Summer Blog Posts

Celebrate Traditions–Memorial Day–A Day of Remembrance

“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” ~Thomas Campbell

Memorial Day originated shortly after the Civil War as a day to remember fallen soldiers of the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers and other appropriate objects.  Before it’s official proclamation as Decoration Day in 1868, it had become tradition to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War Soldiers towards the end of May around the time that flowers started to bloom.

5-25.decorationday5

The Veterans Administration’s history page describes one of the earliest records of this traditions in a beautiful story of forgiveness and compassion shown by women in decorating graves of fallen soldiers:

Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.” (3)

According to history recounted by the Clarion County Historical Society:

“[t]he earliest evidence of observance goes back to various women’s groups in the North and South, when ladies organized events to honor their war dead by decorating graves. The earliest recorded event took place on April 25, 1866 in Columbus, Mississippi when a group of women formed an association to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers, starting with those who died in the Battle of Shiloh.” (2)

It was officially named Decoration Day and thus proclaimed on May 5 1868 by General John Logan who was the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.  His General Orders No. 11 proclaimed in part:

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

“‘We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.’ What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.” (3)

he term “Memorial Day” was not used officially until 1967, its use first emerged circa 1880s.

It wasn’t until after World War I that the day was expanded to honor those who had served and died in all American wars and not just those of the Civil War.  The term Memorial Day was first used in 1882 but did not gain regular use until after World War II.  The day was not officially called Memorial Day until 1967.  On June 28, 1968, Congress moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to Monday in order to create three-day weekends through the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.  This moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May.  The law federally took affect in 1971; however, it would be a few years before all 50 states adopted Congress’ order.  Memorial Day was also then declared a national holiday.

Memorial Day has also become to be known as the official start of summer.

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~An Old Irish Blessing

Marian McCoy Boveri

(3)  http://www.usmemorialday.org/?p=90

(2)  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10152253979979830&id=109532589829&substory_index=0

(1) http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp and

Decoration Day Becomes Memorial Day

https://www.morningagclips.com/decoration-day/

Summer Harvest Time–Strawberries

Strawberry Harvest

Strawberry Harvest

It’s strawberry season with the summer harvest lasting from the beginning of June well into mid-August in most states. Strawberries are one of summer’s favorite harvests and cultivated through-out the country.  Having originally grown wild and eaten as far back as the Roman times, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the strawberry was widely cultivated. Amazingly there are now over 600 varieties of strawberries all originating from just 4 or 5 species in the wild.  They are now grown in every state with California and Florida being the largest commercial producers and having the longest harvest seasons–from January all the way through to November with the peak seasons in these states being April through June.

Fresh strawberries can be found in supermarket stores but don’t forget your neighborhood farmer’s markets and local farms where you can pick the berries yourselves to enjoy them at their freshest.   The flavor ranges from tart to sweet with the flavor of the strawberry at its peak when just picked.  The larger the strawberry the more water content; the smaller the strawberry typically the more intense the flavor.

Strawberries don’t ripen after picking so make sure the strawberries you choose have a nice red color and are firm and plump with a green cap that appears fresh.  And don’t forget the smell!  Fresh strawberries have a delightful, fresh and sweet bouquet as they are a member of the rose family.  Remember, the key to enjoying your strawberries is to wash them just before using.  Strawberries will absorb water like a sponge so it is best to wait to rinse them.  Store them in a moisture-proof container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days for optimal flavor and best before 3-5 days.

Strawberries should be hulled for freezing or if not eating directly out of the hand.  Hulling involves removing the inedible green cap by placing a knife tip under the green cap and slowly turning.  Once you have made a full circle you can then just pull off the cap and a small amount of white part which is attached to the base of the stem of the strawberry.  There is also a strawberry hull (see below) that you can purchase to do the same task but the knife should work just as well. Strawberries can also be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.  It is best to freeze them in a single layer before placing them in containers for freezing.

Some of the ways to enjoy the fresh summer harvest of strawberries:

  • Cut up in a bowl and pour cream on top, sprinkle with sugar if desired
  • Drizzle with balsamic vinegar of a good quality
  • Cut up and put into a fruit salad with your choice of fruits
  • Dipped in dark, milk, or white chocolate
  • Dipped in yogurt and if more sweetness is desired follow with dipping in brown sugar
  • Fold cut strawberries into whipped cream for the easiest of desserts Strawberry Fool
  • Cut up the strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, let sit and use as a sauce over ice cream
  • Put them in a blender with some milk and ice cream for a strawberry shake
  • Create a salsa adding some simple ingredients such as in this Strawberry Poblano Salsa

Of course strawberries can be preserved in jams and jellies and made into baked goods.  Some popular baked goods include strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry crisp, and strawberry tart.  Click here for a variety of strawberry recipes to enjoy.  Whatever way you decide to enjoy your strawberries remember the harvest is sweetest just picked from the vine.

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  ~ an Old Irish blessing

Strawberry Hull:

Note: This above link is part of an Affiliate Program with Amazon.

Holidays and Seasons–Christmas in July!

 

Merry Christmas!

Well almost–there are only 6 months more to go.  But wait–it really is time to celebrate Christmas–in July.

Some may wonder if the retailers have finally succeeded in bringing Christmas earlier and earlier to the point of absolute madness or could there be another reason for all this celebration?

Certainly there is some truth in using Christmas in July to create sales opportunities especially since there are no real holidays after Independence Day and before Labor Day.  Creating a holiday in between is a great way to stir up sales–but retailers aren’t really to blame for starting this second Christmas celebration.

Before we look into its celebration, it is interesting to note that the first known recorded mention of Christmas in July was in the opera, “Werther”, written in 1892.   In the story children practicing a Christmas song were admonished:  “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”  Guess even back then no one really wanted to see Christmas come before its time.

  • The first recollected celebration of Christmas in July happened in 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl’s summer camp in North Carolina, where it was decided to hold a Christmas party at their camp-out complete with a Christmas tree, presents, and a visit from St. Nick.  In 1935 the National Recreation Association’s magazine wrote “all mystery and wonder surround this annual event”.
  • Of course what better way to popularize something than through the movies?  The next known boost to this holiday was through the 1940 movie “Christmas in July”.
  • Perhaps the most noble early celebration of Christmas in July comes in 1942 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.  The pastor, following a practice from a former church he had attended in Philadelphia, collected gifts and donations early in order to distribute to missions worldwide in time for Christmas.  Things didn’t move quite as quickly back then as they do now.
  • A Christmas campaign was instituted in July 1944 by the U.S. Post Office and the U.S. Army and Navy in conjunction with the American greeting card and advertising industries.  A luncheon was held in July in New York to encourage early mailing for service men and women stationed overseas to assure the mail would reach them by Christmas.  One must imagine that this most surely lent itself to a frenzy of Christmas shopping in July.  A true retailer’s dream come true.  Is it any wonder then that Christmas in July is something retailers quickly took a liking to?
  • By the 1950s Christmas in July sales were commonplace in the U.S.  It was a great way for the retailers to clear out last season’s merchandise in preparation for the coming season.  Christmas in July was officially here to stay.
  • There remains another Christmas in July origin (also known as Yulefest or Yuletide) which is centered around the thought that countries in the southern hemisphere who have their winter during this month want to celebrate Christmas during the cooler season just like their northern hemisphere counterparts do.  As July is typically the coldest month, social gatherings during the winter easily led to festivities reminiscent of Christmas.  In Australia, Christmas in July has become a big event with stores advertising just as if it were indeed Christmas and people decorating their homes and gathering to celebrate as well.  It is believed to have originated with (or at least promoted by) an Irish group who upon seeing snow in July while visiting Sydney’s Blue Mountains thought it perfect for celebrating Christmas.

Whether or not you like the idea of celebrating Christmas twice–Christmas in July is here to stay.  In the end–a little Christmas taken in its true spirit is something we all could do with having a little more of.

Merry Christmas!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  ~ an Old Irish Blessing

Scarecrow of the Week

Hello Uncle Sam!

Hello Uncle Sam!

Celebrating Traditions

All Things Harvest is about celebrating traditions!

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving Traditions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Traditions

Scarecrows

Scarecrows–A Fall Tradition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Traditions

hot chocolate

Winter Traditions–Hot Chocolate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Traditions

spring

Spring Traditions–In the Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Traditions

fourth.of.july

Fourth of July

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more information on how to celebrate traditions during the seasons