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Holidays Trivia

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The British tradition of lighting bonfires on Guy Fawkes' Day on November 5th, not only commemorates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, but also perpetuates the Celtic festival of Samain when fires were lit to ensure the sun's return after winter.

The Canadian Tulip Festival is the world's largest tulip festival. Held in mid-May in Ottawa and Hull, this festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. Two million tulips were planted as part of the Millennium Tulip Challenge in 2000. Up to five million tulips bloomed in the National Capital Region, coinciding perfectly with the festival.

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. Around 2000 B.C., Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 25, although they themselves had no written calendar.

The celebration of Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire.

The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America says that 36 million boxes of chocolate are sold for Valentine's Day. According to Hershey's Chocolate Company, Valentine's Day ranks fourth in sales behind Halloween, Christmas, and Easter.

The classic Ukrainian tradition of writing pysanky, the ornate decorating of Easter eggs, dates back to over 1,000 years. The present-day symbolic ornamentation of the pysanky consist mainly of geometric motifs. The most important motif on the batik-decorated egg (psyanka) is the stylized symbol of the Sun, seen as a broken cross, triangle, and an 8-point rosette or a star.

The day before January 1 is called Silvester in Germany. The holiday is named after pope Silvester I, who died 335 A.D. Typically, Germans will meet somewhere or gather together in their houses on Silvester, waiting until midnight to celebrate the new year.

The early Celtic calender began on November 1st each year, which was celebrated with the festival of Samain, when ghosts and demons roamed the earth. This was later instituted in 835 AD as All Saints' Day, or as we know it now, Halloween.

The festival of Easter is said to derive from the old English word Eostre, a northern goddess of spring. It was traditionally a time of rejoicing that growing things were reborn in spring. The Christian festival was superimposed onto this.

The first American publisher of valentines was printer and artist Esther Howland. During the 1870s, her elaborate lace cards were purchased by the wealthy, as they cost a minimum of 5 dollars — some sold for as much as 35 dollars. Mass production eventually brought prices down, and the affordable "penny valentine" became popular with the lower classes.

Good King Wenceslas was actually only Duke of Bohemia, not a king. He lived in the tenth century.

Groundhog Day owes its origins to the ancient Greeks who believed that an animal's shadow was its soul, blackened by the past year's sins. While the animal hibernates its soul is cleansed by nature, if it wakes up before winter is over, it will see its dirty shadow and be horrified and return to its den for more purification. Also believing this were the Palatine Germans, ancestors of the Pennsylvania Dutch, who settled in Pennsylvania and couldn't find a dach, the animal they thought this referred to. A groundhog was substituted and a tradition was born.

Guadelupe Day, celebrated on December 12, is likely the most important religious holiday in Mexico. The day honors the vision of the Virgin Mary seen about 450 years ago by Juan Diego, a poor Indian. Many people walk long distances to reach the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe in Mexico City, the site of Diego's vision. Pictures and statues of the Virgin of Guadelupe are put in windows. Gifts of flowers, pigs, chickens, and eggs are brought to churches.

Heinz Vinegar commissioned a survey of Americans' Easter-egg habits, and found that blue was the favorite hue of 35 percent of the respondents when dyeing eggs. Purple (18 percent), pink (17 percent), green (7 percent), and yellow and red (each 6 percent) trailed. After the egg hunt is over, 64 percent of Americans said they eat them and 22 percent throw them away. Ten percent don't color eggs, and 2 percent said they let them rot.

Historians claim that the first valentine was a poem sent in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time. In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first Valentine's Day cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800s and now the date is very commercialized. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14.

In 1997, a Menorah was built in Latrun, near the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It was more than 60 feet tall, weighed 17 metric tons, and took up an area of 600 square meters. A rabbi was lifted in a crane each night of the holiday to light the candles on the menorah, which was made of metal pipes.

The first Thanksgiving celebration was held in 1621.

The holiday Shichi-Go-San, or “Seven-Five-Three,” in Japan honors children who are three, five, or seven years old. These ages are thought to be especially lucky. On November 15, families who have children of these ages take part in a special festi

The meaning of the Chinese phrase gong hay fot choy is "Wishing You a Prosperous New Year."

The night of January 20 is “Saint Agnes's Eve,” which is regarded as a time when a young woman dreams of her future husband.

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