St. Patrick’s Day: Six Facts About the Irish Holiday

St. Patrick’s Day: Six Facts About the Irish Holiday
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 6, 2014

Little-Known Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 17 every year. Here are some little-known facts about St. Patrick and the the holiday celebration on which everyone is a little Irish.

An Irish Legend, Not an Irishman
The man who became St. Patrick was born in Britain at the end of the 4th century. At the age of 16, marauders captured him and forced him into slavery in Ireland. He escaped six years later. It was during this time that he experienced a religious conversion and became closer to God. He went home to Britain and became a priest.

No Snakes in Ireland
There have never been snakes in Ireland, and it is only a legend that St. Patrick gave a sermon to drive the snakes out of Ireland. After God spoke to him in a dream, St. Patrick went to Ireland to convert the pagan Druids to Christianity. He spent 30 years in Ireland on this mission. Some believe the tale of the snakes is symbolic for how St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland and banished Paganism.

The First St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
Boston, Massachusetts celebrated the first St. Patrick’s Day in 1737. The Charitable Irish Society organized it. The first parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day took place in New York City on March 17, 1762. Irish soldiers serving in the British Colonial army during the United States Revolutionary War held the parade to celebrate their Irish heritage.

The Symbol of the Shamrock
According to lore, St. Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost to the druids. The shamrock has been associated with Ireland ever since. It is the national flower of Ireland.

Drowning the Shamrock
It is a St. Patrick’s Day custom to take a shamrock that has been worn all day and float it in the last drink of the day. After toasting to everyone’s health, pluck the shamrock from the drink and toss it over the left shoulder.

A Minor Holiday in Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day was a minor religious feast day in Ireland until the 1970s. After seeing the popularity of the holiday around the world, especially the United States, Ireland saw the potential to increase spring tourism. It is now a festive holiday all across Ireland.

Sources and More Information
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day: More Dallas Than Dublin
St. Patrick’s Day 2011: Facts, Myths, and Traditions

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Family Day: A Canadian Holiday

Family Day: A Canadian Holiday
by Carolynn Waites
Feb 16, 2014

A Holiday for Celebrating Family and Family Time

The Canadian holiday Family Day is listed on some February calendars on the same day as Presidents’ Day in the United States. As a celebration of family, it sounds like a holiday for the whole world to celebrate.

Family Day: What Is It?
Family Day, usually celebrated the third Monday of February in Canada, is a day to take off work and spend with family. It falls about halfway in between New Years’ Day and Good Friday, giving workers a day off during that three-month lull. Families celebrate by spending the day together, often enjoying winter activities such as ice skating, skiing, or hockey.

Celebrated Only in Parts of Canada
Canadian provinces have difficulty in agreeing on this holiday. Only six of the ten Canadian Provinces celebrate the holiday: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. Alberta was the first Canadian province to celebrate Family Day in 1990. Prince Edward Island calls it Islander Day and Manitoba calls the holiday Louis Riel Day in honor of one of the province’s founders. British Columbia celebrates Family Day on the second Monday in February, instead of the third.

Not a Federal Holiday in Canada
Because not all provinces of Canada observe the holiday, Federal offices across Canada are open on Family Day. Mail is delivered on Family Day. Provincial government offices close in the provinces that celebrate the holiday. Most schools and businesses in these provinces close for the day.

Sources and Further Reading:
Family Day in Canada 2014
Is Family Day a Stat Holiday?
Family Day in Canada

Martin Luther King Day: Coretta Scott King’s Controversial Dream

Martin Luther King Day: Coretta Scott King’s Controversial Dream
by Carolynn Waites
Feb 4, 2014

Martin Luther King Day or Civil Rights Movement Day? The Fight to Honor MLK

From the time of her husband’s death on April 4, 1968, Coretta Scott King vowed that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday would be observed as a national holiday. Honoring the man important in the Civil Rights Movement was controversial. It is the only national holiday that honors an individual American. Many critics believed it was more important to honor the Civil Rights Movement as a whole rather than Dr. King as a person. It took 32 years, but in the end Mrs. King’s dream did come true.

MLK Day: From the Beginning 1968-1983
Congressman John Conyers first introduced legislation in 1968, four days after Rev. King was assassinated. The Michigan Democrat’s bill stalled in Congress. After that, Rep. Conyers and New York Democrat Rep. Shirley Chisholm presented legislation for the holiday during each of the following sessions of Congress. In 1983, Congress passed the legislation and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law. The signing of the bill on November 2, 1983, witnessed by Mrs. King, designated the third Monday in January of each year to be the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.

MLK Day: Growing Recognition 1986-1989
It would take another seventeen years before the entire nation recognized the day as a paid national holiday. The first Martin Luther King Holiday was observed in seventeen states on January 20, 1986. Three years later, forty-four states observed the holiday on January 16, 1989.

MLK Day: Obstacles to Success 1992-2000
Arizona, South Carolina, and New Hampshire were the last states to hold out in observing the day as a paid national holiday. In 1987, the governor of Arizona, Evan Mecham, repealed Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday as his first act of office. This led to a national boycott of the state. Arizona citizens voted to pass the bill in 1992 and observed it for the first time in January of 1993. In 1999, New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen signed a bill replacing Civil Rights Day with Martin Luther King Day. In 2000, South Carolina became the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday and Martin Luther King Day became paid holiday in all fifty states.

Sources:
“The History of Martin Luther King Day” InfoPlease.com
“A Brief History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day ” Time Magazine, January 18, 2010
“President Ronald Reagan Signed Bill Establishing the Martin Luther King Holiday” Jet Magazine, June 28, 2004