April 26th National Pretzel Day

Though the pretzel is often associated with German food, or snacks, it actually was created around 610 AD in Southern France by Catholic Monks. Some insist that pretzels first appeared in Italy, also made by Monks, who created them as treats for children who said their prayers. The original pretzels were designed to look like arms folded over the chest, as if saying prayers. Of course the Germans claim some credit for the first pretzel as well so about all we do know is that it was created in Europe, somewhere. The first pretzel in the United States was made by Julius Sturgis in 1850 at Lititz, Pennsylvania. While today has some listing a 1983 Pretzel Day we do know that Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania made a pretzel holiday in 2003.

How to celebrate – Have a pretzel today. Learn how to make your own pretzel. Visit a German restuarant.

February 9th National Pizza Day

Finally a day most of us can enjoy, National Pizza Day! Since over 3 billion are sold every year in the US it sort of proves American’s love pizza. The first place pizzas were sold was in Naples, Italy in 1738. That makes most think it was an Italian invention That probably isn’t true, in fact the Greek soldiers with Alexander the Great were known to eat a pizza like flatbread while on the march. And what’s the largest American pizza day of the year? Naturally, Super Bowl Sunday.

How to celebrate – Get some pizza today! Learn how to make your own pizza from scratch. Try several of the newer types of pizza to expand your horizons.

February 7th Ballet Day

February 7th Ballet Day

Standing right along with the Opera, Ballet is a beautiful art form that seems designed for the upper crust. Perhaps that’s because that is where ballet started. Its roots come from the Renaissance, particularly in France and Italy among the nobility. Dance, speech, music, verse, song and pageantry were all celebrated in the ballet where at the end the audience joined in. Must have been quite a sight! Of course, there were not tutus and all those fancy steps like the A terre, Arabesque and Carbriole weren’t even heard of yet.

How to celebrate – Learn ballet. Go to a ballet performance (If you can find one). Try on a tutu to see how it looks on you.

January 4th National Spaghetti Day

When we think of spaghetti we think Italian. Well, we think wrong, though it is a staple of the diets in Italy. Spaghetti recipes date back to the 1200’s in Europe when pasta was commonly used in open market recipes. The Chinese have been known to use pasta perhaps dating back to 5,000 BCE. However, spaghetti did grow in popularity when the Italians began to add sauces, meatballs and cheese to it. Spaghetti in Italian translates to thin string or twine. I would not suggest making your spaghetti dishes with string or twine but I do see how the Italians might call it that.

How to celebrate – Enjoy a nice plate of spaghetti! Make up your own sauce to flavor the spaghetti. See how many different types of pasta you can name.

Dec. 21st National Kiwi Day

December 21st National Kiwi Day

Here is a fruit that is native to China and had a certain popularity in the Far East prior to World War 2 but never really caught on until soldiers fighting in New Zealand tried the fruit, liked it and brought it back to the west with them. Originally known as “Yang Tao”, the Chinese gooseberry, it eventually was named Kiwi. Sounds Hawaiian! It is often mixed with strawberries as they seem to compliment each other. Interesting, at least to me, is the fact that though it is native to China, the number one producing country for Kiwi today is Italy.

How to celebrate – Have some Kiwi today. Visit China and see Kiwi in the wild. Make your own recipe using Kiwi.  

September 5th Cheese Pizza Day

Why mess with a good thing? Cheese pizza is great before you add any of the usual toppings – pepperoni, onions, black olives… you name it. When you were a kid you wouldn’t touch any of the rest of that stuff, it was cheese or nothing. As you get older you realize you can pick that stuff off but then what do you do with it? Actually, the original pizza probably didn’t have cheese on it either. Pizza didn’t originate in Italy either, it is probably a Greek soldier thing. They put spices and herbs on flat bread and let it bake in the sun. Maybe they had a little cheese, but probably not. However today it’s all about the cheese, the more the better.

How to celebrate – Have a cheese pizza! Experiment with different types of cheese. Try a white pizza.

August 24th Vesuvius Day

Today, in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae, killing and estimates 3,360 people. It was one of the worst tragedies known to man at the time… and since. Entire towns were destroyed, towns that held a great deal of wealth. You might think the lesson was learned, don’t build an entire community at the base of a volcano. However, rebuild they did, and the volcano taught them another lesson in 1631, this time killing over 3,500 people. Well, you might notice in the photo that people have built there yet again, tempting fate even when Mother Nature has already warned us. Oh well, tempting the fates seems to be one thing man always tests.

How to celebrate – Visit Mount Vesuvius. Look for your own volcano to build next to. Make a baking soda and vinegar volcano.

May 25th National Wine Day

May 25th National Wine Day

Do you prefer red or white? Do the best wines in your opinion come from France, Italy or California? There are wines you serve before dinner, during dinner and after dinner. There are pink wines, sweet wines, bitter wines but they all come from grapes. So the better harvest of grapes available, the better wine selections that are available. Some are very expensive, some are cheap and some are just glorified vinegar.

How to celebrate – Have a wine tasting party. Visit a vineyard. Learn how to make your own wine.

February 9th National Pizza Day

This is one of my favorite holidays of the entire year! Well, maybe it’s not really a real holiday, but of the not so real holidays this is may favorite. I love pizza! I am one of the national average American’s when it comes to eating pizza, that’s 23 pounds of pizza a year. Over 3 billion pizzas are sold every year in the US, the most coming at Superbowl Sunday and second, oddly, Halloween!

No one knows exactly when pizza was invented. I have heard it was the Greek soldiers with Alexander who used to bake cheese and herbs on pita bread on top of their shields. Maybe true, but like most everything else, it was probably first served up by the Chinese.

Chow Mein pizza, yum. And yes I know chow mein is actually an American dish. I wonder how you use the chopsticks!?!

How to celebrate – Order pizza today. Make your own pizza today. Try a white pizza for a change.

October 25th World Pasta Day

October 25th World Pasta Day

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Though many attribute pasta to Italy, it was brought back from China to Europe in the 13th Century by Marco Polo.

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Pasta had been a staple of the Chinese diet for probably centuries before Marco Polo visited, it had been in use for so long no one really remembered when the Chinese first started using in their dishes. Italy certainly gives China a run for the money these days though and we are all the better for it!

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How to celebrate – Have some Italian pasta today. Have some Chinese pasta today. Read about Marco Polo’s exploration of Asia.