Holidays

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How George Washington used his first Thanksgiving as president to unite a new country

On Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789, George Washington woke early. Assisted by his enslaved valets – William “Billy” Lee and the young Christopher Sheels – he powdered his hair, put on his favorite black velvet suit, tied his white neckwear and donned his yellow gloves. Finally ready, he set out to travel the short distance from the […]

November 25th

On Thanksgiving, some thoughts on language and family

If you’ve got one of those families—nuclear or extended—in which talking politics at the dinner table brings out the glares and knives, or you just get bored hanging around the in-laws and outlaws of your own little clan on Thanksgiving, perhaps you can turn the whole affair into a language experiment that everybody can participate in. […]

November 25th

How to host a safe Thanksgiving meal during coronavirus – an epidemiologist explains her personal plans

Like many people in this unusual year, I am adjusting my family’s holiday plans so that we can all be safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. I am an epidemiologist and mother of four with a large extended family. Given the serious nationwide resurgence of COVID-19 infections, gatherings of family and friends over the upcoming […]

November 24th

‘Constructive arguing’ can help keep the peace at your Thanksgiving table

Sex, income, religion and politics – these are some of the biggies on the list of taboo topics during polite discussion. Even a conciliatory tone doesn’t always protect you if the subjects are spicy. When singer Katy Perry tweeted post-election encouragement to reach out to family members who supported the other candidate, she was skewered […]

November 24th

9 ways to make a greener Thanksgiving this year

It’s been a weird mixed bag of a year, but we still have a lot to be thankful for…  And as we officially enter the season of holiday cheer, holiday shopping and holiday excess, can we all think about the planet, too? By Jeremy Bloom  They say that green is the new black, but that […]

November 24th

This Thanksgiving, be thankful for our farmers (Let’s help them earn a decent living!)

Please try to keep in mind as you shop this holiday season: Fair Trade doesn’t just apply to African villagers and Amazon tribes – it also applies to the folks who grow our food here at home. By Jeremy Bloom An interesting note from a farmer who tried switching from big-breasted flightless corporate turkeys to heritage birds: […]

November 24th

Columbus day was a gift from Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving

How Christopher Columbus went from a failed navigator to a failed governor to a successful marketing franchise, thanks to successful author Washington Irving. If it weren’t for the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, the master of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria would be a forgotten footnote, instead of an American symbol, and […]

October 11th

Columbus statues are coming down – why he is so offensive to Native Americans

Over the past few months, statues of Christopher Columbus have been beheaded, covered with red paint, lassoed around the head and pulled down, set on fire and thrown into a lake. Many of these protests have been led by Native American activists. But other statues have been defended by people with guns. By Sam Hitchmough, […]

October 11th

Columbus Day – or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

The celebration of Christopher Columbus Day, the Italian explorer credited with discovering America, has faced a backlash over the years because of his maltreatment of Native American populations. Many in the U.S. are calling for a change. By Joe Difazio (Displayed with permission from International Business Times) Dozens of people gathered in Boston on Saturday […]

October 11th

Valentine’s Day: COVID-19 wilted the industry, but sustainable flowers are still a thorny issue

Cut flowers are a multi-billion-dollar business globally, closely linked to social events and holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Mother’s Day, and to happy and sad occasions, like weddings and funerals… And then there’s Valentine’s Day. By Paul D. Larson, University of Manitoba The Conversation In the United States alone, an estimated $1.9 billion worth […]

February 14th

Valentine’s Day: five ways to ensure your flowers are ethical

If you take an interest in ethical consumerism and plan to treat someone special this February 14, what dilemmas lie ahead? You might already be conscious of getting child labour and slave-free chocolate, a recycled card, even fair trade gold, and perhaps vintage or conflict-free diamonds if it’s a very special year. But what about […]

February 14th

How to keep COVID-safe this Christmas

It’s Christmas 2020 and COVID-19 is unfortunately still here. Many people are visiting loved ones, including vulnerable family members. So, to try to keep our loved ones safe during this festive period, there are two questions we need to answer: what’s the best thing to do for me and my family this Christmas? And if we […]

December 25th

Oppression in the kitchen, delight in the dining room: The Christmas Eve story of Caesar, an enslaved chef and chocolatier in Colonial Virginia

Christmas Eve is almost here, and among the many treats of the season are chocolate and hot cocoa. While these traditions provide a hefty dose of sugar, there’s a bittersweet side to chocolate’s history, too. By Kelley Fanto Deetz, University of California, Berkeley The Conversation This year, at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, […]

December 24th

Don’t stress about what kind of Christmas tree to buy, but reuse artificial trees and compost natural ones

Environmentally conscious consumers often ask me whether a real Christmas tree or an artificial one is the more sustainable choice. As a horticulture and forestry researcher, I know this question is also a concern for the Christmas tree industry, which is wary of losing market share to artificial trees. By Bert Cregg, Michigan State University […]

December 23rd

Christmas tree shopping is harder than ever, thanks to climate change and demographics

If you’re shopping for a live Christmas tree this year, you may have to search harder than in the past. Over the last five years Christmas tree shortages have been reported in many parts of the U.S. Christmas trees at Twin H Tree Farms in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana University/James Brosher, CC BY-ND By James Robert […]

December 23rd