April 27th National Tell A Story Day

Kids love to hear stories, adults love to hear stories… even some animals love to hear stories. I think it may have to do with the fact we are actually spending time with someone (Or something) rather than being off doing our own thing. This is one tradition that has been handed down over the years that machines can really replace. Yes, machines can tell a story but it really needs the human element to be appreciated. If the story has pictures, all the better. Remember those ghost stories you use to tell out by a campfire? Well, many of them have been turned into movies and television shows. Some get turned into novels and others are just retold and retold until the children they are being old to have them memorized. Now the US and he UK have a difference of opinion when today is to be celebrated. We here in the US celebrate in April while the UK chooses October for their day. Exactly 6 months from each other. I wonder if there is a story to be told there.

How to celebrate – Tell someone a story today. Research stories that you believe your family members will be interested in. Learn to use different voices for the different characters.

January 16th Appreciate A Dragon Day

Jan. 16th Appreciate A Dragon Day

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Today was created by Donita K. Paul who believed we did not celebrate our dragons enough. Never mind that they never really existed. Knights fought them to save maidens, magical ones appeared in little boys dreams and then Puff, they were gone!

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It’s sort of funny that so many dragons live in our lore but not in our real lives. They truly are under-appreciated.

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How to celebrate – Read a book about dragons. Fight that make-believe dragon in your dreams. Invent your own dragon.

September 26th Johnny Appleseed Day

Well, we all know about apples. All the varieties, sizes and uses of them. I guess Adam and Eve got us kicked off but no one is better known for their apple adventures than Johnny Appleseed!

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Now Johnny Appleseed was a real character, not a made up comic book one. His real name was John Chapman and he was born on September 26th, 1774. His legend was not as big as the Lone Ranger or the Incredible Hulk but at least he was real. In his lifetime he spread the planting of apple tress across America starting an industry that continues to grow today.

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Now a little of what he did may be somewhat shady. Apparently he planted the trees for free but later came back to claim them after they had grown. Since the owners could not possibly return his trees, he ended up acquiring their land. I am not sure any of that is true, there are always haters out there, but it does sort of make you wonder.

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And there are those who celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on March 11th, the day it is believed he died in 1845. I guess it sort of depends on whether you see John Chapman as a good guy or a bad guy, If you like him, you probably celebrate his birthday today, September 26th. If you are not too fond of what he did, then maybe you celebrate March 11th.

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Either way, Johnny Appleseed will long be remembered. He did start something, good or bad, letting us enjoy apples every day if we want.

How to celebrate – Have an apple today. Read more about John Chapman. Plant your own apple tree.

February 26th National Tell A Fairy Tale Day

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day – February 26th

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Fairy Tales are created from myths or legends. Most think they were created for children but they weren’t. In fact some are rather gruesome in their original form, cutting off toes to fit in shoes, chopping off the heads of frogs and many included gnomes, mermaids and giants.

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The Grimm Brothers, perhaps the most famous fairy tale authors hated children and wanted to scare them by their tales, “Household Tales”.

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How to celebrate – Join the Association of Fairy Tales. Check into Count Margarete von Waldeck, the Legend Snow White was created from. Host a Fairy Tale Murder Mystery party.

December 6th Saint Nicholas Day

Whenever somebody tells me that Santa isn’t really I  remind them that he was. No, not exactly as we portray him today, but he was real. Like nearly every other legend in history, we tend to make them bigger than they really were and we have sort of done the same thing with St. Nick.

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St. Nicholas started out Priest in Greece several hundred years after Jesus was placed on the cross. He eventually became a Bishop in the Catholic Church. Of course a great deal of a Bishops wardrobe is lined with red so red became a Christmas color. (The other color is black, not exactly festive) He did hand out presents to people during his life, children were among his favorite.

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Legend has it that he is responsible for the Christmas stocking as well. One day he was throwing out coins to the poor and some ended up in a child’s shoe or stocking (There is some question about which it was) Since then, children would hang stocking in hopes that St, Nicholas would fill them up.

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St. Nicholas died in either 345 or 352 A.D. but his tradition,and legend, continued on. In the 1800’s he became Santa Claus in the eyes of Americans. Originally St. Nicholas was pretty skinny too, we Americans fattened him up.

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So the next time someone tells you Santa isn’t real, tell them the truth. You can leave out the part about the North Pole and flying through the sky on Christmas Eve, that really isn’t important and who knows, now that Nicholas is a Saint, maybe he really can fly!

How to celebrate – Let some legends live on. Study the real history of Saint Nicholas. Let the magic of Christmas lead you to a more joyful and meaningful holiday.

May 23rd National Lucky Penny Day

They say any day you find money laying on the ground is a lucky day. I suppose it is, however, to be truly lucky you need to find a penny, face up and by tradition, you must not ever spend it.

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Of course it is probably a myth like all the other things that are supposed to bring you luck, like a rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover. It wasn’t particularly lucky for the rabbit and the clover won’t last to long once you’ve picked it.

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But penny won’t buy you too much either so you might as well save it. If you find the right penny it could be worth a small fortune too. Pennies that are double stamped or have something unusual about them can be worth a lot of money. That would make you very, very lucky.

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But then, those coins are usually only worth a lot if they have never been touched. (circulated) Naturally if you found it on the ground, dropped by someone else it has been touched twice. Once by them and once by you, at least. So that makes you unlucky since it’s not worth as much as it could have been.

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Or maybe it will be a Canadian penny on tails and even bring you bad luck. (I have no idea whether that is true or not.) So my suggestion is just put the penny in your pocket and consider yourself a little richer than you were before you found it.

How to celebrate – Walk around with your head down to see if you can find a lucky penny. Take care not to walk into something though, that wouldn’t be too lucky. Just rely on yourself for all the luck you need and don’t worry about finding a penny.

April 27th National Babe Ruth Day

It seems only appropriate now that baseball season is back in full swing that we should celebrate one of the men who made the game what it is – Babe Ruth.  Baseball has been popular since the Civil War when soldiers use to play their version of the game when in camp (this included hitting the runner with the ball, often knocking them out), but its popularity hit its zenith during Ruth’s days at “The House That Ruth Built” – Yankee Stadium.

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This date is remembered as the next to last time Ruth visited the stadium was on April 27th, 1947. He would die of throat cancer soon after and a legend would pass from the game leaving behind fans that still speak of him today.

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For years he would hold the home run record at 60, which is odd for a man that started his career as a pitcher. Since then, many have passed his record, namely Roger Maris (also a Yankee), with 61. No one will ever forget his famous gesture of pointing to where he would hit a home run for a young boy who he had visited in the hospital.  He proceeded to hit it exactly where he aimed. There seems to be some controversy as to whether this actually happened or not but what harm is there in believing it?

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“The Bambino” helped make baseball what it is today and should always be remembered.  He wasn’t perfect but he was a hero to so many.

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How to celebrate – Visit Yankee Stadium and enjoy a baseball game today. Cheer on your favorite baseball team today.  Go to a little league game and cheer the children, even if you don’t know any of them.

June 28th National Paul Bunyan Day

It got very cold and boring in the north for the brave men, and sometimes women, that worked as lumberjacks. There was little available to entertain these hard working woodsmen. They frequently sat around their campfires making up stories to tell one another.  And so, Paul Bunyan was born, perhaps dating back as far as 1837 during the Papineau Rebellion.

Though the legend of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe had been told for years around the logging camps, he appears to be first mentioned to the public in the Duluth News Tribune in 1904.  William P. Laughead (1882-1958) is the first recorded author who wrote down these stories as promotional materials for the Red River Lumber Company in 1916.

As a baby, it is said it took 5 storks to carry Paul to his parents (I found no reference to his parents). When he clapped and laughed as a youth he would break windows in neighboring communities. His heritage was French-Canadian American.

As a young man he is said to have gone for a walk with Babe, dragging his huge axe behind him, forming the Grand Canyon. It was also reported that he created the Great Lakes when Babe needed a water bowl.

In 1958, Walt Disney Studios created an animated short musical to celebrate Paul Bunyan. His popularity spread quickly.

To give you some idea how big Paul Bunyan was said to be look at the photo above. Focus in on the adults standing at the end of Paul’s axe and Babe’s front left leg. In the minds of those who created him, sitting around a campfire in the frozen north, he had to have been even bigger, if you consider cutting the Grand Canyon with his axe.

As with so many legends, they are created larger than life because those dreaming them up need heroes bigger than themselves to make the world seem right.

How to celebrate: Watch the Disney video about Paul Bunyan. Try and come up with a few places you think Paul could have created. Make up a legend of your own.

May 23rd Lucky Penny Day

There is no doubt that the penny is not worth what it use to be. In fact, many countries have parted ways with the penny altogether. Still, here in the US, if you find one on heads it means good luck will follow you. Remember you cannot spend it though, even if you could find something to spend it on. Should you find one on tails, leave it be because it means bad luck.  You could turn in over for the next person to find, but you are probably better off not touching it at all.

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“See a penny, pick it up … all day long you’ll have good luck.”

Pennies have been with us in America since 1793. The originals were made of copper and were worth something!  They were often called a pence. If something cost 5 pence, it was five pennies, or a nickel.

Not only are pennies good luck symbols they also indicate ghosts!  As legend tells it, if a ghost wants you to know they are there they will leave pennies behind for you to find (remember the epic scene from the 1990 movie classic Ghost). If they want you to follow them, they will leave a trail of pennies for you to follow.

There’s another reason to look down for that penny, it could be worth a small fortune.

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Most pennies were made in such volume that they are worth very little. Even the old Indian Head pennies are not worth all that much since millions of them were made. Some uncirculated coins are worth more than others. These coins have not been touched by human hands.  There is little chance you will find one of those laying out in the open on the ground, and if you just picked it up anyway, you’d ruin its value. There is one Indian Head penny worth more than $10,000.00, made in the year 1873.

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“Wheat Back”, Lincoln Head pennies are still found in loose change from time to time. Most are worth a penny but there are a few exceptions. A 1922 plain Lincoln Head, “Wheat Back”, is worth about $650.00, but a 1909S-VDB is worth $750.00 or more. In 1943 due to World War 2, pennies were made of steel to save the copper for use in bullets. A steel penny is worth a little, but in 1944 a few steel pennies were circulated by mistake as the coins were once again made of copper. So a 1944 steel penny can be worth up to $75,000.00. Going back to 1943, a few pennies were made of bronze. These pennies are very rare and look basically like a copper penny but they are lighter in weight and are a little darker in color. The 1943 bronze penny is worth more than $100,000.00.

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The 1943 copper penny is worth more than any other American coin. They were not to be released but some were, perhaps less than 50.  Find one of these and you will really have a lucky day with beginning auction prices starting at $200,000.00.

There are other coins to watch for as well. Coins that were run by mistake or had errors that no one caught before they were released to the public. Coins that were double struck, or minted with the wrong materials, or with the wrong size. Wrong Planchet pennies vary in value. Some pennies have actually be minted in silver as are obviously worth more than a plain copper penny.

How to celebrate: Keep your eyes down, looking at whatever is just waiting for you to pick up – at the very least, you’ll be a penny richer. Buy a book about coins; the book will probably cost you more than any value you ever find on the ground but it makes it more fun. Try leaving a trail of pennies on your own and see if anyone follows them. Look through your old pennies tucked away in that dresser drawer and see if you might be lucky!

May 1st Mother Goose Day

Wow, all I can say is that researching this day was one of the most confusing explanations I have ever come across in my life.  Maybe that’s because no one knows who the original authors are and the fact that many known authors have added to the fairy tales since the first tales were published.

It seems that some of the stories have been around since the late 1500’s.  Many were probably handed down prior to that.  Some of the fairy tales may have been based on “Mother Hubbard” by Edmund Spencer in 1590’s England.  However, even “Mother Hubbard” told stories people were familiar with prior to it’s release.  “Mother Bunch” added stories as well in the 1690’s. Charles Perrault published a book with some of the tales he created in 1695.  Thomas Carlin a Mother Goose in either 1780 or 1781 by the Stationer’s Company.  A so called second edition came out in 1837 claiming to be a Flemish version by John Bellenden Ker Gawler.   The Brothers Grimm got involved with their hatred of children in the 19th century.  Yes I said hatred.  They were attempting to scare children with their stories, not make them sleep easier.

Mother Goose has been a goose…

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… and has been a grandmother…

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…   perhaps based on King Robert II’s wife “Bertha la Fileuse” her translated name meaning Bertha the Spinner , or Goose Foot Bertha.  Even early America clams some of the glory saying Moose Goose was based on Elizabeth Foster Goose, better known as Mary Goose who lived in Boston from 1665-1758.

So you figure it out because I am tired of trying!  Anyway, it is clear that Mother Goose Day was established in 1987 and it included such classic as as “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, “Puss in Boots” and “Sleeping Beauty”.

How to celebrate:  Read, or re-read, the Mother Goose Fairy Tales. Try and list as many of the nursery rhymes as you can without looking them up.  Make up a few nursery rhymes of your own.