Gingerbread – Rich in History and in Flavor

Dec 8th

There is nothing more disheartening on my day of than to wake up with a headache that feels like the inside of my skull is being beaten brutally, as if something is trying to claw its way out.  For the 2nd day in a row I woke up feeling miserable, with my neck out of alignment. Hubby rubbed it a bit this morning, and it did get better for a little while, but came back again in a couple of hours.  I finally just had to decide to power through it and get a few things done.  I managed to vacuum most of the house, clean up the bathrooms, wash bath mats and shower curtains, make a couple of Christmas gifts – which I cannot mention by name here since I know my daughter reads the posts and she is getting a couple of these.  I have more to make tomorrow or Sunday. At that point my homemade things will be done.  I also managed to sort out the gifts, figure out where I needed a few more things to fill in the blanks. This weekend we start wrapping the presents, I figure out who needs more stocking stuffers and start working on the Christmas cards. I’m actually ahead of schedule, at least when comparing this year to previous years, but I wish I was a little further along so that this weekend could be all about baking cookies and watching movies. I am grateful to be nearly done with shopping though – that doesn’t happen very often.

 

Verse of the Day

December 7, 2018

[Jesus said,] “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:25

Thoughts on the Verse of the Day

This is the most important question you will ever answer. Do you really believe this? Do you believe that when you died with Christ in baptism through faith, that you died the most significant death and that your physical death will not separate you from Jesus? All of life, even all of eternity for you, hangs on this one question.

 

December 8, 2018

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

  

Thoughts on the Verse of the Day

I don’t want to be any more exclusive than Jesus. But I do want to hear his voice. He calls me to find the way to the Father through him. I must also know that others must know him to find their way to the Father, too. How can we not be more passionate about those around us who do not really know Jesus as their Savior, Redeemer, Brother, and Lord? How can the first four books of our New Testament lie unread?

 

December 9, 2018

[Jesus said,] “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:5,8

 

Thoughts on the Verse of the Day

We take on Jesus’ character (bear fruit) by remaining intimately connected to him. The distance between heaven and earth is not so great when heaven lives within us. In John 14, Jesus reminded us that if we will obey him, he will come and live in us and will reveal himself to us. So as we obey him, we know him better. His life becomes real in us.

 www.verseofthedaycom

History of Christmas Traditions

With Saturday being Gingerbread Decorating Day, this seemed like a good time to talk about the tradition of baking and decorating this delicious, aromatic treat. For me the aromas of cinnamon and ginger just represents the season – no matter what time of the year I smell them.  Gingerbread has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, though the early uses of it came about from rather disturbing origins.  Early pre-Christmas rituals involved human sacrifice, which later on after Christianity claimed those ritual dates as part of Christmas, the human sacrifice was stopped but human shapes made from gingerbread used instead.  Makes eating Gingerbread men a bit difficult, doesn’t it?  Anyway, used in religious ceremonies, it needed to be baked to be very firm, at least in its earliest days.  At one point an Armenian monk brought gingerbread to Europe.  The source I found said this was in the year 9922, and since we haven’t gotten to that year yet, I am going to assume it was either 992, or 922 and that there was a typo. That’s the same century anyway, right?  Either way, the art of baking gingerbread was already pretty advanced, and there were specially made molds used to make images of saints and other religious characters out of the bread.  Its primary use still was to serve religious purposes through the 17th century, when it finally started to become associated with Christmas.  Because creating even edible forms of religious icons was seen as sacred, European royalty only allowed the gingerbread to be prepared by specialty trained members of the “gingerbread guild”, and only then during Christmas and Easter.  This meant that most people could only enjoy this dessert during those two times of the year, establishing its connection with Christmas.

Over the years the patterns and designs grew much more detailed and intricate, with Russian gingerbread makers beginning to make some of the very first gingerbread men and women. They often took shapes that were similar to matryoshka dolls, which were round-ish.  Even with all of this baking development, the concept of the “gingerbread house” wasn’t brought about for another 200 years when the Brothers’ Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel was published.  The story about the witch’s house made of ginger was adapted to be much more festive, which became a happy winter wonderland cottage theme.  Because the houses needed a harder style of gingerbread, the German style of the bread was used because of the harder consistency.  With this they were able to make stronger, taller and much fancier creations.  Gingerbread house making quickly became an art!  Across the nation there are gingerbread house making competitions, with designers entering their creations from all over the country. There is one competition like this in Seattle each year, with the amazing gingerbread structures on display at the Sheridan Hotel.  I’ve been to see them many times over the years and am ALWAYS amazed! Everything in these must be edible, though they do allow for electronics for moving pieces, and I find myself to be perpetually amazed at the creativity and patience such an undertaking requires.

I have never actually decorated a gingerbread house myself, but I bought a pre-built house to decorate with Hubby. I need to go to the store to get a variety of candies to use on it though.

 

December 7 – 

Faux Fur Friday – This one has very little information floating around about it, but it’s pretty easy, at least in my mind, to conclude that the creator wanted to encourage people to wear faux fur instead of real fur. I get the sentiment, an it makes sense.  Easy way to celebrate this one is to wear faux fur!

 

Letter Writing Day – When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone?  Or sent a card that had more than your signature on it?  Today is the day to take a few minutes and write someone a letter.  Letter writing is nearly a lost skill, as most letters and notes these days are in emails or instant messages.  Celebrate this day by making someone you care about happy, because honestly, there are few things that make someone smile quite as quickly as opening the mailbox and finding a letter that someone took the time to write.

 

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – As the dawn began to creep over the horizon on the morning of December 7, 1941, our world changed.  What our citizens couldn’t believe would ever, or could ever, happen . . . did.  We were attacked on U.S. soil by the Japanese, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The attack crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and caused the United States to enter World War II.  During the attack, over 2,400 American servicemen and 68 civilians were killed.  Five of the eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking; and virtually all ships were damaged.  We thought we were untouchable . . . we were proven wrong.  Never be complacent, never assume we are always OK . . . our enemies are always out there looking for a way to get to us . . . no matter who the enemy of the moment is.  Complacency is probably the biggest enemy of all for it makes us blind, deaf and stupid, unable to defend ourselves and unable to discern even those among us who would do us harm.  In the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the day we were attacked was “. . . a day that will live in infamy”.  Don’t ever forget that what happened before, can, and likely will happen again if we remain unaware and continue to be complacent.   On that day the nation was shaken awake, as it has been a few times since then.  Somehow, some way, we always seem to fall asleep again.  Wake up and see that, especially with the supposed leadership we have now, we are not safe! We are never safe from our enemies for they can attack at any time, in any place, and for no reason other than we don’t agree with their religion.  Stay awake this time and always be vigilant.  Remember the loss of life on that morning in 1941 and honor the dead by being determined to keep our nation alive, healthy and with our independence and our freedoms intact.

 

 

 

December 8

Day of the Horse – In 2004, Congress recognized the first official national Day of the Horse.  Here you can read the text of the resolution:

Encouraging citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States and expressing the sense of Congress that a National Day of the Horse should be established.
Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States;
Whereas, without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different;
Whereas horses continue to permeate the society of the United States, as witnessed on movie screens, on open land, and in our own backyards;
Whereas horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;
Whereas, because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter; and
Whereas the Congressional Horse Caucus estimates that the horse industry contributes well over $100,000,000,000 each year to the economy of the United States: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–
(1) encourages all citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States;
(2) expresses its sense that a National Day of the Horse should be established in recognition of the importance of horses to the Nation’s security, economy, recreation, and heritage; and
(3) urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States and interested organizations to observe National Day of the Horse with appropriate programs and activities.

This is the 14th anniversary of the first official National Day of the horse and horse enthusiasts are encouraged to celebrate the horse’s contribution to our country.  According to the American Horse Council, there are 9.2 million horses in the United States;  4.6 million Americans are involved in the horse industry as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers;  2 million people own horses; the horse industry has a direct economic effect on the U.S. of about $39 billion each year; when you take into account the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees, the horse industry has a $102 billion impact on our economy; approximately 460,000 full time jobs are directly provided by the horse industry.  With all of the statistics set aside, horses are amazing.  I always wanted one growing up and would take every opportunity I possibly could to ride with friends who had horses.  At one point my ex-in-laws gave my kids ponies – lucky kids right?  And I had the best of both worlds.  The kids could enjoy their ponies, but the ponies stayed at the in-laws, so they had the expense, the clean-up and we had the fun!  I know – bad attitude, but as a mom I can definitely see the drawbacks to the extra chores when the kids were too young to take care of the horses themselves.  Someday I’d still like a horse, but circumstances would have to change greatly for that to happen.

 

Gingerbread Decorating Day – See Above in History if Christmas Traditions

 

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day – This one could be a lot of fun . . . if you’re young, feeling silly and just want to do something off the wall and different.  This one has been going on since 2009.  I have no idea who started it, but the idea is to do what the title says – pretend to be a time traveler – be an actor for a day and have fun with it.  One thing that has been done is to walk up to random people and say frantically, “What year is this?”, and when they tell you, get very quiet and say, “Then there’s still time!” and run off.  If you don’t want to do anything quite so out there, you could always watch movies with time travel in them, like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Frequency, or one of my personal favorites, Timeline.  I could watch that one over and over again.  Truth is, I can TOTALLY see one, or both, of my kids actually going out and pretending to be time travelers and not even being slightly hesitant about being silly.  It does make me giggle to think about it.

 

Take it in the Ear Day – This is a really strange one, and I couldn’t find any reason for it, nothing that would give it any significance.  Even without any documentation showing where it came from or what it means, all of the bizarre and strange holiday calendars mention it.  I suppose that makes it subjective to the person celebrating it to decide what it means.  One thought is that it was set up by someone who was a little sick and tired of everything going wrong and just felt like they were taking it in the ear . . . or maybe ear was meant to be a different word . . . never know!

 

 

December 9

Christmas Card Day – The very first Christmas commercial Christmas Card was created in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole of England.  It’s funny, but I never thought about when Christmas cards started! They have always been a part of our lives and giving thought to the beginning SHOULD have crossed my mind but didn’t.  Today is a great day to sit down and write out your cards, whether you send just a few out to close family and friends, or to everyone in your address book.   I have gotten a few cards already, and it makes me feel so good to see them displayed with all of their bright pictures and happy greetings. It’s nice that this celebration is today, since doing my Christmas cards was already one of the things on my to-do list!

 

Weary Willie Day – Today is the birthday of Emmett “Weary Willie” Kelly.  He was born in 1898, and from the time he was very little, he’d dreamed of joining the circus.    He started out in the circus as a trapeze artist with the John Robinson circus, but still wanted nothing more than to be a clown.  In 1933 he achieved that dream and became the clown “Weary Willie”.  Emmett Kelly created Weary Willie as a way to make more money because his wife had become pregnant with a baby.  He wasn’t able to perform successfully until later during the Depression though.  Before that people thought he just looked like a hobo, instead of a clown.  During the Depression everyone was dressing in shabbier clothes, and his sad hobo-like costume was more acceptable.  He became a household name as one of the featured performers in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus – the “Greatest Show on Earth”.  He was also the mascot for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was shown many times on Broadway, in the movies and on television.  One of the interesting characteristics of Willie was that he never said a word, silently speaking to the hearts of children of all ages.  He passed away of a heart attack in 1979, but he will always be remembered on Weary Willie Day every year, one of the few clowns in history that wasn’t terrifying.

 

 

 

This Day in History –

December 7, 1837 – Martin Van Buren becomes the 8th President of the United States, and the first president to be born in this country.

December 7, 1877 – Thomas Edison exhibited the phonograph.

December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor was bombed in a surprise attack by the Japanese. It marked the U.S. entry into WWII.

December 8, 1980 – John Lennon, singer, guitarist, songwriter and poet for the Beatles, was assassinated in New York City by Mark David Chapman in 1980.

 

 

Food Celebrations of the Day        

December 7 –

National Cotton Candy Day – Since cotton candy is typically enjoyed at fairs and other types of outdoor festivals in the country, I have to wonder why we celebrate this one in the middle of December?! That’s a good question, and I couldn’t find the answer.  I did find out that the Cotton Candy machine was patented in 1899 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton, and that they brought it to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  It was very popular! You can buy your own little cotton candy machine to have this treat at home!  I don’t have one, though it appears it is one of the few appliances I don’t have.  If I could be sure I could make cotton candy out of alternative, chemical free, sweeteners I’d get one, but it’s not worth the money to gamble. If you eat sugar and want to surprise the kids for a birthday party, this may be a good idea for you! Did you know Cotton Candy was originally called Fairy Floss because it was made from Floss (or Flossine) sugar!  I admit I do love cotton candy, no matter what time of year it is, so a big happy Cotton Candy Day to you!

 

December 8 –

National Chocolate Brownie Day & Candy Cane Brownie Recipe – Fun fact: Brownies were born in America in the early 1900s and were classified as a cookie (rather than a cake). Why? Because they’re eaten with your hands. It’s funny that I had already planned on making a batch of brownies today to have for dessert when my parents come over to have dinner and watch a movie with us. I was celebrating this one without even realizing it!  Know what I think would be nice to have? One of those cool brownie pans that makes each piece an edge piece, since most people’s favorite part is the chewier edge. Like this one! I should have thought to put that on my Christmas list, but I’m sure it’s too late now.  Well, I won’t despair. My birthday IS coming up soon too!

 

December 9 –

National Pastry Day – It always amazes me how few ingredients go into pastry, yet it can be SO many things for so many dishes!  The base for endless sweet and savory creations, classic pastry dough is actually nothing more than flour, shortening (or butter) and water.  We make desserts and main courses with it, appetizers and decadent breakfasts.  Seriously, is there anything more versatile than those three ingredients when put together?

 

 

 

This should be a fun weekend. This afternoon my parents are coming over for dinner and a movie, which means I need to start dinner and dessert preparation in a few minutes, and if Mom is up to it, I may see if she wants to go shopping with me tomorrow.  We won’t have any other time to go before Christmas and we always try to go at least once each year.  Sounds like fun . . . and busy. Nothing like town a couple of weeks before Christmas!  Have a wonderful weekend! God bless you and I’ll see you Monday.

 

 

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Celebration list sources:

www.verseoftheday.com   www.brownielocks.com   www.holidayinsights.com   www.thenibble.com   www.foodimentary.com

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