From Samhain to Halloween

Exploring the Celtic origins of everyone's favorite harvest holiday celebrating thresholds between life and death.
Mount Vernon Fourth of July naturalization ceremony

Celebrating Immigration on the Fourth of July

For many immigrants to the U.S. in the late 19th century, July 4th was deeply significant: Their own home countries were fighting for independence.
April Fools kid Denmark

The Completely True History of April Fools’ Day

The door to spring is guarded by fools, but that's ok, because they're not all that serious. And everybody knows the password: April Fools!
George Washington portrait

What Is President’s Day Actually About?

For most of American history, Washington's Birthday was a really big deal, but, as scholar Barry Schwartz explains, that's changed a lot since the middle of the twentieth century.
New Years Eve 1910

The Lost Tradition of New Year’s Day Calling

The colonial Dutch tradition of making social calls on New Year's Day in New York was no match for 19th-century-style partying.
Twelfth Night party

Shakespeare, Rembrandt, and the Real “Twelfth Night”

"Twelfth Night" was more than a Shakespeare play; for a very long time it was an extremely popular European winter feast.
Christmas classroom

Are Classroom Holiday Parties Constitutional?

Can schools let students and teachers celebrate religions holidays without violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause?
Fireworks Brooklyn Bridge

When Fireworks Told Stories

In Europe between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, fireworks displays were performances that told a story or symbolized real-world battles.
Merry Christmas in Gaelic

How Irish Holidays Blend Catholic and Pagan Traditions

Many Irish holidays blend the Catholic faith with ancient Celtic tradition and mythology. Some original pagan holidays are still practiced in Ireland today.
Christmas Carol illustration

How Charles Dickens Set the American Christmas Dinner Table

How did a religious celebration turn into a holiday that is all about home, family, and Christmas dinner? Turns out Charles Dickens has a lot to do with it.