May 4, 2009

Tradition in the making

Writing about traditions over the past few months has been very interesting and informative. However, I have been wondering just what it takes to make and tradition and how traditions came to be.
The word tradition comes from the Latin traditionem, acc. of traditio which means "handing over, passing on", and is used in a number of ways in the English language:
1. Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. For example, we can speak of the tradition of sending birth announcements.
2. A set of customs or practices. For example, we can speak of Christmas traditions.
3. A broad religious movement made up of religious denominations or church bodies that have a common history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, one can speak of Islam's Sufi tradition or Christianity's Lutheran tradition.
However, on a more basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information. For this is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context, is information. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time.
A tradition is a practice, custom, or story that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an oral tradition. Traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable, and deeply important, though they may sometimes be much less "natural" than is presumed. Some traditions were deliberately invented for one reason or another, often to highlight or enhance the importance of a certain institution. Traditions may also be changed to suit the needs of the day, and the changes can become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition. I found it very interesting to find that the main way of passing on traditions was through poetic rhyme. With all the technological advancements it is easy to forget the very basics of communication, how information was shared and spread, and the art of storytelling.

April 19, 2009

pucker up

Greetings vary a lot from region to region, this is an obvious statement but I found it very interesting to learn just what kind of gestures are appropriate. While there are many types of greetings but for the sake of time I choose to just focus on one, cheek kissing. A greeting is much more than a simple kiss, a hand shake or a hug. The way in which you greet someone reflects upon your social etiquette, your character and is often the basis behind a first impression. Facial expression, gestures, body language and eye contact are all signals of what type of greeting is expected. Gestures are the most obvious signal, for instance greeting someone with open arms is generally a sign that we want to hug; however, if we were to greet someone with arms crossed it would be viewed as a sign of hostility. Facial expression, body language and eye contact give away the greeter's emotions and interest level. A frown, slouching and lowered eye contact suggests disinterest, while smiling and an exuberant attitude is a sign of welcome. Throughout all cultures people greet one another as a sign of recognition, affection, friendship and reverence. While handshakes, hugs, bows, nods and nose rubbing are all acceptable greetings, the most common greeting is a kiss, or kisses, on the cheek. Cheek kissing is “a ritual or social gesture to indicate friendship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, or to show respect.” Cheek kissing is most common in Europe and Latin America and has become a standard greeting in Southern Europe. While cheek kissing is a common greeting in many cultures, each country has a unique way in which they do so. In Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro the Netherlands and Egypt it is customary to “kiss three times, on alternate cheeks.” Italians usually kiss twice in a greeting and in Mexico only one kiss is necessary. In the Galapagos women kiss on the right cheek only and in Oman it is not unusual for men to kiss one another on the nose after a handshake. French culture accepts a number of ways to greet depending on the region. Two kisses are most common throughout all of France but in Provence three kisses are given and in Nantes four are exchanged. While it was quiet interesting to learn about the different types of kissing gestures I was still interested in how exactly this tradition came to be. While there is no definite answer to this question there is some information about the history of the kiss. While psychologists and psychoanalysts tend to write as if kissing has a universal and unchanging meaning (for Freud, the erotic kiss is an attempted return to the security of the mother’s breast), it is far from a universal practice. It seems to have played a less conspicuous part in either the ritual or the erotic life of most Asiatic, Polynesian or sub-Saharan societies, while in the West the norms and conventions governing its employment have, from the beginning, been constantly evolving. One could attempt to summarize this evolution by saying that the use of the kiss as a ceremonial means of expressing and cementing social, personal and political relationships has, during the past 800 years, tended to diminish, whereas its erotic significance has been increasingly emphasized. For the purpose of the cheek kissing greeting, it seems that it was a catalyst for bonding most of the time. Since first impressions are everything starting out on common ground with a kiss on the cheek would seem like a good place to start. Once the group knows each other it just make that bond a little bit stronger if everyone is joining in on a common tradition, and it makes that greeting more personal than a casual wave.

April 5, 2009


April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day is a day celebrated in many countries on April 1 all though it should be mentioned that it is not a real holiday. The day is marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, enemies, and neighbors, or sending them on a fool's errand, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible. Traditionally, in some countries, the jokes only last until noon: like UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, someone who plays a trick after noon is called an "April Fool". Elsewhere, such as in Ireland, France, and the USA, the jokes last all day. Even though this not a real holiday I was wondering why so many people celebrate it and how this tradition became so popular.
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. It seems like this tradition has lived on for so long because the people who love pranks really love the day and refuse to give up the tradition. They're the ones who keep it alive. It gives people a chance to escapes from reality even if it is only for a day.

March 22, 2009

Kiss me im Irish

While I was serving corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day I was wondering just who St. Patrick was and why exactly there is a holiday in his behalf. I do have some Irish in my blood but I have never really known why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated I figured it’s time to get down to my Irish roots and discover the mystery myself.
So I did a little digging and found that it wasn’t quiet as easy as I thought it would be to unveil the identity of St. Patrick.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling. It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice-which he believed to be God's-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation-an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries-spinning exciting tales to remember history.
While on the search I also found out some interesting facts about St. Patrick’s Day;
• The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762.
• The New York City St. Patrick's Day parade marches up 5th Avenue from 44th street to 86th street. In 2009 the parade will be on Tuesday, March 17, and will begin at 11 a.m.
• Over 100 St. Patrick's Day parades take place around the United States, but the parades in New York City and Boston are the largest.
• The New York St. Patrick's Day parade does not allow automobiles or floats, but over 150,000 marchers participate in the parade.
• There are 4 places in the United States named Shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland. Mount Gay-Shamrock, W.Va., and Shamrock, TX, were the most populous, with 2,623 and 1,841 residents, respectively. Shamrock Lakes, Ind., had 162 residents and Shamrock, OK, 125. (Statistic for Mount Gay-Shamrock is from Census 2000; the other statistics in the paragraph are 2007 estimates.)
• There are 9 places in the United States that share the name of Ireland's capital, Dublin. Since Census 2000, Dublin, CA, has surpassed Dublin, OH, as the most populous of these places (39,328 compared with 34,964, respectively, as of July 1, 2005).
If you are still not into the spirit of St. Paddy's Day after stopping by one of the places named "Shamrock" or "Dublin", then you might consider paying a visit to Emerald Isle, NC, with 3,686 residents.

March 1, 2009

Spring Fever

After the recent snow fall happened I was looking for any reason that would suggest that spring is right around the corner. Even though I know not to get my hopes up for an early spring I still like to think that there might be some chance. Well that got me to thinking about the ever popular Groundhog Day and just how the myth came to be. Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2nd in the United States and Canada. According to the folklore, if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks. The holiday began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, its historical roots stretch back to ancient pagan midwinter celebrations and the medieval Christian feast of Candlemas. Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. In southeastern Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the celebration, and those who speak English pay a penalty usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter, per word spoken. The largest celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where crowds reach as high as 40,000 people. There is also an alternative explanation of Groundhog Day that is maybe more logical. In western countries in the Northern Hemisphere the official first day of spring is about six weeks after Groundhog Day, on March 20 or March 21. About 1,000 years ago, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar when the date of the equinox drifted in the Julian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16 instead. This was exactly six weeks after February 2. The custom could have been a folk embodiment of the confusion created by the collision of two calendrical systems. Some ancient traditions marked the change of season at cross-quarter days such as Imbolc when daylight first makes significant progress against the night. Other traditions held that spring did not begin until the length of daylight overtook night at the Vernal Equinox. So an arbiter, the groundhog/hedgehog, was incorporated as a yearly custom to settle the two traditions. Sometimes spring begins at Imbolc, and sometimes winter lasts 6 more weeks until the equinox. Proponents of Groundhog Day state that the forecasts are accurate 75 % to 90% of the time, but the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the predictions are only correct about 39% of the time. I think meteorologist Mike Randall puts this phenomenon into perspective: since there are always six more weeks of winter after Groundhog Day, and the concept of early spring in the astronomical sense simply does not exist, then whenever the groundhog sees its shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter, the groundhog is always right, but whenever it predicts an early spring, it is always wrong. The results have an approximate 80% rate of accuracy, the average percentage of times a groundhog sees its shadow. While I will not be putting my money on the rodent anytime soon, it still leaves a little glimmer of hope that maybe this will be the year that makes up that 39%.

February 15, 2009

Be my Valentine

In honor of keeping with the theme of writing about traditions I found that it was only fit to write about Valentine’s Day. I have come a long way from the days of decorating boxes and exchanging cards with my friends at school, but I still never gave any thought to the reason behind the romantic holiday. I never understood why my friend’s favorite holiday was Valentine’s Day because I have always thought of it as just a hallmark holiday. I never really thought that it had any meaning behind it, but with a little digging I found that the holiday goes a little deeper than just a greeting card. One legend of Valentine’s Day goes back to about third century Rome When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl, who may have been his jailor's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Whichever history you choose to believe Valentine’s Day really started to take off in Great Britain, around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America. Valentines Cards are now the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association. The holiday also rakes in about 14 billion dollars a year so I could see why people think it’s a hallmark holiday, and I do agree that it has gotten a little out of hand. However, after finding out about the history of the holiday I think it makes sense to remind those around you that you care about them. I don’t think that a simple reminder about how much you care about your loved ones ever hurt anyone.

February 2, 2009

SUPER Tradition

While I was sitting on the couch all day continuing to put off writing this blog post for class because I couldn’t possibly think of anything to write about until at five o’clock on Sunday it finally hit me. I kept pondering the thought of the ever so popular SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. What has made this sport the most watch event on television? Why watch 200 lbs of muscle and padding crash into each other? From my reading on the brief history of the super bowl all I could take away from it was that the event is basically the result of competition. The Super Bowl was first played on January 15, 1967 as part of an agreement between the NFL and its younger rival, the American Football League (AFL) in which each league's championship team would play each other in an "AFL-NFL World Championship Game". The game is come a long way, from the first game bring in over 62,000 dedicated fans to now well over millions of viewers tuning in. It has also brought with it millions of dollars in advertisements and it is the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, following Thanksgiving. While I think the super bowl is a little to extravagant it’s not all bad at least it can bring family and friends together for a “good old time?, even if you’re not rooting for the same team.

August 13, 2007

assignment 4 BA 1001

Hello, my Name is Rachel and I’m going to be a freshman at the Carlson School of Management this coming fall. I'm really excited to start school soon I can't wait to learn from amazing professors. I choose this school because of all the great majors they offer, a wide variety of people, and they great opportunities they offer.