March 17, 2012
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Detroit had their parade last weekend but there are events on tap today and tomorrow in Bay City, Clare, Flint, Kalamazoo, Grand Ledge, Saugatuck, Traverse City and Muskegon.
Ground zero for the Irish in Michigan is Corktown. Wikipedia notes that it is Detroit’s oldest neighborhood explaining:
The roots of Corktown lie in the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. The Irish immigrated to the United States in droves, and by the middle of the 19th century, they were the largest ethnic group settling in Detroit. Many of these newcomers settled on the west side of the city; they were primarily from County Cork, and thus the neighborhood came to be known as Corktown. By the early 1850′s, half of the population of the 8th Ward (which contained Corktown) were of Irish descent
The Irish in Michigan from Seeking Michigan has some information about Corktown but adds that:
Irish immigrants to Michigan certainly did not limit themselves to settling in the urban hub of Detroit, with many of them making their way up north. In the 1830s, Irish immigrants settled in fishing camps on Mackinac and Beaver Islands. Today, a large portion of Beaver Island’s year-round residents are of Irish descent. Wexford, Clare, Emmet and Antrim counties in the northern Lower Peninsula are all named after counties in Ireland. Irish immigrants were also instrumental to the copper mining boom in the Upper Peninsula. Nearly one-third of the area’s foreign-born population was from Ireland in 1870, though the Irish population would decline by 1920. Many small Irish communities could also be found scattered throughout the Lower Peninsula in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Wherever you are and whoever your ancestors were, here’s hoping you have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day holiday!
February 29, 2012
By my calculations, Leap Day only comes once every 1461 days.
How are you going to make it special?
Megan Elizabeth took this at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where she appears to be a frequent visitor. Check this out bigger and in her impressive [hello, 365]. slideshow featuring a photo a day of her leaping all over the place. Very cool, very creative, very appropriate!
February 14, 2012
January 26, 2012
We, the PEOPLE of the territory of Michigan … mutually agree to form ourselves
into a free and independent state, by the style and title of “The State of Michigan’”
While Michigan’s Constitution was written in 1835, it took until January 26, 1837 for President Andrew Jackson to sign the bill making Michigan the nation’s 26th state (more about that right here but the short answer is, blame it on Ohio). That makes today the 175th birthday of the Great Lakes State. We’ve been making a fuss of it and giving things away on Absolute Michigan all week, and joining a whole lot of people in touting the good things about our great state at #Mich175 on Twitter.
Here’s some fun facts about Michigan:
- Michigan is derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake. (more about Michigan’s name on Michigan in Pictures)
- French explorers Étienne Brulé & Grenoble are the first recorded Europeans to set foot in Michigan (you never know though). In 1668 Fathers Jacques Marquette and Claude Dablon established the first mission at Sault Ste. Marie, and in 1701, French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit.
- The Michigan Territory was created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government and William Hull appointed as our first governor.
- Michigan became the 26th state on the 26th of January, 1837. Is 26 our lucky number? FYI, our first State governor was Stevens T. Mason, the 25 year old Boy Governor (the youngest state governor in American history).
- Michigan’s nickname is “the Wolverine State”. It is generally believed to have been coined during the 1835 Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio, when our southern rivals gave us the name due to the wolverine’s reputation for sheer orneriness!
- The Great Seal of Michigan was designed by Lewis Cass and was patterned after the seal of the Hudson Bay Fur Company. It depicts an elk on the left and a moose on the right supporting a shield that reads Tuebor (“I will protect”).The interior of the shield shows a figure on the shore with the sun rising over a lake. His right hand is raised, symbolizing peace, but he holds a rifle in his left hand, showing readiness to defend the state and nation.Below the shield is the inscription of our state motto Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” (I just learned that Michigan has an Office of the Great Seal – how cool would it be to say you worked there??)
- The original State Capitol of Michigan was Detroit, and it moved to Lansing in 1847 to help develop the western side of the state and due to the need to develop the western portions of the state and for easy defense from British troops. Here’s a pic of Michigan’s original Capitol Building and an 1890s view of the current Michigan capitol.
- Michigan is the 10th largest state by area if you count the water … and who wouldn’t count the water??
- Speaking of water, we have 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, good for second to only Alaska in coastline!
PS: I made a little Michigan Birthday cover photo for Facebook that you are free to grab.
Happy 175th Birthday Michigan!!
December 31, 2011
The secret for success in life is to be ready for opportunity when it comes.
The New Year is an occasion that many of us look to for improvement in our lives or the lives of those around us. Part of making that happen is no doubt the changing of our habits, but equally important is having the perception to see those opportunities for improvement and having the will to seize them when they come.
Here’s hoping that the New Year brings you (and all of us) opportunities for success.
December 24, 2011
Here’s hoping that all of you have a great Christmas if that’s your thing and a wonderful weekend in any case!
December 21, 2011
The Detroit News has a fantastic feature titled Christmas traditions in Old Detroit: Pigeon pie, horse racing, tapers on trees that is a wonderful look at the history of the Christmas holiday in Detroit. They begin:
Although Protestant churches in Detroit did not embrace the Christmas holiday until the 1840s, it was long celebrated in the French Catholic Churches such as Detroit’s oldest parish, St. Anne’s. (pictured above)
Before Christmas trees became the rage, the French holiday tradition in Detroit was represented by yule logs, reveillon feasting, and horse races. Yule logs were enormous logs or sometimes entire tree stumps that filled the hearth along with a half cord of wood to get it started. Holiday feasting began on Christmas Eve in a tradition called reveillon (pronounced Ray-veh-yon), which is still celebrated in Quebec and New Orleans (at least for the tourists).
In Detroit, families would carry a lantern to midnight mass and leave it with a beggar at the church door. When the Christmas mass was over, they would pick up their lantern and give a Christmas tip to the beggar. They then would go home for the feast that would last until 8 a.m.
The reveillon supper was a sumptuous menu that included la tourtiere — a meat pie made with pigeons in the 19th century and later with pork, veal or other game. Other dishes might include a stew of meat balls and pork, minced pork pie, turkey, pumpkin pie, mince pie and new cider.
There’s a whole lot more including holiday menus, toys, the hazards of decoration and even holiday horse racing through the streets of the city by the French and Ulysses S. Grant! Definitely read the rest and check out the photo gallery which includes some great old photos! About this photo from December 2010, BareBonesDetroit wrote:
Day Six: During the holidays, many of us end up donning our Sunday best and heading over to our local place of worship. Lucky for us here in Metro Detroit, the city overflows with churches, and even has a synagogue. Ste. Anne’s is the oldest church in Detroit. It’s massive structure is a beacon from both sides of the International border we share with Canada. For the season, it’s facade becomes even merrier. If you’ve never visited, for the history lesson and stained glass alone, it’s worth a visit.
More Christmas traditions on Michigan in Pictures…
December 13, 2011
“He errs who thinks Santa enters through the chimney. Santa enters through the heart.”
- Charles W. Howard
The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland was established in 1937 and is the longest continuously running Santa Claus School in the world. The school is a nonprofit and seeks to uphold the traditions and history of Santa Claus and to help its students improve their presentations of Santa Claus. A nice feature on the school in the LA Times explains that:
Howard, the school founder, was a Santa with an impressive resume that included being St. Nick for Macy’s. He opened the school in 1937 after coming across too many other Santas with frayed beards, shoddy suits and limited knowledge of reindeer. (current director Tom) Valent took over the school in 1986 and retains most of Howard’s original curriculum, along with modern additions such as contract issues and how to endure the rigors of being a mall Santa (get a flu shot and negotiate regular bathroom breaks).
…Valent’s cheerful demeanor belies the seriousness with which he approaches his mission of ensuring that Santa Claus embodies perfection, from fresh breath and clean whiskers to impeccable morals. He’s not here to get these Santas jobs — the school has no placement services. He’s here to make sure that whether they play Santa in malls or parades, or in hospitals, homeless shelters or private parties, they do it flawlessly.
“It’s a privilege to be Santa Claus,” said Valent, who has been Santa Claus himself for 35 years, from Greenland to Midland. “You’re taking on a character that stands for all good things.”
Speaking of Santa, yesterday on Absolute Michigan we had an in-depth feature on including charities in your holiday gift plans that might give you chance to share some of that Santa spirit.
November 24, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Wikipedia’s entry for the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) explains that this large, deciduous tree of the beech family was once one of the eastern United States dominant hardwoods before it was nearly wiped out by chestnut blight. Curiously enough, one of the few pockets to survive were some 600 to 800 large trees in northern lower Michigan. I couldn’t find much about these trees other than that reference, so if anyone knows something about that, post it in the comments!
In Europe, chestnuts are consumed in a wide variety of dishes, from soups, stews, and stuffing to fancy deserts. Matter of fact, chestnut flour is the secret to many of the fancy French pastries. In other parts of the world, such as China, the chestnut is a staple food in the peoples’ diet. Chestnuts have about half the calories of other nuts and have the lowest fat content of all the main edible nuts. Chestnuts have only four to five percent fat as compared to sixty-two percent for the hazelnut and seventy-one percent for the pecan. In composition and food value, the chestnut, with its high carbohydrate content of about seventy-eight percent, is more akin to cereal grains, such as wheat, than to nuts with a low carbohydrate content. Since chestnuts are starchy rather than oily, they are readily digestible when roasted or boiled.
Read on for more and suggestions on cooking. They take orders for fresh chestnuts and ship beginning in October, and are at farm markets through the fall. You can also but them online through Michigan-based Earthy Delights. I found a recipe for Michigan chestnut pie that looks tasty too.
November 23, 2011
Over the nine years the Christmas Fantasy was held, almost 6 million people visited it. Thousands of Detroiters had their first visit with Santa at the Rotunda, and memories of Story Book Land and the miniature circus mingle with childhood memories of stockings by the fireplace and cookies for Santa.