Posts tagged ‘tradition’

The Meaning of Auld Lang Syne

By Chad Upton | Editor

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Even if you’ve never heard of Auld Lang Syne, you’d likely recognize the melody — it’s commonly played and sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, not to mention its presence in many Films and TV shows when reminiscing about old times or celebrating new ones.

Play this youtube clip to refresh your memory:

Although the melody is instantly recognizable, it was actually a poem (with no melody) before it was ever a song. The poem was written by Robert Burns in 1788. It was originally written in Scots, a variety of German localized in Lowland Scotland and Ulster, Ireland. (more…)

December 31, 2013 at 2:00 am 4 comments

The Origin of Father’s Day

By Chad Upton | Editor

Although I often think about how lucky I am, I rarely take the opportunity to thank my dad. I’m sure most people are the same and that’s one of the reasons why we take one day every year to honor our fathers.

The first Father’s Day was celebrated on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was inspired by two recent events. Several months earlier, 210 men died the Monongah Mining Disaster, many of whom were fathers. Also, the first Mother’s Day celebration took place nearby only a few months prior.

But, the founding of Father’s Day is often credited to Sonora Dodd, who independently started her own Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington two years after the first one in Fairmont, West Virginia. Her father was a widowed single dad who raised six children on his own. This was unusual for the time since widowed men typically remarried quickly or found others to care for their children. The heroism of Sonora’s dad inspired her to create a day that recognized fathers.

Father’s Day is celebrated all over the world at different times of the year, although most countries recognize it at some point during the summer months. Father’s Day celebrates all fathers, paternal bonds and the influence of father’s on society.

You don’t have to buy your dad an awesome gift, you can give him something that he probably tried to give you: food, fun and great memories. If possible, go visit your dad and do something that he will enjoy.

I’ll give you a few ideas. You could take him to visit a childhood home and remember the good times you had there. You might go for dinner at one of his favorite greasy spoon restaurants or buy a load of fireworks and set his deck on fire again.

On that note, perhaps you and your father don’t get along well. But, hopefully you can find an example of some positive contribution your father has made to your life and be thankful for that. If nothing else, try to let him know that you appreciate that.

I wish that everyone could be as lucky as my brother and I, to have a great dad who has made many sacrifices, along with our mom, to give us wonderful experiences, beneficial opportunities and unconditional love.

Thank you.

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Sources: Wikipedia,

June 19, 2011 at 8:30 am 3 comments

Why We Clink Glasses When We Toast

By Chad Upton | Editor

Many of you will be clinking glasses with family and friends this time of year and there are a number of theories about where this custom started.

One belief is that ancient societies believed that noise would scare away the demons (that they believed) were lurking around every corner. Firecrackers and noise makers are popular instruments to ring in the New Year, also believed to stem from the idea that noise would scare away evil spirits, clearing the way for good things to happen. Wedding bells and clinking glasses are other examples of this belief in practice.

Another legend says that nobles used to try to poison each other, so drinks were clinked to slosh liquid from one drink to the other, demonstrating that the guest’s drink was safe if the host was willing to drink from his now “contaminated” drink. Among trusted associates, table members adopted the “drink clink” to signify their trust that drinks were not poisoned without making a mess of the table — it was a sort of handshake.

A fairly reputable website,, disputes this theory, claiming that poisoning was not common enough for it to change the behavior of society. They also believe that too much liquid would be wasted for it to be practical. I generally trust snopes and usually agree with their proof and supporting statements, but their explanation on this matter has much more proof against than for it.

First of all, the argument that it was messy isn’t very strong. If you believed your life was at stake, you wouldn’t consider it a waste to spill some wine in exchange for your health.

Secondly, there is plenty of proof that poisoning was very common throughout history. The BBC says, “During the age of the Roman Empire, poisoning became a common activity at the dinnertable, especially in the high circles of society. It was certainly a convenient way of getting rid of unwanted family members, as [Emperor] Nero demonstrated.” They have a well researched article that demonstrates poisoning as a common occurrence and a popular anxiety among royals and high society for much of recorded history.

In fact, poisoning wasn’t just common in medieval times, it’s still popular now. There are multiple homicide and suicide cases every year that involve poisoning. In 1998, food was poisoned at a village festival in Japan, killing 4 and injuring 40 others. Recent intelligence has suggested that Al Qaeda groups have discussed poisoning buffets.

Poisons have changed a lot over the years, although arsenic was popular for more than ten centuries, until a method became available to detect it in the deceased. Many modern poisons are actually prescription drugs, including fentanyl — one of the drugs found in Michael Jackson body during the autopsy.

Regardless of poison threats, we continue to clink our glasses as a way to connect with each other. This has been nearly ubiquitous for more than 100 years. In fact, glass makers actually consider the sound that glasses make an important design element. So, Pay attention during your next toast, the sound may be as sweet as the sauce.

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Photo: AL404 (cc)

Sources: Snopes, Wine Intro, BBC, CNN

December 31, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Table Salt Used to Indicate a Person’s Social Status

By Kaye Nemec

While table salt is an important flavoring ingredient in modern day cooking, it had a much more significant reputation in earlier centuries.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that manufacturers began processing table salt to be used in salt shakers. Before then, salt was served in very elaborate containers that often resembled chairs or thrones.

These “salt chairs” were commonly placed at the head of the table closest to where the most important guest.  Salt was considered an extremely important substance that was to be treated with great admiration.  Important people sat “above the salt.”

In Russia it was common to have a welcoming ceremony when guests came over that included serving a piece of bread with salt. The salt was served out of the salt chair or throne. Because of the popularity of this ceremony, salt chairs became popular wedding and house warming gifts. Bigger salt chairs signified a wealthier or more prominent place in society.

Typically salt chairs were about 5 inches tall. The salt was stored in what would be the seat of the chair and a lid was placed over the salt. Because the salt could corrode silver, the seat and lid of the chair were usually gold plated. Today, antique “salt chairs” can be found selling at auctions for $500 and up.

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Sources: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver

Photo: Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver

September 29, 2010 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

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