Category Archives: Holiday Lore

Arbor Day — A Time for Celebration and Action

Wanderlust 2017 wall calendar

Image from our Wanderlust 2017 wall calendar featuring photography by Chris Burkard.

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees. — Karle Wilson Baker

On April 28, communities across the country will to come together to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. What is the origin of this celebration for this natural wonder?

Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), one of the earliest American conservationists, settled on the treeless plains of Nebraska in 1855, where he edited the Nebraska City News and developed a lifelong interest in new agricultural methods. Believing that the prairie needed more trees to serve as windbreaks, to hold moisture in the soil, and to provide lumber for housing, Morton began planting trees and urged his neighbors to do the same. On April 10, 1872, when he first proposed that a specific day be set aside for the planting of trees, the response was overwhelming: a million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day alone.

All 50 states now observe Arbor Day—usually on the last Friday in April—and the idea has spread to other countries as well. Most observances take place in the public schools, where the value of trees is discussed and trees and shrubs are planted. But it is in Nebraska City, Nebraska, that Morton is best remembered as the originator of Arbor Day, with celebrations taking place on or near his birthday, April 22. A special ceremony is held at Arbor Lodge, Morton’s homestead and one of the earliest known attempts at conservation and beautification in America.

From the Arbor Day Foundation website, here are just some of the benefits of trees:

Trees do so much for us. In our yards, they provide shade, reduce energy costs and increase property values. Along our streets, they reduce stormwater runoff that can carry pollutants to our waterways. Throughout our communities, they improve the mental and respiratory health, reduce crime, break up heat islands, create jobs and boost the economy. In our forests, they restore critical wildlife habitat, provide opportunities for recreation and maintain healthy watersheds to protect drinking water resources for millions of Americans. And no matter where they’re planted, trees are working hard to filter pollutants out of our air and water, sequester carbon, release oxygen and provide immeasurable beauty and serenity that feed the human soul.

Find more information about celebrations and events in your area.
And be sure to hug at least one tree 🌳 ❤️


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Happy Pi Day

Pi Day Pie by Jo Harrington

Photo by Jo Harrington | @jojoromancer on Instagram

March 14 is a celebration of pi. Not pie 🙂 Although many make and enjoy pie to celebrate the number pi. Yum.

Here’s some fun tidbits from CNN:

• Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s not equal to the ratio of any two whole numbers, so an approximation – 22/7 – is used in many calculations.

• Pi is essential in architecture and construction and was used frequently by early astronomers.

• Pi has been known for about 4,000 years, but it started to be called by the Greek letter only in the 1700s.

• There are no occurrences of the sequence 123456 in the first million digits of pi.

• The true “randomness” of pi’s digits – 3.14 and so on – has never been proven.

• Pi Day started 28 years ago at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Physicist Larry Shaw, who worked in the electronics group at the museum, started celebrating pi on March 14, 1988, primarily with museum staffers. The tradition has grown to embrace math enthusiasts from all walks of life. For more about Pi Day, visit www.piday.org.

• To 31 decimal places, the celebrated irrational number that never ends is 3.1415926535897932384626433832795. If you want to appreciate what it looks like to 10 thousand digits, click here.

• March 14 also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday.


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Women’s History Month — International Women’s Day

Women of Myth and Magic

Image from our Women of Myth & Magic 2017 wall calendar featuring artwork by Kinuko Y. Craft.

In 1987 Congress declared March National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special presidential proclamation is issued every year to honor the extraordinary achievements of American women.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is (March 8). 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

Random Acts of Kindness Week

It’s that moment when we have become present and offered a kindness – or the intention of kindness –  where there’s a real transformation. — Tara Brach

Image from the Present Moment 2017 wall calendar published in partnership with our friends at Sounds True.

Image from the Present Moment 2017 wall calendar published in partnership with our friends at Sounds True. Photo © Katsiaryna Yudo.

Random Acts of Kindness Week, which will be observed February 12-18, 2017, is an annual opportunity to unite through kindness. Formally recognized in 1995, this seven-day celebration demonstrates that kindness is contagious. It all starts with one act — one smile, one coffee for a stranger, one favor for a friend. It’s an opportunity for participants to leave the world better than they found it and inspire others to do the same. Since inception, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation estimates that millions of individuals, celebrities, businesses, schools, and partners have participated in these weeklong celebrations. Continue reading

Lunar New Year — Preparing for the Chinese New Year Festival

Chinese New Year decorations

Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart / Flickr

Please don’t get overwhelmed, just choose a handful of preparations from below that thrill and excite you!

  • Do give your home a clear out and deep clean before the evening of January 27 which is the Eve of Chinese New Year’s (January 28 for 2017) — you absolutely want to clear out the old stagnant chi and welcome in fresh new energies! As you clean, imagine you’re sweeping away all illness, obstacles, bad luck, negative attitudes, and anything causing grief, stress, anxiety or frustration to members of your household or business. Dispose of anything broken or with unhappy memories. This is a time for your spaces to SPARKLE! GLIMMER! SHINE!
  • Repair and refresh any leaking faucets, squeaky door hinges, broken locks, burnt-out light bulbs, squeaking beds and so on. And toss any broken or cracked china or crockery — they bring bad luck.
  • If you have a red front door, give it a fresh coat of glossy vermillion red paint.
  • Schedule your hair cut and color, manicure and pedicure before Chinese New Year’s Eve so you don’t “cut” away any luck in the new year.
  • Send out your invitations for a special celebratory meal or celebration to occur anytime during the two-week Lunar New Year Festival which begins on January 28th, New Year’s Day. Have a noisy, uplifting and happy party with an abundance of food, music and laughter! Especially auspicious days for 2017 would be on January 27th or 28th; February 3, 4th or 11th.
  • Make amends with anyone with whom you’ve had a row or falling-out.
  • Start to pay down or off all your debts as best you can. And pay your current bills so you go into the New Year feeling debt-free.
  • Shop for new clothes for the New Year — ideally some red outfits or even just red accessories for the celebrations.
  • Treat your home and business to one piece of new furniture or décor so you’re continually up-leveling and refreshing the energy.
  • Start to find fifteen very special gifts, one for each day of the Chinese New Year, to woo your beloved one(s) and expressing your love, cherishing and care.
  • Send out some Chinese New Year greeting cards—snail mail, hand-delivered or email.
  • Treat yourself to a brand new red purse and wallet and fill it with lots of cash such as 108 or 27 crisp uncirculated bills or 9 or 27 gold one dollar coins. Add money from a wealthy person and 3 Coins on Red Ribbon.

Continue reading

Twelve Days of Christmas

Winter Angel

Winter Angel holiday card featuring artwork by Kinuko Y. Craft. Click image for more info.

I’m always searching out forgotten holiday traditions, and one of my favorites that I am trying to revive is the custom of honoring the Twelve Days of Christmas. Some scholars believe the Twelve Days start on Christmas Day and end on January 5 with Twelfth Night. Others (including me) observe them from December 26 through January 6, Epiphany.

But it has been suggested that originally the Twelve Days spanned the time between the new moon closest to the Solstice (this would be during the time of Hanukkah) and the first full moon of the new year, or perhaps the time between Saint Lucy’s Day (December 13) and New Year’s Day.

Continue reading

Celebrating Winter Solstice — Renewal In Silence, Gathering With Friends

Present Moment 2017 wall calendar

Image from our Present Moment 2017 wall calendar. Photo © Kichigin. Click image for more info.

Many years ago I read in the Oxford Companion to the Year that December 21 was when the Romans celebrated Angerona, the goddess who advocates for silence with her finger to her lips. The connection between the shortest day of the year and silence intrigued me and led me to develop my favorite Solstice ritual: I spend the day in silence and without using any electricity. I don’t watch television or listen to the radio or work on my computer. I don’t turn on the lights. I don’t answer my phone. At dusk, I go for a long walk in the park near my home. At night, I light candles, take a bubble bath, and go to bed early. I love the way this practice places me inside a delicious pool of quiet and serenity, allowing me to move more slowly and to listen to my own thoughts and feelings more closely. My other Winter Solstice tradition is to host a Solstice party on the Sunday closest to Solstice. Continue reading

Saturnalia: A Golden Time

The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar

Image from The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar. Eurasian Bullfinch on frozen branches © Markus Varesvuo. Click image for more info.

This Roman holiday is sometimes viewed as the pagan version of Christmas, even though it was certainly being acknowledged long before the Biblical events that are celebrated around the time of the Winter Solstice.

Saturnalia, as it was practiced in Rome for centuries before the birth of Christ, has many elements found in other end-of-year rituals, including Hanukkah and Twelfth Night. This seven-day festival, which begins on December 17, was a time when courts did not meet and war could not be declared, so it was a time outside of time, like the Halcyon Days. Continue reading