DECEMBER 21, 2020 | YULE | CROSSWORD PUZZLE DAY | WINTER SOLSTICE | HUMBUG DAY | ANNE & SAMANTHA DAY | NATIONAL HOMELESS PERSONS’ REMEMBRANCE DAY | PHILEAS FOGG WIN A WAGER DAY | NATIONAL FRENCH FRIED SHRIMP DAY | NATIONAL FLASHLIGHT DAY | NATIONAL MAINE DAY
On the arrival of the Winter Solstice, we observe Yule.
Also known as Jul, Yule predates the Christmas holiday by thousands of years. Linguists debate the origin of the word of the word Yule. Some suggest the word is derived from “Iul,” the Anglo-Saxon word for wheel. This makes a connection to a Celtic calendar, the Wheel of the Year. However, in the Norse culture, “Jul” refers to the god, Odin. Odin was celebrated during Yule as well.
Yule celebrations included bonfires, decorating with holly, mistletoe and the boughs of evergreen trees, ritual sacrifices, feasts, and gift-giving.
Many Christmas Traditions Borrowed From Yule
Many of the traditions we use at Christmastime were borrowed from Yule traditions of old. Whether they are from myths, feasts, folklore, ancient beliefs, oral stories told, or festivals, we have woven them into the fabric of our modern-day customs. Do you recognize any Christmas traditions borrowed from Yule?
- The midwinter feast usually lasted 12 days.
- Vikings decorated evergreen trees with gifts such as food, carvings, and food for the tree spirits to encourage them to return in the spring.
- Mistletoe combined with a mother’s tears resurrected her son, the God of Light and Goodness, in a Viking myth. The Celts believe Mistletoe possessed healing powers as well and would ward off evil spirits.
- In Norse tradition, Old Man Winter visited homes to join the festivities. The Viking god, Odin was described as a wanderer with a long white beard and is considered the first Father Christmas.
- Viking children left their shoes out by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
- Children traipsed from house to house with gifts of apples and oranges spiked with cloves and resting in baskets lined with evergreen boughs.
- The Yule log was a whole tree meant to be burned for 12 days in the hearth. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice. They thought by keeping the Yule log burning for these 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer. The largest end would be fed into the hearth, wine poured over it. They lit it with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone took turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned. Letting it burn out would bring bad luck.
HOW TO OBSERVE #Yule
Share your observations, stories, and traditions related to the holiday. Examine your holiday traditions and compare them to those of yuletide. Where do they cross and blend? Explore the history and lore of Yule. Read Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison for more insight.
Share other traditions we missed and use #Yule to post on social media.
While we observe the winter solstice around the world, Germanic cultures of northern and western Europe primarily celebrated Yule. At the midpoint of winter, they celebrated the rebirth of the sun and the light it would bring to the Earth.
CROSSWORD PUZZLE DAY
Crossword Puzzle Day on December 21st commemorates the birth of a challenging word game enjoyed by millions around the world.
The first crossword puzzles were published in England in children’s books and other publications. They were simple word games derived from the word squares where letters were arranged in a square so that the words read the same across and down.
The object of a crossword puzzle is to fill in the white spaces of a grid with the correct words using the clues provided. Black spaces separate individual words. The clues to more challenging puzzles read like riddles, making the game more complex.
Many tout the benefits of crossword puzzles. Not only are they fun, but challenging crossword puzzles may help delay the effects of dementia or sharpen the brain for problem-solving. They can also increase vocabulary and even relieve the mind from the day’s stress by focusing on something other than worldly problems.
HOW TO OBSERVE #CrosswordPuzzleDay
Buy a crossword book or find one online. Enjoy some popcorn while you puzzle your way through your favorite crossword! We also suggest these fun ways to celebrate:
- Try completing different types of crossword puzzles like a cipher or a cryptic.
- Are you bi-lingual or learning a new language? Consider completing a crossword puzzle in your second language.
- Challenge someone to a race. Earn bragging rights for completing your puzzle first.
- Try your hand at creating a crossword puzzle. Sometimes forming the clues is more challenging than the puzzle framework.
- If you create your own crossword, see if you can fit a loved one’s name into it.
- Challenge yourself to complete a puzzle a day.
Use #CrosswordPuzzleDay to post on social media.
Educators, check out Week 15 of the National Day Calendar Classroom for a lesson designed for you.
CROSSWORD PUZZLE DAY HISTORY
Journalist Arthur Wynne from Liverpool receives credit as the inventor of the word game we know today. He created what is considered the first known published crossword puzzle. The puzzle appeared in the December 21, 1913, edition of the New York World newspaper.
The winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It occurs annually between December 20th and December 23rd.
The winter solstice is marked by the point at which the North Pole is at its farthest from the sun during its yearly orbit around the sun. It will be approximately 23 degrees away from the sun. Despite the temperature outside, the winter solstice is considered the astronomical beginning of winter. Meteorological winter begins December 1st and lasts until the end of February. It’s marked by the coldest average temperatures during the year.
Depending on how far north a person is in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter, their day can range from 9.5 hours to absolutely no sunrise at all. On the bright side, the days will gradually become longer in the Northern Hemisphere until the summer solstice in June. In the Southern Hemisphere, this same day marks the summer solstice and the Southern Hemisphere’s longest day of the year.
The vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox conventionally mark the beginning of spring and fall respectively and occur when night and day are approximately equal in length.
Around the world since ancient times to modern-day, celebrations, festivals, rituals and holidays recognizing the winter solstice have varied from culture to culture.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WinterSolstice
Winter lovers, enjoy the shortest day of the year. Those longing for more sunlight, prepare to celebrate. Longer days are ahead. Use #WinterSolstice to post on social media.
WINTER SOLSTICE HISTORY
Since the marking of time and the earliest calendars, this day marked the hardest time of the year for early people. Survival was paramount when food and heat are not reliable. In all corners of the Earth, there are ancient remains that seem to have been built around marking the winter solstice.
- Probably the most famous of these is Stonehenge, England. Every year when the sun sets on the winter solstice, the sun’s rays align with two of the giant stones known as the central Altar and the Slaughter stone.
- As the sun rises the day of the winter solstice, its rays illuminate the main chambers of the monument dating back to 3200 B.C. at Newgrange, Ireland.
- In Tulum, Mexico an ancient Mayan city stands deserted. At the top of one of these buildings, a small hole casts a starburst when the sun rises on the winter and summer solstices.
Humbug Day on December 21st recognizes the Ebenezers, the Scrooges, grinches, and curmudgeons who suck the joy out of the holiday season.
Sometimes, even the most joyous of us all get bitten by the hum-bug. Regardless, it’s essential to do our best to remember all those who suffer from it the most. Spread some joy their way and bring the holiday spirit into their lives. However, the day was created to express our frustrations, to let the Scrooge in all of us out, and let him reveal himself. Whether we declare it through a humbug or two or just avoid the people-y places, the day gives us a break from the hustle and bustle of activity that comes with the season.
It’s a stressful time of year for many reasons. Some of us may be lonely, and others may feel pressure to do more than is humanly possible. We may also set our own expectations quite high, too. As a result, the stresses of the holiday season pile up, leaving us feeling a bit like Scrooge.
HOW TO OBSERVE #HumbugDay
The day is an excellent time to both express our Scrooginess and also take stock of our expectations. Perhaps there’s room to simplify this holiday and lessen our load. When we do, we might find a way to replenish our joy and spread a little, too. Use #HumbugDay to post on social media.
You can also look for 14 Ways to Foster Happiness in Your Life instead. It’s up to you.
HUMBUG DAY HISTORY
Thomas and Ruth Roy at Wellcat.com created Humbug Day.
ANNE AND SAMANTHA DAY
Celebrated bi-annually on the summer solstice and the winter solstice, Anne and Samantha Day honors Anne Frank and Samantha Smith.
Anne Frank moved generations with the words she recorded in her diary – the diary of a young Jewish girl. Born June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, on the cusp of one of the most significant upheavals in world history, she was the second daughter of Otto and Ruth Frank.
The Frank family fled Nazi Germany for the relative safety of Amsterdam, Netherlands, after Germany began its campaign in 1939 by attacking Poland. By 1942, the Netherlands would be occupied by the Nazis as well.
Weeks after receiving a red checkered diary for her 13th birthday, Anne’s family and the families of her father’s employees were forced into hiding. The year was 1942. Anne and her family survived in hiding in the empty space at the back of her father’s company building. It was here Anne wrote daily. Her diary became a place of solace when despair was overwhelming.
I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support. ~ Anne Frank
In August of 1944, betrayal split her family apart, separating the men from the women. The Germans forced the Franks into hard labor under brutal conditions in concentration camps. Her father would be the only family member to survive. He would later discover Anne’s diary left behind.
The daughter of an instructor of college literature and a social worker, Samantha Smith, was born June 29, 1972.
When she was ten years old, she sought to understand the Cold War between the United States and Russia by writing a letter to the Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov.
Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren’t please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
While her letter was published in the Soviet newspaper, Pravda, she did not receive a response from Andropov. Not to be discouraged, she sent a letter to the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United States asking if there would be a response from Andropov.
On April 26, 1983, she received a reply. Andropov addressed each of the young girl’s questions in a lengthy letter which included an invitation to visit the Soviet Union.
In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons — terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That’s precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never — never — will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on Earth. – Yuri Andropov
Samantha soon became known as “America’s Youngest Ambassador.” She traveled to the Soviet Union and wrote a book about her visit. She traveled the world participating in peacemaking activities and became an actress in the television series Lime Street.
Her young life was cut short at the age of 13 when the plane she was traveling in crashed on August 25, 1985.
HOW TO OBSERVE #AnneSamanthaDay
Send a letter supporting stamps honoring Anne Frank and Samantha Smith.
Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
U.S. Postal Service
1735 North Lynn St., Suite 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432
Use #AnneSamanthaDay to post on social media.
ANNE AND SAMANTHA DAY HISTORY
Supporters for postage stamps honoring Ann Frank and Samantha Smith created Anne and Samantha Day.
NATIONAL HOMELESS PERSONS’ REMEMBRANCE DAY
National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day on the first day of winter remembers those in the homeless community who have died the previous year. The day reminds us to honor them and remember the life they lived.
Homelessness is a year-round concern for many. Winter increases the anxiety associated with finding shelter. During the holidays, the media focus their attention on raising awareness and improving opportunities. It’s an ideal time to garner a public forum for the issue, and local groups are encouraged to seek out and work with their local media outlets to publicize the event.
From state to state, the quality and availability of homeless shelters vary. The number of homeless in each state will vary as well. However, according to Whitehouse.gov – state of the homeless in America, in 2018, approximately half a million people were homeless in the United States. Of those, almost 200,000 were unsheltered.
Many of their families don’t know where they are. When they become sick or injured and they die in an ER or in the street, their families don’t know. Sometimes, they left for a reason or had nowhere else to go. No matter what their story was, they deserve a ceremony to remember them.
HOW TO OBSERVE #HomelessPersonsRemembranceDay
The day encourages local groups across the country to determine the number of homeless persons in their community who died in the previous year. Arrange a ceremony to remember them. Candlelight marches, vigils, graveside services, plays and performances, religious services, and public policy advocacy are the suggested ways of remembering. Some groups have read publicly a list of names of the deceased. Use #HomelessPersons’RemembranceDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL HOMELESS PERSONS’ REMEMBRANCE DAY HISTORY
Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council have sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Remembrance Day to bring attention to the plight of the nation’s homeless population and to encourage the public to act on their behalf.
National Coalition for the Homeless
2201 P St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
202-462-4822; fax: 202-462-4823
PHILEAS FOGG WIN A WAGER DAY
Phileas Fogg Win a Wager Day on December 21st commemorates a date in fictional history. In the classic novel, Around the World in 80 Days by French Novelist, Jules Verne, December 21st is the date illustrious main character Phileas Fogg must complete his challenge to win a wager of £20,000.
During an argument about the possibility of traveling around the world in 80 days, Phileas Fogg is challenged by fellow members of the Reform Club to do just that. He accepts the wager of £20,000 (equal to about £1.5 million today).
He departs on his with his newly hired valet, Passepartout at 8:45 P.M. on Wednesday, October 2, 1872. In order to win the wager, he must arrive back at the Reform Club at the same time on Saturday, December 21, 1872.
As you can imagine, Fogg and his valet encounter many trials, obstacles, and adventures along the way. Does Phileas Fogg win a wager? As you can imagine, Fogg and his valet encounter many trials, obstacles, and adventures along the way. Does Phileas Fogg win a wager? Explore the novels of Jules Vern including the novel Around the World In 80 Days. You just might find adventure where you least expect it.
HOW TO OBSERVE #PhileasFoggWinAWagerDay
Start reading Around the World in Eighty Days. Learn about the wager and the travels of Phileas Fogg. Of course, today it’s possible to travel around the world in less than 80 days. Not only has navigation improved, but the way we travel has also improved. If you were to travel around the world, which mode would you choose? Tell us using #PhileasFoggWinAWagerDay to post on social media.
PHILEAS FOGG WIN A WAGER DAY HISTORY
December 21st is the anniversary of the day Phileas Fogg was due back at the Reform Club to win his wager. While National Day Calendar has not identified the founder of Phileas Fog Win a Wager Day, we’ll wager they’re a Jules Verne fan.
NATIONAL FRENCH FRIED SHRIMP DAY
On December 21st, seafood lovers celebrate National French Fried Shrimp Day. Enjoyed all year long, this delicious dish delights many across the country.
Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood.
The word prawn is used loosely to describe any large shrimp, sometimes known as jumbo shrimp. Some countries use the word prawn exclusively for all shrimp.
Preparing the shrimp for consumption usually involves the removal of the head, shell, tail and sand vein. There are many ways to cook shrimp. Common methods of preparation include baking, boiling, broiling, sauteing, frying, and grilling.
Cooking time is delicate for shrimp and they are at their best when not over cooked.
A healthy food, shrimp is low in calories and high in levels of omega-3s, calcium, iodine, and protein. Shrimp is also known to be considered good for the circulatory system. *The preparation of the shrimp does impact the caloric count.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FrenchFriedShrimpDay
Enjoy one of the following recipes:
Use #FrenchFriedShrimpDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL FRENCH FRIED SHRIMP DAY HISTORY
National Day Calendar continues to enjoy the tasty research of this
NATIONAL FLASHLIGHT DAY
National Flashlight Day, on the same day as Winter Solstice, reminds us to turn on some lights during the shortest day of the year.
Around 1899 the invention of the dry cell and miniature incandescent electric light bulbs made the first battery-powered flashlights possible.
Today the flashlights that we use are mostly incandescent lamps or light-emitting diodes and run on disposable or rechargeable batteries. Some are powered by the user turning a crank or shaking the lamp, and some have solar panels to recharge a battery.
In addition to the well known, general-purpose hand-held flashlight, other forms have been adapted for particular uses. Head or helmet-mounted flashlights designed for miners and campers leave the hands free. Special flashlights provide light underwater and in flammable atmospheres.
January 10, 1899 – British Inventor David Misell obtained U.S. Patent No. 617,592, assigned to American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company. This electric device designed by Misell was powered by “D” batteries laid front to back in a paper tube with the light bulb and a rough brass reflector at the end. The company donated some of these devices to the New York City police, who responded well to them.
HOW OF OBSERVE #NationalFlashlightDay
Grab a flashlight for the shortest day of the year. Depending on where you live, some parts of the Northern Hemisphere experience darkness long before the solstice. We’re looking at you Barrow, Alaska. Another place that could use a few flashlights is Tromso, Norway. Like Barrow, they also experience no sunlight from November to January. This time of no sunlight is called the Polar Night. All of Greenland receives 3-4 hours of sunlight during that same period, too.
While all of the Northern Hemisphere sees shorter days, the more northern locations feel the larger impact. Many people will supplement their sunlight with special lights. Getting sufficient exercise and staying active help to ward off doldrums. Communities organize festivals and activities to bring people together, too. A sense of community is vital to staying connected during the winter months. So, bring your flashlight during National Flashlight Day and celebrate the Winter Solstice! Longer days are ahead.
Use #NationalFlashlightDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL FLASHLIGHT DAY HISTORY
National Day Calendar keeps shining a beam of light into the history of this bright idea.
NATIONAL MAINE DAY
On December 21st, National Maine Day recognizes the 23rd state to join the union and the most eastern one, too!
Populated by Wabanaki tribes when European explorers first arrived, Maine would later be colonized by French and English settlers, leaving Maine’s possession in constant debate. Fast forward to 1820; the state was carved out of Massachusetts as part of the Missouri Compromise.
Today, with her rocky shores and idyllic New England backdrop, Maine allows a moment to experience the light and sounds at a pace that’s more natural. Lobster, once so abundant it was served to prisoners and servants, is now a delicacy and just one of Maine’s many ocean delights.
Artists flourish in Maine. From fiction to landscapes, the state has inspired poets, writers, painters, and more for centuries. From the Acadia to Kennebunk, from the highlands to the valleys, Maine is open all year round.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalMaineDay
Join National Day Calendar as we recognize Maine’s breathtaking views and explore her history. Uncover hidden treasures and explore Maine’s mountains and shores! Use #NationalMaineDay to share on social media.
In 2017, National Day Calendar began celebrating each state in the order they entered the union starting the week of Independence Day and ending with Hawaii. We highlight a small part of each states’ history, foods, and the people who make up the state. There’s so much more to explore!
The New York World newspaper published the first crossword puzzle. Journalist Arthur Wynne of Liverpool, England created the word game they published that day.
Walt Disney released the first full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Apollo 8 launches from Cape Kennedy off the coast of Florida with crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders in the first mission to orbit the Moon.
SpaceX completes its first successful vertical ground landing with its Falcon-9 rocket.
Recipe of the Day
EGGNOG BREAD PUDDING
4 large eggs
4 cups prepared eggnog
10 slices stale cinnamon raisin bread
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar (optional)
Heat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8 x 8-inch oven-safe baking dish by coating with butter or cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add eggnog and whisk well.
Place one layer of bread in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour half of the prepared eggnog over the cubes. Arrange the additional slices on top and pour the remaining eggnog over the bread.
Bake 55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners sugar. Serve warm with caramel sauce poured over the top.
There’s no bad attitude surrounding Jennifer Monroe. Everywhere she goes, her Celebrate Every Day attitude goes with her. Not only does it make her grateful every day, but it’s also helpful in her career as a school Speech-Language Pathologist. Learn something new and celebrate with Jennifer, won’t you?
Laurence M. Klauber – 1883
The former engineer and inventor’s interest in snakes led to a career as a herpetologist – a zoologist specializing in reptiles and amphibians. He contributed numerous specimens to the San Diego Natural History Museum, joined the board of the San Diego Zoo’s Zoological Society’s Board of Trustees, and wrote the authoritative Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories, and Influence on Mankind.
Josh Gibson – 1911
The power hitter of the Negro Baseball League, Gibson led the league in homers for 10 consecutive seasons. In 1972, the catcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Paul Winchell – 1922
As a ventriloquist and comedian, Winchell created a career by making voices. Some of his credits include Tigger in many of Disney’s animated Winnie-The-Pooh television series, Mr. Owl in the 1969 Tootsie Pop commercial, and Gargamel in the Smurfs.
Samuel L. Jackson – 1948
The incredible filmography of actor and producer Samuel L. Jackson spans three decades. From Pulp Fiction and the Avengers movies to Coach Carter and Shaft, Jackson has received both popular and critical acclaim around the world.
Chris Evert – 1954
The world champion tennis player won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.
National Day Calendar® is the authoritative source for fun, unusual and unique National Days! Since our humble beginnings on National Popcorn Day in 2013, we now track nearly 1,500 National Days, National Weeks and National Months. In addition, our research team continues to uncover the origins of existing National Days as well as discover new, exciting days for everyone to celebrate.
There’s a celebration for everyone. While National Road Trip Day satisfies the itch to wander, many pet days let us share our love of animals. National 3-D Day and National Astronaut Day honor the advancement of technology, too. Every food day you can imagine (National Avocado Day, for example), will keep you celebrating, also!
Our Ambassador Program is another way #CelebrateEveryDay®! Whether you become an ambassador or follow one of the savvy ambassadors, their fun videos and posts will keep you prepared for every holiday.