weird and wacky holidays happening in December

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

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