6 Things To Know About Kwanzaa

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


1. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first African-American holiday. It is observed throughout the USA, Canada, and in parts of Brazil. 

2. It is a week-long celebration that runs from December 26 – January 1.

3. Kwanzaa does not replace other seasonal holidays, and many celebrate it alongside Christmas and New Years.

4. The point of the holiday is to celebrate African history, culture, and unity which is done through lighting candles, decorating the home with traditional art, wearing traditional clothing, performance, and feasting with family and friends.

5. There are 7 Principles of African Heritage that are meditated on during the week. They include; unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

6. People commonly greet each other with "Joyous Kwanzaa!"

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6 Things To Know About The Amish

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


1. There are about 8 subgroups of Amish who are themselves a subgroup of the Mennonite Christian faith.

2. The most traditional descendants speak Pennsylvania German (also known as Pennsylvania Dutch).

3. They live by a strict set of rules that include limiting the use of electricity and telephones, not driving automobiles, wearing plain (homemade) clothing, and never accepting help from government programs like Social Security.

4. Children only attend school until grade eight.

5. Rumspringa, or “running around” (recently made into an overdramatized TLC series called Breaking Amish) begins around the ages of 14-16, and is a time when young adults can break all of the rules and see what life outside their communities is like. During this time, those on rumspringa can wear “English” — aka modern — clothing, drink, use technology, and live in urban cities with NO penalty. This gives these young adults a chance to make an informed decision about whether they want to commit themselves to the church or not.

6. Baptism does not occur until around the ages of 16 and 25 (after rumspringa) which joins the individual with the church and community for life. Marriage can not occur until baptism does, and the Amish may ONLY marry individuals that are a part of their congregation. 

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Why are we scared of the number 13?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


Why are we scared of the number 13

For those of us that reside in the western world, fear or superstition of the number 13 is pretty common.

In fact, this fear even has a name: Triskaidekaphobia.  

The number holds so much power that it is often omitted from hotel rooms, the floors of tall buildings and some people won’t even get out of bed on Friday the 13th.

There is no one reason to explain where this superstition comes from, but the many that I have come across pose very intriguing ideas rooted in historical or religious beliefs.

Why are people afraid of the number 13? 

  • There were 13 people at the Last Supper where Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would betray him.
  • On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the Knight’s Templar arrested and killed.
  • 13 is a lucky number in Judaism, and so, some say that a fear of the number comes from anti-semitism. 

There is also evidence that a fear of thirteen comes from a fear of women, witchcraft, and disorder. 

  • 13 was once a number used to represent femininity because it corresponds to the number of lunar menstrual cycles in a year (13x28 days=364).
  • Witches gathered in covens of 12 with the devil joining them as the 13th member.

Other reasons seem a little more random.

  • There are 13 turns in a hangman’s noose and 13 steps up to the gallows.
  • 12 is universally considered a perfect and harmonious number and 13 represents a step too far and throws this harmony into discord.

Did you know that the number 4 is unlucky too? 

When living in South Korea, on the 13th floor, I noticed that though 13 was never omitted from buildings and hotel room doors, the number 4 was.

I discovered that the explanation for this superstition is a lot more cut and dry than the western superstition around 13. Apparently, countries in Asia and South East Asia familiar with Cantonese, avoid the number 4 because it is nearly identical in pronunciation to the word ‘death’. 

Many product lines developed in Asia, like Nokia, omit the 4th series, jumping right to the fifth while hotels and high rises will often omit any floor with the number 4 in it (ie: 4, 14, 24… etc.) 

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