Event highlights for December 2022
WELCOME TO DECEMBER
There is a reason December is referred to as the Holiday Season. There is something for everyone, whether it is the change of seasons, a new year, or festive religious observances.
In Persia (Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kurdistan, Tajikistan, and parts of Turkey), Yalda, the equivalent in importance to Thanksgiving in the United States, is celebrated on the solstice. Chinese cultures bask in Dōngzhì Festival on December 21. Christian communities mark Christmas on December 25, and Jewish communities celebrate Hanukkah on December 18-26.
Atheists have their holiday Humanlight Celebration on December 23, first celebrated in 2001. Kwanzaa, a celebration of African heritage created in 1966, graces the homes of those with African ancestry worldwide from December 26 - January 1, and the global community celebrates the retirement of another year in the Gregorian calendar on New Year's Eve, December 31. The southern hemisphere begins summer, and the northern hemisphere enters winter. Yes, something for everyone.
For some reason, the events I chose this month fall largely into the music or food categories. It wasn't intended. Mostly I look for events with interesting histories or backstories.
Let's start Boxing Day, which has nothing to do with the sport of boxing.
Date: December 26, 2022
Location: British Commonwealth
Champion: British Tradition. Bank Holiday.
Boxing Day in the Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, is a day of thanks and sharing.
Boxing Day traditions began during Queen Victoria's reign in England. The day after Christmas, the gentry granted the day off to their servants, presenting each with a box of gifts to take home to their families. For those who provided services over the year, including doormen, delivery people, and salon workers, tips are given. Traditionally, Boxing Day is the second day of Christmastide (Twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany on January 6). In the countries mentioned above, Boxing Day is a bank holiday.
In Ireland, Boxing Day is referred to as "Lá Fhéile Stiofáin," "Lá a Dreoilín," "Mummer's Day," "Wren Day," or the "Feast of Saint Stephen." Saint Stephen is the Christian faith's first martyr.
Irish celebrants add a colorful twist to the holiday, donning old clothes and straw hats, traveling door to door with fake wrens dancing, singing, and playing music in celebration. Depending upon the specific region of the country, these colorful well-wishers earn the name Wrenboys or Mummers.
There is also a legend tying Boxing Day to Christmas originating in the tenth century with the Duke of Bohemia, Wenceslas—the same as the Christmas song. Wenceslas, the legend goes, once helped a poor man passing through his kingdom by giving him food and wine in boxes.
The traditions of Boxing Day continue today, with visiting family and friends top of mind. Since the end of apartheid, Boxing Day in South Africa is called Goodwill Day.
FATHER'S RIGHTS DAY
Date: December 21, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Desmond Doyle (1924 - 1986) was an Irishman and father whose wife left him and their children on Boxing Day 1953 for another man. Desperate for work, he was forced to travel to England for employment. The state took care of his children when he went abroad for work, then refused to give them back. Poor, single, and alone, Doyle would have to fight tradition, the Irish state, and the Catholic Church for the right to raise his children, regardless of marriage. After two years of fighting, he won. At the time, fathers were considered incapable of caring for children alone.
Doyle set a legal precedent and led the fight for fatherhood rights, changing family law in Ireland by challenging the system and proving that a father could and should be able to raise his children. Over the following decades, his example would influence fathers and family law worldwide. He is a primary reason many fathers now receive partial or full custody of their children after divorce. December 21 is the anniversary of that ruling granting him full custody in 1955.
The 2002 film "Evelyn" with Pierce Brosnan celebrates his story and struggle.
Date: December 20, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
"That's it, young lady," my mother would chide if I engage in mischief. "Your name is mud!"
So I wasn't always an angelic child, but I always wondered what mud had to do with misbehaving. In Old English, mud meant "a stupid twaddling fellow."
Okay, I have resembled that comment in my life. However, Mudd Day deals with names but has nothing to do with mud.
Mudd Day, marked on December 20 each year, is about legal issues and trying to clear your name.
Dr. Samuel Mudd was born on December 20, 1833. In adulthood, he advocated for slavery and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. He often expressed his dislike and hatred for then-President Lincoln and his policies. Not the most sympathetic character today, but that is beside the point.
John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, breaking his leg as he jumped from the balcony. Escaping the authorities searching for him, he ended up at Dr. Mudd's home, where the doctor treated his leg and let him go. It is believed Dr. Mudd did not know about the assassination then. However, once learning he helped the president's assassin, he waited 24 hours before reporting his part to the police. That was his mistake.
Mudd was convicted of aiding and conspiring with several others in the murder of President Lincoln. In 1869, President Andrew Johnson pardoned but did not clear him. The president released Mudd and two others from jail.
Eventually, the doctor was able to get his family on even footing and re-establish his practice. He became active in politics and supported several initiatives in his hometown. He died of pneumonia in 1875 at the age of 49.
After a century of lobbying by the family, Mudd's conviction was cleared on July 27, 1979. Mudd Day falls on the anniversary of his birth.
NATIONAL UNDERDOG DAY
December 16, 2022
Location: United States & United Kingdom
Champion: Underdogs International
National Underdog Day in the United States and the United Kingdom was created in 1976 by the late Peter Moeller, self-described as the Chief Underdog.
The term "underdog" originates in shipbuilding, and "dog" is a slang term for the wooden planks put in pits for sawing. The person standing in the hold would be the "underdog." The person standing above on the deck was the "overdog." Both sawmen did similar work, but the underdog would end up covered in the sawdust, and the overdog would not.
Today the term is used as a David versus Goliath metaphor, with the underdog at a disadvantage in size, money, or power—which is why people love cheering for underdogs.
Fun fact: December 16 is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party of 1773, a political protest in defiance of that year's Tea Act tax by the underdog American colonialists against the world's most powerful empire, Britain. (Basically, Americans dumped a shipload of England's tea into Boston Harbor—very cool—and then we tried to blame it on Native Americans—not cool). However, it is one of the critical events leading up to the American Revolution and a classic David versus Goliath triumph.
WALTER PLINGE DAY
December 2, 2022
Location: United Kingdom
Champion: Thespian Tradition
What do all these people have in common: Walter Plinge, George Spelvin, David Agnew, and Alan Smithee?
They don't exist, and they are all theater names, or pseudonyms, for uncast parts or when an actor wishes to hide his identity.
The theater and entertainment worlds each have their superstitions and traditions. Walter Plinge is the London theater world's tradition. Sir Walter Plinge is said to have a ghost in residence at London's Imperial College Union Concert Hall. Walter Plinge Day honors this mythical thespian.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT GIFT DAY
Date: December 6, 2022
Location: United States
Champion: National Pawnbrokers Association
Musical Instrument Gift Day is celebrated in the United States each year.
Coinciding with Saint Nicholas Day, the patron saint of pawnbroking, Musical Instrument Gift Day brings together the nation's pawnbrokers, local businesses, and organizations to donate musical instruments to schools and children in need.
Legend states Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD. Also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker and Nikolaos of Myra, or the Greek Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), he is believed to be the origin of the "Santa Claus" story due to the miracles he performed and his work with children.
Saint Nikolaos is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, students, and pawnbrokers.
Contact your local National Pawnbrokers Association chapter to see if you might participate or donate instruments in your city.
Date: December 13, 2022
Champion: Unofficial Event. No Sponsor.
Violin Day celebrates the centuries-old instrument common to several genres of music. Italian Andrea Amati of Cremona (1511-1577) created the first four-string violin in 1555. The oldest original violin still in existence was made by Amati in 1560 and is currently on display at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, United States of America.
How much are classic violins worth? A lot. The most expensive violins in the world today include:
The Titanic violin, played by Wallace Hartley as the ship sank, is valued at $1.7 million.
The Carrodus Guarneri, $10 million, by Guarneri del Gesu in 1743.
The Lady Blunt by Antonio Stradivari was created in 1721 and is valued at $15.9 million.
Guarneri Del Gesu created the Vieuxtemps Guarneri in 1741. It is valued at $16 million. Vieuxtemps Guarneri is played by American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers (May 15, 1970 - ), who is endowed with it for the rest of her life by an anonymous donor.
The most expensive violin in history is the Messiah Stradivarius at $20 million. The Messiah was created in 1716 by Antonio Stradivari. The violin has been played three known times, the last was in the 1930s.
On a personal note, when I worked for CBS Radio in Seattle, one of my coworkers discovered a Stradivarius while cleaning her basement. Someone left it, forgot about it, and she sold it for $640,000, quit her job, and went to law school. She's been a lawyer ever since. That was my introduction to the value of violins—and cleaning the basement!
ICE CREAM CONE DAY
Date: December 15, 2022
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Ice Cream Cone Day celebrates the edible and portable summer treat.
The first edible cone for ice cream was created in 1904 by Ernest Hamwi at the St. Louis World's Fair. The Syrian immigrant had his zalabis (Syrian Waffle) booth at the fair adjacent to the ice cream vendor. When his neighbor ran out of dishes to serve the ice cream, Hamwi displayed brilliance, rolled a waffle into a cone, and put ice cream in it. And thus, a legendary treat was born!
There were other edible dishes for ice cream. Italo Marchiony, an Italian immigrant, created mini dishes from pastry to make ice cream a portable street food in 1896. Marchiony filed his patent for the ice cream cuplets on September 22, 1903, and received a patent on December 15, 1903. Ice Cream Cone Day day falls on the anniversary of that patent.
The cone itself, though, was created and popularized by Syrian Hamwi.
PROMOTION IDEA: For enterprising NGOs and vendors serving the Syrian refugee community, today is a chance to raise much-needed funds and awareness through the simple yet elegant ice cream cone. Cones for comfort, anyone?
DECEMBER MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS
African Championships (Weight Lifting), December 10-December 19; Egypt
Army/Navy Game (American Football), December 10; United States
Big 12 Championship (American Football), December 3; United States
Europa Cup (Bobsled), December 4-10; Austria
FIFA World Cup (Football/Soccer), November 20-December 18; Qatar
Grand Slam (Judo), December 3-4; Japan
Liberty Bowl (American Football), December 28; United States
Men's World Cup (Alpine Skiing), December 18-29; Italy
Men's World Cup (Ski Jumping), December 31-January 1, 2023; Germany
NCAA Women's Championship (Volleyball), December 15-17; United States
North American Cup (Bobsled), November 30-December 4; United States
Peach Bowl (American Football), December 31; United States
UFC 282, (Mixed Martial Arts), December 10; United States
Women's World Cup (Alpine Skiing), December 28-29; Austria
Women's World Cup (Ski Jumping), December 30-January 1, 2023; Slovenia
World Cup (Luge), December 16th - 17, 2022; United States
World Cup (Luge), December 9-11; Canada
World Cup (Speed Skating), December 9-11; Canada
World Cup (Wrestling), December 10-11; United States
World U-20 Championship (Ice Hockey), December 26 -January 5, 2023; Canada
GO CAROLING DAY
Date: December 20, 2022
Location: United States
Champion: Unofficial Event. No Sponsor.
Caroling, or house-visiting wassail (wassailing), is an English oral tradition of singing songs and walking the neighborhood (or getting drunk in an orchard to promote a good harvest). It is passed down from generation to generation. The original word, wassailing, is derived from the Old Norse "ves heill," or "to your health/luck/happiness." Hard cider, mead, or ale usually played a part in traditional wassailing, with a drink traded for the song. Today, children are the most common carolers, so there is rarely alcohol.
Originally, caroling occurred any time of year. In the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi began to incorporate wassailing in his Christmastide sermons. Assisi wrote down the songs, and the tradition of singing them at Christmas and sharing them with friends and family carried on. In 1582, his collection of carols was published, upon which they became a standard for holiday celebrations throughout Europe and later the Americas.
Personal Story from Laura: Christmas 2016, I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day in Romania. I expected Christmas to be a solitary experience, with my crowning achievement of spending Christmas night in the ice hotel on top of a mountain at Balea Lac (which I did—boy, was it cold! Bucket list? Check!).
However, I was in for a very merry Christmas surprise!
Romania is a strongly Christian country steeped in tradition and faith. Knowing I was alone on Christmas Eve, the Palatul Brukenthal (Brukenthal Palace) hotel staff invited me to join them for their employee party and dinner. At about 9 PM, a group of 20 teenagers led by a pastor wandered into the main dining room from the Avrig Baptist Church.
Suddenly, the room filled with music. They sang in Romanian several classic carols I recognized, but my favorite was José Feliciano's classic, 'Feliz Navidad'—in Romanian. Upon request, they even dedicated a song to my church back in the US, which I filmed and sent to my pastor. The entire experience was delightfully magical.
A UNIQUE ROMANIAN TRADITION
What I learned is that teenage caroling is a cherished tradition in Romania. On Christmas Eve, teens gather at dark throughout the country and meander the streets of towns and cities, singing Christmas carols until nearly midnight. The Christmas market of Sibiu (pictured in the masthead for this issue) had several teen groups, and Bucharest and other major municipalities host groups of caroling teens on quaint city streets and in lively Christmas markets. It is a tradition unique to Romania.
The following day my guide and I traveled to the Bavarian castle, the Castelul de Out Valea Zanelor, on our way to the ice hotel in Transylvania. Santa Claus appeared in the castle's window as it began snowing, and the docent handed me a mulled wine.
I always wondered where Santa went after Christmas Eve, and now I know. Santa goes to Romania.
Don't forget to nominate a celebrity, company, or politician for "Whiner of the Year." Polls open online December 1- 15, and the world's greatest whiner is announced on National Whiner's Day, December 26. Past Whiner winners have been candy maker Toblerone, actress Lindsey Lohan, and in 2021 "The Karen."
Something tells me the Chief Twit might be in the running this year. www.nationalwhinersday.com
Enjoy the holidays y'all. The next issue will cover annual events for 2023 and be out around Christmas. Thank you for subscribing, and please share this with your friends and family!
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