Tag Archives: holidays

Happy Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day!


On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, in the eleventh month…

In 1918, the armistice ending World War I signed at Compiègne, France went into effect ceasing fire on the Western Front. Eight months later, on June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles formally ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Forces.

French Marshal Ferdinand Foch orchestrated the major points of the armistice, which was signed in a railway car in the woods at Compiègne.


[Sidebar: Compiègne (both town and château) and its woodlands are quite lovely and you should visit them if you are ever in the Paris area, it’s a short train trip from the city, and is marred by much less mayhem than Versailles.]

President Woodrow Wilson inaugurated Remembrance Day in 1919, thusly:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

The holiday was renamed Veterans Day after World War II. In nations of the Commonwealth, November 11th is still referred to as Remembrance Day.

Most people are probably familiar with the red poppy as a symbol of this day. I recall as a child, every once in a while my mother would make a donation at an intersection and we would receive a paper or cloth poppy to twist around the rear-view mirror. Have not seen that recently though, ponderful.

The poem In Flanders Fields written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915. It is from the popularity of the poem and the ubiquity of poppies it describes in battlefield and makeshift cemeteries that the flower is known in this context as the Remembrance Poppy.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Amidst all the cosmic excited surrounding the advent of 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 (which has apparently caused the Great Pyramids of Giza to be closed to the public today), it would behoove us to remember the men and women to whom we owe so much on a day to remember veterans.

To take one more sidebar: The wearing of the symbolic poppy on Remembrance Day in Britain was deemed so crucial, that Prince William, President of the British Football Association,  apparently got real with FIFA on the topic of poppies and footballers. English football/soccer players wanted to wear embroidered poppies on their uniforms for games held this weekend. FIFA’s determination to be apolitical resulted in a resounding ban on the poppies, so the Duke sent a harsh missive their way, using such terms as “dismay” at FIFA’s decision, declaring that “the poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance, which has no political, religious or commercial connotations.”

Ashley Cole's boot, Daily Mail

FIFA has given in, and players are permitted to wear arm bands emblazoned with poppies for the games this Remembrance Day weekend.


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Filed under Informative, On A Serious Note

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!


Guy Fawkes Day has a certain cachet in my family.

Not because any of us grew up with the English tradition or are particularly interested in gunpowder, treason, or pyrotechnics (although, I do love a good bonfire, if I am to be honest), but because “Remember, remember the fifth of November” is a very useful ditty for remembering my parents’ anniversary.

Seriously. Without that rhyme, I would probably have to Google “Guy Fawkes Day” every year in order to determine whether my parents’ anniversary is the 4th, 5th, or 6th of November. I know it is in there somewhere, but you know, I wasn’t there when the party went down, so I really cannot be expected to keep track of the date with 100% accuracy. Without Guy Fawkes Day, I would utterly lost.

Long history story short: On November 5, 1605 a band of English Catholics attempted to blow up parliament in an effort to depose protestant King James I, hoping to replace him with a Catholic sovereign. Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding a cache of explosives beneath the House of Lords—hence, The Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes later confessed the details of the plot under torture and was sentenced to a gruesome death, which he avoid by jumping from the hanging scaffold and breaking his neck neatly. The foiling of the plot and the survival of James I was celebrated with bonfires. An official act was passed the following year, establishing the anniversary of the event as a holiday.

Museum of London

You may be familiar with the idea of a Guy Fawkes effigy being burned as part of the night’s revelry. Children’s used to build their own scarecrow-like Guy in advance, and beg money to go towards a fireworks fund for the night of the fifth.

So… even though apparently a massive bonfires and faux-burning are now generally frowned upon, as are non-municipal fireworks and begging for pennies to fund them… well, maybe you can light some sparklers or something. Dig out a creepy V is for Vendetta Fawkes mask and get festive tonight. Just don’t put out anyone’s eye.


Guy Fawkes!


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Filed under General Joy

Holiday Breaks

The people at NYmag.com took a Thanksgiving break, so I did too.

It just makes sense.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Week Things To Know

It’s America’s favorite short week—and in addition to whatever TSA shenanigans you might be getting up to at your local aerodrome—I’ve got just a couple of things for you to note while passing the time in whatever terribly unpleasant airport gate area you might currently be inhabiting.

  1. The esteemed internet news source (soon to be an IFC aired news source), the Onion News Network, has released their latest holiday investigation: Obama Outlines Moral, Philosophical Justifications For Turkey Pardon.
  2. If you are not already aware, you need to check out nerdboyfriend.com where the likes of George Harrison, Lorne Michaels, Paul Simon, Andy Warhol, Jim Henson, Bob Newhart, Harrison Ford, Peter O-Toole and many, many gillions more are pictured along with suggestions for achieving the look. But that is not even the point, the point is that it is hilarious and almost every photo on there is a complete gem.
  3. There’s also a Funny or Die exclusive interview in which we learn that Daniel Radcliffe is played by Harry Potter.

Ok, now I have to go cook for 36 hours or something along those lines. Oh and it’s freezing rain in Chicago… thank you weather. Thank. You.

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Filed under General Hilarity

I’m Just Not That Into Halloween

I’ve always tended to focus more on what a hassle it is to come up with a good Halloween costumes verses any potential fun that might be had from cavorting about in said costume.

Plus, as much as I am drawn to candy corn, I always regret it later when I start getting sugar cramps in my cheek–TRUE story.

Then there is the awkwardness (particularly when staying at family home where when gets a slew of candy-demanders) of giving out trick or treat candy to people my age or older.

I’m sorry, sir, but just because you have a Spiderman mask on (thus obstructing what I am sure is a lot of mature facial hair), I can still tell by your voice, your utter lack of trick-or-treating companions and the fact that you are 7 feet tall, that you are an adult. Go home.

On the upside, after dressing up as what was vaguely a French sailor/pirate and degenerated into Pirate Amélie on Saturday night, I did get to dress my ever-suffering puppy up as a bumblebee. This is particularly hilarious to a small select few because my graduate studies centered around Napoleon, who (as you probably don’t care to know) used the bumblebee as his emblem.

Learn something every day, don’t you?

Unfortunately—since I know you immediately held your breath upon reading about my costume—there are not yet any available pictures of my striped shirt, eye-patch, pincurls, purple beret ensemble. I also inexplicably wore my mother’s 1974 Midwood High School class ring. So sorry.

(Sidenote: WordPress spellcheck wanted me to correct “Spiderman” to “epidermal.”)


Filed under Dear Life, Ponderings