February 2nd Ground Hog Day

Will there be six more weeks of winter or will things finally start heading towards spring? It all depends on whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. If he sees his shadow we will experience another 6 weeks of winter. Apparently he sees his shadow 9 out of every 10 times!

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The use of the ground hog to find out about the coming weather is a German tradition going back to the use of a Hedge Hog in Germany somewhere in the early 1800’s. It fell in line with Candlemas (which is also celebrated today), the last day of the Christmas celebration.

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Punxsutawney Phil has been a tradition in Pennsylvania since 1877 but the ground hog does not really predict winters end (but you probably knew that already). What does matter is whether it’s a sunny day or a cloudy day. If it’s a sunny day, he will always see his shadow. If he sees his shadow, it’s another six weeks of winter.

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But it’s okay if you want to believe Punxsutawney has magical powers or not. We also believe in Santa (though St. Nick was real), we believe a black cat crossing our path is bad luck (I still don’t know why), and that there is a man in the moon.

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How to celebrate – Wake up and find out what Phil has to say! Celebrate Candlemas. If Phil sees his shadow, go out and play, if he does not, go back to bed.

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September 26th National Johnny Appleseed Day

No one loved apples more than John Chapman. He loved them so much that he spread them all across America in hopes that he could share them with everyone, well, so the legend goes… and it may be true, or it may not be.

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Legend says that Johnny Appleseed went into communities trying to teach the value of the apple and planting groves in areas to get them started. He was also noted for giving donations to that community to help with causes dear to his heart. Born on September 26th, 1774 a great deal of this may be true.

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On the flip side, some were not as impressed. It seems he would show up and plant his seeds and then move on, leaving the hard work of tending to the trees to those who really didn’t need the extra work. Apparently he also would come back a few years later and try to claim the land he had planted the trees on. It’s hard to know which of the stories is actually true.

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He was a humble man, very religious and did travel at least through New York and Pennsylvania. From there on, anything could be true, or not. It is believed he died of the “Winter Plague” on March 11th, 1845 but no one is sure. He did exist, and many places that now grow apples would never have seen them if not for him, no matter what the motives might have been.

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How to celebrate – Have an apple today in honor of Johnny Appleseed. Discover new and different ways to use the apple. Plant your own apple tree.

November 9th National Scrapple Day

Scrapple is the first pork dish invented in America. It comes from the 17th and 18th centuries in the Pennsylvania Dutch region where it was called “panhaas” (pon haus).

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Scrapple is made from bits and pieces of pork mixed with cornmeal, wheat flour and spices. Those spices may include one, or all, of sage, thyme, savory and black pepper). It is served as a side breakfast dish along with the traditional eggs and hash-browns. It is mashed into a loaf, sliced and pan fried before serving.

the-forefather-scrapple-sandwich-labelsScrapple, while traditionally made from pork, can also be made from beef, chicken, or turkey. It is generally served with apple butter, ketchup, jelly, maple syrup, honey, horseradish or just plain mustard.

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Here’s a scrapple recipe for you to try.

How to celebrate – Have scrapple for breakfast this morning. Who knows, you might even like it! Serve scrapple up as a surprise and ask your family members, or friends, what they think it is. Visit the Pennsylvania Dutch region and get some real scrapple.

September 24th Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving

So you thought Thanksgiving only came once a year, not true! It isn’t only celebrated by America either! But in this case, it’s sort of another American Thanksgiving.

In the 1700’s a group of Protestants broke away from the many churches in Germany to form their own sect. It followed the teachings of theologian Caspar Schwenkfelder somewhere in the Reformation era.

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Finding resistance to their beliefs, as so many did, the first faction moved to Pennsylvania in 1733, the second, and final one, in 1734. They mixed with the Dutch and thrived on giving their allegiance to the King of England. Finally finding a place where they could celebrate their faith as they chose, they set September 24th aside for a day of thanksgiving.

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You probably have to live in the Pennsylvania Dutch area to have ever heard of them or possibly Germany, where they originally organized. They are apparently trying to spread the word, at least in their area. As the Mormons have done, they have their own facility where they tell their history, and the history of their followers.

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Though I have to admit, I cannot speak to highly of their outfits from my research.

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How to celebrate – If you want another thaksgiving put on your calendar, try Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving! Spend a little time in Dutch Country, Pennsylvania and learn who they are for yourself. You can actually create your own Thaksgiving Day. In all honesty, every day is a day to be thankful for.