A holiday for adults

Folklorist Jack Santino observes that Thanksgiving is pretty much the only national holiday that hasn’t shifted its focus to children.  In fact, they are often shunted off to the “kids’ table.”  The emphasis instead is on grandparents, patriarchs and matriarchs, family traditions going back for generations, and blessings that adults are in the best position to savor. [Read more…]

Why Ben Franklin preferred the Turkey to the Eagle

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward…

“I am, on this account, not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turky. For in truth, the Turky is in comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

–Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, 1784,referring in the last paragraph to a picture of an eagle that looks more like a turkey.)

via Barbecue Turkey And Grilled Turkey: The Ultimate Smoked Turkey Recipe.

So, among other things, he was being funny, as was his wont.

Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

[Read more…]

Not naming the holidays on the school calendar

The school board in Montgomery County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D. C., has voted not to name the holidays associated with religions on the school calendar.

School will still be dismissed for Christmas, Easter, and the major Jewish holidays.  But when Muslims wanted time off for their holidays, the school board decided to think about holidays like this:  We aren’t observing the religious holidays; rather, we are dismissing classes when large numbers of students are likely to be absent.  So on the school calendar, instead of so much as mentioning “Christmas,” there is just a notice of “no class today.”

Is this silly, does it make sense, or should the schools dismiss classes for Islamic holidays too? [Read more…]

The poppies of the Tower

London is transfixed by a stunning war memorial commemorating Armistice Day, when World War I ended on November 11, 1918, honored in the United States as Veteran’s Day.  All around the iconic Tower of London are  888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each soldier of the Commonwealth who was killed in that war.   A beautiful sea of flowers that looks simultaneously like a horrible sea of blood makes a noble tribute for all veterans.

[Read more…]

All Saints and All Sinners

Some may say, why are you Lutherans making a big deal out of All Saints’ Day? I thought Luther was against all of that cult of the saints stuff. Well, Reformation Christians have a different take on what a saint is. [Read more…]