Category Archives: Holiday Lore

Women’s History Month: International Women’s Day 2020

Image from our Women Who Rock 2020 wall calendar featuring artwork by Rachel Grant. Click for more info.

Women’s History Month 2020: Valiant Women of the Vote

Each year, the month of March is designated by presidential proclamation as a time to recognize and honor women’s contributions to American history.

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County California Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a Women’s History Week celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

Subsequent presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes a yearly theme. The 2020 Women’s History Month theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote,” which honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”

Visit the National Women’s History Museum website to learn more.

International Women’s Day 2020: #EachforEqual

International Women’s Day on 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 women’s equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

The theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual. An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions—all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations, and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world.

Visit the IWD website to learn more.

Women Who Rock Our World 2020 Wall Calendar

It’s no secret that, throughout time, societies have emphasized men’s roles and rights. Laws were written by men, for men; education was developed with men in mind; and women were denied equal rights in nearly every aspect. But over the centuries, more and more women have stood up to say, “This isn’t right.” To those women, we raise a fist in reverence and gratitude. They have shown us how to change the world.

Each month of the Women Who Rock 2020 wall calendar highlights one revolutionary woman’s inspirational words paired with dynamic original art by Rachel Grant and a short biography. All of the women in this calendar faced obstacles. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was told she couldn’t be both a lawyer and a mother. Angela Davis was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Dolores Huerta was assaulted by police while protesting the conditions of farmworkers. Marie Curie’s passion for scientific knowledge eventually killed her. These women were not necessarily liked in their time. But instead of listening to the criticism, they focused on the voices of the people they were inspiring and, in many cases, saving. They stayed true to their values, acknowledged the risks they faced, and raised their voices even louder. We have so much to thank them for, from June Jordan’s powerful words of encouragement to Elizabeth Warren’s extraordinary persistence in making her voice heard.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

Random Acts of Kindness Day and Week 2020

Image from the Art of Kindness 2020 wall calendar featuring illustrated quotes by Clairice Gifford. Click for more info.

Random Acts of Kindness Week, which will be observed February 16-22, 2020, 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. Random Acts of Kindness Day is celebrated on February 17, 2020.

Visit the foundation website to learn more about events in your area. Or you can simply make a personal commitment to practice more mindfulness during that week to create waves and waves of kindness in the world.

From the RAK Foundation website, here are some fun scientifically proven benefits of being kind:

KINDNESS IS TEACHABLE
“It’s kind of like weight training, we found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.” (Dr. Ritchie Davidson,  University of Wisconsin)

KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS
The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!

KINDNESS INCREASES:

THE LOVE HORMONE
Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the “love hormone” which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re feeling anxious or shy in a social situation.

ENERGY
“About half of participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth” (Christine Carter, UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center)

HAPPINESS
A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic — in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations — were happiest overall.

LIFESPAN
“People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” (Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”)

PLEASURE
According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed — not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”

SEROTONIN
Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy!

KINDNESS DECREASES:

PAIN
Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins — the brain’s natural painkiller!

STRESS
Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population!

ANXIETY
A group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals. (University of British Columbia Study)

DEPRESSION
Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.

BLOOD PRESSURE
Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.


About the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

An international nonprofit, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, believes that kindness is key to making the world a better place. This nonpolitical, nonreligious organization leads the way by reminding people that they have a choice to be kind and provides them with free tools to make kindness common in their everyday lives.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Feast of Juul — Burning the Yule Log

Image from our Celtic Mandala 2020 wall calendar featuring artwork by Jen Delyth.

The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the Winter Solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light, and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule (or Juul) log was brought in with great ceremony and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god, Thor. A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log.

In England and in many parts of Germany, France, and other European countries, the Yule log was burned until nothing but ash remained; then the ashes were collected and either strewn on the fields as fertilizer every night until Twelfth Night or kept as a charm and useful medicine. French peasants believed that if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house against thunder and lightning, as well as prevent chilblains on the heels during the winter.

The present-day custom of lighting a Yule log at Christmas is believed to have originated in the bonfires associated with the Feast of Juul.

Source: Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 5th Ed., published by Omnigraphics


Sign up now…receive-news-3


Sale — Art for Everyone on Your List

GivingTuesday — Every Act of Generosity Counts

GivingTuesday logo

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on December 3, 2019, and every day. Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, GivingTuesday is an annual opportunity for everyone to commit to supporting a charity that speaks to the heart. Support can come in many forms — a little bit of your time, a donation, or the power of your voice to share all the good work they’re doing.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. GivingTuesday has created a directory to help you find organizations, events, and ways to give back in your own community. Visit their website to explore all their resources.

Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Celebrate Chrysanthemum Day and the Double Ninth Festival

The ninth day in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar (October 7, 2019) is “Chong Yang Jie” (chong means “double” or “repeat” and yang means “bright, vital, active energy”) and is celebrated as Chrysanthemum Day and the Double Ninth Festival.

Celebrating Chrysanthemum Day

Revered for its simple, perfect beauty and medicinal properties, the gorgeous yellow or golden chrysanthemum (“chu” in ancient Chinese) is highly regarded both for its color and for its symbolism of long life, enduring luck, love, and success. It’s also believed to ease the burdens of a difficult life when you wear an image of a chrysanthemum or keep the flowers displayed in your home.

Because it blooms from autumn into winter, it also symbolizes the mediation between Life and Death, Heaven and Earth.

To celebrate the day:

  • Give chrysanthemums as auspicious gifts.
  • Offer chrysanthemums as noble altar offerings.
  • Drink chrysanthemum tea (known to clear toxins) or medicinal wine.
  • Eat the traditional flower gao (cake).
  • Place yellow golden chrysanthemums in your home or office to immediately attract good luck.
  • If you wish to receive rewards, success, fame, recognition, honor, or bonuses, place nine chrysanthemums in the fame gua (back middle area of your space) on the first floor of your home, office, and/or business.

Celebrating the Double Ninth Festival

With the presence of two number nines—the most yang number of all—today’s energies embody action, long-lasting change, transformation, and completion. This is a very auspicious day for harnessing active and positive energies as the yang qi is doubled!

This also makes it a fabulous day to perform a Feng Shui practice to manifest the wish of your heart using the power of nine:

  • Beginning today on this auspicious festival, write (in red ink) a prayer or wish for your happiness, health, or prosperity nine times and place it in an Asian-style red envelope. Write the same wish every day for nine consecutive days. Read your wish nine times throughout each day, especially upon waking and before going to sleep. With clear intent and deep faith, visualize and feel your wish or prayer coming true. Imagine the nine steps that would transpire to see your wish actualized.
  • You can also activate the yang energies by wearing purple, yellow, gold, and/or orange colors today.

In modern day China, this is also a day to honor and respect senior citizens. The word for “nine” is “jiu,” which shares the same sound as the word for longevity, so show love to your own elders as well as strangers.

For great fun, you could also watch the over-the-top film Curse of the Golden Flower, directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li, which has literally thousands upon thousands of chrysanthemum flowers in the settings and costumes.

Finally, traditionally this is a wonderful day to hike in the mountains, as it’s believed to represent climbing to a higher position as you symbolically increase your happiness, health, and prosperity!


Gwynne WarnerGwynne Allyn Warner is the founder of 10,000 Blessings Feng Shui and practices Black Sect Tantric Buddhist Feng Shui as a disciple of Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun. She was certified as an Advanced Feng Shui Consultant by Helen and James Jay of Feng Shui Designs. Gwynne began her studies in Buddhism in her early twenties while living in London where she became enamored with Kuan Yin and thereafter received her Bodhisattva Vows with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her expertise has been treasured by creative small businesses, service professionals, performing artists, Chinese medicine practitioners, healers, and interior designers among others. For more information and to sign up for her newsletter, please visit her website.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

Thinking of You Week 2019: Make Someone Smile

Thinking of You Week (September 23 – 29, 2019) is just around the corner. First launched in the U.K., this weeklong celebration seeks to create awareness for the positive impact a greeting card with a handwritten note can have on the recipient—especially when it’s unexpected—and to encourage more meaningful connections and caring interactions throughout the year.

While greeting cards are often sent to friends and family, this fun week encourages us to reach out to other special people in our lives—a favorite teacher, important public servant, emergency room doctor, nursing home resident, mail carrier, and the barista who always remembers how we like our coffee. Embrace the challenge to create a wave of happiness and make someone smile with just three little words: “Thinking of You.”

Once again, the US Postal Service (USPS) is supporting the event with a Thinking of You postmark. Last year over 500 million residences across the US saw the commemorative postmark on first class mail during the month of September.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

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.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

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. Continue reading