kottke.org posts about holidays
On the intersection of Presidents' Day and Black History Month, Erica Armstrong Dunbar highlights an uncomfortable truth about George Washington: he was a proud and fervent slave owner.
During the president's two terms in office, the Washingtons relocated first to New York and then to Philadelphia. Although slavery had steadily declined in the North, the Washingtons decided that they could not live without it. Once settled in Philadelphia, Washington encountered his first roadblock to slave ownership in the region -- Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Act of 1780.
The act began dismantling slavery, eventually releasing people from bondage after their 28th birthdays. Under the law, any slave who entered Pennsylvania with an owner and lived in the state for longer than six months would be set free automatically. This presented a problem for the new president.
Washington developed a canny strategy that would protect his property and allow him to avoid public scrutiny. Every six months, the president's slaves would travel back to Mount Vernon or would journey with Mrs. Washington outside the boundaries of the state. In essence, the Washingtons reset the clock. The president was secretive when writing to his personal secretary Tobias Lear in 1791: "I request that these Sentiments and this advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington."
From the NY Times, an epic listing of recipes for traditional (and not so traditional) Thanksgiving food from each of the 50 US states. Featuring lefse from North Dakota, salty pluff mud pie from South Carolina, turkey tamales from Texas, and cheddar mashed potatoes from Vermont. (via @jimray)
This year, the first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving Day. Amazingly, this is the
first second time it's happened since President Lincoln established Thanksgiving in 1863 and it is also the last time it'll happen until the year 79,811. I'll say that again: after this year, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Day won't overlap for another 77,798 years.
The reason is because the Jewish calendar is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000 years (not bad for a many centuries old calendar!) This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29. The last time Hanukkah falls on 11/28 is 2146 (which happens to be a Monday).
Update: As noted above, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapped once before, in 1888, because Thanksgiving used to fall on the last Thursday in November and not the fourth Thursday.
A group of citizens is attempting to change Columbus Day to Exploration Day. Columbus Day has always been a weird holiday, what with CC's slavery and genocide and all, so this seems like a good idea to me. Maggie Koerth-Baker makes the case over at Boing Boing.
The logic is quite neat. Columbus Day is about one guy and the (actually untrue) claim that he was the first person to discover America. Inherently, that's pretty Euro-centric, which is a big part of why it sits awkwardly in a pluralistic country. But exploration is inclusive. The ancestors of Native Hawaiians were explorers who crossed the ocean. The ancestors of Native Americans explored their way across the Bering land bridge and then explored two whole continents. If you look at the history of America, you can see a history of exploration done by many different people, from many different backgrounds. Sometimes we're talking about literal, physical exploration. Other times, the exploring is done in a lab. Or in space. But the point is clear: This country was built on explorers. And it needs explorers for the future.
If you want to help out, sign this petition to Congress or this one to the White House.
For tomorrow, a turkey stuffing recipe that uses White Castle hamburgers. I'd really like to try this some year, but there's no way my wife would go for it. Come on, it's from scratch! (Well, except for the burgers...)
April 18 is Poop For Peace Day.
Mark your calenders!
Update: Mandar suggests everyday is poop for peace day.
Update: If it so moves you -- sorry! -- Bennett has a post at the Utne Reader Blog about The Politics of Poop.
Gangster's holiday: "Mother's Day was the most important Sunday on the organized crime calendar, when homicide took a holiday and racketeering gave way to reminiscing."
What's the cut-off date for wishing someone a happy new year? Is the end of January too late?
Nerdy Halloween costumes alert: Ricky dressed as Google Image Search. I know someone out there is planning their Web 2.0 or folksonomy costume. Let's see it!