In come the March winds,
They blow and blow,
They sweep up the brown leaves
That green ones may grow.
–George Washington Wright Houghton, American poet (1850–91)

Valentines Day 2018

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

Click here for the history of Valentines day

 

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all.

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Just a little Heart Attack

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Inspired by the true stories of real women impacted by heart disease, the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement and Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks created the short film, “Just a Little Heart Attack,” to educate women about the realities of heart disease and encourage them to put their health first. The short film, directed by and starring Ms. Banks, chronicles one woman’s experience ignoring her symptoms and putting herself last. Go Red For Women hopes the film, “Just a Little Heart Attack,” will engage and inspire women to put their health first and take care of their heart.

Check this out.

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Three Kings Day

thThis day is also called the Epiphany or to many Three Kings Day.

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The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

The star was so beautiful, large, and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell,
And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.

“Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar,
“Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews.”

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December Fun Facts

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The 12th month of the year brings us Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years Eve. 

December is the last month in the Gregorian calendar. Its name is based on the Latin term for ten. In the Roman calendar, December was the tenth month until the addition of January and February at the beginning of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere December has the shortest daylight hours and marks the beginning of winter. December provides the longest days in Southern Hemisphere, as it is the beginning of summer. December is a month home to many religious holidays. 
Below are some fun facts about December:

1. The birthstone of December is turquoise.

2. Zodiac signs for December are Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21) and Capricorn (December 22 – January 19).

3. The birth flower of December is the narcissus.

4. World’s AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1st.

5. December 3 –…

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How to Carve Your Turkey.

 

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https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/carve-turkey

 

You’ve bought it, stuffed it, cooked it, and now you have to carve it. If you’re daunted by the task―some of the best cooks are―just remember that carving a turkey comes down to simple technique. Follow the easy steps in this video.

What You Need

  • carving board
  • chef’s knife (or slicing knife)
  • paper towels
  • platter
  • cutting board
  • long
  • flexible knife (or boning knife)
  • tongs

Follow These Steps

  1. Remove the string
    Place the turkey on a carving board. Remove the string tying the legs together, using the tip of your chef’s knife.
  2. Remove the legs and thighs
    Cut through the skin that connects the breast and the drumstick. Slice down until you reach the joint. Using a paper towel, grab the leg and push down, separating the leg and thigh from the bird. Use your chef’s knife to slice through the joint.
  3. Remove the drumsticks
    Separate the drumstick and the thigh by cutting through the joint that connects them. Transfer the drumstick to a platter; set aside the thigh meat on a cutting board to slice later. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other leg.
  4. Remove the wishbone
    Find the wishbone at the front end of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out.
    Tip: Removing the wishbone makes it easier to carve off the breast meat.
  5. Remove turkey breasts
    Find the breastbone. Position a long, flexible knife (or a boning knife) on one side of it, and slice downward, as close to the bone as possible. As you slice, use your other hand to pull the meat away from the breastbone, until you’ve cut the breast off the carcass in one piece. Transfer to the cutting board.
  6. Remove the wings
    Using the chef’s knife, slicing through the joint to remove a wing, and transfer to the platter. Repeat steps 5 and 6 on the other side.
  7. Slice the thigh meat
    Work on the cutting board. Holding the thigh bone with tongs or a paper towel, remove the meat from the bone with the edge of the chef’s knife. Transfer meat to platter.
  8. Slice the breast meat
    Using the tongs to steady the breast, position the meat so you’ll cut it at its shorter length. Slice against the grain, taking care to keep the skin attached. Transfer pieces neatly to a platter.

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