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12/21/2013 7:00 AM

To Learn About Vegetable, <\n>Small Fruit Production

Vegetable and small-fruit growers will have a chance to gain knowledge that can enhance their operations during a series of monthly, Web-based seminars this winter.

Presented by the Penn State and Cornell Cooperative Extension, the monthly webinars will be offered from 1-2 p.m. Wednesdays with time for questions and answers.

Aimed at those involved in commercial production of vegetables and small fruits on any scale, the webinars will provide timely updates in vegetable and small-fruit production for Extension educators, producers and industry representatives in Pennsylvania, New York and surrounding states.

“Growers are very busy and don’t always have time to travel to Extension meetings, so we designed these webinars for convenience,” said Lee Stivers, horticulture educator with Penn State Extension.

“Registration gives you access not only to the live webinar but also to handouts and recordings,” Stivers said. “So even if you miss the live webinar, you can catch it on the recording.”

Stivers noted that in addition to providing easy access to current information about key vegetable-production issues, the webinars serve as an online forum that allows participants to interact with researchers, Extension educators and other farmers.

Planned webinar topics and presenters include the following subjects:

On Jan. 15, “Spotted Winged Drosophila and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug” will be presented by Kathy Demchak, senior Extension associate in plant science; Shelby Fleischer, professor of entomology, Penn State; and Greg Loeb, professor of entomology, Cornell.

On Feb. 12, Meg McGrath, associate professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology, Cornell, and Beth Gugino, assistant professor of plant pathology, Penn State, will discuss “Dealing with Late Blight.”

On March 19, “Conventional and Organic Weed Control in Sweet Corn, Pumpkins and Winter Squash” will be presented by Robin Bellinder, professor of horticulture, Cornell, and Dwight Lingenfelter, program development specialist in plant science, Penn State.

Finally on April 2, “Fertigation: Scheduling and Water Quality Considerations” will be presented by Elsa Sánchez, associate professor of horticultural systems management, Penn State, and Steve Reiners, associate professor of horticulture, Cornell.

The cost is $10 per session or $35 for the entire series. The fee includes access to hand-outs and recordings. To register, call 724-627-3745.

To Understand the History <\n>of U.S. Christmas Celebrations

Although Christmas did not become a national holiday in the United States until 1870, it has a centuries-old history in America.

Historian David Barton reports that in colonial America, the southern regions that were more directly linked to high-church traditions (e.g., Anglicans, Catholics, Episcopalians) celebrated Christmas; but the northern regions, especially those linked to low-church traditions (e.g., Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers) did not.

Those low-church colonists associated the pomp and grandeur of Christmas celebrations directly with the autocratic leaders and monarchs in Europe that they opposed.

Massachusetts therefore passed an anti-Christmas law in 1659, and it was not until the 1830s and 1840s that Christmas celebrations became accepted in New England, although as late as 1870, a student missing school on Christmas Day in Boston public schools could be punished or expelled.

But by the 1880s, Christmas celebrations were finally accepted across the country and began to appear at the White House.

Barton explains that in 1889, the first indoor decorated tree was placed in the White House, and in 1895, electric lights were added.

In 1923, the first National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was held. In 1954, it was named the Pageant of Peace, but in 1969 it became embroiled in a legal controversy over the use of religious symbols.

In 1973, the nativity scene that had always been part of the pageant was no longer allowed, but in 1984, it returned.

In 1953, the first White House Christmas card was created by President Dwight Eisenhower. (Ike was an artist in his own right and allowed six of his own paintings to be used as Christmas gifts and cards.)

President Kennedy’s 1963 Christmas card was the first to include an explicitly religious element, featuring a photo of a nativity scene.

And in 2001, the first White House Christmas card to contain a scripture was chosen by Laura Bush. It quoted Psalm 27: “Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living” — a verse she had chosen on Sept. 16, just five days after 9/11 —based on a sermon preached at Camp David.

Every Christmas Eve, President Teddy Roosevelt and his family would pile into the family sleigh (later the motor car) and travel to a Christmas service at Christ Church in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

After the pastor’s sermon, Teddy would deliver one of his famous “sermonettes” on the true meaning of Christmas and then close the service with one of his favorite hymns, “Christmas by the Sea.”

Quote of the Week

“Even more greatly, my happiness springs from the deep conviction that this year marks a greater national understanding of the significance in our modern lives of the teachings of him whose birth we celebrate. To more and more of us the words Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ have taken on a meaning that is showing itself and proving itself in our purposes and daily lives.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

1933 Christmas Greeting

Leon Ressler is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.


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