January 19th National Tin Can Day

Can you imagine the world without tin cans? I’ll bet you think they have been around forever, I did, but it was not until the early 1800’s that the idea was even thought about. Now England is given credit for creating the tin can but it was French born Philipee Henri de Girard that actually invented the tin can.

The idea of canning food came from Nicholas Appertin, another Frenchman, in 1809. I am assuming both men were in the UK at the time, or maybe their work was being funded through someone from the UK. Hard to tell now. The first patent, though, did go to Englishman Peter Durand in 1810.

The United States soon followed Europe, or maybe not that soon, in 1825 when Ezra Daggett and Thomas Kinsett claimed the American patent on the tin can. Since  then, the tin can has been advanced in it’s quality and safety. The original cans were sealing with lead that surely led to lead poisoning.

In fact, I had a distant relative that began serving the British troops in South Africa with meat canned by companies in the UK. He poisoned thousands of troops, many of whom died. He quickly moved to the US and I actually have some of his furniture in my home. I am sure, at least I hope, that he did not do it on purpose.

The first can opener was invented in 1858 by Ezra Warner which makes me wonder… did they just not open the can before that!?! That could explain how the soldiers in South Africa got poisoned if they were served meat that had been sealed in lead for 33 years!

How to celebrate – Admire the advanced manufacturing of the tin can. Count how many tin cans you have in your home. Learn how to can your own food.

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December 26th Boxing Day

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

December 22nd National Date Nut Bread Day

Another food day for the holidays, this one is pretty good though! It’s National Date Nut Bread Day, a sort of desert, sort of snack, sort of meal kinda thing. That means you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner… or all three.

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It all starts with dates, originally harvested in the Middle East as far back as 6,000 B.C.. Dates are not prunes, they just seem like they are. Actually dates are pretty sweet, chewy and, by themselves, good for you. A true fruit of the dessert.

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Next come the nuts. Walnuts, pecans, practically any nut you choose except for peanuts. Peanuts are not actually a nut, they are a legume. Besides, a lot of people are allergic to peanuts, as well as tree nuts and any other sort of nut. So you may want to skip the nuts and just make date bread if you have family members who are allergic to nuts. (See how complicated it gets!)

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Anyway, here’s a recipe for you if you care to make it for your family. It is believed Date Nut Bread was first made in England. Probably after the crusades when England sent troops to the Middle East. Anyway, some how they ended up with dates and naturally hat led to date nut bread.

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Add a little cream cheese and you have a meal fit for a King, like the King of England! I can just imagine King Arthur sitting around the round table munching on some date nut bread with his knights.

How to celebrate – Make some date nut bread. Grow your own dates. Gather around your own round table.

November 29th Square Dance Day

Is there anything more American than the square dance!?! Well, yes because the square dance actually comes from the Irish, English and Scottish! However, they do not use a caller for those required directions are truly American.

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Allemande, Promenade, Courtesy, Circulate and Do Sa Do (Or Do Si Do) are all popular commands for the square dance. If they do not sound familiar to you, you probably do not square dance.

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You can see the origins in Medieval dance, though their squares were more rectangles. The way royals often showed their royalty by being the only ones who knew the steps to the dance. Since America has no royalty, we use the caller to tell us what to do.

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Generally accompanied by country or folk music with a quick beat, this dance style is both fun and rigorous. It can also be painful for those who do not know the steps. (Toes are likely to be stepped on)

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I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Claus square dance? Perhaps it could become the traditional Christmas dance! It generally is colorful enough and it is a celebration. An new invention, The Christmas Square Dance!

How to celebrate – Learn how to square dance. Learn how to become a caller. Invent a rock and roll square dance.

November 5th Gunpowder Day

If you were a Catholic in 1603 England life got pretty rough for you. King James came into power and decided that the Catholic religion could no longer be practiced in the UK and there was a severe punishment to those who did. Most Catholics continued to practice but in silence and hiding in the shadows.

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Guy Fawkes was a Catholic and took exception to the King’s commands. He Formed a secret group of believers and formed the Gunpowder Conspiracy in which they planned to blow up Parliament with some well placed barrels of gunpowder underneath the House of Commons. This is also known as Guy Fawkes Day.

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The plan went well, the barrels were put in place and ready to be ignited when Parliament met. There was enough powder in place to not only blow up the Parliament, the House of Commons and probably the entire block.

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The problem for Fawkes, and his followers, was that the secret was not all that much of a secret. The gunpowder was found, the conspirators captured and the whole plan foiled. Though it did come close to being completed, it did not come off with the bang expected.

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Imagine if it had been successful. The King was visiting Parliament that day so the entire government in England would have been blown to kingdom come. The date was remembered, and now that religious freedom reigns again in the UK, it is celebrated with fireworks.

How to celebrate – Set off some fireworks of your own (please do this away from people who are not aware of the day). Wear a Guy Fawkes mask, which has become very popular. Visit a Catholic church.

April 9th National Winston Churchill Day

There have only been a few people in history that have been given an honorary citizenship in America. Winston Churchill was one of them. We know his life was filled with success, and often failure, but he is one of history’s most loved characters… and sometimes most hated.

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Starting his career as a young Army Officer he went on to serve as a politician and a writer, leading the British to failure at Gallipoli during World War 1 to saving an entire world during World War 2. How? By keeping England free until America’s might could turn the war around in the allies favor.

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Born in 1874, November 30th, Churchill would spend his life serving the people of England as Prime Minister from 1940-45 and then again from 1951-55. His means did not always seem to meet the needs but we were never in his shoes so while it’s easy to judge, it’s more difficult to convict.

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To not recognize what Churchill did to earn his citizenship from John F. Kennedy in 1963 would be a failure to see how history has been shaped by those who truly did make a difference. Kennedy knew this, the US Senate that voted on the citizenship knew this, let us not forget.

How to celebrate- Read a book about Churchill. Read a book about World War 2. Look up Chuchill’s quotes.

February 10th National Umbrella Day

The umbrella was not originally designed to keep us dry, it was created to provide shade. And that was thousands of years ago, probably in the Middle East where sunburns were a real problem!

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It provided shade, not only protection and in some cases could have dropped the temperature by as much as ten degrees. It did eventually become protection from the rain, snow and anything else that might fall on you except for maybe an anvil.

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In England it became a fashion statement and still is. The styles and shapes have changed but the purpose stays the same. The curved handle was made just to fit over the arm so that it was easy to carry when not in use.

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Such a simple tool that has so many uses and makes such a fashion statement.

How to celebrate – If you don’t have one, get an umbrella. Find an umbrella that fits your personality. Stay dry!