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History of Mothers Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 02-03-2009

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Historians claim that the holiday of Mother’s Day emerged from ancient festivals dedicated to mother earth. However different countries celebrate Mother’s Day on various days of the year because the day has a number of different origins

In Rome, Cybele, a mother Goddesses, was worshipped, as early as 250 BC. It was England that first observed “Mothering Sunday” in honour of all mothers.

In the United States, Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with bringing in the celebration of Mother’s day by campaigning to the US government to establish a Mother’s Day.

In 2009, Mother’s Day falls on March 22nd in Ireland and the UK, whereas in the USA, Australia and other countries it falls on May 10th.

Some more info cam be found here:

History of Father’s Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 30-04-2008

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Contrary to what many believe, Father’s Day wasn’t invented by any particular card company to drum up business during a quiet summer!

Most countries, including Ireland, the United States and the UK, celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. This year it falls on June 15th.

There are several theories behind the first Father’s Day but generally the first father to receive a pair of socks and a tie was William Jackson Smart. He was a Civil War veteran and after his wife died in 1898, he raised his six children in Spokane, Washington.

His daughter was so moved by his efforts to raise their family, and inspired by the latest holiday of Mother’s Day, she started a campaign to have Father’s Day officially recognised.

Through her efforts, the first Father’s day was celebrated on June 19th 1910. It was officially recognised in 1972 under President Nixon.

So this Father’s Day, instead of going to your local store and picking up something at the last minute, why not plan early and get something a little more unusual online.

The History of April Fools Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 01-04-2008

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The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1.

Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continue on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool’s Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.

In Scotland, for instance, April Fool’s Day is devoted to spoofs involving the buttocks and as such is called Taily Day. The butts of these jokes are known as April ‘Gowk’, another name for cuckoo bird. The origins of the “Kick Me” sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance.

In England, jokes are played only in the morning. Fools are called ‘gobs’ or ‘gobby’ and the victim of a joke is called a ‘noodle.’ It was considered back luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon.

In Rome, the holiday is known as Festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, is on March 25 and is also referred to as “Roman Laughing Day.”

In Portugal, April Fool’s Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends.

The Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31 in India. People play jokes on one another and smear colors on one another celebrating the arrival of Spring.

So, no matter where you happen to be in the world on April 1, don’t be surprised if April fools fall playfully upon you.

The History of Easter

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 23-03-2008

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In Christian countries Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do with Christianity.

The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of converging traditions with emphasis on the relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover. Passover is an important feast in the Jewish calendar which is celebrated for 8 days and commemorates the flight and freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival.

Who Decides When East Occurs?

Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 21). So Easter is a “movable” feast which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.

Why Easter Eggs?

Of all the symbols associated with Easter, the egg, the symbol of fertility and new life, is one of the most identifiable. The customs and traditions of using eggs have been associated with Easter for centuries.

Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colours to represent the sunlight of spring and were used in Easter egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were coloured and etched with various designs the eggs were exchanged by lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as at Valentine’s Day. In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter to the servants. In Germany eggs were given to children along with other Easter gifts.

Different cultures have developed their own ways of decorating Easter eggs. Crimson eggs, to honour the blood of Christ, are exchanged in Greece. In parts of Germany and Austria green eggs are used on Holy Thursday. Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in special patterns of gold and silver

Austrian artists design patterns by fastening ferns and tiny plants around the eggs, which are then boiled. The plants are then removed revealing a striking white pattern. The Poles and Ukrainians decorate eggs with simple designs and colours.

In Germany and other countries eggs used for cooking where not broken, but the contents were removed by piercing the end of each egg with a needle and blowing the contents into a bowl. The hollow eggs were dyed and hung from shrubs and trees during the Easter Week. The Armenians would decorate hollow eggs with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious designs.

Did Your Know?

  • Easter covers a forty-six-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. The Lenten season itself comprises forty days, as the six Sundays in Lent are not actually a part of Lent.
  • Sundays are considered a commemoration of Easter Sunday and have always been excluded from the Lenten fast.

History of Saint Patricks Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 17-03-2008

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The history of Saint Patrick’s Day revolves around the life of St. Patrick who at the age of 16 was taken captive by a group of Irish raiders who transported him to Ireland where he was enslaved for six years. Due to his dire circumstance, the man who would become St. Patrick turned to religion as a way to comfort himself from the fact that he was a slave. Eventually, St. Patrick would be freed where he moved to Gaul and studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre, for twelve years. Once ordained as a priest, St. Patrick was sent to Ireland with the mission of ministering to the few Christians in Ireland and to convert the predominantly pagan Irish residents.

In Ireland, St. Patrick found success in converting many Irish people to Christianity. By incorporating traditional Irish ritual into his lessons of Christianity, he was able to have great success in converting Irish pagans into Christians. Considering that most Irish people at the time practiced a nature-based pagan religion, St. Patrick was able to successfully incorporate natural symbols to explain Christian concepts. This is best exemplified by the symbol of the shamrock, a major St. Patrick’s Day symbol that St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity. By showing the three-leafed shamrock, St. Patrick was able to detail how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were able to exist as separate elements of the same entity.

After thirty years of exemplary service, St. Patrick left Ireland to retire to County Down. He would later die in AD 461 on March 17, which has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since. For thousands of years, the Irish celebrated this day as a religious holiday. Families would attend church in the morning and have a celebration in the afternoon. Typical traditions would include eating the traditional Irish meal of Irish bacon and cabbage following by festive dancing and drinking. St. Patrick’s Day would make its first appearance in America where the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world took place in New York City on March 17, 1762. The parade was made up of Irish soldiers serving in the English military who wanted to celebrate their roots. Eventually, St. Patrick’s Day would become a major part of American culture. A formerly despised immigration group, the Irish would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the early to mid twentieth century in America, as a show of strength and solidarity to their Irish roots. As the Irish became more accepted in American culture, St. Patrick’s Day became a general celebration of Irish culture and the Irish people. Irish symbols like leprechauns, shamrocks, and the rap band House of Pain would become major St. Patrick’s Day symbols in America throughout the years.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

History of Valentines Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 14-02-2008

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The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery. But the legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When the Emperor decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the Emperor and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, the Emperor ordered that he be put to death.

Did You Know?

  • In 1835, the remains (or what are believed to be the remains) of St. Valentine were bestowed to an Irish priest named Father John Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI. A Shrine can still be viewed each Valentine’s day at Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin.
  • An estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.
  • Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D.
  • St. Valentines is also the patron saint of beekeepers and as being of help against fainting!
  • 61 percent of all men surveyed say they would like to receive flowers for Valentine’s Day from a woman.

The History of Christmas

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in Christmas gift ideas, History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 01-12-2007

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The history of Christmas dates back over 4000 years. Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals(parades) with floats, carolers who sing while going from house to house, the holiday feasts, and the church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians.

Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Years. The Mesopotamians believed in many gods, and as their chief god – Marduk. Each year as winter arrived it was believed that Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos. To assist Marduk in his struggle the Mesopotamians held a festival for the New Year. This was Zagmuk, the New Year’s festival that lasted for 12 days.

The Mesopotamian king would return to the temple of Marduk and swear his faithfulness to the god. The traditions called for the king to die at the end of the year and to return with Marduk to battle at his side.

To spare their king, the Mesopotamians used the idea of a “mock” king. A criminal was chosen and dressed in royal clothes. He was given all the respect and privileges of a real king. At the end of the celebration the “mock” king was stripped of the royal clothes and slain, sparing the life of the real king.

The Persians and the Babylonians celebrated a similar festival called the Sacaea. Part of that celebration included the exchanging of places, the slaves would become the masters and the masters were to obey.

Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.

In Scandinavia during the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After thirty-five days scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. A great festival would be held, called the Yuletide, and a special feast would be served around a fire burning with the Yule log. Great bonfires would also be lit to celebrate the return of the sun. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

The ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.

The Roman’s celebrated their god Saturn. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. With cries of “Jo Saturnalia!” the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends, and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits).

The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles. Again the masters and slaves would exchange places.

“Jo Saturnalia!” was a fun and festive time for the Romans, but the Christians though it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan Saturnalia.

But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.

Some legends claim that the Christian “Christmas” celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity’s main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.

The exact day of the Christ child’s birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas.

History of Fathers Day

Posted by TeamGifts | Posted in History of gift giving occasions | Posted on 03-06-2007

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While many people believe that Father’s Day is a holiday invented by the fine folks at Hallmark, it’s not so. The celebration of Dad’s special day can most likely be credited to Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, who first suggested the idea of the holiday in 1909.

Mrs. Dodd’s father, civil war veteran William Smart, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth with their sixth child. Despite the obvious hardships, Mr. Smart proceeded to raise the newborn along with his five other children, by himself.

It wasn’t until Sonora Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. The original date chosen for the holiday was June 5, Mr. Smart’s birthday, however the celebration was postponed until June 19, the third Sunday in June, because there was not enough time to prepare.

At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a Father’s Day. Some accounts credit Mrs. Charles Clayton of West Virginia, as the founder of Father’s Day, although most histories give credit to Mrs. Dodd.

In early times, wearing flowers was a traditional way of celebrating Father’s Day. Mrs. Dodd favored the red rose to honor a father still living, while a white flower honored a deceased dad. J.H. Berringer, who also held Father’s Day celebrations in Washington State as early as 1912, chose a white lilac as the Father’s Day Flower.

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day, but it never became official until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the presidential proclamation that set aside the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Father’s Day falls on June 15th in 2008.