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Interesting Starts of a Few Traditions

Updated on September 8, 2013

April Fool's

In the early 16th-century, France celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25. The celebration lasted for a week ending on April 1st. Gifts were exchanged followed by dinners and parties on April 1st. In 1564, King Charles changed New Year’s Day to January 1st. Many Frenchmen continued to celebrate the week ending April 1st. They were often called fools. Jokers began inviting them to parties and dinners that didn’t exist, called this an April Fools Joke. Jokes and games continued. It was almost two hundred years before the custom of April Fool’s Day reached America.

Groundhog Day

It wasn’t a groundhog, it was a woodchuck or a badger, and it had nothing to do with weather. When the woodchuck first awakes from hibernation, he is hungry and in need of a female companion. If he decides to go outside and look for both he does, if not he crawls back into his hole and sleeps some more. The legend started in the sixteenth-century Germany. When the German immigrants settled in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, they could not find badgers, but found many groundhogs. The weather conditions in that area of Pennsylvania dictated the time of the year to continue the legend as February 2nd. If the day was sunny and the groundhog was scared of his own shadow, he went back to hibernate. The farmers would not plant crops. The actuary of the groundhog’s weather predictions is roughly 28%.

Pork Prize

Bring home the bacon had nothing to do with winning a victory or bring home a cash prize. In the twelfth century real bacon was given to the happily married couple.

A portion of cured and salted bacon was awarded to the husband and wife who proved they lived in harmony and fidelity more than other completing couples. The couples were questioned by a jury of six bachelors and six maidens. The winners “brought home the bacon.”

paper or Plastic?

Americans use more than forty billion paper bags per year in recent years. But, the paper bag is only 130 years old. Charles Stilwell invented the brown paper bag in 1883. Bags used before were pasted together with V-shaped bottoms. Stilwell’s design had a flat-bottom with pleated sides. He named his design S.O.S., for self-opening sack. The feature that propelled his sack to the top was its ability to stand by itself.

Light up my Flowerpots

So what do you think the ‘electric flowerpot’ eventually became? Russian immigrant Akiba Horowitz came to New York in 1890. He changed his name to Conrad Hubert and started working for Joshua Lionel Cowen of Lionel train fame. Cowen invented many items including a battery inside a tube with a light bulb at one end. The tube was stuck in a flowerpot to illuminate a plant. Hubert bought the patent rights from Cowen. The popularity of lighting plants was not a huge sell. Hubert changed the design of the tube to a cylinder, got rid of the pot and got his own patent for ‘portable electric light.’ Conrad Hubert started the Eveready Flashlight Company.


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