Tag Archives: Holidays

The Invention of Thanksgiving

27 Nov

Autumn is the season for Native America. There are the cool nights and warm days of Indian summer and the genial query “What’s Indian about this weather?” More wearisome is the annual fight over the legacy of Christopher Columbus—a bold explorer dear to Italian-American communities, but someone who brought to this continent forms of slavery that would devastate indigenous populations for centuries. Football season is in full swing, and the team in the nation’s capital revels each week in a racist performance passed off as “just good fun.” As baseball season closes, one prays that Atlanta (or even semi-evolved Cleveland) will not advance to the World Series. Next up is Halloween, typically featuring “Native American Brave” and “Sexy Indian Princess” costumes. November brings Native American Heritage Month and tracks a smooth countdown to Thanksgiving. In the elementary-school curriculum, the holiday traditionally meant a pageant, with students in construction-paper headdresses and Pilgrim hats reënacting the original celebration. If today’s teachers aim for less pageantry and a slightly more complicated history, many students still complete an American education unsure about the place of Native people in the nation’s past—or in its present. Cap the season off with Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner, and a fable of interracial harmony. Is it any wonder that by the time the holiday arrives a lot of American Indian people are thankful that autumn is nearly over?

So begins historian and Native American Philip Deloria’s New Yorker essay on the history of American Indians and Thanksgiving. You may read his entire piece here.

Lully Lullay

18 Dec

Coventry, an English city of 250,00 in the West Midlands, was home to significant industrial power when World War II began, a line of industries Hitler wouldn’t and didn’t miss. When the Battle of Britain began, a specific Coventry blitz started immediately and didn’t end for three long months–198 tons of bombs killed 176 people and injured almost 700.

But the worst was to come. On November 14, 1940, 515 Nazi bombers unloaded on Coventry’s industrial region, leaving the city in ruins. Its own air defenses fired 67 hundred rounds, but brought down only one bomber. It was a rout.

At 8:00 that night, St. Michael’s Cathedral, a fourteenth-century church, was hit and burned, destroyed like so much else as a city turned to ruin.

So begins my friend Jim Schaap’s latest Small Wonder, broadcast on our local NPR station. He makes some wondrous connections: Christmas, World War II, and Wounded Knee. You may read (or listen to) the entire Small Wonder here.

17 Dec

December is a month of holidays and festivities that bring families and friends together to celebrate their good fortune and look forward to the year ahead. For the enslaved couple William and Ellen Craft, the month of December 1848 promised more reason to celebrate than any they’d ever experienced. The potential was uncertain, however, and fraught with peril. After years of careful planning and preparation, this was the optimal time, they decided, to implement their plan to gain their freedom.

A search of all of the documents in the Library of Congress would be unlikely to yield a scheme for freedom more intriguing and daring than the Christmas escape strategy of the Crafts. Even though theirs is heralded as one of the most brilliant escapes from slavery in American history, it’s far less well known than the exploits of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass or Josiah Henson.

The Crafts’ ingenious plan is documented in their 1860 narrative, “Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery.” The Library holds four different reprints of the account.

So begins an intriguing Library of Congress post by Lavonda Kay Broadnax. You may read the entire post here.

REGARDING THE TERM “MERCILESS INDIAN SAVAGES”

5 Jul

The other day I was asked if Americans can or should celebrate the country we aspire to, instead of the one described in the Declaration of Independence?

For the past decade, I have been working to educate our nation on the Doctrine of Discovery and the white supremacists’ influence it has on the foundations of our nation. This is especially evident in the Declaration of Independence, where, 30 lines below the inclusive and benevolent statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”, that document refers to the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island as “merciless Indian savages.” Demonstrating very clearly, that the only reason the founding fathers used the inclusive term “all men” is because they had a very narrow definition of who was actually human. I have written many articles regarding the Declaration of Independence, and I did not intend to write yet another one this year. But I appreciated being asked this question, and so I decided to respond.

So begins my friend Mark Charles’ editorial at Native News Online. You may read his entire piece here.

How was St. Valentine’s Day transformed from a sacred event into an amorous one?

14 Feb

How was St. Valentine's Day transformed from a sacred event into an amorous one?

Valentine’s Day has a curious history. Its name belongs to an early Christian martyred in Rome during the 3rd century. When Pope Gelasius in 496 added Valentine to the Catholic register of officially recognized saints, he could never have imagined that the day chosen to commemorate him, Feb. 14, would become consecrated for lovers.

So begins Marilyn Yalom’s brief history of St. Valentine’s Day. You may read her entire Los Angeles Time‘s story here.

 

There is a history to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”

22 Dec

It’s the most wonderful fight of the year: the annual tussle between Christians who bravely defend “Merry Christmas” and the godless liberals who want to impose “Happy Holidays” on all of us. Or so the story goes on talk radio. But while President Trump promises to restore “Merry Christmas” to American life, those who insist on using the phrase as a sort of flag for conservative Christian culture misunderstand its history. Rather than religious, its origins are secular and commercial, even profane.

So begins historian Neil J. Young ‘s historical recounting of some of the history of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” in America. You can read his entire Los Angeles Times op-ed here.

 

LAMENTING THE LOST HOPE OF ADVENT

13 Dec

Advent is the season of hope, the season of waiting for the coming of Christ. As Christians we believe that our hope is found in Christ, and that the church, the body of Christ, is God’s chosen instrument of revelation.

But how do you offer hope when the Church itself is the oppressor?  When the Church has committed countless violations in the name of Jesus?

So begins Mark Charles’ (Navajo Christian) advent reflections. You can read them in their entirety at Native News Online here.

Exploring the Past

Reading, Thinking, and Blogging about History

Enough Light

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." - Blaise Pascal

Lenten Lamentations

Preparing to Participate in God's Mosaic Kingdom

The Text Message

Discoveries from processing and reference archivists on the job

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

The Way of Improvement Leads Home

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

Native News Online

American Indian News

Reformed Journal: The Twelve

Reformed. Done Daily.

i-history

by Alex Scarfe

blogwestdotorg.wordpress.com/

Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

Northwest History

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

%d bloggers like this: