History of Mother’s Day

May 2, 2013  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

Contrary to popular belief, Mother’s Day was not conceived and fine-tuned in the boardroom of Hallmark. The earliest tributes to mothers date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities, and to the offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ. In England this holiday was expanded to include all mothers and was called Mothering Sunday.

In the United States, Mother’s Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it “Mother’s Work Day.”

Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Legend has it that young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.”

Anna began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna’s mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother’s favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day. In 1914 Anna’s hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.

At first, people observed Mother’s Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity associated with Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day’s sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother’s group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother’s day tradition.

Despite Jarvis’s misgivings, Mother’s Day has flourished in the United States. In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.

History of Easter

March 14, 2013  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

What is Easter?:

Like pagans, Christians celebrate the end of death and the rebirth of life; but instead of focusing upon nature, Christians believe that Easter marks the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected after spending three days dead in his tomb. Some argue that the word Easter comes form Eostur, the Norse word for spring, but it’s more likely that it comes from Eostre, the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess.

Dating Easter:

Easter can occur on any date between March 23rd and April 26th and is closely related to the timing of the Spring Equinox. The actual date is set as the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after March 21, one of the first days of spring. Originally Easter was celebrated at the same time as Jews celebrated Passover, the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Eventually this was moved to Sundays, which had become the Christian sabbath.

Origins of Easter:

Although Easter is probably the oldest Christian celebration aside from the Sabbath, it wasn’t always the same as what people currently think of when they look at Easter services. The earliest known observance, Pasch, occurred between the second and fourth centuries. These celebrations commemorated both Jesus’ death and his resurrection at once, whereas these two events have been split up between Good Friday and Easter Sunday today.

Easter, Judaism, and Passover:

Christian celebrations of Easter were originally tied to Jewish celebrations of Passover. For Jews, Passover is a celebration of deliverance from bondage in Egypt; for Christians, Easter is a celebration of deliverance from death and sin. Jesus is the Passover sacrifice; in some narratives of the Passion, the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples is a Passover meal. It is argued, then, that Easter is the Christian Passover celebration.

Early Easter Celebrations:

Early Christian church services included a vigil service before the Eucharist. The vigil service consisted of a series of psalms and readings, but it is no longer observed every Sunday; instead, Roman Catholics observe it only one day of the year, on Easter. Aside from the psalms and readings, the service also included the lighting of a paschal candle and the blessing of the baptismal font in the church.

Easter Celebrations in Eastern Orthodox & Protestant Churches:

Easter retains great importance for Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches as well. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, there is an important procession which symbolizes the failed search for the body of Jesus, followed a return to the church where lit candles symbolize Jesus’ resurrection. Many Protestant churches hold interdenominational services in order to focus on the unity of all Christians and as part of a culmination of special church services throughout Holy Week.

Meaning of Easter in Modern Christianity:

Easter is treated not simply as a commemoration of events that occurred at one time in the past – instead, it is regarded as a living symbol of the very nature of Christianity. During Easter, Christians believe that they symbolically pass through death and into a new life (spiritually) in Jesus Christ, just as Jesus passed through death and three days later rose from the dead.Although Easter is just one day in the liturgical calendar, in reality preparations for Easter take place throughout the 40 days of Lent, and it plays a central role in the following 50 days of Pentecost (also known as the Easter season). Thus, Easter can rightly be regarded as the central day in the entire Christian calendar.

There is a deep connection between Easter and baptism because during the time of early Christianity, the season of Lent was used by catechumens (those who wanted to become Christians) to prepare for their baptisms on Easter day – the only day of the year when baptisms for new Christians were performed. This is why the blessing of the baptismal font on Easter night is so important today.

Flower Power by David Brown

The History of Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2013  |  Holidays, Uncategorized  |  No Comments

The History of Valentine’s Day

The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

In addition to a bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women’s names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration.

While this pairing of couples set the tone for today’s holiday, it wasn’t called “Valentine’s Day” until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.

After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.
What’s Cupid Got to Do with It?

According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid was known to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows. But Cupid didn’t just cause others to fall in love – he himself fell deeply in love.

As legend has it, Cupid fell in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but Venus, jealous of Psyche’s beauty, forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche, of course, couldn’t resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three hard tasks, the last of which caused Psyche’s death.

Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Pysche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul.
Fun Facts

Approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. Half of those are sent through Care2 (OK, maybe not HALF… or even half of half… but we are growing fast!)
In order of popularity, Valentine’s Day cards are given to: teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, Koko the gorilla.
The expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from a Valentine’s Day party tradition. Young women would write their names on slips of paper to be drawn by young men. A man would then wear a woman’s name on his sleeve to claim her as his valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Special Holiday Moments with Granduca's Staff

Special Holiday Moments with Granduca’s Staff

December 24, 2012  |  Holidays  |  No Comments

Granduca’s wonderful and international staff spent a few moments sharing how they celebrate the holidays and their special family traditions. We would love to hear how you celebrate the Holidays with your families. Please share in the comments box at the bottom of the page. Happy Holidays!

Every day in December is so exciting. I wish it could be Dec. 1st through the 15th the entire month. Christmas Eve is my favorite time. It is so calm and peaceful. Everything is done, and if it is not done, it’s not going to be done. As a child my family would put up the handmade ceramic nativity early in December; each Christmas Eve after dinner and midnight mass we took turns placing the baby Jesus at the nativity. It is the simple things that matter most at the holidays; a cup of tea shared with a good friend remains a cherished memory.

- Mary Grace Gray, General Manager

After work is my children’s time and during most of the year its filled with football practice, swimming, etc. but through the holidays they decide how they want to spend this time together with me. It is our tradition to open a gift on Christmas Eve and cook soul food listening to my favorite childhood holiday songs. Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorite times of the year as I think of my childhood growing up in Chicago.

– Nakia Holmes, Executive Assistant

My mom’s family is from Louisiana so we have Gumbo on Christmas Eve. I love all the lights and pretty stuff.”

–Heather Hickman, Sales Manager

My kids are my world. My boys are 9 and 10 years old. They know I work long hours, but the most important thing for me is to give them a kiss when I come home. Love from my kids is the most important thing to me. We celebrate 2 Christmases with our Ethiopian holidays with dorowet. Dorowet is traditionally very spicy and perhaps the best known food from Ethiopia. It’s often referred to as the country’s national dish.”

- Fekade Wolde, Director of Food & Beverage

Christmas Eve is my baby boy’s birthday so I cook chicken and Korean bbq for him. My baby boy is actually my dog Yanni, who is a Maltese.”

- Grace Kim, Human Resources Manager

“On Christmas Day we prepare lots of food. I learned from my Mom in China that from Christmas until New Year’s no one works, we just enjoy our time. We cook Peking duck, chicken, spring rolls – enough food for twenty people when there are only four of us. We also follow the Asian calendar.”

- Jeremie Heng, Maitre D’, Bar and Wine Manager

“I have two kids that are adopted from Russia. Christmas morning is extra special to watch them run down to see what Santa brought them.”

– Jane Whatley, Executive Assistant to Mr. Borlenghi

“I leave my Charlie Brown Christmas tree all year long. It’s Christmas all year at my house as the person who gave it to me is very special.”

– Ray Guyton, Director of Sales & Marketing

“A good feeling black and white movie. A roasted chicken with chestnuts, nice selection of cheese and wine of course…and end it all with a buche de Noel or “Christmas log”.

– Christine Bayol, Director of Operations

“My family is all back in Italy. I still decorate my house and go buy my Panettone and all the typical Italian Christmas desserts. My nativity set is important to me. As a child our nativity set was huge. We would build mountains out of cardboard and use fresh moss. On Christmas Day we would put the baby Jesus in its place. Then after Christmas we would start to move the three kings closer to the nativity every day.”

–Renato de Pirro, Executive Chef