Saturday, September 28, 2013

October's Bizarre And Unique Holidays

October 1:  World Vegetarian Day encourages us all to eat our vegetables and fruits.  World Vegetarian Day was first observed in 1977. Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 2:  National Custodial Workers Day is today.  They are the workers who clean and keep in good repair, the facility that you enjoy.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 2:  Name Your Car Day is today. Every car has character and personality. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and caring for them. So, its only fitting that each car gets its own name. Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 3:  Techies Day is your chance to give your friendly technician(s) some well deserved appreciation.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 3:  Virus Appreciation Day is today. It gives us the opportunity to show a little respect for nasty viruses.  Why give viruses respect?  Perhaps Virus Appreciation Day would be better if titled Virus Awareness and Protection Day.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 4National Golf Day is a major charitable event, sponsored annually since 1952 by the Professional Golfer's Association.  The PGA created and sponsors National Golf Day since its inception in 1952.  There isn't any congressional record or presidential proclamation confirming this to be a true National holiday.

October 4:  National Frappe Day is today. It's time to make, or buy, and drink your favorite Frappe.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 5:  Do Something Nice Day, anything nice, for someone else.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 5 (first Saturday in October):  Frugal Fun Day is a day to enjoy fun activities that are free (or very inexpensive).  This special day was created by Shel Horowitz, author of The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, possibly as a means of promoting his book.

October 5:  World Teacher's Day.  In 1966, UNESCO and the International Labour Organisation conference adopted a special recommendation to set aside the date to annually honor and recognize teachers around the world.  World Teacher's Day was initiated by the Director-General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor, at the International Conference on Education in Geneva in 1993.

October 6 (last day of 2 week celebration for 2013):  Oktoberfest is a two week festival, held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, with celebrations held around the world during this time.  The very first Oktoberfest was held on October 12, 1810, to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (King Ludwig 1).

October 6:  Come and Take It Day is here for the taking.  There is a difference between the terms "come and get it" and "come and take it".  The first suggests an offer by someone, therefore, approval to have whatever "it" is.  The second says "it" has been taken with permission.  Gonzales, Texas, holds a Come & Take It Festival each year to commemorate the firing of the first shot in the Texas revolution on October 2, 1835.

October 6:  Mad Hatter Day is a great day to be silly and celebrate silliness.  Despite being a silly day, the selection of the date was actually quite logical. The Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland wears a top hat. On the front of the hat is a slip of paper with "10/6" written on it.  Mad Hatter Day was the brainstorm of a group of computer people in Boulder, Co. It dates back to 1986.

October 6:  National Physician's Assistant Day celebrates and recognizes the importance and skills of this career. The highly trained physician's assistant is an invaluable aide to physicians and general practitioners.  The profession was created in 1965 by Dr. Eugene Stead at Duke Medical Center.

October 7 or 14:  Bald and Free Day honors those with a beautiful, shiny top. You don't have to be bald to celebrate this day, but it helps.  There are two dates for this special event divided between October 7th and the 14th, but the reason for the confusion is unknown.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 7:  World Smile Day celebrates the ever popular yellow smiley. It also offers us an opportunity to do an act of kindness.  Harvey Ball of Worcester Ma. created World Smile Day. Concerned about over commercialization of his smiley, he felt one day a year should be dedicated to smiling and doing acts of kindness.  The first World Smile Day celebration was on October 1, 1999. It is unclear why the date of the celebration was moved.

October 8:  American Touch Tag Day is a day to play the children's game of touch tag.  Origin and creator of his holiday is unknown.

October 9:  Curious Events Day is the day for you if you have a questioning and curious mind. It encourages you to hold some kind of event that touches the curiosity.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 9 (for 2013, date varies):  Emergency Nurses Day recognizes an important care giver. According to the Emergency Nurse's Association, "Emergency Nurses Day salutes the dedication and commitment of emergency nursing professionals who bring care, comfort, and compassion to patients".  It's not known for sure, but it is believed the Emergency Nurse's Association most likely created this day. They do sponsor it.

October 9:  Fire Prevention Day is during the week in which October 9th falls.  According to legend, on October 8, 1871, Mrs. O'Leary was in her barn milking her cow.  The cow kicked over a lamp which started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The Fire Marshall's Association of North America (FMANA) held the first Fire Prevention Day.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Fire Prevention Week in 1920.  The Saturday during Fire Prevention Week is Fire Service Recognition Day.

October 9:  Leif Erikson Day gives recognition to the first European to set foot on North American soil.  Historians have been able to put this together based upon records at the time, however, Leif Erikson made no maps of his journey so physical evidence of his travels are lacking.  In 1964, a joint resolution of Congress declared October 9th as Leif Erikson Day.

October 9:  Moldy Cheese Day.  Do you have any moldy cheese in your refrigerator?  Every once in a while, there's a special day that has no apparent rhyme or reason and this is one of them.  Origin and creator of his holiday is unknown.

October 10:  National Angel Food Cake Day is a great day to bake a cake with your little angels.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 11:  It's My Party Day.  Do you really need a reason to have a party?  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 11 (although there is some confusion about the exact date):  Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day is a great opportunity to show off your beloved Teddy Bear to work associates.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 11 (for 2013, the second Friday in October):  World Egg Day celebrates and promotes the benefits of eggs.  While the origin and creator isn't known for sure, it's assumed this day was created by the International Egg Commission.

October 12:  Cookbook Launch Day is a little known day designed to launch a new cookbook.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 12:  Old Farmers Day honors the hard labor of farmers throughout American history.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown, but is believed to date back to the early to mid 1800s.

October 12:  Moment of Frustration Day is truly a frustrating day. We believe one of the most important reasons for this holiday is the opportunity to let your frustrations out.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 13:  International Skeptics Day is the perfect day for all the "doubting Thomas" personalities, possibly created by a real skeptic. And, they did so by first creating doubt about the date to celebrate this special day:  January 13, October 13, and the first Friday of the year.  Origin and creator of his holiday is unknown.

October 14 (for 2013, the second Monday of the month):  Columbus Day was originally a celebration of the man believed to be the one who discovered America.  Of course, Native Americans were already here and were the ones who discovered America.  Nordic explorers had travelled down the eastern coast of North America centuries earlier.  Today, we celebrate Columbus day for what it accurately is, Columbus discovering the existence of the New World for Europeans who until then, believed the world was flat and ended somewhere in the Atlantic. The focus is now more upon discovery of the "New World", and less upon Columbus himself.

October 14:  National Dessert Day is a rich day filled with yummy treats!  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 15:  White Cane Safety Day celebrates and recognizes the achievements of the blind and visually impaired, and their independence. That independence is represented by the white cane used to travel from place to place.  On October 15, 1964, a Joint resolution of Congress passed legislation marking this day. President Lyndon Johnson immediately issued a proclamation declaring this day to be White Cane Safety Day. This is an annual proclamation.

October 16:  Boss's Day gives you a chance to both tell and show the boss what you really think of him or her, to give your boss the appreciation that he or she deserves.  The origin of Boss's Day dates back to 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Illinois, registered it with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Ms. Haroski chose the date because it was her father's birthday.  Who was her boss?  Her father.

October 16:  Dictionary Day is in honor of Noah Webster, considered the Father of the American Dictionary. Noah Webster was born on October 16, 1758.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 17:  Wear Something Gaudy Day is your chance to really stick out in a crowd.  The roots of this day go back to the hit 1970's television comedy show Three's Company.  The character of Larry (played by Richard Kline) declared a Wear Something Gaudy Day.

October 18:  No Beard Day exists so you have a good reason to shave your beard.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 19:  Evaluate Your Life Day gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect upon our life, where it's been, and where its going.  Evaluate Your Life Day was created by the people at

October 19 (in 2013, the third Saturday in October):  Sweetest Day is dedicated just for your sweetie. It exists as an opportunity for you to recognize that sweet and special someone.  Herbert Birch Kingston, a Cleveland, Ohio, candy company employee and philanthropist started Sweetest Day in 1922, by giving candy and small gifts.

October 20:  National Brandied Fruit Day celebrates sweet tasting fruit, soaked and marinated in brandy.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 21:  Babbling Day isn't a day to remain silent.  Tell everyone you know about this special day.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 21:  Count Your Buttons Day is one of those holidays that doesn't seem to have a reason beyond it being a day of frivolous fun.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 21:  National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day celebrates a delicious Fall dessert.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 22:  National Nut Day has two very obvious possibilities for the meaning of this day.  1) This day honors all the nutty people in the world.  2) This day celebrates nutritious and healthy nuts (food) of all kinds.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m.:  National Mole Day is for chemistry teachers and chemistry buffs.  It commemorates Avogadro's number—a mole, which is a basic measuring unit that equals the atomic mass of a single molecule that is measured in grams.  National Mole Day originated in an article in The Science Teacher in the early 1980s.

October 23:  TV Talk Show Host Day celebrates and honors all TV Talk Show hosts.  This very special day is celebrated on the birth date of legendary night time talk show host Johnny Carson.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 24:  National Bologna Day is a full of baloney!  It's easy to enjoy this day. Have a Bologna sandwich.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 24:  United Nations Day recognizes all who serve and participate in this world organization.  The United Nations is dedicated to world peace and to the betterment of humanity through a wide range of programs from world hunger to environment and health issues.  Almost all of the more than100 countries in the world are members of this organization.

October 25:  Punk for a Day is today.  Are you a punk?  One might desire to be a Punk Rocker, but not literally a punk.  What is the reason for this day?  No one seems to know.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 25:  World Pasta Day promotes the consumption of pasta around the world.  This was established as an annual event at the first World Pasta Congress held on October 25, 1995 in Rome, Italy. It is promoted by pasta manufacturers around the world.

October 25 (in 2013, the last Friday in October):  Frankenstein Friday celebrates the 1818 birth of Frankenstein by its creator, Mary Shelley. Frankenstein (the doctor who created the monster, not the name of the monster) is probably the best known horror creation of all time.  This special day was created by Ron MacCloskey in 1997.  He celebrates by awarding "The Franky" to someone who has made a significant contribution to the promotion of Frankenstein.

October 26 (in 2013, the fourth Saturday in October):  Make A Difference Day was created in 1990 and is devoted to helping others by doing volunteer work in the community.

October 26:  National Mincemeat Day celebrates a sweet and tasty meat treat.  Mincemeat dates back to medieval times where it was a way to preserve food.  It was also a treat, mixed with sweet fruits. Somewhere in the last half of the 1900's, it lost its popularity.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 27 (in 2013, the fourth Sunday in October):  Mother-In-Law Day is another chance to honor your spouse's mother if you missed Mother's Day in May.  The source of many jokes, a mother-in-law doesn't usually get the praise and appreciation she deserves.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 27:  Navy Day.  Many nations around the world celebrate their navies with a special day dedicated to them.  Each country selects a date relevant to their navy, often the birth date of the navy.  In the United States, Navy Day is commonly celebrated on October 27th.  The Navy League for the United States created the first Navy Day in 1922.

October 28:  Plush Animal Lover's Day is a day to enjoy and appreciate your plush, stuffed animals.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 29:  Hermit Day is a day to spend quietly in seclusion, all by yourself.  Creator and origin of this holiday is unknown.

October 30:  National Candy Corn Day is the day to enjoy a handful of this sweet Fall treat.  National Candy Corn Day comes just a day before Halloween.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 30:  Mischief Night is an evening when people traditionally participate in harmless mischief.  This night is discouraged by law enforcement organizations because the mischief is often less than funny and often leads to vandalism, destruction, and even injury.  Mischief Night appears to have roots in England back to the nineteenth century. Some documentation has it occurring on Halloween night. Other references have it on the 30th.

October 31:  Carve a Pumpkin Day.  If you haven't carved that pumpkin by today, then you might as well forget it until next year as this is your last chance since Halloween is tonight.  Origin and creator of this holiday is unknown.

October 31:  Halloween is the favorite holiday for many of us as there is no stress, no overload, and no holiday depression.  It's just fun.  Bats, the bizarre, Dracula, ghosts, witches, graveyards, ghouls, haunted houses, Halloween movies, paranormal, Halloween parties, pumpkins, skeletons, scarecrows, name it.

October 31:  Increase Your Psychic Powers Day is, appropriately, the same day as Halloween.  It's the day to increase your psychic powers.  There are a number of ways to do this and no shortage of psychics, groups and websites to help you.  This holiday appears to have roots in England in the nineteenth century. Some documentation and readings have it occurring on Halloween night. Other references say October 30th.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Before the Industrial Revolution, there were lots of jobs once considered stable, middle-class jobs commonplace for our great grandparents, in particular those living in rural areas.  The occupational classification list from 1850 (provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) was the first year the government collected data on what Americans did for a living.

Today's Standard Occupational Classifications (part of the Census) identified 31,000 currently active occupations in America.

Below is a listing of 11 jobs no longer recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This certainly does not mean that no one does these jobs any longer, just that they aren't officially recognized as part of the currently active occupations in America.

1)      Chimney-sweeps:
This is someone, as the name implies, who inspects and cleans chimneys.  There is a lot of climbing, squatting, kneeling, and stretching involved with this occupation.  But with today's modern and more efficient means of heating a house, fireplaces are not the necessity they once were. But every now and then you come across someone advertising their services as a chimney-sweep, wearing the traditional costume including the top hat.

2)      Daguerreotypists:
Now this is an occupation that probably is extinct with the exception of a specialized exhibit of some short.  These people were the pioneers of photography using the camera obscura which was an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen.  Reaching back into the very depths of my memory, I think I recall seeing a camera obscura in San Francisco in the Golden Gate Park vicinity (at the ocean).  Anyone familiar with this?

3)      Drover:
A cowboy who drives cattle or sheep.  Although cowboys still work cattle ranches, the day when cattle drives moved herds across distances to railroad locations where they could be shipped to market are long gone.

4)      Hemp dressers:
Also known as hacklers, this was someone who worked in the linen industry and was responsible for separating the coarse parts of hemp.  A hackler was the tool they used.

5)      Lapidaries:
This applies to an artist who collects precious gemstones and minerals and makes them into jewelry and other decorative items, a job that is still very much alive today but apparently no longer a part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics list.  That could be due to being considered more of a hobbyist job than an occupation?

6)      Lathmaker:
On the list I saw, this was described as "Someone who works to set up, operate, or tend wood sawing."  That surprised me.  I didn't realize lathmaker was someone responsible for the actual sawing of the lumber.  I had always thought of it as the person who did woodwork such as the turning of table legs—making a finished product rather than dealing with the raw material.  But either way, it seems to me to be a still viable job although the sawing of the logs into lumber lengths is now highly mechanized.

7)      Match makers:
Someone whose job it is to match up 2 people for the purpose of marriage.  Today we have the internet!  :)

8)      Occultists:
One who studies magic, alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, and divination.  Several of these were areas of high interest in the 1800s.

9)      Quarrymen:
This is a person who manages or works in a quarry, an open pit mine for rocks and minerals.  Obviously there are still many open pit mines in operations today but a lot of what used to be the manual labor is now handled by machines.

10)    Shoe peg maker:
This is a traditional form of shoe-making using a type of pegged construction.

11)    Salaeratus makers:
This is a person who makes baking soda.  I would imagine over 150 years ago that this would be a singular person making the product and selling it in rural areas, whereas today we have our large supermarkets in which to buy the same product as made by a large manufacturing concern.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Grapes On New Year's Eve

For those of us who managed to survive the Friday The 13th bad luck day that just passed, I'd like to present 6 weird superstitions from around the world that are supposed to be the harbingers of good luck and love.

Planning an international trip involves more than how you're going to get there, where you're going to stay, and a sight-seeing itinerary.  It's a good idea to read about local customs, culture, and superstitions so you can avoid an embarrassing goof.

Every culture has its quirks and customs derived from local history and traditions that continue to be passed down through generations.  Some of these weird superstitions have become so widely known that they have turned various sites into tourist attractions as evidenced by the number of people who climb four stories of stone steps in the ruins of Blarney Castle in Ireland (I confess being guilty of this) just to kiss the Blarney Stone for good luck.

Everyone has some little ritual that claims to bring good luck.  Here are 6 of the world's weirdest superstitions alleged to bring luck and love.

It shouldn't be too surprising to discover that grapes are considered good luck in a country that produces some excellent wines.  At midnight on New Year's Eve, it is the custom to eat 12 grapes representing good luck for each month of the upcoming year.  Some Spaniards also adhere to the superstition of tossing a bucket of water out the window to symbolize cleansing at the start of a new year.

Daily life in Russia is filled with superstitions.  If planning a trip to Russia, it might be wise to read up on this.  Whistling in a home is forbidden, it's believed to bring bad luck.  When giving flowers to someone, make sure it's an odd number because an even number of flowers (such as a dozen roses) honor the dead.  Yellow flowers symbolize infidelity and curse a relationship.

The courtyard in Verona where Shakespeare's Juliet resided has become a shrine to true love.  Visitors to the courtyard grab the right breast of Juliet's bronze statue for luck in love.  They write messages to Juliet and stick them to the walls using gum.  This has become too popular, creating concerns about defacing the historic city center.  In late 2012 a fine was introduced.  That love note could now cost you as much as $600.

Former Argentine president Carlos Menem is often blames for Argentina's economic crash in 2001.  He is considered a living curse.  Many Argentines substitute the alias Mendez rather say his name.  If someone says Menem, women will often touch their left breast and men their left testicle to ward off back luck.

Tokyo's oldest temple hosts an annual superstitious, centuries-old contest called Naki Sumo which represents a prayer for a baby's health.  Two opposing sumo wrestlers in a ring hold babies born in the previous year and try to make the other's baby cry.  Holy incense from the temple is believed to carry healing powers.  Those who are aching and ailing rub some on painful areas.

The stone's name translates to Hitching Post of the Sun.  At Machu Picchu, the stone is aligned with the sun's patterns.  Shamanic legend says certain people can peek into the spirit world when they rub their forehead against the stone.

These certainly aren't the only international weird superstitions, but they are an interesting cross-section.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

THIS FRIDAY IS THE 13th—Does it make you stop and think?

Triskaidekaphobia:  Fear of the number thirteen.
Paraskevidekatriaphobia:  Fear of Friday the 13th.

An obviously irrational concept that a mere number can bring bad luck to someone.  Or that a specific day of the week can be unlucky.  But that doesn't stop us from dwelling on the possibility.

The tradition of Friday being a day of bad luck dates back centuries with some of the more common theories linking it to significant events in Christian tradition believed to have taken place on Friday such as the Crucifixion, Eve offering Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden, the beginning of the great flood.

Many sources for the superstition surrounding the number thirteen and its association with bad luck also derive from Christianity with the Last Supper being cited as the origin.  Judas was the thirteenth person to be seated at the table.

And when you put the two bad luck symbols together you get Friday the 13th…the day associated with misfortune.

Superstition is a belief or notion not based on reason or knowledge.  An irrational belief.  Lots of superstitions came into being during the Dark Ages, a time when living conditions were so severe that people reached out to anything that might bring them help and solace with the results being explanations for what seemed unexplainable at the time.  Religious beliefs and lack of scientific knowledge helped to spawn many superstitions.

Superstitions differ from culture to culture, but we all have them even if it's only paying surface homage to the concept.  We don't believe in the good luck vs. bad luck of chain letters, yet it often comes down to saying what's the harm, then sending the letter on to avoid breaking the chain.

We often follow the tradition of the superstition without really knowing why it's the traditional thing to do.  If we blow out all the candles on our birthday cake with one breath after making a silent wish, then the wish will come true.  When expressing a desire for good luck (we'll be able to go on the picnic if it doesn't rain), we grin, then we knock on wood as we emit an embarrassed chuckle.

In Western folklore, many superstitions are associated with bad luck.  In addition to Friday the 13th, there's walking under a ladder, having a black cat cross your path, spilling salt, stepping on a crack, and breaking a mirror among others.

In addition to cultural superstitions, there's also certain occupations that evoke various rituals to bring on good luck.  It seems to me that gamblers and sports figures have the most superstitions and rituals to insure good luck.

Do you have any superstitions that you hold dear?  Are they more of a traditional situation handed down through your family or are they superstitions that have come down through history?

I'd like to hear about them.

And I'm sure there won't be any unpleasantries or bizarre accidents this Friday (knock on wood).