Monday, December 23, 2013

Holidays for December 23rd 2013


Festivus, a well-celebrated parody, has become a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in commercialism associated with Christmas. Originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O'Keefe working on the American sitcom Seinfeld, the holiday entered popular culture after it was made the focus of a 1997 episode of the program. The holiday's celebration, as it was shown on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum "Festivus pole," practices such as the "Airing of Grievances" and "Feats of Strength," and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles."

The episode refers to it as "a Festivus for the rest of us", referencing its non-commercial aspect. It has also been described as a "parody holiday festival" and as a form of playful consumer resistance.

Some atheists have advocated Festivus because of its lack of religious significance, and have erected "Festivus poles" alongside public displays of the crèche of Christmas and the menorah of Hanukkah in order to demonstrate their convictions.

Festivus was conceived by editor and author Daniel O'Keefe and was celebrated by his family as early as 1966. In the original O'Keefe tradition, the holiday would take place in response to family tension, "any time from December to May." The phrase "A Festivus for the rest of us" also derived from an O'Keefe family event, the death of Daniel O'Keefe's mother. In 1982 Daniel O'Keefe wrote a book, Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic, that deals with idiosyncratic ritual and its social significance, a theme relevant to Festivus tradition.

Although the first Festivus took place in February 1966, as a celebration of Daniel O'Keefe's first date with his future wife, Deborah, it is now celebrated on December 23, as depicted in a Seinfeld episode written by O'Keefe's son. According to O'Keefe, the name Festivus "just popped into my head".

National Pfeffernüsse Day

As fun to say as fluffernutter - December 23 is National Pfeffernüsse Day!

Chances are you recognize these little biscuits rolled in powdered sugar by sight, if not by name, and they are a Christmas treat to be sure.

The name may translate to "pepper nuts" in German, Dutch and Danish, but this holiday delicacy doesn't include black pepper. Rather, they are full of chopped almonds or walnuts, spices like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and anise and then liberally coated with powdered sugar.

The dough is usually rolled into balls, and they are extremely hard the first week after they are made (the photo above is a good example of what they look like before they receive the powdered sugar treatment). Don't even try to bite into one without dunking it in coffee or a hot beverage to soften it up. Unlike most holiday cookies, these get better with time.

This delicacy is considered to be a kid's treat from Saint Nicholas during Christmas in Germany. Have your own Pfeffernüsse experience this holiday season, and relish the moment when biting into one unleashes a storm of powdered sugar all over your face.

National Roots Day

It's the holiday season and everyone is preparing their homes around the globe in celebration. Some are spending the holidays with their parents or grandparents, others with their adult children or grandchildren. There are all types of family styles now-a-days; from two parents, to a single parent, to adopted parents, to a family being sisters, brothers or husband and wife. No matter what the situation and what you call 'family', we all have our individual heritage. That is why annually the date of December 23 is set aside as National Roots Day in recognition of our family heritage.

That is why genealogy has become so popular in the last 40 years, people do like to know their background, how did their family get to a certain location, achieve what they did, etc. Many times these questions can be answered with some solid family history research. Even spending just a few hours might reveal some new information.

Once you really start investigating there can be all types of strange twists and turns that occurred to a family member that in turn might have changed the course of the future for the family. Those are the real mysteries or pieces of the puzzle that are fascinating to inquire about one's family.

Knowing more about your parents, grandparents, great aunt's lives, and learning how they conquered the unknown provides some real comfort to you. There is also the possibility of finding out you are distant relative of a celebrated or notable individual in history, which makes for a fun bit of family background.

Your family roots are all the ingredients that helped make you the person you are today. The classical example is if your great grandfather had not taken the chance to leave his European homeland and come to America, you just might still be a resident of an European nation, rather than the United States. Even better is when you discover an ancestor with a certain skill such as dance, playing an musical instrument, art work, mathematics, sports, etc., that have inherited. In a way that ancestor has immortality by you continuing in that same or similar activity.

Enjoy the search and be proud of your roots.