Notable figures mark Fourth of July on social media

Published: Tuesday, July 04, 2017 @ 10:26 AM

Independence Day celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Notable figures are marking the Fourth of July holiday with special greetings on social media.

Everyone from President Donald Trump to Paris Hilton are posting videos, photos and messages showing how they are celebrating the holiday.

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Professor says 'Jingle Bells' is rooted in racism

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 2:20 PM

The History Of The Christmas Tree

It's one of the most famous Christmas carols, but a Boston University professor is calling it racist.

BU theater historian Kyna Hamill makes the argument in a research paper published earlier this year, “The story I must tell:" "Jingle Bells" in the Minstrel Repertoire.

"Jingle Bells" is a hometown favorite for people from Medford. It was written by James Lord Pierpont, and there's a plaque in the city commemorating where he wrote the song.

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But Hamill said she looked into the history of the song, and of Pierpont's life. She said there's a different story entirely behind it.

"I don't have the definite answer to where he sat down and wrote the song," Hamill said in an interview for BU Today. "But—and this is where my town is going to be mad at me—it was absolutely not written in 1850 at the Simpson Tavern in Medford."

Hamill tracked down Pierpont's history, and found he was living in California in 1850, which is the year the song was allegedly written in Medford.

And that's not all, Boston25News reported.

Hamill found a playbill from the Harvard Theater Collection that shows the first time the song was performed was at Ordway Hall on Sept. 15, 1857, in blackface, during a minstrel show.

"The legacy of ‘Jingle Bells’ is, as we shall see, a prime example of a common misreading of much popular music from the nineteenth century in which its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history," Hamill argues in her research paper.

Hamill's research paper was published in September, Boston25News

Woman with dementia enjoys heartwarming visit with Santa

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 1:14 PM

A History of Santa

Santa Claus paid a special visit to a great-grandmother with dementia in New Mexico, proving that the magic of the season delights those of all ages.

Santa stopped by The Hartsocks’ Photography studio in Albuquerque Dec. 9 to spend time with one of his older fans. Karen, a great-grandmother who has dementia, posed with Santa for several heartwarming photos. The photo shoot was arranged by her daughter-in-law, Linda Rangel, KRQE reported.

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Rangel said that even though her mother-in-law is in the latter stages of dementia, her love of Santa Claus has remained. The photo studio wrote on its Facebook page that Karen has visited Santa at the mall for years, and even sleeps with a Santa doll, which she speaks to in her native Japanese. Karen recently entered hospice care, and her family wanted to capture her love for Santa in a photo shoot.

Santa gave Karen a busy blanket, designed to reduce restlessness and agitation in those with dementia.

The Hartsocks’ Photography studio posted photos from Karen's visit with Santa on its Facebook page. 

Christmas 2017: Top ugly holiday sweater ideas

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

A Celebration of Ugly Holiday Sweaters

In recent years, the combination of Christmas and tacky sweaters has taken on a life of its own. Festive people aspire to wear the ugliest holiday sweater possible. Whether it’s including as many adornments as possible, breaking out a ratty and worn polyester pullover or sporting animals in full holiday cheer, here’s a roundup of ugly Christmas sweater ideas to inspire you.
 
Shiny wreath
What’s says Christmas more than a wreath with a little shine? Take your Christmas tackiness to a new level with a shiny wreath pinned to your red or green sweater. For a little extra bling, string some lights to the wreath and load with a battery pack to keep it shining.
 
The fireplace
If the coziness of sitting by a blazing fire in the winter tickles your fancy, you’ll love this ugly Christmas sweater idea. This sweater can be pre-purchased with a trimmed fireplace and a pocket in the middle of sweater for your phone. Download an app on your phone to provide virtual flames.
 
Trim the tree
Get your craftiness ready to whirl with this shiny and embellished sweater. You’ll need shiny garland, small ornaments and lots of glue, but the end result is a tree to inspire even the grinchiest with a smidge of Christmas spirit. By the way: Don’t forget the ornament to top the tree.

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Stuffed stocking
Need some wine or sweet treats to keep you going through the holiday season? This stocking stuffer sweater is just what you need.
 
A beer lover’s Christmas
Yet another DIY ugly Christmas sweater idea, this one entails the usage of hundreds of bottle tops to make a Christmas tree. Take a red or green sweater and gather all your bottle tops. Arrange them on the sweater and glue them into the shape of a tree. Top off the tree with a metallic bow for a touch of glitz.
 
Snow globe
Bring the wishes of a White Christmas to life with this ugly Christmas sweater in the fashion of a snow globe. Take a plastic tablecloth and fold in half, being careful to stuff it with the insides with a pillow to look like artificial snow.
 
An ugly tie tree 
For this creation, all of the old ugly ties of Christmases pasts can be put to good use. Gather your ugly Christmas ties and arrange them in a tree pattern on an old sweater. Easy peasy Christmas sweater to don at all your holiday parties in the season.
 
Matching couple sweaters 
Want to look tacky as a pair? Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater connected to one other person to have double the fun and double the tackiness.
 
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Pay homage to Santa’s favorite reindeer and favorite helper of them all with this Christmas sweater. Start with a black sweater vest and decorate with big eyes and a red nose. Layer a brown long-sleeved shirt underneath the sweater vest, attaching stems to look like antlers on your sleeves.

Kwanzaa: 7 things to know

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:10 PM

Understanding Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a relatively modern holiday that began just over 50 years ago. Since then, Kwanzaa has grown in popularity and has been commemorated with postage stamp designs and mentioned by several presidents as part of their holiday greetings.
 
Unless you celebrate Kwanzaa, you may not be aware of the traditions and philosophy that are important to its meaning and celebration.
 
Here are seven things to know about Kwanzaa.

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Why and when it was created
 
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor. He created the holiday in the aftermath of the Watts riots in Los Angeles as an effort to unite and empower the African-American community, and it was first celebrated that year.
 
The origins of its name
 
Inspired by traditional harvest festivals, Kwanzaa takes its name from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits.” Over 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa, so Swahili, which is spoken by millions, was chosen since it’s a unifying language. An extra “a” was added to the end of the original word because seven children each wanted to represent a letter at the first Kwanzaa celebration.
 
Who can celebrate Kwanzaa

Because it’s celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, some people assume that Kwanzaa is an alternative to Christmas. It’s a cultural celebration that has a spiritual quality, but the holiday is not a religious one. And although it celebrates African culture, people of any race or ethnic background can participate in the holiday’s events and customs.
 
Why it lasts for seven days

Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a principle, which gives each day a specific meaning and purpose on which to focus. The seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
 
The colors of Kwanzaa

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green, and they’re used to represent unity for people of African descent worldwide. Black represents the people, red for their noble blood that unites them and green for the rich land of Africa.
 
The meaning of the candelabra

A seven-branched candelabra called a kinara is used to help discuss and celebrate the principles, with a new candle being lit each night. One is black, three are red and three are green, and the black candle is placed in the center. The black candle, which represents unity, is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa. Red candles are placed to the left and green to the right and are lit in that order. The order of the candles indicates that the people come first, followed by the struggle and then hope.
 
The importance of food

Food is an important part of many holidays, and Kwanzaa is no exception. Many people celebrate with their favorite African-American dishes – along with traditional African, Caribbean and other appropriate recipes – throughout the week. The holiday culminates with a feast (known as Karamu) on Dec. 31, with dishes meant to symbolize the past as well as the current growth of African culture. 

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