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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

A Hallmark Holiday

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

With Father’s Day just days away, it seems fitting to explore the holidays that exist solely for commercial purposes. Most holidays commemorate a traditionally, or historically, significant event; Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are widespread events, accepted by the public as days of celebration, but they are on the cusp of the Hallmark Holiday phenomenon. This term is often referred to in a reproachful manner, but Hallmark defends its card-sending occasions: “As a business, we wish it were so easy that we could dream up products and people would flock our stores to buy them. But we have to respond to what people want – not the other way around. There first has to be a real consumer need that we meet with our products.” Hallmark recognizes over 20 holidays each year, many of which are included in the Chase’s Calendar of Events.

Although Hallmark has been in business for 104 years, and might be the greeting card experts, the company doesn’t declare holidays. Up until 1995, Congress was responsible for establishing national holidays, but now the effort is primarily led by grassroots campaigns. Some local government offices still proclaim special days for their regions, but most holidays are now either acknowledged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations. In evaluating potential new holidays, Hallmark determines the “sendability” factor and whether or not there is large enough consumer interest.

Some holidays that may feel more commercial are Sweetest Day, Grandparent’s Day, National Boss’s Day, and Tax Day. Yes – Hallmark and other greeting companies have a card for all of these. More cynical shoppers criticize the retail world for capitalizing on traditional days of reverence and homage, as a way to encourage consumer spending. Snail mail is fast becoming a, lost art of communication but is still a meaningful way of bringing people closer together. Take an NHL announcer who declared he is on a personal mission to write one handwritten letter a day to someone who has made an impact on his life. Since many of us won’t have the time or discipline to bring such a ritual to fruition, set days throughout the year (as cheesy as they may sound), might be the perfect way to show someone you care.


Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to turn, it is beginning to feel more like fall, which means that the 37th Oktoberbest Zinzinnati is just around the corner. This weekend, the masses will descend on Fifth Street where six blocks will be cleared for beer tents, German food vendors, and the world’s largest chicken dance.

The origins of Oktoberfest can be traced to Munich for the marriage festivities of Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810. The couple’s wedding reception was such a hit that the people of Munich decided to create an annual event of splendor and merriment that eventually transformed into a two-week outdoor festival celebrating the harvest.

Oktoberfest was first held in Cincinnati in 1976 as a small block party near Fountain Square. This event has grown to be the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the country, attracting more than 500,000 attendees who travel from around the world to Ohio’s river city.

This year, the Chicken Dance will be led by George Takei from Star Trek. Takei has been a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and is a strong gay rights advocate. While Cincinnati tends to be known for maintaining conservative practices, the city appears to be taking quite a leap forward by putting Takei in the spotlight at this renowned event. Takei joins a prestigious list of former chicken dance leaders including Weird Al Yankovic, Davy Jones, Vince Neil, Chad Johnson and Joe Nuxhall.

The celebration kicks off at noon on Friday with the Hillshire Farm Running of Wieners, when 100 dachshunds will race to the finish line. Given the city’s deep German heritage, this event invites families and friends to remember and celebrate their German roots. This authentic display of the city’s early settlers highlights Cincinnati’s many successes over the past century. The event continues to draw people eager and proud to celebrate the past, present, and future of the city of Cincinnati.

All-Hallows Eve

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Halloween is around the corner; decorations are out, pumpkins are for sale and children are preparing their costumes for a full night of trick-or-treating. But where did these customs originate and what has influenced our celebration today?

According to, Halloween traditions began with a Celtic festival called Samhain, which was the end of the harvest and calendar year. It was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth on October 31 before the dark days of winter descended. The Celts would dress in costume and light bonfires to burn crops and sacrifice animals in honor of the Celtic deities.

Once the Roman Empire conquered the majority of Celtic territory, Celtic festivals were combined with traditional Roman celebrations. Pope Gregory III dedicated November 1, or All Saints Day, as a day of celebration for saints and martyrs to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a church sanctioned holiday. In 1000 A.D., the church made November 2 a day to celebrate the dead called All Souls’ Day, which was celebrated similarly to Samhain. Since All Saints Day was also called All-Hallows, October 31 became known as All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.

In the mid-1800s, Irish immigrants came to America, escaping the potato famine and bringing Halloween traditions with them. Modern day trick-or-treating originated from Irish immigrants, many of them struggling to find work and hungry, who would go door to door begging for sweet bread in return for praying for the families’ souls.

Although Halloween celebration is most popular in the United States and Canada, countries around the world including Mexico, Latin America and Spain celebrate their own version of the holiday, D’a de los Muertos, which honors the dead who return to their homes on Halloween. Families construct altars that are adorned with candy, flowers, photographs and food.

Halloween in the U.S. has turned into a $6 billion commercial holiday, second only to Christmas. Between the season’s decorations, lawn ornaments, elaborate costumes and giant bags of candy, the average American spends a pretty penny on this holiday. ‘And there’s a pretty good chance that most little kiddies have no idea about the provenance of the holiday.

A Spark in Time

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Independence Day, July 4th, has been an important day in American history since 1776, when the 13 colonies separated from Great Britain during the American Revolution. Americans celebrate this federal holiday each summer with hot dogs, movie premiers, and fireworks, but do we truly remember the true meaning of July 4?

Before the American Revolution, the colonies would hold birthday celebrations for the king, which included processions, bonfires and speeches. After the Declaration of Independence was signed, some colonists held mock funerals for King George III as a way of symbolizing their freedom. The state of Pennsylvania held the first commemoration of liberty on July 4th in 1777 with concerts, parades and firing of cannons that accompanied a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783, celebrating July 4th became more political and widespread, giving emerging leaders the opportunity to address their citizens. By 1870, commemoration of America’s independence had become so popular that Congress declared July 4 a federal holiday. Later in 1941, this day of celebration was further considered a paid holiday for all federal employees.

Today, July 4th celebrations have evolved into a day of leisure. Americans host barbeques, attend parades, watch fireworks and don the colors of the American flag but there is very little to speak of in the way of nationwide unity. While it is nice to have a day off of work, this holiday is important because our ancestors fought for our right to be a free country with our own goals and ideals. Is it possible that we as Americans have lost sight of the meaning of this important day in history due to the hoopla of the festivities?