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Blog Posts by Subject: Holidays and Customs

Happy New Year, Circa 1910: Pop-up Greeting Cards in the Jewish Division

If you visit your local stationery store in September, you may well find a small selection of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) cards. The cards will probably have the standard Hebrew greeting for the new year, Le-shanah tovah tikatevu (literally, "May you be inscribed for a good year"). They may be serious, as befits a greeting card for the "Days of Awe," or light-hearted. (I saw one recently that showed a man asking his neighbor, "How's your New Year going?" Answer: "Shofar, so good").  It's 

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Finnikin of the Rock: A Review

A long time ago, before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere. Though only nine, Finnikin knew the dream was not to be ignored.

Frightened for his kingdom, Finnikin convinced his friends Prince Balthazar and Lucian of the Mont to make a pledge with him. They climbed to the rock of three wonders and sacrificed flesh from their bodies and a hair from the head of a weeping princess Isaboe. Balthazar swore to die defending his royal house of Lumatere. Finnikin swore to 

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Snappy Eats of 1932: Jewish Community Cookbooks

Here in the Dorot Jewish Division, we have over 400 cookbooks that were published outside the United States: from Canada and Mexico, South America, Asia (including Israel, of course), Oceania, and Africa (including a cookbook from Melilla, the city on the north coast of Morocco that's actually part of Spain).

Some of the more unusual locales represented are the Bahamas (The Bah-Haimisha 

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Changing the Changing City

Seeking further enlightenment into the city we call home, I recently took a class on the literary and cultural history of New York City. Among the many themes common to New York City novels we discussed was the portrayal of the city itself as a character with power to shape the lives of its citizens.

Many of us New Yorkers have felt this pressure in our own lives: we choose where to live based on our budgets, our hobbies, our family situation, and often our ethnic, linguistic or religious 

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Sea Change: A Review

Many are drawn to Selkie Island. Few know why.

The whirlwind of events that brought sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant to the island, away from her sensible summer plans in New York City, are unlikely but they make enough sense. Her mother has inherited a house that needs to be gone through and emptied. Logical enough. And so much more realistic than any fairytale happy ending.

But Selkie Island is a messy place that quickly blurs the lines between past and present and, more startling for Miranda, between reality and legend. Lore about mythical creatures and her own 

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Jungle Crossing: A Review

Thirteen-year-old Kat has dozens of reasons to skip her family’s summer vacation to hot, boring Mexico. She’ll miss mini-camp and lose her spot as part of Fiona’s Five (reason number 1) thereby completing ruining her chance at popularity and eighth grade in general (reason 33). Her family will drive her crazy (reasons 29 through 31).  And don’t think that’s just whining because Kat has tons of other, totally logical, reasons on her list including falling prey to bandits, the risk of flash flooding, heat stroke, dangerous strangers, and lung damaging jet 

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"Food" Good for the "Soul"

June is "Soul Food Month" and in keeping with the theme of this post, here are some recommendations for reading from the New York Public Library. Perhaps you will feel inspired to check out one of these books and make a recipe for you and your loved ones.

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Best of Reference 2010: Thrifty Reference

Knowledge is power, and in hard times, finding the best information can be even more important. These books, websites, and electronic resources, available through your local library, can save you both time and money! 

Selected and presented by librarians from all three NYC library systems, Best of Reference is sponsored by The New York Library Association's Reference and Adult Services Section.

Coupon Clipping   Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend Anthony S. Mercatante and James R Dow, eds. ... Read More ›

Not Just Another New York Travel Guide

In these tight economic times, we’re all looking for ways to save money, and as summer approaches this applies to vacation plans as well. About this time of year Americans start to dream of vacations to faraway places, respite from the daily grind and a little sun and relaxation. Conventional wisdom says that in recessions we lean towards travel options light on the wallet, heading to locales closer to home, such as a national park or an American destination city.   Well, the budget ... Read More ›

Lady Drivers!

For symbols of the freedom of the road, you can't beat the wind in your hair, piles of crinkly state road maps at your side, and a whole continent of asphalt spilling out underneath your wheels. The devil-may-care excitement that goes with exploring the American continent has lured many a traveler since the invention of the automobile.

But would one ever call taking a road trip a feminist activity? I don’t mean Thelma and Louise on a tear in a Ford Thunderbird, shooting criminals and running from the law. 

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Do It Yourself Fun, 1920s Style.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, this little book offered sage advice as well as entertaining distraction for those in England lucky enough to be able to be included in weekend getaways to the country. The Week-End Book was the work of Francis and Vera Meynell, who attempted to balance the competing interests of excellent book design and affordable production in the books they created for Nonesuch, their private press.

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The Pony Express: History and Myth

Nearly everything you thought you knew about the Pony Express is wrong. Well, perhaps not wrong, but exaggerated or romanticized. If you’re like me, you’re probably imagining men dressed in fringed leather uniform on horses, riding at break-neck speeds to carry important business and love letters hundreds of miles, perhaps while simultaneously shooting their Wincester rifles in the air. When not dashing across the prairie, the riders would be found roping cattle, drinking and playing cards in saloons, hunting buffalo, and dodging Black-Hatted Bandits and 

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A Train Ride Through Time: An Exhibit of New Year's Greetings from the Picture Collection

Journey through Time with the Picture CollectionEnter the doors of the Schwarzman Building from Fifth Avenue this week and you will find yourself, as usual at this time of year, in a jolly space with a giant Christmas tree adorned with all the trimmings of the season. But that's not the only marvel to behold.

A few weeks ago I happened to be wandering through the halls when the holiday decorations were being installed, and the festive spirit of the place, with its red ribbon and wreaths and pine and reflective gold and silver 

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Beyond Shamrocks: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

The Big Apple will become the Green Apple very soon. On March 17th, to mark New York City’s 248th consecutive St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the green line will again be painted down the Fifth Avenue parade route. Although a lot of green will be in evidence, did you know that Ireland’s traditional color was 

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LIVE from the NYPL, REMIX: Post Event Wrap-Up

Opening night at LIVE from the NYPL kicked off with a sold-out event featuring Lawrence Lessig, Shepard Fairey and Steven Johnson discussing Remix. Check it out!

Watch the full length version of the LIVE from the NYPL program here.

Before the conversation in Celeste Bartos Forum got underway on Thursday, lawyer and renowned copyright expert Lawrence Lessig 

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Shepard Fairey's Tour de Force

At the LIVE from the NYPL sold-Out event on Thursday, February 26th, the artist Shepard Fairey will be in conversation with Lawrence Lessig and Steven Johnson about Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. He'll speak specifically about his extensive body of work and share highlights of his collection with the audience.

Fairey, known for his influential street art and strong political messages, has been drawing even more attention recently for frequenting the headlines. The 

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LIVE from the NYPL presents "Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy" - Feb 26

What is the future for art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined? LIVE from the NYPL and WIRED Magazine kick off the Spring 2009 season on February 26th with a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy February 26th, 7pm (buy tickets) Celeste Bartos Forum The New York Public Library 5th Avenue 

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The Creation of Christmas

I generally enjoy the Christmas season if I don’t allow myself to get sucked up in the frenzy. Of course, the frenzy is almost irresistible: the catalogs start coming right after Labor Day, store owners regard Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season, and the stability of the global economy depends on how free and easy you are with your credit card. As for me, I’ve always thought of Christmas as:

"a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open ... Read More ›

Vampire Lovers at the New York Public Library

As a professional librarian at the main reference desk, I do whatever it takes to respond to a particular question, and I never become judgmental about the quality of that question. That’s Library School 101. I will admit, however, to wondering sometimes where certain questions come from, or what it might mean for the culture at large when a number of people start asking the same question at the same time. For instance, what should I make of the fact that there have been several requests lately--by New Yorkers, no less!-- for books about vampires? Is it because Halloween is coming? 

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