Here’s How Valentine’s Day Came to Be

February 14, 2017 2:01 pm

Happy Valentine's Day, Dahlgren! If you've always wondered how this unique holiday came to be, here's a look at the history behind the festivities.

  • While many believe that Valentine's Day celebrates Saint Valentine, there were actually a number of Christian martyrs named Valentine. Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were just two of them.
  • The likely origins of Valentine's Day as a celebration come from the Roman fertility festival Lupercalia. During this event, Roman men and women danced, drank wine and hoped to find a husband or wife. Like the modern Valentine's Day, it was celebrated in mid-February.
  • Since Lupercalia came to be when Romans were Pagan, the festival changed once Christianity came to Rome. After that, the festival honored Saint Valentine and became a bit less wild.
  • Alternatively, some scholars believe that Valentine's Day was actually constructed by 14th Century poet Geoffrey Chaucer. These historians say that before Chaucer wrote about springtime being a time of romance, no one linked Saint Valentine to anything at all romantic.
  • Today, studies show that Americans spend an average of $18.2 billion, or $136.57 per person, on gifts for Valentine's Day. Whatever its origins, the holiday has become synonymous with love, romance and gift-giving in modern culture!

Valentine’s Day: Did It Start as a Roman Party or to Celebrate an Execution? [The New York Times]

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Learn About the History of Inauguration Day From These Fun Facts!

January 20, 2017 2:32 pm

Today is Inauguration Day, and while this is a day of pomp and circumstance in American history, it hasn't always been quite so celebratory. Here are some fun facts about the history of Inaugruation Day, its many traditions and the few ceremonies that were a bit more out of the ordinary.

  • The first Inauguration Day was on April 30, 1789 when George Washington was sworn in as our first President. The organizers forgot to bring a Bible for the swearing-in ceremony, so Washington borrowed one from a nearby Masonic lodge.
  • The shortest inaugural address was on March 4, 1793, when George Washington was sworn in for a second term. It was only 135 words.
  • John Adams was the first President sworn in by a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on March 4, 1797.
  • On March 5, 1805, Thomas Jefferson had an impromptu parade when he rode from the Capitol to the White House for his inauguration.
  • The first Inaugural Ball was on March 4, 1809 when James Madison was elected president.
  • John Quincy Adams chose to be sworn in on a legal book instead of a Bible at his inauguration on March 4, 1825.
  • The first time there were multuple Inaugural Balls was during Andrew Jackson's inauguration on Mar. 4, 1833.
  • William Henry Harrison died just 32 days after his inauguration on Mar. 4, 1841, after he gave a long speech in frigid temperatures.
  • James K. Polk is credited as the first president to use "Hail to the Chief" at his inauguration on Mar. 4, 1845.
  • James Buchanan's inauguration on Mar. 4, 1857 was the first one to be photographed.
  • Benjamin Harrison's inauguration on Mar. 4, 1889 was the first time the outgoing president's family invited the new First Family to a lunch before the parade.
  • Warren G. Harding was the first president to arrive by car to his inauguration on Mar. 4, 1921.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration on Jan. 20, 1937 was the first held in January.
  • Bill Clinton's inauguration on Jan. 20, 1997 was the first one broadcast online.

What to Know About Every Inauguration in American History [TIME]

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Learn About New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World!

January 1, 2017 12:01 pm

In the US, you likely celebrate New Year's by watching the ball drop in Times Square, kissing your loved ones at midnight and maybe checking out a parade on New Year's Day. In countries around the world, however, there are a number of other fascinating New Year's Eve traditions. Here are just a few.

  • Brazil. In Brazil, people eat lentils to celebrate. The locals believe that lentil-based dishes represent wealth and prosperity in the new year.
  • Greece. In Greece, January 1 is known as Basil's Day. On this day, locals bake a special loaf of bread with a coin inside; whoever gets the piece of bread with the coin will have extra luck in the coming year!
  • Germany. The Germans love Christmas and New Year's, and they have many steadfast traditions for both holidays. On New Year's Eve, German people pour molten lava into cold water, and the shape that the lava takes represents what your upcoming year will look like. For example, a heart shape means that you'll find love, while an anchor shape means that you may face some troubles.
  • Austria. On New Year's Day, Austrians eat suckling pig, which represents good luck.
  • Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, people throw buckets of water out their windows and clean their homes top to bottom to rid their spaces of negative energy in the new year.
  • Wales. In Wales, people lock their back doors at the strike of midnight to "lock out" the previous year. Later, they open the door to "let in" in the new year.

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