Monday, November 14, 2016

Thanksgiving: Fact vs. Fiction

November’s Coffee with the Curator, titled “The First Thanksgiving: Myths & Realities” features Dr. Carolyn Speer Schmidt speaking about the true history of the holiday and explains some of the misconceptions that surround Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in the United States that originated as a day to give thanks for the harvest. Unique, unrelated Thanksgiving celebrations are held in various countries as well. America’s version of Thanksgiving stems from English traditions during the Protestant Reformation (a division within the Roman Catholic Church in 16th century Europe). There are some interpretations of the events that led to the holiday’s creation, though it is generally accepted that English settlers known as Pilgrims were brought to North America on a ship called The Mayflower. Upon arriving in Cape Cod Harbor, the Pilgrims established a colony named Plymouth in 1621.

For as long as most people can recall, Thanksgiving has always fallen on the fourth Thursday each November. However, this date was chosen in 1941, so the holiday has not always occurred on such a consistent schedule. The original feast in 1621 likely occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Also, Thanksgiving was traditionally a three day holiday, rather than a single day.

When people imagine pilgrims, they often picture black and white clothing with large buckles on shoes, hats, and clothes. This is inaccurate, as buckles didn’t come into vogue until later in the 17th century. Pilgrims were not monochromatic, either. Women wore red, gray, brown, green, and blue, and men wore white, brown, black, and beige.

Turkey and Thanksgiving go together like peanut butter and jelly. But has it always been that way? No. Pilgrims originally ate deer, not turkey. If any kind of poultry was served, it would’ve been a side dish - never the main entree. Other foods they might’ve eaten include lots of seafood, like cod, oysters, clams and bass. And there wasn’t a pumpkin pie to be found on any Pilgrim’s table.

Join us November 17 from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. for Coffee with the Curator at the Museum of World Treasures. Enjoy coffee from The Spice Merchant, pastries, and new friendships. Although this is designed for seniors, everyone is welcome to attend this fun and educational program. Admission is discounted to just $4 per person, and members are free. Visit to learn more.

Monday, November 7, 2016

This Friday: Public Unveiling of Forgotten Heroes: Conflict in Korea, 1951-1953

From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, the long awaited, and newest, exhibit Forgotten Heroes: Conflict in Korea, 1951-1953 will be unveiled to the public. Newly donated and never before seen objects from the Museum’s collection will be displayed alongside all new interpretive signs and displays focusing on those who served in what is often known as “The Forgotten War”.

Among the new items to be displayed are a portable chaplain’s field organ, two military pilot’s jackets, and personal photos and service uniform from Marine Sgt. Ronald Russ. Sgt. Russ’s wife, Donna, said of the new display “I am very pleased that this can be done at the Museum. [Ron] was very honored to be a Marine and I was very proud of him and his family was, too.”

At the public opening, you will be able to interact with Korean War veterans, talk to staff about the exhibit, and engage in activities to learn more about heroes of the war. To honor veterans, the Museum will be offering free admission to all active duty and retired military with a valid military ID card or Department of Veteran Affairs card.

Visit the Museum of World Treasures at 835 E 1st Street, Wichita, KS. The Museum is open seven days a week; Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, visit

Monday, October 24, 2016

Is Samhain Just a Gaelic Halloween?

In short, no. Though it is often referenced as a sort of Pagan analogue, Samhain has distinct celebratory and cultural differences from Halloween. October is a month generally recognized as a formal entry to autumn; when the leaves start to turn colors, pumpkins patches open to the public, and Halloween costumes are prepared with care. Halloween parties overtake the end of the month and serve as celebrations for all things spooky, scary, and fun. But did you know that another significant holiday occurs on October 31?

Samhain, pronounced “sow-in”, is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season. It also represents the beginning of winter. Samhain is not commonly known or celebrated in the United States, as it was historically observed through Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Traditionally, it was a time to gather food supplies and take stock of the herds in preparation for the “darker half” of the year.

Samhain is one of four Gaelic seasonanal festivals along with Imbolc (February), Beltane (May), and Lughnasadh (August). Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain as a religious holiday since the late 20th century, though Samhain was celebrated for centuries prior. All Saints’ Day, a Christian holiday to honor saints, and All Souls’ Day, another Christian holiday honoring the deceased, merged with Samhain in the 9th century which created the modern Halloween we know today.

A large part of the Samhain tradition involves lighting bonfires, which captured various symbols and pagan meanings. Rings of stones, known as Ochtetyre, were laid around the fires to represent individuals. The next day, the stones were reviewed for any changes, and if any were disturbed, it was believed that the individual the stone represented would not live out the year. Those traditions, among many others, make Samhain a uniquely fascinating holiday that is distinctly different from Halloween, despite falling on the same day and having some ties to the holiday commonly celebrated in America on October 31.