Friday, September 13, 2013

Marks of the day

(Sept. 13, 2013) Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, begins this evening at sundown. The Jewish high holy days began Sept. 4 with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, one of the most important Jewish festivals. According to the Hebrew calendar, this year's feast was on the first two days in the seventh month. The date, touted by the ram's horn, varies every year, since Jews follow a lunisolar calendar, and is celebrated before the winter rains come.

According to Jewish tradition, God keeps records of one's good and bad actions over the year. All believers have to acknowledge what they have done in the previous year. According to custom, they have 10 days to repent. Then the day of atonement or Yom Kippur comes and Jews apologize for their misdeeds. They try to atone for their bad deeds by doing good actions. They pray for a better life and think of the ways which can lead them more holy living. According to popular belief, if one is sincere about his prayers, God will write nothing but good for him in the holy book.

Today also is Friday, the 13th, which superstition says can be an unlucky day. People usually are extra careful so as to avoid any misadventure.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

End of summer

(Aug. 31, 2013) This Monday, Sept. 2,  is Labor Day, a national holiday honoring all American workers. The weekend is the unofficial end of summer and is marked by end-of-the-season neighborhood picnics and swim parties.

For many countries (more than 80 world wide), "Labour Day" is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on May 1. It is a celebration of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of their country. In the United States and Canada it is celebrated the first Monday in September.

In the U.S., this day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the Labor movement.

Labor Day often marks the return to school, although school starting times now vary, some before and others following the date, often depending on how early or late the day falls as well as other holidays.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


(July 31, 2013) "Summertime and the livin' is easy..." Swimming and relaxing, vacationing and visiting, summer is a great season for fun in the sun. Despite the rain, area residents have enjoyed a wonderful time of year with less stress and more family time.

It's a great time to share your experiences and suggestions in a blog at Recorder Community Newspapers. Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy birthday, America!

(July 3, 2013) Tomorrow is July 4, America's Independence Day. The Fourth of July is celebrated annually to commemorate the publication of the declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776. Patriotic displays and family events are organized throughout the United States. Many people display the American flag on their homes. The celebrations have deep roots in the American tradition of political freedom.

Very few people have to work on Independence Day. It is a day of family celebrations with parades, picnics and barbecues, showing a great deal of emphasis on the American tradition of political freedom. Activities associated with the day include watermelon or hot dog eating competitions and sporting events, such as baseball games, three-legged races, swimming activities and tug-of-war games.

Many people display the American flag outside their homes or buildings. Many communities arrange fireworks that are often accompanied by patriotic music. Hopefully, the current rain stalled over this area will dissipate for the holiday. The most impressive fireworks, including the Macy's display in New York City, are shown on television. Some employees use one or more of their vacation days to create a long weekend so that they can escape the heat at their favorite beach or vacation spot.

Independence Day is a patriotic holiday for celebrating the positive aspects of the United States. Many politicians appear at public events to show their support for the history, heritage and people of their country. Above all, people in the United States express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought by the first generation of many of today's Americans.

In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days later on July 4, 1776. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for them.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described "pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations" throughout the United States. However, the term "Independence Day" was not used until 1791.

Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 -- exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration.

Facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

First day of summer

(June 20, 2013) Summer officially begins here tomorrow morning at 1:04 with the summer solstice. The timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. The day has the most hours of sunlight during the entire year.

The word solstice is from the Latin "solstitium," "sol" (sun) and "stitium" (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice). In temperate regions, the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming of summer.

In our area most schools close for the summer. Living is more laid back and families plan vacations during this time. Outdoor events, including farmers' markets, are plentiful.

Keep abreast of what's happening in your town and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June is bustin' out all over

(June 11, 2013) June is a month of celebrations from end-of-school events, to graduations, weddings, plus start of summer celebrations. Flag Day is Friday, June 14, and Father's Day is Sunday, June 16. Everyone seems to be in a happy mood with the beautiful weather of moderate temperatures, blue skies and flowering gardens.

Keep abreast of what's happening in your town and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day

(May 25, 2013) Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, when Americans remember their war dead. Towns usually celebrate the federal holiday, the last Monday of May, with parades and speeches, while families follow those observances with picnics and/or short getaways. Most government offices and schools are closed.

The holiday originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war. Their graves were decorated (hence Decoration Day) with flags and flowers. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service. Families remember also other deceased members of their families by visiting their graves.

The day too typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day, the first Monday in September, marks its end. And usually the threat of frost is over here and garden planting is in full swing.

Keep abreast of important holidays and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Belated wishes

(May 13, 2013) I was having such a fun Mother's Day yesterday I forgot to wish all mothers a happy day, too. So, a day late, belated happy Mother's Day greetings to all mothers and those who serve as mothers! You're the best.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

(May 5, 2013) Today is Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "fifth of May." It is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla ("The Day of the Battle of Puebla"). It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. People celebrate primarily with Mexican food and music.

In Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858 and the 1860 Reform Wars. These wars left the Mexican Treasury nearly bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years.

In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico that would favor French interests. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving Juárez and his government into retreat. Moving on from Veracruz toward Mexico City, the French army encountered heavy resistance from the Mexicans near Puebla, at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. The 8,000-strong French army attacked the much smaller and poorly equipped Mexican army of 4,500. Yet, on May 5, 1862, the Mexicans managed to decisively crush the French army, then considered "the premier army in the world."

Since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by any other European military force.

Some historians have argued that France's real goal was to help break up the American Union, at the time in the midst of a civil war, by helping the southern Confederacy. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the Confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build a powerful army. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Vicksburg and Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War. The Mexican victory on Cinco de Mayo denied Napoleon III the opportunity to resupply the Confederate rebels for another year.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day — the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico — which is celebrated on Sept. 16.

Keep abreast of important dates and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

(May 1, 2013) Today, May 1, is May Day, a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Usually the weather (without the threat of frost) allows the beginning of flower and crop planting.

May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from Nov. 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan and the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.

As Europe became Christianized, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were merged with or replaced by new Christian holidays as with Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and All Saint's Day. In the 20th and continuing into the 21st century, many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again. Some countries celebrated the date as Labor Day.

A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While Feb. 1 was the first day of spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was midsummer.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning.

Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of  May baskets, small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver. If they catch the person, a kiss is exchanged.

Modern May Day ceremonies in the United States vary greatly from region to region and many unite both the pagan and labor traditions.

May 1 is recognized in the U.S. also as Law Day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Day today

(April 15, 2013) Today, Monday, April 15, is the annual deadline to file income tax returns to both the state and the federal governments. Mailed returns must be postmarked by midnight. To file later without penalty, an official extension is required.

Many United States residents mark Tax Day as the day to file their income tax details to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The date is usually on or around April 15. However, this deadline may be extended to accommodate holidays or extreme weather conditions. For those filing a U.S. tax return but living outside the United States and Puerto Rico, Tax Day typically has fallen on June 15, due to the two-month automatic extension granted to filers by IRS Publication 54.

A large proportion of U.S. residents have to inform the IRS of all income they received in the previous fiscal year. Some groups, particularly veterans, pensioners and some low-income families, do not have to file a tax return unless they wish to qualify for certain types of income subsidy. Others may wait until the last moment to file their tax return and pay any money they owe. Some people may find that filing a tax return is complicated, while others may feel that they should not have to pay income tax. In the United States, income tax returns may be filed on paper or electronically. Now, people are encouraged to file a return via Internet as this is efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes being made or documents being lost in the post.

Tax Day is not a federal public holiday in the United States. Schools, post offices, stores and other businesses and organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual schedules and no extra congestion on highways is to be expected.

Income tax was introduced in the United States in 1861. A rate of 3 percent was levied on incomes above $800 per year and the resulting revenue was used to help fund the American Civil War effort. However, income tax was seen as unconstitutional and the law was repealed in 1872. The idea of a tax on personal income, at a rate of 2 percent, was reintroduced in the Revenue Act of 1894, but the legal status of this kind of tax was still unclear. In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. This cleared the way for the modern income tax system in this country.

The details of the income tax system have changed greatly since 1913. The top rates of tax have varied enormously and were particularly high during World War I and II and the Great Depression. Individuals and families with very low levels of income do not have to pay income tax and may receive some subsidy via the tax system.

In 1913 Tax Day, or the filing deadline, was fixed on March 1. However, it was moved to March 15 in 1918 and to April 15 in 1955, where it has remained since then. If April 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a civil holiday, the deadline is extended to the next working day. An extension due to a holiday may affect only certain states. In 2007, the residents of some states were granted an extension due to the disruption to public life in many areas caused by a huge Nor'easter storm. In some years the observance of Emancipation Day (April 16) in Washington, D.C., may be the reason to extend the national deadline. In 2007, that observance on Monday had the effect of extending the deadline to Tuesday, April 17.

Keep abreast of important dates and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Opening day

(April 6, 2013) Today is opening day for spring trout fishing in New Jersey. And what a perfect cool, clear spring day it is for angling. Beginning at 8 a.m. many area lakes and streams are open for fishermen. To fish for trout, a valid annual N.J. fishing license and trout stamp are required for residents between 16 and 70 plus non-residents 16 or older. Others may fish for free.

Last month the State of New Jersey's Fish and Wildlife division began augmenting trout populations with regular stocking of hatchery grown fish. In some streams and lakes these are net stocked (scooped out a tank truck and lowered to the water using hand nets) and float stocked (dispersed around the lake by boat). In other places tank trucks are simply driven to the shoreline where trout are dumped into the lake or stream.
Stocking consists mostly of brown and brook trout, although other species of trout, such as rainbow, lake trout, and other more exotic types are found in some waters.

These stockings often leave fish circulating close to the place in which they are put. In some cases the fish are dumped at convenient boat launch ramps or near docks or bridges. This improves the odds of catching trout in places that are easily accessible.

The stocking trucks from Pequest Trout Hatchery in Oxford began rolling on March 18 as the spring pre-season distribution of this year's trout got under way. By year's end, about 600,000 trout will be stocked throughout the state. The "production trout" average 10.5" but were kept company prior to opening day by some of the more than 6,000 three- to eight-pound breeder trout which also are being stocked. This spring, trout will be placed in 88 streams and 90 ponds and lakes throughout New Jersey. Those trout will be in addition to some of the 26,000 bruisers still in the water from stockings in the fall and winter. Fortunately for the state's anglers, trout remain available throughout the summer in many waters.

For more information, check out the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife website at It lists waters stocked with trout and when the stockings take place throughout the season. The site also carries a host of other fishing news and information, including a complete recital of rules and regulations. Fishing enthusiasts even can purchase licenses on line. Those under 16 and resident senior citizens over 69 do not need a license.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring holy days

(March 23, 2013) Easter and Passover, both movable spring holidays, occur this week this year. The method for determining the dates is complex, based on lunisolar calendars. Even though it seems as if winter is still here, the holidays follow the vernal equinox, the start of spring, which was March 20.

The Christian Holy Week begins tomorrow, Palm Sunday, March 24, and ends on Holy Saturday, which falls on March 30, the day before Easter Sunday, March 31. Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and 36, traditionally 33.

The Easter celebration comes after Lent, a 40-day preparatory period of fasting, prayer and penance. The last week, Holy Week, begins with Palm Sunday remembering Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and continues with Holy Thursday honoring the Last Supper (his last Passover seder), Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death, and Easter Vigil Saturday, a commemoration of the day that Jesus lay in his tomb. Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration of church song and family feasting.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.

Passover 2013 begins at sundown on Monday, March 25. That is the date, this year, which corresponds to the 15th of Nissan, the day according to the Bible, on which the first Passover occurred and on which all subsequent Passovers always begin. The holiday lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days everywhere else, reflecting a long-held custom honoring the fact that maintaining an accurate liturgical calendar far from Israel, where Jewish religious authority was centered in ancient times, was not so simple.  The longer observance is designed to make sure nobody fails to observe the holiday on the appropriate day.

It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Families celebrate at a ceremonial meal called a seder featuring symbolic foods (unleavened bread, bitter herbs, a mixture of apples and nuts, roasted egg, parsley or celery, roasted lamb shank and wine) and reading of the Haggadah which tells the Exodus story.

Keep abreast of important dates and more by reading Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs online at Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail me at to find out about blogging, a free, simple communication tool.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Last winter blast?

(March 19, 2013) Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, is the first day of spring this year, beginning with the vernal equinox at 7:02 a.m. (EDT) in the Northern Hemisphere.

The new season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. You'd never know spring was so near by the winter blast of snow that came here yesterday and today.

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” Days and nights are about equal everywhere and the sun rises and sets due east and west.

At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the sun. (However, the tilt of Earth relative to its plane of orbit, called the ecliptic plane, is always about 23.5 degrees.)

Facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Name days

(March 17, 2013) Today is St. Patrick's Day, my name day. When I was just a young girl my mother told me I was named Patricia in memory of her firstborn, a son that died at birth on St. Patrick's Day. So every year, I remember my parents' sadness at his passing and happiness at my coming, the first of five children.

We're not Irish, but St. Patrick's Day was always a big day. Another special day coming this week is the Feast of St. Joseph, Tuesday, March 19, my father's birthday and name day. He would have been 100 this year. He always told us kids (and the grandkids too) we could have the day off from school in honor of his birthday. In our parish grade school we did get the day off courtesy of our pastor, also named Joseph, who shared my dad's sentiments. Those were the good old days!

I don't remember a lot from the past, but these are among my few special memories. On the other hand, my husband says he remembers his very first step. He does have a very good memory and regales anyone who will listen with stories from long ago.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Time to spring ahead

(March 9, 2013) Set your clocks ahead one hour before retiring tonight because Daylight Saving Time (DST) officially starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. It will end the first Sunday in November.

Benjamin Franklin first thought up the idea of daylight saving in 1784. It wasn't instituted until World War I, when it went into effect to save energy used for lights. The Standard Time Act established time zones and daylight saving in 1918, but it was short-lived. Daylight saving was repealed the following year.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established DST throughout the United States and gave states the option to exempt themselves. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not follow DST. Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa also skip out on the clock-changing fun.

In 1974 and 1975, Congress extended daylight saving to save energy during the energy crisis. In 2007, DST got a few weeks longer, running from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

About 70 countries around the world observe daylight saving, but many countries near the equator do not.

Facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Presidents Day

(Feb. 16, 2013) Monday, Feb. 18, is Presidents Day, a state holiday in New Jersey, also known as Washington's Birthday, a federal holiday. Governmental offices are closed and there is no postal service. Most schools close for the day or more for a mid-winter recess, but this year, because of school closures due to Superstorm Sandy in October, some days off have been rescinded.

The holiday, observed on the third Monday of February, honors presidents of the United States, including George Washington, the nation's first president. His birthday actually is Feb. 22.

Some states pay particular attention to Abraham Lincoln, another notable president, as his birthday is close in time, Feb. 12. In the weeks or days leading up to the holiday, schools often organize events and lessons for students about the U.S. presidents, Lincoln and Washington in particular. It is a popular day for stores to hold winter sales.

Check your Recorder Community Newspapers for ads about Presidents Day sales and activities. Enjoy the weekend!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What a full week!

(Feb. 10, 2013)  Today marks the Chinese New Year; Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the day of feasting before the start of Christians' penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday; then Thursday is Valentine's Day for lovers. However, none of these days are official national holidays requiring close of business or lack of service.

According to the Chinese calendar, in 2013, Saturday, Feb. 9, was the last day of the Year of the Dragon, while Sunday ushers in the Year of the Water Snake. The dates change each year thanks to the specifics of the calendar, which is based on solar/lunar happenings – though most Chinese people use the Gregorian, or western calendar, for daily life, the traditional calendar is still employed for major holidays like Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year.

Celebrated by more than a billion and a half people around the world, the Year of the Snake marks the halfway point through the 12 Chinese astrological signs. The symbolic animal is believed to impart certain characteristics on those born during that year, and people born during previous snake years (like 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989 and 2001 – but bearing in mind lunar calendar dates) can expect good fortune during 2013.

The specific attributes of "snakes" aren't all that different from how they're perceived in Western culture: careful and stealthy, planning out details before they make moves, with a preference for working alone. And then, of course, there's their charismatic side, which easily seduces others to do their will.

But as for the celebrations, expect to see the traditional dragon dancing, lighting of fireworks and yes, snake motifs in Chinatowns and Chinese communities. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be part of these celebrations? Don't forget to wish people "Gung hay fat choy," or "Sun leen fai lok," two Cantonese phrases hoping for prosperity for the new year.

Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is another celebration day. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, it is the last day of Carnival feasting before the 40 days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday. New Orleans is known for its days-long Mardi Gras festivities featuring a colorful concluding parade of costumed revelers.

In days of old, Shrove Tuesday was the day all households were to use up all milk, eggs and fat to prepare for the strict fasting of Lent in preparation for Easter Sunday. These ingredients were made into pancakes, a meal which came to symbolize preparation for the discipline of Lent, from the English tradition. “Shrove” comes from the verb “to shrive” (to confess and receive absolution) prior to the start of the Lenten season. Another name for the days before Lent is Carnival which means "farewell to meat."

Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter, the celebration of Christ's Resurrection. It is a movable feast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter, this year on March 31. It can occur as early as Feb. 4 or as late as March 10.

Christians will start their observance of Lent this year on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Lent will continue until Holy Saturday, March 30. “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencton" – meaning “spring” or “lengthening” from the time of year when the days grow longer. The season covers 40 days (excluding Sundays which are little feasts of the Resurrection).  Some believe that the word “Lent” may derive from the Latin "lentare," which means “to bend.” This understanding reinforces a sense of Lent as a time of preparation for personal and collective transformation.

In the early church, Lent was the time of preparation for the Easter, Pascha (Christian Passover) baptism of converts to the faith. Persons were to receive the sacrament of “new birth” following a period of fasting, penitence and preparation. Just as the children of Israel had been delivered from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, Christians are delivered from the bondage of sin. On Ash Wednesday, many Christians have ashes (prepared from the previous year’s palms) put on their foreheads as a sign of repentance and mortality.

St. Valentine's Day, commonly known as Valentine's Day, is observed on Feb. 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them. The feast began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular story associated with St. Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her.

Today, Valentine's Day is associated with romantic love following the lead of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Lovers exchange valentines, usually greeting cards or notes of love, as well as sweets and other presents.

For more information on these special dates and others, check Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Anyone interested in becoming a Recorder blogger is invited to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Early spring?

(Feb. 6, 2012) Saturday was Groundhog Day when, according to legend, Punxsutawney (Pa.) Phil comes out of his burrow to check for his shadow. If he sees it, that sight predicts six more weeks of winter. Well, Phil, along with a lot of other predictors, did not see his shadow so spring is on its way soon. It can't come fast enough for me. The current cold temperatures are bone-chilling.

For more than 120 years, Punxsutawney Phil annually has offered his predictions, based on whether he sees his shadow (more winter) or not (an early spring) after emerging from his burrow in Punxsutawney, Pa, located outside of Pittsburgh and part of Jefferson County.

While the rest of the nation was becoming more urban, Jefferson County remained more rural with only one eighth of the population living in places with 2,500 people or more (compared to nearly half statewide and more than a third in the U.S.). Many Jefferson residents worked in the farming industry.

Groundhog Day originally was called Candlemas, a day that Germans said the hibernating groundhog took a break from slumbering to check the weather. If the creature sees its shadow, and is frightened, winter will hold on and hibernating will continue, but if not, the groundhog will stay awake and spring will come early.

The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place in 1887 and Phil has gone on to star in a blockbuster film, dominate the early February news cycle, and even appear on Oprah. He also has his own Beanie Baby and his own flower.

Fun facts like these can be found in Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online at Any local individual or organization representative who would like to join the growing list of Recorder bloggers is welcome to call me at (908) 832-7420 or e-mail for details on this simple, free communication tool.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Inauguration days

(Jan. 19, 2013) Presidential inauguration day is tomorrow, Jan. 20. Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday this year, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the official oath of office to President Barack Obama in a private ceremony that day. The public swearing in on the Capitol Building’s West Front — at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office — will take place the next day, Monday, Jan. 21, which in 2013 is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Obama will use two historic Bibles — one from the 1861 inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the traveling Bible of Martin Luther King Jr., the slain black civil rights leader whose birthday is commemorated annually on the third Monday of January. King's actual birth date is Jan. 15, 1929, and he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking King's birthday. In 1994, Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. It  is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." The MLK Day of Service is part of United We Serve, the president's national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to the nation's most pressing problems. The Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves citizens closer to  King's vision of a "Beloved Community."

King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live— creating the Beloved Community.

Most governmental offices will be closed on Monday. For more details on the holiday, check Recorder Community Newspapers. You can check the papers online here at along with their blogs written by community volunteers. Any individual or local organization representative interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers may contact me by telephone at (908) 832-7420 or via e-mail at for information on this free, simple 21st communication tool.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Iced in

(Jan. 17, 2013) Trees in the woods are all encased in ice from overnight precipitation. Frozen snow has us iced in since our driveway and lane are coated in ice kept frozen by the low temperatures. It's a good time to  read and write.

Check out the news and blogs at Recorder Community Newspapers' website online at for local information on your area.

Anyone interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers may contact me at or call (908) 832-7420 and I will explain this simple 21st century communication tool.