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Yule Tide Festivals

Winter Solstice on December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere is both the shortest day of the year, and the first day of Winter. The word solstice finds its root in the Latin words sol for sun and sistere, meaning “to stand.” The term also refers to new birth, as a new year rises from the

The Miraculous Gifts of St. Nicholas

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. These often over-looked lines from Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem about the night before Christmas raise at least two pertinent questions: Who was St. Nicholas? And, why does he need stockings? The Real St. Nicholas St. Nicholas

Time to “Deck the Halls”

With December almost upon us, it’s time to think about decorating for the festive season — a custom with long roots in our cultural history. Among the songs of the season, Deck the Halls seems to be about decorating dwellings and shops for Christmas, but, like many customs, the song and its meaning has changed

Thanksgiving in 18th Century New England

Recent research for my current project has turned up a few interesting insights into how eighteenth century New Englanders celebrated Thanksgiving, which makes an interesting change for the annual stories about the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Over a hundred years since the Pilgrims stepped ashore, colonial Americans did not worry about starvation or share the

The Disappearance of Glen & Bessie Hyde

In November 1928, Glen & Bessie Hyde disappeared while on an expedition to run all the rapids on the Colorado River. They were never seen again. The newlyweds were engaged in a publicity stunt they hoped would earn them fame and fortune. Obscure fame they still have; fortune, not so much. In many ways, it

Tremont House: America’s First Luxury Hotel

I once had a professor who advised his graduate students that one should never chase rabbits while hunting for bear. The metaphor was his way of saying that while doing research, one should not follow enticing facts unless they are directly related to the current research project. Otherwise, the project will never get done. It’s

The Challenge of National Novel Writing Month

In 1999 writer Chris Baty, who specializes in helping writers, challenged his friends to write 50,000 words and produce a novel during the 30 days of November. That year, 21 aspiring writers accepted the challenge. Fast forward to 2017 when 306,230 participants from around the world officially accepted the National Novel Writing Month challenge. The

Lady Agnes Frankland —A Rags to Riches Fable

I’m writing a story that occurs in Salem, Massachusetts between 1760 and 1820. It’s an interesting period in American history, a time when English people in North America decided to break away from Great Britain. The famous skirmishes at Lexington and Concord took place in April 1775, and agitated citizens of Massachusetts began choosing sides

Pumpkin Spice & All Things Nice

There are many ways we know the season of Autumn has begun. The calendar informs us the official date is September 22. People whose school days ended sometime in the last century associate Autumn with the beginning of school. There’s the turning of the leaves, the nights drawing in, and the nip in the air.

The Rehabilitation of Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to address a Congressional Committee and the first woman to run for president. She and her sister were known as spiritualists as well as being the first women to own a newspaper and a stock brokerage. But Victoria Woodhull’s most notorious reputation was her advocacy for free love. Thomas