December 27th National Fruitcake Day

Boy, doesn’t that look yummy! It is chocked full of everything you can imagine and dripping with sugar… and if done right, dripping with whiskey as well! Fruitcake is something handed down from family to family, in some cases the same fruitcake year after year. I knew a man who kept the same old fruitcake alive for nearly ten years handing it down to family members after adding a little more whiskey to it. He would always end up with it again the next year. Eventually the bread part of it began to mold and he had to throw it away. I don’t really know anyone who likes fruitcake, I mean… it’s not bad but one slice is enough for an entire year. It is commonly given as a gift to someone you have no idea what else to give. That way, they can give it to someone who has no idea what someone else would like either!

How to celebrate – Give a fruitcake to someone this year. Try a slice of fruitcake this year. Make a celebration out of burying your fruitcake in the back yard.

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.

December 31st National Champagne Day

Out with the old, in with the new, it’s a New Year’s tradition. And so is popping the cork on a fine (or cheap) bottle of champagne. The idea is to begin the new year by celebrating with some of the most cherished beverages ever made for adults. However, even if you choose to just the cheap stuff it will still give you the desired results.

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Most champagne comes from southern France, but California has stepped up it’s game lately. Champagne is generally accepted as the beverage to celebrate things with. The victory of a big game, a wedding or, in this case, the coming of a New Year.

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Let it tickle your nose as the New Year approaches but make sure you save at least enough for a swallow at the dropping of the ball, right after your kiss, to ring in the New Year.

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Or you could be like the couple above and celebrate all three things at the same time. This New Years Eve, lets all lift the glass and let bygones be bygones and start off fresh celebrating the New Year and all the promise it brings.

How to celebrate – Share a glass of champagne with someone you love. Have a champagne breakfast on New Years Day. Drive safely.

December 24th National Eggnog Day

Eggnog has been around for quite some time. It was recorded in Medieval Britain as a hot, milky, ale-like drink. It was in regular use by monks in the 13th century, not just as a commoners drink but with a lot of alcohol in it. Generally either rum or cognac is used to “flavor” the drink.

Today it is served both with, and without, alcohol. Originally called “posset” in the UK it is also known as rompose in Mexico and coquito in Puerto Rico. It’s name may have come from the original use of a noggin (a wooden cup) and grog (a strong drink).

The drink changed slightly when it came to the Americas. George Washington loved the drink and created his own recipe for consumption. One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

We even use it to make ice cream, lattes and candy. (Mostly without alcohol) It is the perfect drink for the holidays and has become a part of the Christmas tradition. And with today being Christmas Eve, you should include it in your celebrations.

How to celebrate – Have a joyful and thoughtful Christmas Eve with friends and family. Create your own recipe for Eggnog. Have a Merry Christmas.

December 20th Go Caroling Day

  1. If you want to brighten someones day, go caroling. Those who are home bound, retirement homes, hospitals… they are all targets for Caroler’s who want to make the world a little better at Christmas time.

Carols have been around since the beginning of the spoken word. By definition to carol is to sing, or dance, in praise. For Christianity this may have begun around 129 when a Roman Bishop introduced “Angel’s Hymn”. It wasn’t all that popular though as it was sung in Latin which most people did not understand.

In 1223, St. Francis of Assisi, in Italy, introduced the first Carols through “Nativity” plays and songs being performed in the native areas’ language (Italian in Italy, English in Great Britain, Spanish in Spain, etc, etc, etc).  This way all the population could enjoy the Carols, not just those educated by the Catholic church.

It is the time of year to celebrate the “birth of Christ”, or for the non-believers, “life”. What better way to show your happiness, or share the joy, than by taking the gift of music to those around your neighborhood.

How to celebrate – Go caroling. Form a dance troop to perform with the carolers. Celebrate Christmas.

December 27th National Fruitcake Day

There are so many wonderful traditions involved with Christmas. The Christmas Tree, Decorations, Presents… the Fruitcake. Okay, well maybe not the fruitcake but it can be really good if you soak it for a few years in brandy! Some choose to use wine! I’ve even had a piece with white lightning that took me a couple of years to recover from.

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The fruitcake has been around since the days of the Roman Empire. I believe a few of the originals still exist! Back then, they used pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins blended into a barley mix. I’m not sure how popular it was but it lasted longer than the Empire did!

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It carried over into the the Middle Ages (perhaps as shields at times for the Knights), but they added fruit, honey and various spices. The fruit had been preserved so that it could be used months after the season had ended.

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As sugar became more available in Europe from the American colonies, the fruit cake became more popular during the 16th century. The recipes began to stabilize and by 1913 the fruit cake became a mail order item. It was a good gift because it could be sent in July and received in December and still be considered fresh! In 1935 the phrase “Nutty as a fruitcake” came into use as companies loaded up the fruitcake with cheap nuts. It wasn’t really any better but it was nutty! Apparently even then people who liked fruitcake were considered a little odd.

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And now we have even turned them into cookies. Wow, I wonder if they last a really, really long time too!?! Well, fruitcake can be good… maybe not a lot of it in one sitting. I know one family who passed around a fruitcake for nearly 10 years, each recipient adding a little more whiskey to it each year until they finally ate it (they ran out of family members to pass it on to). No one remembers how that night ended but they do remember finishing the cake to the very last drop!

How to celebrate – Make your own fruitcake, maybe using the recipe provided. Most fruitcakes are not served with alcohol… find out why? Start your own tradition of handing down the fruitcake to the next generation.