Posts

April 26 is National Pretzel Day

Today is National Pretzel Day. In 2003, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell dedicated April 26th to the snack food that continues to be a major contributor to the state’s economy.

By the 18th century, when German immigrants introduced them to the people of Pennsylvania, pretzels already had a long history. One popular origin story states that an Italian monk invented them in 610 AD to reward children who learned their prayers. He fashioned them to look like arms crossing the chest, which was supposedly the pose used to pray. There is no evidence to support any part of that but the legend persists.

The Hortus deliciarum, a 12th-century medieval encyclopedia compiled in an abbey in the German Alsace region, which is now part of France, contains the earliest known depiction of a pretzel.

National Pretzel Day

A prayer book commissioned in the 15th century by Catherine of Cleves is considered a Dutch masterpiece. In this portrait, St. Bartholomew is surrounded by pretzels.

National Pretzel Day

The next time you grab a pretzel, take a moment to appreciate its design and heritage before chomping into it. Have a happy National Pretzel Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

International Pancake Day

Today is International Pancake Day, but it’s not about eating pancakes. It celebrates a race that was first run in 1445 by housewives in Olney, England. Since 1950, the townsfolk compete against each other and the women of Liberal, Kansas.

According to legend, the tradition dates back to 1445 in Olney. A housewife was making pancakes, hurrying to use up the cooking fat forbidden during Lent. When she heard the church bells ring calling the townspeople to the Shrove Tuesday service, she donned the headscarf required in church and ran there, carrying the pan and wearing her apron.international pancake day

It made such an impression that other women in the congregation duplicated her run the following year, turning it into a race. The person who made it to the church steps first would flip her pancake and receive a blessing and a “Kiss of Peace” from the bell-ringer. Falling as it did on the day before Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and prayer, the race gave rise to a full day of celebration.

The local tradition has continued ever since. There have been lapses in its observance through the centuries, but the race has never been completely forgotten. One of those lapses occurred during World War II. Reverend Canon Ronald Collins, Vicar of Olney, revived the race in 1948. While tidying up a cupboard, he discovered photos taken in the 1920s and 1930s of women running with pans.

Excited to bring back the ancient custom, he asked for volunteers for the race. Thirteen runners participated that year. The townsfolk embraced the practice anew, happy to honor Olney’s colorful history and enjoy themselves with a day of festivities.

Pancake Day Jumps the Pond

In 1950, Liberal, Kansas Jaycee president R.J. Leete saw magazine photographs of Olney women racing each other to the church. He wanted to start a similar tradition, so he contacted Reverend Collins and challenged the women of Olney to race against the women of Liberal.

Olney accepted the challenge and the two towns have competed every year since, exchanging prizes and keeping score via a live Web link. (Headscarves and aprons are still required.)

In the time-honored American tradition of doing everything bigger, the holiday in Liberal has expanded into a four-day event, with pancake eating and flipping contests, a parade, a beauty pageant and a talent show.

As of 2015, Liberal has won 37 times; Olney, 28.  In 1980, the scores were thrown out because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney. The results of today’s race will be available here later today. We wish good luck to all the runners and a happy International Pancake Day to us all.

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

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!