Historical Society of Watertown, Watertown MA

Historical Society of Watertown, Watertown MA Built in 1772, the Edmund Fowle House is the second oldest surviving house in Watertown. At the beginning of the American Revolution it served as headquarters for the executive branch of the Massachusetts government from June 1775 to September 1776.
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The House museum is open for tours the 3rd Sunday of the month from 1pm - 4 pm. The last tour of the day is at 3:15pm. Tours are also available by appointment. The House museum is closed on the 3rd Sunday of the month during July and August, 2012

05/13/2019

Did You know?

Mother’s Day 2019
Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. In the United States, Mother’s Day 2019 occurs on Sunday, May 12. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards and other gifts.

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service.

Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

Did you know? More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.
History.com

04/17/2019
04/17/2019
04/15/2019

Did You Know – Patriot’s Day

To most Massachusetts residents—and long distance running enthusiasts—the third Monday in April is “Marathon Monday.” The Boston Marathon has shared the limelight in the Bay State with another celebration for the last 120 years: Patriots’ Day. So what is Patriots’ Day, and what does it have to do with the marathon?

For the answer, let’s travel back to the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord kicked off the colonists’ fight for independence from Great Britain. Just two months after Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion, the brave residents of the colony took up arms and went to battle for independence—eventually leading to the creation of the United States of America.

In 1894, Massachusetts Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge was looking to replace Fast Day (a then-rarely followed day of fasting and prayer that had been around since the 17th century) in the state calendar without causing his constituents to lose a day of work. Greenhalge found inspiration in the state’s courageous battle for freedom from British rule, renaming the holiday Patriots’ Day and moving it to April 19. The new celebration would not only commemorate the battles that officially marked the American Revolution, but also the anniversary of the Baltimore riot of 1861—commonly known as the first bloodshed of the American Civil War. Three birds, one stone.

In 1897, inspired by the revival of the marathon race in the previous year’s summer Olympic games in Athens, the Boston Marathon was added as part of the celebration of Patriots’ Day. It became a much-revered April 19 tradition, almost more so than the original holiday. The Boston Red Sox have even become part of Patriots’ Day, playing a game at Fenway Park at 11:05 a.m., allowing fans to catch the end of the race (a tradition that started in 1959). In 1969, the entire celebration was shifted to the third Monday in April to create a three-day weekend.

The holiday is only officially celebrated in two other states, Maine and Wisconsin (although they still celebrate it on April 19). Residents in Florida are also encouraged to participate, but it has not been designated as an official Sunshine State holiday.
History.com

Note: The Sudbury Companys of Minute and Militia continue to march from Sudbury to the North Bridge in Concord, MA on the actual date September 19.

04/01/2019

Did You Know?

Although April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery.

Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563.
People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.

These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.
Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in ancient Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises.
There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences.

In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.
History.com

Historical Society of Watertown, Watertown MA's cover photo
04/01/2019

Historical Society of Watertown, Watertown MA's cover photo

03/16/2019

Did You know?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Who Was St. Patrick?
Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people.

In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.
More than 100 St. Patrick's Day parades are held across the United States; New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. The first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Growth of St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Over the next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world ‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants each.

History.com

03/09/2019

DID YOU KNOW.

1. It’s “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.”
Many people render the term’s second word in its plural form. However, since the word “saving” acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb, the singular is grammatically correct.

2. Though in favor of maximizing daylight waking hours, Benjamin Franklin did not originate the idea of moving clocks forward.
By the time he was a 78-year-old American envoy in Paris in 1784, the man who espoused the virtues of “early to bed and early to rise” was not practicing what he preached. After being unpleasantly stirred from sleep at 6 a.m. by the summer sun, the founding father penned a satirical essay in which he calculated that Parisians, simply by waking up at dawn, could save the modern-day equivalent of $200 million through “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.” As a result of this essay, Franklin is often erroneously given the honor of “inventing” daylight saving time, but he only proposed a change in sleep schedules—not the time itself.

3. Englishman William Willett led the first campaign to implement daylight saving time.
While on an early-morning horseback ride around the desolate outskirts of London in 1905, Willett had an epiphany that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. The Englishman published the 1907 brochure “The Waste of Daylight” and spent much of his personal fortune evangelizing with missionary zeal for the adoption of “summer time.” Year after year, however, the British Parliament stymied the measure, and Willett died in 1915 at age 58 without ever seeing his idea come to fruition.

4. Germany was the first country to enact daylight saving time.
It took World War I for Willett’s dream to come true, but on April 30, 1916, Germany embraced daylight saving time to conserve electricity. (He may have been horrified to learn that Britain’s wartime enemy followed his recommendations before his homeland.) Weeks later, the United Kingdom followed suit and introduced “summer time.”

5. Daylight saving time in the United States was not intended to benefit farmers, as many people think.
Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay, hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules. Agrarian interests led the fight for the 1919 repeal of national daylight saving time, which passed after Congress voted to override President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Rather than rural interests, it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades.

6. For decades, daylight saving in the United States was a confounding patchwork of local practices.
After the national repeal in 1919, some states and cities, including New York City and Chicago, continued to shift their clocks. National daylight saving time returned during World War II, but after its repeal three weeks after war’s end the confusing hodgepodge resumed. States and localities could start and end daylight saving whenever they pleased, a system that Time magazine (an aptly named source) described in 1963 as “a chaos of clocks.” In 1965 there were 23 different pairs of start and end dates in Iowa alone, and St. Paul, Minnesota, even began daylight saving two weeks before its twin city, Minneapolis. Passengers on a 35-mile bus ride from Steubenville, Ohio, to Moundsville, West Virginia, passed through seven time changes. Order finally came in 1966 with the enactment of the Uniform Time Act, which standardized daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, although states had the option of remaining on standard time year-round.

7. Not everyone in the United States springs forward and falls back.
Hawaii and Arizona—with the exception of the state’s Navajo Nation—do not observe daylight saving time, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands also remain on standard time year-round. Some Amish communities also choose not to participate in daylight saving time. (Around the world, only about one-quarter of the world’s population, in approximately 70 countries, observe daylight saving. Since their daylight hours don’t vary much from season to season, countries closer to the equator have little need to deviate from standard time.)

8. Evidence does not conclusively point to energy conservation as a result of daylight saving.
Dating back to Willett, daylight saving advocates have touted energy conservation as an economic benefit. A U.S. Department of Transportation study in the 1970s concluded that total electricity savings associated with daylight saving time amounted to about 1 percent in the spring and fall months. As air conditioning has become more widespread, however, more recent studies have found that cost savings on lighting are more than offset by greater cooling expenses. University of California Santa Barbara economists calculated that Indiana’s move to statewide daylight saving time in 2006 led to a 1-percent rise in residential electricity use through additional demand for air conditioning on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings. Some also argue that increased recreational activity during daylight saving results in greater gasoline consumption.
CHRISTOPHER KLEIN - HISTORY.COM

JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School
02/15/2019

JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School

02/14/2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

The first commercially printed Valentine's Day card was produced in 1913 by Hallmark.

Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th and where do the holiday customs come from?

On February 14 around the year 278A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.
Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.
Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.
In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.” One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.
Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers
History.com

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28 Marshall St
Watertown, MA
02472

Harvard Station to Watertown Square via Mt. Auburn Street - transit #71

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