weird and wacky holidays happening in December

Forefathers’ Day

forefathers' day

Forefathers’ Day commemorates the landing of the Mayflower and the pilgrims’ subsequent founding of Plymouth Colony in North America. The ship arrived on December 11, 1620. So why is the anniversary celebrated on December 21 or December 22?

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII announced his Gregorian calendar would replace the Julian calendar introduced in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar.  The Roman emperor’s system had miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes.

This concerned the pope because it meant that Easter, traditionally observed on March 21, fell further away from the spring equinox with each passing year. Ten days were subtracted to realign the seasons with the calendar. The beginning of the new year was also moved to January 1 from March 25.

England and the colonies didn’t convert to the new system until September 1752, causing the month’s calendar to look like this:

 cal 9 1752
  September 1752
 S  M Tu  W Th  F  S
       1  2 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Benjamin Franklin wrote of the change, “It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”

When the Old Colony Club of Plymouth inaugurated Forefathers’ Day in 1769, it mistakenly reset the anniversary of the ship’s landing to December 22. (Perhaps it utilized the 11-day difference appropriate to its own century.)

Founders' Day

Members still observe the holiday on December 22, wearing top hats and marching down Plymouth’s main street led by a drummer. After firing a small cannon at the end of the route, they return to their club for breakfast and toasts to the Pilgrims.

Other groups like the General Society of Mayflower Descendants observe the occasion, sometimes called Compact Day, on December 21, as does the Pilgrim Society, a group formed in 1820 that serves a traditional dinner of succotash, stew, corn, turnips, and beans.

No matter how or when you choose to celebrate it, have a happy Forefathers’ Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 20 is Mudd Day

Today is Mudd Day. It commemorates the birthday of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was accused of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln and hiding his killer, John Wilkes Booth, after the fact.

Mudd Day

Dr. Samuel Mudd

After killing Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Booth fractured his fibula when he jumped from the president’s box seat to the stage of the Ford Theater and fled the scene. He and co-conspirator David Herold rode on horseback to Dr. Mudd’s house, arriving in the middle of the night. Mudd splinted Booth’s leg and let the men rest in a bedroom upstairs. They were at the house for at least twelve hours before leaving in late afternoon to continue their flight.

(The fugitives were cornered two weeks later in a Virginia tobacco shed by Union cavalry. Herold surrendered. Booth refused. Soldiers set the shed on fire and shot Booth as he tried to escape the flames.)

It’s possible Mudd didn’t know about the assassination. He went into town to run errands during the day of April 15th and certainly would have learned the news then. But he failed to report Booth’s visit for another twenty-four hours.

Authorities found Mudd’s hesitation suspicious. His inaction certainly allowed the men more time to escape. Under interrogation, he changed his story several times. He may have done so due to the stress of being questioned. He was arrested on April 26th, coincidentally the same day Booth was killed and Herold taken prisoner.

On June 29, 1865, Mudd was found guilty of conspiring to murder President Lincoln. He was sentenced to life in prison, escaping the death penalty by one vote. Four of the convicted, including Herold, were hanged eight days later.

Mudd was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson and released from prison in 1869. He died of pneumonia on January 10, 1883. Despite ongoing efforts to have his record expunged, Mudd’s conviction has never been overturned. A Facebook page is dedicated to clearing his name and his home has become a museum.

*****

One thing is clear, however. The phrase “your name is mud” has no connection to Dr. Mudd. Use of the word “mud” to label things as worthless or unwholesome dates back as far as the 16th century. Its usage was later applied to people, as documented in a 1703 description of London’s low life, Hell upon Earth:

Mud, a Fool, or thick skull Fellow.

The following citation appeared in an 1823 dictionary of slang terms.

Mud – a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!’ ejaculated upon the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader in the Courier.

Oddly, “mud” was also used as a general intensifier. There are many published examples of “as fat as mud,” “as rich as mud,” “as sick as mud” etc. Eventually, the meanings coalesced into an epithet that insulted a person’s worth and identity, and sometimes carried a threat of violence. “Your name is mud” has been in use ever since.

Happy Mudd Day, we think.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

National Oatmeal Muffin Day

National Oatmeal Muffin DayToday is National Oatmeal Muffin Day. We don’t know who created it, but we do know how to celebrate it.

The following recipe comes from Anna Newell Jones. Her site, And Then We Saved, is an incredible resource of practical advice about how to reduce debt and enjoy daily life. She says it’s the only oatmeal muffin recipe you’ll ever need because it’s so adaptable.

Super Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (almond, soy or rice milk works great too)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats or 1 cup old-fashioned oats (off-brand works perfectly and they are no different from the name-brand)
  • 1 egg (or 1/4 cup of mashed banana or 1 tablespoon flax seed mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of water)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°f (220°c). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and oats. Soak for 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and oil; stir in oatmeal mixture. In a third bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients, just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups until cups are 2/3 full.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Add raisins, nuts, berries, chocolate chips, or anything in your cupboard that sounds tasty and inspires you. Anna likes to add chopped walnuts covered in brown sugar and cinnamon to the center or as a topping. What are your favorite add-ins?

Have a delicious and fun National Oatmeal Muffin Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Bake Cookies Day

Best Chocolate Chip CookiesToday is Bake Cookies Day. So, you know, preheat the oven. Here’s a tried-and-true formula from Allrecipes.com:

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Dora
“Crisp edges, chewy middles.”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

Happy Bake Cookies Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays