weird and wacky holidays happening in December

December 8 is Take It in the Ear Day

What the heck is Take It in the Ear Day?

We don’t know who came up with Take It in the Ear Day, why they did or what it means. We can’t find any reference to its origin; it’s kept alive by holiday sites. (Full disclosure: we are now contributing to that.)take it in the ear day

“Taking it in the ear” sounds, at best, uncomfortable and very possibly unsanitary. At worst, if it’s missing an “r,” as some say, it’s illegal in Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. (Those states refuse to follow the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that such laws are unconstitutional.)

How can I celebrate Take It in the Ear Day?

Here are a few fun ear-centric activities to try:

At a gathering, intone, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” The force of their tepid laughter will indicate the depth of their fondness for you. Someone who is embarrassed for you is most assuredly your friend.

Whisper sweet nothings into your true love’s ear. It should go without saying that this person, while not necessarily loving you back, at the very least knows you and will not be alarmed by your approach. (Otherwise, pepper spray and restraining orders may ensue. Also, lay off the garlic.)

Call a friend and listen. (Say hello first, of course, or it could get confusing.) Sometimes all someone needs is a sympathetic ear. You can also gift that honor to others by talking their ears off. They may never appreciate your sacrifice so we’ll say it: Well done.

Pierce your ear(s). Know when to say when, though. If you go to the beach and a metal detector dragging an old guy attaches itself to your head, you may need to cut back on your ear gear. (A note about ear gauges: nobody likes floppy earlobes except Buddha and plastic surgeons.)

Make a pair of Spock ears in your microwave. Instructions here.

Our Favorite Ear Quotes

The ear is the avenue to the heart.
Voltaire

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.
William Shakespeare

I ain’t the same person I was when I bit that guy’s ear off.
Mike Tyson

Just do it!

While we aren’t sure what “it” is, we do know that today should be fun. Remember this old adage: Never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. If you can do that, you either have a tiny elbow or a huge elephantine ear–or both–and you deserve a holiday of your own. (Call us!)

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 7 is National Cotton Candy Day

Today is National Cotton Candy Day. The confection dates back to the 1400s, when it was called “spun sugar.” Producing it by hand was a costly and laborious task, making it unavailable to the general public. Four men—two of them dentists—helped usher in the modern process that would make it a summertime favorite at carnivals, fairs and the circus.  So why isn’t National Cotton Candy Day celebrated in July or August? We have no idea.

Here’s what we do know. cotton candy dayDentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton invented the first electric spinning machine in 1897 and were granted a patent two years later.

They introduced “fairy floss” at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Curious visitors bought more than 68,000 boxes at 25 cents apiece, spending a total of over $17,000.

In 1900, Thomas Patton patented a gas-fired rotating plate that allowed him to form threads of caramelizing sugar on a fork. It debuted at the Ringling Bros. Circus and was an instant hit with children, if not their mothers, who had to clean up the sticky mess left behind on hands, hair and clothes.

Although he never received a patent, dentist Josef Delarose Lascaux built his own machine and sold it to patients at his Louisiana office, where he could cater to sweet tooths and the inevitable cavities that followed. He is widely credited with changing the name to “cotton candy” in 1921.

cotton-candy dayIn 1949, Gold Medal Products launched a version with a spring base. It improved upon its predecessors by being more reliable, less likely to break down or overheat. Variations of this device are used to this day.

The next time you buy cotton candy, which starts out three times the size of your head but condenses seemingly instantaneously to a gritty coating on the roof of your mouth and a pastel crust in your hair, you can thank these four men for making us crave this diabolically delicious treat.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

December 6 is Microwave Oven Day

Today is Microwave Oven Day. We don’t know who created it or why they chose December 6th over any other day of the year. Our theory? Since it falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, two holidays filled with labor-intensive meal preparation, maybe it’s supposed to remind us to take a break from complicated cuisine. So relax and take a bite of history about the accidental invention that changed the way the world cooks.

During World War II, Percy Spencer was testing magnetrons for use in Allied radar sets when he noticed that the candy bar in his pocket had begun to melt. A lesser man might have been alarmed, invested in lead-lined britches and called it a day.

But Spencer’s innate curiosity drove him to conduct a series of tests using, among other things, popcorn and eggs. He concluded that the energy of electromagnetic waves produces heat by agitating water, fat and sugar molecules, causing food to cook more quickly and evenly than by other means.

Spencer’s employer, Raytheon, filed a patent on October 8, 1945, for the “high-frequency dielectric heating apparatus.” In 1947, it introduced the first commercially available microwave oven, which stood almost six feet tall, weighed 750 pounds and cost $3,000. It was mainly used by ships and hotels.

microwave oven dayIn 1955, Raytheon and a company called Tappan collaborated on the RL-1, the first microwave oven designed for home use. At $1,295, it was out of reach of most consumers. Only 34 were manufactured the first year; a total of 1,396 were sold by the time production of the model ended in 1964.

Raytheon acquired Amana Refrigeration in 1965. Two years later, Amana launched the first countertop oven, called the Radarange, retailing at $495.  Its compact size was made possible by the development in Japan of smaller, more efficient electron tubes that improved upon the magnetron design.microwave oven dayIn response to a 1968 study which found microwaves sometimes leaked out of ovens, federal safety standards were set in 1971. According to the FDA, microwave ovens must meet a requirement limiting maximum radiation leakage to 5 milliwatts per square centimeter at a distance of 5 centimeters (1.97 inches) from the external surface of the oven.

Per a New York Times article on the subject:

Manufacturers are also required to line the doors of ovens with metal mesh that prevents microwaves from escaping, and to use a type of door latch that stops the production of microwaves whenever the latch is released.

Those features greatly limit exposure to levels of radiation that are already low. And since the radiation levels drop sharply with increasing distance, the levels two feet away are about one-hundredth the amount at two inches.

Over ninety percent of all U.S. homes now own a microwave oven. There have been no confirmed injuries. In fact, despite his cooked huevos, Percy Spencer fathered three children and died of natural causes in 1970 at the age of 76. (By the way, Spencer received a one-time payment of $2 for the patent to his invention, the same amount Raytheon paid all its inventors.)microwave oven day

So make a bowl of popcorn and celebrate Microwave Oven Day. Still, when you do, you might want to stand back and make sure you close the door. It’s the only way to be sure.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

December 5 is Krampus

KrampusOn Santa’s List Day, we suggested that children who learn the list of who’s naughty and nice has been finalized might be tempted to misbehave in the remaining days before Christmas, with no fear of reprisal. Krampus, today’s holiday, should thoroughly dispel that idea.

Krampus may have originated as a pagan figure in Europe’s Alpine regions, becoming associated with St. Nicholas in the 17th century. The word Krampus is derived from the Old High German word for “claw”(Krampen). He is a goat-headed devil with fangs, a pointed tongue and two cloven hooves or one hoof and one human foot.

Unlike the Santa Claus of North American tradition, St. Nicholas only pays attention to the good children. He brings Krampus along on his rounds to deal with little miscreants for whom receiving a lump of coal is the least of their worries. He carries chains, birch branches or a whip to mete out punishment and sometimes a sack or basket to capture bad children so he can drown them, eat them or deliver them to Hell.

Europeans have been exchanging greeting cards featuring Krampus for two centuries. Greetings from the Krampus (Gruß vom Krampus) cards feature humorous verse and depict the devil looming over children or pursuing buxom women. Modern cards tend to have a cuter, less menacing version of Krampus.

Although its tastefulness and propriety have been questioned during the past century, the holiday’s popularity has grown; celebrations have cropped up all over North America, including Toronto, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We assume that the successful completion of chores has skyrocketed in those towns.

Happy Krampus!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays