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December 6, 2014

Today we celebrate:

National Gazpacho Day – Gazpacho is a Spanish soup that is filled with vegetables of all kinds simmering in a tomato base. Delicious!

Miners' Day – Declared by the United States Senate in 2009, this is a day to recognize the contributions of miners to the development and prosperity of the United States.  It also honors the deaths of at least 362 miners in the tragedy that occurred on this day in 1907 at Monongah, West Virginia when explosions happened at two of the Fairmont Coal Company’s mines. We don’t know exactly how many men died because mining companies at the time didn’t keep accurate records.

Microwave Oven Day – This is a day to celebrate our Microwave Ovens. What on earth would we do without them? I know that there was a time when we didn't have these magical warming devices since they were invented after World War II based on technology developed by the military during the war. But really, how on earth did people heat up their leftovers without them?  Of course, some families didn’t ever have leftovers.  Like my father’s family, he was one of 9 kids raised on a farm, seven of them were boys.  I guarantee they never heard of leftovers.  The first Microwave oven was patented by a company named Raytheon, but it was invented by one of their employees, Dr. Percy Spencer, born in 1894, a man who quit school at 7 years old to work to support himself and his aunt who raised him.  Even with that strike against him, he managed, through determined effort and a desire to learn, to become the world’s leading expert in radar tube design by 1939.  During the course of his experimentations, he popped the first microwaved popcorn and exploded an egg in the face of a co-worker who was observing too closely.  After that he put a metal box around his experiments to contain the microwaves and make his experiments safer and more controlled.  The first microwave oven, available in 1947, was about 6 feet tall and weighed about 750 pounds and cost between $2,000 and $3,000.  More than the cost of a new car at that time. Clearly they got smaller and more reasonably priced since then.  This I know because I just bought a very small one that I could carry all by myself for $70.00 a couple of weeks ago.

St. Nicholas Day – Traditionally, this is a day that St. Nicholas would do something secretly kind to others. Such as leaving coins in children's shoes or leaving little gifts on doorsteps. In medieval days, nuns would leave baskets of food and clothes at the doors of needy people which would be attributed to St. Nicholas.

National Pawnbrokers Day – Celebrated on St. Nicholas Day, this is a day to recognize the importance of the pawnbroker to his/her clientele. Pawnbrokers are good to have around if you need a little money and you have something to sell, or if you want to buy something and not pay full retail price.

Earmuff Day or Chester Greenwood Day – Celebrated on the first Saturday in December, this is a day to celebrate Chester Greenwood of Farmington, Maine, who invented earmuffs in 1873 at the tender age of 15. He came up with the idea because his ears got cold while he was ice skating and his grandmother helped him out by sewing bits of fur between loops of wire for his prototype. He got a patent and improved on his design over the years. He had a factory in Farmington for almost 60 years making earmuffs and supporting his community. He invented a number of other things as well. Farmington celebrates this day with a parade every year. Marchers in the parade are sure to be seen wearing earmuffs.

Mitten Tree Day – A mitten tree is a Christmas tree that is decorated by mittens. The mittens are given to children who do not have mittens of their own because their parents cannot afford to buy them.  In many parts of this country the winters are too cold to go outside without every inch of your skin covered in some way. At least until the children become teenagers who seem to carry around their own internal heaters so that they can wear t-shirts and shorts all winter long.

To celebrate today, buy some ear muffs and mittens from a pawnbroker and find a mitten tree to put them on. Then make some gazpacho in the microwave and leave it on the doorsteps of miners as a thank you gift.

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