Tag Archives: history

What We Can Learn from What We Drink!

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite new inspirNational thoughts…what we can learn from what we drink! Yes, there is something scholarly you can learn from the Guinness you are holding in your hand right now.

While attending the Furman Women’s Leadership Institute this winter, I sat next to an inspiring doctor who told me about me about an interesting book she was reading, “The History of the World in 6 Glasses.” I was preparing for a brewery tour for my birthday, and I thought what better way to be inspired for my tour than to learn the significance of beer (of course it was only scholarly ;)).

Thinking about it….every day you are drinking (hopefully!) 8 glasses of water, and several other beverages based on your culture and preferences. Americans can’t seem to get their hands off a cup of coffee, the British and the Chinese don’t go a day without tea, the Italians don’t go a day without wine, and the list goes on! Each of these beverages comes with historical and cultural significance.

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Image Source: Fine Arts America

 

I’ll give you a taste of what I learned from the book….

  • Coffee represents scholarly pursuits as it keeps us focused and energized.
  • Tea represents colonialism and the daily reminder to pause and relax.
  • Wine symbolizes religion, prestige, and royalty.
  • Beer symbolizes social gatherings…it was one of the main reasons humans began living in civilizations (waiting for the beer to brew)…and to this day brings people together!
  • Spirits symbolize business deals at first, and later a way to calm the mind.
  • Soda represents the American dream…in the pursuit of happiness through a refreshing drink.

So, the next time you take a sip of your favorite beverage whether at home or while traveling, think about what it means! You can learn a lot about yourself, your heritage, and your surroundings by the drinks in front of you. Cheers!

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Learning About Culture Through Urban Art

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Through moving and traveling over the past several years, I have noticed a common theme in each new city I have visited or lived: I can learn about local culture through urban art. Urban art, whether funded by the community or not, helps the community express ideas, demonstrate societal trends or challenges, and sometimes enhance the aesthetic appeal of the surroundings. Below I have captured a few personal favorites of many examples of urban art:

Spanish Graffiti: While studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain and traveling throughout the country, I noticed a significant amount of graffiti. I learned in my Spanish political history class that since Francisco Franco’s leadership in 1939, graffiti was and continues to be significant form of political expression in Spain. It often demonstrates political movements over the past several decades, such as fascism, marxism, anarchy, regional independence within Spain, gay rights, and world peace. Since 2008, cities like Madrid have funded graffiti artists to paint unattractive buildings to improve the cities’ appearance and influence the community with their messages.

Graffiti in Madrid

Graffiti in Madrid

Ann Arbor Graffiti Alley: Originally a mural created by artist Katherine Cost in 1999, titled “Infinite Possibilities,” the graffiti alley in Ann Arbor, Michigan has turned into a haven for graffiti artists and musicians. Visitors can get a taste of recent Ann Arbor and University of Michigan history and current hot topics expressed on the walls. At the same time, they will also hear tunes played by local artists, as the alley is known for good acoustics.

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Before I Die: A global public art project created by New Orleans artist Candy Chang, I first saw a Before I Die wall in Asheville, North Carolina. As a simple mural with chalk, anyone and everyone can write their wishes and “bucket list” items on the wall. Chang created this concept after she lost someone she loved. Her intention was to create a daily reminder about what was important to the people around her. Her idea has sparked the building of 550 walls in over 70 countries in 35 languages. While in Asheville, it was inspiring to learn about the priorities and dreams of the community expressed on the wall.

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Here's what I wrote in Asheville!

Here’s what I wrote in Asheville!

Next time you are exploring your local community or are traveling, I recommend that you seek out the urban art to learn more about the destination’s past, present, and future. You may be surprised to learn new insights about the unique heritage and character of the destination!

The Truth Behind Sweetest Day

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Just a few more days until Sweetest Day (don’t worry, boyfriends and girlfriends, you have until Saturday, October 18 to buy something for your sweetie)! Most people don’t know what Sweetest Day is. Skeptics call Sweetest Day a Hallmark holiday or a “concocted promotion” to increase the sales of candy, greeting cards, flowers, etc.

The romantic in me likes to acknowledge any holiday that celebrates love. So, I decided to look more into the holiday…what is its real purpose? Who celebrates Sweetest Day? Is it really a gimmick?

Sweetest Day takes place on the third Saturday of October every year. Friends, families, and couples express their love for each other by sending sweets, flowers, greeting cards, or other tokens of love. It turns out that Sweetest Day is most often celebrated in the Midwestern United States. To my surprise (and how ironic), Sweetest Day originated in my new hometown, Cleveland! The first Sweetest Day was October 8, 1922. The Cleveland Plain Dealer stated that candy maker C. C. Hartzell chaired a committee of 12 confectioners to plan the first Sweetest Day. The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee distributed over 20,000 boxes of candy to “newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor” in Cleveland. According to Mt. Vernon News, “the original theme of doing a good deed and spreading cheer to those less fortunate still applies, [but] the holiday has broadened to celebrate love and romance for significant others while still including friends, neighbors and co-workers.” Several candy makers tried to declare that it was Candy Day as well. So if anything, Sweetest Day was originally promoting candy sales.

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The Cleveland committeemen who planned Cleveland’s Sweetest Day, published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer on October 8, 1922.

While often cited as a “Hallmark holiday,” Hallmark didn’t make Sweetest Day cards until the mid-1960’s, and now has 151 different versions of greeting cards (80% are romantic). American Greetings, whose headquarters are in Cleveland, began making Sweetest Day cards in the 1930s and now has 178 different kinds of cards. Sweetest Day is not as impactful as Valentine’s Day, but it does boost business for greeting cards companies.

Skeptics, you may be right that it is a commercial holiday. But why not remind your significant others, family members, and friends that you love them? While the holiday may seem narrow in scope (as it is often only celebrated in one part of the United States), the premise to acknowledge the ones you love can be celebrated anywhere. So, this Saturday, why not spread the love or be romantic? Below are some sweet quotes about love that may inspire and remind you why love matters. Happy Sweetest Day!

“Love has the power to cure, to heal, to calm, to change, and to unite. Use this power often.” -Anthony Douglas Williams

“Where there is love there is life.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Angels have no philosophy but love.” -Terri Guillemets

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