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Blog Posts by Subject: Holidays and Customs

Anti-Valentine? Join the Club!

If you are like me, then the one thing you would like about Valentine's Day is the day after: chocolates on sale!

Godiva, Ferrara, chocolate truffles, M&Ms, you name it — all those brand name sweets at 50% off or on a buy-one-get-one-free basis totally makes up for this senseless tradition.

Though the only people actually winning from this scheme are your dentists and candy makers, who's really counting your cavities when the most-ridiculous "holiday" of the year just ended?! (In my humble opinion...)

Don't get me wrong, I am not 

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Chinese New Year Memories

As I prepare for the upcoming Chinese New Year, my thoughts often go back to my favorite childhood memories of our family celebrations.

The best part of Chinese New Year was being allowed to stay home from school. My sisters, brother and I would dress in new clothes, eat the special pastries my Mom made and wait for our relatives to arrive. Then, while the adults sat and talked, my cousins and I would have the entire day to play. And before my Aunts and Uncles left, we would all be given hongbao (red envelopes) containing "lucky money" for the new 

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2013: The Year of the Snake

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. In the Chinese zodiac, the snake is equivalent to the Taurus in Western tradition. February 10th, 2013 to January 30th, 2014 will mark the Year of the Snake.

In the Chinese zodiac calendar, the snake is the sixth animal and symbolizes grace and calmness — it is introspective, cunning, and modest, but also mysterious, deceptive, and possessive. Those born in 2013, 2001, 1989 

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Winter Fun for Kids and Cats

This snowy Saturday afternoon has brought to mind a couple of scenes from nineteenth-century children's books in the Rare Book Division. First, a scene of "Wintervergnügen" (winter fun) from Jugendspiele zur Erholung und Erheiterung (Tilsit, 1846). This is a two-volume work, one devoted to girls and one to boys. Sledding is categorized as one of the boys' games (Knabenspiele), but of course that needn't stop 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Season’s Greetings from William S. Burroughs

Timothy Leary first made acquaintance with William S. Burroughs in Tangier, Morocco in the summer of 1961.[1] During this heady time, Leary was reaching out to beat poets and artists for participation in his early drug experiments at Harvard University, and Burroughs made an obvious comrade. Despite Burrough's disappointment with Leary's scientific method, their friendship managed to survive 

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Novedades de Diciembre 2012: Historias, Música, Sabor y un Toque de Creatividad - y ¡Feliz Navidad!

La ciudad de Nueva York es ciertamente un gran centro de multiplicidad étnica. Al final de cada año, personas de diversas culturas tienen la oportunidad de celebrar muchas de sus fiestas de invierno, entre las más populares están

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Mixed Bag: Story Time for Grown-Ups Featuring Charles Dickens

Mixed Bag: Story Time for Grown-Ups is a short story read-aloud program that meets every two weeks on Wednesday at lunch time (1:00 p.m). Mixed Bag PM meets at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday every two weeks. In December we are reading Holiday Classics, including an excerpt from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and

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What to Draw? A Turkey, of Course

Happy Thanksgiving to you! In honor of the holiday, here's a page from one of my favorite drawing manuals in the collection, 1913's What to Draw and How to Draw It by E. G. Lutz.

This turkey (along with his tiny companion, the fantail pigeon) is just one of dozens of possibilities — like owls, elephants, pelicans, pigs, castles, cats, and men and ladies — you'll find in these pages. Want to see the entire book? It's been digitized and you can

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Cooking for the Holidays, or, Bourbon Makes It Better

Although the rapidly approaching holidays usually only induces feelings of anxiety, I do look forward to getting out the cookware and making my tried and true holiday desserts and side dishes such as English trifle, Danish rice pudding (risengrød a la mande) and sweet potatoes baked in a sauce of maple syrup, butter and BOURBON!

You heard me, a little bourbon makes something I used to dislike when I was younger into the talk of any Thanksgiving get-together. Basically, after gently boiling 3 lbs. of scrubbed sweet potatoes in their skins for about 15-20 

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Holiday Open House @ the New York Public Library

On Sunday, December 4, 2011, the annual Holiday Open House was held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on an unseasonably warm day. Prior to 1 p.m., the start of the party, the line outside the 42nd Street entrance near the Children's Center at 42nd Street ran alongside the building to the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, then snaked back on 42nd Street to the entrance again.Read More ›

Thanksgiving Recipes

A confession: I've never cooked a turkey. Sides, yes. Desserts, of course. But a turkey? Nope. I leave that to the experts. For me, turkey is the least exciting part of Thanksgiving. Sure, it may be the perfect vehicle for cranberry sauce. And turkey leftovers do make for a tasty soup, but if I had my druthers, I'd just as soon stick to chicken.

All this turkey bashing is just my way of explaining why you won't find any turkey basting in my Thanksgiving picks below. Everyone has their own method of preparing the bird, and I certainly wouldn't want anyone taking advice from a 

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Halloween Reads III: Trick or Treat

This is the third edition of Halloween reads, a sequel to Halloween Reads and Halloween Reads II: The Re-Ordering. I tried to have a theme to my previous posts and the theme of these can best be described mind candy: relaxing treats that you can read to keep you in the Halloween spirit since the holiday falls in the middle of week this year.

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Can You Smell The Dairy Air? Stereotypes, Statistics, and Milk

I recently had two French couchsurfers stay with me. I went downstairs to find the guy in the kitchen rummaging through my refrigerator. I asked him what he was looking for. He said milk. I said I don't have milk... well... just almond milk. He said to not have milk was un-American.

I don't even know what that means.

So this exchange got me to thinking. Are there stereotypes of America that I am unaware of? I know from speaking to other couchsurfers that the general stereotype of an American is that of the loud, 

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The First Labor Day

Labor Day is an American federal holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It also symbolizes the end of summer and is celebrated with family picnics, parties, parades and athletic events.

Let’s have a look at Labor Day from the Library of Congress.

On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. After marching from City Hall, past reviewing stands in Union Square, and 

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Christmas in July: Clement Clark Moore in the Village

Clement Clark Moore is credited with writing one of the most famous poems in the world, "Twas the Night Before Christmas," also known as "A Visit from St. Nickolas."

This poem was first published anonymously in 1823, and was not attributed to Clement Moore until it was included in an 1844 anthology of Moore's poems. Moore wrote it for his children and at their insistence he included it in this edition. Moore, however, was generally more serious minded than this poem and apparently wanted to distance himself from it. He certainly didn't need the 

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May I? Thank You and Please: The New Rules of Etiquette

Anyone who has seen the Seinfeld finale, whether they loved it or hated it, remembers that it was about the characters getting their just desserts for being such terrible people. By extension, New Yorkers sometimes have a reputation of being rude. I don’t think this is true, and I’ve seen New Yorkers be incredibly polite, but I do think that in a city full of people with such varying backgrounds in such close proximity, there are bound to be misunderstandings. I 

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E.E. Cummings: To My Valentine

Copyright by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.When Edward Estlin Cummings met Marion Morehouse in 1932, he was in the middle of a painful split from his second wife, Anne Barton. But loss soon gave way to what Cummings later described as "an ecstatic arrival." This was Marion.

Morehouse was tall and thin, of Choctaw Indian ancestry, with brown eyes and a narrow face like a Modigliani. Edward Steichen called her "the greatest fashion model [he] ever shot." Aside from Steichen, 

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2012: The Year of the Dragon

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. In the Chinese zodiac, the dragon is equivalent to the Aries in Western tradition.

January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013 will mark the Year of the Dragon. According to tradition, the dragon is the fifth animal in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes loyalty — it is noble, gentle, and intelligent, but also tactless, stubborn, and dogmatic. Those born on 2012, 2000, 1988 or any 

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New Year's Resolution for 2012: Learn a New Language!

As 2011 slowly comes to an end, many of us are anxiously waiting for 2012 to arrive! Usually around this time — for some of the ambitious ones — we make New Year's resolutions. Can we actually keep them through the end of the year? Maybe. It depends on your resolutions and the goals you create to achieve them. Some have many resolutions for the year, such as creating and maintaining a 

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Telling Time on New Year's Eve: Why the First Ball Was Dropped in Times Square

On New Year's Eve all clocks are synchronized for the epitome of countdowns. The clinking of champagne glasses and the first kiss of the New Year will all be coordinated to the descent of a 12-foot-wide glowing geodesic sphere stationed on top of One Times Square. When all of its 11,875 pounds reach the bottom of its pole, we will know that the New Year has officially begun.

It wasn't always that way. But thanks to a time-honored tradition involving a lowered ball, a one-shot opening celebration has morphed into a spectacle that attracts one million revelers 

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