The Wonderful Traditions of New Year’s

jay-haung

Photo Credit: Jay Haung via CC Flickr

The annual celebration of New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times of the year. It is during this time that we reminisce about the past year and, at the same time, look ahead, plan, and make resolutions for the future. Millions and millions of people around the world take part in the festivities and revelry as they welcome in the New Year.

As with many of the holidays that we have throughout the year, I always find it very interesting and enjoyable to find some history and fun facts about each day. This holiday is no different. So, I decided to share some interesting facts with you about the celebration of New Year and some other intriguing things…so…here we go.

Interesting Things That Are Dropped New Year’s Eve

Most people from around the world, know that every year, New York City welcomes in the New Year in Times Square, by dropping a big “ball” which gradually descends from the top of a pole to the bottom, where it rests while all kinds of lights blink and shine as the new year begins. It all started in 1907 after there was a fireworks ban. In 1907, the iron and wood ball weighed 700-pounds and was covered with 25-watt bulbs made of iron. Today, it weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is adorned with 2,668 Waterford crystals. Meanwhile, close to a million people in the square, dance, party, hug and kiss, and have a good time at this joyous moment. Around the world, approximately 1 billion people watch world-wide festivities from their televisions or computers.

But are there other things that are dropped in celebration of New Year’s instead of a giant ball? You bet there is!!! Here are some remarkable objects that are “dropped.” So, without further ado, here are some things from around the United States that I think you will find entertaining.

In Brookville, Florida, a giant tangerine was dropped 40 feet in 2009.

In Traverse, Michigan, a cherry is dropped.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a pine cone is dropped from a hotel.

In Prescott, Arizona, a boot is dropped

In South Lake, California, a gondola is lowered.

In Temecula, California, a bunch of grapes is dropped.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, a 10 foot guitar is dropped from a specially designed 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Café.

In Easton, Maryland, a red crab is dropped.

In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a 100-pound stick of bologna is dropped.

In Easton, Pennsylvania, and giant M&M is dropped

In St. George’s, Bermuda, a paper-Mache Bermuda onion covered with Christmas lights is dropped.

In Black Creek, North Carolina, a large red heart drop is lowered.

In Eastover, North Carolina, a three-foot tall, thirty-pound flea is dropped.

In Elmore, Ohio, a sausage is dropped.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a flying pig is “flown”, not dropped, demonstrating to everyone that there is at least one occasion “when pigs fly.”

In Red Lion, Pennsylvania. A wooden cigar held by a lion, is raised.

In Panama City, Florida, a 800-pound beach ball is lowered from a tower 12 stories high.

In Praire du Chien, Wisconsin, A carp (real but dead) caught by a local fisherman and weighing between 25-30 pounds is lowered.

In Vincennes, Indiana, a giant 18-foot, 500 pound steel and foam watermelon is raised 100 feet during the final 60 second countdown to midnight.

…..and there are many, many others!!!

 

Several Amazing Facts About the New Year Celebration

The Babylonians celebrated New Years over 4,000 years ago.

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne,” means, “times gone by.”

If you want to have a happy new year, don’t eat lobster or chicken. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so it is thought these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Apples and honey are usually eaten to celebrate.

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.

In some countries, the use of fireworks are used for more than just celebrations…they are also believed to scare off evil spirits and bring good luck

44% of American adults plan to kiss someone at midnight.

61% of people say a prayer.

Over 1 million people line the 40 miles of shoreline of the city of Sydney, Australia.

In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist monks strike the gongs 108 times in aneffort to drive out the 108 human weaknesses.

New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday.

Many people in America, eat Black Eyed Peas, cabbage, and ham on New Year’s Day for good luck.

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Well, I hope that you enjoyed these tidbits and facts. I would like to personally wish each and every one of you the healthiest and happiest New Year!!

And here’s to many, many more! J

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Sources:

Ducksters.com

Ibtimes.com

Qualitylogoproducts.com

CNN.com

History.com

Fun Facts About Memorial Day

Bruce Tuten

Photo Credit: Bruce Tuten via CC Flickr

Memorial day, here in America, is a solemn and somber day in America in which people from around the country can stop, remember, and thank the men and women who have fought and have given parts of their lives for our freedom.

It was once said that Freedom is a lot like oxygen: when you have it, nobody notices it…but go without it, and, wow, do you wish you had it!! It is SO true!

Even though I have celebrated Memorial Day every year since I was a kid, I was wondering the other day…what is the truth and facts behind this hallowed day? In today’s blog, I decided to find out and then, let you know by sharing my findings with you!

Enjoy!

  • Memorial Day originally started during the Civil War.
  • Approximately 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War which made it the deadliest war in American history (just for the record, there were more deaths in the Civil War than all of the other wars combined).
  • Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and was meant to honor both the Union and Confederate men who lost their lives during the Civil War. By the 1900’s it became a day to celebrate and remember all of the soldiers who died in the military.
  • One of the earliest ceremonies honoring the fallen was organized by freed slaves!
  • Memorial Day actually didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.
  • In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson named Waterloo, New York, as the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
  • According to custom, the American flag is to fly at half staff until noon, and then raise it to full staff until sunset.
  • In 1915, a Georgian school teacher named, Moina Michael, began a movement to make the Red Poppy the national symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.” The idea of wearing Red Poppies originated from a poem written in 1915, by John McCrae, “In Flanders Field.”
  • It is common for volunteers to place American flags on the graves in the national cemeteries.
  • It has been estimated that 30-35 million people travel by car over the Memorial Day Weekend.

 

 

An Ode to Thanksgivng

Mike Licht

Photo Credit: Mike Licht via CC Flickr

Ode to Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Worldwide Traditions of Christmas

Photo Credit: Beatnik Photos via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Beatnik Photos via CC Flickr

We as Americans know the customs of Christmas here in the United States…but have you ever wondered what some of the traditions of Christmas are like in other parts of the world? Well, sit back and discover some short, interesting facts, how other people from around the globe celebrate Christmas. 

Belgian

The children there believe it is kindly Saint Nicholas who brings them their presents. They also believe he rides a horse so they leave him hay and carrots and water for the horse just outside the house on December 6.

Canada/U.S.

Christmas trees are decorated and stockings are hung on the fireplace for Santa Claus to fill with gifts. Cards and gifts are exchanged with friends and relatives. Children put on pageants and go caroling.

China

The Christians in China light their homes with beautiful paper lanterns. Santa is called Dun Che Lao Ren. The children hang stockings just as we do.

Czechs

They serve a very large and delicious dinner with many courses. Courses are like a appetizer, followed by soup, then a salad, then maybe the first meat dishes, and so on till the dessert is served. They serve this meal on Christmas Eve and it does not matter how big the family is, there is always a place set at the table that is set for the Christ Child.

Denmark

Santa is known as Julemanden and he arrives in a sleigh pulled by reindeer with a sack full of gifts. Danish children know the elves as Juul Nisse, and believe that they live in the attics of their homes. Instead of cookies and glasses of milk, they leave rice pudding and saucers of milk out for them.

England

From England we have acquired several customs. The first is the use of Christmas trees. This was made popular during the rein of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Prince Albert came from the country of Germany and missed his native practice of bringing in trees to place on the tables in the house, therefore one Christmas the royal couple brought a tree inside the Palace and decorated it with apples and other pretty items.

The second custom is what is known as Boxing Day. It is celebrated the first weekday after Christmas. What this means is that small wrapped boxes with food and sweets, or small gifts, or coins are given to anyone who comes calling that day.

Santa is known as Father Christmas, wearing long red robes and had sprigs of holly in his hair. Instead of mailing out their christmas list, children throw it into the fireplace and Father Christmas reads the smoke. England is also where the tradition of hanging stockings by the chimney began, due to the fact that Father Christmas once accidentally dropped some gold coins on his way down the chimney which got caught in a drying stocking. Another interesting thing is that instead of opening up their gifts as soon as they wake up, English children wait until the afternoon.

France

Santa is known as Pere Noel. He is accompanied by Pre Fouettard who keep track of who has been good or bad for Pere Noel. In some parts of France, Pere Noel brings small gifts in the beginning of December (Dec 6) and comes back to deliver more on Christmas. In France the children get to open their gifts on Christmas, but the parents and other adults have to wait until New Years. In France the children place there shoes by the fire place in hopes that le Pere Noel/Father Christmas of le Petit Jesus/Little Jesus will place gifts for them. They also have dinner at midnight on December 24 this is called Le Reveillon. They have a cake called La Buche de Noel that is served after the dinner.

Tiny clay figures are used in the Christmas Crèches, Mangers. These figures are most unique as they are dressed in what is popular in provincial clothing that year. The figures are Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and Angels.

Italy

It Italy, the main exchange of gift doesn’t occur until January 6th, the day traditionally believed that the Wise Men reached the baby Jesus. Italy has La Befana who brings gifts to for the good and punishment for the bad. She is the same character as Russia’s Babouschka who refused to give the Wise Men food and shelter. The nativity scene may have first been set up by Saint Francis of Assisi. This first one was set up in a cave outside of a village and the villagers were so impressed by the display that now many of the communities compete for the best nativity.

India

Houses are decorated with strings of mango leaves. Lights are place on the window sills and walls and a star is hung outside. A sweet holiday treat is made called thali and it is brought to neighbors and friends.

Japan

The Japanese decorate their stores and homes with greens. The only part of Christmas that they celebrate is the giving of gifts. HOTEIOSHA the priest is like our Santa Claus, and he brings the children their presents.

Mexico

Mexico calls Christmas Navidad. They celebrate Christmas for nine days with Las Pasdas. It is a time where people dress as Mary and Joseph, traveling from house to house asking if Mary may stay the night. They are told the is full. After which the door opens back up and all are invited in for a party with food, songs, and for the children a Pinata. The Pinata is made of paper mache and filled with all kinds of goodies. The object is to break it open with your eyes blindfolded. After which the children all dive for all the goodies they can pick up. On the ninth night they are told yes there is room for Mary in the stable and all come in for food and after all go to Church to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.

The Netherlands

Santa is known as Sinterklaas, and he came to Sweden originally by boat, setting out on December 6th from Spain. He makes his gift deliveries by horseback. The children leave their shoes out, filled with hay and sugar for Sinterklaas’ horse. In the morning they find their shoes filled with candy and nuts. When Sinterklaas appears to the children, he takes the form of their father or a favorite male relative.

North Pole

Santa and his helpers are getting ready to deliver gifts to the children of the world.

Poland

From Christmas to New Years the streets are lined with lovely stalls called, JOSELKI, each one is carefully painted with scenes from the Christmas story. The booths are elaborately decorated in tinsel and lighted candles.

Spain

The children of Spain leave their shoes on the windowsills filled with straw, carrots, and barley for the horses of the Wise Men, who they believe reenact their journey to Bethlehem every year. One of the wise men is called Balthazar, who leaves the children gifts. They call Christmas Eve Nochebuena, and families gather together to rejoice and share a meal around the Nativity scene.

Russia

Russia has someone named Babouschka, who would bring gifts for the children. The tradition says that she failed to give food and shelter to the three wise men and so she now searches the countryside searching for the baby Jesus, visiting all children giving gifts as she goes. Santa was known as Saint Nicholas but today is called Grandfather Frost, wearing a blue outfit instead of red.

The Russians use to celebrate Christmas with great joy and happiness before the Revaluation of 1917. They used to stroll up and down the streets with stars on the end of sticks that they called Stars of Bethlehem. The people went to church services and shared a special meal at home. After the Revaluation the Soviet Government banned Christmas. What the Russians do today is celebrate New Years Day with a special tree decorated like we do ours for Christmas and they have a New Years Day Children’s party. The children join hands and sing songs as they walk around the tree. They wait for DYET MOROZ Grandfather Frost, and his helper SYYEGORACHKA The Snow Maiden to bring them their gifts.

Switzerland

Santa Claus is called CHRISTKIND, the Christ Child coming to bring gifts to the children dressed in all white with a golden crown, He is helped by Saint Nicholas.

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Have an AWESOME Christmas Season!

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Source: portharbor.com

An Advent Celebration!

Photo Credit: Christopher Bulle via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Christopher Bulle via CC Flickr

I would like to take this time to personally invite you to visit my wife’s new blog pare created especially made for this time of year “Advent Celebrations.” Starting December 1 and all the way to Christmas Day, find new, daily holiday recipes, memories and passages from Scripture that will certainly put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

I hope you take the time each day to visit and enjoy…Advent Celebrations!

Every Flag Tells a Story At Mobile’s Historic Magnolia & National Cemeteries

Photo Credit: blog.al.com

Photo Credit: blog.al.com

The one thing I enjoy is looking for inspiring and heartwarming stories of all kinds of occasions, experiences and places around the world. Recently, I came across the following article, which, to me, was an interesting and heartwarming story of a national cemetery in Alabama. Since the story and the happenings in the cemetery take place only twice a year (Memorial Day and Veterans Day), I thought that it would be something nice to share with you as we celebrate Memorial Day!

The Avenue of Heroes at Magnolia Cemetery is one again festooned with American flags, thanks to family members who have donated service members’ casket flags. Flown twice a year, at Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the flags line the cemetery’s entrances at Ann Street and at Virginia Street.

The cemetery started the program with the first display of flags in 2007.

The Veterans Administration honors deceased veterans with a large, 6-foot-by-8-foot flag to drape over his or her casket at the funeral. Traditionally, the flag is folded and handed to the surviving spouse after the service. “Most people get one and think, ‘What do I do with this?'” said Tom McGehee, president of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery. “Then they sit on a shelf or in a closet.”

After a flag is donated to the cemetery, it’s hung from a pole with an engraved plaque attached that includes the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service and war, if applicable, said Janet Savage, executive director of Magnolia Cemetery.

It takes two days for Mark Halseth, cemetery superintendent, to put up all the flags. As of today, 65 flags are flying at the cemetery. “The Internet is amazing,” said Savage, noting that 24 of the flags are from out of state from families who learned about the program online.

Savage’s own uncle’s flag is among those flying at Magnolia. “He was missing in action in World War II, and his flag had been in the closet for 60 years,” she said. “There are a lot of stories out there.”

“It really is a pretty sight on a breezy day,” said McGehee.

When the flags are taken down, they’re stored at the cemetery office until the next holiday. The Friends group even bought a dryer to completely dry the flags before they go into storage.

For more information about the Avenue of Heroes program, contact Janet Savage at (251) 432-8672.

Meanwhile, each of the 3,867 graves at the adjacent Mobile National Cemetery received a miniature American flag, stuck 12 inches from the front of the headstone, on Friday, as they do every Memorial Day.

Usually, a group volunteers to put out the flags and pick them back up, but this year no one stepped up, said Larry Robinson, program support assistant at Barrancas National Cemetery at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“We have a contract to put out the flags in case we don’t have volunteers,” Robinson said.

In Pensacola, Boy Scouts are volunteering to adorn the markers of some 30,000 graves, he said.

Established in 1865, Mobile National Cemetery holds the remains of veterans of eight wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs brochure.

National Cemetery is a closed cemetery, meaning no more interments can take place there.

Memorial Day: A Time to Remember

 

Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller

Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller

It has always fascinated me how many people have sacrificed their lives or the quality of their life for the freedom that all Americans enjoy every day. I can’t imagine the impact that these misfortunes have on not only the soldiers, but the lives of their families and friends.

I always take the time each Memorial Day to think of the soldiers and the freedom that we have and say a little prayer for all of those who are in harm’s way today.

Unfortunately, I am embarrassed and sorry to say, that I don’t think many people REALLY are grateful for the many things that they take pleasure in because of what our soldiers and veterans have sacrificed. It is for that reason that I decided to post some statistics of all of the wars that America has fought. I have found the following information on the “Department of Foreign Affairs” website called “America’s Wars.”

It is my hope that these stats will open your eyes and give you a clearer picture of exactly how much has been sacrificed for this country during the past 200 years or so.

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American Revolution (1775-1783)

Total U.S. Service members (1) 217,000

Battle Deaths 4,435

Non-mortal Woundings 6,188

 

War of 1812 (1812-1815)

Total U.S. Service members 286,730

Battle Deaths 2,260

Non-mortal Woundings 4,505

 

Indian Wars (approx. 1817-1898)

Total U.S. Service members (VA estimate) 106,000

Battle Deaths (VA estimate) 1,000

 

Mexican War (1846-1848)

Total U.S. Service members 78,718

Battle Deaths 1,733

Other Deaths (In Theater) 11,550

Non-mortal Woundings 4,152

 

Civil War (1861-1865)

Total U.S. Service members (Union) 2,213,363

Battle Deaths (Union) 140,414

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Union) 224,097

Non-mortal Woundings (Union) 281,881

Total Service members (Conf.) (2) 1,050,000

Battle Deaths (Confederate) (3) 74,524

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Confederate) (3), (4) 59,297

Non-mortal Woundings (Confederate) Unknown

 

Spanish-American War (1898-1902)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 306,760

Battle Deaths 385

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 2,061

Non-mortal Woundings 1,662

 

World War I (1917-1918)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 4,734,991

Battle Deaths 53,402

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 63,114

Non-mortal Woundings 204,002

Living Veterans 0

 

World War II (1941 –1945)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 16,112,566

Battle Deaths 291,557

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 113,842

Non-mortal Woundings 670,846

Living Veterans (5) 1,711,000

 

Korean War (1950-1953)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 5,720,000

Total Serving (In Theater) 1,789,000

Battle Deaths 33,739

Other Deaths (In Theater) 2,835

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 17,672

Non-mortal Woundings 103,284

Living Veterans 2,275,000

 

Vietnam War (1964-1975)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) (6) 8,744,000

Deployed to Southeast Asia (7) 3,403,000

Battle Deaths (8) 47,434

Other Deaths (In Theater) (8) 10,786

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) (8) 32,000

Non-mortal Woundings (9) 153,303

Living Veterans 5, 10 7,391,000

 

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 2,322,000

Deployed to Gulf 694,550

Battle Deaths 148

Other Deaths (In Theater) 235

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 1,565

Non-mortal Woundings 467

Living Veterans 5, 10 2,244,583

 

America’s Wars Total (1775 -1991)

U.S. Military Service during Wartime 41,892,128

Battle Deaths 651,031

Other Deaths (In Theater) 308,800

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 230,279

Non-mortal Woundings 1,431,290

Living War Veterans11 16,962,000

Living Veterans (Periods of War & Peace) 23,234,000

 

Global War on Terror (Oct 2001 – )

The Global War on Terror (GWOT), including Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), are ongoing conflicts. For the most current GWOT statistics visit the following Department of Defense Website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/gwot_component.pdf

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NOTES:

1. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is the median of estimated range from 184,000 – 250,000.

2. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is median of estimated range from 600,000 – 1,500,000.

3. Death figures are based on incomplete returns.

4. Does not include 26,000 to 31,000 who died in Union prisons.

5. Estimate based upon new population projection methodology.

6. Covers the period 8/5/64 – 1/27/73 (date of cease fire)

7. Department of Defense estimate

8. Covers period 11/1/55 – 5/15/75

9. Excludes 150,341 not requiring hospital care

10. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) estimate, as of 4/09, does not include those still on active duty and may include veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

11. Total will be more than sum of conflicts due to no “end date” established for Persian Gulf War.

Source: Department of Defense (DOD), except living veterans, which are VA estimates as of Sep 2010.

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Take time each day to thank a soldier or a veteran for the sacrifices that they have made!!