Holiday traditions make life worth living! We anxiously await that special day when we can celebrate with our loved ones. These traditions help to create a bond with one another. Each holiday has a special nostalgia that tugs at our hearts. We think of our stomachs and delectable food on Thanksgiving Day. Memories of fancy costumes and treats come to mind with Halloween. Valentine’s Day is full of romance, chocolate candies, heart-shaped cookies, and that special kiss from a sweetheart. We all have our traditions during this festive time. Have you ever wondered how these traditions began?
Valentine’s Day has been around much longer than most people realize. In A.D. 269, Claudius was the Emperor of Rome. He wanted to have a huge army, but the Roman men were not interested in joining. They did not want to leave their wives and children. This upset Claudius, and as a result, he outlawed marriage so the men would join his army. Saint Valentine was a priest and didn’t agree with the almighty ruler. He continued to marry couples in secret. Eventually he was caught and thrown in jail. While in prison, he fell in love with the daughter of the prison guard who would visit him regularly. They would sit and talk for hours. The day of his execution, February 14th, Valentine left a note, thanking her for her friendship. He signed it, “Love, from your Valentine.”
When we think of mouth-watering turkey, scrumptious yams and mashed potatoes, cranberries, luscious pecan and pumpkin pies with ice cream on top, we think of Thanksgiving. How did this tradition begin? It all started with a desire to be liberated from religious persecution. The Pilgrims fled their homeland in England and arrived in America on December 11, 1620. The first winter was devastating. They lost 46 of the original 102 settlers. The Indians helped the Pilgrims survive the following year, so the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a huge feast. There were ninety-one Indians who attended the celebration and the feast lasted for three days. They had ducks, fish, lobster, clams, venison, dried fruit, berries, and plums. In 1789, George Washington wanted to make a National Day of celebration in honor of the first pilgrims. Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea. It brought a lot of discord because many felt that the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. In1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a National Day of Thanksgiving.
The custom of Halloween started in Europe during the harvest season. The Europeans would celebrate the end of summer by having a harvest feast the last day of October. They would build bonfires to cook the feast and also to keep the ghosts away. They were superstitious people and believed that ghosts roamed about on the last day of October. “Hallow” meant holy and “e’en” was short for evening. Because this celebration was the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, they decided to call it Halloween. But how did this holiday get to America? Irish immigrants brought the tradition here in the 1800s. In Ireland, Irish beggars would go to the homes of the rich on Halloween night and ask for food or money. If they refused, then evil spirits would destroy their homes for their inhospitable behavior. Once the tradition came to America, families and neighbors got together, dressed up in festive costumes, ate foods of the season and played games. It wasn’t until the mid 1900s that children began to knock on doors and ask for treats.
Holidays unite families. We celebrate, eat, laugh, dance, and play together. Family traditions are important and create a bond. I enjoy learning about holidays and how they originated. When I write my novels, I try to educate my readers and include facts of interest. Because of my love for holidays, I have included them in my series of novels, “A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho.” Each story in this family saga has adventure, romance, history, and courage. Intertwining fact and fiction, these novels entertain as well as educate my readers.