What Is Juneteenth?

So once again we have another holiday piece on the blog. This is a new holiday for the blog but not a new holiday on the calendar. It is though now a federal holiday in the U.S. That is significant because most government services, and banks are closed. Juneteenth, in brief is the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. One of the darkest blights on this complex nation is slavery. It was not exclusive to the U.S. but even today some still grapple with its legacy.

This post isn’t meant to tackle racial issues in the U.S. They exist and there are plenty of resources for you out there should you want more narrative on that. What we examine here is the actual specifics of holidays. Juneteenth is short for June 19th, you probably knew that. In the year 1865, that date is significant because federal troops arrived in Galveston Texas, took over the state and ensured any enslaved peoples were free.

This is significant because Texas was a hold out. After the South surrendered Texas refused to alter its slavery practices until, on June 19th 1865 they were forced to by federal forces. Texas hadn’t faced many (if any) military action on its soil during the war. Texas is a very unique state in how it came to be a state but at the time they were fiercely independent and with no federal presence (unlike much of the rest of the south) they felt they could continue on as usual with slavery.

Vote
Freedom & Liberty for all

Freed men and women celebrated, and over the years June 19th became a symbol of “actual” freedom from slavery. Many people get confused with the emancipation proclamation of 1863 which didn’t free slaves at all. It was more of a declaration of intent by Lincoln, he still had to defeat the south before actual freedom could occur, thank god we did.

In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday; several others followed suit over the years. In June 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday; President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021. 

And so today is the official holiday. I have the day off from work, so do many Americans. The reality of the holiday is, most non-African Americans don’t have a formal tradition to celebrate. The African Americans in my life don’t celebrate it, that I know if anyway but I will see some of them on July 4th and will ask.

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

President’s Day – A brief history on this U.S. holiday

February is a great month for holidays in the U.S. the most underrated holiday on the calendar ground hog’s day (my birthday!) Valentine’s day and now President’s day. It’s important before we begin to give a little modern historical reference. Until recently, the office of the president was revered in U.S. society. There was always a degree of decorum around it, regardless of where you fell politically you respected the president. That’s changed a lot in my life time, it really started with Bill Clinton and has continued to where we are today. Both parties are responsible for this BTW it’s not exclusive to one ideology.

So that out of the way the genesis of president’s day started in the 1880’s as a celebration of Washington’s birthday. Later it began to encompass Lincoln as well as both were Feb birthdays (Washington 22nd, Lincoln 12th). In U.S. politics these two are arguably the most revered presidents we have. Without delving into the life and times of both, if you know even a little U.S. history you know these two were giants into the forming and evolution of this country.

In 1968 congress decided to change how federal holidays were celebrated. Several were moved to the nearest Monday on the calendar so workers could have a long weekend. Prior, both birthdays were celebrated but only Washington’s was a federal holiday, the state of IL and other states did celebrate Lincolns. So “Presidents Day” was born. Now there were always sales, parades etc. but the consolidation of these two state and federal holidays created a great marketing opportunity for many companies. Presidents day now is associated a lot with deep discounted sales as retailers try and move X-Mas surpluses.

Here is a link to a snap shot of Presidents day https://www.britannica.com/topic/Presidents-Day

I have today off as do banks, post offices etc. Retail is mostly open but that varies by state. This isn’t a highly celebrated holiday in the U.S. Meaning we do not get family together parades are uncommon, etc. It’s really a day off in the middle of winter which is nice. Because it is federal though its nuanced in the sense several ceremonies in DC take place. They are small of course but when federal offices are closed that impacts everyone in the country who wants to use them.

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

What is Black Friday?

So what is black Friday? Yes, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and there are a lot of great sales but where does it come from? It actually stems from the stock market crash of 1869 (not 1929). There was a horrific crash of the gold market that ruined many people, not just the rich either. The 1929 stock market crash actually happened on a Tuesday, but at the time there were numerous comparisons to the black Friday stock crash of 1869. Over time people assume (incorrectly) that the 1929 stock market crash that kicked off the great depression happened on a Friday.

How did it become associated with retail? In the 1950’s the Philadelphia police labeled the Friday after thanksgiving as black Friday as thousands of people would stream into the city. Not to shop but to get ready for the Army Navy game happening on Saturday. There was crime, shopping, all sorts of shenanigans. From there retailers began to market sales to capitalize on the influx of people and call it black Friday sales.

This began to take hold, but many in other cities called it “Big Friday” and a snowball effect occurred. Simply put, one store had a sale so other stores to compete had sales and months turned to years, to decades of this tradition. So much so that many retailers were able to parlay black Friday sales into huge profits putting their business on an annual income of “being in the black”. This is when we really see X-mas marketing go through the roof as more and more retailers started banking on a robust black Friday sale kick off to fuel the ytd corporate earnings.

Next up Christmas….

Here we are in 2021 and this hasn’t changed much, you see all the holiday music, the nonstop adverts etc. We now have a new concept “Cyber Monday” which is beginning to eat away at the traditional black Friday sale concept. You can now shop year round and have things delivered on credit anywhere in the world. Remember in 1957 things were different. Most people didn’t have credit cards, you bought things you could pay cash for. Travel in the U.S. was blossoming with the highway system but it was new. International travel was still fairly limited, compared today and ordering a good or service abroad meant a catalog order you did through mail which would take months to receive.

Black Friday as we know it today is consumerism at its pinnacle. We have been marketed to believe that it is this consumers holiday. When in reality it is the cumulating of a series of events that happened that some clever marketing firm in the 1950’s capitalized on. Have fun out there and remember gift wrapping is only an additional 20.00……

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

Leif Erikson

Ode to Leif Erikson

For my international readers today is Columbus Day in the U.S. and for some of us get a paid day off. As most of you know Columbus is the man who sailed west from Europe in 1492 (his first of three voyages) and “discovered America”. Well he actually ended up somewhere in the Bahamas and it is true that he as the first European that we know if in that part of the world.

Columbus is given credit for “discovering” the new world and setting in motion a series of events that would ignite colonialism, slavery, the Napoleonic wars on and on. Of course he couldn’t have known the consequences of his voyage, it was over a century later when many of the European colonial power finally fought things out. It was nearly 500 years that the European colonial powers were finally dismantled into the modern countries we have now, it took two world wars but we got there.

I’m not sure why we celebrate Columbus honestly, I mean I like having the day off but Europeans coming to the new world had, in a lot of cases horrific outcomes.

Yet, 500 years before Columbus “discovered” the “New World” a man by the name of Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer was blown off course enroot to Greenland and stumbled upon what is today Newfoundland in Canada (curious name choice eh?). There was no colonization, slaughter of the indigenous people, no slavery (although Vikings did take slaves). He sailed home and wrote about it.

Now there was a settlement and trading fort set up by Leif, again centuries before Columbus birth. It was found recently (in archeological terms anyway) in the 1960’s it is called L’Anse aux Meadows

The view from L’Anse aux Meadows

The site in of itself is proof that Europeans were in the “New World” centuries before Columbus, yet we still celebrate Columbus Day. So here is my tip of the hat to my Norse ancestors and my Viking ancestors and to Leif Erikson the true first European to visit the Americas. I think as time passes and we look at what we celebrate and why we gain more historical perspective. In writing this piece and reading about Columbus and Erikson I am perplexed as to why we celebrate Columbus at all, by all accounts he was a horrible person and his actions created horrific conditions for South America.

This isn’t a history focused blog, from time to time I do pieces on all sorts of topics. Columbus Day has always been one of those odd holidays in the U.S. it’s the kick off of fall, people are gearing up for the holidays, and the 4th quarter of the year has officially begun. I never questioned it or wondered about it, maybe it’s time to revisit whom we are celebrating and why? If we know Columbus wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas why celebrate him? Further, why celebrate the exploration at all? Once you delve more into the history of the outcome the more you might ask the same question.

Vikings were not great people, they were brutal like most peoples in antiquity. Life Erikson doesn’t come with the baggage Columbus does. If we are bent on celebrating discovery and the human drive to explore, I think that’s a positive thing. Why does it have to be any one person’s day then?

Anyway I’m don’t rambling. If you are celebrating Columbus Day this year, however you chose, perhaps you’ll tip the hat to Leif Erikson, I know I will.

Thank you so much for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Do you want to see more posts like this? Click here.

Leif Erikson

Ode to Leif Erikson

For my international readers today is Columbus Day in the U.S. and for some of us get a paid day off. As most of you know Columbus is the man who sailed west from Europe in 1492 (his first of three voyages) and “discovered America”. Well he actually ended up somewhere in the Bahamas and it is true that he as the first European that we know if in that part of the world.

Columbus is given credit for “discovering” the new world and setting in motion a series of events that would ignite colonialism, slavery, the Napoleonic wars on and on. Of course he couldn’t have known the consequences of his voyage, it was over a century later when many of the European colonial power finally fought things out. It was nearly 500 years that the European colonial powers were finally dismantled into the modern countries we have now, it took two world wars but we got there.

I’m not sure why we celebrate Columbus honestly, I mean I like having the day off but Europeans coming to the new world had, in a lot of cases horrific outcomes.

Yet, 500 years before Columbus “discovered” the “New World” a man by the name of Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer was blown off course enroot to Greenland and stumbled upon what is today Newfoundland in Canada (curious name choice eh?). There was no colonization, slaughter of the indigenous people, no slavery (although Vikings did take slaves). He sailed home and wrote about it.

Now there was a settlement and trading fort set up by Leif, again centuries before Columbus birth. It was found recently (in archeological terms anyway) in the 1960’s it is called L’Anse aux Meadows

The view from L’Anse aux Meadows

The site in of itself is proof that Europeans were in the “New World” centuries before Columbus, yet we still celebrate Columbus Day. So here is my tip of the hat to my Norse ancestors and my Viking ancestors and to Leif Erikson the true first European to visit the Americas. I think as time passes and we look at what we celebrate and why we gain more historical perspective. In writing this piece and reading about Columbus and Erikson I am perplexed as to why we celebrate Columbus at all, by all accounts he was a horrible person and his actions created horrific conditions for South America.

This isn’t a history focused blog, from time to time I do pieces on all sorts of topics. Columbus Day has always been one of those odd holidays in the U.S. it’s the kick off of fall, people are gearing up for the holidays, and the 4th quarter of the year has officially begun. I never questioned it or wondered about it, maybe it’s time to revisit whom we are celebrating and why? If we know Columbus wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas why celebrate him? Further, why celebrate the exploration at all? Once you delve more into the history of the outcome the more you might ask the same question.

Vikings were not great people, they were brutal like most peoples in antiquity. Life Erikson doesn’t come with the baggage Columbus does. If we are bent on celebrating discovery and the human drive to explore, I think that’s a positive thing. Why does it have to be any one person’s day then?

Anyway I’m don’t rambling. If you are celebrating Columbus Day this year, however you chose, perhaps you’ll tip the hat to Leif Erikson, I know I will.

Thank you so much for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Do you want to see more posts like this? Click here.