Hospitals And The Federal Budget, Homelessness In Wisconsin, Ethnic Holiday Traditions

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Rob Ferrett and Gene Purcell learn how the proposed bipartisan budget deal cuts hospital funding, and why the Wisconsin Hospital Association says this is the worst time to cut their budget. Then they discuss the state of homelessness in Wisconsin, and take a look at the origins of holiday traditions.

Featured in this Show

  • Wisconsin Hospital Association Upset At Potential Federal Budget Deal

    Leaders in Congress announced they have reached a bipartisan budget deal that would avoid a government shutdown. But the Wisconsin Hospital Association says the deal cuts their funding again to pay for the operation of the federal government. The association’s president explains the history of these funding cuts and why now is the worst possible time to cut the hospital budget.

  • The State of Homelessness In Wisconsin

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced homelessness is down nationwide since 2011. But in Wisconsin, homelessness has actually increased. Experts from around the state discuss the state of homelessness in Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Life: Holiday Traditions

    It’s the time of year to celebrate the holidays, and many families have time-honored traditions. An expert on Scandanavian culture explains what’s behind some of these popular traditions.

  • Folklore Expert Explains Origins Of Holiday Traditions

    Christmas trees — real and artificial — are taking their places of honor in houses around Wisconsin. But where did this and other holiday traditions come from?

    A local folklore expert traces the histories of many holiday customs to their points of origin, and in the case of the Christmas tree, its popularity in the U.S. was linked to a British queen’s choice of husband.

    University of Wisconsin-Madison folklore Professor Jim Leary said while German and Scandinavian immigrants brought the Christmas custom to Wisconsin from the old country, the tree didn’t become a widespread holiday standby until Queen Victoria married a German husband and adopted the German Christmas tree. Leary said many people on the East Coast of the U.S. looked to England for inspiration on style, and quickly followed the queen’s example.

    “We were already ahead of those hipsters here in Wisconsin, as usual,” he said.

    Besides Christmas trees, other traditions have roots overseas. Leary credits immigrants from Poland and Germany with bringing a greater focus to celebrating on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day itself.

    One of Leary’s favorite traditions comes from his Welsh Catholic roots: the telling of a classic Welsh Christmas tale of a wanderer who is taken in by a poor family.

    “In my family, that was always read on Christmas Eve, often by the youngest child,” he said. “My mother made it into a handwritten book that all seven us of kids have.”

    A classic Wisconsin tradition, often shared over the holidays as well as at fish fries year-round, is the brandy Old-Fashioned, but Leary said this is one that didn’t come over from Europe.

    “This was a popular culture drink, a fad drink that become part of Wisconsin life in the late 19th Century,” he said, starting when the drink became popular after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Because Wisconsin latched onto the drink and had a large German population at the time, he said people associated it with German-Americans, but that the drink didn’t originate in Germany itself.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Cynthia Schuster Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Steve Brenton Guest
  • Steven Schooler Guest
  • Deacon Richard Sage Guest
  • Ken Schmidt Guest
  • Jim Leary Guest

Related Stories