Blog December 2017

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SOME HISTORY OF NEW YEARS

Posted On: December 29, 2017

Ever wonder the history of the New Year?

Well i did.....

Here's an interesting article to review.

A move from March to January

by Borgna Brunner

The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten."

 

 January Joins the Calendar

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.

Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year's day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire —and their American colonies— still celebrated the new year in March.

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THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES

Posted On: December 22, 2017

The Feast of The Seven Fishes

Legend has it that the tradition started in southern regions like Naples and Sicily but is little known in northern Italy.

Though many facts surrounding the feast are unknown, there are two definite truths: It’s about seafood and family.

When waves of immigrants made their way from Italy to America, they brought their cherished traditions with them too, the Feast of the Seven Fishes among them.

Observing “Cena della Vigilia,” or the Christmas Eve dinner, started when Catholics fasted to anticipate the birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas Day. The fast would end when they received Holy Communion during Midnight Mass.

Since meat cannot be eaten during the fast, Italians indulged in seven different types of fish or “fishes.”

There are several theories when it comes to the symbolism of seven: it took seven days for God to create the earth, the Bible says. Others believe that seven stands for the sacraments.

For some families the number three is actually more important than seven.

For them it represents the Three Wise Men and the Holy Trinity.

Some families even go as far as having 13 fish varieties to represent the 12 apostles, with the final one being for Jesus. Others only have 11 fish, leaving out Jesus and Judas.

But no matter how many fish are eaten it’s all done in the spirit of the holiday and to refrain from eating meat and dairy products on the day before Jesus was born.

Good thing the Bible doesn’t mention anything about seafood so Catholic Italian-Americans can indulge in fish like calamari (squid), baccala (cod), blue crabs, scallops, pupa (octopus), shrimp, clams, oysters, lobsters and much more. Mangia bene!

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THE TRADITION OF CHRISTMAS BELLS

Posted On: December 18, 2017

Traditions of Christmas Bells


Bells, especially Church Bells, have traditionally been associated with Christmas for a long time. In the Anglican and Catholic churches, the church day starts at sunset, so any service after that is the first service of the day. So a service on Christmas Eve after sunset is traditionally the first service of Christmas day! In churches that have a Bell or Bells, They are often rung to signal the start of this service.

In some churches around the world, it is traditional that the largest bell in the church is rung four times in the hour before midnight and then at midnight all the bells are rung in celebration.

In the Catholic Church, Christmas and Easter are the only times that Mass is allowed to be held at Midnight. It's traditional that at both midnight Masses, the church and altar bells too in many cases are rung while the Priest says the "Gloria" (Gloria in excelsis Deo).

Having a Mass at Midnight at Christmas dates back to the early church, when it was believed that Jesus was born at midnight, although there has never been any proof of this! A lot of Churches have midnight services on Christmas Eve, although not every church will have a mass or communion as part of the service.

In many Catholic countries such as France, Spain and Italy, the midnight mass service is very important and everyone tries to go to a service.

In Victorian times, it was very fashionable to go carol singing with small handbells to play the tune of the carol. Sometimes there would only be the bells and no singing! Handbell ringing is still popular today.

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HAPPY HANUKKAH

Posted On: December 15, 2017


This past Tuesday evening marked the the first day of Hanukkah. Surprisingly or not, many people don't understand the celebration or the meaning of this holiday.

I'm not Jewish, but here goes my take on the observance.....

 

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday. It traditionally celebrates the victory for the    Maccabees over the larger Seleucid army. It also celebrates a miracle that happened during this time, wherein just a day's supply of olive oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days. Therefore, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah begins in late November or December. In 2014 it starts on December 16.

The Hebrew word hanukkah means dedication.

The Hanukkah or (hanukkah menorah) is an important Hanukkah candle holder. It has nine candles. Traditionally, one candle is separated from the rest, usually by being higher than the other eight. On the first night, only one candle is lit, on the right side of the hanukah. On the second night, a second candle is added, and they are lit from left to right. This continues for all eight nights. The candles are never lit directly - instead, the higher candle, (called a shamash, meaning "attendant") is lit first, and then used to light the rest of the candles. Before the candles are lit, blessings are said over them.

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THE REASON WE PUT LIGHTS ON OUR CHRISTMAS TREES

Posted On: December 11, 2017

The Christmas tree: It’s long been a symbol of the holiday season.

Each year, people around the world cut down an evergreen tree and decorate it with lights and ornaments, but have you ever thought about how this tradition started?

People started putting lights – candles to be more specific – on Christmas trees in the middle of the 17th century. These were attached to the end of tree branches with wax or pins and were adhered to the tree to represent shining stars. This tradition started in Germany and spread to Eastern Europe over the next two centuries. Because this was a serious fire hazard, most people didn’t put their trees up until December 24, ensuring that they would only be up for a brief period of time while the tree was still fresh – and much less flammable.

The custom of putting strings of lights on trees began in 1882 when Edward Johnson – an associate of Thomas Edison – wired red, white and blue bulbs together and placed them on an evergreen tree. In 1895, President Grover Cleveland followed suit and decorated a Christmas tree in the White House with stringed lights. The public took notice, and the tradition started to catch on.

However, it was extremely expensive to have a lit Christmas tree. General Electric sold bulbs for this purpose, but they needed to be wired together by a professional electrician. Additionally, if a homeowner wanted a lit Christmas tree, but didn’t have electricity yet, they’d have to purchase a generator to keep the lights on.

In 1903, the American Eveready Company developed an easier to use light set involving screw-in bulbs and a plug-in for the wall socket. Even with this easier to use equipment, electric tree lights weren’t catching on rapidly. People were still using unsafe candles as a way to light their trees, until Albert Sadacca came up with the idea to make the lights multi-colored in 1917.

He and his two brothers Henri and Leon started NOMA Electric Company, which became the largest Christmas lighting company in the world. Since that time, lights have continued to evolve.

Miniature bulb sets came about in the late 1960s and came in strands of 25 or 50 lights. These were very similar to the standard miniature lights available today. However, there are more options available for size and color today than there were in the past.

The latest advancement in holiday lights is the use of LED (light-emitting diode) technology. These lights are far more efficient than incandescent lights and have a much longer life-span.

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WHY DO WE HANG WREATHS

Posted On: December 08, 2017

Why do we hang wreaths?

Hanging a circular wreath of evergreens during the winter season seems to go back a very long way. It might have started as far back as in Roman times when wreaths were hung on their doors as a sign of victory and of their status. Rich Roman women also wore them as headdresses at special occasions like weddings and to show they were posh. Roman Emperors also wore Laurel Wreaths. They were also given to the winners of events in the original Olympic Games in Greece.

The word 'wreath' comes from the Old English word 'writhen' which means to writhe or twist. Christmas Wreaths as we know them today, might have started life as Kissing Boughs or come from the German and Easter European custom of Advent Wreaths.

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MARINA LIABILITY

Posted On: December 04, 2017

Boat Marina Liability


If you assume that a marina will pay for damages, you may be in for a shock. It pays to read what you are signing. December is a good time to review your coverages.

 

Consider these scenarios ...

  1. The mechanic who works at your marina test drives your boat following engine repairs. Something goes wrong, he loses control, and the boat causes — and sustains — considerable damage when it bounces off another vessel and hits a dock.
  2. Party-goers on another boat wreak havoc at your marina, vandalizing several vessels, including yours. The marina's security guard failed to stop the mayhem.
  3. The dockhand your marina hired for the summer fills your boat's gas tank with water — and vice versa.

More and more, marina contracts include phrases such as, "The boat owner fully agrees and releases the marina from any liability for loss or damage to the boat, under any circumstance, including any negligent acts or omissions by the marina or its personnel." Besides shielding marinas and their insurers from having to dig deep to pay settlements for losses and damages, marinas can save considerable dollars by having customers sign "hold-harmless" clauses in rental agreements. These policies often have large deductibles and the premiums are going up every year.

Consumers who agree to hold-harmless clauses can find themselves between a rock and a hard place: a marina absolved of responsibility on one hand and their own insurance company that refuses to pay out claims on the other, because these clauses are often in conflict with the boat owner's insurance policy.

Always ask and consult with a professional.


With less protection from the marinas, can boat owners expect slip fees to go down? No. Marina customers find themselves in basically the same position as airline customers: The peanut packets are smaller and there's a lot less leg room, but ticket prices and baggage-handling costs are higher.

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FLORIDAS BOAT PARADES UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Posted On: December 01, 2017

Florida's Holiday Boat Parades - Christmas Boat Parades in FL

Based on an article by Amy Wimmer Schwarb

The same vessels that troll Florida's waters take on blinking lights, animated characters and other holiday decorations during Florida’s holiday boat parades.

DawnMarie Capone and her boyfriend live in Boston, where the holiday season brings a chill to the air and ice and snow to the streets and sidewalks.

But this year, for his 50th birthday, she's introducing him to a different wintertime scene of Christmas boat parades in Florida. They'll travel to Key Largo in December for a lighted boat parade – a tradition that Capone considers a distinct part of Florida culture.

"It's just so different," said Capone, who grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but lived in Indian Shores and Melbourne, among other Florida locales, for a few years. "Christmas in Florida doesn't look like Christmas everywhere else. That's why it's special."

During Florida's holiday boat parade season, the same vessels that troll the Atlantic, the Gulf and all points in between on warmer days take on blinking lights, animated characters and other holiday decorations for December sojourns that please thousands of fans watching from the banks. Dozens of the state's oceanfront, Gulf-front or riverfront communities host opportunities for local boaters to bring the holiday spirit to the water.

"Boats of all shapes and sizes tend to participate. The best use all things that assault the senses from a visual and sound standpoint," said Gary Guertin, past chairman of the Martin County Convention and Visitors Bureau and producer of Talkin' Tourism, a weekly radio show. "It's just as much about the boat community as people on shore."

A roundup of holiday and Christmas boat parades in Florida is available at FloridaByWater.com, where dozens of communities from Key West to Jacksonville to Pensacola list their holiday boat parade plans. The website's founder, Rusty Gardner of Jacksonville, says he tries to attend a couple boat parades each year and has a few favorites.

"There's a few you would never expect," Gardner said. He pointed out some communities that take their boat parades seriously: Tampa, for instance, sponsors several – one on Dec. 16 and two on Dec. 22. The Florida Keys are home to three or four parades, he said.

Gardner enjoys venturing off the beaten path to discover small holiday and Christmas boat parades in Florida with local flavor. Among his favorites: northwest Florida's RiverWalk Milton, scheduled this year for Dec. 7; and Boat Parade of Lights and Holiday on the Harbor in Carrabelle, a northwest Florida river town.

Another favorite is the Holiday Regatta of Lights in St. Augustine, which will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 in the historic district, overlooking Matanzas Bay.

"You've got the historic city with the Bridge of Lions in the background," Gardner said. "And St. Augustine has a personality all its own."

One of the biggest of Florida’s holiday boat parades is the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, also scheduled this year for Dec. 15 in Fort Lauderdale. Called the "greatest show on H2O," the 41-year-old parade has an annual theme and a history of big-name grand marshals such as Shaquille O'Neal.

For those who can't stake out a free vista along the parade route, grandstand seats are available.

"I'm pretty confident in saying they have the biggest and probably one of the best boat parades in the country," said John Kazaliauskas, founder of BoatFlorida.com and a frequent spectator or participant in boat parades around the state. "In general, the ones I've participated in have had something for everybody, so regardless of your age or your culture or your background, it seems to be that everybody has a good time one way or another."

And frankly, Kazaliauskas adds, boaters who decorate their boats for the parades aren't just trying to entertain onlookers; they're also looking for a boating fix.

"It's a good excuse," Kazakiauskas said, "to go boating in the winter and celebrate the holidays."

If You Go

The most complete listing available of Florida boat parades can be found at FloridaByWater.com, where website founder Rusty Gardner maintains a list of events submitted by parade organizers around the state. Be sure to double check listings before you go, as dates and times are subject to change.

Amy Wimmer Schwarb has spent her professional career vacillating between the coasts of Florida and her home state of Indiana, spending several years as a staff writer and editor at the St. Petersburg Times and several more as a magazine editor in Indianapolis. But in the end, Florida won her heart: She is now a full-time freelancer based in St. Augustine.

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