Tag Archives: Catholic Church

A Brief History of Political Cartoons

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a political cartoon could be considered a lengthy editorial.

Today, political cartoons have the power to catch a reader’s eye in a sea of digital information but once upon a time political cartoons were vital to the consumption of information by society at large.

Take a journey to the beginning of political caricature drawings to fully understand how this art form stood the test of time.

In the Beginning

Even though caricature drawing was around during the time of Leonardo da Vinci, it was not considered art until politics got involved. However, a shift in thinking began to occur when, in the 16th century, a merchant class began to arise. This meant that leadership in civilized societies no longer belonged exclusively to high-class-educated-folk. People within the villages were seen as leaders too, even though several of them were illiterate.

The power of the middle class was recognized by Martin Luther, who was passionate about advancing reforms that went against the Catholic Church. To gain support for these reforms, Luther acquired visual tools. Using pamphlets like Passional Christi und Antichristi allowed Luther to spread his message of reform and gain the support of people who could not read.

Then came Benjamin Franklin

In 1754, another milestone in political art occurred when Benjamin Franklin had “Join, or Die.published in the Pennsylvania Gazette. In it, he used a picture of a disjointed snake to represent the importance of the colonies coming together to overcome conflict with the Iroquois. The image and slogan were revered by people in every colony, and the authors of The Ungentlemanly Art: A history of American Political Cartoons claim it was published in “virtually every newspaper on the continent.”

Following the Civil War

Thomas Nast has been called the “Father of the American Cartoon.” In fact, he is credited for elevating the elephant and donkey to positions of political notoriety. More so, President Lincoln often referred to Nast as “his best recruiting sergeant.” But arguably, Nast’s most famous cartoon could be found in Harper’s Weekly as early as 1871. He drew pictures of the corrupt politician William “Marcy” Tweed, which garnered “one of the most celebrated specimens of graphic social protest in American history.”

Political Cartoons Today

Political cartoons and cartoonists can have just as much influence today as they did before the Information Age. However, the type of influence is different. Rather than provoking people to take action (as they did in the past), political cartoons are excellent teachers of history. The World Affairs Council claims, “Because a political cartoon is a primary source from a particular era, it is a valuable tool for teaching history.”

In the Information Age, when words are plentiful but facts are fleeting, political cartoons disrupt mundane content, evoke curiosity and enable readers to learn about historical events – not from a textbook, but from self-guided quests.

The history of political cartoons goes far deeper than this article, and, if history is any indication, it will continue for years to come. Stay tuned.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

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Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations throughout the Years

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cause for celebration. People throughout North America, Ireland and other parts of the world honor this holiday. They wear green, visit pubs and host parties with friends and family. But how many of us know who Saint Patrick is and how this holiday came to be?

The historical significance of March 17 may surprise you.

The Patron Saint of Ireland

March 17, now a day of celebration, signifies a sorrowful event. It is believed that Saint Patrick died on this day sometime in the fifth century. Not long after his death, Irishman began observing this day as a holiday as a “Feast Day.”

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain and was taken to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. After escaping, he returned to Ireland as a free man and missionary. He is known and remembered for spreading Christianity throughout Ireland.

Celebrations throughout the Years

People of Ireland have recognized March 17 as a day to celebrate Saint Patrick for the past 1,000 years. During this time, Irishmen honored Saint Patrick with a “feast day.” Ironically enough the tradition of “St. Patty’s Parties,” as we know them today, began in the United States.

It is said that Irishmen serving in the English military first marched the streets of New York City on March 17, 1762. This allowed them to feel connected to their culture while away overseas. At this time, however, it could not be predicted that the number of immigrants would soon surge. In less than a century the Great Potato Famine would hit, forcing many families to flee to America in search of jobs and sustenance. By the early 20th century, it was common to see many different nationalities present in American enfolded into Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Holiday Traditions

Today, Saint Patrick’s day is celebrated throughout many parts of the world, including the United States, Canada and Australia. US megacity Chicago goes all out by dying their river green.

It is said that American celebrations influenced Ireland’s holiday traditions. Before the 1970s pubs were closed throughout Ireland on March 17. It is said that American celebrations influenced Ireland’s holiday traditions. In fact, before the 1970’s pubs were closed throughout Ireland on March 17. However, in recent years government began recognizing how the international holiday increases tourism; they decided to keep bars open so Irish culture could be on display for all to see.

Now, about one million people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin ever year. With parades, concerts and fireworks it is somewhat reminiscent of the United States’ Fourth of July. For Ireland, it is one of the largest national holidays. Saint Patrick gives Ireland and all the world reason to celebrate.

Read more Segmation blog posts about the color green: 

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St. Valentine and the History of Romance

Valentine’s Day greetings come in many shapes and sizes. On February 14, people in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia can be found expressing their affection by sending cards, flowers, chocolates, and other special treats. These Valentine’s Day traditions are rarely disputed but the story of how the holiday came to be has many interpretations.

There is, however, one fact which all sources agree on: Valentine’s Day has evolved over the course of nearly 2000 years. Like many holidays, it was inspired by a noble man who was named saint by the Catholic Church. To understand the fullness of this holiday, get to know the person and traditions that are celebrated each year on February 14.

Saint Valentine

Before his sainthood, Valentine was a priest who protected young lovers’ right to marry in third century Rome. It is said that Emperor Claudias II banned marriage around this time because he believed that “single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children” (History.com). During this authoritarian ruling, Valentine defied the law and continued to marry couples in secret. He was later killed because of these actions.

Considered a martyr, the Catholic Church recognized Valentine as a saint and, in 5th century AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as a holiday to celebrate him.

February 14

There is some debate about why February 14 was declared Valentine’s Day. One thought is that this date was an anniversary of St. Valentine’s execution by Claudias. It is also believed that Pope Gelasius wanted to implement a religious celebration that could negate a long held pagan festival called Lupercalia, which was held annually on February 15.

Adding Romance

The holiday hasn’t always been known as a romantic affair. According to public record, it took nearly 1000 years for the first Valentine’s Day card to be written. However, by the 18th century it was common place for people to exchange written notes and presents in the name of love. With the advent of the printing press, cards were created in mass quantities, which encouraged people to send “ready-made” cards.

Valentine’s Day has grown into a widely celebrated and beloved holiday in many countries, and knowing the history behind February 14 adds richness to the date.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by partaking in something you enjoy and sharing it with others. Express your love through art by creating a beautiful picture. Not an artist? Become an artist in minutes by using Segmation, the only virtual paint by numbers game. Choose a pattern today: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=VAL.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Segmation.

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