Tag Archives: December Holidays

National Fruitcake Day

TrappistAbbeyFruitcakeDecember 27 is National Fruitcake Day!

What would the holiday season be without a loaf of fruitcake that has jumped from freezer to freezer for anywhere from two to two dozen holiday seasons?

Fruitcake is a cake made of chopped candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices, then  soaked in brandy. It is also a traditional Christmas gift. It is also almost always re-gifted.

Yes, it’s quite possible that no one has actually made a fruitcake in years.

So if you received/receive a fruitcake this holiday season, be sure to get rid of it – that is, pass it along to someone else – before the holiday season is over and fruitcake is no longer an acceptable gift. Otherwise, you’re stuck with it until next year…unless you enjoy fruitcake. Then you can actually eat it, which is perfectly fine, as fruitcake is meant to be consumed.*

Three-and-a-half ways to celebrate National Fruitcake Day:
1. Re-gift the fruitcake(s) you have received this holiday season.
2. Eat the fruitcake(s) you have received this holiday season.**
3. Make a fruitcake, which you can then:

  • Eat
  • Give to someone as a gift, just to get a fresh fruitcake out there.

 

 

*If you do eat a fruit cake you received as a gift, we hope that it has undergone proper fruitcake storage. When properly preserved, fruitcake can last for months, even years – hence, the re-gifting. Some people even say fruitcake gets better with age. This implies that someone out there has eaten really old fruitcake, so eating really old fruitcake must be ok. However, this statement is vague, so eat at your own risk.

**If you are unable to re-gift the fruitcake, have no interest in eating it and do not want it to take up space in your freezer during the next year, save it for January 3. Further instructions will be provided on January 3.

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com, theultimateholidaysite.com, wikipedia.org, allrecipes.com

Photo Source: Katr67, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Boxing Day

December 26 is Boxing Day!

Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

It is very similar to Black Friday in the United States, with retailers opening early and offering dramatic discounts. Before it was a major shopping day, Boxing Day was a day off for servants and a time when superiors would give presents to their workers.

Whether shopping or exchanging gifts, Boxing Day is a day to spend with family and friends that you may not have seen during Christmas celebrations.

Sources: Wikipedia, About.com

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Kwanzaa Begins

Kwanzaa, a celebration of African-American heritage and culture, is celebrated for one week every year from December 26 to January 1.

Created by Africana studies professor and activist, Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966. Karenga created Kwanzaa to ”give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah, which are religiously associated holidays, Kwanzaa is meant to be a cultural Pan-African holiday, meant to bring together people of African descent no matter where they live. The name of the holiday comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means “first fruits of the harvest.”

Kwanzaa lasts for seven days, and each day brings focus to one of the seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa. The principles are as follows:

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa celebrations usually include readings and reflections on African culture and history, libations, musical and artistic performances, a candle lighting ritual, and a feast. Kwanzaa was at first celebrated as a completely different entity from the holidays surrounding it, but many African Americans now celebrate Kwanzaa alongside Christmas, New Year’s, and other winter holidays. Many cultural exhibitions have been created to celebrate Kwanzaa including African dance, music, and poetry readings.

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Sources: Wikipedia, How Stuff Works

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Christmas

Christmas tree ink04What is Christmas?

A religious and commercial holiday with both religious and secular traditions, Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. However, many Christmas celebrations and traditions have their roots in pre-Christian winter festivals. Learn more about the history behind Christmas by clicking here.

When is Christmas?

December 25 of each year in the Gregorian calendar. Following the Julian calendar, Orthodox Christmas falls on or near January 7.

How do people celebrate Christmas?

As a federal holiday – in the U.S., Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom – government offices, schools, post offices and other stores and businesses close for the day. Churches hold special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services that include singing Christmas hymns and reading scripture of the birth of Jesus. The most  popular Christmas tradition is exchanging gifts with friends and family and, for children, waking up early Christmas morning to see what Santa Claus left for them under the Christmas tree. Other Christmas celebrations and traditions include setting up and decorating a Christmas tree in the home, putting up Christmas  lights and decorations inside and outside of the home,  enjoying a festive meal with friends and family, watching Christmas movies, making (and eating) Christmas cookies and singing Christmas carols.

Find Christmas crafts, activities, stories and recipes as well as gift, party and music ideas here.

 

Sources: history.com, timeanddate.com
Photo Source: HikingArtist.com, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Festivus

Festivus Pole

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born…a Festivus for the rest of us!

- “The Strike” episode, Seinfeld

And that is how Festivus was born…Actually, it started with Dan O’Keefe’s, a writer on Seinfeld, father, who found the holiday in a book that was published in 1966. The O’Keefes celebrated Festivus from then on, and the holiday ended up on Seinfeld when O’Keefe shared the holiday with the other writers.

The Festivus celebration  includes a feast consisting of any food other than standard holiday dishes. Rather than decorating a tree, those who celebrate Festivus set up an unadorned aluminum pole. Then there’s the pre-dinner Airing of Grievances (when you tell everyone all the ways they’ve disappointed you that year) and the post-dinner Feats of Strength (which is basically a wrestling match of sorts.)

Learn more about Festivus celebrations and traditions by clicking here.

Sources: festivusweb.com, whatisfestivus.com
Photo Source: Matthew Keefe CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Winter Solstice

Winter solstice, or Southern solstice in the Northern hemisphere, is the time of year in which the sun is at its most southern point in the sky. This event occurs every year on December 21 to December 22. The Sun will appear at its lowest point above the horizon at noon and shine directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Winter solstice also marks the point at which winter officially begins.

The reason for the seasons can be explained by Earth’s axial tilt, and Earth’s rotation on this axis as it also rotates around the Sun. The axis is tilted at about 23.5 degrees, causing the Northern hemisphere and the Southern hemisphere to experience different seasons at different times. Due to the Earth’s tilt, while the Northern hemisphere is receiving less sunlight, causing winter, our friends down under in the Southern hemisphere are soaking up more sunlight and experiencing summer.

Though not readily apparent except to those in high elevations, the winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. For several days around the solstice, the sun’s maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. The word solstice was derived from the Latin word “solstitium,” from sol meaning “sun” and -stitium meaning “a stoppage.” After the solstice, the days once again start to become longer and the nights shorter.

Though winter is usually regarded as a time of dormancy, the return of light became a reason for celebration in many cultures. These celebrations and festivals vary from being astronomical to symbolic to ritualistic, and many have evolved depending on how cultures developed. For a full list of winter festivals, go here.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Sources: Infoplease, Wikipedia

 

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The End of the World

Today, the Mayan Long Count Calendar ends.

Today, the world ends.

We couldn’t find a definitive time to let you know exactly how much longer you have to spend with your loved ones, so we’re going with midnight like WeWillBeHere.com. There is some good information there on how to prepare for different apocalyptic events and also survival tips in case of a zombie attack.

Seriously though, if the world doesn’t end today, you’ll still need a calendar for 2013. Calendars.com still has a great selection, and we offer a money back guarantee in case the world does end. What do you have to lose?

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Go Caroling Day

December 20 is Go Caroling Day!

Celebrate the holidays and spread some Christmas cheer by singing your favorite Christmas carols with your family and friends. Find a list of popular Christmas carols here.

Never been caroling before? Click here for caroling tips and guidelines! Though caroling is an activity that is usually performed for an audience, such as your neighbors, you can still create the spirit of Christmas caroling by throwing a caroling party at home.

Did You Know…that caroling is an ancient tradition whose origins have nothing to do with Christmas? Read more about the history of caroling.

 

Sources: holidayinsights.com
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Look for an Evergreen Day

December 19 is Look for an Evergreen Day!

If you opt for a real Christmas Tree in your household, this may be your last chance to find the perfect pine, spruce, or fir. If you have already tracked down your tree, then this can be a day to simply admire those evergreens you pass on your daily commute.

The tradition of decorating a tree for Christmas dates back to 16th century Germany. The town would gather to decorate a single tree in the market square with candles and wax ornaments. Nowadays, you can find a decorated tree in almost every house that celebrates Christmas and the decorations are a bit more ornate.

If you have been procrastinating, today is the perfect push you need. Go Look for an Evergreen!

Sources: National Whatever Day, The Ultimate Holiday Site

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The Mayflower Docks at Plymouth Rock

The Mayflower was a ship that transported 102 Pilgrims from England to the New World. The passengers sailed from London in September 1620 and spent more than two long months at sea. The trip was very rough, with constant waves threatening to destroy the ship.

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower anchored in Cape Cod and the Mayflower Compact was signed. Several passengers formed scouting groups to explore the snow-covered land in search of a suitable spot to settle. The groups returned to the ship and had found a harbor on the western side of Cape Cod Bay that they liked.

The Mayflower docked in modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18, 1620, and its passengers prepared to begin Plymouth Colony.

Sources: History.com, Wikipedia

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