Friday, December 19, 2014

Holidays and Observances for December 19 2014

Look for an Evergreen Day

Look for an Evergreen Day is observed on December 19th. If you're still looking for this year's Christmas conifer, Look for an Evergreen Day is a good chance to do this. An evergreen is a plant that has leaves in all four seasons, always green. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season. 

A Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine or fir, traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. 

Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve. In many areas, it has become customary to set up one's Christmas tree at the beginning of the Advent season. Some families in the U.S. and Canada will put up a Christmas tree soon after American Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November), and Christmas decorations can show up even earlier in retail stores, often the day after Halloween.

National Hard Candy Day

Today we celebrate National Hard Candy Day! Who doesn't love a piece of hard candy now and again? Its sweet, sugary taste literally causes your mouth to water. Today is a celebration of all types of hard candies—everything from lollipops to candy canes to caramels. It's no wonder that hard candy has remained so popular all these years!

Between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the people in India and their "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture. Sugarcane is indigenous to tropical South and Southeast Asia, while the word sugar is derived from the Sanskrit word Sharkara. Pieces of sugar were produced by boiling sugarcane juice in ancient India and consumed as Khanda, dubbed as the original candy.

Before sugar was readily available, candy was based on honey. Honey was used in Ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy. Candy is still served in this form today, though now it is more typically seen as a type of garnish.

Before the Industrial Revolution, candy was often considered a form of medicine, either used to calm the digestive system or cool a sore throat. In the Middle Ages candy appeared on the tables of only the most wealthy at first. At that time, it began as a combination of spices and sugar that was used as an aid to digestive problems. Digestive problems were very common during this time due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh nor well balanced. Banquet hosts would typically serve these types of 'candies' at banquets for their guests. One of these candies, sometimes called chamber spice, was made with cloves, ginger, aniseed, juniper berries, almonds and pine kernels dipped in melted sugar.

The Middle English word candy began to be used in the late 13th century.

The first candy came to America in the early 18th century from Britain and France. Only a few of the early colonists were proficient in sugar work and were able to provide the sugary treats for the very wealthy. Rock candy, made from crystallized sugar, was the simplest form of candy, but even this basic form of sugar was considered a luxury and was only attainable by the rich.

Did you know that the world's largest lollipop weighs 6,514 pounds? Ashrita Furman and members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre made it in August of 2009 to break the Guinness World Record. To celebrate National Hard Candy Day, enjoy a piece (or two) of your favorite hard candies!

National Oatmeal Muffin Day

Oatmeal Muffin Day is celebrated on December 19th of each year. We were unable to discover the origins of Oatmeal Muffin Day, however this does not stop us from celebrating.

Oatmeal muffins are made with the primary ingredient of oatmeal.  Additional ingredients can just about anything, however the most common are raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips depending on your preference.  The level of sweetness can also vary greatly.

Oat groats are coarsely ground to make oatmeal, or cut into small pieces to make steel-cut oats, or first steamed and then flattened to make rolled oats. Quick-cooking rolled oats (quick oats) are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled. Instant oatmeal is pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavoring added. Both types of rolled oats may be eaten uncooked as in Muesli or may be cooked to make porridge. It is also used as an ingredient in oatmeal muffins, oatmeal cookies and oatcakes, or as an accent, as in the topping on many oat bran breads and the coating on Caboc cheese. Oatmeal is also sometimes porridge with the bran or fibrous husk as well as the oat kernel or groat. In some countries rolled oats are eaten raw with milk and sugar or raisins. Oatmeal is also used as a thickening agent in savory Arabic/Egyptian thick meat plus vegetable soups.

Underdog Day

Honour the world’s greatest unsung heroes, runners up and unlikely winners who have pulled off the unexpected on Underdog Day! For those that may not know, an “underdog” is a person in a competition or other event who is popularly expected to lose or fail. The individual expected to win is called the favorite or top dog.

Originally, an underdog was a shipbuilder who stood in a dark pit and helped to saw planks of wood from beneath whilst the overdog, a supervisor of sorts, sawed the planks from above. The underdog got all dirty and covered in sawdust, yet the overdog got all of the credit for the hard work carried out. The first recorded uses of the term occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century; its first meaning was “the beaten dog in a fight”. An “underdog bet” was a bet on the underdog for which the odds were always considerably higher.

Established by Peter Moeller in 1976, Underdog Day is the time to honour all of life’s unrecognised hard-workers.

Nowadays, the underdog character has become quite popular in pop culture, from Forrest Gump to The Karate Kid. Famous unlikely winners, such as Britain’s Got Talent’s Susan Boyle or Paul Potts have also been especially liked for their underdog status. In fiction, some famous underdog winners include characters like Rocky Balboa or William Wallace in Braveheart–despite the rather thin or simply unlikely plots of both of these movies, they have both become cult classics, proving the status of the underdog character. In fact, mankind has always rooted for the underdog. Perhaps there is something central to the human experience that means we all feel a bit like our lives consist of collecting the sawdust of life, and so we dream about the prospect of one day emerging from this filthy, splintery mess victorious.It would seem that people find it much easier to identify with the imperfect underdogs whose accomplishments often go unnoticed than the heroes everyone talks about and revers. It is hard to identify with the perfect, infallible characters who always know exactly what they’re doing and make no mistakes, the simple reason for this being that that’s not what reality looks like. Nobody is perfect, so seeing people being presented as such can actually make us dislike them. And the truth is that a lot of those heroes would not be who they are, and would not have achieved what they’ achieved, if it wasn't for their humble sidekicks, the underdogs. Imagine Batman without Robin, or Sherlock Holmes without Watson. Not quite the same, right?

One of the best ways to celebrate underdog day is to get together with friends and watch some movies that have famous underdogs in them, like the aforementioned Karate Kid, any of the Rocky movies, or Sherlock Holmes. Alternately, you could throw a fancy dress party where each of the participants has to dress up as a famous underdog, like Batman’s Robin, Robinson Crusoe’s man Friday,Forrest Gump, or Kung Fu Panda. Or perhaps Michael Jordan, if you can growl out his famous 2008 quote, “I've failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed” anywhere close to as well as he did, sending shivers down the spines of everyone who has ever not tried something for fear of failure.