Good day fine readers of Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams. I hope this day finds you healthy and happy.
I promised a potential new subject a few weeks ago and I am here to unveil it. I’ve periodically researched the popular holidays celebrated in the United States for the past twenty or so years. Some of the traditions were so interesting and sometimes profound, I wanted to know where and how they started. I started this research after graduating high school, mainly to alleviate the boredom. Whenever I move to a new town, one of my first stops is the local library to register for my card. I do love the library and long for the days when you could get lost for hours without ever hearing a peep from another living soul beyond the scrape of a chair leg or the sound of a page being carefully turned. I wasn’t attending college and had married a man in the military, so I had oodles of time to kill in a town where I knew no one.
But I digress. Holidays. Some celebrate, some don’t but all can recall a memory linked to a holiday; good or bad. I will focus mainly on those holidays celebrated by U.S. citizens. While I would love to research ALL the worlds holidays, I simply don’t have the time to search and/or translate. Hmm. Could be a future book in the making! If anyone has an observation, holiday or correction/addition they would like to make, I welcome them all! I know there will be holidays and observances that I either fail to mention or have to leave out simply because this is a blog, not a research paper :).
On to the January Holidays.
January – Named after Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways.
Jan 1st – New Years Day. The start of a new year on the Gregorian calendar. A day to brush off the old year and any ill luck it carried with it and start anew. A day once celebrated with drunken orgies to recall the chaos that once was the universe. Also, during Medieval times, a celebration of the circumcision of Jesus. Celebrated since Roman times, approximately 46 BCE
Jan 6 – Epiphany, also Three Kings Day. Observed on January 6th, it is the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Orthodox religions observe Epiphany between the 6th and 19th depending on the religion and region of the country/world. Protestants celebrate the Epiphany season from Jan. 6 through Ash Wednesday. Meant to celebrate the “revelation” of the savior to the world by the three Magi. Western religions focus on the Magi and revelation of Jesus to the world by them while Eastern Orthodox celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. However celebrated, it is the end of the Christmas season. Liturgical colors are white and gold marking celebration and newness – birth. An interesting tidbit I found was a mention of markings people put above their doors on Epiphany. 20+C+B+M+12 would be the marking for this year. The C, B & M represent the Magi – Caspar, Balthasar and Melchoir. It may also mean Christus Mansionem Benedicat or “May Christ Bless this Home”. There are varying degrees of celebration. It is not as widely celebrated in the United States, but in other countries it is a national holiday and not only are people baptized, but Epiphany is the day children receive their presents from the Magi. As with most religious holidays, the traditions and degree of celebration vary from country to country and denomination to denomination. If I have missed something, please add in the comments.
Third Monday – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Leader of a non-violent movement to achieve equality in the United States for all African-Americans. Born January 15, 1929, King was a fourth generation Baptist minister who widely studied theology. By 1955 he had become involved in social movements and used his vast theological knowledge in his arguments for fair treatment of African-Americans. He was part of the Mobile Bus Boycott, precipitated by the arrest of Rosa Parks.
“… nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” A quote from Dr. King after returning from a trip to India.
He worked toward racial equality and lost his life during the struggle to gain equal and fair treatment of African-Americans in the country, especially in the still segregated South. At that time, the Blacks being discriminated against were the descendents of African slaves. Discrimination still exists today in our country and it is still based on skin tone, along with financial background and even what area of the country you’re from. Throughout the Civil Rights movement, African-American has become the accepted, non-racist way to address a Black person. A friend once told me an acquaintance of hers was insulted every time someone called him an African-American because he was from Jamaica, not Africa. Overall, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day to celebrate the fight for equality. First legislation to observe a holiday in MLK’s honor introduced April 1968. June 1999, the last U.S. state signs into law the observation of the holiday.
There you have it. Observations in January. I hope you learned something about these crazy holidays we celebrate. I sure did!
Until next month,