Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Happy Halloween

The origins of Halloween may date as far back as the ancient Roman festival of Pomona or the medieval Celtic festival of Samhain, and the holiday is closely associated with the Christian holy days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, which are observed in a variety of ways around the world.  Celebrating Halloween, however, was never a traditional part of early American culture.  In fact, the holiday appears to have gained popularity as Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in America in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, introducing local customs of “guising” on All-Hallows-Even to American children.  By the 1930s the custom of trick-or-treating in costume was widespread, and today Halloween is lavishly celebrated by adults and children alike with costume parties, parades, and haunted houses.

View of the S.Q.R. Store float in the 1957 Anaheim Halloween Festival Parade. Image courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library.

The Photograph Collection on Anaheim Local History includes dozens of photographs from Halloween parades in Anaheim, CA, and you can find more images of Halloween celebrations across the United States at Opening History.


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A Valentine's Day preschool party at Garvey Memorial Park in San Gabriel, California, in 1958. Image courtesy of the University of Southern California

February 14 has become known in the United States and Europe as a day to acknowledge those we love, though the holiday has been shaped as much by legend and marketing as by fact. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius dedicated the holiday in honor of a Catholic martyr, whose precise identity remains in question. While there is little indication that the day was immediately connected to romantic love, the association strengthened over time. By the 17th century, Valentine’s Day was a popular holiday, and writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare had alluded to it in their work. The rise of mass production in Britain and America in the late 19th century secured the success of the greeting card industry, and the iconic look of many valentines sent during this era remains popular today.

Opening History contains several collections related to Valentine’s Day and other holidays, most notably the Victorian Valentines collection at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (where you can also choose a card from the collection to send as your own e-Valentine).

A Victorian-era Valentine's Day card. Image courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

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A national Thanksgiving Day is observed in the United States as recommended by President George Washington and approved by Congress. On November 26, 1941 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

The image below, courtesy of Western Waters Digital Library, depicts in “sign language” (or pictographs) how Thanksgiving day is celebrated by the American Indians. Theodore Lambie, young Sioux, created this picture for the readers of “Indians at Work,” official publication of the Indian service, in 1937.
American Indian Thanksgiving

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