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Valentine lore abounds



Superstitions abound about Valentine’s Day and many involve birds.

If the first bird a girl sees on Valentine’s Day is a robin, she will know she is to marry a sailor. If she sees a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire and if she sees a sparrow, she will be the wife of a poor man. But if she glimpses a woodpecker first, she will never marry.

So go many of the tales that have become part of the lore (though many have been forgotten) of love and Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few others:

The oldest known valentine card still in existence is on display at the British Museum. This valentine is a love poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Christian tradition for Valentine’s Day dates back to the third century, when a kindly priest named Valentinus was arrested by emperor Claudius II for crimes that included helping Christian martyrs and marrying young lovers in secret.

Some sources say that, while in jail before his martyrdom, Valentinus wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter, signing it “From Your Valentine.” If that is true, Valentinus started a powerful tradition.

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, 1 billion cards are sent for Valentine’s Day, second only to Christmas (2.5 billion).

Flowers are another tradition of Valentine’s Day. Red roses are said to denote true love. A pansy declares loving thoughts, a periwinkle suggests early friendship and a red tulip professes powerful love.


How to combat racism in your community



January 21 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a time to honor the leader who inspired millions during the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination.

In 2019, take this national day of service to think about what you can do to combat racism in your community. Although we’ve come a long way since the 1960s, studies show that Americans of color still face job, housing and social discrimination. Here’s what you can do to help promote racial tolerance:

1. Educate yourself. Read about the history of slavery and racial oppression in the U.S. and keep up with news relating to social issues, especially around where you live. Make sure to consult a variety of sources and seek out different viewpoints.

2. Speak up against racist stereotypes. Don’t stay silent if you hear someone make a racist joke or use derogatory language. Gently point out why the remark is offensive — it’s not “just a joke” if it mocks someone because of their race.

3. Spend time with people of different backgrounds. Participate in activities that introduce you to people from different racial and cultural backgrounds living in your area. It helps foster a tolerant and inclusive community.

4. Volunteer for organizations that fight racism. Support organizations that focus on racial inequality or issues that disproportionately affect racial minorities, such as poverty, voter suppression and police brutality.

If you’re a parent, teacher or manager, talk to your children, students or team about MLK Day and what you can do to fight racism in your home, school or workplace. Having open and respectful conversations about race helps keep Dr. King’s legacy alive.

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Wedding planning: your wedding checklist



Wedding planning can get overwhelming. In many cases, there are tasks that should be completed up to a year ahead of the event. This handy checklist will help you stay on top of all of the important details right up to the big day.

Nine to twelve months before
 Decide on a wedding budget and track all your expenses accordingly.
 Set a date.

 Make a guest list.
 Research venues for your ceremony and reception and book the one(s) that you like.
 Decide if you want a bridal party and choose who you want to be part of your day.
 Start collecting your guest’s addresses.

Eight months before
 Shop for and purchase a wedding gown.
 Book your vendors for the day: photographer, DJ or musician, florist, cake maker and caterer (if food isn’t included with your venue).
 Register for gifts.
 Build a wedding website that your guests can visit for extra information concerning your wedding.

Six months before
 Choose an officiant.
 Shop for and purchase bridesmaid’s dresses.
 Order the invitations.
 Buy your wedding bands.

Four months before
 Reserve transportation to and from the ceremony and reception venues, if necessary.
 Have a cake tasting and finalize the cake design.
 Schedule hair and makeup appointments and don’t forget to book trial runs for both.
 Make a plan for decorating your ceremony and reception spaces.

Three months before
 Choose and order the groom’s outfit.
 Start thinking about the music and choose songs for the ceremony and the first dance. You may want to make a separate list for party music.
 Have a tasting with your caterer to set the menu.
 Start planning the rehearsal dinner.
 Select wedding favors and order them.

Two months before
 Send out the invitations.
 Make sure the bridesmaids and groomsmen have their outfits.
 Have the first wedding dress fitting.
 Shop for and buy gifts for your bridal party.

One month before
 Meet with your officiant to go through the ceremony.
 Make sure you have your marriage license.
 Start making a list of people who’ve confirmed that they’ll be attending.
 If another dress fitting is required, do it now.

Two weeks before
 Book an appointment to have a manicure and pedicure the day before.
 Have the final dress fitting and bring it home.
 Book the groom’s suit or tuxedo fitting.
 Track down people who haven’t responded yet.
 Confirm number of guests with your venue and caterer and don’t forget to order meals to feed your DJ and photographer.

The week before
 Make a seating chart.
 Delegate any day-of tasks to your wedding party and family.
 Supply your photographer with a list of pictures you want and your DJ with a detailed playlist.
 Write out checks to pay your vendors.

The day before
 Relax while you have your nails done.
 Give the payment checks to someone you trust in order to pay your vendors.
 At the rehearsal dinner, give gifts to your bridal party.

Your wedding day
 Have the flowers delivered to the venue.
 Make sure the venue is decorated according to your vision.
 Keep calm and enjoy.

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Local News

Happy New Year



Wishing you 12 months of success, 52 weeks of laughter, 365 days of fun, 8760 hours of joy, 525600 minutes of good luck and 31536000 seconds of happiness.

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Interesting Things You Need to Know

Mind your step and the fires, it’s Hogmanay



Light the torches and get out of the house, my friends, this is the month for Hogmanay.

Hogmanay is usually called New Year’s Eve in North America, but in Scotland, where Hogmanay is beloved, it can be a three- to five-day festival of fire and fun that begins with First Footing.

The first person to step over your threshold in the new year is the First Footer and it shouldn’t be just anyone. The First Footer has to be a tall, dark man and he has to step in before anyone else. A blond or red-haired man won’t do and a blond or red-haired woman is actually bad luck.

The requirement for a dark-haired First Footer probably has roots in Scotland’s history. Given the many Viking invasions of the country, there were plenty of times when a tall, blond dude at your door was probably carrying an axe — never a great way to start the year, or anything else.

The good news is that the neighborhood First Footer will bring blessings in the form of small gifts. Wishes for warmth during the year, a piece of coal. For food, shortbread. For the flavor of life, salt. For joy and prosperity, a wee dram of whiskey. Lucky you, if you have a lot of friends bringing blessings.

Later, neighbors and friends drink a toast to the New Year and sing Auld Lange Syne.

After First Footing comes fire, and plenty of it. Scots like fire festivals and they are found throughout the fall until the end of January. For Hogmanay, bonfires burn throughout the country. Revelers in the coastal town of Stonehaven wear kilts and swing big baskets of fire. In Edinburgh, enormous wicker figures (such as a bull) become a towering bonfire amid fireworks. Also in Edinburgh, 15,000 people carry torches through the street, according to

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Winter driving: five tire safety considerations



Good tires that are adapted to winter conditions as well as your vehicle are essential to stay safe on the road throughout the cold season.

Here are five points to consider when it comes time to tire up your car for the winter:

1. Even if there’s no snow in the forecast, it’s a good idea to install winter tires on your car once temperatures reach around 45 °F. Anything colder than that will have a hardening effect on the rubber of summer tires, thus reducing their traction. Winter tires, on the other hand, are designed to maintain optimal flexibility—even on days where the thermometer plummets to -40 °F.

2. Your tires should have a tread depth of at least 6/32?. If they don’t, or if they’re almost worn to the limit, replace them without delay.

3. It’s essential that all four tires on your car be identical and of the correct size. They should also ideally show roughly the same level of wear. If they don’t, install the least-worn tires in the back to maximize your vehicle’s stability.

4. There’s more than one type of winter tire: some are designed for snowy conditions, while others perform better on ice. Make sure that you choose your tires according to the road conditions you’re most likely to encounter.

5. Tire pressure greatly influences your car’s abilities when it comes to braking distance and maneuverability, among others. Regularly ensure that your tires are inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. No more, no less!

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Local News

Frequent Front Royal visitor shares photo of new friend



British Robin Redbreast arrives for Christmas dinner. / Photo by Neville Barr

Neville Barr, a frequent visitor to Front Royal and the Warren County community, shared a rare, perhaps unique, photograph of his Christmas visitor this year.

For the past several weeks, Neville, of Derby, England, has patiently encouraged a robin, often seen visiting his yard, to take food from his hand. Over the holidays, the bird, smaller than the American version of the robin, began accepting the proffered food and began engaging with his benefactor.

Shortly before Christmas, Neville, the brother of Rockland resident Malcolm Barr Sr., was able to talk the wild bird into posing for a photograph before feasting on food from Neville’s outstretched hand.

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The Power of Rise @ Randolph-Macon Academy
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