weird and wacky holidays happening in December

Banished Words List Day 2016

banned words list dayBanished Words List Day 2016

If you’ve read our post about LSSU’s 2015 Banished Words List, you already know you’re in for a treat. Drumroll, please. (We realize that phrase should be banished, too.) The official Banished Words List for 2016 is:

SO

So the word that received the most nominations this year was already banished, but today it is being used differently than it was in 1999, when nominators were saying, “I am SO down with this list!”  Nominations came from across the country.

“So it’s getting really annoying. So can we please put a stop to this?” – David G. Simpson, Laurel, Md.

“It has become widespread to the point of an epidemic,” said a sickened John from Philadelphia, Penn.

CONVERSATION

Online publications invite us to “join the conversation,” which is usually more of a scream-fest.  Gayle from Cedarville, Mich. wonders if “debate has become too harsh for our delicate sensibilities.  Now we are all encouraged to have a ‘conversation,’ and everything will somewhat be magically resolved.”

PROBLEMATIC

“Anything that the speaker finds vaguely inconvenient or undesirable, such as an opposing political belief or bad traffic. Contrast things that are self-evidently taken to be problematic with, say, actual problems like a hole in the ozone layer or a job loss.” – Adam Rosen, Asheville, N.C.

STAKEHOLDER

A word that has expanded from describing someone who may actually have a stake in a situation or problem, now being over-used in business to describe customers and others.

“Often used with ‘engagement.’ If someone is disengaged, they’re not really a stakeholder in the first place. LSSU, please engage your stakeholders by adding this pretentious jargon to your list. – Gwendolyn Barlow, Portland, Ore.

“Dr. Van Helsing should be the only stake holder,” says Jeff Baenen of Minneapolis, Minn.

PRICE POINT

Another example of using two words when one will do.

“This alliterative mutation seems to be replacing the word ‘price’ or ‘cost.’ It may be standard business-speak, but must it contaminate everyday speech?” says Kevin Carney of Chicago, who provided an example in the March 19, 2015 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, pg. 1171, which says, “Although the ‘price point’ of effective new drugs…may initially be out of reach for many patients…”

“It has no ‘point.’  It is just a ‘price.’” – Guy Michael, Cherry Hill, N.J.

SECRET SAUCE

“Usually used in a sentence explaining the ‘secret’ in excruciating public detail. Is this a metaphor for business success based on the fast food industry?” – John Beckett, Ann Arbor, Mich.

“It has become too frequent in business discussions. I am tired of it.” – Bill Evans, Clinton, Miss.

BREAK THE INTERNET

A phrase that is annoying online word-watchers around the world.

“Meaning a post or video or whatever will have so much Internet traffic that it will ‘break the internet.’ It’s being used for every headline and video. Ridiculous.” – Matthew Squires, Auburn, Mich.

“I hope the list doesn’t ‘break the internet.’ (How else would I read it next year)?” – Dean Hinrichs, Kansas City, Mo.

WALK IT BACK

A slower back-pedal?

“It seems as if every politician who makes a statement has to ‘walk it back,’ meaning retract the statement, or explain it in laborious detail to the extent that the statement no longer has any validity or meaning once it has been ‘walked back.’” – Max Hill, Killeen, Tex.

PRESSER

This shortened form of “press release” and “press conference” is not so impressive.

“Not only is there no intelligent connection between the word “presser” and its supposed meaning, this word already has a definition: a person or device that removes wrinkles. Let’s either say ‘press conference’ or ‘press release’ or come up with something more original, intelligent and interesting!” – Constance Kelly, West Bloomfield, Mich.

“This industry buzzword has slipped into usage in news reporting and now that they have started, they can’t seem to stop using it.” – Richard W. Varney, Akron, Ohio.

MANSPREADING

A word that is familiar to those in bigger cities, where seats on the bus or subway are sometimes difficult to find.

“Men don’t need another disgusting-sounding word thrown into the vocabulary to describe something they do…You’re just taking too much room on this train seat, be a little more polite…” – Carrie Hansen, Caledonia, Mich.

“The term itself is stupid, and the campaign and petition written by men’s rights activists claiming that men need to take up more space due to their anatomy, and that anti-manspreading campaigns are ‘male-bashing,’ are ridiculous. The problem is with people taking up too much space on the subway or any public mode of transportation. – Beth, Anchorage, Alaska

VAPE

Vape and vaping are used to describe the act of ‘smoking’ e-cigarettes (another strange word) since the products emit vapor instead of smoke.

David Ervin of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., says he hopes the word “goes up in smoke.”

GIVING ME LIFE

The phrase refers to anything that may excite a person, or something that causes one to laugh.

“I suggest banishing this hyperbole for over-use,” says Ana Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

“This list of banished words is ‘giving me life’!”

PHYSICALITY

We had to include one for the sports fans. John Kollig of Jamestown, N.Y., says this is overused by every sports broadcaster and writer.

“I am not sure who is responsible, but over the last 12-18 months you cannot watch a sporting event, listen to a sports talk show on radio, or anything on ESPN without someone using this term to attempt to describe an athlete or a contest.” – Dan Beitzel, Perrysburg, Ohio

“Every time I hear them say it, I change the channel.” – Brenda Ruffing, Jackson, Mich.

We’re going to resubmit “sunset” for 2017. Stay tuned! (That also needs to be banished.)

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 30 is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

national bicarbonate of soda dayIt’s National Bicarbonate of Soda Day! Yes, that’s right: baking soda has its own day. As we shall see, this hardworking substance earns at least one holiday’s worth of celebration.

Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. A component of the mineral natron, it is a white, odorless, water-soluble crystalline solid that is found dissolved in many mineral springs.

Ancient Egyptians used natron as a cleanser. In 1791, French chemist Nicolas Leblanc introduced sodium bicarbonate in its modern form. Fifty-five years later, two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, began to manufacture and sell the compound we know as baking soda today under the name John Dwight and Co.

In 1867, the company became Church and Co. and debuted its Arm & Hammer packaging, depicting the hammer-wielding arm of Vulcan, Roman god of fire. It was marketed mainly as a leavening agent for use in baking until 1925, when the company published a booklet called A Friend in Need, touting baking soda as a “proven medical agent.”

Modern quack science makes extraordinary claims regarding baking soda. A Google search for “sodium bicarbonate cures cancer” returns 82,600 results; 7 of 10 on its first page advocate the treatment. As a thought experiment, ask this: if one (or many) doses of baking soda can “alkalinize” our blood and that in turn can cure cancer, what would the acid in a glass of orange juice do to our blood? Surely, adding a shot of vodka would be a death sentence, wouldn’t it?

While baking soda cannot differentiate between normal and cancer cells in our bodies, it can treat indigestion and make our laundry smell fresh, relieve insect bites, polish silverware, clean crayon stains from walls, remove grease from pans and oil from garage floors. It also kills ants and roaches, whitens teeth, freshens breath and exfoliates skin.

Here are five more uses:

  1. Keep cut flowers fresh longer by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the vase.
  2. Make a paste with water or add to bath to relieve the pain of sunburn.
  3. Add a teaspoon to the water when you soak beans to neutralize their gassy effects.
  4. Throw onto small grease or electrical fires to extinguish them. Do not use on fires in deep fryers; the sudden release of carbon dioxide may cause the grease to splatter.
  5. Unclog a drain by pouring in 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda, and then 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar. Let sit for five minutes—covered, if possible. Follow with a gallon of boiling water.

There are hundreds of uses for this amazing product. Discover a few more and have a happy National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 29 is National Pepper Pot Day

Today is National Pepper Pot Day. Pepper pot soup has been called the soup that won the Revolutionary War. By the time American troops reached Valley Forge on December 19, 1777, in the midst of a harsh winter, soldiers and the many wives, mothers and children who accompanied them were running desperately low on provisions. Local farmers refused the weak continental currency carried by General George Washington’s troops, instead selling their crops to the British.

On December 23, Washington wrote to the Continental Congress, “…I am now convinced, beyond a doubt that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line, this Army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things. Starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can; rest assured Sir this is not an exaggerated picture, but that I have abundant reason to support what I say.”

According to legend, on December 29, Washington instructed chief cook Christopher Ludwick to make a soup “that will warm and strengthen the body of a soldier and inspire his flagging spirit.” Only scraps re­mained in the kit­chen ex­cept for beef tripe donated by a nearby butcher, and pep­per­corns, a gift from a Ger­man­town pat­ri­ot. Ludwick combined them and named the soup Philadelphia Pepper Pot, a re­mind­er of Amer­ica’s claim to the Brit­ish-held city.

national pepper pot day

Because Ludwick hailed from Philadelphia, which was then a center of the slave trade, it’s thought that his pepper pot soup was an Americanized version of Jamaican callaloo. If you’d like to make it yourself, try this version from Northeast Times which states, “Al­though this re­cipe may not be identic­al to the Val­ley Forge ori­gin­al, you know it’s bound to be of­fal good. Still, some people just don’t have the stom­ach for it.” (There’s nothing like a good tripe-based pun!)

Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup

2 me­di­um onions, diced
1 small green pep­per, diced
3 stalks cel­ery, diced
1 lb. tripe, cut in­to small, bite-sized pieces
4 Tb­sp. but­ter
3 qts. wa­ter
1 beef mar­row bone or 1 veal knuckle bone
1 tsp. ground pep­per
1/2 tsp. cay­enne pep­per
2 tsp. salt
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried mar­joram
2 me­di­um car­rots, diced
2 me­di­um pota­toes, diced
1 can to­ma­toes, (16 oz.)
1/4 cup pars­ley, chopped
1 tsp. dried mar­joram

Tripe Pre­par­a­tion:

– Blanch tripe be­fore adding to soup.
– Wash tripe well.
– Put tripe in a pot, cov­er with wa­ter and add 1 tsp. salt.
– Bring to a boil and al­low to cook for three minutes.
– Pour off wa­ter and cov­er tripe with cold wa­ter.
– Drain again.
– Cut tripe in­to small, bite-sized pieces with kit­chen shears.

Soup:

– In a soup pot, saute onions, green pep­per, cel­ery and tripe in but­ter for about 10 minutes.
– Add wa­ter, bone, pep­pers, salt, bay leaves, thyme and mar­joram.
– Cov­er and al­low soup to sim­mer for 45 minutes.
– Add car­rots, pota­toes, to­ma­toes and pars­ley.
– Con­tin­ue to sim­mer for 30 minutes.
– Re­move bay leaves.

Be­fore serving, you can add the fol­low­ing spaet­zle to the soup, if de­sired.

Spaet­zle:

1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 Tb­sp. milk

– Mix to­geth­er flour and salt, and make a well in cen­ter of flour.
– Put egg and milk in­to well and beat them slightly with a fork.
– Mix egg mix­ture and flour in­to a sticky dough.
– Drop about 1/3 tsp. of the bat­ter at a time in­to the sim­mer­ing soup.
– Al­low to sim­mer a few minutes un­til done.

Feeling a little less adventurous? Substitute chicken for the tripe. Feed your inner patriot on National Pepper Pot Day.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 28 is Pledge of Allegiance Day

pledge of allegiance dayToday is Pledge of Allegiance Day. We’re not sure why it is celebrated today since it doesn’t correspond to any date we can find regarding its origins, usage or changes. We do know this: the words many of us grew up saying have a fascinating history.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by minister and Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892. It was published in children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion to coincide with celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival, on October 12, 1492, in the Americas. (It was later revealed he had landed on an island in the Bahamas. Close enough.)

Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. It read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Of his choice to leave the word “equality” out of the pledge, Bellamy wrote:
Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity.’ No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all…
It’s telling that Bellamy, knowing the vehemence of opposition to equality for women and African-Americans, considered it “thousands of years off in realization.”

On June 29, 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued Proclamation 335, making the public school flag ceremony the center of the first Columbus Day celebrations. Children raised money for more than 25,000 flags to be raised that day.

The National Flag Conferences of 1923 and 1924 altered the words slightly, resulting in this version:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The words “under God” weren’t added until 1954, mainly as a response to Communist threat. President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared:

In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.

Largely forgotten but more controversial in its day than religiosity or idolatry was the original salute to the flag. The Bellamy Salute required citizens to straighten their right arms at a slightly upward angle, palm down, fingers pointing forward. They then held still this stiffened position until the end of the recitation, when they would immediately drop their arms to their sides.

pledge of allegiance day

It bore a striking resemblance to a Nazi salute. Richard J. Ellis, in To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance, wrote that “the similarities in the salute had begun to attract comment as early as the mid-1930s.” On December 22, 1942, Congress amended the Flag Code, decreeing that the Pledge of Allegiance should “be rendered by standing with the right hand over the heart.”

Happy Pledge of Allegiance Day!

Sources:
cnn.com
ushistory.org
smithsonianmag.com

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays