Monday, December 16, 2013

Holidays for December 16th 2013

Boston Tea Party Day

In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor.

The midnight raid, popularly known as the "Boston Tea Party," was in protest of the British Parliament's Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny.

When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver,arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the "tea party" with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000.

Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

It’s Chocolate Covered Anything Day! Chocoholics, rejoice! Today is your opportunity to top everything that you eat with chocolate. Indulge in chocolate covered waffles for breakfast, chocolate covered crepes for lunch, chocolate covered pretzels for a snack, and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert! You can also get creative and experiment with more unusual dishes like beef tenderloin smothered in a rosemary, chocolate, and wine sauce.

There are many different types of chocolate that you can use to top your food: sweetened, unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, and more. Fun fact: Cacao beans, the main ingredient in chocolate, were so valuable in the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations that they were used as currency to pay for commodities and taxes!

Cover your food in chocolate today, and, in spirit of the holiday season, share some of your chocolate covered treats with your friends and family. Enjoy!

Stupid Toy Day

December 16th is Stupid Toy Day, a day dedicated to looking back on the stupid toys of our childhood and remembering the stupid fun they inspired. The origins of Stupid Toy Day are unknown, but it seems appropriate to celebrate the off-beat amusements of our past during the holiday season, a time of year rampant with gag gifts, “white elephant” gift exchanges, and a whole lot of letters to Santa pleading for stupid toys. And if you’re one of the lucky few who still has a stupid toy or two hidden away in the closet, today is a great excuse to find it and enjoy some stupid fun with your stupid treasure.

I’m sure I had more than my fair share of stupid toys when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong: I certainly don’t mean to dishonor them in any way by calling them stupid. But sometimes a very simple, basic idea can create a product that yields endless hours of fun. A perfect example would be the Slinky, a toy that, incidentally, my brother and I had when we were little. Looking back on those years I can recall a few more. My brother and I had at least one Magic 8 Ball we regularly consulted for advice and comfort. And when I was very young we spent a lot of hours playing with my Lite Brites. I remember having a Marie Antoinette action figurine. When you push a buttom on her back her head dramatically pops off. It’s so much fun, in fact, that I bought one for my former nieces and nephews when they became obsessed with the toy depicting the historic queen.

I wonder if there are any stupid toys lurking in the Christmas pile. My heart won’t be broken either way; I certainly don’t need any more toys, but sometimes there’s nothing more enjoyable than a silly toy or puzzle and the simple joy it can bring. Tomorrow we’ll continue enjoying life’s simple pleasures with a heaping stack of maple syrup soaked waffles in honor of National Maple Syrup Day!

Barbie and Barney Backlash Day

In the midst of some very sacred and very important holidays this week (not the least of which are Chanukah and Al Hijra - Islamic New Year) we find ourselves again at Monday. Which means there is another wacky holiday to celebrate! Having so many to choose from, I struggled to decide, but Barney and Barbie Backlash Day was the final winner for me this week.

While Barney was never a passion in this house (thank god for small miracles) there were many, many other basic children's television nightmares to be endured. We got stuck in that “preschool repeat it until I have it memorized and watch it one more time” sort of way with the entire Noggin Network. I must say here, that (for the most part) I like the programs on Noggin, and there are far worse things a father could be chained to. For instance -- Lazy Town, The Doodlebops, The Wiggles, and Miffy (ok, Miffy is on Noggin).

For some reason these programs assume a.) that anything mildly resembling a real person is undesirable (Wiggles notwithstanding), b.) pretending that kids are far stupider than they look is a fact of life, and c.) speaking in a sing-songy, verging on hysterical voice is what kids really want. I think it's the tone of voice that I object to the most, like kids don't communicate normally. So today I say phooey on those over-marketed, teetering-on-the-brink-of-insanity shows and thank the television gods for Mythbusters and Discovery Kids. My life is again, my own.