Society & Culture
Celebrate the Celebrations
Every country and every culture has its own traditional celebrations and festivities. Many of these celebrations have existed for centuries and have been passed down and observed, even when people have forgotten the original reason for the event.
The United States has its own national holidays and gatherings, many of which include parades, fairs, picnics, races, or displays of light, like fireworks or the lighting of lanterns.
County and State Fairs
Today, state and county fairs tend to have an agricultural flavor, where city folk can get a taste of country life and children who grow up in the country can show off their farming and craft skills. Boys and girls in rural areas often take part in 4-H Clubs, where they can try raising their own farm animals, vegetables, and flowers. Each year people enter into competitions with their animals and crafts in hopes of winning a blue ribbon for "best of show." Ferris wheels, carousels, and friendly competitions such as the wheelbarrow race, pie-eating contest, and greased pig race are some things you might find at a fair.
Vacations--what people did, where they went, and how they got there--have all changed over the years, but one thing remains the same--Americans love their time off! Whether they travel far away or no further than their own backyards, how Americans spend their free time says a lot about our country and our culture. Whether school's out for the summer, holidays or teacher conferences, it's time to play!
America's national pastime, baseball in some form has been played in this country almost since the first settlers arrived. Although it possibly evolved from an English game, baseball is now thought of as a uniquely American sport. From Little League to the Major League, players of all skill levels enjoy testing their prowess on the "Field of Dreams." Famous players, catchy songs, and the standard stadium food of hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts make going to a baseball game a favorite summer outing for many Americans.
Crafts and Hobbies
Quilting is the process of taking two pieces of fabric, putting a layer of wool, cotton, or stuffing in-between, and stitching them together. People all over the world, from China to Africa to Europe, have been quilting clothing and blankets for centuries.
In America, quilts have been keeping people warm for generations. Patchwork quilting--taking scraps of cloth arranged in geometric designs and then quilting them to make a bed cover--became very popular in the 19th century. The stitching or quilting not only keeps the layers together, but also adds a decorative element. Quilting is still very popular in America today.
Dance is one of the oldest art forms--its existence is evident in every culture around the globe. Dance and movement are a powerful expression of feeling. People from all over the world have come to America, bringing their native dances with them. Over the years, dance has evolved as forms move in and out of style. Dancing, whether it is social dancing, dancing for performance, dancing for exercise, or dancing just for fun, is an activity almost everyone can enjoy.
Humor is a Universal Language
Today, we find humor from many sources. TV, movies, books, radio, and the Internet are just some of the mediums used to offer comedy. But at the turn of the 20th century, the most common way to enjoy humor was to attend a vaudeville show, a variety show that might include comedians, dancers, singers, performing animals, acrobats, and magicians. Much of today's humor evolved from vaudeville, which began to decline in popularity after 1932. It was at that time that the leading vaudeville theater, the Palace Theater in New York, replaced live acts with film.
Animation, Cartoons and Comics
With the combination of animation and film, the wonderful, wacky world of cartoons was born. In 1896, George Melies demonstrated that objects could be set in motion by rapidly projecting a series of drawings with slight progressive changes. Ten years later, animated drawings were introduced to film and it was only a matter of time before the world met Krazy Kat, Felix the Cat, Mickey Mouse, and a "rascally rabbit" named Bugs Bunny. With the development of sound in film, the world of animated characters took flight. Now, Saturday mornings just wouldn't be the same without our favorite cartoons.