Why would a Christian priest in Rome in the 3rd century A.D. be imprisoned, tortured and threatened with death just for standing up for marriage, secretly marrying soldiers to their brides? When we think of Valentine’s Day today, we think of romance, whether serious or trite, but we rarely think of the fact that February 14 denotes the day (in 269 AD) when Valentine (his last name) was beheaded for his faith!
January 1 as New Year’s Day was first celebrated in 46 B.C. when the Julian calendar took effect. The traditional Roman calendar, first established in the 7th century B.C. was based on the lunar cycle. Various politicians would add days to extend their own political terms and thus it was frequently corrupted. Julius Caesar, the new Roman dictator, named the new calendar after himself. Instead of the lunar cycle, he followed the solar cycle. So what can we learn about the new year that could enlighten us today?
When people think of the historic Boston Tea Party that took place in 1773, they often have images of wild and lawless men destroying the personal property of others and throwing it into the sea in a riot, just so they don’t have to pay a very small tax. About the only thing that is accurate in this description of the event that took place on Thursday, December 16, 1773 is the fact that the proposed tax was small! It is time to rehearse the rest of the story, which is often left untold.
At this time of year many people reflect upon the Pilgrims and the origin of our American Thanksgiving holiday. Some contend that it either never occurred or was not a friendly affair with a legacy of genocide. Hopefully some context and clarity can help remove these myths and bring factual balance.
Consider some of these facts: (1) We do not know when the actual harvest feast occurred, though we know it was the fall of 1621. (2) We don’t know if the Pilgrims invited their Native neighbors to a pre-planned event, but we know they feasted together. (3) The Natives provided much of the food, and though they had turkey, venison ruled the day.
Noah Webster defined the word Providence to mean “foresight; timely care… foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use… the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures.” One key word in this definition is “timely”. In other words, God times events for His purposes, and California is such an example.
Though Natives discovered gold in 1841, nothing came of it. Though gold was again discovered in 1844, a misinterpretation of the Spanish language led to the abandonment of the enterprise. Why would years of inactivity “suddenly” occur, and gold “officially” discovered on January 24, 1848 in the little town of Coloma, become so significant? Hopefully, this history lesson provides a hint as to what God may have had in mind.