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Ethnic Holidays that We All Could Enjoy

March 28, 2007

This month, Chris put together a sidestream of Irish Celtic music in honor of St. Patrick's Day (which, in the U.S., is celebrated by wearing lots of green and seeing how drunk you can get). I was thinking, are there other holidays, specific to an ethnic culture, that would make focus for a Folk Alley sidestream? The holiday should be something that involves or inspires special music (kind of like Christmas). And, not every holiday should be built around drinking (kind of like New Years).

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at March 28, 2007 10:25 AM


We don't celebrate Guy Fawkes Night enough in America.

Posted by: Jack Swain at March 28, 2007 11:11 AM

Opening Day of Baseball Season is a is Opening Day of Trout Season.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at March 28, 2007 11:45 AM

I don't know about trout fishing, but there are tons of baseball songs that we play.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at March 28, 2007 11:52 AM

Greg Brown has a trout song as does Warren Nelson...I think the trout fishing songs have a vote for me!! FYI, trout and salmon are essentialy the same kind of fish, so salmon fishing songs are applicable as well!

Posted by: David Zimmerman at March 28, 2007 6:43 PM

How could I forget the state-wide holiday here in Wisconsin, where everything shuts down for a week...DEER HUNTING SEASON!!! There are many songs played up here around that blessed time of year, and one of the best is done by Da Yoopers called Da Turdy Point Buck which will make your sides ache if you have not heard it before.

Posted by: David Zimmerman at March 28, 2007 7:02 PM

International pismronunciation weeb? The feast of St Kermit of All Frogs? Slap a Bald Spot half hour? Lycra Day? Belgium Day? Hug a Jehovah's Witness Week? Scooter Libby Sunday? Turdy Point Tuesday? Bog Snorkelling Sunday?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 28, 2007 7:45 PM

Oh... Music! Must read the whole intro before I go off like that.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 28, 2007 7:47 PM

Fat Bottom Girls for Lycra Day obviously... Love the One You're With for Scooter...
Pismronunciation Weeb - now that's a poser!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 28, 2007 8:14 PM

So many ethnic holidays are based on political events such as victories of independence from another country.. I wouldn't know where to start. Many other holidays are based on religious holidays..

Seasonal celebrations from cultures around the world?
May Day's coming up.. There's probably some Scandinavian stuff with that celebration in mind. Sewing songs, reaping and harvesting songs.. Songs of the Midnight Sun? Drought? Long expected rain? (I'm fishing...Salmon run songs sounds good to me!)

"Pittance of Time" is a nice Canadian song written about an event concerning a Memorial Day moment of silence, stubbornly unobserved, and an example of remembrance for service and sacrifice - worth fostering for all generations no matter one's beliefs about war:

Anything regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the way he paved for us here. "Lyrical Freedom Riders" by Bryan Field McFarland ties into the
struggle for the equal rights movement is nice:

I'd really be interested in hearing songs from cultures which have been isolated from much of the rest of the world.. there are fewer of those now.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 29, 2007 3:51 AM

... and some fell on stoney ground.

Being British - all festivals centre around drinking, even our secular, non-partisan ones. At the Aberaeron carnival in late August (blogs passim) we play a lot of trad jazz, but around the campfire later on we sing other stuff. We've spent about ten years trying not to sing stuff from Woodface (Crowded House), this turns out to be quite difficult.
Richard Feynman fixated in later life on the music of Tuva, a Himalayan former Soviet republic which was closed to westerners for over 50 years.
Sadly he never got to visit the place, his visa arrived after his death.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 29, 2007 6:15 AM

Which brings me on to...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 29, 2007 6:21 AM

Let's music that is not heard much about some Native American drum chants, or more Aboriginal music (Guy Mendalo?), or even more African drum beats. It also seems like the harmonica has been strangly missing....what happened to all the harmonica players? Were they all shipped off to Tuva and locked away?!?! Also, for deer hunting, you could through in a little Ted Nugent's Fred Bear!!! I also miss hearing Simon and Garfunkle as well as John Denver.

Posted by: David Zimmerman at March 29, 2007 10:20 AM

Tuva or BUST!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 29, 2007 1:44 PM

Feynman played a mean bongo.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 29, 2007 1:54 PM

What about a little island hopping Reggea music?!? I have also heard some classical guitar music that had my head nodding a time or two! Did I miss the Tuva bus again?

Posted by: David Zimmerman at March 29, 2007 2:37 PM

Doesn't anyone have a Guy Fawkes song? I am really disappointed.

Posted by: Jack Swain at March 29, 2007 4:06 PM

I have a nice wheel barrow, but it needs a new tyre.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 29, 2007 11:21 PM

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 29, 2007 11:23 PM

JoLynn, you found something for me, but they always paint him as a villain. Why would anyone revere a monarchy?

Posted by: Jack Swain at March 30, 2007 10:15 AM

Canada Day? (July 1) Play Canadian artists all day long?

Posted by: Lynn Oatman at March 30, 2007 11:04 AM

How about a real Ostara (Easter) program, with songs about sex, fertility, and the rites of Spring??

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 30, 2007 3:50 PM

I see a song challenge brewing here..
Best Guy Fawkes song by...5 November is it? That gives us plenty of time to collect some firewood.

Hey, Lynn..I'd go for that! Many of the artists played here ARE Canadian! Corb Lund was just on the stream a moment ago. I'd go for some Matt Andersen just about any time.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 30, 2007 3:51 PM

We'll passovers comign up... theres a lot of new and old folk music for that.... I don't know if you do that kind of music here, I just singned up. But I love your station.

Posted by: Sheryn Hodes at March 31, 2007 4:23 AM


Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 1, 2007 12:15 AM

Hey - I just noticed that it is now officially April Fool's any music for that??

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 1, 2007 12:16 AM

Do NOT get me started!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 1, 2007 6:44 AM

BTW Jim - I'm on it for the Oestara festival - I've been perfecting my rutting call off the roof terrace, unfortunately the local females are not yet in the mood - keep telling me to 'put a sock in it'. Except my wife who's promised to insert the sock, with the foot still in it, if I don't shut up.
We're having trouble finding a virgin to sacrifice (the postman looks like a candidate, I've seen his girlfriend). Unfortunately the Celtic and Saxon Oestera festivals involved getting absolutely minging drunk (only rising on the third day!) so we don't quite fit the blog remit.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 1, 2007 11:38 AM

How about Saint George's Day? Any good music for that celebration? I do not understand why hanging the flag of Saint George has been banned from display on Saint George's Day....what's that all about??

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 2, 2007 2:26 AM

Found one - GEZ has a good one: "Song For Saint George"
written in response to the banning of this flag.

(My best guess as to the banning might be that this banner may have been commonly used during the medieval it's display may be misconstrued these days. What say you, Huw?)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 2, 2007 2:33 AM

Dear Saint Blaise, bishop, martyr and Holy Helper, bless our throats!

Feast Day: February 3

Profile: Physician. Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. Lived in a cave on Mount Argeus. Healer of men and animals; according to legend, sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him at prayer.

Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games, and found many waiting outside Blaise's cave. Discovered in prayer, Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise's feast day.

Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn with wool combs (which led to his association with and patronage of those involved in the wool trade), and then beheading.

Blaise has been extremely popular for centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches. In 1222 the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labour in England on his feast. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 2, 2007 10:34 AM

Richard - what kind of music is used to celebrate that then?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 2, 2007 5:43 PM

Why'd he walk ashore? Seems a bit of a tactical faux-pas to me.
Dunno about the flag of St George. For several years it flew all over the place whenever there was an England game (soccer). It has unfortunate associations with shaven haired fascists (as does soccer) however, so many English people view it with fear and loathing. I'm not aware of it's having been banned though.
Not having ever felt the need to fly the standard of St George, I'm no expert, but Wales is positively dripping with dragons (there is currently a campaign by evangelists to remove the Dragon from the Welsh flag and replace it with a yellow cross on a black background - a move liable to bring out the satanist in many a Welsh churchgoer), and my family looked upon the 'taking back' of the St George standard by ordinary England supporters with fond approval.
The brits as a nation don't share your veneration of flags. Every nation on Earth has burned the Union flag at sometime or another.
BBC reporter to British Consul worker after the destruction of offices in central African riots: "I gather they burned the flag..." [Consul]- "Yes, well we have plenty of flags, it's the windows we're worried about."
If no one was burning our flag, we'd worry we'd been forgotten.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 2, 2007 8:11 PM

Well, Earth Day would be a logical choice for a sidestream. Not necessarily "ethnic", but there is certainly a wealth of material that would be appropriate.

Posted by: Tom McAdam at April 3, 2007 4:58 AM

JoLynn: Tibetan throat singers - what else?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 4, 2007 2:13 AM


Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 4, 2007 3:33 AM

..and Alpine yodelers.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 4, 2007 3:34 AM

'Hail to the day, whose kind auspicious rays
Deigned first to smile on famous Bishop Blaize
To the great author of our combing trade,
This day's devoted, and clue honour's paid;
To him whose fame through Britain's isle resounds,
To him whose goodness to the poor abounds;
Long shall his name in British annals shine,
And grateful ages offer at his shrine!
By this our trade are thousands daily fed,
By it supplied with means to earn their broad.
In various forms our trade its work imparts,
In different methods and by different arts;
Preserves from starving, indigents distressed,
As combers, spinners, weavers, and the rest.
We boast no gems, or costly garments vain,
Borrowed from India, or the coast of Spain;
Our native soil with wool our trade supplies,
While foreign countries envy us the prize.
No foreign broil our common good annoys,
Our country's product all our art employs;
Our fleecy flocks abound in every vale,
Our bleating lambs proclaim the joyful tale.
So let not Spain with us attempt to vie,
Nor India's wealth pretend to soar so high;
Nor Jason pride him in his Colchian spoil,
By hardships gained and enterprising toil,
Since Britons all with ease attain the prize,
And every hill resounds with golden cries.
To celebrate our founder's great renown,
Our shepherd and our shepherdess we crown;
For England's commerce, and for George's sway,
Each loyal subject give a loud HUZZA. HUZZA!'

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 5, 2007 3:33 PM

On the other hand, we could celebrate Mar Sarkis and Bakhos Day (October 7). My mother, age 94 at this writing, was born and raised in Aslout, Lebanon.

I would love to visit her birthplace someday....and maybe do some cantoring in St. Sarkis & Bakhos church. My cousin Anthony Salim is a Maronite priest. He visited Aslout about 12 years ago and celebrated Mass in this church.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 5, 2007 3:45 PM

The two most important events in the Scottish calendar have to be Burns Night (25th January) and St Andrews Night (30th November)...and they are always worth celebrating... Scots music & culture have had a lasting effect on world culture...

Posted by: Graham Cairns at April 6, 2007 3:45 PM

Hillbillies have two very important holidays. Friday Night, also called "Fish Fry" or "Gator Tail" (depending on locale) and Saturday Night, also called "Monster Truck" or "Pig Pickin'", depending on the season.

Music is pretty specialized, usually very fast banjo picking and fiddle work with occasional incoherent hollers ("YeeHAAWWWW" or "WOOHOOO!" depending on educational level).

I think the most the Hillbilly culture has contributed to the world is the markmanship standard of a two-inch group at twenty yards, offhand.

Oh, and White Lightning.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at April 6, 2007 10:20 PM

OK. I am digging deep here, I know and admit. Scottish celebrations in April that are not political. I have one: Glen Saturday, third Saturday in April. The children of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire go to Castle Cradfurd to pick the yellow daffodils, called "glens". It is an ancient thing, the meaning lost in myth and legend. Perhaps someone knows (?) But any excuse to play Celtic music and bagpipes is worth a shot. I am doing the best I can. Tom

Posted by: Thomas Glenn at April 7, 2007 6:56 AM

In Texas, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Hispanic culture, though its origin is commemorating a battle in which Mexico defeated France.

Posted by: Janis Collins at April 8, 2007 1:57 AM

Always thought that was kinda strange - I mean, pretty much everyone's defeated France (except for a few Polynesian atolls and one tribe of herdsmen in the central Caucasus). But I do like Cinco de Mayo, and victory over tyranny - even French tyranny, which tends to limit one's choices in domestic wines and cheeses - is always laudable.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at April 8, 2007 11:44 PM

I dunno - If the French ruled the world, you'd be allowed Cognac at breakfast, school dinners would be worth retaking a year for, cinema would be entertaining and speed limits would be a matter of general concensus. I could read accounts of Trafalgar and Waterloo back to back and over and over, but I'm still not sure if being able to fire more rounds per minute than the other guy constitutes an entitlement to control western civilisation. We made a hash of it, now you are (the French didn't exactly cover themselves with glory either but that's beside the point).
Thank goodness Hitler failed to notice the mistake Napoleon made in marching on Moscow, or we'd get schnapps with breakfast, school dinners would be available only to Reichskinde, cinema would be both compulsory and tediously frightening and speed limits would be enforced by on-the-spot executions.
We do celebrate Trafalgar day and Armistice day over here, but not as public holidays (unless you count the 4 minute silence).

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 9, 2007 12:21 PM

In case no one pointed it out "A Pittance of Time" was actually about November 11th, Rememberance Day, here in Canada rather than Memorial Day.

Posted by: Mudhooks Dubois at April 9, 2007 12:46 PM

Sorry yeah - Rememberance Day (I forgot!).

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 9, 2007 12:53 PM

Remembrance Day in Canada, yes. (sorry)
It's a really good song/video.

One year my pocket calendars listed "Armand Farcus Day".. thought I'd missed some important historical character, then realized the calendars type had been set and printing took place in China - merely a misspell of Armed Forces Day..

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 10, 2007 10:41 AM

(LOL) Well, that is not as bad as 'Gadaru-canaru Marshu'! (Guadalcanal March, Japanese TV)

Posted by: Thomas Glenn at April 11, 2007 6:53 AM

As we all know, Christmas is not a movable or "wobbly" feast like Easter. However, one year I inadvertently slid Christmas to December 26 when laying out the school calendar in Pagemaker 6.5.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 11, 2007 11:50 AM

Armand Farcus, wasn't he the inventor of the flagpole heater?

Posted by: Jack Swain at April 11, 2007 1:06 PM

No, that was Master Gonomix

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 11, 2007 10:41 PM

And wasn't it Armand Hammer that had the big baking soda market covered?

Posted by: Thomas Glenn at April 12, 2007 6:11 AM

How about Kurt Vonnegut day?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 12, 2007 2:51 PM

Kurt Vonnegut: RIP

Posted by: Richard Schletty at April 12, 2007 4:52 PM

He would've wanted me to say, "Let's hope he's in Heaven"

So it goes

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 12, 2007 7:39 PM

(shwew!) Jack - that went right over my head!
And Richard - likewise!
Huw - we can all celebrate Kurt Vonnegut every day, I'd say. He will be missed.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 17, 2007 2:16 AM

Hi, Ann -
If you're open to playing music in foreign languages, the Basque and Corsican cultures have sufficient material for a very specific folk-oriented sidestream. They each have a number of acapella men's groups, for instance, which are just gorgeous to listen to even if you don't understand the language.

Posted by: Alethea at April 18, 2007 5:41 AM

Welsh stuff is pretty good.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 18, 2007 11:36 AM

Name some, Huw, and be sure you spell it for us!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at April 18, 2007 3:47 PM

Keep an eye open for Sian Philips ( and There was a band called Ar Log back in the day. There is a thriving Welsh folk scene, it just doesn't speak English all the time, which people outside Wales seem to find offputting.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 20, 2007 9:57 AM

Not me! And why would Kymric be more "offputting" than Gaelic, which Clannad and many others have entranced millions with (?) Kymric needs more public exposure! Would you believe many in America don't even know that the Welsh are not English, and that they have a language of their own? Such is the state of our cultural ignorance. Stick a burr in somebody's arse, Huw! Get something moving over there!

Posted by: Thomas Glenn at April 21, 2007 2:55 PM


Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 23, 2007 9:36 AM

All right, it is settled then....we all need a little more Welsh exposure, as I have not heard this type of music nor language before. I may possibly be the ignorant american that is talked about over seas so much!!! That's OK, as there are many things in this world that I do not know yet....just give me some time though! Here I thought I was doing good to know that they created cute little dogs!

Have fun,


Posted by: David Zimmerman at April 26, 2007 1:58 PM

They bite! Nasty little buggers. It's the cattle.
I'm working on the Welsh music angle - my family always treated Bach and Handel as folk music because it's what they always sang (the Baptists have much to answer for in this department - music not devoted to religion being a route to the primrose path). I'm going to try and get Sian on board - but she's a busy soul.
I think it's Cymraig btw. I speak hardly any Welsh - my grandparents never spoke Welsh to their children, 'Welsh Not' as they were taught.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 26, 2007 8:42 PM

I'll launch a blog soon!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 26, 2007 8:42 PM

My fiddle festival -

It's an ethnic holiday!


Posted by: Huw Pryce at April 27, 2007 6:14 AM

It was Gaelic not, AND Welsh not?? Over here it was Cajun French not, and any Native American dialect not, but we finally got over that for the most part, thankfully. Some people seem to be having trouble with Spanish not, and conversely, English not.. Never ending story, especially for those who may have forgotten where we came from..or where we now are.
We kind of formed a new cultural blend, but *English won out since that's what the founding fathers started out with. (*Excuse me, Huw...American, as you might refer to it!)
Personally, I wish we had been taught at least 5 languages, including sign language as school children, plus classical Latin and maybe Greek throughout.

At least we all have this common musical language thing going on. I'm all for that!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at May 6, 2007 7:09 AM

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