Wednesday, August 31, 2011


   Halloween night is mostly identified with fun and frolic today. This is a night when both adults and children alike have a lot of fun by allowing themselves to trick or treat or go to parties dressed in fancy costumes as goblins, witches, vampires and the like. There are many fun, and some not so fun, superstitions and traditions that are associated with Halloween night. Some of the most common of these are described below:

1.Know your husband – It was believed that if a young woman (of marriageable age) would sleep with a twig of rosemary under her pillow on the Halloween night, she would see her husband in her dreams.

2.Cats were believed to be the devil – In the ancient times during the Inquisition, in Europe and US, people believed that cats, particularly black cats were the devil and hence they hunted and burned them on the Halloween and Easter. Fortunately, the civilized man saw reason and this terribly barbaric practice has been stopped.

3.Nuts – Funny as it might seem, people in the past believed that the Satan would not harm people who wore nuts since he loved and collected nuts. Hence, on the Halloween night people would wear nuts as talismans against harm from malevolent spirits, which were believed to be driven by Satan.

4.Tell it by the candle – The candle has almost always associated with a prayer to God. Hence, it was believed that you could tell when a soul was in your vicinity with the help of a candle. If the candle went off without any real reason, it meant that a soul was visiting you. This superstition is great fun for scaring children during the Halloween night today, especially when paired with scary stories.

5.Witches – What is Halloween night without the mention of witches? There was a strong belief in the ancient times that if you walked backwards on Halloween night while wearing your clothes inside out you would be able to see a witch flying that night. Witches were believed to be happy on the Halloween night because they could speak and mix with evil souls.

6.Bells – According to legend, when the Church bells ring, evil spirits disperse. Hence, many people had church bells ringing during the Halloween night to have the place protected from malevolent spirits walking the earth.

7.Predicting death – During the ancient Celtic times, there was a custom which had all the members of the village build a large bonfire together on Halloween night, which was at that time called Samhain. They would have fun and frolic around the fire until it totally died away. After the fires went out they would make a large circle with the ashes and each person would place a stone there before they went to sleep. The next day morning they would insect the stones – if they were moved or cracked, it would mean that the person whose stone it was would die during that year.   These are just a few of the many superstitions and beliefs associated with Halloween night. The more you know about the different beliefs about Halloween night, the more interesting this special evening becomes


   This month has some good holidays, from Chicken Boy's Day until Shemini Atzeret Day. Here are some holidays you can celebrate each day with ideas to help you celebrate each of them.

September 1: Chicken Boy's Day - Buy a chicken suit and wear it all day to commemorate Chicken Boy.

September 2: V-J Day - V-J...Is that like PJ day? Oh, no - I guess it stands for Victory in Japan.

September 3: National Lazy Moms Day (2010) - Are you a lazy mom? Then this day is for you!

September 4: Give the dog a break and carry in your own newspaper for once.

September 5: Be Late for Something Day - This gives you a sound excuse to be late for something.

September 6: Labor Day - Go to work and labor...oh, wait - most people have the day off from work. Never mind.

September 7: Google Day - Google yourself.

September 8: International Literacy Day - This is good news if you don't know how to read; today you will learn how.

September 9: Wonderful Weirdoes Day - For all those wonderful weirdoes out there.

September 10: Swap Ideas Day - Got an idea? Swap with someone!

September 11: Remembrance Day - Be extra careful not to forget anything.

September 12: Video Games Day - Oh, great, now the guys have an excuse to play video games all day...

September 13: International Chocolate Day - Gee, seems like there is a day dedicated to chocolate at least once a month! Must be popular.

September 14: Wild Card - Create your own holiday today.

September 15: Felt Hat Day - Buy felt in your favorite color and make yourself a funky hat to wear.

September 16: Step-Family Day - If you don't have a step-family, create one for the day.

September 17: Citizenship Day - Be a good citizen. Maybe you'll win an award.

September 18: National Respect Day - Hopefully, some of us will learn what the word means.

September 19: Talk Like a Pirate Day - Oy, matey! Yes, I'm talking to you.

September 20: National Women Road Warrior Day (2010) - If you are a woman, sign up to become a warrior.

September 21: International Day of Peace - I hope you can have a peaceful day.

September 22: Dear Diary Day - Start each sentence you say with, "Dear Diary."

September 23: Earth Overshoot Day - This means we have used up all our resources for the year; guess you'll have to do without until January 1st.

September 24: Punctuation Day - Make sure to punctuate every sentence you speak.

September 25: National One-Hit Wonder Day - To take the words right out of Holidaypedia's mouth, "Give a little boogie love to all those artists who hit it big once and then faded into oblivion."

September 26: Johnny Appleseed Day - Plant an apple tree in honor of Johnny Appleseed.

September 27: Ancestor Appreciation Day - Make a family tree and list all your ancestors up until 20 generations ago. You thought it was gonna be easy, didn't you?

September 28: World Maritime Day - Research and write a paper on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment for World Maritime Day.

September 29: National Attend Your Grandchild's Birth Day - Since we all have grandchildren being born today.

September 30: Shemini Atzeret Day - Tell me what Shemini Atzeret Day is. In just one word.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


   The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
   Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers,

thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
   Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

   One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios' parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled

with grief. As the next St. Nicholas' feast day approached, Basilios' mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios' safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king's golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children—which became his primary role in the West.
   Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.

   Several stories tell of Nicholas and the sea. When he was young, Nicholas sought the holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus' life, passion, and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. And so St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers.
   Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need.

   Sailors, claiming St. Nicholas as patron, carried stories of his favor and protection far and wide. St. Nicholas chapels were built in many seaports. As his popularity spread during the Middle Ages, he became the patron saint of Apulia (Italy), Sicily, Greece, and Lorraine (France), and many cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Following his baptism in Constantinople, Vladimir I of Russia brought St. Nicholas' stories and devotion to St. Nicholas to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint. Nicholas was so widely revered that more than 2,000 churches were named for him, including three hundred in Belgium, thirty-four in Rome, twenty-three in the Netherlands and more than four hundred in England.
   Nicholas' tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult. For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spiriting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy. An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas' crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who had rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession. The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe's great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as "Saint in Bari." To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari's great Basilica di San Nicola.

   Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be a model for the compassionate life.
   Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas' feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint's horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.


   The general notion of life in France is that it is filled with glamour, high fashion, extraordinary art and architecture and fine cuisine. However, little known to the outside world is that people of France also love to let their hair down, get messy and act absolutely silly. French people, especially of the countryside are famous for their highly entertaining festivals and fun-filled events. The annual Festival of the Pig held in the little commune Trie-sur-Ba'se every August, located in the southern France, is one of the many bizarre festivals that are held in France each year. To celebrate the pig, often considered chubby and cute and a delicious meal by meat-eaters world over, is indeed a strange cause. But, to the villagers of this commune this festival is a time for some asinine fun and a way to attract hundreds of tourists to their homeland.

    First held in 1975, the festival is widely known in France as La Pourcailhade or La Fete du Cochon. At the festival, participants and attendees get together to partake in some of the most outrageous competitions and pageants that involve the pig. Competitions include the Best Pig Outfit, piglet races and eating of pork-sausages. The festival's highlight is the 'French Pig-Squealing Championships', known in French as Championnat de France du Cri de Cochon. In this highly-popular competition, participants should imitate the sounds of a pig during its various life stages. With so many strange competitions in one festival, participants and viewers are bound to be left tickled with laughter. Following the contests is a night filled with prolonged music, singing and dancing.

   Organized by the Brotherhood of the Pig, the Festival of the Pig has survived in its commune because of the village's reputation as one of the largest pig-rearing areas in France. The festival was also featured in the television programme Eurotrash. Although a festival of harmless fun, the Festival of Pig was also subject to controversy when in 2005, a photograph of a participant was manipulated to poke fun of the Prophet

Mohammed. It was this incident that brought the festival international fame. Despite its negative attention in the aftermath of the controversy, the Festival of Pig continues to live on and bring the people of Trie-sur-Ba'se a reason to have some light-hearted fun every second Sunday of August.

Monday, August 29, 2011


   The origins of the Christmas pickle are shrouded in mystery. Some claim the Christmas pickle originated in Germany. Some claim the Christmas pickle was a tradition born in a prison camp during the Civil War. Whatever its origins, the Christmas pickle survives on Christmas trees all across America.

Christmas Pickle Traditions

    So just what is a Christmas pickle? For the uninitiated the Christmas pickle is a Christmas ornament that looks like a pickle. Sounds obvious, right?
    The pickle ornament is the last thing hung on a Christmas tree. The green ornament blends in with the tree making it difficult to spot. According to tradition, the first child to find the Christmas pickle gets an extra present. Or if no extra presents are available, the finder of the Christmas pickle gets to be the first one to open a present.
That's the only part of the Christmas pickle that almost everyone seems to be in agreement on. The rest of the Christmas pickle story is a tale of conflicting legends.

Origins of the Christmas Pickle

    Most people who are familiar with the Christmas pickle claim that the pickle ornament originated from an ancient German tradition. However, if you were to ask an average German, he or she would have no clue what you are talking about. It seems no one in Germany hangs pickles on their Christmas trees. Some other contending stories vie for the origination of the Christmas pickle.
   One story claims that the tradition of the Christmas pickle begins in the Middle Ages. According to this version of the Christmas pickle legend, two boys were traveling home for Christmas. When they stopped for the night at an inn, the innkeeper imprisoned them in a pickle barrel. That night, St. Nicholas also stopped at the inn, heard the boys, and freed them from the pickle barrel.

    Another story about the origins of the Christmas pickle also has its roots in imprisonment. During the Civil War, John Lower (Lauer) was a prisoner of war in the infamous Andersonville Prison camp in Georgia. According to this story, the Bavarian-born Lower, was starving and asked a guard for a pickle to eat before he died. The guard took pity on the man, found a pickle and gave it to him. According to John Lower's descendents, John said the gift of that pickle gave him hope to live on. Once he was released from prison, Lower began a family tradition of hiding a pickle in the Christmas tree to symbolize the gift that was given to him. This traditions said that the first one to find the pickle would be blessed with good fortune for a year.
   While John Lower's German heritage may be the source of the connection between Christmas pickles and Germany (Lower's non-German neighbors may have mistaken his personal tradition for an overall German tradition, there may be a loose connection of the Christmas pickle story to Germany.

A vintage Christmas pickle

    The town of Lauscha, Germany was renowned for its hand-blown glassware and glass Christmas ornaments. In the late 1840's, glass-blowers in Lauscha began producing glass Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of fruits and vegetables and presumably - pickles. As far Christmas pickles being a German tradition, it seems to be one that is localized and isolated, rather than a widespread national tradition.
    Whatever the origins of the Christmas Pickle ornament, the tradition is alive and well today and can add additional fun to the joy and merriment of the holiday season. If you're looking for a new holiday tradition, perhaps the Christmas pickle is for you.


Hamburger Charlie and the Early Days of the Hamburger
Who was "Hamburger Charlie"?
   Charlie Nagreen was born in Hortonville, Wisconsin in 1870, where he spent his boyhood. He began his ground beef and onion career at age 15 when he loaded up his ox can and traveled 20 miles north to Seymour to sell meatballs at the fair.

Why was Charlie selling meatballs?
   The meatball was easy to assemble and the young lad knew people would be hungry after walking around viewing the agricultural exhibits at the fair. What he didn't realize was that people wanted to keep moving and visit the displays.

The founding father of the Burger
How did the hamburger come about?
   Charlie was a resourceful young man with an outgoing personality. After not experiencing much success selling the meatballs, he had an idea and located some bread. He realized people could take this meal with them if he simply smashed the meat together between two pieces of bread. He called it a "hamburger" and yes, in 1885 the burger was born at the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin.
How did he come up with the name "hamburger"?
   Many German immigrants lived in the Hortonville area. Ground up beefsteak was a popular choice for the dinner table. This steak was named after the German city of Hamburg where it was commonly consumed. Since the name was easily recognizable; "Charlie" used it to get attention. He then spread onions on top and the word spread to taste the gastronomical delight that Charlie had to offer.

Did Charlie visit other fairs?
   Charlie returned to the Seymour fair for the next 65 years, but numerous other fairs were added to his summer circuit. Evidence indicates he brought his meat treat to fairs in Shawano, Green Bay, Weyauwega. Oshkosh, New London and others. "Charlie's" stand was a popular spot and people in neighboring communities came to believe they couldn't have a fair without "Charlie".

How do we know that Seymour is truly "the home of the hamburger"?
   Numerous communities from New Your to Texas claim to be the birthplace of the burger, but no one can supply any evidence dating back to 1885 like Seymour. Early newspaper articles, interviews with contemporaries and Charlie's daughter all verify the burger was served at the Seymour fair in 1885.

It was in this setting, the busy Seymour Fair of 1885, where Hamburger Charlie , a young lad of 15 first set up his stand selling meat balls that became "hamburgers."
   Seymour’s First Annual Fair an Unprecedented Triumph
As Printed in the Appleton Post, Appleton Wisconsin. Thursday, Oct. 15, 1885.

   Every Man, Woman and Child in the Realm Exercised a lively Interest in Contributing to it’s Brilliancy.

   Twenty-one miles north of Appleton is located the prosperous little city of Seymour. The county that intervenes is as fertile, and supports as many prosperous farmers as any section of territory, similar in range, within the state of Wisconsin. The elegant homes of the husbandmen surrounded by capacious barns; broad fields undulating and well fenced herds of blooded cattle and flocks of well bred sheep, towering stacks of hay and straw, and granaries filled to overflowing are the evidences that present themselves of the wealth of this area.   The same may be said of the country ‘round about Seymour, and as it is of this particular section, as well as the municipality, and its accomplishments that we wish to treat, we will waste no words in the introduction of our story.
The City of Seymour
   The city of Seymour is possessed of as many men of determined energy as its prescribed limits can well contain. In all things pertaining to the interest of the place they are united, so that when a measure comes up which is in the least calculated to rebound to the public weal it is developed and matured and worked for all the treasure it contains grounds suitable for such entertainments as were contemplated were purchased and enclosed, a half-mile track equal in excellence to any in the county prepared, and a splendid exhibition hall was constructed.

Charlie and his crew back in the day

The First Annual Fair
   Numerous agricultural products were exhibited at the fair -- Fancy stocks of vegetables and grain. The vegetables and cereals made us contemplate with envy the luxuries of the high life. Prize cattle, sheep and hogs were the hit of the fair. Nothing on the grounds attracted as much attention as the bees displayed in glass hives by Mr. John Bull. The little insects appeared to appreciate the admiration bestowed upon them and toiled without rest to maintain their reputation for industry.
Exhibition Hall
   The exhibition hall was the central attraction for all visitors. Here it was that household comforts, ornamental work, flowers, fine art and the products of the factory and the foundry were arranged side by side to demonstrate the diversified industries of the people. Phillip Muehl’s furniture created a desire in spectators to make themselves comfortable while they inspected the hardware novelties and dry goods.

   On the grounds outside there was a very great variety of laborsaving farm machinery. The goods exhibited there our farmers are familiar with, and any essay we might write on them, farther than to say they are the best produced, would be a useless waste of time.
The Races
   The horse trot is a source of income that agricultural societies all over the country have been compelled to take advantage of, but in no instance represents the best interest of the farmers. On the other hand the improvement in the style of travel and speed of the horses is most impressive. The array of fine horses that were on the grounds during the fair is conclusive evidence that this section of the country is well stocked with champion steeds.
General Notes
Of Seymour and its citizens and leading industries we will have something to say in the future. In the meantime we congratulate the town on the splendid success of the first annual fair. May each succeeding exhibition grow in importance until the expositions there held fully equal if they do not excel any in the country.

Grilling the worlds largest hamburger

“Hamburger Charlie” Ready to begin 62nd Tour of Fairs
As Printed in the Appleton Post -- Appleton Wisconsin, 1947
   Back in 1885, ground beef patties were called meatballs, and then they became known as “hamburgers.” C.R. Nagreen 2102 S. Oneida Street, known as “Hamburger Charlie” avers he is the originator of the word “hamburger.î”Beginning Aug. 14 at the Outagamie Co. fair at Seymour and continuing through all the fairs, - Wautoma, Oshkosh, Shawano and Weyauwega, Charlie will dispense his famous hamburgers-this time from a brand new 12 by 14 foot tent and using new equipment. With the awnings up and benches on the side the tent will be 40 feet long.

   When Charlie was 15, back in 1885, he began his career, which has reached its 62nd year this summer. He drove into the Seymour fair with a yoke of oxen in that year, and thereafter made his circuit to the fairs by horse, by train and finally by auto.

The ketchup slide

Sunday, August 28, 2011



    You can’t have Halloween without candy! Those fun-size bars are cute and we all look forward to indulging in them every October. But, what do we know about our favorite candy besides the fact that they taste good?
Here are some fun (and little known) candy facts for the most popular Halloween

  • *The best selling candy bar of all time.
  • *Was named after the Mars’ family’s favorite Horse.
  • *When first available in the early 1930s, Snickers cost only 20 cents.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:
  • *Were invented by Harry Burnett Reese, a dairy farmer from Hershey, PA.
  • *Reese created them in his basement after being inspired by the Hershey Chocolate company.
  • *Reese used Hershey chocolate in his confections, and the Peanut Butter Cups were his most popular candy.
  • *Reese left farming to create his own candy business – H. B. Reese Candy Co.
  • *Reese’s company was sold to the Hershey Company in 1963 for $23.5 million just years after his death.

  • *Was first created in the UK in 1967.
  • *Was originally named “Raider”
  • *Did not arrive in the US until 1979 – it was then renamed “Twix Cookie Bar”
  • *Sales in the 1980s were disappointing and peanut butter Twix replaced caramel (original) Twix.
  • *In the early 1990s, Twix increased in popularity and caramel became a hit (finally!) after returning – it remains popular still today.

  • *Was first introduced in 1921 as “Knights Knifty Knibbles”
  • *Originally sold for just 5 cents
  • *Was so popular in the 1940s, it led to the creation of a “sibling candy bar” – the Almond Joy.

  • *Was created in 1923 by the Curtiss Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois.
  • *Got its name from a contest in which Chicago citizens were asked to name the new candy bar.
  • *Butterfinger is slang, used in sports for someone who cannot hold on to the ball.
  • *Had a successful advertisement partnership with “The Simpsons” until the brand was insulted on an episode of the hit show, in which the partnership was severed.

Milky Way:
  • *Was NOT named after the Earth’s galaxy!
  • *Was named after a popular malted milkshake.
  • *Was created in Minneapolis, MN by Frank C. Mars.
  • *Was the first commercially distributed filled chocolate bar ever.

  • *Was originally named “Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp”
  • *Was first invented in 1935 and was sold only in London.
  • *”Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp” became “KitKat” in 1937.
  • *In 1945, KitKat was sold for a short time in a blue wrapper (not the usual red) – during this time the candy bar was made with plain, not milk chocolate due to a milk shortage after the war.
  • In 1947, the original KitKat replaced the plain version and has remained ever since.


   The Rose of Tralee festival is an international competition which is celebrated among Irish communities all over the world. The festival takes its inspiration from a nineteenth century ballad of the same name about a woman called Mary, who because of her beauty was called The Rose of Tralee. The words of the song are credited to C. (or E.) Mordaunt Spencer and the music to Charles William Glover, but a story circulated in connection with the festival claims that the song was written by William Pembroke Mulchinock, a wealthy Protestant, out of love for Mary O'Connor, a poor Catholic maid in service to his parents.


   The festival has its origins in the local Carnival Queen, once an annual town event, fallen by the wayside due to post-war emigration. In 1957, the Race Week Carnival was resurrected in Tralee, and it featured a Carnival Queen. The idea for the Rose of Tralee festival came when a group of local business people met in Harty's bar in Tralee to come up with ideas to bring more tourists to the town during the horse racing meeting and to encourage ex-pats back to their native Tralee. Led by Dan Nolan, then managing director of The Kerryman newspaper, they hit on the idea of the Rose of Tralee festival. The competition started in 1959 on a budget of just £750.

   The founders of the organisation were: Billy Clifford - an accountant with the Rank Organisation who was one of the first recipients of the Golden Rose award (which was inaugurated to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Festival of Kerry); Dan Nolan, the owner of The Kerryman newspaper and involved with Tralee Races; Jo Hussey, a shopkeeper in Tralee and Ted Healy.
   Originally, only women from Tralee were eligible to compete, in the early 1960s it was extended to include any women from Kerry, and in 1967 it was further extended to include any women of Irish birth or ancestry.

The Story of the Rose of Tralee

   Mary O'Connor lived in the middle of Tralee town, in Brogue Lane, which took its name from the broguemakers (or shoemakers) who lived and worked there. Mary lived in a thatched cabin with her parents, sisters Brigid and Ellen and younger brother Willie. Her father was a broguemaker, and her mother worked as a dairymaid. Mary was very beautiful; she had long dark hair and soft, shining eyes.
   Her status as the daughter of a broguemaker and dairymaid meant Mary was destined for work as a maid or house-help. When she was 17 she secured employment as a kitchen maid for the Mulchinock household in Tralee.

   The Mulchinocks were a wealthy family of merchants who owned a wool and linen draper's shop on the site of what is now Heaton's department store in Tralee.
   Michael Mulchinock had married Margaret McCann and they lived in the grand Mulchinock house, West Villa. The family owned a considerable amount of land around the house and the neighbourhood, as well as property in town. They had servants, coachmen, gardeners and farmhands.
   Michael died of a fever in 1828, so Margaret Mulchinock was head of the household when Mary O'Connor started working in the kitchens of West Villa. Also living in the house were Margaret's sons William Pembroke, Edward, Henry and her married daughter Maria.
   Mary O'Connor was delighted to be given employment at West Villa, and soon Margaret's daughter, Maria, seeing that Mary was intelligent and kind to her children asked her to be maid to her daughters Anne and Margaret.

   Margaret Mulchinock's sons had grown to be young men and William was becoming a dreamer. In the eyes of his family he was good-for-nothing, and even worse: a poet.
   In November 1840 Henry, William's younger brother, died. William was inconsolable as he was closer to William than his more practical brother Edward. He wrote a poem about his feelings:

 For him of the fair young brow I weep,
Who takes in the churchyard now his sleep;
For he was the star above sun-bright,
That tinged with the light of love my night.

   It wasn't long before William met his sister's new nursemaid. As soon as he saw Mary he was transfixed by her eyes, her grace, her long dark hair and delicate skin.
   Mary and William began to meet each other every day by the well in the grounds of West Villa, that looked out over the sea and mountains. Sometimes they walked down Lover's Lane or up to Clahane to dance.
   One night beneath the pale, silvery moon William asked Mary to marry him. However, William's family disapproved of him seeing Mary, the broguemaker's daughter who lived in a small peasant house in the middle of town. Whilst Mary loved William, she knew that their union could never be, as it would force him to turn his back on his family and he would begin to regret the day he'd ever met her. She declined his offer of marriage.
   William refused to give up. He wrote a song for Mary to try and convince her otherwise.

The pale moon was rising above the green mountains,
The sun was declining beneath the blue sea,
When I strayed with my love by the pure crystal fountain,
That stands in the beautiful Vale of Tralee.

She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet 'twas not her beauty alone that won me.
Oh no, 'twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.
   But Mary still refused to marry him.
   The next evening, after attending a political rally in town, William went to visit Mary at West Villa and gave her a ring which he placed on her finger. Suddenly the door burst open and a friend of William's rushed in to inform him that William had been accused of the murder of a man at the rally. Two men had got into a fight and as leader of one of the rebel groups challenging the upcoming election, William had been held responsible. William's friend informed him there was a warrant out for his arrest and a reward of 100 gold sovereigns for finding him. He was told to make for Barrow Harbour and get on a wine ship that was leaving that night. William kissed Mary goodbye and told her he would return soon.

   William made his way to India where he worked as a war correspondent. Here he met an officer from Limerick who asked William what had bought him to India. When William told him the officer said he would use his influence to get William returned to Ireland, and to Tralee, a free man.
   So in 1849, some six years after leaving Tralee, William returned. He stopped off at The Kings Arms in Rock Street for a drink before planning to visit Mary in nearby Brogue Lane. The landlord began to draw the curtains to mark the passing of a funeral coming down the street. On enquiring who the funeral was for, William was told it was for a local girl from Brogue Lane, a lovely and fair young woman named Mary O'Connor - the Rose of Tralee.
   William was devastated and his heart broken. There was nothing left for him but to visit Mary's grave on the outskirts of town. The famine was at its height in Ireland at this time and most of the country's eight million inhabitants were trying to survive on a diet of potatoes alone.

Winner of the 2009 Rose of Tralee Contest

   William never got over Mary's death, and despite marrying and having children with an old flame he refused to forget her.
   William moved with his family to New York in 1849 but returned alone six years later to Tralee and lived the rest of his life in Ashe Street. He died in 1864 at the age of 44 and at his request was buried at the graveyard in Clogherbrien next to his true love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.
   You can visit Mary O'Connor's grave at the graveyard in Clogherbrien by taking the Fenit road out of Tralee and the graveyard is on the right hand side.

Modern Practice

   The Rose of Tralee festival is now held annually at the end of August in Tralee, County Kerry, to choose a young woman to be crowned the Rose. The winning Rose is the woman deemed to best match the attributes relayed in the song: "lovely and fair". The winner is selected based on her personality and should be a good role model for the festival and for Ireland during her travels around the world. In contrast to beauty

pageants, there is no swimwear section in the Rose of Tralee contest and the contestants are not judged on their appearances but rather their over-all personality and suitability to serve as ambassadors for the festival. The festival bills itself as celebration of the "aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility and Irish heritage" of modern young women.
   Each of the 32 counties in Ireland select a Rose and there is also a Rós Fódhla representing the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas in Ireland. Regional finals are held in June where six Irish women are selected to take part in the International Rose of Tralee festival. Roses from Kerry, Dublin and Cork automatically qualify for the festival held in August.

The M.C. and Contestants

   There are international Roses chosen from around the world who also participate in the Rose of Tralee festival. These include the centres of Birmingham, Boston, Darwin, Dubai, France, London, Luxembourg, Leeds, Newcastle, New York, New Orleans, New Zealand, Perth, Philadelphia, Queensland, San Francisco, Southern California, South Australia, Sunderland, Sydney, Texas, Toronto and many more centres who take part in the qualifying rounds.
   The contest, which is broadcast over two nights by RTÉ was hosted in 2010 by Dáithí Ó Sé.   It was previously presented for over twenty years by Gay Byrne. Other previous presenters include Ray D'Arcy (2005–09), Ryan Tubridy, Marty Whelan and Derek Davis. The first presenter of The Rose of Tralee (prior to it being televised) was Kevin Hilton.
   The festival has had financial difficulties in recent years, however the number of people who view the live broadcast of the program remains high.
In 2008 unmarried mothers were allowed to enter the contest for the first time.
The Channel 4 comedy Father Ted parodied the festival in the episode "Rock-a-Hula Ted" where the eponymous character is asked to host the local "Lovely Girls" competition.   Will Scally produced and directed a Channel Four documentary called Rose of Tralee.

   To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the festival in 2009, 50 roses took part in the 2009 competition rather than the approximately 30 who take part every other year.
Michele McCormack (1985 Chicago Rose) has gone on to win an Edward R. Murrow Award in her chosen profession of broadcast journalism. She hosts selection contests both in Philadelphia and the Midwest. (She credits her interview technique to Gay Byrne, who hosted the contest when she was in Tralee.) Other notable roses include Aoife Mulholland of Galway (2003) who went on to achieve acclaim as an actor. Sinéad De Roiste was the first "African Irish American", as she called herself, representing Philadelphia (2003). Noreen M. Culhane (New York Rose 1970) now Executive Vice President of the New York Stock Exchange.