The Ladies' Tea Guild

Friday, February 20, 2009

Celebrate Black History, and other things!

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Beginning before the Victorian era, people attached symbolism and meaning to many things, including flowers and months of the year. We follow that tradition in our own way in the 21st century, by remembering and celebrating holidays and special people every year.

According to some people, each month is represented by its own flower, and each flower was given a meaning, especially for the purpose of sending discreet messages to loved ones. February's flower is the violet, and the February gem (or birthstone, as is most familiar today) is the amethyst. Blue and white violets each had their own meaning; the blue violet signifies faithfulness, and the white violet means modesty. Amethysts have stood for several ideas over the years: royalty (because of their purple color), safety from poison or drunkenness (and therefore peace of mind), piety, celibacy and dignity.

There are many events and people that we can remember, in the spirit of the Victorian era, because of their faithfulness, nobility of character, piety, and other virtues this month. February 1st, Freedom Day, celebrates President Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864, abolishing slavery. February 4th is Rosa Parks’ b-day, February 12th is Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 15th is Susan B. Anthony's birthday, and George Washington was born on the 22nd. The Boy Scouts of America was founded on February 8, 1910. Other famous people who were born in February include Charles Dickens (Feb. 7, 1812), Thomas Edison (Feb. 11, 1847), and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Feb. 27, 1807).

February is also African American History Month and American History Month. We should also remember our history as a nation and as a part of Western Civilization, including the not-so-pleasant parts, so that we can learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of those who've gone before us; the month includes Japanese-American Internment Day of Remembrance (Feb. 19), as well as Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent.

Let's take a few moments this month to remember these things and re-establish our bond with history, learning from the past as well as celebrating it!

Sources of information:
"Birthdays -- Information, Fun Facts, Tips, Humor, Links, and More"
Boy Scouts of America website,
"February 19: A Day of Remembrance,"
"Gemstones and their meaning",
"The history and language of flowers and herbs -- origins and meanings",
Rosa Parks' website,
Charles Dickens museum website,

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)