Sunday, February 23, 2014
3:40 pm pst
Antiques Roadshow is the Anti-Christ
There is conclusive evidence that the Antiques Roadshow,
if not actually the anti-Christ, is definitely in league with the Dark Forces. Slowly, a pattern has emerged, that of
Hummel figurines being stolen after they were taken to the Antiques Roadshow for an appraisal of their value. This, in itself,
is not surprising, as the show would be an ideal place for nefarious individuals to plan thefts of valuable items. However,
none of the items stolen was certified as authentic, making them all but worthless. More...
Sunday, February 16, 2014
11:37 am pst
Becau’se mo’st people dont know how to
use apos’trophe's, the apo’strophe in Pre’sident’s’ day is often made s’ingular, meaning
only one pre’sident. Therefore, the way I ‘see it, each year I get to choos’e which pre’s’ident
to honour. And this’ year I choos’e Martin Van Buren. (Those random apostrophes do get annoying, don’t
Martin Van Buren, the 8th President
of the United States (1837-1841), was the first of the forgettable Presidents. Born on December 5,1782, shortly after
the United States declared its independence, Martin Van Buren “was the first president to be born a citizen of the United
States and not a British subject.” (Martin Van Buren) And that’s pretty much it.
Monday, February 10, 2014
3:26 pm pst
There really was a person named Valentine who really
became a saint.
As the legend goes, Valentine
was a Roman who was martyred on… yup, you guessed it, February 14, in 269 A.D. The Roman emperor at the time,
who was affectionately nicknamed Claudius the Cruel, reportedly banned all marriages in order to get men to join the military,
reasoning that if the men weren’t married then they would be more willing to join in with his campaigns. Hmmm…
sex or carnage… that’s a tough choice. Valentine, doing his part for the Empire, secretly married couples.
And Claudius, doing his part for the Empire, had Valentine dragged out in the streets, beaten to death with clubs, and then
beheaded. Luckily, that custom wasn’t widely adopted.
Long before Valentine, though, February 14 had been celebrated in honour of Juno, the Roman goddess of
women and marriage, among other things, including fertility. One of the Roman customs on this day, which was then known
as the feast of Lupercalia, was for young girls’ names to be drawn from a jar by young boys, and then they would be
each other’s sexual partners for the following year. Flowers were optional.
In 469 A.D. Pope Gelasius (remember him?) deified Valentine, making him the patron saint
of lovers and finally giving him a first name – Saint. And February 14 was officially set aside in his honour.
Pope Gelasius also sought to make St. Valentine’s day a bit less… fun. He tried to change the custom of
drawing a lover’s name to that of drawing the name of saint that you would then try to emulate over the next year.
And, yes, there is really a patron saint of celibacy, in fact, there are several. Among them are the obvious:
St. Mary and her husband St. Joseph. Then there’s St. John, who has been argued to be superior to Peter since
he never married. Go figure. As well, there is St. Jerome (the patron saint of librarians), who ardently supported
celibacy, and St. Marie Goretti, a fairly recent saint, who chose to die rather than succumb to the advances of a young man.
Suffice it to say, there’s not a whole lot of saints’ names that you could draw that would be anywhere near as
fun as the celebration used to be. Suffice it to say that was a custom that didn’t garner many followers.
The first Valentine was supposedly sent in 1415 from
the Tower of London by the imprisoned Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. A Miss Esther Howland is credited with
having sent the first Valentine’s card in the United States, sometime in the 1800s, and from there commercialization
took over, as it is wont to do. Over one billion dollars are spent each year by men buying chocolates alone, and Valentine’s
day is decidedly the biggest day of the year for florists. Heck, one web site will even sell you a heart shaped Jell-O
mold which is bound to impress even the most reluctant lover.
Cupid, by the way, was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Whereas Cupid is now thought
of as a gentle boy who helps bring lovers together, his quiver originally held two different kinds of arrows – silver
tipped arrows that would cause you to fall passionately and desperately in love and lead tipped arrows that would do just
the opposite. Imagine the fun you could have with those babies!
“About Valentine’s Day.” Holiday Insights. 15 Jan. 2012. http://www.holidayinsights.com/valentine/
Ovid. Metamorphoses. Rolfe Humphries, translator. Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1955, 16-17.
“St. Jerome: Doctor of the Church.” Catholic Online. 15 Jan.
“St. Maria Goretti, Martyr of Purity.” July 2002. Youth Apostles Online. 15 Jan. 2012. http://www.youthapostles.com/newsletters/2002-07.html
“Valentine’s Day History and Things.” Picture Frames. 15 Jan. 2012. http://www.pictureframes.co.uk/pages/saint_valentine.htm
“Valentine’s Day: Not What it Used to Be.” 2012. Wilstar.com.
15 Jan. 2012. http://wilstar.com/holidays/valentn.htm
Saturday, February 1, 2014
3:48 pm pst
Groundhog’s Day appears to have
roots in old European traditions, though they used badgers and bears. Those traditions, in turn, probably go all the
way back to the Neolithic period in Ireland, when the date, Imbloc, had special significance because it fell between the Winter
Solstice and the Spring Equinox. As a consequence, pretty much everybody to ever come out of Ireland has found some
reason to celebrate something on this day. The Gaelic dudes, the Celts, the pagans, and the Christians all whooped it
up or continue to whoop it up on or about the second. Not even the Wiccans are left out. The second of February
represents one of their eight holidays.
The first specific mention
of celebrating Groundhog’s Day in America – with a groundhog on February 2 – was from a diary entry in 1841
Pennsylvania. The reference, though, was to an older German custom, which is pretty much the entire custom as we know
it – a medium-sized, furry animal emerges from its burrow on Candlemas Day (which is the second), and if it doesn’t
see its shadow, then there are six more weeks of winter. Candlemas, by the way, is the day that commemorates when Mary
was certified clean after giving birth to Jesus, as was required by Jewish law.
many communities (including those in Portugal, Germany, Serbia, and the UK) celebrate Groundhog’s Day in their own,
unique ways, Punxsutawney Phil, from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is undoubtedly the most famous Groundhog of them all.
2014 will be his 124 appearance, which is a pretty nifty trick for a rodent whose lifespan, at best, is only about 14 years.
Supposedly, Phil’s longevity is attributed to sipping “Groundhog Elixir” every summer, which magically extends
his life for another seven years. The heck with his predictions; I want some of that elixir.
best, the prognosticating rodent seems to be correct about 40% of the time…if that. On a “will-or-won’t”
proposition, you could get better odds flipping a coin.
2009. New Advent. 29 Dec. 2011. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03245b.htm
“Groundhog Day.” 29 Dec. 2011. Wikipedia. 29
Dec. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day
Groundhog Day – February 2: Punxsutawney Phil.
29 Dec. 2011. http://www.gojp.com/groundhog/
“Groundhog Day History.” 2011. Groundhog Day: The
Official Site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. 29 Dec. 2011. http://www.groundhog.org/groundhog-day/history/
“Imbloc.” 5 Dec. 2011. Wikipedia. 29 Dec. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc
“Punxsutawney Phil.” 7 Nov. 2011. Wikipedia.
29 Dec. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punxsutawney_Phil