Friday, July 8th

Le Quatorze Juillet

Or Bastille Day in English.

Also known as La Fête Nationale (or National Celebration), Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a medieval prison and fortress) which took place in Paris on July 14, 1789, a milestone event on the road to the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération in 1790 – the one year anniversary of the popular uprising and storming of the Bastille, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy, which did not last long.

Bastille Day did not become an official national holiday in France until 1880, when politician Benjamin Raspail proposed a law in May. The law was adopted by the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly) and approved by the Sénat, and proclaimed on July 6th.

“Do not forget that behind this 14 July, where victory of the new era over the ancien régime was bought by fighting, do not forget that after the day of 14 July 1789, there was the day of 14 July 1790. … This day cannot be blamed for having shed a drop of blood, for having divided the country. It was the consecration of unity of France. … If some of you might have scruples against the first 14 July, they certainly hold none against the second. Whatever difference which might part us, something hovers over them, it is the great images of national unity, which we all desire, for which we would all stand, willing to die if necessary.”
—–Henri Martin, Chairman of the Sénat, 1880

Bastille Day is celebrated every year around the globe on July 14th. In France itself, the annual and very popular Bastille Day Military Parade held in Paris and broadcast on French television, is the world’s oldest and largest such event. Greeting Card Universe help you take part in the celebration by offering an uncommon selection of Bastille Day greeting cards to exchange with family and friends, so you all can enjoy a truly bonne fête!

Friday, April 22nd

Easter: Its Beginnings and Its Cross-Cultural Traditions

Easter Greeting CardFor the very little ones in the family, Easter 2011 will be the first Easter they celebrate. For others, this is one of many Easters that have been enjoyed throughout the course of their lifetimes. While having the fortune of celebrating many Easters is a good thing, one unfortunate outcome is we experience so many Easters we start to take the holiday for granted. The origins of Easter become somewhat peripheral and that is a great shame. Easter truly is a vaunted and valuable holiday for many which is why its history and traditions are so well worth remembering and honoring.

Easter is frequently considered the most important of all Christian holidays. Yes, it can be considered even more important that Christmas. The Christian tradition of Easter entails celebrating and memorializing the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his passing from crucifixion. This holiday is intended to acknowledge the divine nature of Jesus and to reflect on his ascent into heaven for the forgiveness of humankind’s sins.

So, where does the Easter Bunny fit in?

No, this is not stated as a flippant segue. It is simply stated so bluntly that when we do not reflect on 2,000 years of history we lose some insights into the totality of a holiday’s tradition. The Easter Bunny is a whimsical symbol of the Easter Holiday that emerged innocuously and became far more popular than people imagined.

In many ways, the concept of an Easter Bunny is similar to that of Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny rewards young children for being good by providing them with candies, toys, bright colored eggs, and sometimes even Easter greeting cards. The image of the rabbit as a gift giver likely dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and, like many Roman/Pagan symbols, it was incorporated into Christian symbolism and given a more positive image and meaning. The symbol of the rabbit in pre-Christian Rome was representative of fertility and is a far cry from the wholesome image the Easter Bunny presents today.

The modern concept of The Easter Bunny dates back to the 17th century in Germany. The concept of an Easter Bunny helped children too young to understand the full significance of Easter to enthusiastically celebrate it.

The Easter Bunny remained a German tradition almost exclusively until the 18th century when immigrants to America brought with them their culture and traditions. There clearly was a huge benefit to welcoming the Easter Bunny to the new world: he helped children behave! Remember, only those children that were good would receive bright colored eggs in a basket on Easter morning. The promise of such a gift could certainly motivate a young one to behave properly.

The holiday of Easter, like so many holidays, can be considered an amalgam of various cultural traditions. In many ways, this is a good thing because it allows the holiday to remain perennially popular.

Thursday, March 10th

St. Patrick’s Day: Honoring a Legendary Figure

St. Patrick's Day CardsOn March 17, there is much rejoicing through the world. This day is St. Patrick’s Day and it honors a very great man whose legend has survived throughout the ages.

The glories of the St. Patrick’s Day parades that take place all over the globe are broadcasted on television to huge audiences. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and those of Irish decent pay homage to his lasting memory. Of course, the holiday is celebrated by many that are not of Irish decent as well. Yet, despite the large numbers of people that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, most are not completely familiar with why St. Patrick is considered such an iconic figure worthy of such adulation.

A brief look at the man and the history of the holidays honoring him can answer such questions…

The early life of the great St. Patrick is lost mostly to history. He was born in the 4th century somewhere in the Roman Empire. He was a slave in his youth but eventually able to escape his masters. He converted to Christianity and experienced a dream that he needed to spread the word of God throughout the world.

In particular, he traveled to Ireland where he employed a very novel approach: he used the three leafed Shamrock as a means of explaining The Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was the use of the shamrock that also crafted the notion that green would be the color most associated with this patron saint.

St. Patrick was a very popular evangelist and is considered the main person responsible for the spread of Christianity to Ireland. Ironically, St. Patrick’s Day has become a secular holiday in many circles. St. Patrick would pass away on March 17, 461 and his date of passing would be the day selected to honor St. Patrick’s Day.

As St. Patrick’s Day 2011 approaches, most will notice that you neither have to be Irish or Catholic to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is celebrated all over the world and by people of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

The holiday is also known for its celebratory consumption of food and drink. Yes, drinking alcohol is a popular past time among those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. However, the holiday seeks to promote a sense of fun and communal joy. It does not depart from its positive sentiments in any way despite the rollicking festivities that surround it.

All those that wish to celebrate the feast day of this great saint can do so with abandon and “be Irish for a day” as the popular saying goes.  St. Patrick’s Day cards and gifts are available in most stores as well.

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