Mardi Gras History
Mardi Gras marks the end of the Carnival season, a period observed by many Roman Catholics that starts at Epiphany on January 6 and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras). Since Mardi Gras is the last day before lent (a solemn period observed by prayer, repentance, fasting, and moderation), it is often associated with lavish Carnival-like celebrations.
Valentine’s Day History
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and friendship. The idea of Valentine’s Day seems to have originated during the Middle Ages, somewhere around the 14th or 15th century. The holiday derived its name from two Roman martyrs for love, both named Valentine.
The first Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, but not before leaving a note signed from your Valentine for his lady. The second Valentine was supposedly a bishop who secretly married young couples, an act that was forbidden by the Roman Emperor who wanted young men to first serve as soldiers before marrying. Valentine ignored the law and was beheaded on February 14. An ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia, a celebration for which young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities, has also been linked to the origins of Valentine’s Day. Since then, the custom of selecting a sweetheart on February 14th has spread through Europe and its colonies and transformed itself into the celebration of love and friendship that we know today.
Ash Wednesday History
Ash Wednesday is mainly a Catholic observance in which ashes is marked on the forehead of parishioners in the shape of a cross. The ashes are meant as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period (excluding Sundays) that ends with Easter. This is a solemn period observed by prayer, repentance, fasting, and moderation. Sundays are excluded as they are considered a celebratory day that represents the resurrection of Jesus and the Sabbath day of rest
President’s Day History
President’s Day, or Washington’s Birthday as it is still legally known, was originally designed as a celebration of George Washington’s birth date. In 1880, Congress voted to make this the first national holiday which honored an individual. In 1968, Congress enacted the Uniform Monday Bill, to give workers as many long weekends as possible. This moved as many holidays to a standard Monday each year. Many states were already honoring Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, and this celebration was combined with George Washington’s birthday, for one federal holiday. It is observed on the third Monday in February each year.