Fun holidays to celebrate
Jul 24, 2019 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
July 2019 has taken on a new grandeur thanks to the 50th anniversary celebrations for the historic Apollo 11 mission. (Even the stoic Washington Monument joined the festivities!) Now that the media coverage is quieting down a bit, and with the 4th feeling like a distant memory, what other joyful occasions are there to commemorate? Turns out there several reasons to keep the party going – so join us as we check out some fun holidays to celebrate and let us know about your Summertime plans in the comments….
National Ice Cream Day | July 21
This is top of our list because it not only involves delicious ice cream, but this holiday understands that you can’t limit yourself to one day (especially with a treat as amazing as ice cream). The entire month of July is known as “National Ice Cream Month,” so go ahead and indulge in that extra scoop. (It’s basically your civic duty after all!) Beyond being a big fan of ice cream throughout the year, I didn’t know much about the history of this chilly, comforting food. So naturally, I prepared a bowl of cookies & cream and did a little research. Turns out ice cream is a big deal. A really big deal. Market experts predict that the global ice cream industry is worth about $70 billion and rising. In less five years, a $30 billion increase is anticipated. That’s a lot of cold hard cash for an invention that was first made popular by the likes of Alexander the Great and King Solomon. While scientists think humans first enjoyed ice cream around the 2nd century B.C., the original wandering foodie (Marco Polo) is credited with being the first ice cream ambassador. Although the recipe he shared with his fellow Italians leaned more toward the sherbet end of the spectrum, it provided the basis for the first proper ice cream which debuted in the 1500s.
Now, if you want to get technical the Brits may have developed the tasty treat first, but once the Italians and British had laid claim to their own spin on it, other countries on the continent soon followed. In fact, the first cafe in France featured ice cream on the menu (which at that time was a blend of milk, cream, butter and eggs). Offering ice cream to restaurant patrons meant this dessert had moved beyond the “royal court crowd” and there was no turning back. To say ice cream had a role in American history is no exaggeration. Even as the East Coast was developing into a “brave new world,” people were thinking about ice cream. (It goes without saying that you can’t just go off to parts unknown without a dessert plan!)
The national love of ice cream became official with a 1777 written advertisement in a New York newspaper. To put this in context, the Constitution hadn’t even been ratified, but people needed to know where to get their ice cream. In fact, it wasn’t unheard-of for a founding father’s balance books to have ice cream listed as a tracked business expense. In today’s money some of these expenses would nearly total $6,000! Ice cream was taken very seriously and recipes also became a point of pride. President Jefferson and First Lady Dolley Madison served their versions regularly at the White House and I can’t help but wonder if diplomatic endeavors ended with a trip to the kitchen for an ice cream reward…
By the 1800s ice houses were invented and as refrigeration technology advanced, soon everyone could have a cool treat to come home to. The soda fountain culture memorialized it further as enjoying a Sunday (erm… sundae) treat with your loved ones became American tradition. To this day, ice cream plays a central role at any social event. No matter what the reason – good day at work, birthday party, or just because – ice cream has been there to make our joy complete. And now with dairy-alternatives flooding the market, everyone can enjoy. With all the options available, classic vanilla remains the most popular – what’s your favorite flavor?
National Lipstick Day | July 29
We’ve chatted about lipstick in previous features – the popular colors of bygone decades or the legacy of Revlon – but beyond the hue, what’s the origin story of this beloved cosmetic? It turns out the look first debuted around 5,000 B.C. in the Middle East and the monarch we most associate with eyeliner, was actually one of the first proponents of lipstick. Cleopatra combined henna with carmine for her signature look. Henna (with its rusty red color) and the deep red crimson of carmine must have made a powerful statement. That feeling of power transcends generation and culture. Even Queen Elizabeth I (who by the way would have been able to enjoy some of the world’s first ice cream), followed Cleopatra’s cue and wore a red shade. Her recipe involved twice the number of ingredients from the Egyptian variety, but it set the stage for centuries to come: women who needed to feel fierce and make history rocked lipstick!
We can’t really talk about independent ladies and lipstick without mentioning Avon (which started selling lipstick in 1919 to eager flapper girls!). It all started in the late 1800s with an entrepreneurial traveling book salesman named David McConnell. As any good salesperson would tell you, it’s critical to listen to and understand your clients. For David, this meant that he would include a fragrance sample for his female customers. Over time, he noticed a trend – women loved the samples more than the books and (perhaps more crucially) women talked about these samples to their friends. These two factors informed the vision for Avon. What started out as hiring women to fill the role of sales representatives, soon blossomed into a full-fledged cosmetic empire. We’ve discussed the importance of early female employment opportunities before & Avon played a big role in helping women provide for themselves and their families. This is a role they’ve continued to fill to this day. In honor of the amazing history behind lipstick and the pioneering women who wear (and sell it), I think it’s time to reach for the bright red lipstick! What’s your favorite shade for Summer?
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day | Aug 25
Every vintage fashionista has reason to celebrate on this special day! In fact, we celebrate this moment every time we wear a frock from the 1950s or a statement jewelry piece that was handed down from a beloved grandmother or auntie. Wearing vintage is not only a fabulous fashion choice (and a chance to uniquely express your mood for the day), but it’s also good for environment. Talk about a win-win. Vintage fashion is wearable art and history, bringing the past into the present. When we think about the holidays we’ve mentioned already, there is a plethora of anecdotes and plot twists that combined to make the very thing we celebrate possible. Without Marco Polo’s curious nature or Cleopatra’s confidence, what would the trajectory for ice cream or lipstick have evolved into? As we celebrate these fun Summer holidays, bask in the stories that came before you and consider how you’ll contribute to the narrative!