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Halloween – History and Tradition

Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even (“evening”), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th century, the spelling “Hallowe’en” was frequently used, eliding the “v” and shortening the word. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints’ Day, but is today largely a secular celebration. Common Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, ghost tours, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, committing pranks, telling ghost stories or other frightening tales, and watching horror films.

Symbols associated with Halloween formed over time encompassing customs of medieval holy days as well as contemporary cultures. Images of Halloween are derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. The souling practice of commemorating the souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips, became adapted into the making of jack-o’-lanterns. In traditional Celtic Halloween festivals, large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces, and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America where pumpkins are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their doorstep after dark. Black and orange are the traditional Halloween colors and represent the darkness of night and the color of bonfires, autumn leaves, and jack-o’-lanterns.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas.” The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.

adapted from wikipedia.org

Labor Day – History and Tradition

Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City, it became a federal holiday in 1894, and all 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday in the years following.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

The enactment of the federal holiday in 1894, followed the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date was chosen as Cleveland was concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

adapted via Wikipedia

Key milestones in the development of Internet

On Sept. 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of Arpanet, an experimental military network. The first connection between two sites — UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. — takes place on Oct. 29, though the network crashes after the first two letters of the word “logon.” UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah later join. Read more Key milestones in the development of Internet

  • 09/01/2009
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