Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holidays for December 4th 2013

Special Kids Day

Started in 1990, Special Kids Day began as a holiday event that provided an opportunity for children with special needs and their families to visit Santa Claus without having to face some of the obstacles that they might encounter when trying to experience a visit with Santa in a mall.

Over the years, through a combined effort among local businesses and community organizations, the Department of Education at Elmhurst College and dedicated individuals, Special Kids Day has grown to serve hundreds of families in the western suburbs.

Today, Special Kids Day has evolved into a not-for-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to providing celebratory events for children with disabilities and their families in environments designed to accommodate their special needs.

National Cookie Day

Yes, there is actually an unofficial holiday that celebrates the cookie. Little or almost nothing is known as to how it began, but for years, December 4 has marked this special day when people bake or even consume cookies. It’s quite interesting to have an official day of sharing the love for this small cake as it does not take a national day to enjoy a cookie. In any case, many people find this a good reason to express cookie love by making, eating and sharing them.

Celebrating National Cookie Day requires a look at the history of this flat-baked treat. The English cookies root from the baked items made by the Dutch called “koekje” which means little cake. Apparently, these little cookies were made out of a test; when Dutch bakers made their cakes, they wanted to test the temperature of the oven. At that time, the best way to test was by putting a dollop of the batter in the oven and see if the oven had enough heat.

Of course, these cookies also derived from the caked goods that were already being made in Persia since the 7th century. As opposed to the usual bread, these cookies were made because they made the best travel companions. These cookies, unlike bread, are not prone to molds because they do not have that much moisture, and at the same time, their sizes are good enough to easily carry around when they travel. As the cookies then were not sweet treats, the older cookies were not sweet at all, with the chance that they were more savory. Hence, the cookie served its initial purpose of providing sustenance to these travelers.

Hence, the National Cookie Day seems to come out of nowhere. Because it has been observed for some years now, this celebration is serves as a dedication to this favorite treat. The National Cookie Day couldn't have picked a better time to celebrate this sweet goodness as it takes part in the general festive atmosphere of the holidays.

Cookies come in all different flavors, shapes, and sizes. To celebrate National Cookie Day, bake a few batches of your favorite variety and invite your friends over for a cookie swap! Here are some tips for the ever-popular cookie exchange:
  • Form a group of participants. Make sure the people swapping cookies are committed to doing so. (It’s not as much fun otherwise!)
  • Establish a date for the swap as early as you can, before the holidays get hectic.
  • Consider a sign-up sheet so that you don’t end up with 10 dozen Snickerdoodles.
  • You could also assign each person a country and have them make a cookie that represents their designated foreign land. Think Lebkuchen from Germany, or Madeleines from France.
  • Set a few ground rules: How many cookies is each person bringing to eat at the exchange? How many cookies is each person bringing to actually exchange and send home with others? Usually a half dozen per person to exchange, and a full dozen to eat on the day works well.
  • If you’re hosting, try to find a cookie tin for each participant so they can take their loot home easily.
  • Consider baking an extra dozen to donate to a local bake sale or shelter.
  • Make sure to take allergies into account nothing ruins the holidays like a trip to the ER. Cookies can be lactose, nut and gluten-free.
  • Don’t forget recipe cards so attendees can recreate their favorite cookie.
National Dice Day

Games involving dice have given huge enjoyment to many generations of kids and adults and, for those who love nothing more than the roll of the dice, December 4 offers the perfect opportunity to play around on National Dice Day.
  • Rediscover favorite board games - Whether we remember them from our own childhood or as parents are teaching them to our kids, some board games involving dice really stick out in the memory. Good examples include Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly and Risk. Most households will have at least one of these board games, even if they are collecting dust in a cupboard or the attic. The advent of computer games may have relegated board games to a lesser role in our lives, but there's still something magical about shaking a cup with a die in it and wondering whether you are going to roll a six.
  • Become an elf or a wizard with role-playing games - A favorite with teenagers and college students, role-playing games offer the opportunity to indulge in some escapism. A particular favorite in this genre is the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons, which allows participants to take on characters who have particular strengths and weaknesses. The game is played using multi-sided dice and is a great way to spend an evening with a group of friends.
  • Casino outing - Dice play an important role in casinos, with games such as craps, grand hazard and ricochet making use of them. National Dice Day provides the perfect excuse to round up a group of friends or work colleagues to enjoy a casino outing. Just make sure that you agree in advance how much you are going to bet so that you avoid ending up broke at the end of the night.
  • Make up your own dice games - All of the dice games that you can think of were invented by someone, so why not put some thought into creating your own game? As well as the traditional six-sided dice, you can buy dice that have different numbers of sides. Typical examples include four-, eight-, 10- or 12-sided dice. Using some or all of these dice types, think about a new game concept that you can develop. Maybe you could consider how to create a sports-related game using football, basketball or soccer. Or you could work on creating your own fantasy role-playing game. Even if the game you create is only for your own enjoyment, it will be a great way to exercise your creativity and celebrate National Dice Day.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a large Christmas tree placed annually in Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan in New York City. The tree is erected and lit in late November or early December. In recent years, the lighting has been broadcast live nationwide on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center show and scheduled for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The tree, usually a Norway spruce 69 to 100 feet (21 to 30 m) tall, has been put up every year since 1933. In 2012, the Christmas Tree Lighting took place on 28 November. This year's tree is a 76-foot-tall Norway spruce that is 47 feet in diameter and about 75 years old. NBC broadcast its arrival into Rockefeller Center last Friday (see video in the left sidebar) after it made its way from the home of Louise and John Vargoshe of Shelton, Conn. On Wednesday night, this massive tree will be decorated with 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and topped by a beautiful Swarovski crystal star that is 9.5 feet.

Many Rockefeller trees were given to Rockefeller Center by donors. The late David Murbach, Manager of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, scouted in a helicopter for the desired tree in areas including Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, upstate New York, New Jersey, and even Ottawa, Canada. The trees are now scouted by the Head Gardner at Rockefeller Center, Erik Pauzé. Once a suitable tree is located, a crane supports it while it is cut, and moves it to a custom telescoping trailer that can transport trees up to 125 feet (38 m) tall, although the width of New York City streets passing through Rockefeller Center limits the height of the trees to 110 feet (34 m).

Once at the Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by four guy-wires attached at its midpoint, and by a steel spike at its base. Scaffolding is put up around the tree to assist workers in putting up 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles (8.0 km) of wiring.

The star that has topped the tree since 2004 is 9.5 ft (2.9 m) in diameter and weighs 550 pounds (250 kg). This "Swarovski Star" was created by German artist Michael Hammers, who in 2009 additionally designed his own star lighting production.

Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans" on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center. Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.

The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center through January 6, which is the Christian feast of The Epiphany. Then it is removed from the premises and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went "green," employing LED lights. After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.

The tallest Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was a 100 feet (30 m) spruce erected on November 11, 1999 that was being cared for by Cathy and Jim Thomson.

Santa's List Day

My research on Santa's List Day has found two potential meanings for this holiday: either this is the day that Santa makes his Naughty and Nice lists, or that this is the day that kids need to mail their lists of things they want to Santa so that his elves have enough time to make all the Christmas presents.

There are more references to the Naughty/Nice list meaning for this holiday, though none of them are authoritative and we wonder if these lists are finalized closer to Christmas to make sure kids are still being good during the holiday season. Otherwise, that could potentially give the kids 17 days of bad behavior immunity.

Perhaps, this holiday was meant to remind kids that Santa will be finalizing his lists -- Naughty, Nice, Gifts -- in the near future.

To be on the safe side until we know more about this holiday's origin, this is a good day for the kids to send their Christmas lists to give Santa and his elves enough time, and that they should be extra good now and leading up to Christmas to make sure they end up on the right list.

Wear Brown Shoes Day

Wear Brown Shoes Day is today. Now, let me see... what color shoes should I wear today?????

WOW! It is very easy to participate in this special day. Just dust off that seldom worn pair of brown shoes, and put 'em on your feet. Brown boots, loafers, or any other brown colored footwear will do. Don't tiptoe around. Wear them wherever you go.

In case you didn't know... the sock color of the day is........brown.

Have a happy Wear Brown Shoes Day.

Wear Brown Shoes Day was likely created by someone who was tired of wearing the same old black shoes. Or perhaps, it was the dress code theme of a school day event. Until I find the creator of this day, we can only speculate.

Extraordinary Work Team Recognition Day

Extraordinary WHAT teamwork WHAT, you ask?

Extraordinary Work Team Recognition Day is December 4th and celebrates work teams who cooperate and achieve. Working dogs come to mind, but the idea is also applied to your office team, a firefighting squad, a military unit, a teaching team, a sports team, medical staff, corporate committee, etc…

There have been some extraordinary working dog teams through the years. A group of canines performed heroics in search and rescue at the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies. Canine teams work with military personnel worldwide. Dog teams guide humans through frozen tundra and dogs help locate skiers buried in avalanches.

Today is about recognizing the support you give your coworkers, colleagues, and teammates and the support you receive from them. We are, after all, a bunch of working dogs.

A team may be a large group and a team may be just two. The team could be as simple as you and your dog. So, pat yourselves and your teammates on the back and give your dog an extra ear scratch. You make a great team.