weird and wacky holidays happening in December

December 27 is National Fruitcake Day

Today is National Fruitcake Day, a day that celebrates one of the most maligned cakes of all time. Love it or hate it, the fruitcake has a long, rich history.

Ancient Egynational fruitcake dayptians buried loved ones with fruitcakes in the belief they were essential for the journey to the afterlife. An early Roman recipe combined barley mash with raisins, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices and preserved fruits were added to the basic formula. Fruitcakes were carried during the Crusades due to their nutritious ingredients and resistance to spoilage.

The cakes began to feature candied fruits preserved in sugar syrup as early as the 14th century. As trade routes opened up, sugar became more plentiful, making fruitcake more affordable and popular from the 1600s onward. Recipes vary from country to country depending on available ingredients and tradition.

Fruitcake has been a mail-order item since 1913. Mass-produced cakes rarely contain alcohol. Home-baked versions made with chopped candied or dried fruit, nuts, spices and often soaked in a variety of spirits have been a family gift-giving tradition for centuries.

Myth: A 2002 article in the Village Voice stated that the term “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined in 1935 and has been widely quoted as fact. But a letter to the editor of the Evening World newspaper, published on June 5, 1913, included the sentence, “At this point I first realized that Henry had become as nutty as a fruit cake.”

A character in Eugene O’Neill’s 1914 play, ”The Movie Man,” declared, ”We sure are as nutty as a fruitcake or we wouldn’t be here.” The phrase was repeated at least six more times in newspapers, plays and books, culminating in a 1934 interview of George Burns and Gracie Allen in which he said fans loved their act because “they’re convinced she’s nutty as a fruit cake.”

Fruitcake has also been fodder for late-night TV, notably The Tonight Show.  In December of 1985, Johnny Carson cracked, “There’s only one fruitcake in the world, and people keep passing it on.” He also once had a prop man bring out a fruitcake on a forklift and drop it through his desk.

In 2003, during Jay Leno’s stint as host of The Tonight Show, he took a small bite of a 125-year-old fruitcake that had been saved since it was baked in 1878. “It needs more time,” he said after a slow, deliberate chew.

One thing is certain: fruitcake has been around for millennia. As a dessert or a doorstop, it isn’t going anywhere.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 26 is National Whiner’s Day

national whiner's day

You know who you are.

Today is National Whiner’s Day, established in 1986 by Reverend Kevin Zaborney as a humorous reminder (on this day infamous for its volume of gift returns) to appreciate what we have.

Each year, Zaborney crowns the Most Famous Whiner of the Year. Winning whiners in years past include Kanye West, Lindsay Lohan, Chris Brown and Rob Ford. (Mr. Ford, a former mayor of Toronto, Canada, and avid crack enthusiast, died in March 2016, disqualifying himself from future contention for the title.)

The award for MOST FAMOUS WHINER of 2016 went to Toblerone Swiss Chocolate Makers. The announcement seemed a bit anticlimactic until Zaborney explained his rationale.

“The makers of Toblerone whined their costs have risen, and as a result, they chose to reduce the amount of product maintaining the same cost for less product. They are not the only maker that did this with some makers choosing to instead raise their prices to maintain the same amount or quality of product.”

The MOST FAMOUS WHINER of 2015 remains more relevant to most of us. The winner was—wait for the drumroll, please, and do your best to feign surprise—national whiner's day

In an August 2015 interview on CNN, Trump stated. “I do whine because I want to win, and I’m not happy about not winning, and I am a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win.”  The National Review described him as “the most fabulous whiner in all of American politics.” As we now know, it’s a tactic that’s gotten him all the way to the White House. (Hopefully, there’s a law on the books that prevents changing the color.)

Journalist Chris Thompson once wrote that these days we have far too many whiners and too few huggers.  That’s why in 1986 Zaborney also created National Hugging Day, which is celebrated worldwide every January 21st. That’s something you can celebrate every day of the year!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 25 is A’phabet Day

a'phabet dayToday is A’phabet Day, always observed on December 25th. It was created by Robert L. Birch and Puns Corps as a secular alternative for people who want to send cards to their friends during the holiday season.

Instead of a traditional Christmas card, they can send greetings using the “a’phabet” and leaving gaps where the “L” would appear. For this reason, the holiday is also known as No-L Day. Get it?

We don’t know when the holiday was first celebrated. We found references to Puns Corps as far back as April 16, 1981, when Birch gave a speech called “Wit and the Emancipators” that explored the capacity of humor and wordplay to persuade.

According to usbiz.org, Puns Corps has been in operation since 1999 and can be reached at these coordinates: 38.864921,-77.174267 (Falls Church, Virginia.) Sadly, Mr. Birch passed away in 2005, but his memory lives on in the many punny holidays he created.

Happ A’phabet Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 24 is National Eggnog Day

national eggnog dayToday is National Eggnog Day, celebrated each year on Christmas Eve. The sweetened drink is traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, eggs, and spices, often mixed with spirits such as rum, brandy or some combination of liquors.

Also known as egg milk punch, it has a rich history dating back to “posset,” a hot beverage that mixed milk and eggs with wine or beer. Eggs and milk were a rare commodity among the peasants of medieval England, so it was most often drunk by the wealthy in toasts to health and prosperity.

In the 1700s, eggnog crossed the Atlantic to the Americas, where its use was more widespread due to colonists’ direct access to chickens and cows. England’s high import taxes on brandy, its preferred alcoholic ingredient, made cheap, readily available rum a popular substitute.

If you’d like to try your hand at making eggnog, you can’t go wrong with George Washington’s recipe. The father of our country used four different kinds of alcohol. Parties at Mount Vernon must have been a lot of fun.

He might have had a tipple before penning the directions: he forgot to include the number of eggs needed. Cooks of his era estimated that a dozen eggs would suffice. Here are his instructions:

One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

If the thought of raw eggs doesn’t thrill you, try this cooked version. Omit the alcohol if you’re the designated driver. Have a happy National Eggnog Day!