April fool’s day

This is not a joke post, this is another piece in my holiday’s series where I take a little bit deeper of a dive into what these holidays actually are and where they came from. Believe it or not this holiday does not have its origins (in the current iteration) in some ancient pagan ritual. Yes, there is an argument to be made that April 1st can be correlated to some ancient spring festivals and I wouldn’t disagree. April fool’s day though isn’t a spring ritual, it is mainly a bi product of a calendar switch.

There is a really good summation here

It’s a brief that snapshots many time lines but the actual term “April fools” came about in the 1580’s when France moved to the Georgian calendar. Prior the “New year” was celebrated on April 1st, basically when spring began. The Georgian calendar pulls the “New Year” back to January 1st.

From the link: “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poison d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.”

It was always just a fool’s hope.

Back in the 1580’s news moved a little slower than it did today. So this is where we get the term “April Fool’s”. Obviously this has evolved over time and is now simply a jest. Playing jokes on people is an ancient custom, we can go back to ancient times and fine plenty of “humor” related festivals/celebrations. April Fools became a day of pranks centuries after the switch to the Georgian calendar, which most of us in the west are using. Like many customs it began as a joke for the rich to prank each other and the lower classes wanting to emulate adopted the practice.

It’s evolved to where we are today, a light hearted holiday that really has no universal celebration, parades etc. Many people have their own traditions and playing small jokes on people is common place. So today if someone tells you “April fools” and plays a joke on you take it in stride, get them back next year. Be thankful you weren’t around in 1580 and the calendar got changed and no one let you know about it…

I suppose back then it didn’t really matter what month or day it was did it? You were just trying to get through another day. Thanks for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? Click here.

St Patrick’s Day

So we have another holiday to flesh out. Now this isn’t a U.S. holiday but I decided to do a piece on it because its celebrated all over the world. In a lot of places, it’s an excuse to drink, in others it’s a welcoming to spring, in others it’s a celebration of a man’s life.

Who was “St Patrick”?

St Patrick lived during the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Now this happened in the 400’s, let’s be very clear here we do not have very good records from the dark ages, particularly in western Europe as much of it was still under the control of Rome. So we can’t be certain of everything that happened around this individual. In the centuries following his death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology around his life became ever more ingrained in Irish culture. The most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock. Now you know why they are lucky.

Why did it become an international holiday?

So to be clear, I understand many people in the world do not recognize St Patrick’s day at all. That said hundreds of millions (Billions?) do an we have to wonder why? In the mid-19th century there were great movements of people. The migration to the U.S. is well documented but remember at the time the British Empire was vast, from the UK to India to Australia. The Irish moved everywhere and then in 1845 we had the great potato famine. This drove starving Irish to immigrate all over the world but a huge chunk of them moved to the U.S.

Yes, this is a field of clover.

They brought with them all of their traditions and pride and, in the U.S. at least melded into the country and brought us St Patrick’s day and the parades. At the time this was viewed as a threat to many. Violence happened as the Irish were not native born Americans and only a few generations removed from our revolution, the influx of immigrants was jolting to the U.S. The Irish, understanding their new found political power via numbers carried on and even today there are huge populations of U.S. citizens with Irish heritage concentrated in many major U.S. cities.

So the Irish have been celebrating his birthday for centuries. We celebrate now with parades all over the world. Again this has evolved into more of a community celebration then the actual celebration of a saint or a culture. Most wear green because of the Irish connection but beyond that it’s just another reason to get together with friends and welcome the incoming spring. At its heart this is a religious holiday, celebrating the life of one of the more important saints in Christianity. So if you are going to a parade this weekend, wear your green, drink responsibly, be merry and give a nod to St Patrick, the man who brought Christianity to Ireland.

Thank you for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? Click here.

Here we go again, another holiday….

              

I know you’re thinking “Huh?” Ground hogs day ! Sure if we were to accumulate a list of the best holidays on the calendar it might not be on the top of the list, but like its black sheep brother Flag Day it’s on the calendar. Now I am bias, Feb 2 is my birthday. My whole life when age/birthday comes up I always tell people I was born on a holiday. So of course they try and guess, I tell them it’s in February and its immediately Valentine’s day or Presidents day.

They then get stumped and I tell them it’s Ground Hogs day. I normally get a smile, once in a while I get the obligatory “that’s not a real holiday” which I indignantly reply “it’s on the calendar every year” which normally ends the conversation LOL. So why IS it on the calendar? Why is this lesser holiday on the calendar every year? Well we know In the states every year in Punxsutawney PA the pull this poor animal out of its hole and determine if they can see its shadow or not. So if it sees its shadow we have 6 more weeks of winter, if not winter is supposed to end sooner.

The history is interesting, it goes back to German settlers that brought the tradition with them to America. It’s part of a Christian tradition Candlemas (Link) which was always celebrated on 2/2. In Germany they began selecting animals to help them predict the remaining length of the winter. The “shadow” of the animal was to represent the light of the candle from the Candlemas tradition.

“In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.”

It’s now become a national event with tens of thousands of people showing up for the event. We all know the movie “ground hogs day” with Bill Murray, but back in 1887 it was still a local tradition only shared among the German population. It grew as a novelty story over time as local and national papers picked up the story which helped them grow the tradition.

Brief History

How to deal with the holidays and family

Yes, its that time of year again. If you live in the west, you have thanksgiving in the states and you have Christmas. 2 major holidays within 30 days of one another. Now there are plenty of anxiety and stress traps around these holidays, we could do multiple blog posts on all of it but today let’s focus on family issues.

If you’re like millions of other people you’re “going home” for the holidays or hosting family. This is a perfect storm, because for many of us the genesis of our anxiety resides in family issues. When we get together for the holidays we have all sorts of avenues in which our minds can dwell to increase our anxiety. From unhappy memories, toxic family members, the same routines on and on.

On top of those triggers your defenses are already low as you’ve likely been engaging in the holiday malaise at work, on the radio (24-7 x mas songs, ugh) commercials, stores on and on. So how do we mitigate this so maybe this holiday season we don’t have a battle with our anxiety?

Below are 3 things that I have done in my life that have helped me:

  • I planned a vacation as a present to myself and my family. So, do you take a vacation every year? If so the holiday season might be a great opportunity for you to go somewhere else and relax. I like this because I get to stay at a nice hotel, don’t have to cook and don’t have to deal with extended family. It isn’t cheap though. Traveling during the holidays can be pricey.
  • I didn’t over do it. Spouses family, my family, kids’ friends, work party, spouses work party. This is the time of year where “people get together” and its likely that you will be invited to more events in this period then at any other time during the year. You must prune out the invitations. Family is important but work parties? I mean don’t you see them enough? Cut out 25% of the invitations or expectations to see people that you have.
  • I focus on the kids. I know it sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is this is an opportunity to affect the kids positively. If you need to go to these gatherings remember the kids are watching and taking cues from the adults. Do your best, be your best and create positive experiences for them. Often when you focus on the kids, you can glean from them that bit of joy they still have for the holidays. Its not new to you, but to them it still is.

The holiday season is challenging for those of us with Anxiety. It’s at our door step, you can do it. Take it one day at a time, one event at a time and remember you will get through it.

Merry Christmas!

Hey folks, taking a day off today and sitting around with a few immediate family members. So nothing big, I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you. Whether you celebrate or not I hope you get a respite today and can relax.

Take care and enjoy!

Karac

How to deal with the holidays and family

Yes, its that time of year again. If you live in the west, you have thanksgiving in the states and you have Christmas. 2 major holidays within 30 days of one another. Now there are plenty of anxiety and stress traps around these holidays, we could do multiple blog posts on all of it but today let’s focus on family issues.

If you’re like millions of other people you’re “going home” for the holidays or hosting family. This is a perfect storm, because for many of us the genesis of our anxiety resides in family issues. When we get together for the holidays we have all sorts of avenues in which our minds can dwell to increase our anxiety. From unhappy memories, toxic family members, the same routines on and on.

On top of those triggers your defenses are already low as you’ve likely been engaging in the holiday malaise at work, on the radio (24-7 x mas songs, ugh) commercials, stores on and on. So how do we mitigate this so maybe this holiday season we don’t have a battle with our anxiety?

Below are 3 things that I have done in my life that have helped me:

  • I planned a vacation as a present to myself and my family. So, do you take a vacation every year? If so the holiday season might be a great opportunity for you to go somewhere else and relax. I like this because I get to stay at a nice hotel, don’t have to cook and don’t have to deal with extended family. It isn’t cheap though. Traveling during the holidays can be pricey.
  • I didn’t over do it. Spouses family, my family, kids’ friends, work party, spouses work party. This is the time of year where “people get together” and its likely that you will be invited to more events in this period then at any other time during the year. You must prune out the invitations. Family is important but work parties? I mean don’t you see them enough? Cut out 25% of the invitations or expectations to see people that you have.
  • I focus on the kids. I know it sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is this is an opportunity to affect the kids positively. If you need to go to these gatherings remember the kids are watching and taking cues from the adults. Do your best, be your best and create positive experiences for them. Often when you focus on the kids, you can glean from them that bit of joy they still have for the holidays. Its not new to you, but to them it still is.

The holiday season is challenging for those of us with Anxiety. It’s at our door step, you can do it. Take it one day at a time, one event at a time and remember you will get through it.