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Blog Posts by Subject: Holidays and Customs

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 to Times 

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Readings for New Year's Resolutions

USA.gov provides a listing of popular New Year's Resolutions and related government resources to help you meet any of these goals. The Library is also a great place to find information to help you start off the New Year on the right foot.

What are you going to focus on this year?

Drink Less ... Read More ›

The Boar’s Head in Hand Bring I

No, I’m NOT referring to the deli meat company. It’s the Boar’s Head Carol that’s on my mind. This traditional English holiday song, which celebrates the arrival at the feast of a greenery-garlanded boar’s head, has been sung for over 500 years. And it is still being sung today, even though my colleagues denied ever having heard it before. (They have since been subjected to a few versions on YouTube.)

The lyrics to 

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Favorite Holiday Stories

This week at Mixed Bag: Story Time for Grown-Ups I read aloud two holiday classics, The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore and the first part of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

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Invitation to "Out of the Blacking Factory: Charles Dickens at the New York Public Library"

I am sorry to have to introduce the subject of Christmas... It is an indecent subject; a cruel, gluttonous subject; a wicked, cadging, lying, filthy, blasphemous, and demoralizing subject. Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press; on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and anyone who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages.

From: Dramatic Opinions and Essays: With an Apology, by Bernard 

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Thanksgiving Recipe Decisions

Cooking is a very stressful situation that I do my best to avoid. I always get really excited and anxious when I decide to cook, but halfway through the process every burner on the stove is on, bowls, plates, and utensils have piled up on the counter, and all I’ve ended up making is a bowl of spaghetti for one. But as Thanksgiving rolls around my mother always asks the dreaded question, "What are you making?" I’m beginning to think that she regrets asking this question because the extent of my culinary assistance on Thanksgiving Day is opening up a can of cranberry 

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Gettin' Hitched? Find Free and Useful Ideas for Weddings at the Library

I'm getting married next week, and if you, like me, are planning a wedding and wondering why you didn't just go to city hall, you should know that there are a wealth of resources at the New York Public Library. Whether you are trying to be thrifty, crafty, design your own flowers, or

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An interview with Sri Walpola, creator of "A Taste of Home: Cooking Sri Lankan in New York"

Currently on display at the St. George Library Center is a photo exhibit by photojournalist Sri Walpola, "A Taste of Home: Cooking Sri Lankan in New York." We sat down with him for a brief interview.

What inspired "A Taste of Home: Cooking Sri Lankan in New York"?

Since my arrival in New York, I started cooking. I started looking for Sri Lankan ingredients first, and then I started cooking with the help of my mother and both my sisters via the telephone because all of them are in Sri 

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