Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lenten season for Christians. It takes place 46 days before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Ash Wednesday services focus on the death and repentance the ashes represent. In many churches, the ashes are made from the palms branches that are burned from the previous Palm Sunday service.
Following a service or mass, the pastor or priest will invite their congregation to receive the ashes on their forehead. A cross pattern or other similar mark is made.
This solemn day begins a time of meditation, reflection, self-examination, study, and contemplation when Christians consider their own mortality and sinfulness in preparation for Easter.
HOW TO OBSERVE ASH WEDNESDAY
Attend an Ash Wednesday service. Learn more about the history of Ash Wednesday. Share your Ash Wednesday events and services.
ASH WEDNESDAY HISTORY
The use of ashes during spiritual occasions has ancient non-Christian roots. However, Ash Wednesday and the beliefs that accompany it, date back to the 6th century.
NATIONAL TELL A FAIRY TALE DAY
On February 26, have a happily ever after kind of day. It’s National Tell A Fairy Tale Day!
What were once oral histories, myths, and legends retold around the fire or by traveling storytellers, have been written down and become known the world over as fairy tales.
The origins of most fairy tales were unseemly and would not be approved or rated as appropriate for children by the Association of Fairy Tales by today’s standards. Most were told as a way to make children behave, teach a lesson or pass the time much like ghost stories around a campfire today.
Many of the stories have some basis in truth. For example, some believe the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is inspired by the real-life of Margarete von Waldeck, the daughter of the 16th century Count of Waldeck. The area of Germany where the family lived was known for mining. Some of the tunnels were so tight they had to use children – or small people such as dwarfs – to work the mines.
Margarete’s beauty is well documented, and she had a stepmother who sent her away. She fell in love with a prince but mysteriously died before she could have her happily ever after.
As the stories evolved, they took on a more magical quality with fictional characters such as fairies, giants, mermaids and gnomes, and sometimes gruesome story plots.
Toes cut off to fit into a slipper, a wooden boy killing his cricket or instead of kissing that frog prince his head must be cut off, but those are the unrated versions.
The brothers Grimm collected and published some of the more well-known tales we are familiar with today. Jakob and his brother Wilhelm together set out on a quest to preserve these tales at a time in history when a tradition of oral storytelling was fading. In 1812, they published their first volume of stories titled Household Tales. Their stories had a darker quality and were clearly meant for an adult audience.
Rumpelstiltskin is one of the tales they collected. There were several versions, and the little man went by many names in different parts of Europe. From Trit-a-trot in Ireland to Whuppity Stoorie in Scotland, Rumplestiltskin was one difficult man to identify.
While some storytellers have a long and sometimes ancient history such as Aesop (The Fox and the Goose, The Ant and the Grasshopper), others are more recent like the Grimm brothers.
Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1829, brought to us written versions of the Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid and many more. Where Grimm’s tales could take on a darker cast and unmistakably written with adults in mind, Andersen’s stories are sweet and warm.
HOW TO OBSERVE #TellAFairyTaleDay
How to Tell a Great Story:
- Engage your audience. Children like to participate. Have them quack every time the Ugly Duckling is mentioned, or make the motions of climbing Jack’s beanstalk.
- Use repetition. Repeated stanzas, syllables or movements will keep the kids engaged. It not only helps them to remember the story but sets them up for the next round of the repeated phrase or stanza.
- Give your characters a voice. Nobody likes a monotone storyteller. Buehler, Buehler, Buehler. No, not even children like the monotone. Varying your voice for each character and inflecting excitement, sadness and disappointment will create drama and stimulate the imaginations of the little minds listening to you.
- Ask questions as you go. It’s an excellent way to keep your story flowing and to gauge the children’s listening skills.
- Find out if someone has a story of their own. You might be in the presence of a great storyteller!
Share your favorite fairy tale with friends and family. Try relating them from memory as this has long been a tradition. Visit a library or local bookstore for storytime. Use #TellAFairyTaleDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL TELL A FAIRY TALE DAY HISTORY
Within our research, we were unable to find the creator or the origin of National Tell A Fairy Tale Day.
NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY
February 26th recognizes all things pistachio and National Pistachio Day is the day to celebrate! The day is set aside for all pistachio lovers to eat their favorite nut all day long. For those who do not eat pistachios, buy some and give them to someone who does. Crack them open and eat them up or enjoy them in ice cream or your favorite pistachio dessert!
Pistachios arrived in the United States sometime in the 1880s, but they have been cultivated in the Middle East since Biblical times.
The pistachio tree grows to about 20 feet tall needing little or no rain and must have high heat. Amazingly, in Iran, they claim to have 700-year-old pistachio trees! A new tree takes between 7 and 10 years to mature and bear fruit.
- All pistachio shells are naturally beige in color. Some companies dye nuts red or green if nuts are inferior or for consumer demand.
- California produces about 300 million pounds of pistachios each year, accounting for 98 percent of America’s production.
- Pistachio shells typically split naturally when ripe.
- The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and either salted or unsalted.
- In the Middle East, people call the pistachio the smiling nut.
- In China, people call the pistachio the happy nut.
“Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese and a good source of protein, fiber, thiamine and phosphorus. Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (42.5g) per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” US Food and Drug Administration, July 2003
A Great Thing To Do — Recycle the Pistachio Shells!
The empty pistachio shells are useful for recycling in several ways. If unsalted, the shells need not be washed and dried before reuse, but washing is simple if that is not the case. Practical uses include as a fire starter; kindling to be used with crumpled paper; to line the bottom of pots containing houseplants for drainage and retention of soil for up to two years; as a mulch for shrubs and plants that require acid soils, as a medium for orchids; and as an addition to a compost pile designed for wood items that take longer to decompose than leafy materials (it can take up to a year for pistachio shells to decompose unless soil is added to the mix).
Shells from salted pistachios can also be placed around the base of plants to deter slugs and snails. Many craft uses for the shells include holiday tree ornaments, jewelry, mosaics and rattles. Research indicates that pistachio shells may be helpful in cleaning up pollution created by mercury emissions.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalPistachioDay
Have a pistachio. Have a bunch of pistachios.
Try a pistachio recipe or two:
Use #NationalPistachioDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL PISTACHIO DAY HISTORY
Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Pistachio Day.
On Deck for February 27, 2020
Recipe of the Day
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total Prep: 45 minutes
2 cups chilled heavy cream, divided
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
In a 1 quart heavy saucepan, heat 3/4 cup of cream until hot.
In a metal bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, and salt until well combined.
Add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking to combine.
Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously until a thermometer reads 160°F.
Strain custard through a mesh sieve into a bowl.
Add vanilla and stir.
Melt chocolate using one of several methods below:
- A double boiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water and stirring the chocolate continuously or;
- A glass bowl in the microwave at 30-second increments until the chocolate softens.
Combine chocolate and mouse.
Whisk into the custard until smooth. Let cool.
Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl, beat the remaining 1-1/4 cups of cream to stiff peaks.
Fold in a fourth of the cream into the custard, then gently fold the remaining cream.
Spoon mousse into dishes and chill, covered for 6 hours.
Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.
Top with whipped cream.
About National Day Calendar
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.