by Ryan Park
During the month of May, the United States recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This celebration, spanning from May 1st to May 31st, honors the contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, and Native Hawaiians.
Why the month of May?
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill that was passed by Congress to expand Asian American Heritage Week into the entirety of the month. Two years later, it was renamed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to recognize the contributions of all Americans of Asian descent. The month of May was chosen because it commemorates the first immigration of Japanese Americans on May 7, 1843. In addition, it commemorates the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, as Asian immigrants made crucial contributions to our country’s first coast-to-coast railway.
Making their Mark in America
An important aspect of the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month is sharing the many life stories of those of Asian descent.
Born May 31, 1912, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu is a pivotal figure in the history of physics. An immigrant to the United States from China, she did important work for the nuclear Manhattan Project, helping to develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. Wu studied nuclear physics at the University of California, Berkeley where she got the chance to learn from physicists like J. Robert Oppenheimer. She later went on to become the first female instructor in the Physics Department at Princeton University, and her contributions to experimental physics include the Wu experiment, which proved that parity is not conserved.
On March 12, 2023, at the 95th Academy Awards, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress for the film Everything Everywhere All at Once. You can also find her in other popular movies like Shang Chi; Crazy Rich Asians; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Wicked.
On that same day, Vietnamese-American actor Ke Huy Quan won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same movie. Ke Huy Quan was the first Asian to win this award in 38 years! A fun fact is that Ke Huy Quan was the actor who played the part of Short Round, a young boy in the popular Indiana Jones movie series.
Chloe Kim, a Korean-American Olympic snowboarder, is the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding. In the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang, Chloe became a gold medalist in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at the age of 17 and later became a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Although she has taken a break from the sport, she is set to return to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.
You can find out more on: https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/Read More
by Tarisha Hasan
The holy month of Ramadan takes place on the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is during this month that all Muslims observe a fast from before the Fajr, or early morning prayer, until after sunset and the Maghrib evening prayer. During a fast, it is forbidden to eat and drink, with increased emphasis placed on spiritual activities and self-restraint. At the end of this month, Eid-al-Fitr is observed as a celebration and festival for enduring the month-long fast, which can be 29-30 days, depending on when the crescent moon is sighted. This year, Ramadan took place from the evening of March 22nd to the evening of April 20th. If you want to wish someone well during this time, you can say Ramadan Mubarak, which means “Blessed Ramadan”, or Ramadan Kareem, which translates as “Generous Ramadan.“
Why is the month of Ramadan important?
The month is important because fasting during the month is one of the five pillars of Islam. Because of the abstinence from worldly things and desires until the sunset of each day, it also enables communities to unite and comfort one another as we focus on our faith. There is also a strong basis for fasting in the Islamic holy book of the Qur’an and the accompanying Hadith:
- O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those who have believed before you (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:183)
- It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was first sent down as guidance for all people, having in it clear proofs of divine guidance and the criterion for right and wrong. So whoever among you bears witness to the month shall then fast it (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
These quotes from the Qur’an make fasting during this holy month obligatory. The Hadith is the collected traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, based on his sayings and actions. The Hadith support for this is also strong, as shown in the following quote:
- God has said: “All the works of the Son of Adam are for himself but fasting. It is for Me alone, and I shall grant reward for it.” The fast is a safeguard from the Fire. So if ever it is a fasting day for any of you, there shall be neither sexual intimacy nor angered yelling. So if another should trouble or fight someone fasting, let the faster say: “Indeed, I am someone who is fasting.” For by the One in whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul, most surely the faster’s reeking mouth is better to God than the scent of musk. For the faster, there are two joys to rejoice in: When one breaks the fast, one rejoices. And when one meets one’s Lord, one shall rejoice in one’s fasting (Bukhari, no. 1904).
Bukhari is considered to be one of the five individuals who writes the authentic Hadith, but the support for the requirement of fasting still remains strong regardless of the Hadith source. It is important to know that despite the importance of the fast, there are classes of people who are exempt:
- The elderly/disabled or those unable to care for themselves
- Those suffering from serious illness that would hamper their ability to perform the fast
- Children before puberty
The name of the month of Ramadan has its origins in the Arabic word ramad, which translates literally to “dryness”. In ancient Arab times, this lunar month would often be the most difficult to endure due to the extremely high temperatures, especially since Arabia is a desert. Although fasting is one of the main priorities of this lunar month, the real spirit of Ramadan lies in truly understanding the Qur’an and the lessons it has to teach us. What’s more, it also gives one the opportunity to relive the sending down of the Qur’an, which contains the revelation of Islam.
What happens at the end of the month of Ramadan?
The fast is completed at the sighting of the new moon. The observance at the end of the month of Ramadan is known as Eid-al-Fitr. During this festival, all Muslims go to a nearby specialized mosque service in their community in order to carry out the Eid prayer. Before the Ramadan prayer, it is required to give a donation known as a Fitrah. This obligatory donation allows those Muslims in poverty to enjoy Eid-ul-Fitr like all other Muslims. Of course, you have to at least enjoy some sweet desserts during this festival, as this day is also known as “Sweet Eid”.
There are also plenty of social activities to do, such as gifting fellow Muslims presents, purchasing new clothes, and especially giving to those less fortunate. The main theme of Eid is giving thanks after a long month of fasting. It also centers on spending more time with friends and family. There is no set menu, but the foods should be adequately prepared and also be filling. The clothing is also an important part, because Muslim families around the world always dress their best for the occasion, often in traditional outfits.
In addition, there is also visiting the graves of relatives in order to honor and remember them. In the case of Muslim-majority countries, there are shopping sprees at special “Ramadan markets” as well as local malls. It goes even further; schools are closed as well as businesses. Flowers and decorations adorn homes, and there is a general celebration with good food and good company. This festival isn’t just one day: it can last for up to three to four days, depending on the country’s time zone and regulations. And of course, Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated differently in different countries. The similarities are all shared: the holiday is essentially a new start, regardless of who observes it or where they do it.
Although the Ramadan fast is meant to be rigorous, by no means is it meant to be difficult. I find it relatively comfortable as I take proper measures to ensure adequate hydration during the morning meal before the fast. I also prioritize a relatively heavy early morning meal as the fast lasts until the evening, which would make approximately 16 hours total, give or take a couple hours. The fast isn’t just about restricting food intake for me, however. It’s also about kicking bad habits to try and better myself. Despite this, I do look forward to Eid, when we will celebrate the completion of the fast.
It’s not just about restricting food and drink. It’s also about learning to control my emotions in order to better myself. More importantly, it helps me realize that all the things that I thought were highly important are actually just trivial matters that I should not waste time worrying about. Fasting also teaches me how to be nicer to people, or sometimes just ignoring the people that aren’t worth my time. I find myself free to do other things, as well as not being obligated to go downstairs for lunch or nutrition if I carry out the fast during school hours.
In terms of physical distress, my main concern is during P.E., when thirst and dehydration are common concerns. However, I just concentrate on doing my best regardless. Many advise that athletes should be certain to let their teachers and coaches know when they are fasting so they can take it into account with regards to activities and rest as needed. Overall during Ramadan, I invest nearly all my time and energy into quickly finishing assignments. The evening meal is a typical meal that often has chickpea curry along with salad and some fruit. Overall, Ramadan seems relatively commonplace to me, but nevertheless, I look forward to Eid and the festivities.Read More
by Jordin Lim
Pi Day, celebrated March 14, is the celebration of mathematical constant 𝝅, due to its numerical date (3.14) representing the first three digits of pi.
Fun fact: Pi Day also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday
Physicist Larry Shaw, who found Pi Day in 1988, had the first Pi Day celebration at his place of work, the Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based interactive science museum. However, Pi Day was not deemed a national holiday until 2009, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation making it one.
Although our Science Academy students are more than well-acquainted with pi, it is still useful to note what it is and its significance in everyday life.
What is pi?
Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes is most commonly credited to be the first to accurately calculate the approximate value of pi. In mathematics, pi is the constant ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, regardless of its size.
Fun fact: The word “pi” itself is derived from the first letter of the Greek word perimetros, meaning circumference.
What is the significance of pi?
Although you may not find yourself using pi every day, pi is used in many calculations for buildings and construction, engineering, and many other fields. In addition, NASA regularly uses pi to calculate trajectories of spacecraft. Not only that, but pi gives us a reason to feast on pie every March 14, although who really needs a reason to eat pie any day of the year?
Pi Day Festival
On March 17, Science Academy held our infamous Pi Day Festival, which had to be delayed to the new date due to rain on March 14. This festival consisted of many fun activities and carnival games, including ring toss, pie eating contests, and even throwing whipped cream pies at the teachers! (I saw a catapult at this event, and I hope it was used) In addition, there were other booths selling refreshments and giving students their pre-ordered pizzas.
The prizes given out at the carnival games were quite great – many people entered their class after lunch bearing multitudes of stuffed animals – I personally won two lollipops myself.
I hear the Pi Day Festival is a fan favorite among the student body, so I can’t wait to see it again next year!
by Desmond Devine, NewsFlash Resident Curmudgeon
Valentine’s Day has come once again to entice and torment us all, so it’s time to unravel the tangled history of the holiday. But before that, we must acknowledge the first ASB event of the year: the Love and Kindness Fest. Taking place during an extended lunch (yay!), activities included games such as cornhole and sack races, a scavenger hunt, flower bouquet crafting, and a marriage booth with Polaroid mementos. Much fun, pizza, and candy were had by all!
Leading up to Love Fest, we celebrated a Love and Kindness Spirit Week, which included:
Heart Day: Everyone received a heart-shaped pin — strike that — bracelet to wear during first period — um, wait — seventh period on Monday — nope, make that Tuesday — and guffawed at each other’s corny messages for the rest of the day.
If the pins had this message, I’d wear one every day.
Pajama Day: The obligatory classic. We all know and love this one.
Duo Day: Students wore matching outfits with somebody else. Seems to be an adaptation of the Discord trend.*
*Disclaimer: Nothing stated in this article should be construed as an endorsement or acceptance of the evil scourge known as Discord.
Rose Day: Students were asked to wear Red, Pink, or White outfits to mimic the colors of roses. ASB should know, however, that roses can be yellow and purple, too!
This isn’t just a random image from the internet. I swear, I have a yellow rose bush in my own backyard!
Tie Day: The exact opposite of Pajama Day, where people dressed as if they were going to an actual wedding.
Comfort or style? You decide.
So where does all this celebration of love come from, you may ask? We’re always told that Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine, but who exactly is it referring to? There are actually many saints named Valentine or a name similar to Valentine. The name derives from the Latin word “Valentinus”, meaning powerful. One popular tale depicts a priest named Valentine who went against an unjust law formed by Emperor Claudius II in third century Rome, which prohibited young adults from being married. This Valentine was executed for continuing to marry younger couples. A bishop, St. Valentine of Terni, who was also executed by Claudius II, is another potential contender.
St. Valentine healing prisoners. St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy, and some believed that he helped or even cured people with the disorder.
One legend states that, while Valentine was on death row, he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, who he had cured of blindness, and sent her a letter addressed “From Your Valentine”. In the story, this would be the first valentine ever sent.
Valentine’s Day is believed to have originated from the celebration of Lupercalia. It took place on February 15th, honoring the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus. Traditions included sacrificing a goat, soaking its hide in its blood, and brushing the hide against crop fields for fertility. This holiday was banned by Pope Gelasius in the fifth century for being paganistic, i.e. just a bit too bloody, and soon the 14th of February was declared St. Valentine’s Day.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day was associated with love. In France and England, people believed that February 14th was the start of birds’ mating seasons, and a poet named Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Parliament of Foules, the first written work that described Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romance. It was written in 1375, an interesting coincidence due to that being in the 14th century. In the 1400s, valentine greetings started to become popular. The oldest one was written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was in the Tower of London as a prisoner of the Battle of Agincourt.
This is the actual valentine of 1415. Cue the “And I can’t even get a text back” jokes!
A long time later, during the mid-18th century, it became commonplace for all types of people to exchange valentines. The mass production of valentines became a profitable business, with Valentine’s Day cards emerging in the early 20th century. And so, Valentine’s Day went from a day of simply expressing love for others to a breeding ground for companies like Hallmark, which sells around 131 million cards a year along with Christmas ornaments and home decor. And don’t forget those corny Christmas films!
Commercial aspects of the modern Valentine’s Day
As mentioned, Valentine’s cards are very popular with people who celebrate the holiday, with around 190 million valentines being sent every February 14th, the second-most for any holiday observed in the US, surpassed only by Christmas. This amount doesn’t include the millions exchanged at elementary schools between students. One billion dollars are spent on candy and chocolates, which include 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and 7 billion Sweethearts candies sold each Valentine’s Day. Necco, the company which started printing messages on heart-shaped lozenge candies in 1866, went bankrupt in 2018 and sold the candy to Spangler, which has been producing the candies since 2020.
Seriously, who would want to go out with someone who unironically likes these puns?
According to an Ipsos poll conducted in 2022, flowers gifted on Valentine’s Day account for 30% of the flowers sold for the entire year. Flowers are a widely known gift to give to a loved one on Valentine’s Day, with about 250 million roses being grown for the holiday alone. Red roses are greatly associated with love, and were considered the favorite flower of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (known in Roman mythology as Venus). Fun facts: more men buy flowers for their beloved than women, and more women buy flowers for themselves than men.
While Valentine’s Day is more commercialized than ever before, we all should remember the original meaning of the holiday and take time to express our gratitude for our family, friends, and significant others. However, if you’re concerned about not having any significant others, no worries! Always remember…
The truth, and nothing but the truth
Happy Valentine’s Day!
by Milan Riley
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African American culture that is celebrated in many areas affected by the African Diaspora. Lasting one week, Kwanzaa occurs from Monday, December 26th, to Sunday, January 1st of the next year. The event revolves around Pan-Africanism, unity, creativity, faith, and giving gifts. The term ‘Kwanzaa’ came from a Swahili phrase, matunda ya kwanza, meaning ‘first fruits.’
History of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga, an American activist and author. In 1966, Karenga started the holiday as a way for African-American families to reconnect with their historical origins and embrace their community. Karenga was inspired by civil rights rebellions, such as the Watts Riots, in addition to another observance, Umkhosi Wokweshwama, an annual harvest festival for the Zulu people.
Karamu is a feast commonly on the 6th day of Kwanzaa, December 31st. Families add one ear of corn for each child in the family, along with seasonal fruits to their main dish, a one-pot stew. Participants drink from the unity cup, also called kikombe cha umoja, in tribute to their ancestors.
Giving gifts to children in exchange for their good deeds over the year is also customary. Handmade presents and symbols of their ancestry, such as jewelry from Africa, are common. Books or other objects that teach the next generation about their roots are recommended.
A traditional gift.
Another tradition during Kwanzaa is the lighting of the Kinara candleabra, which consists of black, green, and red candles, which matches the colors of the Pan-African flag. The seven candles are lit one by one as the days of Kwanzaa go by. Each candle has a particular meaning that celebrated on that day, and they are lit in this order:
- Red candle meaning Umoja (unity).
- Red candle meaning Kujichagulia (self-determination).
- Red candle meaning Ujima (collective work and responsibility).
- Black candle meaning Ujamaa (cooperative economics).
- Green candle meaning Nia (purpose).
- Green candle meaning Kuumba (creativity).
- Green candle meaning Imani (faith).
by Jordin Lim and Ava-Ray Pributsky
History of Christmas
by Jordin Lim
Christmas, celebrated on December 25th of each year, is a religious holiday that people around the world have been observing through both religious and nonreligious traditions for over two millennia. Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings formed the basis of Christianity. Those who are nonreligious may also celebrate Christmas, whether it be through the exchange of gifts, making gingerbread houses, or decorating a Christmas tree.
The Beginnings of Christmas
The inception of the Christmas holiday begins from both pagan and Roman cultures.
In Rome, whose winters were not as bitter as those in the far north, Saturnalia was celebrated, which is a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The celebration of Saturnalia began in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continued for a full month, during which the Roman social order was turned upside down: the festivities that ensued gave the enslaved temporary freedom and treatment as equals. Establishments, including businesses and schools, were shut down during this time to ensure all were able to participate in the holiday’s celebrations.
On December 25th, the Romans celebrated the birth of their sun god, Mirthra, in a celebration known as Juvenalia. Juvenalia, like Saturnalia, was celebrated through raucous, drunken parties.
In December, during which the shortest (and hence darkest) day of the year falls, many pagan cultures lit bonfires and candles to keep the darkness at bay; this practice was incorporated into the celebrations of the pagan Saturnalia festival.
During the spread of Christianity across Europe, the Christian clergy were unable to fully curb the pagan customs and celebrations. As the clear date of Jesus’ birth was not mentioned in the Bible, Pope Julius I decided the pagan rituals were to be incorporated into a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, which was decreed to be celebrated on December 25th. By deciding Christmas be held at the same time as other traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances of Christmas being popularly embraced, but could no longer dictate how the holiday was to be celebrated. By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced the pagan religions throughout most of Europe.
Common Ways Christmas is Celebrated
1. Decorating a Christmas tree
Historically, in many countries, evergreen trees were believed to keep away witches, ghosts, and evil spirits, as well as illness. Although ancient Egyptians, early Romans, and ancient Celts did use trees as religious symbols, Germany is credited with the Christmas tree tradition as we know it, starting in the 16th century, when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. The 16th century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, is believed to have first added lighted candles to the tree, in an attempt to recapture the brilliance of the stars twinkling amidst evergreens for his family.
2. Gingerbread houses
Not only is Germany credited with the tradition of the Christmas tree, but baking of gingerbread houses is also said to have originated in Germany during the 16th century. The gingerbread house became popular in Germany after the publication of the fairy tale collection by the Brothers Grimm, including the story of “Hansel and Gretel,” in which a house made of candy was elaborately described. German bakers, inspired by the story, began to craft small decorated houses from lebkuchen, spiced honey biscuits.
3. Exchange of gifts
According to Christian tradition, gift-giving is a symbolic representation of the Three Wise Men bestowing gifts on the infant Jesus. Along with the story of Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop and gift-giver, the giving of gifts became a popular Christmas tradition in countries such as the United Kingdom, especially after Charles Dickens further popularized the tradition in A Christmas Carol.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HANUKKAH by Ava-Ray Pributsky
This year, Hanukkah is from December 18th to 26th. Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, is also known as the Festival of Lights and the celebration of an important story from the Old Testament. From playing fun games to eating delicious food, here is all you need to know about Hanukkah.
The Story of Hanukkah
The story of Hanukkah describes the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV outlawed Judaism and erected a statue of Zeus in the Temple. The Jewish people considered this an unholy defilement of their Temple, and in 164 BC, a band of Jewish fighters called the Maccabees, under the command of Judah, defeated the Seleucids. When Judah and his compatriots reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and sought to re-light its menorah to cleanse the Temple of its desecration by the Greeks, they found only enough purified oil to keep the menorah lit for one day. However, the oil kept the menorah alight for eight days, which is considered to be a miracle. This historical event is commemorated during the Festival of Lights.
Traditions during Hanukkah
During Hanukkah, families light a menorah, a candelabrum with nine candles: one for each of the eight days of Hanukkah and a center candle used for lighting the others. Every night, you light the shamas, or the center candle, and use that to light candles representing the number of days of Hanukkah. For example, on the 3rd night of Hanukkah, you would have three lit candles as well as the shamas. While lighting the candles, you say the following blessings:
- Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
- Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
- Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
- Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
- Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
- Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
After lighting the menorah, families play games and exchange gifts. Dreidel is a traditional game played on Hanukkah. The dreidel is a spinning top with four sides. Each side of the dreidel has a Hebrew letter written on it and each player must perform the following with their pieces of gelt, which are chocolate coins:
Shin – put one piece of your gelt into the pot
Nun – receive nothing
Hey – receive half the pot of gelt
Gimel – receive the entire pot of gelt
Traditional Foods during Hanukkah
After exchanging gifts, playing games, and reciting blessings, Jewish families have a big feast. During Hanukkah, you traditionally eat foods fried in oil to represent the oil that lasted eight days. Here are some of the most common items found at the dinner table during Hanukah:
- Latkes, or potato pancakes, are thin pancakes made with potatoes, eggs, and flour, and are then fried in hot oil. They are traditionally served with applesauce, sour cream, or vanilla yogurt.
- Sufganiyot, or “spongy cake”, are deep-fried jelly-filled doughnuts.
- Kugel is a type of sweet noodle dish that can include eggs, raisins, cottage cheese, sugar, cinnamon and other spices, made with egg or potato noodles.
by Maleeya Mickelson
Modern day Thanksgiving has evolved significantly since the First Thanksgiving in 1621. From the history of the first feast to Thanksgiving football games and the restaurants families now celebrate in, Americans have put their own stamp on this beloved holiday.
The Story of Thanksgiving
What Americans have come to know as the “First Thanksgiving” is often an oversimplification of events that occurred in 1621 which led up to that feast. Colonists were able to enjoy their bountiful meal because of the Native Americans’ friendship, willingness to help, and experience with survival skills in what is now Massachusetts.
But these Native Americans were not the stereotypical “Indians” some may think of from portraits and cartoon images seen over the years. The Native Americans who took part in the first Thanksgiving were part of the Wampanoag tribe, which still exists today. The Wampanoag had inhabited the land and given thanks for their abundances long before the Europeans arrived. In fact, they did not wear feather headdresses like many images portray and should be acknowledged as an individual tribe with their own diverse cultures and traditions, rather than being lumped together with all tribes under the term “Indians”.
Stereotypical depiction of the “First Thanksgiving”
Before the first Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag negotiated a peace treaty with the colonists to come to each other’s aid. The Wampanoag needed the colonists with their weapons to help defend them against another enemy tribe. In return, the colonists required assistance in learning how to survive by planting native crops, learning to hunt and fish, as well as other ways to successfully live on their new land.
For centuries, the story of this day has only been told through a European’ perspective. Now, with the work of Native Peoples, historians, and educators, more people are learning further details about the story of the “First Thanksgiving”. This changes the way that Native Americans are perceived within history and today’s society by considering the Native Peoples’ rich traditions and cultural diversity.
Although Americans now know Thanksgiving to be on the 4th Thursday of November, the United States had to come a long way to settle on that date.
Surprisingly, the date of the first Thanksgiving was actually some time in mid-October 1621. It wasn’t until 1668 that the date of November 25th was decided on; however, that date only lasted for 5 years. In 1789, George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26th as a day of “sincere and humble thanks”.
Later, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, the date was set to the last Thursday of November. The date stayed the same until 1941 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to the 4th Thursday of November in order to give citizens more days for Christmas shopping to increase retail sales to help the economy right after the Great Depression.
While the majority of US holidays fall on a Monday or a specific calendar date, Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday. Although historians aren’t sure as to why Thanksgiving has been on a Thursday since George Washington first announced the holiday, they believe it had to do with religion. When deciding on the date for the holiday, Thursdays were further from the Sabbath day (Sunday) and since religious talks were usually held on Thursday afternoons, it may have worked better with scheduling.
As the holiday of Thanksgiving has spread nationwide, many new traditions have begun to sprout. Some of these include traveling, parades, and Thanksgiving football games.
Many Americans travel for Thanksgiving, whether it’s to visit family or to go on vacation. In fact, every Thanksgiving, about 4 million Americans are estimated to travel 50 or more miles for Thanksgiving. Research also shows that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has 37% of travelers departing, making it the single busiest day for travel in the year.
Parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City celebrate Thanksgiving every year. This annual parade started in 1924, originally to promote Christmas shopping at this large department store. The parade includes giant balloons of popular characters, various floats, marching bands and famous performers.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Ever since the first football game on Thanksgiving day occurred in 1876, Thanksgiving has been known for football. The game was the Intercollegiate Football Association championship with the football teams from Yale and Princeton playing. This Thanksgiving game and all the rest to follow were so successful that in 1893, the New York Herald declared Thanksgiving the official football holiday.
After the NFL was founded in 1920, games have been played on Thanksgiving almost every year. Teams like the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys played a big part in this as the Lions have hosted a game every year on Thanksgiving since 1934 (excluding WWII), while the Cowboys have hosted games most years since 1966.
Similar to football games today, the Pilgrims took part in vaulting, fencing and archery during their Thanksgiving festivities.
Time for the Feast
Although we now think of foods like pumpkin pie and turkey as a staple of Thanksgiving feasts, during the first Thanksgiving, neither of those were present. Foods eaten during the first Thanksgiving were native foods like geese, deer, and squash, which were later replaced with the classic foods many eat for Thanksgiving today like turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
Typical modern Thanksgiving dinner
Much of the evolution of Thanksgiving foods has occurred because of the diverse cultures here in the U.S. Instead of eating the stereotypical Thanksgiving dinner, some people eat different meals belonging to their culture, such as tamales, lasagna, and vegan dishes.
Along with the different types of food served, the way food was prepared has also evolved. For example, it has long been common for people to oven roast turkey though deep frying it is now gaining in popularity.
Until the last few decades, people may not even have considered having someone else cook their special Thanksgiving dinner, but today it’s quite common. Instead of serving home-cooked meals, people today may go out to a restaurant with family and friends or get food catered – maybe even order Door Dash. It’s also been common to hold Thanksgiving potlucks recently. With potlucks, each individual cooks less food, decreasing holiday stress; plus, having a potluck is a way for people to eat a more diverse meal. They might taste food brought by others that they wouldn’t have had normally for Thanksgiving.
Although celebrated in different ways, the overall idea of Thanksgiving has always been to come together with others and show gratitude. Over time, different parts of the Thanksgiving celebration have changed as people from new cultures have shared their food and traditions, commercialization of the holiday has occurred, and society has gained a better understanding of respecting the culture and diversity of Native Americans.Read More
by Milan Riley and Jordin Lim
Mother’s Day is a celebration in honor of mothers, motherly figures, or those with whom we have maternal bonds, in addition to honoring the influence of mothers on society. It is celebrated on different days in over 40 countries, but most commonly in March or May. For the United States, it is scheduled on the second Sunday in May, which this year is Sunday, May 8, 2022.
The History of Mother’s Day
Celebrations of mothers occurred long ago by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of their mother goddesses. The Phrygians and those in ancient India also had festivals celebrating their goddesses. A more modern event that most likely inspired the making of Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”
Mothering Sunday occurred on Sunday, March 27 this year. This tradition dates back to the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, which had Mothering Sunday fall on the fourth Sunday in Lent. The time was to allow the faithful to return home to their “mother church” for a special service. This celebration helped inspire the idea of Mother’s Day and even merged with it in some areas around the 1930s and 1940s.
Medieval origins of Mothering Sunday
Now that we know the background for the idea, how did it actually arise? Ann Jarvis was a social activist and community organizer during the American Civil War era. Sadly, she died on May 9, 1905, but was not forgotten. One of her goals was to establish a holiday honoring mothers. Anna Jarvis, her daughter, accomplished this for her when she led the movement for the commemoration. Anna founded Mother’s Day when she held a memorial service for her late mother on May 12, 1907, in her church in Grafton, West Virginia. The celebration spread until, within five years, almost every state in the U.S. was observing the day. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.
However, some might be surprised to hear that Anna Jarvis actually tried to abolish the holiday that she herself started. Ms. Jarvis believed the event had become too commercialized. However, because the holiday is still celebrated today, she did not succeed in stopping Mother’s Day because too many people enjoy devoting a special day in honor of their mothers.
How Mother’s Day is Celebrated Around the World
United States: Tokens of Affections
In many U.S. households, Mother’s Day is celebrated with tokens of affection such as breakfast in bed, a bouquet of flowers, and homemade cards. Mother’s Day in the U.S. is also celebrated by giving mothers a day off from household chores or work.
India: 10-Day Festival
Each October, Hindus celebrate Durga Puja, a 10-day festival that honors the goddess of mothers, Durga.
Durga, the goddess of mothers
The puja is performed in homes and in public, the latter featuring a temporary stage and pandals, or structural decorations. The celebration is thought to date back back to the sixteenth century, considered to be both a religious ceremony and a time for family reunions. According to Hindu scriptures, the festival marks goddess Durga’s victory over the shape-shifting asura (power-seeking spiritual beings in Indic religions), Mahishasura. Therefore, the celebration embodies the victory of good over evil, whilst being a festival celebrating the goddess Durga as the motherly power behind all life and creation
Japan: The Right Flowers
After World War II, Mother’s Day in Japan became a way to comfort mothers who had lost sons due to the war. Carnations will be presented around this holiday, symbolizing the sweetness and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Children would give red carnations if their mother was alive, but would display white carnations if their mother had passed away. Japanese Mother’s Day gifts include kanji (calligraphy art) prints, lacquer jewelry boxes, kokeshi dolls, and food (consisting of oyakodon, chawanmushi, and tamagoyaki).
Ethiopia: Singing, Dancing, and Cooking
At the end of the rainy season in the fall, the 3-day feast of the Antrosht festival is dedicated to mothers. As the weather clears, family members come together to their homes for a large meal and celebration, preparing “hash,” the traditional recipe of the country. Traditionally, daughters bring vegetables and cheese while sons bring the meat. With these ingredients, hash is prepared, with singing and performing dances that tell stories of family heroes.
The Antrosht Festival
Denmark: Mors Dag
The first Mother’s Day in Denmark was celebrated on Sunday the 12th of May, 1929. The idea of Mother’s Day came from America, brought to Denmark by Christian Svenningsen. The original intention of this celebration was to collect money for war widows and mothers who had lost their sons during World War I. Mors Dag (as Mother’s Day is called in Denmark) is all about flowers, as it has become a tradition to buy your mother a bouquet of flowers. Some invite their mothers out for lunch or dinner. For children that still live at home, it is tradition that the child prepares the breakfast and serves the breakfast together with a homemade card and flower.
A bouquet of flowers
Philippines: Great Respect
In the Philippines, children and fathers spend the whole day pampering their mothers and showing off their love to them. Mother’s Day in the Philippines is considered a token of showing gratitude to the immeasurable sacrifices mothers make for their families. Children in the country denote their mother by “ilaw ng tahanan”, meaning the light of the house. Mother’s Day is extraordinarily respected, and is therefore celebrated throughout the country with utmost zeal. The people in the Philippines don’t only celebrate their mothers, but for their grandmothers, cousins, aunts, and every other female member in the family. Children make cards for their mothers, while some arrange breakfast in bed for their mothers. Husbands also give gifts to their wives, or take their wives to a trip or a day of relaxation. The day begins with hearing Mass in the morning, thereafter presenting to the moms with a delicious lunch at one of their favorite restaurants.
“Thank you Mom” in FilipinoRead More