By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Attention, all business people and job seekers! We have a great database targeted just for you (and everyone else, too.)
Let me tell you about ReferenceUSA. This database offers business and consumer research information on millions of businesses in the United States, as well as consumer information. Created by Infogroup, this reference and research tool is the leading source for business and residential data. This resource can be used for such purposes as searching for jobs, finding doctors, creating business/marketing plans for a small business, conducting competitive analyses and locating specific people.
To access our database, click on this link, which will take you to the Databases by Title page: http://lib.williamson-tn.org/reference/refelect_alphalist.html#r
You can access this database at home, but you must have a library card in good standing. What does that mean? No fines over $3.00 and the card must be current. Every two years all cards need to be updated—even staff cards. ( So when you see the message that your card has expired, it hasn’t really. Just needs to be updated.) There is also an app for ReferenceUSA; you can download it for free from the App Store.
You can search for jobs, by location, and also by industry, using NAICS, SIC codes or by subject. You can research companies worldwide, find out executive contacts, track down addresses and phone numbers for businesses, and using a different section, find someone in a phone book nationwide. You can locate out-of-town companies and find all the information you need before your interview. You can profile a neighborhood, city or state, which is so very helpful if you are starting a new business or advertising for your business. Our database module containing detailed information on more than 14 million U.S. businesses and employers, millions of US residents, health care providers, Canadian businesses and more!
- Small-business owners and entrepreneurs can conduct market research, search for similar businesses in the area, find information on competitors, search for businesses to buy and much more.
- Job seekers can access information on more than 24 million U.S. businesses, including 200,000 human resource contact names, to assist with their job search — company descriptions and website links to job postings are also provided.
- New homeowners or those looking to purchase a home can research neighborhoods, including home values and median income of residents in the area, as well as locate nearby schools, churches, doctors, childcare facilities and more.
- Students can access articles for research on businesses, including data summaries to profile a neighborhood, city or state by type of business, size of business or household median income, spending habits and growth of a business, as well as finding businesses of similar size and scope to compare to.
You can search for a single business, and find the information you need about that business. Or, using the Advanced Search, you can search by company type using SIC Codes or NAICS codes to find what businesses are in a certain area. This would be of great assistance if you wanted to send flyers or notices to these businesses. You can create a list of businesses that you would like to send a resume to if you are job searching with our database of 24 million businesses. You can find out about the area you just move into with our Consumers/Lifestyles module. All you need is a library card! And you can access this database at home as well.
All of this information is included with each and every search—over 24 million businesses; not all information is available for every business, though.
- Company name
- Phone number
- Complete address
- Key executive name
- SIC Codes
- Employee size
- Sales volume
- Business expenditures
- Geo-codes for mapping
- Fax and toll-free numbers
- Website addresses
- Franchise and brand information
- Headline news
- Judgments and bankruptcies
- Email addresses
- Number of computers
- Work-at-home businesses
- Business credit rating scores
Here are some sample research questions as examples:
- I’m thinking of opening a bakery. Can I find out how many bakeries are in my area already?
- Using the Advanced Search option in the U.S. Businesses database, choose the Business Type and click in the Business Type box. This will give you a way to search for Bakeries – Wholesale or Bakeries – Retail. Then click on the gray SEARCH button. To add another category, try Geography. You can choose a city, county or metropolitan statistical area. This will decrease your number of hits, and make it more manageable. Since our library is in Franklin, TN, we put in Franklin, TN for the Geography selector. Although the information changes from time to time, we got sixteen hits. Click on any one of these businesses and you will see more information included in the list above. You can find job listings, business profile, photos, maps and directions, demographics, management, stock data, expenditures, history, nearby businesses and competitor’s reports. And the best part is this list of 16 hits or 225 hits can be downloaded to Excel.
If you are job searching, ReferenceUSA will help you out too. The database gives you access to more than 22 million companies and employers all day and all night, right from your home computer. The database now has Indeed.com job listings included in each record. ReferenceUSA also helps you research the company you are interested in working for. That’s always helpful when you get the dreaded question “What do you know about our company?” Once you have a job interview, you can search for that company using the Quick Search and get current news and click though the website.
Remember, this is a free database you can access in the library, at home or from the app FOR FREE! We subscribe to it so you don’t have to!
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
On July 14, 1881, Billy the Kid was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Those are the facts, nothing but the facts. Oh, but the legends on these two and how they are linked forever in history makes this killing as important as the OK Corral in the annals of history.
So, who exactly was Billy the Kid? History gives him several names: probably born as Henry McCarty, and took the aliases Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney. Information is sketchy about his early years: it is known that he was born in New York City in to a poor Irish family. Not much is known about his early years but he ended up in New Mexico Territory in 1873. Again, not much is known about him at this time, but 4 years later he arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico. This is where he makes history, mostly of the notorious type.
Lincoln County had just been established and was divided between two factions of cattlemen, the John Tunstall/ Alexander McSween side and the James Dolan faction, allied with the county sheriff William Brady. William Bonney (Billy the Kid) joined the Tunstall side, which was ultimately the losing side as well. Each faction had enforcers (gunfighters and criminals). Tunstall was murdered and in revenge, his men, “the regulators”, killed the sheriff. That brought on what came to be called the Lincoln County War, a five day gunfight and siege battle. The regulators were surrounded, McSween was murdered and the Tunstall men that were able to escape scattered. Billy the Kid was on the run for two years before being captured by Pat Garret the first time. The Kid was tried, convicted and incarcerated. He escaped from jail, after shooting both guards, and rode off into the sunset—for a while.
And Pat Garrett?? More is known about him (there usually is for lawmen). He was born in Alabama in 1850, but the family moved to Louisiana in 1853, and lost everything after the Civil War. In 1869, he headed west, resurfacing in 1876 as a buffalo hunter. As the buffalo disappeared, he headed to New Mexico territory. He became a ranch hand for Pete Maxwell, married and had children. Pat Garrett was sworn in as the new sheriff of Lincoln County in 1880 with the understanding that he would clean up Lincoln County. Several times he almost caught Billy, but each time he slipped away or Garrett was given the wrong information. He finally caught him, arrested him and put him in jail. Garrett was away from jail when the Kid escaped. Eight months later, Garrett found out that Billy was staying with Pete Maxwell, at his ranch. He came at night, and shot and killed Billy the Kid.
Almost immediately, Billy the Kid became a folk legend, which in turn mage Garrett seem an assassin. Garrett wrote a book about tracking and killing Billy. It didn’t sell well, but has become quite the collectible. The book was later found to be full of errors and imaginative tales. It was ghost written by a friend of Garrett. Pat did not run for sheriff again, but moved with his family to Texas and briefly became a Texas Ranger. He returned after a year or so to Roswell, New Mexico where his ranch was. He had several businesses that never prospered and moved back to Texas in 1892. In 1896, he returned to New Mexico where he was appointed sheriff of Dona Ana County. He was nominated by President Teddy Roosevelt as customs officer in El Paso, and confirmed by the Senate. He burned his bridges with Roosevelt and was in deep debt the rest of his life. He also was highly disliked for killing Billy, as the Kid had become a folk hero. He was shot in the back as he was going from his ranch into town. His murder was never solved.
As time passed, some people started the rumor that Pat Garrett either shot somebody else and claimed it was Billy or helped him fake his death. Someone even claimed to be Billy in the 1940s. Even so, historical records show that Billy’s body was identified by several different people—most generally agree that Pat Garrett got the right man—Billy the Kid.
- Billy the Kid was involved in at least nine murders. He was said to have committed as many murders as he had years—he was killed at age 21. (He may have been his own best publicist.)
- Over 50 movies have told this famous historical event. He worked on his reputation before his death, and afterward his legend only grew. The first movie was the silent film in 1911, entitled Billy the Kid. Other stars who played him on the silver screen have been Paul Newman, Val Kilmer and Emilio Estevez (in Young Guns, which we have in our collection.)
- When Bill Richardson was governor of New Mexico, Billy the Kid found another champion. Richardson was a New Mexico history buff and was publicly thinking about pardoning William Bonney posthumously. Before Billy the Kid died, he appealed to then governor, Lew Wallace (who while in office wrote Ben Hur!) for a pardon for his role in the Lincoln County Wars. Wallace agreed, but the pardon was never given to him because he was killed. So when Richardson was thinking about this pardon, he churned up old history. The descendants of Pat Garrett started a petition to stop the pardon from going ahead. Bill Richardson is no longer governor of New Mexico, so this pardon will never happen, but it just goes to show that the past is not that far away.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
We have a great new database for anyone researching authors, literature or writing papers for school. It’s called Gale Literary Sources.
To get to the database from our home page:
- Go to our website.
- Scroll down to eLibrary, the second link (next to Books & More),
- Choose databases.
- Choose the Literature category, which takes you to Gale Literary Sources.
- In this database you can access primary sources, critical articles, literary analysis, and biographical information. Gale has created a single research database to help you in your research.
- To login, use your library card number. (This database is free for all of our library users—all you need is a library card and you can access it.)
Our library subscribes to these components that make up our database:
- Gale Virtual Reference Library is a database of encyclopedias and other specialized reference sources. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7.
- Using Gale’s Literature Resource Center, you can find up-to-date biographical information, overviews, full-text literary criticism and reviews on nearly 130,000 writers from all time periods, and from around the world.
Scribner Writers Series provides original, scholar signed essays on the lives and works of authors from around the world from all time periods. Entries include concise essays and biographical information.
- Twayne’s is devoted to in-depth critical introductions to the lives and works of major writers of the world. It provides insightful and original commentary on the history and influence of the author and his/her world.
When you search for an author or a title, type the name in the search box. You get the first three articles in several categories. Here is a list of them:
The Content Types tell us that there are 435 critical articles on Ray Bradbury, 358 biographies, 114 overviews, 868 reviews, 126 primary resources and 55 multimedia entries. The multimedia entries are usually NPR interviews which you can listen to or print or download the transcript.
You must keep in mind that some of these articles may be written by Bradbury; maybe he wrote a critical article on an author.
Once you find an article you want to use, you have a choice of offerings from Gale as to how you retrieve your article. You can email it to yourself (this is very helpful when you are here at the library researching, and don’t have money to print out the article. You can email it to yourself and print it at home.) You can download the article and save it on your computer or you can print it out. You can even download the MP3 of an interview. With the citation tools, you can choose your format, or what your teacher wants you to use. You can even get it translated into your language or choice. It will be a machine translation and only in print, but if you need sources for your Spanish class in Spanish, this might be a good way to find articles.
Gale has also created a way for you to highlight areas of text that you want to perhaps emphasize, remember or use as a quote. Once you highlight a section of text or write a note about a section of text, you’ll see the number change in the Highlights and Notes section. You can also print out your notes and highlighted sections. You even have a choice of highlighting colors.
One new feature from this Gale database (and all Gale databases, actually) is that you can save your documents to your Google drive or to Microsoft Live. If you write your papers or reports on either of these, you can put all your documents in the same place!
As if this wasn’t good enough, Gale has upped the ante even more. There is a way you can select the articles you want to look at further. I went through a list of articles and selected the ones I wanted to look at further. These become documents in your folder. When you pull up the folder list, you can open the articles you want to look at, print save or email them.
We hope you have an opportunity to use our new database! We love it at WCPLtn!
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Quinn Porter was an absentee father. He knows it and his ex-wife reminds him of it often as well. He didn’t get to know his son well before his early and untimely death. He assuages his grief (and guilt) by continuing his son’s Cub Scout responsibility of helping out Ona Viktus, an 104-year old Lithuanian immigrant. Quinn learns about his son as he helps her and becomes involved in her life. The young boy had to interview a remarkable person for school and he chose Ona. You learn about her life in interspersed chapters. Quinn grows as a person and Ona remembers what she thought she never knew. A quiet revelatory book.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Nettie Lonesome is a half-breed orphan raised by unloving caretakers who use her as a servant. When a stranger attacks her, she defends herself with a stick. To her surprise, he turns into black sand. More surprising, she is now aware of the real world full of monsters and evil.
So she sets off to find a new home, and maybe find friends along the way. The setting was interesting and Nettie is truly one of a kind. A great pick for those wanting to read books with multi-racial characters.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
In case you don’t know, Cinco de Mayo means the Fifth of May in Spanish.
So sit down with a margarita, put on some mariachi music and read about this almost more American than Mexican holiday. (May 5 is often confused with the Mexican day of independence. The nation celebrates its Independence Day on September 16. On this date in 1810, Mexico won her independence from Spain.)
Cinco de Mayo does commemorate an historic event in the city of Puebla de Los Angeles in Mexico. President Benito Juarez sent a rag tag army of volunteers to meet the French army there. General Zaragoza led this army against the much-better supplied French army. The 4,000 man Mexican army defeated the 8,000 man French army on May 5, 1862. The French army was considered the best in the world at that time and defeating the French was a huge morale booster, and gave the beleaguered country a sense of unity and patriotism. The Mexicans lost 100 men in the battle, the French 500.
France returned next year with a much bigger army (30,000 soldiers) and a chip on its shoulder. This time France defeated Mexico, and ruled the country for three years. How did this all come about? When Juarez became president in 1861, Mexico was broke. They were still recovering from the Mexican-American war in the 1840s, when a defeated Mexico allowed the United States to annex Texas. The country had borrowed money from Spain, Britain and France to keep the country going, and was recovering from the defeat. It couldn’t afford to pay back the loans.
Spain and Britain negotiated with Mexico and settled the matter. France was in no mood to settle; they wanted more territory and decided to invade Mexico at the port city of Veracruz. France only ruled Mexico for three years, installing Maximillian I as king. The United States was able to help Mexico after the Civil War ended. With additional funds and arms, plus with the pressure on France from Prussia, France withdrew to protect closer borders. In June, 1867, President Benito Juarez became president again, and started pulling Mexico back together.
Interesting Facts about Cinco de Mayo:
- Napoleon III, the emperor of France, had the idea to take over Mexico, and then send arms and men to help the Confederate Army. Not that he was pro-Southern, he just wanted the nation to continue to be divided and weak. Since this invasion, no foreign country has ever invaded any nation in the Americas.
- Some historians believe that if it were not for the Mexican victory during the Battle of Puebla, the Confederates would have won the Civil War and changed the fate of the United States forever.
- Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico, and is not really celebrated outside of Puebla and a few other cities. In the United States, however, it is a huge holiday.
In and around Puebla, “Cinco de Mayo” is known as El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (the Day of Puebla Battle). And they celebrate with re-enactments and parades more than with tequila, margaritas and such.
- May 5th was made more popular under Franklin Roosevelt, who established the “Good Neighbors policy” in the 1930s.
- Americans eat nearly 81 million pounds of avocadoes on Cinco de Mayo every year, according to the California Avocado Commission.
- Many cities in the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo with weekend-long festivals, including Denver, Chicago, Portland and San Diego.
- Los Angeles wins with the largest party (in the world!). It is called Fiesta Broadway. Many other countries enjoy this celebration as well. Even Vancouver, Canada has a big celebration, with a skydiving mariachi band!
- Chandler, Arizona has a Chihuahua race on May 5!
- Because we like to celebrate and drink tequila, the United States drinks more of this potent liquor than Mexico, where most tequila is made!
- Enchiladas and tamales make up more the traditional dishes and as they take a bit of time to create and cook, it becomes a time for family togetherness.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Faith and Begorra! It’s March again, which brings us to think about spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and little people. Eh, what?? Little people, you say?
We all know about leprechauns and their pots of gold (if nothing else from the Lucky Charms cereal commercials): little men dressed mostly in green who’ve buried their treasure at the end of the rainbow and don’t want anyone to find it (an ironic choice). In past centuries many have tried to find these pots of gold at the end of rainbows, but most never did.
In Irish folklore, stories and tales of “the little people” abound. We’ve heard these names: leprechauns, banshees, pookas, and selkies. Most of the fantastic creatures from Irish folklore did not like humans. According to the legends, the first inhabitants of Ireland were the Fomorians, who were said to have been giant-like. They were supernatural beings who kept being pushed off the good land of Ireland by humans and the other supernatural race—the Tuatha de Dannann (or the Fae).
According to legend, both of these races were pushed out of Ireland by human invaders. The Fomorians and the Tuath de Dannann fought each other regularly, but the Formorians were ultimately defeated. The Fae were also defeated by humans, the early Irish, and were consigned to live underground, occasionally kidnapping children and replacing them with changelings. They were also known to take unwary humans underground to keep as entertainment for a while, which was always longer than the human expected. The Tuatha de Dannann became known as “The Little People” partly to reduce the terror of the stories told about them, and also because they became lost in the myths of Irish legends.
One of the most well-known of the Little People is the leprechaun. Anyone who has seen Darby O’Gill and the Little People knows what a leprechaun looks like; most people recognize them from Lucky Charms cereal and remember “They’re magically delicious!” (the Lucky Charms, not the leprechauns). But long ago, leprechauns weren’t nice or friendly. They knew all humans wanted their pot of gold, which as everyone knows is at the end of the rainbow. Here are a few things you probably never knew about them.
- Leprechauns are fairies. Fairies are the little people of Ireland and leprechauns are little people; therefore they are fairies
- If you are kind to them, they might give you a golden reward—you may find a golden coin for your trouble
- There are no female leprechauns
- Sean Connery may have won the role of James Bond after Albert (Cubby) and Jane Broccoli saw the movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People, starring Connery. They thought he had the sex appeal needed to play Bond
- There is a supposed colony of them in Portland, Oregon in a tiny park dedicated to the magical creatures
- Sometimes they are dressed all in red—these may be their cousins, the clurichauns, though. These red garbed fairies are mean and drunk. Some say that the red clurichauns are what leprechauns become at night after a wee bit of whisky
- At Carlingford Mountain, there are supposed actual remains of a leprechaun under glass. A business man found a tiny suit, gold coins and some bones after hearing a scream. The earth was also scorched near the site
- They are protected under European law. The Carlingford site is considered a Heritage site, protecting the colony of leprechauns and the plants and animals that live in its vicinity
- Although the legend of the leprechaun is known mainly of Ireland, other countries have legends of small men. Although the gnome doesn’t wear all green, he fits the bill as a small magical creature
- Leprechaun means small body in Middle Irish—that fits, since they are small men
- The leprechaun is the mascot for the University of Notre Dame (The Fighting Irish!) now, but it wasn’t always.
- You can make a leprechaun trap—all you need to get started is something shiny to lure the little men. The traps can be simple as a shoebox, or elaborate as your family can imagine. Although no one has caught anything yet—that anyone knows of—it doesn’t hurt to try!
- An Irish Blessing for St. Patrick’s Day
Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Protests have been in the news for several years, coming out of the blue in Tunisia and spreading to the Arab nations becoming the Arab Spring. We all should remember Ferguson and the horrible continuous deaths that sparked anger, indignation and the Black Live Matter movement.
Well, 2017 is gearing up to be another year of protests. The world witnessed the Women’s March of Washington last month, and the marches around the world in solidarity of this cause. There were protests at airports after President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration went into effect. Scientists are planning to march on Earth Day in April. The protest against building two new pipelines is heating up again. Tunisian lawyers were protesting against a new tax that required them to pay a tax on each case they worked on. Students in South Africa are protesting higher fees for college education, which is similar to what happened here in recent years too. There’s even a website https://popularresistance.org that assists in organizing protests and getting the word out about them. And the protests don’t seem to be going away any time soon. The website www.change.org is also helping people find ways to protest by creating and circulating petitions.
In honor of Black History Month, let’s take a look at one of America’s most famous protestors and his belief in nonviolent resistance. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929 to a Black middle class family. His father had grown up on a plantation to share cropper parents, but he left as soon as he was able. He worked his way through school and was able to attend Morehouse College, which is an all-black men’s college. He became a preacher, and then married the daughter of Reverend Williams. Reverend Williams was the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church; MLK, Sr., “Daddy King” took over the duties when Williams died.
Both Reverend Williams and Daddy King stood against ill treatment, segregation and violence against African-Americans and MLK, Jr. followed in their footsteps. After several instances of facing white prejudice, Martin began to read about the history of his people, about slavery and the Civil War. Martin had always been taught that all people were equal, but reality was quite different, and it was his fervent desire to set it right.
He graduated from high school when he was fifteen, and attended his father’s alma mater, Morehouse College. He and other students were able to discuss prejudice and liberation of the Negroes long into the night and in many of the classes. On one of his summer vacations during college, he and some friends went to Connecticut to work on a tobacco farm, and it amazed them that they could freely go into stores, movies and restaurants.
After seriously considering a law career, he ended up majoring in sociology. But, he then began to realize that being a minister would allow him to have a closer relationship with his fellow man, and it was a good way to impart information. His friends would ask him to lead them in prayer, plus both his father and grandfather had been pastors. He hadn’t planned to become a minister, but he felt the call.
After he graduated from Morehouse, he went to Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. It was here that he first heard in depth about what Mahatma Gandhi was doing in India, using non-violent resistance to get the British out of India. He had heard of Gandhi’s protest in India, but this time it was first-hand information from the president of Howard University. His interest in this type of non-violent protest had been piqued when he first read Henry David Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. He was very interested in this idea of just refusing to cooperate with the entrenched system in place. As King looked deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi and civil resistance, he came to see for the first time its potency in the area of social reform. … It was this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that he discovered the method for social reform that he had been seeking.
As we remember MLK, with his birthday and also Black History Month, and as many times as we can remember his clear call for equality, we remember a leader who showed us how to protest peacefully about things we disagreed with, that we thought were immoral or needed to be fixed. Thank you Dr. King for your example.
“…The nonviolent resisters can summarize their message in the following simple terms: we will take direct action against injustice despite the failure of governmental and other official agencies to act first. We will not obey unjust laws or submit to unjust practices. We will do this peacefully, openly, cheerfully because our aim is to persuade. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts. We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise, but we are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk our lives to become witnesses to truth as we see it.” (quoted from MLK’s Nobel lecture in 1964.)
Fun Fact: there was an error on his birth certificate—his name was listed as Michael Luther King. He was always supposed to be Martin, but was called Mike by his family for a long time. He was able to change and correct his name officially when he applied for his passport.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
In this post-apocalyptic novel, we meet Hig and his dog, Jasper. Hig survived the world-ending flu pandemic and more. His only companions are Jasper and Bangley, a survivalist and weapons enthusiast. Hig’s way of escaping the monotony and horror is to fly. He goes on perimeter checks for Bangley, he flies to living forests to find deer, and he returns to a hidden stash of sodas in a crashed 18 wheeler. Jasper is his co-pilot; he’s getting on in years, and is almost deaf, but he’s a great companion. Bangley understands that Jasper is an early warning system. When Jasper dies, Hig goes into an understood decline, then decides to go exploring further that his gas will allow. He will have to find a safe place to refuel the plane–he has no idea what he will find, or even if he will live through it.
Heller is an adventure writer who often contributes to NPR. He is also a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and other magazines. He knows how to describe nature and has a good eye for detail. I was a little worried about the post-apocalyptic setting, but it drew me in and I ended up really liking the book.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
We all know about Christmas when we talk about December holidays. But there are other holidays around the world (and often celebrated in the United States) that you may not know about. You never know, you may want more days off to celebrate these holidays. Or a reason to celebrate in the first place!
Dec. 5 – The Day of the Ninja
This day was either created to commemorate Tom Cruise’s movie the Last Samurai (which had a ninja bit in it) or it was created by the Ninja Burger. Either way it really caught on, showing up in the nation’s consciousness by 2007. Now it has evolved to something similar to Talk Like a Pirate Day. So dress like a ninja on December 5 or watch your favorite ninja movie(s).
Dec. 6 – St. Nicholas’ Day
Yes, this is the same Nicholas that our Santa Claus comes from. Nicholas of Myra was a Christian bishop who legends say was a gift-giver, often putting coins in people’s shoes. Many people often left their shoes outside, so as not to track in outside dirt and keep the floors clean. It would have been easy to drop coins in shoes with no one watching. This day is most observed in the European countries (or families with European backgrounds here in the U.S.). Children often receive treats – including candy, cookies, small toys, or fruit – in stockings, socks, shoes or bags on December 6. Some churches have special services dedicated to the feast of St Nicholas on this day.
Dec. 10 – Dewey Decimal System Day
For library lovers everywhere, surprise! This day commemorates the birth of Melville Dewey (born Dec. 10), the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System of library classification, and if you’ve ever looked up books with a three digit number in a library, you were using the Dewey Decimal System. Maybe you’ve never thought about how you find a book in the library?? Dewey divided all of the world’s knowledge into ten sections, starting with 000 and ending with 900, using decimals to continue to group books into smaller and smaller subject categories, which would make longer and longer numbers (the longest so far being 331.892829225209712743090511). Anything that didn’t fit in any category was put in the 000s, which explains why computer books are there. They weren’t invented until many years after his death!
Dec. 13 – Saint Lucia’s Day
Saint Lucia (or Lucy) was a Christian martyr who according to legend brought food to Christians hiding in the caves and catacombs. She lit her way with a candle wreath, leaving her hands free to hold as much food as possible. This day is celebrated (or commemorated) mostly in the Scandinavian countries, where winter lasts longer; since she brought light, which is most appreciated on dark days. These days, girls are in white dresses with candle wreaths, and they bring cookies and pastries to everyone in the household.
Dec. 16-24 – Los Posadas
Los Posadas are held across Mexico and are becoming more and more popular in the United States. The word posada means inn or shelter, and these nine days commemorate and re-enact the arduous trip that Mary and Joseph took to get to Bethlehem. The celebration begins with a procession through the neighborhood where the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. Sometimes there will be individuals who play the parts of Mary and Joseph who lead the procession. Each night they go to one designated home in the neighborhood. There is even a special song for this event—it is “La Cancion Para Pedir Posada”. When they are finally let in to the house, the celebration starts. It can be either a big party or a small gathering. Often children get to break piñatas to get candy. I’m sure they like this part!
Switching gears completely, and also on December 16 (this year, it always falls on the third Friday of December) is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. Basically it is an excuse to have a party and wear the sweaters you are often gifted that you wouldn’t normally wear. National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (.com) has created a way you can make your party, either at home or at the office, a fundraising event. You can have fun and do good at the same time! In many countries, the holiday is associated with fundraising events for children’s charity.
Dec. 17 – Wright Brothers Day
In 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed December 17 as Wright Brothers Day. This is the anniversary of the day they actually got their first plane prototype up in the air in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This plane, Flyer, managed to stay in the air 12 seconds and it flew close to 120 feet. It was definitely a cause for celebration.
Dec. 24-31 – Hanukkah
The most well-known holiday on this list is Hanukkah, which this year starts on December 24 and lasts eight days. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, the date for the start of Hanukkah is different each year. This Festival of Lights commemorates a miraculous event in Jewish history. The Jews were rebelling against their overlords, the Seleucid Greeks, during the Maccabean Revolt—some of the Jews revolted because they didn’t want to worship idol gods. After the victorious Jews regained the Temple in Jerusalem, they rededicated it to God. When they checked the oil for lighting the menorah (the seven candle slotted candelabrum), they only had enough oil for one day. That oil lasted for eight days, by which time they had created a new supply of consecrated oil. The priests called this The Festival of Lights or Hanukkah (or Chanukah.) This is why menorahs have nine candles, eight for the eight day festival and the middle candle to light them with.
Dec. 26 – Boxing Day
Boxing Day is always the day after Christmas and is mainly celebrated in the countries of the United Kingdom. There are similar celebrations in Germany, though. Why Boxing Day? The day after Christmas was traditionally the day the collection boxes in the churches were opened and the money distributed to the poor. Some churches are still carrying on this tradition. In Holland, the boxes were ceramic, and called pigs—could this be where our term piggy bank comes from?? Also, servants were given the day off on this day, probably to be able to get a share of the collected coffers from the collection boxes. So many companies continued this tradition in Britain that December 26th is now an official public holiday. Boxing Day has become Britain’s Black Friday, but many people are unhappy with this.
*Boxing Day is also St. Stephen’s Day—the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas tells the story of the king who goes out to help a poor family on the Feast of Stephen, or St. Stephen’s Day.
Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Ron Karenga; his goal was to reconnect black Americans to their African roots and recognize their struggles as a people by building community. Derived from the Swahili term, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first-fruits,” Kwanzaa is based on African harvest celebrations. According to the official Kwanzaa Web site,
“Kwanzaa was created out of the philosophy of Kawaida, which is a cultural nationalist philosophy that argues that the key challenge in black people’s lives is the challenge of culture, and that what Africans must do is to discover and bring forth the best of their culture, both ancient and current, and use it as a foundation to bring into being models of human excellence and possibilities to enrich and expand our lives.”
Just as many African harvest celebrations run for seven days, Kwanzaa has seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba. They are umoja (unity); kujichagulia (self-determination); ujima (collective work and responsibility); ujamaa (cooperative economics); nia (purpose); kuumba (creativity); and imani (faith). Kwanzaa is not celebrated as much as it was in the 1960s and 70s, for several reasons. First is the overkill of Christmas celebrating, with presents and food, and the second is it’s a relatively recent creation, which means it doesn’t carry a long tradition of celebration behind it.