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Then & Now
inter in Mariposa is, for the most part, a quiet time; a time to rest, rejuvenate and prepare for the coming Spring and Summer.  However, it is because of this quietude that the holidays are met with a particular enthusiasm and every Mariposan becomes just another excited child.
Holidays and Occasions profiled here include:


t has been said that Christmas is as much a state of mind as a date on the calendar.  It's a time when strangers on the street speak greetings to one another, children glow with anticipation and a feeling of warmth and camaraderie fills the air.  To many, that describes Mariposa all the time.  So, perhaps that's why Mariposans hold Christmas especially dear.

s with so many communities, the "official" start of the season occurs at the community tree lighting.  This year, the lighting was on Saturday, December 12th.  But, in Mariposa the whole day was a celebration...

he unseasonably warm day began with a special breakfast sponsored by one of the local service clubs.  After breakfast, visitors in town were able to buy one-of-a-kind gifts at craft fairs.  At 11:00 A.M., the Mariposa Festival Parade swung down Highway 140 right through downtown Mariposa.  Sponsored by the Mariposa Tribune, the event showcased the young and the young-at-heart of Mariposa.  It allowed a way for Mariposans to kick up their feet and get ready for Santa.

hroughout the day, special sales at the businesses in town greeted bargain hunters, while the Friends of the Library sponsored a Christmas House Tour.

s day turned to evening, carolers gathered in the historic downtown district of Mariposa.  They strolled through the beautifully decorated area slowly wending their way up to the Courthouse where the official Christmas tree stood,  Once everyone was assembled at the Courthouse, another round of carols ensued, the switch was flipped and Christmas "officially" had begun!  What a wonderful day, made all the better by the appearance of that jolly old elf, Saint Nick who, armed with a bag of candy canes, sat listening with rapt attention to the wishes of the youngsters in the audience. 

hat wonderful evening heralded the Christmas that was to come -

his year, the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce held a decorating contest for the businesses in the county and Mariposans rose to the challenge.  Lights and decorations in town seemed to double each day until, by Christmas the town looked like a fitting residence for Santa! 

owever, for most residents, the best present was an early one given by Mother Nature who blanketed the whole State in snow the week before Christmas.  Cold temperatures and several inches of snow gave Mariposa that often sung about white Christmas which, although, a delight to the children of the County became a hindrance to the volunteers of the Mariposa Manna House.  These hardy souls, despite snow, ice and their personal travails (like burst water pipes) demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas by providing over three hundred boxes of food to needy families in the county.

s there a Santa?  Yes, and he lives in Mariposa.

ith ice making roads extremely dangerous, the best New Year's Resolution surely had to be to stay at home New Year's Eve, and many Mariposans did just that.  Personal celebrations marked the occasion as hopes for the New Year mixed with the triumphs and tragedies of the old one.

t is a sad statement of our times that to most people, the only importance of certain days is that they lengthen a weekend.  Such seems to be the way of all three of these holidays.  Perhaps it is the passing of reverence in our lives, or perhaps we've just become too self-involved to think of what they mean; what struggles these people saw, what horrors they endured in the name of their fellow countrymen.  Hopefully, we never forget the courage and spirit that these men bestowed upon us.

ach year, a local youth group provides to businesses for a minimal fee, the service of hanging flags on patriotic days.  Usually, the entire downtown historic district is awash with red, white and blue.  This year, however, found La Niña following in her big brother's place as meteorologists had predicted and rains drenched the area preventing the customary hanging of flags.  Perhaps, nature's bleak solemnity was a much more fitting tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.  (January 18, 1999).

resident's Day is the lumping together of two days formerly celebrated separately in the United States:  Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday.  President's Day ALWAYS falls on a Monday which provides for that convenient three-day weekend.  This year (1999) it fell on February 15th.  As with Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, flags are customarily flown throughout Mariposa but, again, the weather turned gray and wet canceling the flying of the flags.

lways February 14th, this Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday making it easier for lovers of every age to get away.  Romantic walks, lunches and dinners seem to be the order of the day but, for the lucky few Valentine's Day became Valentine's Weekend. 

omeone once said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish - and although not celebrated with the same gusto in Mariposa as in, say, Chicago or New York, more than a few lads 'n lasses can be seen wearin' the green.  Green carnations get sent to loved ones and green food and beer abounds.  The local supermarkets put on sale, and can't keep stocked, corned beef and cabbage, and every child knows that to not wear green to school means sporting bruises the day after.

n my house, the Saint Patrick's Day breakfast is a banquet worthy of Dr. Seuss.  Green pancakes cooked in the shapes of shamrocks and green eggs (scrambled, of course) greet my children.  When they were younger, the treat was anxiously anticipated (although they nixed the green milk years ago).  Now, though, since they have grown to the world-weary ages of fifteen and nine, their acceptance of the tradition seems  patronizing and bored.  Still, when I wonder why I continue such a foolish custom, my Irish ancestors seem to whisper "Wait, lass.  The proof is in the puddin'.  When they've children of their own - they'll be sportin' the green."  And for this I wait . . . while wearing my green clothing and sipping my green milk.


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