Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve, Pine Cone Drop, Champagne Day, more

December 31st, 2011, is New Year's Eve, Pine Cone Drop, First Night, Oga no Namahage, King Mango Strut, Hogmanay, Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Unlucky Day, Leap Second Time Adjustment Day, Make Up Your Mind Day, World Healing Day, and National Champagne Day.

New Year's Eve is a time for celebration, including the ball drop in New York's Times Square and the lesser-known Pine Cone Drop in Flagstaff, Arizona. Many communities offer First Night festivities with no alcohol. Have a wonderful night. Drive safely, sans alcohol, texting, and other dangerous activitiies while on the road.

Oga City in Japan celebrates Oga no Namahage, when youths wearing masks and carrying wooden knives visit homes looking for crying children, lazy people, and other ne'er-do-wells. After receiving sake and mochi cakes, the youths depart, promising good luck to the family.

Coconut Grove, Florida, hosts the 30th annual King Mango Strut. Mangoheads unite!

In Scotland, New Year's Eve is celebrated with fire and fun as Hogmanay. In Stonehaven, the celebration is especially intense, featuring the Stonehaven Fireball Festival.

Unlucky Day always coincides with New Year's Eve. But never fear - you can mount a counteroffensive against this ominous holiday by eating certain foods that bring luck for the coming year. Southerners in the United States enjoy black-eye peas; other Americans eat herring; Austrians enjoy suckling pig; Sicilians eat lasagna (but no other pasta); Japanese eat noodles; Brazilians eat lentils; Spaniards, Portugese, and Peruvians eat grapes; Germans have carp; and Norwegians eat rice pudding. If you're in Denmark, watch out for piles of broken dishes on your front porch, left by well-wishers. Oh, and don't eat lobster or winged birds, no matter where you live. Don't ask why - just obey if you're superstitious!

Leap Second Time Adjustment Day takes place on the last day of June and/or the last day of December, as needed. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service determines if clocks should be adjusted, accomodating changes in Earth's rotation, to keep the time difference between atomic clocks and the Earth's position within .9 seconds. No adjustment will take place today. The last adjustment was made on December 31st, 2008. Experts have not yet determined if an adjustment will be necessary on June 30th, 2012.

Make Up Your Mind Day is an opportunity to set goals for the future, firm up plans for New Year's Eve, or simply decide what to have for dinner. Your choice.

World Healing Day, presented by the Quartus Foundation, is a time for everyone to come together in a "simultaneous global mind link," to pray for world peace and love. The event takes place for one hour, beginning at noon Greenwich time.
In case anyone needs an extra reason to imbibe today or tonight, today is known as National Champagne Day. Cheers!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

No Interruptions Day, Falling Needles Family Fest, Bacon Day, more

December 30th, 2011, is Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, No Interruptions Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day, National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, and Bacon Day.

Festival of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute is a good opportunity to get the jump on your New Year's resolutions. But wait - if you start now, it's not the last minute, is it?

The last business day of the year is No Interruptions Day. Tidy up those loose ends, then go home and enjoy your holiday weekend!

If your family enjoyed a live Christmas tree this year, today may be the day to recycle it and clean up the remaining needles scattered about on your floor. Celebrate Falling Needles Family Fest Day.

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day honors baking soda, without which many of our favorite baked goods wouldn't be so deliciously textured.

On Bacon Day, take a moment to reflect on one of the tastiest treats the culinary world has to offer. Breakfast, lunch dinner; savory or even sweet; nothing is better than bacon. It's so tasty, in fact, that creative types offer amazing bacon products in tribute.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tick Tock Day, Feast Day of Saint Thomas Becket, Pepper Pot Day

December 29th, 2011, is Tick Tock Day, Feast Day of Saint Thomas Becket, and Pepper Pot Day.

Tick Tock Day serves to remind us all that the clock is ticking, that we shouldn't put off until tomorrow what we can do today, that we should start thinking about that bucket list.

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Thomas Becket. He offers inspiration to believers who are not free to live openly as Catholics.

Pepper Pot Day celebrates "the soup that won the war." Pepper Pot Soup was created by Christopher Ludwick, baker general of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, who gathered what he could to feed the soldiers. His creation included tripe, meat scraps, and peppercorns.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Card Playing Day, Childermas, Chocolate Candy Day, more

December 28th, 2011, is Card Playing Day, Gone-ta-Pott Day, Childermas, Kullubi, and National Chocolate Candy Day.

Need a break from the glitz and glamour of new holiday toys? Return to a tried-and-true form of entertainment on Card Playing Day.

Gone-ta-Pott Day is celebrated on the 28th of each month, as decreed by the fine people who put together the Gone-ta-Pott website.

Childermas is a remembrance of the many children slaughtered by Herod, King of Judea. He feared the predicted arrival of a new King.

Ethiopia celebrates Kullubi on this date, honoring Saint Gabriel, the patron saint of homes and churches.

The holiday calendar features a plethora of chocolate-related celebrations, and December 28th features the last but not least. Indulge to your heart's content on National Chocolate Candy Day .

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day, Visit the Zoo Day, more

December 27th, 2011, is Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day, Visit the Zoo Day, Feast Day of Saint John, and National Fruitcake Day.

Too late for Christmas, today is Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day. Just enjoy your creations for the sake of winter, or save them to use next year.

Everybody thinks about the zoo in the heat of summer, but what about now? Many critters are just plain lethargic in the hot sun, but ready to play in the crisp winter air. In addition, many zoos feature holiday displays. Celebrate Visit the Zoo Day!

December 27th is the Feast Day of Saint John, honoring a pillar of the church following the death of Jesus.

Were you the lucky recipient of a fruitcake this holiday season? If so, don't reject the innocent baked item without giving it a chance. Some fruitcake is actually delicious! Be open-minded on National Fruitcake Day.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Candy Cane Day, more

December 26th, 2011, is Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, National Whiners Day, National Thank-You Note Day, National Coffee Percolator Day, and Candy Cane Day.

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st by many African-Americans. Kwanzaa means "first fruits of the harvest" in the Kishahili language. The principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Boxing Day is a British tradition, observed on the day after Christmas or the first weekday after Christmas. Alms boxes were placed in churches on December 25th, then those boxes were opened for the poor on Boxing Day. Employers also gave boxes to employees who had to work on Christmas. Many celebrate the holiday today with gifts to employees and visiting tradespeople such as paper boys or milk men. Talk show host Craig Ferguson says the day is called Boxing Day because people fight each other.

The ungrateful among us may choose to celebrate National Whiners Day on the day after Christmas. Just remember - Santa may be watching.

The gracious and grateful among us will celebrate National Thank-You Note Day today.

National Coffee Percolator Day honors an old-school method for making coffee. My parents used to bring out their giant 20-cup percolator during the holidays.

Candy Cane Day celebrates an iconic part of Christmas festivities, in terms of both food and decor.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, A'phabet Day, No "L" Day, Grav-Mass, more

December 25th, 2011, is Christmas, A'phabet Day, No "L" Day, Grav-Mass, and National Pumpkin Pie Day.

Christians around the world celebrate Christmas as Jesus' birthday, although the exact date of His birth is unknown. Chirstmas features a combination of Christian and secular traditions, celebrated by religious and non-religious alike. Whatever your belief system, I wish you a holiday season abundant with family and friends, good health, delicious food, and inner peace. Merry Christmas!

A'phabet Day or  No "L" Day is a pun on "Noel." Get it? Say "Noel" out loud. Celebrate by speaking or texting without using the letter "L."

Grav-Mass is a geek-style, punny Christmas alternative, honoring Sir Isaac Newton. You remember the story of Newton - he discovered gravity when an apple fell on (or near) his head. He was born on December 25th, 1642 (or January 4th, 1643, using the new calendar).

Celebrate National Pumpkin Pie Day if you have a little extra room on your holiday table. It's a nice change from the candy, cookies, and fruitcake.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve, Santuranticuy, Egg Nog Day, more

December 24th, 2011, is Christmas Eve, Silent Night Holy Night, Santuranticuy, Feast Day of Adam and Eve, National Chocolate Day, and National Egg Nog Day.

Christmas Eve is the so-called "Night Before Christmas," brilliantly described in the poem by Clement Clarke Moore. It's your last chance to purchase gifts, wrap gifts, hide gifts, and maybe even open some gifts. After all that, get to bed early so Santa can come down the chimney or through a window undetected. Follow Santa's progress with NORAD via Twitter at @NoradSanta.

Austria celebrates Silent Night Holy Night, commemorating the first live performance of the famous Christmas song in 1818.

Cusco, Peru, celebrates Santuranticuy, literally "saints for sale." Vendors and artists sell Nativity figures and other objects in anticipation of Christmas.

Although Adam and Eve are not considered saints, today's date is celebrated by some as the Feast Day of Adam and Eve.

On the outside chance you need an excuse to indulge in nature's most wonderful sweet, be aware that today is National Chocolate Day. You're welcome.

Many families have a special recipe for egg nog, typically featuring eggs and alcohol. Continue the tradition on National Egg Nog Day. I'll have a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, please.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Festivus, Tom Bawcock's Eve, Stargazy Pie Day, more

December 23rd, 2011, is Festivus, Tom Bawcock's Eve, Stargazy Pie Day, Roots Day, Suez Victory Day, and National Pffernusse Day.

Today is Festivus, a holiday made famous in an episode of the TV show, Seinfeld. In fact, the father of one of the show's writers created the holiday many years prior. To celebrate, according to the Festivus website, install a Festivus Pole (devoid of the trappings of the traditional Christmas tree). A good Festivus dinner features meat loaf or spaghetti in red sauce. Finally, practice the Airing of the Grievances and the Feats of Strength. Happy Festivus to all!

Stargazy pie. Image: Krista, Wikipedia Commons.
Tom Bawcock's Eve, also known as Stargazy Pie Day, is a unique foodie holiday. To celebrate, serve up a savory pie with fish heads sticking up out of the crust, stargazing. You heard me - fish heads, stargazing. Seems a fisherman named Tom Bawcock braved the elements to bring in a load of fish during a famine, saving the citizens of Mousehole, a fishing village in Cornwall, England. (Side note: As far as I can determine, there is no corresponding Tom Bawcock's Day.)

Roots Day is a celebration of geleology. Take advantage of the holiday season to learn more about your family tree. Document the stories of older family members before the opportunity slips away.

Egypt observes Suez Victory Day on December 23rd.

National Pffernusse Day honors a German cookie featuring pepper and other spices. Surprise your friends by adding this cookie to your holiday spread.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Capricorn the Goat, December 22 to January 19 (or 20)

Capricorn. Image: Salvatore Vuono,

Everyone born between December 22nd and January 19th is a Capricorn, the sign of the Goat, also known as the Sea-Goat. Some say the sun leaves Capricorn on January 20th.
For more information about Capricorn:

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Ursid Meteor Shower 2011

Stargazing bench. Image: suphakit73, FreeDigitalPhotos.

The 2011 Ursid Meteor Shower will be at its peak near Winter Solstice, December 22nd and 23rd. The shower is visible in the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

City lights, called light pollution, can interfere with viewing. So can reflected moonlight, but the currently waning crescent moon allows optimal visibility.

Meteor showers are named for the constellation they appear to be near. The Ursid Meteor Shower appears near the constellation Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper.

Check out these sites for more information about the Ursid Meteor Shower, including recommended viewing times for your corner of the globe.

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Solstice, Christmas Tree Light Day, Haiku Poetry Day, more

December 22nd, 2011, is Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, Ann and Samantha Day, Yule, Global Orgasm for Peace Day, Christmas Tree Light Day, National Haiku Poetry Day, Teacher Appreciation Day (Cuba), and National Date Nut Bread Day.

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, occurs in parts of the Northern Hemisphere today; it took place yesterday at some longitudes.

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, occurs in the Southern Hemisphere today. Hard for me, here in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, to imagine it's summertime anywhere.

Ann and Samantha Day is observed on both Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, in an effort to honor Anne Frank and Samantha Smith on postage stamps. The two girls lived with courage and died as teens.

Yule is also celebrated at the Winter Solstice. Pagans and Wiccans set up yule alters, celebrate goddess rites, and welcome back the sun.

Global Orgasm for Peace Day, also known as GORG, takes place today at Solstice, UTC time, at 05:30. Convert to your local time here. The intent is for everyone to think about peace during the, uh, critical moment.

Christmas Tree Light Day is one of those holidays mentioned only on ecard sites. Send a greeting if you wish.

National Haiku Poetry Day celebrates the Japanese poetry form known as haiku. If you write a haiku in honor of the day, please share in the Comments section below!

Cuba celebrates Teacher Appreciation Day on December 22nd. On this date in 1961, Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be "free from illiteracy."

National Date Nut Bread Day offers the opportunity to eat something healthy and delicious during the decadent holiday season.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice, Yule, Humbug Day, Flashlight Day, more

December 21st, 2011, is Winter Solstice, Anne and Samantha Day, Yule, Shab-e Yalda, National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, Humbug Day, National Flashlight Day, Look on the Bright Side Day, Forefathers' Day, Phileas Fogg Wins a Wager Day, Independence Day (Nepal), and Kiwi Fruit Day.

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, takes place on December 21st or December 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere this year. In the Southern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice took place on June 22nd, 2011.

Anne and Samantha Day is observed on both the Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, in an effort to honor Anne Frank and Samantha Smith on postage stamps. The two girls lived with courage and died as teens.

Yule is also celebrated on the Winter Solstice. Pagans and Wiccans set up yule alters, celebrate goddess rites, and welcome back the sun.

Shab-e Yalda, celebrated in Iran, commemorates the Eve of the Birth of Mithra, the Sun God.

Since 1990, National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day has been observed on the Winter Solstice. The event, meant "to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who have paid the ultimate price for [the United States'] failure to end homelessness," is sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Celebrate your inner Ebenezer Scrooge on Humbug Day. Go on, it's okay. All of us embody at least a smidge of Scrooge sometimes.

National Flashlight Day takes place each year on December 21st, despite the fact that many neighborhoods are brightly lit with holiday lights. Oh, well. If someone blows a fuse, that flashlight will come in handy.

Look on the Bright Side Day is easy to celebrate today, given the plethora of glowing holiday lights and shining flashlights.

Forefathers' Day commemorates the Pilgrims' arrival at Plymouth Rock in 1620 on December 21st.

Today is Phileas Fogg Wins a Wager Day, the day when the fictional Fogg collected on his $20,000 bet that he could travel Around the World in Eighty Days.

Nepal observes Independence Day on December 21st, celebrating independence since 1923.

On Kiwi Fruit Day, enjoy a fruit that's not only good for you, but is also delicious and looks beautiful served in slices or quarters. Add some kiwi to your holiday buffet!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah, Mudd Day, Sangria Day, more

December 20th, 2011, is Hanukkah, Mudd Day, Go Caroling Day, Cathode-Ray Tube Day, International Human Solidarity Day, Sangria Day, and National Fried Shrimp Day. 

The first menorah candle is lit at sundown today, commemorating the first day of Hanukkah in 2011. The Festival of Lights is spelled many different ways, including Chanukkah.

Mudd Day is the time to consider the case of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, convicted to life in prison for setting the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, after Booth assassinated U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. In defense of Dr. Mudd, Booth was wearing a disguise at the time. Dr. Mudd was later pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. On Mudd Day, consider the possible ramifications of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Deck the halls with boughs of holly....O come, all ye faithful....Dashing through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh....On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...." You get the idea. Today is Go Caroling Day! Find many lyrics here.

Cathode-Ray Tube Day celebrates the technology that used to light our television screens. Do you remember watching the little dot gradually disappear after turning off the TV?

The United Nations supports International Human Solidarity Day, intended to celebrate unity in diversity.

Sangria Day offers an excellent excuse to drink. Celebrate Spanish culture - you need more fruit in your diet, right?

National Fried Shrimp Day is the perfect time to enjoying an appetizer or entree from the sea, breaded and deep fried to succulent perfection. Hungry now?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Look for an Evergreen Day, Hard Candy Day, more

December 19th, 2011, is Look for an Evergreen Day, A Christmas Carol Day, United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, Oatmeal Muffin Day, and National Hard Candy Day.

It's easy to celebrate Look for an Evergreen Day anywhere Christmas is celebrated. Behold the tree lots, the malls, the homes of friends and family. Come to think of it, look for evergreens in their natural habitat - the great outdoors! If you celebrate Christmas but haven't chosen a tree this year, today could be your lucky day.

Only the greeting card sites seem to mention A Christmas Carol Day, so it's origin and meaning are a mystery. Nevertheless, send an ecard if you're so inspired.

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation is meant to "promote and implement technical cooperation among developing countries.

If you and your body yearn for some healthy food - specifically fiber - during this appetizer-and-cookie season, celebrate Oatmeal Muffin Day.

Nothing quite says "it's the holiday season" like a crystal bowl overflowing with old-fashioned hard candy. It's colorful, shiny, beautiful, and delicious, whether in the shape of ribbons, buttons or other shapes. Find a candy store that sells retro candy and buy a bag! Happy National Hard Candy Day.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, Bake Cookies Day, more

December 18th, 2011, is International Answer the Phone like Buddy the Elf Day, Flake Appreciation Day, Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day, International Migrants Day, National Roast Suckling Pig Day, and Bake Cookies Day.

International Answer the Phone like Buddy the Elf Day requires you to channel your inner Will Ferrell. He played Buddy the Elf in the 2003 film, Elf.

Flake Appreciation Day is a time to celebrate dantruff, if you choose, but most of us will choose to admire crystalline, six-sided wonders that fall from the sky in cold weather. Here's a tutorial to help you create stunning paper snowflakes:

Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day is a holiday to celebrate at your own discretion. At least use a new plunger, please, and be sure to duck through doorways.

The United Nations supports International Migrants Day on December 18th. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes, "When their rights are violated, when they are marginalized and excluded, migrants will be unable to contribute either economically or socially to the societies they have left behind or those they enter. However, when supported by the right policies and human rights protections, migration can be a force for good for individuals as well as for countries of origin, transit and destination."

I don't know about you, but I'm too intimidated to celebrate National Roast Suckling Pig Day. If you do roast a pig today, especially a suckling pig, please invite me to sample! I'll bring dessert.

Today is Bake Cookies Day. If you took my advice back on National Cookie Day, all you have to do today is pop some dough in the oven. Sweet!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Talk with a Fake British Accent Day, Maple Syrup Day, more

December 17th, 2011, is National Talk with a Fake British Accent Day, Wright Brothers Day, Pan American Aviation Day, and Maple Syrup Day.

Blimey! Today is International Talk with a Fake British Accent Day. 'ave you 'eard of it? Jolly good. This colourful day was founded by Big Apple Brits - blokes and birds with real British accents living in New York City. Try out your accent - it's a doddle!

Wright Brothers Day commemorates the first successful heavier-than-air flight by Orville and Wilbur, back in 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Continuing in the aviation vein, today is Pan American Aviation Day, celebrating the importance of air travel in the Western Hemisphere.

On Maple Syrup Day, don't use the fake stuff! Enjoy your pancakes, waffles, or other breakfast treats with real maple syrup. Or add maple syrup to your dinner repertoire with these recipes.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Barbie and Barney Backlash Day, Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, more

December 16th, 2011, is Barbie and Barney Backlash Day, Underdog Day, Day of Reconciliation, and National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.

Barbie and Barney Backlash Day recognizes many people's visceral dislike of Barney and/or Barbie. Celebrate or ignore, as best suits your inner child.

Underdog Day honors the little guy, the second banana, the unsung hero.... You get the idea. This holiday, always the third Friday in December, was founded by the late Peter Moeller in 1976. He used to crown an "Underdog of the Year." So-called winners included Lee Iacocca, Harry Reasoner, Dennis Kucinich, and Phyllis Schlafly. Who would you select as this year's "Underdog?"

Day of Reconciliation has been celebrated on December 16th every year in South Africa since the end of Apartheid in 1994. The holiday is a time for ethnic groups to come together in peace and harmony. (Under Apartheid, December 16th was known as Day of the Vow, Day of the Covenant, or Dingaan Day. Apartheid comes from the Afrikaans words "apart" and "heid," meaning "aparthood.")

Today is National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day. Hard to imagine anyone disliking this holiday, unless the chocolate-covered item in question is a favorite sweater, a white sofa, or perhaps garlic.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Regifting Day, Cat Herders Day, Cupcake Day, more

December 15th, 2011, is National Regifting Day, Cat Herders Day, Bill of Rights Day, National Cupcake Day, and National Lemon Cupcake Day.

On National Regifting Day, we are urged to "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle... Regift." You may not appreciate the Chia Obama your cousin gave you, but perhaps your neighbor will love it! You can even print out a custom Regifting Day gift tag at the the Regifting Day website. Some celebrate this holiday on the Thursday before Christmas.

If the notion of regifting causes you stress, consider something more relaxing, like cat herding. That's right - today is Cat Herders Day. Cat herding, an all-but-impossible task, can be compared with organizing the minutae of your crazy job or getting everything done in time for Christmas.

Bill of Rights Day honors amendments to the U.S. Constitution that guarantee citizens certain rights. Read the Bill of Rights for yourself, to understand the power of those amendments.

Like things that are portable? Love cake? Then today is your day - National Cupcake Day. They're perfect for holiday parties, by the way.

Perhaps the vast array of cupcake flavors and decorating options is too overwhelming, especially given the general atmosphere of holiday stress in December. Narrow down your options and celebrate National Lemon Cupcake Day instead.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monkey Day and Bouillabaisse Day

December 14th, 2011, is Monkey Day and National Bouillabaisse Day.

Monkey Day was created in 2000 by comic strip artist and blogger Casey Sorrow. Sorrow writes, "Monkey Day is an annual celebration of all things simian, a festival of primates, a chance to scream like a monkey and throw feces at whomever you choose....(note: for legal reasons, the publishers of the Monkey Day website in no way endorse throwing feces in any manner at any time.)" Ditto for The Holiday Whiz, okay, people?

I'm not sure which is tougher - preparing bouillabaisse or spelling it. Nevertheless, celebrate National Bouillabaisse Day!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Geminid Meteor Shower 2011

Stargazing bench. Image: suphakit73; FreeDigitalPhotos.

The 2011 Geminid Meteor Shower, potentially visible from December 4th to December 16th, will be at its peak on the night of December 13th through December 14th. The Geminid, visible in both hemispheres, is the final major meteor shower of the year.

City lights, called light pollution, can interfere with viewing. So can reflected moonlight. Sadly, the waning gibbious moon will interfere with this year's light show.

Meteor showers are named for the constellation they appear to be near. The Geminid Meteor Shower appears near the constellation Gemini the Twins.

Check out these sites for more information abou tthe Geminid Meteor Shower, including recommended viewing times for your corner of the globe.

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Violin Day, St. Lucia Day, Cocoa Day, more

December 13th, 2011, is Violin Day, St. Lucia Day, Republic Day (Malta), Ice Cream Day, and National Cocoa Day.

Violin Day celebrates a stringed instrument that is equally at home playing classical, country, or pop.

St. Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden and Denmark today, with children spreading cheer through hospitals, nursing homes, and such, singing the "Santa Lucia Song." The girl chosen to portray Lucia wears a white robe and a headpiece with candles.

Malta observes Republic Day on December 13th, commemorating the formation of its republic in 1974.

If you don't mind the cold, embrace Ice Cream Day today. Otherwise, wait until the third Sunday in July, for National Ice Cream Day.

If the thought of ice cream in December gives you the shivers, how about an alternative? December 13th is National Cocoa Day. Celebrate with your biggest mug and several marshmallows.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Poinsettia Day, Ambrosia Day, Gingerbread House Day, more

December 12th, 2011, is Poinsettia Day, National Ding-a-Ling Day, Unmentionable Thoughts Festival, Bonza Bottler Day, Virgin of Guadalupe Festival, Neutrality Day (Turkmenistan), Independence Day (Kenya), National Ambrosia Day, and Gingerbread House Day.

Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12th, marking the death anniversary of politician Joel Robert Poinsett, for whom the flower is named. The holiday also honors Paul Ecke, Jr., the father of the poinsettia industry. Surprisingly (to me at least), poinsettias are the best-selling potted plant in the U.S. and Canada. That's a lot of holiday cheer!

National Ding-a-Ling Day is probably a tribute to Chuck Berry and his famous 1972 song, "My Ding-a-Ling." The lyrics mention two bells on a string, along with a lot of innuendo.

The Unmentionable Thoughts Festival is mentioned on many holiday sites, but with no details given. Too unmentionable, I suppose.

The twelfth and final Bonza Bottler Day of 2011 is here at last, celebrating the orderliness of a matching month number and date - 12/12.

The Virgin of Guadalupe Festival honors the patron saint of Mexico. Thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and fiestas are held throughout Mexico.

Turkmenistan observes Neutrality Day on December 12th.

Kenya observes Independence Day today, celebrating independence since 1963.

Ahhhh....the food of the gods! Even the well-known Sims of simulation game fame enjoy their ambrosia. Gather your citrus, chill your cream, celebrate National Ambrosia Day.

Today is Gingerbread House Day. Some are quite elaborate, as at the White House in Washington, D.C. Since most gingerbread houses are used more as decoration than as dessert, feel free to begin your construction project today, almost two weeks before Christmas. Alternatively, do as I do - buy a kit or set up a ceramic gingerbread house display.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mountain Day, Choral Day, Candle Lighting Day, more

December 11th, 2011, is International Mountain Day, World Choral Day, Worldwide Candle Lighting Day, Proclamation of the Republic (Burkina Faso), and National Noodle-Ring Day.

The United Nations supports International Mountain Day on December 11th, to raise awareness of the importance of mountain forests in a Green Economy. The theme for 2011 is "Mountains and Forests."

The International Federation for Choral Music sponsors World Choral Day. The theme for 2011 is "Solidarity." The event was proposed by Alberto Grau during the 1990 2nd World Symposium on Choral Music in Helsinki, Finland, to foster "solidarity, peace, and understanding."

December 11th is Worldwide Candle Lighting Day, created by the Compassionate Friends. At 7:00 p.m., your local time, "light a candle for all children who have died...that their light may always shine."

Burkina Faso observes Proclamation of the Republic today.

What's a henway? About 3 pounds. Wbat's a noodle-ring? A firm noodle casserole baked in a ring pan, then unmolded to serve. Happy National Noodle-Ring Day  to all.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar eclipse accompanies full moon on December 10th

Lunar eclipse. Image: Oliver Stein; Wikimedia Commons.

The full moon of December 10th, 2011, brings a total lunar eclipse, best viewed in central and eastern Asia. The eclipse will also be visible, at least in part, on the west coast of the United States and Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. View the eclipse in the early morning as the moon sets, before the sun rises.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the moon and the sun. During a total lunar eclipse, the earth throws the entire moon in shadow; during a partial lunar eclipse, the earth's shadow covers only a portion of the moon. The moon looks red during a lunar eclipse because dark red light has a long wavelength. Other colors in the spectrum have shorter wavelengths, more easily scattered by atmospheric molecules and dust.

For more information about the December 2011 lunar eclipse and eclipses in general, check out these useful sites:

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Full moon names for December 10th, 2011

Full moon. Image: morgueFile.

The full moon for December 2011 takes place tonight, December 10th, along with a total lunar eclipse. Following is a list of full moon names for December, ranging from common to surprising.

Winter Maker Moon - Abenaki
Full Cold Moon - Algonquin
Long Nights Moon - Algonquin
Small Spirits Moon - Anishnaabe
Popping Trees Moon - Arapaho
Center Moon's Younger Brother - Assiniboine
Unduvap Poya - Buddhist
Cold Moon - Celtic
Before Yule Moon - Cherokee
Snow Moon - Cherokee
Moon When the Wolves Run Together/Running Wolves Moon - Cheyenne
Bitter Moon - Chinese
Peach Moon - Choctaw
Christmas Moon - Colonial American
Big Cold Moon - Comanche
Evergreen Moon - Comanche
When the Young Fellow Spreads the Brush - Cree
Big Winter Moon - Creek
Twelfth Moon - Dakotah Sioux
Cold Moon - Deborean
Oak Moon - English Medieval
Ripe Berries - Haida
Datta Jayanti - Hindu
Margashirsa Purnima - Hindu
Respect Moon - Hopi
Kaitvitjuitk Moon - Inuit
Oak Moon - Janic
Snow Moon Dark - Janic
Not Bad Weather - Kalapuya
Nachuweenu daawaatra - Keresan
Real Goose Moon - Kiowa
Heavy Snow - Klamath
Little Finger Moon (counting on fingers, beginning in August) - Klamath
Halapisu - Kumeyaay
Time of Cold/Cold Time Moon - Mohawk
Under Burn - Mountain Maidu
Crusted Snow - Navajo
Long Night Moon - Neo Pagan
Oak Moon - Pagan
Frost Fish Moon - Passamaquoddy
Leaves Yellow and Fall - Pomo
Ashes Fire Moon - San Juan
Eccentric Moon - Shawnee
Winter Moon - Shoshoni
Moon of Popping Trees - Sioux
Moon When Buffalo Cow's Fetus Is Getting Large - Sioux
Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns - Sioux
Night Moon - Taos
Unborn Seals Are Getting Hair - Tlingit
Small Spirits Moon - Unknown
Ice Lasts All Day - Valley Maidu
Long Nights Moon - Wiccan
Big Bear's Moon - Winnebago
Her Winter Houses Moon - Wishram
Jesu Cristo Toomtek Meecha - Yaqui
Middle of Winter - Yuchi
Kohtsewets - Yurok
The Sun Has Traveled South to his Home to Rest Before He Starts Back on his Journey North - Zuni
Turning Moon - Zuni

Sources for full moon names:

More about the moon:

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Shareware Day, Dewey Decimal System Day, more

December 10th, 2011, is International Shareware Day, Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales, Day of the Horse, Dewey Decimal System Day, Nobel Day, Human Rights Day, and National Lager Day. Today also boasts the December full moon and a total lunar eclipse.

The second Saturday in December is International Shareware Day. Shareware is offered on the honor system - if you use a program and choose to keep it, you're expected to make a donation to the programmer. Today, in the spirit of giving, send a check to a programmer and make their day.

Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales is a phantom holiday floating around on many holiday sites. The holiday, supposedly an Inuit tradition, is unknown to Inuit experts. It's an intriguing idea for a festival, however, and for the sake of completeness I'm including it here.

The second Saturday in December is the Day of the Horse, celebrating the role horses have played in the history and economy of the United States.

December 10th is Dewey Decimal System Day honoring the birth date of Melvil Dewey. He created the numerical classification of books used by libraries, known as the Dewey Decimal System.

Nobel Day brings the awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

The United Nations promotes Human Rights Day on December 10th. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes, "Human rights belong to every one of us without exception. But unless we know them, unless we demand they be respected, and unless we defend our right - and the right of others - to exercise them, they will be just words in a decades-old document."

If you're worn out from this season's holiday prep, prop up your feet and have a cold one in honor of National Lager Day. Cheers!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Weary Willy Day, Christmas Card Day, Pastry Day, more

December 9th, 2011, is Weary Willy Day, Christmas Card Day, National Salesperson's Day, International Anti-Corruption Day, Independence Day (Tanzania), and National Pastry Day.

Weary Willy Day celebrates the clown character created by the beloved Emmett Kelly. Kelly was born on December 9th, 1898.

Christmas Card Day is, presumably, a subtle kick in the pants for those of us who haven't started working on our Christmas cards yet.

The second Friday in December is National Salesperson's Day. Do something special for the talented salesperson in your employ, or for the insightful salesperson who helped you find just the right item.

The United Nations supports International Anti-Corruption Day. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes, "On this International Anti-Corruption Day, let us pledge to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who practice it and endangering a culture that values ethical behaviour."

Tanzania observes Independence Day on December 9th.

National Pastry Day offers a great excuse to indulge. Enjoy your pastry sweet or savory - or both!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Flowers Day, Lemon Squeezer Day, Brownie Day, more

December 8th, 2011, is Take It in the Ear Day, Winter Flowers Day, Mother's Day (Panama), Feast of the Immaculate Concepction, Lemon Squeezer Day, and National Brownie Day.

December 8th is Take It in the Ear Day, but no one seems to know what we're supposed to take in the ear, or how to take it, or why. This holiday should just go in one ear and out the other.

Winter Flowers Day could be a tribute to the flowers in your yard or your local botanical garden, but at this time of year poinsettias are my flower of choice.

Panama celebrates Mother's Day today, with great fanfare.

December 8th honors the Virgin Mary with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Lemon Squeezer Day commemorates a patent granted to John T. White on this date in 1896, for an improvement to the lemon squeezer. Not sure why the original inventor isn't remembered instead. Just go make some lemonade and don't worry about it.

National Brownie Day - yum! You know what to do!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter Writing Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, more

December 7th, 2011, is Letter Writing Day, Special Kids Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, International Civil Aviation Day, and National Cotton Candy Day.

In honor of Letter Writing Day, turn off the electronics for a while. You'll be okay. Gather some paper and a pen - remember those? Oh, and you'll also need an envelope and a stamp - remember those? Write a letter to someone who would love to hear from you. They'll be surprised and charmed.

Special Kids Day was originally founded to help kids with disabilities have easier access to Santa. Today it's a fundraising effort to provide fun and accessible events to children with special needs.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day commemorates the day in 1941, during World War II, when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy."

The International Civil Aviation Organization established International Civil Aviation Day in 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of the organization.

National Cotton Candy Day celebrates a fun fair food, consisting of spun sugar in pastel colors. What we know as cotton candy in the U.S. goes by many other names:candy floss in the UK; fairy floss in Australia; Papa's beard in France; and sugar thread in Italy.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mitten Tree Day, St. Nicholas Day, Gazpacho Day, more

December 6th, 2011, is Mitten Tree Day, Put On Your Own Shoes Day, St. Nicholas Day, Pawnbrokers Day, Dia de la Constitucion, Independence Day (Finland), Microwave Oven Day, and National Gazpacho Day.

Mitten Tree Day offers an opportunity to donate mittens to someone in need or share the book The Mitten Tree, by Candace Christiansen. Better yet, do both!

Believe it or not, today is Put On Your Own Shoes Day. I can't top Hallmark's description of the holiday, so I won't even try. I'm exhausted after putting on my shoes, anyway.

St. Nicholas Day honors "Father Christmas" - a prelude, if you will, to Christmas. The focus is meant to be on giving, rather than receiving. Some in Northern Europe stash surprise gifts in each others' shoes.

Pawnbrokers Day is observed on the same day St. Nicholas is honored, because St. Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbrokers.

Dia de la Constitucion (or Constitution Day) celebrates the 1978 adoption of Spain's new constitution.

Finland observes Independence Day on December 6th. Enjoy this tribute to Finland by the fine fellows of "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

Foodie snobs may turn their noses up at the mention of the microwave oven, but I'll bet they secretly use one to heat up chowder or leftover souffle, or even to bake a potato or cook bacon. Celebrate Microwave Oven Day.

National Gazpacho Day commemorates a Spanish vegetable soup, best served cold (like revenge). In the winter months that might not seem appealing, but give it a try. If you're not pleased, heat it in your microwave.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Blue Jeans Day, Bathtub Party Day, Repeal Day, more

December 5th, 2011, is Blue Jeans Day, Bathtub Party Day, Repeal Day, Day of the Ninja, International Creep like a Ninja Day, National Commute with your Baby Day, International Volunteer Day, Ashura, Discovery Day (Haiti), National Day (Thailand), and Sacher Torte Day.

In honor of Blue Jeans Day, wear a (nice) pair of jeans to work or school if allowed. Otherwise, change clothes and relax when the work day is over, ASAP.

December 5th is Bathtub Party Day, for whatever it's worth. I'll skip this one, thanks, since I'm rather a private person and I prefer showers.

Repeal Day marks the end of Prohibition, in 1933, in the United States. I'll drink to that - responsibly, of course.

What's that noise? Is someone following us? Beware, for today is the Day of the Ninja, also known as International Creep like a Ninja Day. The date commemorates the 2003 release of the film, The Last Samurai.

According to several holiday list sources, today is National Commute with your Baby Day. Sadly, none offer details. I'm including the holiday here because it's unique. Please comment below if you have any information - after you've arrived safely at your destination with your baby.

The United Nations supports International Volunteer Day on December 5th. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes, "On International Volunteer Day, we recognize the dedication of volunteers, their admirable spirit of service, and their wide-ranging efforts to promote the goals of the United Nations. With the world population having surpassed seven billion this year, we must tap every person's potential to help others. Everyone can make a difference. Volunteering matters."

Ashura is observed by Muslims on the 10th of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, which falls on December 5th in 2011. Ashura commemorates the death of Hussein, grandson of Muhammad, in the year 680.

Discovery Day is observed in Haiti, commemorating the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

Thailand celebrates National Day on the birth date of the reigning king. The current ruler is King Bhumibol Adulyadey, Rama IX, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 5th, 1927.

Sacher Torte Day introduces the uninitiated to an Austrian cake with apricot jam, named for the majestic Hotel Sacher. Enjoy!

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa's List Day, Wear Brown Shoes Day, Dice Day, more

December 4th, 2011, is Santa's List Day, Wear Brown Shoes Day, National Dice Day, Chase's Calendar of Events Birthday, Extraordinary Work Team Recognition Day, International Hug Day, Feast Day of Saint Barbara, and National Cookie Day.

Christmas is just three weeks away. On Santa's List Day, stop to consider if you're on the good list or the bad list. Do you need to improve your position? While you're at it, consider your own list. How's your shopping coming along?

Not sure why, but today is Wear Brown Shoes Day. Can you picture Santa in brown shoes?

National Dice Day is agood day to play a classic game involving dice, such as Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Trouble. For even more fun, count up how many dice you have in your house - you might be shocked.

A tip of the hat in honor of Chase's Calendar of Events' Birthday. On this date in 1957, the first copies of Chases' Calendar of Annual Events were printed. Chase is an invaluable source of holiday information for the Holiday Whiz!

Extraordinary Work Team Recognition Day is the time to recognize your fellow team members or some team who works to make your life better. Postpone your thanks until tomorrow, a business day, if necessary.

International Hug Day is a great opportunity to hug family and friends, of course. But the original participants of International Hug Day hugged strangers in public places, as shown in this viral music video by Sick Puppies of Australia. Hug a stranger if you dare!

The Feast Day of Saint Barbara honors the patron saint of artillerymen, fireworks manufacturers, firemen, and stone masons. She is also the patron saint against sudden death, fires, and storms.

National Cookie Day celebrates all things cookie. Here's a tip: make a batch or three of your favorite cookie dough, scoop the dough into mounds on parchment paper, then freeze unbaked. Store unbaked cookies in your freezer, ready to bake at a moment's notice!

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