April 26th National Pretzel Day

When we think of pretzels we often think Germany, and beer. Well, the world’s oldest snack food actually came out of France around 610 AD when Monks created the treat to represent children’s folded arms while in prayer. You can get pretzels salted, and unsalted, and in numerous different flavors today and generally speaking, while not exactly healthy, they aren’t all that bad for us. You can get hard pretzels or soft pretzels, big pretzels or small pretzels, you can even get them mixed with other snacks like popcorn, peanuts and raisins. (And you don’t have to have beer but it does make them better)

How to celebrate – Have some pretzels. Learn how to make your own pretzels. Become a Monk.

March 20th Snowman Burning Day

March 20th Snowman Burning Day

Here’s a fun day! It’s time to burn any snowmen that might still be around. Now, it’s nearly impossible to burn a real snowman, so build your own made out of straw, or wood, or anything that will burn. That’s what they do in Germany for the “Rose Sunday Festival”. It is meant to mark the changes of the season, and the end of winter. Is a snowman made out of anything other than snow really a snowman? Well, I guess it’s all in the way you look at it.

How to celebrate – Look for a snowman. Build your own straw man. Break out the hot dogs and marshmallows and throw a snowman burning party.

June 6th D-Day

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156,000 soldiers landed on Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches to reclaim Europe from Nazi Germany on June 6th, 1944. Thousands would give their all on this day, Canadians, British, French and Americans. It was the one day in the early part of June that had clear enough weather the Allies could actually attempt the landing, and an attempt it was. The Germans had built up the beach defenses to an extreme and though the Allies were fairly sure they could hold some of the beaches it really was done on a hope and a prayer. The landings were preceded by parachute drops and the resistance causing as much havoc as they could. The landing, requested by the Russian, did succeed however and it was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.

How to celebrate – Remember all those who served in World War 2 (there aren’t many left). Visit the beaches where many of the wrecks have been left reminding us of the day. Read a book written from those who survived the day.

May 4th Star Wars Day

May 4th Star Wars Day

We all know Star Wars; Han Solo, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Jedi warriors, etc., etc, etc. But did you know today became a holiday by mistake? The famous line, “May the fourth be with you” came from a post by the Conserbative Party when Margaret Thatcher won the Prime Minister seat. But now Star Wars fans all over have adopted it as a holiday!

How to celebrate – Watch any of the 200 or so Star Wars movies today. Dress up like your favorite character from the series. Visit a Star Wars museum.

February 2nd Ground Hog Day

Today we celebrate Ground Hogs Day. It’s also Candlemas which somehow is related. Ground Hog day was started in Germany apparently, coming to America in the 1800’s where it is celebrate every year on February 2nd, telling us whether winter is over or will extend later into year. In Pennsylvania (Where the Germans mainly settled) the Ground Hog is called Punxsutawney Phil. If he sees his shadow then winter will continue, if he does not, winter is over.

There is a poem that supposedly explains it.

If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight, if Candlemas brings clouds and rain, winter will not come again.

Phil isn’t the only ground hog though. Ohio has Buckeye Chuck and Georgia has General Beauregard Lee.

How to celebrate – Go see Phil, Chuck or Lee. Celebrate winter! Enjoy Spring.

October 7th Octoberfest

Well if you have been waiting all year to celebrate Octoberfest today is the last day of the 2 week festival so you’d better get busy! That means a lot of beer! This year it started on September 2nd and ends today, October 7th. (Ah, isn’t that more than two weeks?) Oh well, we are using the German calendar anyway.

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The celebration has spread all over the world but it is still a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghansen. (Personally I think she married him just to get a new name. I know I would!)  Their marriage was celebrated in the Munich area for two weeks.

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That was originally October 12th, 1810. Well, any reason for a good party I suppose. But it’s not all about beer. Everything you admire about Germany is celebrated during this festival. The food, the costumes and, of course, the beverages.

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The dates change. That must have really made it difficult on Ludwig to remember the anniversary of his marriage. Seriously though, the music and fun is worth the wait, whatever date it may be and if you do happen to have enough beer you won’t miss those two weeks anyway, even if they take a month or more to go by.

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And look at the really cool hats you get to wear too!

How to celebrate – Visit a German Octoberfest. Throw your own German festival. Have a beer and a pretzel.

July 22nd National Rat Catcher’s Day

Well, here’s a day that comes once a year but probably should be celebrated much more, National Rat Catcher’s Day. And while one might think it’s about catching rats it really isn’t.

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The world’s best rat catcher is no doubt the cat… though my dogs pretty good at it to because the cats taught her. I doubt many humans could keep up with natures real rat catcher, the cat. Of course they torture them before they kill them, that’s kinda cruel, but again, not really what this is is all about.

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This is about the Pied Piper of Hameling and it comes to us from his efforts in 1284 Germany. Naturally in 1284 people were worried about the plague, which most knew came from rats that lived in their community. Well it turns out it really wasn’t actually from the rats but from the fleas on the rats! Anyway, the Pied Piper was hired to get the rats out of a village town. When he accomplished this feat, by playing on his fife and leading the rats to the river where they drown.

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When he returned, the mayor of the town refused to pay him for his work. This supposedly happened on June 26th, 1284. Well he returned to the town, We think on July 22nd, and led the children of the city out to the river exactly as he had the rats. Now there are several versions of this story but the real ending is that he led the children to the river where they did exactly the same as the rats.

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This led to the the town instantly regret of not paying the piper for his services. So while we think rat catchers as what it’s all about it is actually all about… paying the piper!

How to celebrate – Let your cats out to do what they do today! Make sure you live up to any agreement you have made. Read the story of the Pied Piper of Hameling.

April 26th National Pretzel Day

Today is a day we can really sink our teeth into. It’s National Pretzel Day, hurrah! Well, hurrah for those of us who like pretzels. Hard or soft, with or without mustard, cheese or any topping  you prefer. They are pretty good without any topping either.

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Pretzels first came on the scene apparently in Southern France around 610 AD. Monks were trying to make what would look like children’s hands praying by baking thin strips of dough twisted into the shape of praying hands. I’m not sure they got it but what they did start was probably the world’s first snack treat!

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Since then, pretzels seem to appear in nearly any shape to can imagine, even the boring straight thin kind. (They are still pretty good but not as much fun.) They go great with beer or soda, or nearly any beverage of your choice.  Better yet, when served plain, they aren’t all that fattening either!

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Now if you have a pretzel factory, or place or store or whatever you call it, they often give away free pretzels today to celebrate. Or if you prefer, you can even make your own by using this recipe.

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How to celebrate – Have a pretzel! Go to a baseball game and…. have a pretzel! Have a pretzel party with different shapes and dips or toppings.

May 8th V.E. Day

Today marks the end of the war in Europe, May 8th, 1945. The actual day was supposed to be May 9th but when the press caught wind of the day the U.S. and U.K. decided to change the date to the 8th. Russia has kept the date of May 9th originally set.

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The Third Reich had started the war in the 1930’s, it is no doubt one of the darkest times in history. The destruction in Europe and the loss of life still leaves it’s mark on society. Bombed out buildings and destroyed relics of the Normandy invasion still show themselves, some on purpose, some still under repair even nearly 70 years later.

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War always shows the best of man, and the worst, the heroes and the criminals, the victims and those who profit from war. Germany, and her allies, actually surrendered on May 2nd but it took time to reach the troops in the field and to arrest those involved in the atrocities associated with war.

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The war itself raged on with those fighting against Japan but without Germany Japan was soon to fall. We now are losing many of those veterans that fought to preserve freedom. The saddest part of that is that we as a people tend to forget the causes and effects of the war, tending to make us repeat those same mistakes.

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There should be no place for tyranny  or greed in the world but as long as man occupies the Earth there will be. Let us hope that here will also be the heroes to bring it to an end as well.

How to celebrate – Thank any veteran, not only of world war 2 but of any war, you may see for their service and sacrifice. Study the reasons for war so that you can at least try to help prevent future attrocities. Visit Europe and see the scares left behind.

October 30th National Candy Corn Day

The perfect candy for fall and Halloween, candy corn. It has been around since the late 1800’s, created by George Renninger in Wunderle, Germany. It is made from corn syrup, sugar, water, marshmallows, fondant, and originally carnauba wax (which comes from the leaves of palm trees). Where they came up with palm trees in Germany one can venture to guess, but today candy corn is made on machines not requiring the wax.

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Over the years candy makers have learned how to add shapes, colors, and non-traditional flavors to come up with different combinations for the candy corn lover. The original candy corn taste however has not changed since the very beginning, in fact the exact same ingredients are used (except for the palm leaves).

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They have even added little pumpkins to the mix. They obviously go for as much realism as they can in both shape and color. While the shape does not change the taste it does add to the flavor of the season.

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And I’m not exactly sure what these things are but they at least have the right colors! Back to the original yellow, orange and white, and they look a little fluffy too!

How to celebrate – Make some candy corn of your own. Make it whatever shape you like. Buy some candy corn for Halloween, it’s great for trick-or-treaters but make sure you get the prepackaged individuals sizes. Why not try for the world’s largest candy corn kernel!