Category: December 23

  • NATIONAL ROOTS DAY – December 23


    National Roots Day on December 23rd encourages families to delve into their family history, heritage, and ancestry.


    Each year during the holidays is an ideal time to collect family information. While families gather around the table telling stories and sharing memories, someone is sure to be the family historian. It is entirely possible a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle has already started a family tree and will share with other family members.

    When is National Day of Listening?

    Gather photos – and get them labeled before memories fade. Names, places, and dates become fuzzy after a decade or two. Strive to involve every generation. Share struggles and accomplishments. Document stories from one generation to another. Each generation is made up of the previous generation’s efforts, travels, failures, and successes. They help us to be who we are today but they

    It is often interesting to learn about the lives of our ancestors; where they came from, their struggles, their accomplishments. It is a combination of everyone on the family tree that helps to make the person we are today.


    Look into your own family’s roots. Share family stories with your children. Organize those photos. Some ways to encourage family members to share family history is by asking questions. Come prepared with the information you would like to learn. At the same time, be prepared to listen. You never know what stories might be worthy of being heard. Tools you will want to have handy include:

    • A notebook
    • Pencil
    • A tablet or computer
    • Something to record audio or video
    • A list of questions
    • Your family tree
    • Stories you may have heard
    • Photos, especially ones you need help identifying
    • Photo safe pen – you can also make a photocopy that you can write on

    If your relative has additional photos, ask permission to make copies. Whether you take a picture with your phone or bring a portable scanner, those photos may help you to identify people in your collection. Match them to the stories your family member is telling, too. 

    You can also visit the National Day Calendar Classroom for even more ways to Celebrate Every Day!

    Use #NationalRootsDay to post on social media.


    National Day Calendar continues digging for the roots of this holiday. 



    December 23rd is reserved for National Pfeffernuse Day, a German spice cookie. Very popular around the holidays, pfeffernüsse are fluffy cookies made with ground nuts and spices and covered in powdered sugar.


    The exact origin of the cookie is unknown. However, the Dutch believe that pfeffernüsse (or pepernoten in Dutch) are linked to the feast of Sinterklaas, which is celebrated on December 5 in the Netherlands and December 6 in Germany and Belgium. This holiday is when children receive gifts from St. Nicholas, who is partially the inspiration for the Santa Claus tradition. 

    Over time, many bakers have created their own pfeffernüsse recipes. Traditional methods included various nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Some modern recipes exclude nuts altogether along with the black pepper, retaining only cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom as flavorings. Bakers also use molasses and honey to sweeten the cookie


    Break out your favorite pfeffernüsse recipe and start baking. This is one holiday tradition that will bring back memories for many of you. Not only will you be able to savor the delicious spicy-sweet cookies, but you can also pass down the tradition to another generation. Once you have a good stack of them baked and cooled, package them up as sweet gifts for loved ones. They will appreciate the cookies and your thoughtfulness.

    We even have a couple of recipes for you to try.

    Pfeffernusse cookies from Allrecipes
    German Pfeffernusse Pepper Nut Cookies 

    Do you have recipes to share? Be sure to use #NationalPfeffernusseDay to post on social media.


    National Day Calendar continues researching the origins of this spicy cookie. While we do, we also encourage you to keep sampling and snacking on the recipes as you explore the fascinating holidays throughout the year. 

    Pfeffernüsse FAQ

    Q. What does ‘pfeffernüsse’ mean?
    A. The word pfeffernüsse comes from German and means ‘peppernut’.

    Q. Are gingerbread and pfeffernüsse the same?
    A. Gingerbread and pfeffernusse are both spicy cookies but they are made differently. Where gingerbread is a sturdier cookie, pfeffernüsse are softer. Additionally, pfeffernüsse, true to its name, includes pepper in the ingredients.

  • FESTIVUS – December 23


    Each year on December 23rd, Festivus commemorates a holiday episode of the television comedy, Seinfeld. In 1997, the popular television comedy brought Festivus to the masses when Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller) explains he invented the holiday in response to the commercialism of Christmas. Its slogan is “A Festivus for the rest of us.”


    Sitcoms often combine holidays and family discord. However, one only has to look to our own families to find a little humor. This holiday reminds us how easily we take things too seriously at times. Politics, traditions, grudges and more lead us down unintended paths. Sometimes those paths turn out to be quite the hilarious turn of events. Well, hopefully, they’re more hilarious than not. At least while watching through the magnifying glass of the Seinfeld episode safely from our homes, we see a bit of our selves and those we hold dear. 


    Festivus traditions derived from the television episode and the original creator have been combined over the years.

    • Adorn an aluminum Festivus pole to be displayed in the home. In the O’Keefe household, there was no pole. Instead, a clock was placed in a bag and nailed to the wall.
    • Serve a traditional dinner in the evening. 
    • During dinner, allow the Airing of Grievances. Each person takes turns describing how the others have disappointed him or her over the past year.
    • Feats of Strength follows dinner and involves wrestling the head of the household. Note: The holiday is not complete unless the head of the household is pinned. Failure to pin the head of the household could result in perpetual Festivus.
    • Festivus Miracle – a frequent if unimpressive miracle. You may count carrying all the groceries into the house for dinner without tripping or dropping one of the bags as a Festivus Miracle.

    While watching the Seinfeld episode, count the number of miracles. Pick up an aluminum pole. Decorate it. Let the Airing of Grievances begin and celebrate. Use #Festivus to post on social media.


    Daniel O’Keefe, Reader’s Digest editor and author, created the holiday in response to family tension. One of its central practices is the “airing of grievances.”  He first celebrated the day in February of 1966. But later, the day was recognized as it is now, on December 23 in honor of O’Keefe’s first date with his future wife. O’Keefe’s son wrote the Seinfeld episode featuring the celebration.

    December 23rd Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) History


    The Sentinel newspaper of Troy, New York anonymously publishes the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” In 1944, at his children’s insistence, Clement Moore steps forward as the author of the poem. He had written it on Christmas Eve in 1922 for his children. Since then, the poem has defined the world’s idea of Santa Claus, his spirit, and even his reindeer.


    President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act creating the Federal Reserve System.


    The three-person crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft mission became the first people to orbit the moon. Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders spent six days in space.


    Construction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower reaches its pinnacle making it the tallest building in the world until the Sears Tower in Chicago overtakes it in 1973.


    Green Card premieres in Los Angeles and New York City. The dramedy starring Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell tells the story of a marriage of convenience. Two strangers marry so the Frenchman can stay in the United States, but it turns into something more. Peter Weir directs the Golden Globe-winning film.

    December 23rd Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) Birthdays 

    Joseph Smith – 1805

    In 1827, after reportedly being visited by an angel, Smith translated a manuscript known today as the Book of Mormon. He would organize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lead many followers across the country to a settlement in Nauvoo, IL. A mob would kill Smith and his brother on June 27, 1844.

    Madam C.J. Walker – 1867

    Born Sarah Breedlove, the American innovator and businesswoman became the first Black millionaire in the United States. She launched a line of hair care products and a sales method that employed thousands of women.

    Anna Jane Harrison – 1912

    In 1978, the American Chemical Society elected Harrison as their first woman president. Harrison had spent the previous 41 years as a researcher and educator with several colleges and worked for the National Defense Research Council and Corning Glass Works.

    Bob Kahn – 1939

    The electrical engineer’s contributions to computer technology include communication protocols essential to the Internet. President Bill Clinton awarded the National Medal of Technology to Kahn and Vinton Cerf in 1997 for founding and developing the Internet. Kahn was also presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by President George Bush.

    Eddie Vedder – 1964

    Since 1990, the musician has served as Pearl Jam’s lead vocalist.