Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Uniform Monday Holiday Act

In 1880 the United States Congress declared February 22nd, George Washington’s birthday, a federal holiday for all government employees working in the District of Columbia. In 1885 that federal holiday was expanded to include those working in government offices in the entire United States. [1] Public Law 90-363, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, was signed into law on June 28, 1968 and took effect on January 1, 1971. [2] This act is responsible for moving the federal holiday celebration of George Washington’s birthday from February 22nd to what we commonly refer to as Presidents’ Day. Presidents’ Day is now celebrated on the third Monday in February, which will never be the 22nd of February as it can only fall on February 15th - 21st. [3]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valley Traditions Part II: Festivals & Faschnachts


Harkening back to our Christmas blog on Belsnickling in the Valley we continue to explore the origins of local customs associated with the darkest days of the year. With the approach of spring the last of the three traditional winter celebrations is upon us - the period before Ash Wednesday and the forty days of Lent. As with All Souls Day and Christmas the religious observance is preceded by “eves” of gaiety and eating. In some cultures frivolities may last a week, but most frequently they are observed on the two days before the beginning of Lent - Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday. The name used for the Tuesday depends on whether one is in Latin Europe or in Teutonic Europe. In the southern European tradition, celebrations last for several days and are called carnival (derived from carne levare, which is translated as ‘taking away the flesh”). In the English language, shrove (the past tense of shrive) means to hear confession. So, prior to the salvation of body and soul, society dedicated a time to indulge in food, masquerade, and parades.