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October 28 is National Chocolate Day

Today is National Chocolate Day. There are thirty “national” chocolate-themed holidays celebrated every year in the United States: dark, bittersweet, milk, white, cream-filled, to name a few, with Chocolate Covered Anything Day taking care of whatever else may have been lost in the shuffle.

While it’s unclear if these holidays originated with a candy manufacturer, it can’t be denied that chocolate is big business. According to statistics published by Forbes.com, Americans consume about 9.5 pounds of chocolate per person each year. (Switzerland leads the world, averaging 19.8 pounds!)

In the early 1900s, Milton Hershey and Frank Mars battled each other for the hearts and taste buds of the American public. They could never have imagined the influence the industry would have today. The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has its own Political Action Committee (PAC) called CandyPAC.

According to CandyPAC, it uses donations to support political campaigns based on:
national chocolate day candypac image

  • The candidate’s position on specific business and policy issues that have an impact on our industry.
  • The candidate’s overall support for the confectionery industry.
  • The candidate’s leadership and membership on key committees with jurisdiction over issues affecting the candy industry.
  • The candidate’s character, integrity and leadership abilities.
  • The candidates position on general business issues.

The annual NCA-sponsored Sweets & Snacks Expo takes place in a different city each May and features “more than three and a half acres of candy and snack items in one place!”

But there’s no need to wait that long to celebrate the chocolate business if you have an invitation and a valid passport. October 28th is the first day of Le Salon du Chocolat in Paris, a five-day event at which hundreds of international chocolatiers, pastry chefs and confectioners invite participants to taste their most indulgent creations.

national chocolate day fashion show

Still think all conferences are boring? This one includes the Chocolate Fashion Show. Check out this clip from 2016:

So basically this is an orgy for the sweet tooth that the most decadent Roman emperor would approve. While we’d like to condemn this sensory overload on moral grounds, we’d also like to know how we can snag a ticket for next year.

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 27 is Sylvia Plath Day

Is it possible to wish someone a Happy Sylvia Plath Day? How can anyone celebrate the birthday of a woman who killed herself? Is this a joke? Is it sponsored by some brand of oven cleaner? We found evidence that this holiday exists:

From the Sylvia Plath Forum:

To all avowed Sylvia Plath supporters and admirers:

I am with the Sylvia Plath day organizing committee. Let me explain: over 1,000 people signed a petition just recently in the city of Northampton, Ma to have a Sylvia Plath Day. The Mayor, consumed by the irresistible force of Plath petition signers/supporters then declared October 27, 2001 Sylvia Plath Day. As you know, Sylvia Plath attended Smith College in Northampton. We are planning a big celebration of the life and legacy of Sylvia Plath on October 27 of this year. We can use your help!

Michael
Northampton, Ma, USA
Friday, April 27, 2001

Unfortunately, we could find no Northampton public records to confirm the mayor was indeed “consumed by the irresistible force.” But if we still pore over her work and the minutia of her life over fifty years after her death, does it matter if it’s official or not?

sylvia plath day

Published under a pseudonym

Of course, we remember Sylvia Plath because she wrote The Bell Jar, required reading for many in high school. And, like it or not, we remember her because she committed suicide. We study her poetry and prose, trying to divine what fueled her despair, what caused her to take her own life. Plath wrote this in her journal a few months before her death:

I feel outcast on a cold star, unable to feel anything but an awful helpless numbness. I look down into the warm, earthy world. Into a nest of lovers’ beds, baby cribs, meal tables, all the solid commerce of life in this earth, and feel apart, enclosed in a wall of glass.

Plath wrote poetry in a confessional style, revealing intimate details about herself. She was driven, publishing her first poem when she was eight. She was the first poet awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. She also wrote fifty short stories and one novel, The Bell Jar.

In February of 1963, her depression overcame her. For weeks, her doctor had tried to secure a bed for her in a psychiatric hospital. She sealed her children in their room upstairs, then sealed herself in the kitchen, put her head in the oven and turned on the gas. She was thirty years old.

On Sylvia Plath Day, instead of fetishizing her death or lamenting the loss of all she might have written, we can celebrate her life by learning about her, reading her work and being happy for what she shared with us in her short yet brilliant life.

It’s a day we should also acknowledge the brutal power of mental illness to damage and destroy lives.

Learn more at:
Neurotic Poets
BenGuinter.com
This Day in History
Sylvia Plath and the Mythology of Women Readers: 2011, Univ. of Massachusetts Press

If you are thinking about suicide, read this first.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website and toll-free telephone number: 1 (800) 273-8255

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 26 is Mule Appreciation Day

mule appreciation dayAccording to numerous sources on the Internet:

President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1985, designating October 26th as Mule Appreciation Day. Two hundred years before on this date, a ship docked in Boston, bearing the gift of a donkey from King Charles III of Spain to President George Washington.

We went a little crazy researching this holiday, delving into government records and scrutinizing proposed bills and signed laws. We can report that the bill did exist:

S.J.RES.39
Latest Title:
A joint resolution to designate October 26, 1985, as “Mule Appreciation Day”.
Sponsor: Sen Gore, Albert, Jr. [TN] (introduced 2/5/1985)
Related Bills: H.J.RES.76

Yes, that’s right. Al Gore, senator from Tennessee, submitted this bill. (An identical bill was proffered by Representative Jim Cooper, also of Tennessee.) Both have this notation:

Latest Major Action: Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

We can find no confirmation that Reagan did indeed sign the bill into law. So that part of the story surrounding Mule Appreciation Day is probably bunk. But the actual story is still fascinating.

George Washington wasn’t just our first president; he was also an avid mule breeder and wanted Andalusian donkeys (known as jacks) to mate with his mares. But Spain forbade their export. In 1785, when word of Washington’s wish reached King Charles III, he dispatched a ship carrying two of the prized animals.

Only one of the jacks, dubbed Royal Gift, survived the sea voyage. Most accounts omit this detail and report the shipping of only one,  perhaps because it is a sad footnote to the story.

In 1786, the Marquis de Lafayette sent Washington a jack and two mares (jennies) from a famous breed in Malta. These three historical figures influenced the breeding of mules forever.

Of course, Washington wasn’t the only person breeding mules. The Andalusian and Maltese breeds, along with the Catalonian, Majorcan, and Poitou, were incorporated over time into the development of today’s American Mammoth jack.  According to the North American Saddle Mule Association (NASMA):

There are no longer any real populations of true donkey breeds in the United States. The registries are bound by size, not breed type….The tall, slender black jack may be used for saddle mules, and the heavy-boned, drafty dappled red roan used for draft mules.

Some say a mule is more intelligent than either parent. While that’s debatable, renowned veterinarian Robert M. Miller, a mule breeder, says the hybridization “accounts for his amazing strength and stamina.”  A mule exhibits the best qualities of both parents.

A mule is generally sturdier than a horse, with stronger feet less likely to need shoeing, and will often live and work longer. His legendary sure-footedness and stability make him the animal of choice for those who pack or hike on steep mountain trails.

Because a mule inherits a strong sense of self-preservation from the donkey side of the family, he reacts differently to perceived threats. Miller states that when frightened, a horse will usually panic and flee blindly, often hurting himself in the process. “A frightened mule, on the other hand, will usually assess the situation, and avoid injuring himself,” according to Miller.

Maybe that’s what makes mules the preferred mode of transport on the precipitous trails that descend to the floor of the Grand Canyon. Legend has it that Brighty (a burro) accompanied President Theodore Roosevelt there when he hunted mountain lions.

That last part is a dodgy bit of Internet lore. Brighty (short for Bright Angel) did live in the canyon from about 1892 to 1922 and inspired a book and a movie. Roosevelt visited in 1903. Whether they came in contact with each other is a question for the ages.

We know this much is true: Visitors who ride all the way down to Phantom Ranch can send postcards from the bottom that say Mailed by Mule from the Bottom of the Grand Canyon. 

Mules have played a significant role in our country’s history and deserve to be appreciated year-round. So the next time we see a mule, we’re going to pay him some respect. After all, he might just be looking back at us, thinking we’re jackasses.

Happy Mule Appreciation Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 24 is World Tripe Day

World Trip Day Tripe Clubworld tripe day 2015If dedication and effort are any indication, the holiday known as World Tripe Day is as real as it gets. Since 2012, the Tripe Marketing Board (TMB) has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the hidden virtues of consuming, or at least discussing, the stomachs of ruminant mammals.

The TMB was set up in 1992 to replace the Tripe Council which in turn traced its lineage back to 1926, when the Association for the Legal Disposal of Unwanted Cow Products began a concerted effort to market tripe.

world tripe day marketing-boardVisitors to TMB’s website will find everything tripe from recipes to job opportunities. Chairman Sir Norman Wrassle oversees the site as well as its book publishing and merchandising arms. It’s entirely likely that Sir Wrassle does not exist, but the site is so entertaining, we’re willing to suspend disbelief.

Here are some answers to everyone’s burning questions about tripe:

Does tripe taste as good as it looks?
Yes.

Is tripe kosher?
It depends on the religion of the cow.

Is tripe safe to eat?
That depends. Tripe has to be cleaned meticulously before it is fit for human consumption.

Where is my nearest tripe retailer?
It depends where you live. Visit Tripe Adviser for your local stockist.

Can I buy a CHOOSE TRIPE t-shirt?
Yes. Literally dozens of people already have.

Is the Tripe Marketing Board publishing a 2016 Diary?
Yes – and it’s more than just a diary. It’s chock full of dates and fascinating tripe facts, articles on tripe and lots, lots more.  It’s on Amazon.

Is the Tripe Marketing Board on Twitter?
Of course.  We’re @TripeUK.

When is Tripe Tuesday?
The first Tuesday in December.

Bon appetit!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays