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Presidents Day

The federal holiday honoring ‘George Washington’ was originally implemented by an ‘Act of Congress’ in (1879) for government offices in ‘Washington’ and expanded in (1885) to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an ‘American President’, the holiday was celebrated on ‘Washington’ actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, (1971), the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Act’. This date places it between February 15 and 21, which makes the name “Washington’s Birthday” in some sense a misnomer, since it never occurs on ‘Washington’ actual birthday, either February 11 or February 22.

Today, the February holiday has become well known for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales. Until the late (1980), corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on ‘Memorial Day’ or ‘Christmas Day’. With the late (1980) advertising push to rename the holiday, more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year, and, as on ‘Veterans Day’ and ‘Columbus Day’, most delivery services outside of the ‘United States Postal Service’ now offer regular service on the day as well. Some public transit systems have also gone to regular schedules on the day. Many colleges and universities hold regular classes and operations on ‘Presidents Day’.

Various theories exist for this, one accepted reason being to make up for the growing trend of corporations to close in observance of the ‘Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ Conversely, many schools and business formerly open on this day began closing after the observance of ‘Dr. King’ birthday holiday became prevalent. This was done in order not to diminish ‘Washington’ birthday in comparison to ‘King’. However, when reviewing the ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Bill’ debate of (1968) in the ‘Congressional Record’, one notes that supporters of the ‘Bill’ were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.

Both ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Washington’ birthdays are in February. In historical rankings of ‘Presidents of the United States’ both ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Washington’ are frequently, but not always, the top two presidents.

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Urban Legends

‘Santa Claus’, also known as ‘Saint Nicholas’, ‘Father Christmas’, ‘Kris Kringle’ and simply “Santa”, is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many ‘Western’ cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on 24 December, the night before ‘Christmas Day’. Since the 20th century, in an idea popularized by the (1934) song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, ‘Santa Claus’ has been believed to make a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior (“naughty” or “nice”) and to deliver presents, including toys, and candy to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve.

‘L. Frank Baum The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus’, a (1902) children book, further popularized ‘Santa Claus’. Much of ‘Santa Claus’ mythos was not set in stone at the time, leaving ‘Baum’ to give his “Neclaus” (Necile’s Little One) a wide variety of immortal support, a home in the Laughing ‘Valley of Hohaho’, and ten reindeer—who could not fly, but leapt in enormous, flight-like bounds. ‘Claus’ immortality was earned, much like his title (“Santa”), decided by a vote of those naturally immortal. This work also established ‘Claus’ motives: a happy childhood among immortals. When Ak, Master Woodsman of the World, exposes him to the misery and poverty of children in the outside world, ‘Santa’ strives to find a way to bring joy into the lives of all children, and eventually invents toys as a principal means.

Images of ‘Santa Claus’ were further popularized through ‘Haddon Sundblom’ depiction of him for The ‘Coca-Cola Company’ Christmas advertising in the (1930). The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that ‘Santa Claus’ was invented by The ‘Coca-Cola Company’ or that ‘Santa’ wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the ‘Coca-Cola’ brand. The image of ‘Santa Claus’ as a benevolent character became reinforced with its association with charity and philanthropy, particularly by organizations such as the ‘Salvation Army’. Volunteers dressed as ‘Santa Claus’ typically became part of fundraising drives to aid needy families at ‘Christmas’ time.

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