Memorial Day History

This is a little history about Memorial Day.  On Monday, Americans will be celebrating Memorial Day.  Considered by many to be the opener to the summer season, the holiday actually has roots that stretch back through the nation’s history to the Civil War.

That history, shared by the  Department of Veterans Affairs, started when the head of an organization of union veterans, called the Grand Army of the Republic, established Decoration Day on May 5, 1868.  The day was meant to be a time for citizens to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that it should be observed on May 30, possibly about the right time so that flowers would be blooming all over the country.

Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday in 1971 that would be celebrated on the last Monday in May and would honor all soldiers who had died in the nation’s wars.  In addition to that, the National Moment of Remembrance Act passed in 2000 suggests that people pause wherever they are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day to remember those who have died in service.  What will you be doing this Memorial Day weekend?

Easter Bunny Martini

This is a martini recipe to help you celebrate Easter.  It also helps calm your nerves if you are cooking for a large group or if you are around family members that are annoying you.  Don’t let the look of the martini fool you.  While it looks like a creamy chocolate milkshake, there is enough vodka in it to make any Easter (or any day) a good one.  It was made by Jeff the Bartender at Toscana Restaurant in Ridgefield, CT, http://www.toscanaridgefield.com.  If you live in the area, go there for some great Italian food.  Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  •  1/3 combination of Absolut vodka and Absolut vanilla vodka
  • 1/3 Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 1/3 dark creme de cacao
  • 1 small chocolate bunny (for garnish)

Directions:

Place ingredients into a martini shaker with ice.  Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Using a small knife, make a slice upwards under the ribs of the chocolate bunny.  (Attention animal lovers:  this will not hurt the bunny).  Hook on the rim of the martini glass and drink.

Enjoy your bunny martini and have a Happy Easter…..if you can remember it after drinking this martini.  What holiday themed drinks do you make for your family and friends?

Happy Valentine’s Day With History

This is Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011.  I like the holiday only because I have someone who buys me cards and wishes me a happy day……and yes, this person loves me.  I did not like it when I was single.  I have a friend who used to go out with me on the evening of Valentine’s Day.  It seems we were always dressed in a depressing manner….you know, lots of black and other dark hues.  We would sit in a random bar/restaurant and moan, groan and laugh at all the couples who were together for this special night.  Love, who needs it.  We were jealous!  So now that I have someone special in my life, we always try to go out with our single friends on this special day so that they aren’t left by themselves to make fun of  any couple who ventures out to express their affection.  Anyway, hecklers tend not to be in fashion on this special day of love.  So this morning, I asked myself where did this idea of a special day get its beginning?  Is there such a person as St. Valentine?  A little research across the web and, low and behold, a history I obtained from Yahoo Buzz that I thought you might enjoy.

“So how was Valentine’s Day created?  Who was St. Valentine?  Was he a great lover a la Casanova?  Was he even a real person?  According to Catholic Online, St. Valentine was very real, but he probably wasn’t a smooth operator with the ladies.

“Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II.”  For his trouble, Valentine was beaten and then executed after authorities were unable to get him to renounce his faith.  His death occurred on February 14.

As with many events that occurred so long ago, other theories abound.  Indeed, there were several different Valentines, and nobody is 100 percent sure which one was which.  Some believe he was a priest, others believe he was a bishop, some believe he was a combination of the two, and still others believe he was someone else entirely.  All that said, there is little doubt among experts that Valentine did exist in one form or another.

As for how the holiday came to represent love and kisses, there are a few different theories for that as well. According to a blog specializing in saints, “some believe the Romans had a mid-February custom where boys drew the names of girls in honor of the sex and fertility goddess, Februata Juno.”  Others feel the custom of greetings “stems from the belief that birds begin to pair on that date.”

So today, if you are frantically searching for flowers, a box of candy or sitting at a bar/restaurant looking to sneer at anyone who looks romantic, remember….it’s all thanks to the one and only St. Valentine, whoever he was.