Merry Christmas To One and All

Christmas or Christmas Day (Old EnglishCrīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ‘s Mass“) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the  Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season.

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Happy Thanksgiving

“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

History

Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day.

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including  Armistice Day and  Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of  World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who  died while in military service.

Daylight Savings Ends Tonight

Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that in the evening daylight is experienced an hour longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. Typically, regions with summer time adjust clocks forward one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.

New Zealander George Hudson proposed the modern idea of daylight saving 1895. Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first nationwide implementation, starting on 30 April 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.

The practice has received both advocacy and criticism. Putting clocks forward benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but can cause problems for evening entertainment and for other activities tied to sunlight, such as farming. Although some early proponents of DST aimed to reduce evening use of incandescent lighting, which used to be a primary use of electricity,  modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly and research about how DST affects energy use is limited or contradictory.

Happy Halloween

Halloween, or Hallowe’en a contraction of All  Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween,  All Hallows’ Eve,  or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration  observed in a number of countries  on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the  three-day observance  of  Allhallowtide, the time in the  liturgical year  dedicated to remembering the dead, including  saints  (hallows),  martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

According BBC Online, it is “widely believed” that many Halloween traditions originated from the ancient  Celtic  harvest festival  Samhain, and that this Gaelic  observance was  Christianized  by the  early Church. Samhain and other such festivals may have also had pagan roots. Some, however, support the view that Halloween began independently of Samhain and has Christian roots.

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating  (or the related guising), attending  Halloween costume  parties, decorating, carving  pumpkins  into  jack-o’-lanterns, lighting  bonfiresapple bobbing  and  divination games, playing  pranks, visiting  haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular,  although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.  Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain foods on this  vigil  day, including apples,  colcannonpotato pancakes  and  soul cakes.

Columbus Day

First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World; painting by Dióscoro Puebla (1862)

Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus’s voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries in the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘ arrival and Discovery of America, which happened on October 12, 1492. The landing is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza (“Day of the Race”) in many countries in Latin America and as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, where it is also the religious festivity of La Virgen del Pilar. It is also celebrated as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Belize and Uruguay, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina and as Giornata Nazionale di Cristoforo Colomboor Festa Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo in Italy and in the Little Italys around the world. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century and officially in various countries since the early 20th century.

Labor Day

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. “Labor Day” was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Independence Day

Inndependence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as 13 independent states, and no longer part of the British Empire

Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks parades,  barbecues,  carnivals,  fairs,  picnics,  concerts,  baseball games,  family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

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County Trails to Try in 2019

Make 2019 the year of new adventures and fresh air. County park rangers have selected 10 trails for you to try this year. The picks are scattered across the county from the coast to the mountains and deserts. And they’re a mix of some of the most popular and least traveled.

Before hitting the trail, consider the difficulty of the hike, the weather and your own physical fitness level. The trails are broken down from easy to hard. No matter if you are taking your first steps or looking for a new hiking challenge, bring plenty of water, dress properly, stay on marked trails and make sure you let someone know where you are hiking.

In addition, County Parks hosts dozens and dozens of guided hikes throughout the year. Find one in the County Parks and Recreation Activity Guide.

See the trails HERE.