By Andrea Sicari, Information Literacy Librarian, Marvin K. Peterson Library
By now, you probably have noticed the recent chill in the air and the scent of wood burning in fireplaces. And whether you are ready to admit it or not, the semester is almost over and the holiday season has already started. You are probably aware of the most widely celebrated holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, but have you ever wondered what other holidays are celebrated this time of year? Or why certain holidays are important to different people?
If so, you can use the various library resources to help you find out more! You can use a database such as Country Watch to find out more about the culture of different countries. Or another database, CREDO Reference to find basic information about the traditions of a holiday. If you wanted to learn more about it, you could use Academic Search Premier or JSTOR to find magazine and journal articles about it or a newspaper database such as News Source Plus to see what is being written about it in the news. Searching in SocIndex or PsychInfo will lead to information on why celebrating holidays is important to us as humans. The easiest way to access these specific databases is to select the link for “databases” on the library homepage, and then choose the link for the A-Z Listing of Databases.
For example, let’s say you have a friend from Canada and they mentioned that they celebrate Boxing Day. To find out more you could start your search in the CREDO Reference database. If you search for “Boxing Day” and read the article in the “Holidays, Festival, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary”, you find out that this holiday is celebrated on December 26 and that Australia, Britain and South Africa are some of the other countries that celebrate it. You also find out that it was started as a day that aristocrats gave money to their servants and tradespeople to show their appreciation for their services. If you wanted to find out more and searched for “Boxing Day” in News Source Plus you would find the article “Lingering mystery of Boxing Day, even among British expats” published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 12.26.12 in which the author tries to find out how long it has been a holiday. He finds out that it is thought to go back to the Middle Ages, but that Queen Victoria proclaimed it an official holiday in the mid-19th century. He also explains that many people that celebrate it don’t really know its origins, and it is thought to be a day where people watch soccer and go shopping. If you wanted to explore more about why holidays are important, you might search in SocIndex for “significance of holidays” and read the journal article, “Toward a Theory of Public Ritual” written by Amitai Etzoni, to help understand why holidays are important to us as a society.
If you have any questions on how to search for information about holidays or for your course assignments, please stop by the Library’s Information Desk, call the Information Desk at (203) 932-7189, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a Librarian will be more than happy to assist you. Good luck with you final papers and exams.