Hard Candy has been with us for years, though originally it was only available to the wealthy and privileged. It is simple enough to make, simply put it is 100% sugar boiled at 320 degrees F and then poured into molds allowing it to dry into what ever shape the mold is made of, and adding whatever flavors and colors you want to add.
The very first known hard candies to be made were lemon drops, and they are still popular today. Obviously the original recipe called for sugar and lemon juice, and that was about it. Over the years we have learned to add all sorts of flavoring to candy making it available in nearly any flavor you can imagine.
Peppermint came next and has been a favorite particularly around the holidays in shapes of candy canes and peppermint fluff balls. Until the late 17th century, the candies were too expensive for the everyday person. As sugar became less expensive the price of the candy dropped, making it affordable to nearly anyone. It actually probably made life better for the nearly 400 companies that opened producing candy, expanding the industry by leaps and bounds.
For years Werther’s Originals led the list of candies as the most popular, and also earning the highest paycheck. In 2015, Jolly Rancher took the crown away from Werther’s. Other popular hard candies include, Dum Dums, Life Savers, Tootsie Roll Pops, and Charms Blow Pops. In Japan it is now very popular to put insects inside the hard candy giving you something to look at while enjoying the tasty treat.
How to celebrate – Find your favorite hard candy and enjoy it. Buy, or make, some molds and try making your own candy (be careful though as the boiling sugar is very sticky and can burn really, really badly). Make sure you leave a candy bowl out during the holidays.
Today you can pretend to be a time traveler. Well you have to pretend because time travel isn’t possible… at least yet. The idea of time travel isn’t anything new. It first appears in Hindu mythology followed up by a mention in the Talmud in Japan. Even Charles Dickens used the idea of time travel in “A Christmas Carol”. The spirits of Christmas past, present and future involved the idea of traveling back, and forward, in time to see where Scrooge had been and where he would wind up if he did not change his ways. It did not win a day of its own until 2007 via the Koala Wallop Online Community.
Perhaps you could travel back in time and become a Knight, fighting dragons and rescuing fair maidens all over the land. Or maybe you could be one of the fair maidens!
Or maybe you could be at the birth of our nation, rowing George Washington to his victory at Trenton. Of course, you’d have to be careful not to change anything around you because it could change history itself! Maybe you could be one of Washington’s female spies, but you’d have to be careful not to divulge anything that might actually alter time with information you found out.
And then there is the Civil War era where you could be a General in charge of an army. You could fight only those battles that you knew your side won because you read the history of the conflict. Of course, that might change the past as well.
And if you are going to travel in time you can go forward as well and back. With the way we are treating the earth we may need to find another planet to live on. If you travel forward in time you could find a planet that could house us all and the savior of mankind. But you’ll have to wait until we figure out how to travel in time. To bad you can’t go forward in time to see if we ever figure it out!
How to celebrate – Imagine living in your favorite era. Imagine the good, and the bad, because not everything will be perfect. Read a book about traveling in time. The odd thing about that is that a lot of the books written in the past about time travel have actually seen a lot of what they envisioned come true. Watch one of the many movies or television shows about time travel.
It is appropriate to celebrate Make Up Your Mind Day on New Years Eve. Going into the New Year you really should have a plan and the only way to have a plan is to make up your mind about what it is you want to do and how you want to go about making it happen.
We all have to make choices in our lives. Some are simple and easy to make, some are more difficult. Some of us like others to make those choices for us so we don’t want to be blamed or have the responsibility required to make those choices. Even when those choices are about personal conflict.
It is ha4rd to make a choice that could have a right or wrong effect. Should I have pizza or eggplant today is not really all that important. Should I marry someone and spend the rest of my life with them is. Sadly, today we treat something like getting married like we do choosing whether we are going to have pizza or eggplant.
Something like am I going to do drugs or not do drugs is a life changing choice. The truth is, once you start doing them, even the simple ones, make you a different person. Are you better or worse… I can’t say but you have made the choice to be someone other than who you are and who you were ever meant to be.
And the choices you make also effect those around you so try and keep them in mind as you make the choices you make. The New Year is coming, be all you can be and don’t settle for being something less, or more, than you are.
How to celebrate – Bring the New Year with those you love. Sometimes doing for someone else is doing for yourself. Choose wisely your choice to choose being wise.
It is the coming of the New Year and the time of year when we eat way too much food so we should really get to know the uses of Bicarbonate of Soda! Better known as Baking Soda that is used in baking, as a cleaner, a polish for silver, for heartburn after we have eaten too much and the Egyptians even used it for paint.
So as the year comes to a close it can help us get over eating too much and clean up our homes to prepare to meet the new year. It is one of the most useful mixtures we have ever been fortunate to develop. It is created by passing carbon dioxide and ammonia through what we know as common table salt.
Or you can mine it as Trona. I am still amazed how people find a use for things. Someone actually had to figure out what bicarbonate of soda was good for. I mean, how did somebody figure out that bicarbonate of soda was good for heartburn? And what else did they try to use it for that failed?
Most of us know bicarbonate of soda as Arm and Hammer, a company that has produced baking soda for longer than any of us can remember. I assume they are continuing to test it for additional uses as well. Who knows, maybe someday they will discover it cures the common cold!
How to celebrate – Find all the uses of Baking Soda. Try making your own bicarbonate of soda. Check out the history of Arm and Hammer.
“The soup that won the war!” Now you might wonder what war and how a soup saved that war!?! Good questions. You might call it the most American soup, or stew, ever created and it was created because there was nothing else left to create!
Well, it seems that during the American Revolution the rebels, that would be the Continental Army, were starving to death. Farmers were selling their crops to the British Army because, well, they could pay for the food but that left the American’s without much food.
The recipe came from Philadelphia. Well, sort of anyway… there wasn’t a recipe really. It basically included nearly anything one had around them, thrown into a pot and cooked until tender. The flavors varied depending on what you put in it… the key was adding pepper! Black pepper, red pepper, any kind of pepper one could find.
As stated, one of the original ingredients included tripe… the stomach of cattle. No one probably would have eaten it had they known what tripe was but since they didn’t, they enjoyed it as much as any starving person could. And in the harsh winter weather, the pepper kept them warm!
I did not say warm and happy, but warm. There is a difference. Anyway, Washington won the war, with the help of the French who surprisingly didn’t eat a lot of Pepper Pot Soup. Here’s a Pepper Pot recipe for you. Oh, and you don’t have to use tripe… unless you want to.
How to celebrate – Dress your family up like the Continental Army and feed them Pepper Pot Soup. Visit Philadelphia. Go to Valley Forge.
“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire insides delightful. And since we’ve no place to go…” let’s play cards! Actually cards are pretty cool any time of the year, but there is just something about playing cards when it’s nasty outside that really helps to pass time.
The whole family can get involved or it could be just the kids, or just the parents! There are so many variations of cards that’s you can find something for nearly everyone. They don’t get in the way of your snacks or drink, you can carry on a conversation and still play the game.. maybe not very well, but that’s not the important part!
Often playing cards is just an excuse to get your friends or family together when you really don’t have a reason otherwise. You can make the games as complicated or as simple as you want. The games can be short or long and you can play them alone or with an entire crowd of people.
Cards were supposedly invented in 9th century China during the Tang Dynasty. It seems like nearly everything came from China (Just like today)! So, where did the Kings, Queens and Jacks come from? Shouldn’t they be Emperors, Empress and a Prince? Maybe they were changed when they got to Europe.
At any rate, if you do play cards today and happen to get a Royal Flush, play the lotto tonight.
How to celebrate – Play cards! Make up your own new card game! Design your own cards.
Did it snow for Christmas for you? Here in Florid it rarely snows, and even if it does it doesn’t stick around long enough to enjoy it. (Yes I know many of you up north do not enjoy the shoveling of the snow and the driving conditions it creates) But there is something beautiful about snow.
So for those of us that don’t get snow, making snow is the only option. Of course, most snowflakes we make are made out of paper and therefore do not hold up well in the rain. The main idea of a snowflake is that just like people, no two are exactly the same. So when you are making your snowflakes you need to keep this in mind.
Since the kids are out of school for the holidays (We aren’t allowed to call it Christmas anymore) this will give them something to do. The newness of the Christmas toys is probably over anyway and they need to be kept busy.
Now you can create your own way of making snowflakes. It really doesn’t matter. The point is not to make two of them the same. You can then hang them from the ceiling with different lengths of string and make it look like it is snowing all season long!
Every time you walk into the room where they are hanging and smile, remembering who and how they were created.
How to celebrate – Cut out some snowflakes. Pick a room to hang them from. Make them out of paper that glows in the dark.
Most people do not understand or even comprehend what Boxing Day is, that is unless they live in Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand or any f the former British commonwealths. That’s because it is primarily a British holiday… but maybe one the rest of us should share as well.
Boxing Day started somewhere in the Middle Ages when local merchants would “box” up food and fruit to give to their servants as a reward for their service over the year. It was also a time to give thanks for the bounty one had received and to share some of that with those in need.
It even included friendly games between those who held a station in life and those who did not. There is no written record of who won but I would hope the royalty and wealthy let the less fortunate win for a change.
So as we receive our fair share, and over, of Christmas gifts maybe we should “box” up those items we no longer need or use and give them to those less fortunate that ourselves. Even if we don’t feel charitable we can look at it as getting rid of the clutter in our homes!
It is what Jesus would have done after-all. So if you are celebrating his birth over Christmas, why not give as He would have afterwards.
How to celebrate – Celebrate Boxing Day. Box up those items you no longer use or want. Have left-overs for your Boxing Day meal.
It’s Christmas Day. It has so many means to so many people. The true meaning is, it’s the day of Christ’s birth. Now we don’t know the day He was born for sure but December 25th serves the point as well as any other day.
Today we give gifts, eat with our families and celebrate what is most important in our lives… even if we don’t celebrate it for the “right” reasons. The giving of gifts imitates the Three Wise Men giving gifts to Jesus. The tree the three symbols of Christianity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We have sort of made up the rest over the years. Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas, who was a real person that gave gifts to his village in the name of the Lord. He wasn’t fat either, Coca-Cola did that. No, not his drinking it, they just thought he looked better on the bottle if he was fat.
So today is a birthday celebration that all Christians celebrate. We all do it in our own way and that’s okay. I remember a Pastor telling me that he thought it was great to light up your lawn with every light you could manage to place. It lights up the night and shows all what you believe in, for the right… or the wrong… reasons.
How to celebrate – Have a Merry Christmas. Respect others beliefs. Celebrate the season.
Dec. 24th Eggnog Day
Here is another Christmas tradition that no one knows where it exactly came from. It is believed that an egg milk punch was served in medieval Europe for travelers because it was cold during the holiday seasons.
Over the years it has been flavored with different spices and alcohol. It is now traditionally served cold, still with flavors added. A lot of people wish it could be served year-round but then, it wouldn’t be so special at Christmas if it was.
How to celebrate – Have some eggnog. Figure out your own additions to your eggnog. Merry Christmas Eve.