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Theme Colors
Costumes Traditions

Theme

Colors

The People: Native American Legacy

Native Americans decorated most of their crafts to make them more beautiful. They added color and designs with paint, beads, quill embroidery, and by carving and weaving. Sometimes a design or color was a symbol, that is, it stood for an idea or told a story. For example, among the Crow, the color black was a symbol for victory; arrow symbols might mean a hunt or a battle.

Each group had its own set of meanings for colors and designs to use on ceremonial crafts. These symbols could be drawn on a leather pouch or a drumskin to retell a myth or relate an important event Sometimes the maker of a ghost shirt or some other ceremonial object had a dream that revealed what design to use.

The decorative art on many everyday objects had no special meaning. Sometimes a geometric design might be called “butterfly” because the triangle shapes together on a basket looked like a butterfly. Usually, the only way to find out if a design was supposed to be a symbol with meaning was to ask the maker. Designs that showed people, birds, and animals were usually created by men. Women worked more with geometric shapes.

Color was important to add meaning to a design, too. Most Native Americans named four points of the earth, the four directions of the compass–north, south, east, and west–and assigned a color to each one. Among the Cherokee, north was blue, south was white, east was red, and west was black. Colors could also mean life or death, wax or peace, female or male, night or day. For example, the Navaho thought black represented men and blue, women. The Hopi thought that the color blue was the most sacred and used it to honor their gods. Here are some of the other meanings attached to colors:

Color Meaning for Native Americans
Black night, underworld, male, cold, disease, death
Blue sky, water, female, clouds, lightning, moon, thunder, sadness
Green plant life, earth, summer, rain
Red wounds, sunset, thunder, blood, earth, war, day
White winter, death, snow
Yellow sunshine, day, dawn

FACTS
NATURAL DYES

Native Americans used plant materials to make beautiful, soft colors to dye wool, cotton, and other fibers. They made almost every color, though shades of yellow were the easiest to produce.

Listed below are some of the plants Native Americans used for coloring.

Color Plant Material
Blacks wild grapes, hickory bark, alder bark, dogwood bark, mountain mahogany bark
Blues larkspur petals, alfalfa flowers, sunflower seeds
Browns walnut shells, birch bark
Greens moss, algae, lily-of-the-valley leaves, juniper berries
Purples blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rotten maple wood
Reds sumac berries, dogwood bark, beets, cranberries
Yellows onion skins, goldenrod stems and flowers, sunflower petals, dock roots, marigold petals, moss, peach leaves, birch leaves, sagebrush

(URL: http://www.lewisandclarktrail.com/section2/colorsanddesigns.htm)

Costumes

Apart from professional business attire, fashion in the United States is eclectic and predominantly informal. While Americans’ diverse cultural roots are reflected in their clothing, particularly those of recent immigrants, cowboy hats and boots and leather motorcycle jackets are emblematic of specifically American styles. Blue jeans were popularized as work clothes in the 1850s by merchant Levi Strauss, a German immigrant in San Francisco, and adopted by many American teenagers a century later. They are now widely worn on every continent by people of all ages and social classes. Along with mass-marketed informal wear in general, blue jeans are arguably U.S. culture’s primary contribution to global fashion. The country is also home to the headquarters of many leading designer labels such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Labels such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Eckō cater to various niche markets. Another type of clothing worn throughout the United States by many types of people is the T-shirt. It can be plain and white, or colored with company logos or funny messages. T-shirts are arguably the most worn type of shirt in the United States.

Dress norms in the United States are generally consistent with those of other post-industrial western nations and has become largely informal since the mid 20th century. Clothing in the United States also depends on a variety of factors including location, venue, and demographic factors such as ethnicity. Blue jeans are a consistent fashion trend among all classes. The western states are commonly noted for being more informal in their manner of dress than those closer to the eastern seaboard. Furthermore, individuals belonging to certain ethnic groups such as some Native American tribal members and individuals of Scottish descent may wear clothing to represent their ethnic identity at certain events. Conspicuous consumption and a desire for quality have also lead to a strong preference for designer label clothing among many in the middle and upper classes.

Fashion norms have changed greatly from decade to decade. The United States has generally followed and in some cases led trends in the history of Western fashion. It has some unique regional clothing styles, such as western wear.

The toleration for body expression that deviates from the mainstream such as complete body tattoos or nudism is strongly linked to the sub-culture and location in which an individual may find him or herself. Generally speaking the United States tends to be less tolerant towards nudity than Western Europe, even in more tolerant areas such as California. As stated above the tolerance shown for personal expression such as cross-dressing, piercing, etc… varies greatly with location and sub-culture and may be completely appropriate in one venue while being taboo in another.

(URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fashion_in_the_United_States)

Traditions

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged between friends and lovers. In school students draw names to exchange gifts or just pass Valentines to classmates. Men usually present gifts of candy and flowers to their Sweethearts. Many couples today make a treat of Dark Chocolate and a fine Merlot Wine in the privacy of their Valentine’s Day evening!

Shaping Our Lens: Traditions

How often has each of us seen something happen while with another person and much to our disappointment we each come away from the event with a different recollection? The cumulative effect of our life experiences creates in each of us a lens through which we observe what goes on around us. This lens focuses our attention on particular aspects of what we see. Christmas Traditions

A U.S. Marine’s Letter Home

The Flag

It has become customary to fly The Flag on National Holidays, and many people now fly The Flag daily from their homes. This action demonstrates Patriotism and Loyalty to our Country and Honors the sacrifice of all who have made this Great Nation possible.

The Recipe Box

It has become customary to keep favorite Family Recipes in a special container called “The Recipe Box”. All of the secret ingredients that go into The Family’s favorite meals are written on 3×5 inch or 4×6 inch Recipe Cards. The Recipe Box is a Family Heirloom and its contents are priceless. Newlywed couples usually buy The Recipe Box early in their marriage and spend a lifetime together gathering the recipes that become their favorites.

Anna’s Christmas

Our traditions center around how we spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. My husband Bill’s Mother hosts Thanksgiving dinner and all of her 5 children and their children are always there. For Christmas, names are drawn for the children to exchange gifts. Everybody congregates around Mom’s tree and the Gift Marathon begins. Wrapping paper that has been hurriedly torn off gifts is balled up and tossed at each other as we open presents. Certain “traditional” foods are served at both occasions and recipes are passed from Mom to all of us.

Another tradition for me (Anna) is whenever we visit Bill’s Mom, she and I go to the local Botanical Garden for a long walk. We also go there every Christmas Season to walk through their Holiday Light Display.

Citizenship

We are citizens in that we owe allegiance to our Government and in return our Government owes us protection.

Tribute To The United States of America

The War on Terrorism: USA Today: Remembering The Victims of September 11, 2001, Database. The below transcript of Gordon Sinclair’s broadcast June 5, 1973, is as valid today as it was when done so well by Gordon during his Original Newscast. Photo at left by Thomas Franklin of the Bergen Record.

America: The Good Neighbor.

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:

The Service Flag

It Has become customary to display the Service Flag by immediate family members of a person serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war. It may be flown as a traditional flag with canvas heading and grommets beneath the U.S. Flag on a flagpole although it is more commonly seen as a bannerette hunk in a home or in a window.

War Casualties

Many men and women have died defending this nation on the field of battle or “on duty” under the colors of our Flag. We have listed below casualties of war through the years to illustrate the significance of the sacrifice of many for our country. These statistics are humbling in the face of the significance of their sacrifice.

Good Citizenship

When we speak of Citizenship we are normally referring to “the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community”. Though it may be a lost Tradition, we must each make an immediate change to become good Neighbors if we are ever to beat The Terrorists. Terrorists thrive on people who mind their own business and who do not know or care about their neighbors or their community. We must get out and meet and get to know the people around us. Strangers are welcome but all must prove worthy of being a Citizen in our Communities and Work Places that provide American Security and American Opportunity. The United States of America: “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” Be a Good, Attentive and Alert Neighbor, it is the best way to beat Terrorism!

Open Letter to Americans

By Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy

Recently, I was asked to look at the recent events through the lens of military history. I have joined the cast of thousands who have written an ‘open letter to Americans.’

Flowers

It has become customary to give the gift of fresh Flowers to the opposite sex on almost any occasion. In times of illness and death, Flowers are given regardless of gender. The gift of Flowers to couples is customary for such occasions as Weddings, Anniversaries and Holidays. Many men buy Flowers for their favorite woman on a weekly basis to show their love and affection.

Patriotic Military Ceremony

The below Ceremony was used at a Community Awards Day sponsored by The Footers Sports Pub in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on November 11,2003. The Uniform for the Ceremony was Service Dress Blue.

The Declaration of Independence

What a bold move on the part of our Founding Fathers. To feel strong and confident enough to break away from the English and risk death and destruction was nothing short of extraordinary. They were driven to declare themselves free from “The British Crown” by their passion for Freedom and the attainment of an Ideal; a place on earth were people could be free and equal.

The Signers of The Declaration of Independence

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. 12 Had their homes…

Family Life Today

The practice of shared Family Traditions, as an integral part of Family life today, will ensure the preservation and progress of our American Culture. The American Family is the building block of our Nation because it is where we nurture the individuals who must act within our society. It is here that through love, support, tolerance and caring; we nurture family members to first be good human beings and then to look beyond themselves to be good citizens.

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

Did you ever wonder where the Yellow Ribbon Tradition came from? Most Music Historians trace the Custom to a 19th Century Civil War Song. Reportedly the Custom comes from a Civil War story about a prisoner’s homecoming returning from Andersonville Prison. In 1973 Tony Orlando and Dawn cut their number one song of that year and their all-time classic: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”

Old Glory

This tribute to The Flag of The United States makes a wonderful reading for patriotic ceremonies. It sums up in one short poem the sacrifice of all who have gone before us to ensure the security of this great Nation. When read as part of a Ceremony, play Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” as background music. You will truly touch your audience.

(URL: http://www.americanfamilytraditions.com/)

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