually, but not necessarily, on New Year’s Day) held by the governor general, the lieutenant governors of the provinces, the military and others, to mark the start of another year and to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their respects.

[. . .]

Today the levée has evolved from the earlier, more boisterous party into a more sedate and informal one. It is an occasion to call upon representatives of the monarch, military and municipal governments and to exchange New Year’s greetings and best wishes for the new year, to renew old acquaintances and to meet new friends. It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the events of the past year and to welcome the opportunities of the New Year.

The province of Prince Edward Island maintains a more historical approach to celebrating levée day. On New Year’s Day, all Legions and bars are opened and offer moosemilk (egg nog and rum) from the early morning until the late night. Though there are still the formal receptions held at Government House and Province House, levée day is not only a formal event. It is something that attracts a large number of Islanders, which is quite unusual in comparison to the other provinces where it has gradually become more subdued.

Rukavina also shared a news story from 1974-1975, the controversial first admission of women to the levees of Prince Edward Island. Initially, women were banned. It took considerable public outcry to get this changes.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 6, 2015 at 3:57 am

[PHOTO] A lovely fairy queen on Yonge

A lovely fairy queen on Yonge

This might well be my favourite photo of 2014. Everything seemed to work.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 2, 2015 at 5:59 pm

[PHOTO] Christmas Day at City Hall, Toronto

Crowds were skating on the reflecting pond and people wandering about on a very spring-like day.

Christmas Day at City Hall, 1 #toronto #christmas #torontophotos #torontocityhall #cityhall

Christmas Day at City Hall, 2 #toronto #christmas #torontophotos #torontocityhall #cityhall

Christmas Day at City Hall, 3 #toronto #christmas #torontophotos #cityhall #torontocityhall

Christmas Day at City Hall, 4 #toronto #christmas #torontophotos #cityhall #torontocityhall #oldcityhall

Christmas Day at City Hall, 5 #toronto #christmas #torontophotos #cityhall #torontocityhall #trees #conifers #christmastrees

Written by Randy McDonald

December 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

[LINK] “What if they changed Christmas and we didn’t notice?”

jsburbidge writes about the ways in which celebrations of Christmas have been changing over time, and ways in which they might continue to change in the future.

The Victorian period is marked by a firm attempt to suppress the surviving rowdy observances of Christmas while reviving in a domestic setting antiquarian customs. Christmas carols come back in (stripped of the drunken revels of a wassailing party), reaching their height in the early 20th Century with Dearmer’s Oxford Book of Carols. The plum pudding, which had a general association with festival in its origin, becomes firmly tied to Christmas observance, as does its cousin the fruitcake. The Victorians were the inventors of Christmas cards. Christmas trees came over with Prince Albert. Off in New York, many of the critical factors merged to create the Christmas figure of Santa Claus, as a blend of the English Father Christmas and the Dutch variant of St. Nicholas (who was a December 6th figure). Christmas presents also seem to have emerged from the oranges, nuts (or coal) associated with St. Nicholas.

In many ways, when I was growing up, we still lived (or so it seems to me) in an aftermath of the Victorian stage. The principal innovations had been electric Christmas lights, which meant that a Christmas tree could be lit up for more than a few hours on Christmas Eve / Christmas Day (when it was green and reasonably safe to use lighted candles).

[. . .]

I wonder, however, how much the Victorian pattern is attenuating and being replaced by a newer one. It can be hard to tell: one’s own experience of domestic Christmas is likely to be fairly stable, but what may have been “normal” for your family forty years ago might be rather rarer now; so what one perceives as a relatively little changing pattern could be in rather greater flux. (It’s like one’s own idiolect. One starts out with a baseline set domestically, modified by one’s own early peers, but as one gets older, it will diverge from what younger users of the language have as their idiolects.) I’ve had basically the same pattern of observing Christmas since the early 1980s, and I go to a family Christmas Day gathering which has been ongoing since before I was born.

Certainly, in central Canada, it seems to me that there is a very much reduced importance of Christmas cards (which bulk large in Lewis’ description, and in my own memory), compared to when I was young, and that this antedated the emergence of e-mail. (Part of the local reason for this may have been the postal strike of 1975, ending December 2, which disrupted many people’s habits of organizing and sending Christmas cards early.)

Certainly, too, the increased secularism of the Canadian context has led to the replacement of carol singing assemblies in schools (using sheets produced by the local papers) by winter pageants with generic winter themes. (The decoupling of what one might call broadly a “festival of lights” decoration period (running from early November to early January) from any specific religious associations has probably assisted, not discouraged, the extension of generic festive decorations in public spaces.)

Written by Randy McDonald

December 26, 2014 at 4:56 am

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