Black Friday is an annual shopping event observed in the United States on the Friday after Thanksgiving, during which most major retailers open early and offer a variety of promotional sales and discounts, to mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Since 2005, it has remained the busiest shopping day of the entire year.
The earliest known use of the term “Black Friday” in the context of the holiday shopping season can be found in a December 1961 newsletter describing the heavy traffic jam in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Not always – but most of us will smile at the sight anyway. A favorite of young and old alike for its vivid color and cheery song, the American robin is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
We think of American Robins as harbingers of spring, so when we see them during the winter, what does that mean? Is spring coming early? Are there a few confused birds in your neighborhood? Find out in our Question of the Week: …read more
A midwinter civic festival held in Ottawa, Canada, Winterlude is primarily a celebration of winter sports. The Rideau Canal, which has been referred to as “the world’s longest skating rink,” is nearly eight kilometers (five miles) long and provides an excellent outdoor skating facility. There is also snowshoeing, skiing, curling (in which thick, heavy stone and iron disks are slid across the ice toward a target), speedskating, dogsled racing, and tobogganing. For those who prefer not to participate in the many sporting events, there is an elaborate snow sculpture exhibit known as Ice Dream.
Grant performed with an acrobatic comedy troupe in England before he found parts in stage musicals. After he made his film debut in 1932, his debonair charm, good looks, and distinctive voice made him a popular star in sophisticated comedies such as Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, and The Philadelphia Story. He also starred in many Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, including North by Northwest. He received an honorary Academy Award in 1970. What was his last film? Discuss
There is a church in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, known as Our Lord of the Happy Ending (bonfim). Today during the Bonfim Festival, hundreds of Brazilian women dress in the traditional white dresses of colonial Bahia and form a procession to the church. The bahianas balance jars of water, scented with blossoms, on their heads. The washing of the steps at Bonfim Basilica on the second Thursday after Epiphany is the highlight of the festival.
Belushi was an American comedian, actor, and musician. He started out with the Second City comedy troop in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, in 1971, achieved national recognition in National Lampoon’s Lemmings in 1973, and joined Saturday Night Live as an original cast member in 1975. He also starred in several films, including Animal House and The Blues Brothers, before dying of a drug overdose in 1982. Who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his death?
The Hala Festival has been held in Kuwait every year since 1999 to celebrate the coming of spring and to promote Arab culture and the local economy. The festival begins with an opening carnival and parade, culminating in a lavish fireworks display. Over the course of the subsequent weeks, visitors are able to enjoy such features as performances of music from around the Middle East, exhibitions of calligraphy and cars, sporting events, and religious events. Shopping is a focal point of the festival, with more than 100 local merchants taking part in prize drawings and special offers. …read more
A term coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe what he called “meaningful coincidences,” synchronicity is the experience of two or more causally unrelated events that are conceptually similar and have very little chance of occurring together randomly—such as the discovery of the same idea by two different people at approximately the same time. Although Jung had introduced the concept of synchronicity in the 1920s, he did not fully explain it until when? Discuss
Serendipity – noun – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
synonyms: chance, happy chance, accident, happy accident, fluke
Defined as the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident, the word “serendipity” was first coined in 1754 by English author Horace Walpole in one of his more than 3,000 letters. In it, he explains that the root of his new word is taken from “The Three Princes of Serendip,” a Persian fairytale about princes who “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” Past serendipitous discoveries include x-rays, helium, and what else? …read more
On February 5, 1990, Pakistanis protested against Indian rule in an armed uprising. More than 80,000 Kashmiris lost their lives during the demonstrations. Pakistan People’s Party Government leader Benazir Bhutto responded by declaring the day a public holiday. Along many of the major roads in the capital city, banners are displayed to show Pakistan’s solidarity with the Kashmirs. A five-minute period of silence is observed to remember those who were killed in the uprising. In addition, every province plans their own events, including rallies or processions, seminars, and speeches. Discuss
This is a raucous salute in Bishop, California, to that workhorse of the ages, the mule. Mule Days was started in 1969 by mule-packers who wanted to have a good time and initiate their summer packing season. Now about 50,000 people show up in Bishop for the celebration. A highlight is the Saturday morning 250-unit parade, billed as the world’s largest non-motorized parade. Other events include mule-shoeing contests and such muleback cowboy events as steer roping and barrel racing. There are also mule shows and sales, western art, barbecues, and country dances.
Burning Man is a counterculture festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, conceived by Larry Harvey in 1986 to honor the Summer Solstice. It has since become a populist phenomenon, where participants set up a temporary “city,” creating their own community. People are expected to interact with one another, produce and display artwork, play music, do sponteneous performances—as long as they actively participate. The 50-foot-high Man towers over Black Rock City until the climax of the festival on Saturday night, when the figure is ignited and the Man becomes a fiery blaze. Discuss
The motto E Pluribus Unum (Latin for “One from many”) was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, but was never adopted as the national motto through legislative action.
The Lim Festival is an alternating-song contest, held in the commune of Lung Giang, about 18 miles from Hanoi, in the Bac Ninh Province of Vietnam. This is a courtship event, in which girls and boys of different villages carry on a singing courtship dialogue. The singers take part in what is a vocal contest with set rules; one melody, for example, can only be used for two verses of the song. The storylines of the songs tell of daily events. Other Lim Festivals takes place in other villages in the province with processions and games such as …read more
These late-January festivities mark a highlight in the ceremonial year at San Ildefonso Pueblo near Santa Fe, New Mexico. January 23 is the pueblo’s feast day, celebrated with a special church service and dances, such as the Buffalo, Comanche, and Deer dances. The dances are a way of paying respect and giving thanks for the animals on which people depend for food and other materials. On the evening before, there are bonfires and a firelight procession.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to archiving the history of rock music. It was created in 1983 but did not have a home until 1995, when it opened its Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, after civic leaders pledged $65 million in public money to fund its construction. The first group of inductees included Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and James Brown, to name a few.
The Palermo stone is the largest known fragment of an ancient Egyptian stele containing the earliest extant historic annals. It was engraved around the 25th century BCE and includes a hieroglyphic listing of the kings of ancient Egypt, the years of their reigns, notations of historic events, and information pertaining to the flooding of the Nile. The stone was so named because it is housed in a museum in Palermo, Italy, but small pieces of it are held in what other cities?