Friday, December 26, 2014

Holidays and Observances for December 26 2014

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers, in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other Commonwealth nations, as well as Norway and Sweden. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. Due to the Roman Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, the day is known as St. Stephen's Day to Catholics, and in Italy, Finland, and Alsace and Moselle in France. It is also known as both St. Stephen's Day and the Day of the Wren or Wren's Day in the Republic of Ireland. In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.

The exact etymology of the term "boxing day" is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

National Candy Cane Day

Christmas traditions use various symbols which invoke a feeling of warmth and joy. From the Christmas tree, stockings and star; to mistletoe, ham and holiday treats; you can almost smell the festivity in the air. For the less fortunate, a candy as a gift can ring on a glow on the child’s face. The National Candy Cane Day is always celebrated on December 26, the day after Christmas, of each year.

The origin of the candy cane goes back over 350 years, when candy-makers both professional and amateur were making hard sugar sticks. The original candy was straight and completely white in color.
Around the seventeenth century, European-Christians began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar-stick candy. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. The all-white candy canes were given out to children during the long-winded nativity services.

The clergymen's custom of handing out candy canes during Christmas services spread throughout Europe and later to America. The canes were still white, but sometimes the candy-makers would add sugar-roses to decorate the canes further.

The first historical reference to the candy cane being in America goes back to 1847, when a German immigrant called August Imgard decorated the Christmas tree in his Wooster, Ohio home with candy canes.

About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites.
There are many other legends and beliefs surrounding the humble candy cane. Many of them depict the candy cane as a secret symbol for Christianity used during the times when Christian were living under more oppressive circumstances. It was said that the cane was shaped like a "J" for Jesus. The red-and-white stripes represented Christ's blood and purity. The three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity. The hardness of the candy represented the Church's foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor represented the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament. There is no historical evidence to support these claims, quite the contrary, but they are lovely thoughts.

A Catholic priest called Gregory Keller invented a machine to automate candy cane production during the 1950's.

The National Candy Cane Day is a day to appreciate the candy cane’s history and flavour. Peppermint is the traditional flavour of the candy cane which is now being challenged by the chocolate fillings. It is used, aside from being a Christmas tree d├ęcor and giveaway treat to children, as topping for ice cream, garnishing for cookies and cakes, and as an additive to hot cocoa and other drinks.

Celebrating this day is in line with the celebration of the Boxing Day and National Thank-You Day where candy canes may be given as gifts to children and friends. As this day also remembers Elizabeth David, the day may be spent concocting creative ways to use candy cane in food preparations. It can also be spent bonding with family and friends over a hot candy cane flavoured coffee in line with the celebration of the National Coffee Percolator Day.

National Coffee Percolator Day

National Coffee Percolator Day is celebrated annually on December 26 every year. This is a holiday in remembrance for the humble coffee percolator celebrated by coffee lovers worldwide.

A coffee percolator is a type of pot used to brew coffee by continually cycling the boiling or nearly-boiling brew through the grounds using gravity until the required strength is reached.

Coffee percolators once enjoyed great popularity but were supplanted in the early 1970s by automatic drip coffee makers. Percolators often expose the grounds to higher temperatures than other brewing methods, and may recirculate already brewed coffee through the beans. As a result, coffee brewed with a percolator is susceptible to over-extraction. Percolation may remove some of the volatile compounds in the beans, resulting in a pleasant aroma during brewing, but a less flavoursome cup. However, percolator enthusiasts praise the percolator's hotter, more 'robust' coffee, and maintain that the potential pitfalls of this brewing method can be eliminated by careful control of the brewing process.

The percolating coffee pot was invented by the American-born British physicist and soldier Count Rumford, otherwise known as Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753–1814). He invented a percolating coffee pot between 1810 and 1814 following his pioneering work with the Bavarian Army, where he improved the soldiers' diet as well as their clothing. It was his abhorrence of alcohol and his dislike for tea that led him to promote the use of coffee for its stimulating benefits. For his efforts, in 1791, he was named a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, and granted the formal title of Reichsgraf von Rumford. His pot did not use the rising of boiling water through a tube to form a continuous cycle.

The first modern percolator incorporating these features and capable of being heated on a kitchen stove was already invented a few years later, in 1819, by the Parisian tinsmith Laurens. Its principle was then often copied and modified. There were also attempts to produce closed systems, in other words "pressure cookers".

The first US patent for a coffee percolator, which however still used a downflow method without rising steam and water, was issued to James Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1865.

Finally, an Illinois farmer named Hanson Goodrich patented the modern U.S. stove-top percolator as it is known today, and he was granted patent 408707 on August 16, 1889. It has the key elements, the broad base for boiling, the upflow central tube and a perforated basket hanging on it. He still describes the downflow as being the "percolating." Goodrich's design could transform any standard coffee pot of the day into a stove-top percolator. Subsequent patents have added very little.

With the introduction of the electric drip coffee maker in the early 1970s, the popularity of percolators plummeted, and so did the market for the self-contained ground coffee filters. In 1976, General Foods discontinued the manufacture of Max Pax, and by the end of the decade, even generic ground coffee filter rings were no longer available on U.S. supermarket shelves.

National Thank You Note Day

December 26 annually recognizes National Thank You Note Day. The day after Christmas is a perfect opportunity to give thanks by sending thank you notes. Celebrate Thank You Note Day by writing to friends and relatives to show your appreciation and gratitude for their festive gifts and to tell them how much you value them.

The history of the thank-you note is as long and varied as the letter itself. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese cultures wrote notes of goodwill to one another on pieces of papyrus. Years later, in the 1400s, Europeans delivered notes to others within their communities.

However, it was the invention of the stamp in 1840 that finally made sending notes practical on a larger scale. Stores began selling printed notes adorned with artwork, while etiquette books recommended the best practices for writing and sending thank-you notes.

As email replaces letters as our primary means of written communication, thank-you notes have become all the more valued. Taking time out of one’s day to physically write a thank-you note and send it in the mail is an effort that truly stands out and makes any gesture of generosity come full circle. Who doesn't love receiving a handwritten letter?

National Whiner's Day

National Whiners Day was founded in 1986 and is dedicated to those who like to whine. Especially, those who are returning or exchanging Christmas gifts. Actually, this day is to encourage everyone to appreciate what they have.

Suggestions for celebrating National Whiner’s Day include visiting a mall or store to watch people whine as they return or exchange unwanted gifts, inviting friends over for a “Whine and Geeze” party, and holding a whining contest with family and friends.

To add even more fun to this holiday here are past winners of National Whiners Day,

The Most Famous Whiner Of 2013 Was:
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Known for this Fall's high-jinks, alleged drug use, fumbles and foibles, Mayor Ford spent more time whining about having to apologize to others for his poor decisions and lack of coordination than addressing his behaviors. Those elected or appointed to political leadership positions in many places around the world appear to be failing their constituents.  Rather than whining about poor personal and professional choices, improve the decisions being made.

The Most Famous Whiner Of 2012 Was: 
  • Social Media Whiners!!!
Social Media Websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, and myLife as just a few examples have brought out the whiners in many of us. Take a moment and check out what our "friends" are posting, and how they are posting it.  How often does one find people "whining" about their kids, spouses, pets, neighbors, boyfriends and girlfriends, cashiers, waitresses and waiters, and on and on and on?  These sites are a fantastic way to meet up with old friends and aquaintences, and establish new friends which I have even done.  "I'm soooo tired!" or "I can't belieeeeve what myyyy bosssss did today!" or "Why don't my kidssss just listen to meeee?" 

Lets try to be better users of social media sites and accept this challenge... post Positive and Uplifting messages and leave out the negative, berating and hurtful whining.  Lets be better stewards of social media posts and provide messages that when read, build up everyone all the time!"