Category Archives: Holiday Lore

Lughnasa — Celebrating the Harvest

Image from our Celtic Blessings 2020 wall calendar featuring artwork by Michael J. Green. Click for more info.

Lughnasa or Lughnasadh is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In Modern Irish it is called Lúnasa, in Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal, and in Manx: Luanistyn. Traditionally it is celebrated on August 1, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. Lughnasa is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.

Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests, feasting, matchmaking, and trading. One of the most prominent gods in Irish mythology, Lugh is portrayed as a warrior, a king, a master craftsman and a savior. He is associated with skill and mastery in multiple disciplines, including the arts. He is also associated with oaths, truth, and the law.


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July is National Ice Cream Month

Super Foods 2020 wall calendar

Photo by Lynn Karlin featured in our Super Foods 2020 wall calendar. Click for more info.

Mmmm. Ice cream. There are endless ways to enjoy this frozen treat — in a bowl with berries, on a cone with sprinkles, with exotic ingredients like blue cheese and olive oil, or simply with a spoon straight from the tub  — just let your imagination roam. Ice cream has a magical appeal during the summer months, so on July 9, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed into law two resolutions — one declaring July as National Ice Cream Month and the other declaring the 3rd Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

The National Day Calendar website has some fun facts about this beloved treat:

  • Thousands of years ago, people in the Persian Empire would put snow in a bowl, pour grape-juice concentrate over it and eat it as a treat. They did this when the weather was hot and used the snow saved in cool underground chambers known as “yakhchal,” or taken from the snowfall that remained at the top of the nearby mountains.
  • It is believed that ice cream was first introduced into the United States by Quaker colonists who brought their ice cream recipes with them. Their ice cream was sold at shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era.
  • Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed ice cream.
  • 1813 – First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream at the Inaugural Ball.
  • 1832 – African American confectioner Augustus Jackson created multiple ice cream recipes as well as a superior technique to manufacture ice cream.
  • 1843 – Philadelphian Nancy Johnson received the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
  • 1920 – Harry Burt put the first ice cream trucks on the streets.

Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream is believed to be the oldest recipe for ice cream in the USA. Below is that recipe provided by the Library of Congress. The transcript is word for word for ease of following along.

Ice Cream RecipeIce cream
2 bottles of good cream.
6 yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb. sugar
mix the yolks & sugar
put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.
when near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar.
stir it well. put it on the fire again stirring
it thoroughly with a spoon to
prevent it’s sticking to the casserole.
when near boiling take it off and
strain it thro’ a towel.
put it in the Sabottiere
then set it in ice an hour before
it is to be served. put into the
ice a handful of salt.
put ice all around the Sabottiere
i.e. a layer of ice a layer of salt
for three layers.
put salt on the coverlid of the
Sabotiere & cover the whole with ice.
leave it still half a quarter of an hour.
then turn the Sabottiere in the
ice 10 minutes
open it to loosen with a spatula
the ice from the inner sides of
the Sabotiere.
shut it & replace it in the ice.
open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides.
when well taken (prise) stir it
well with the Spatula.
put it in moulds, justling it
well down on the knee.
then put the mould into the same bucket of ice.
leave it there to the moment of serving it.
to withdraw it, immerse the
mould in warm water,
turning it well till it
will come out & turn it
into a plate.


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Dog Days of Summer

Adventure Dogs 2020 wall calendar

Images from our Adventure Dogs 2020 wall calendar: Hiking, Camping, and Traveling with Courageous Canines. Click for more info.

The long, hot days of summer are rising before us and bring many opportunities for adventures with our courageous canine companions. But why do some call this period the dog days of summer? Well, as with many things, we have the Greeks to thank. But let’s look at the timing of the days first.

Various computations of the dog days in the northern hemisphere have placed their start anywhere from July 3 to August 15 and lasting for anywhere from 30 to 61 days depending upon latitude.

To understand more about the origins of the name, here’s an excerpt from a wonderful post by Becky Little from National Geographic:

The “dog days,” I always thought, were those summer days so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around panting.

Many people today use the phrase to mean something like that—but originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year.

So, did the Greeks get it right? Are the dog days, around when Sirius rises, really the hottest days of the year? Continue reading

World Environment Day 2019

TREES planting

World Environment Day (June 5) is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Since it began in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries. Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that draws attention to a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2019 is “Air pollution”. You can read more on their website. Continue reading

Happy Holi — Spring Festival of Colors

Holi celebration image

Holi is a colorful and boisterous Hindu spring festival in India, also known as the Festival of Colors. This is a time of shedding inhibitions: People smear each other with red and yellow powder and shower each other with colored water shot from bamboo blowpipes or water pistols. Restrictions of caste, sex, age, and personal differences are ignored. Continue reading

International Women’s Day 2019

She Persisted Greeting Card

Greeting card by Kelly Angelovic. Click for more info.

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Not only is this commemorative day one of the most widely observed holidays of recent origin, but it is unusual in that it began in the United States and was adopted by many other countries, including the former U.S.S.R. and the People’s Republic of China. This holiday has its roots in the March 8, 1857, revolt of American women in New York City, protesting conditions in the textile and garment industries, although it wasn’t proclaimed a holiday until 1910. Continue reading

Universal Children’s Day

Women Who Rock Our World 2019 wall calendar

Image from our Women Who Rock Our World 2019 wall calendar featuring artwork by Rachel Grant. Click for more info.

Celebrated on November 20th each year, Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 by the United Nations. This special day is an opportunity to promote international togetherness and focus on improving children’s welfare. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights. Continue reading

World Kindness Day — Make Kindness the Norm

Katie Daisy 2019 wall calendar

Image from our Katie Daisy 2019 wall calendar. Click for more info.

World Kindness Day is an international observance on November 13. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. Today we’re invited to highlight good deeds that focus on the positive power and common thread of kindness that binds us regardless of race, religion, politics, gender, or zip codes. Continue reading