weird and wacky holidays happening in December

December 19 is Super Saturday

Did you miss Black Friday, sleep through Cyber Monday and get confused by Green Monday? (The latter isn’t a day to shop for eco-friendly gifts. “Green” stands for money and was dreamed up by the folks at eBay, who deserve style points for their honesty.)

Super Saturday always falls on the last Saturday before Christmas. It’s great news for procrastinators who need to swell the ranks of shoppers desperate to spend hard-earned credit on tchotchkes that will be forgotten the day after Christmas.

super saturday

In the UK, it’s more accurately referred to as Panic Saturday. Of course, there will still be five more days before Christmas to panic…but try not to think about that now.

December 5 is Chester Greenwood Day

chester greenwood dayChester Greenwood Day

Even if you’ve never heard of Chester Greenwood, chances are, he’s been keeping your ears warm for years. Greenwood was born on December 4, 1858, in Farmington, Maine. At the age of fifteen, he fashioned the first pair of earmuffs, with his grandmother’s help, from wire, beaver fur and velvet.

He was awarded a U.S. patent for his “ear-mufflers” in 1877.  By his mid-20s, 50,000 pairs of Greenwood Champion Ear Protectors were being mass-produced annually at a local factory.

He accumulated over 100 more patents for such diverse inventions as a mechanical mousetrap, steel-toothed rake, donut hook and a shock absorber that became the basis for a component of airplane landing gear.

Farmington became the Earmuff Capital of the World. By 1937, when Greenwood died, his company had its best year ever, selling 400,000 pairs.

In 1977, the state of Maine declared December 21–the first day of winter–to be Chester Greenwood Day. In Farmington, organizers later moved the parade to the first Saturday of the month so it would fall closer to Greenwood’s birthday and provide attendees a better chance of warm weather.

Festivities in Farmington

The 39th annual Chester Greenwood Day festivities will include the annual Chester Greenwood Day 5K Run/Walk, Gingerbread House Contest, Chili Challenge, Annual Polar Bear Dip and, most intriguingly, a performance by clog dancing group InClogNeatO to take place in front of the Bangor Savings Bank.

As always, the highlight of the day’s activities will be the Chester Greenwood Day parade. The theme for 2015 is “Favorite Characters” and all are welcome to participate. Just dress up as your favorite book, movie, or TV character and remember to include earmuffs on your float. (Seriously, floats without them will be disqualified.)chester greenwood day

All floats will be judged on theme, originality, appearance, and performance combined. Entries which espouse political views supported by individuals, groups or political action committees (PACs), will be barred from the parade route.

Throwing candy from any float is forbidden as this may cause children to run into the street and be struck by extremely slow-moving parade vehicles. (Flying sweets also pose a risk of eye injury to paradegoers not wearing glasses.) Anyone throwing anything from any entry will result in the thrower and everyone else on the float being banned from the parade for life.

Now, get out there, have fun and celebrate the man who invented ear hats!


December 3 is Make a Gift Day

make a gift dayToday is Make a Gift Day. The holidays are nearly here; time is running out. Save your cash and make something by hand. It’s fun to do and a homemade gift will mean much more to your loved ones than something you buy in a store.

Here are seven ideas to get you started. (And be sure to make enough to keep some for yourself!)

  1. Coconut Mint Soap
  2. Coffee Sugar Scrub
  3. Recycled Jewelry Magnets
  4. All-Purpose Spice Rub
  5. Flavored and Colored Sugar
  6. Punk Rock Cookie Jar Mix
  7. Lavender Bath Fizzies

Or write a poem: it doesn’t have to be good. Happy Make a Gift Day!

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has become a worldwide symbol of the holiday season. The lighting on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is celebrated with live musical performances at Rockefeller Plaza and broadcast across the globe and Internet.

What’s the story of this tree? Worldwide Weird Holidays investigates.

The Giving TreeRockefeller center christmas tree lighting

Gardiner, New York has one less resident today: a 10-ton, 78-foot-tall Norway Spruce we’ll call Bruce. Bruce comes to us courtesy of a very large saw and the Asendorf family, who’d enjoyed his company on their front lawn for over 40 years. After nearly chopping him down for firewood last year, they contacted Rockefeller Center’s head gardener and chief Christmas tree hunter, Erik Pauzé. He visited, liked what he saw and Bruce’s fate was decided.

On Friday, Bruce was cut down and loaded with the help of a 280-ton hydraulic crane and fifteen giant-tree specialists onto a custom-made telescoping trailer which can stretch to 100 feet and accommodate a tree up to 125 feet tall, although the width of New York City streets limits the height to 110 feet.

rockefeller center christmas tree lighting

Bruce was then bound like Gulliver and taken from his home in the middle of the night, traveling toward New York City on a route carefully plotted by a committee of local and city planners, under the watchful eye of a police escort.

rockefeller center christmas tree

Once at the Rockefeller Center,  the same crane that had loaded him onto the trailer was used to fix Bruce into place by skewering his trunk onto a steel spike. Guy wires were attached to Bruce’s midsection to hold him upright and scaffolding was erected to assist workers in draping him with over 30,000 lights strung on more than five miles of electrical wire. Since 2007, the tree has been “green” (evergreen?), using LED lights.

The StarRockefeller center christmas tree lighting star

Bruce will have a fabulous, if hefty, headpiece. In 2004, the old fiberglass star decorated with gold leaf was replaced by the Swarovski Star, designed by German artist Michael Hammers. It weighs 550 pounds, is 9.5 feet in diameter and sports 25,000 crystals with a million facets. In 2009, Hammers decided to upgrade the star’s lighting system by adding 720 tiny white LEDs and 3,000 feet of wire to the star’s interior, which were then connected to 44 circuit boards.

That’s a lot of look.


Although the official Christmas tree tradition began in 1933, the year 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened, the practice began during its Depression-era construction, when workers decorated a smaller twenty-foot-high balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve of 1931, according to Daniel Okrent’s Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center

rockefeller center christmas tree lighting history

In the photo above, construction workers receive their paychecks next to the Christmas tree they’d set up on the Rockefeller Center site. Pauzé estimates from the number of tree rings that Bruce is approximately 80 years old, so he was likely a sapling in 1931.

Visiting Hours

If you’d like to see Bruce get lit up like a, well, you know, make your way to Rockefeller Plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues a little before 9 pm. Expect a lot of company, many security restrictions and possible rain.

You won’t be allowed to bring umbrellas, backpacks or large bags, per the NYPD. The streets surrounding Rockefeller Center will be closed from 3 pm until after the ceremony.  Highly armed officers will be patrolling the area–only as a precaution, not because of any credible threat, according to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

“It’s there really to make people feel more secure. We’re asking them to be aware but to enjoy and feel safe. We’ll worry about security. They should just enjoy themselves,” he said Tuesday. Okay then.

visual approximation of Bruce

Bruce will be lit until midnight tonight, then from 5:30 a.m.-midnight daily and is expected to receive up to 750,000 visitors per day. On January 6, 2016, his lights will be doused forever at 8 pm and the process of removing him from his final perch will begin.

His remains will be donated to Habitats for Humanity. Those who benefit will never know how famous their house’s sturdy timber once was. I’d like to think that’s how Bruce would have wanted it.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays