Articles

American traditions no longer honored — and one that could soon disappear

by Natasha Christou Digital Marketing Consultant

As Americans, we celebrate and mark quite a few occasions on an annual basis. There’s the thrill of hosting or attending a Super Bowl party towards the start of the year, for instance, before marking Independence Day on the Fourth of July with a barbeque, some fireworks and a few more fun-filled moments. The excitement doesn’t stop as we move towards the end of the year either, as there’s trick-or-treating to be enjoyed during Halloween, turkey with all the trimmings to be eaten on Thanksgiving Day and, of course, all the joy associated with Christmas and the festive season in general to be a part of.

While we certainly aren’t short of celebrations and holidays in America, there are a few traditions that we no longer honor. Join innovative stairlift manufacturer Acorn Stairlifts as they look back on three of these forgotten occasions, as well as speculating whether another could soon be no longer part of our annual routine…

May Basket Day

While it’s still honored in a few discrete parts of the country, May Basket Day doesn’t get the nationwide recognition that it once did.

Although the occasion wasn’t officially marked until May 1st, preparations began towards the end of April as people started to gather together flowers, candies or other treats and placed them in baskets — deemed May baskets for the celebration. Once filled, individuals hung these baskets from the doors of friends, loved ones and neighbors.

While some people saw May Basket Day as an occasion to show their appreciation for those around them though, it was an opportunity to express one’s romantic interest in other communities. In fact, if someone was caught hanging a basket by the person it was intended for, the recipient was tasked with chasing the basket-hanger and attempting to steal a kiss from them.

Judging on newspaper reports from the likes of the Sterling, Illinois, Gazette, the St. Joseph, Michigan, Herald and the Taunton, Massachusetts, Gazette, May Basket Day seemed popular in the second half of the 1800s and into the early decades of the 1900s. What’s more, the Indiana, Pennsylvania, Gazette picked up on how two youngsters became risk-takers when they hung their May baskets on the front door of the White House in 1925. The newspaper acknowledged that first lady Grace Coolidge was able to find her admirers, where she presented them with flowers that she had picked.

By the time that the second half of the 20th century rolled around, however, May Basket Day had become a lot less popular. A reporter for the Associated Press acknowledged in Providence, Rhode Island, that they had only observed a "few May baskets hanging from door knobs" on May 1st 1963. In the same year, a syndicated columnist simply asked the question: "Remember May Basket Day?"

Ragamuffin Day

The first of two Thanksgiving traditions to be covered in this article, many people will find similarities between Ragamuffin Day and Halloween. Actually, around before Americans began to celebrate All Hallows' Eve, Ragamuffin Day involved children getting dressed up in costumes and masks. Once in their attire, they would knock on the doors of their neighbors and pose them the question: “anything for Thanksgiving?”

The occasion was marked to recreate the interactions that the poor used to make with those more fortunate who were celebrating Thanksgiving, as beggars went door to door during the holidays are request either food or fare.

While Ragamuffin Day isn’t honored as we have disclosed above anymore, you can still see it being replicated in part during Thanksgiving. This is because Thanksgiving Day parades involve people dressed in costumes, while the ragamuffins themselves have been transformed into the huge character balloons we see going through our streets during this part of the celebration.

Barrel Burning

Alongside Ragamuffin Day, Americans once used to participate in the ritual of Barrel Burning every Thanksgiving.

Due to the fact that so many families were in possession of wooden trash barrels a few decades ago, the idea was that communities would stack as many of these items on top of one another and then set them all on fire. A designated time and setting was provided for the Barrel Burning to commence — often at the end of Thanksgiving Day as a large social gathering of entire communities, once loved ones had eaten their Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed some time relaxing with their families.

Barrel Burning was practiced less and less once home televisions hit the mainstream across the US, until it was no longer marked as people chose to gather around their TV sets in an approach that sounded quite a bit safer.

Something to keep an eye on — Columbus Day being replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day

Although it isn’t a tradition that is no longer marked or celebrated yet, we shouldn’t be too surprised if Columbus Day disappeared from our calendars in the years to come.

Named in reference to the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and used as a means of placing Catholic Italians such as Columbus into American history as well as to commemorate the landing of the explorer himself in the Americas in 1492, this holiday has been unofficially marked in cities and states throughout the nation since the 18th century. However, it wasn’t until 1937 that the occasion became a federal holiday — originally observed on October 12th on an annual basis but changing to be honored on the second Monday of October from 1971 onwards.

In recent years though, an increasing number of those across the United States have ditched celebrating Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, which is a counter-holiday that honors the history and contributions that Native Americans have had on shaping the nation.

Berkeley, in California, was the first American city to instate the occasion in lieu of Columbus Day during the 1990s, with at least 57 more cities following suit by 2018. Alaska, Cincinnati, Florida, Hawaii, Oregon, Minnesota, San Francisco, South Dakota and Vermont are among the states which no longer recognize Columbus Day too. What’s more, Brunswick in Maine and the Village of Lewiston in New York are two cities which now celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.

So, why has there been such a significant shift in attitudes? Columbus wasn’t the first person to discover the New World — a term that’s generally used in reference to the modern-day Americas —  for one thing, as indigenous people had lived there for centuries before the explorer arrived in 1492. While Encyclopedia Britannica writes that Columbus paved the way for the “European exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Americas", it must also be acknowledged that the explorer wasn’t even the first European to see the New World. Leif Eriksson and the Vikings had been there five centuries earlier.

On top of this, journeys made by Columbus have been found to include the spread of deadly diseases and the enslavement of Native Americans. David M. Perry, an historian, commented: "Columbus didn't know that his voyage would spread diseases across the continents, of course, but disease wasn't the only problem ... He also took slaves for display back home and to work in his conquered lands."

 

There you have it, three traditions that are rarely or no longer celebrated across the United States and an occasion that could soon be omitted from our calendars. Perhaps some have offered you a trip down memory lane and inspired you to begin marking them once more…

 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/04/30/402817821/a-forgotten-tradition-may-basket-day

https://www.optimalhomecare.com/forgotten-family-thanksgiving-traditions/

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/08/us/columbus-day-vs-indigenous-peoples-day/index.html

https://www.ajc.com/news/national/what-indigenous-peoples-day-more-cities-replace-columbus-day-honor-native-americans/TZA8aBo8jVlYW0bNAL3AnL/

https://www.history.com/topics/exploration/columbus-day

 


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About Natasha Christou Freshman   Digital Marketing Consultant

5 connections, 0 recommendations, 38 honor points.
Joined APSense since, July 10th, 2019, From Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

Created on Sep 5th 2019 10:24. Viewed 276 times.

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