Mardi Gras, Grouches, Innovation, Kyoto Protocols, Almonds, and Tim Tam

February 16, 2021 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

According to the National Day Calendar, there are more than 1500 national days every year – meaning that there is at least one holiday for every day in the calendar year. All you have to do is choose which holiday(s) you want to celebrate.
With that said, today’s holidays are listed below — so let the festivities begin.

Good morning my religious revelers. Today is Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Today is the 47th day of the year, and 318 days remain.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) is celebrated annually on the Tuesday before for Ash Wednesday. It combines of a period festivals and feasts that lead to a time of fasting and reflection and has many traditions and deep roots worldwide. It dates back to an ancient Roman festival which took place in mid-February. When Christians arrived in Rome, they incorporated the festival into Lenten preparations. Mardi Gras is celebrated around the world in various forms all of which harken back to these roots of spring festivals and religious fasting in preparation for the Holy day of Easter. The roots of Mardi Gras have been woven together for centuries from medieval spring festivals and feasts that were based on the Christian calendar.
For centuries, this feast prepared Christians for the season of Lent and used up valuable fatty foods and supplies they would be abstaining from in the days to come. Traditions surrounding Mardi Gras have changed over time, with regional traditions and practices becoming incorporated into the custom.
While the French didn’t originate the Mardi Gras, they certainly put their own twist on it. From parades to beignets and colorful masks, Mardi Gras is full of elaborate costumes and lavish food sure to hold the revelers over through a long fast. During the 16th century in France, they celebrated Boeuf Gras (fatted calf) which included a tradition of parading a bull decorated with flowers through the city. The decorated animal was followed through the streets by a retinue of colorfully dressed attendants and bands playing unusual instruments.
New Orleans holds the crown for Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States. While the city is filled with French flavor and style, its culture is an eclectic infusion of many cultures. Credit for bringing Mardi Gras to America goes to two French explorers, Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. In 1699, d’Iberville reached the mouth of the Mississippi river near what is now Louisiana and named it Pointe du Mardi Gras. Then, nearly a century later, when de Bienville established Nouvelle Orleans (New Orleans) in 1788, Mardi Gras celebrations reportedly began immediately. In 1875, Louisiana declared Mardi Gras an official holiday. However, thanks to the establishment of Fort Louis de la Mobile, [modern-day Mobile, Alabama] can lay claim to the first Mardi Gras celebration on American soil in 1703.
To truly celebrate Mardi Gras, you need to be in New Orleans. But, if you aren’t, you can, to a lesser extent, celebrate it at home. Plan a menu based upon all of the traditional fatty, sugary foods of Mardi Gras. You could even go so far as making masks and costumes to wear throughout your festivities.
Author’s Note:
Like Mardi Gras, there are a number of other holidays celebrated around the world that also center around the common theme of indulging oneself before Lent. I have listed them below individually, and, naturally, provide a link where you can obtain specific information for each. All of them are celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Do a Grouch a Favor Day   

Do a Grouch a Favor Day is celebrated annually on February 16th. As you might expect, it encourages you to be nice to the grouchy, curmudgeonly people in your life by doing them a favor today.
A grouch is defined as a sulky, complaining, or morose person; a person who is always grumbling. Anyone can have a bad day occasionally and can get a little grouchy, but some people seem to have grouchiness ingrained into their DNA. They constantly grumble about everything – from the state of politics to the size of napkins in fast-food restaurants.
If you know someone like this; or even someone who is just in a grouchy mood today, then celebrate Do a Grouch a Favor Day by doing them a favor to try to cheer them up. The favor can be big or small, but no matter, you’ll feel better doing it – and hopefully, so will they. In fact, try to do something nice for everyone you meet today – grouchy or not. Who knows, you may just brighten their day – and yours too.

National Innovation Day 

National Innovation Day is celebrated annually on February 16th. This holiday was created to encourage children and young people to be creative and innovative. After all, imagination has no age limit. Simply speaking, it is about inspiring young people to find new and better ways of accomplishing things – ways of building a better mousetrap, if you will. Below are some examples of young people who have done just that.

  • In 1873, a teenager named Chester Greenwood from Farmington Maine invented earmuffs because he got tired of his ears freezing when he went ice skating. He bent some wire into a frame and had his grandmother sew animal skins to it. He later patented his creation and sold them to soldiers in WWI.
  • Frank Epperson was eleven years old (in 1905) when he left a batch of powdered soda and water with a stir stick in it out on his family’s Oakland, CA porch one cold night. Frank went out the next morning to find that he had accidentally invented a frozen pop, which he called the “Epsicle.” Frank’s school friends became fans as did his own kids (who called the frozen treat “Pop’s ‘sicle”). After introducing the treat at a Fireman’s Ball in 1922, Frank applied for a patent in 1923 and eventually sold the rights to the brand Popsicle® to a company in New York.
  • Abbey Fleck, an eight-year-old from St. Paul, MN, invented a microwavable bacon cooking device, Makin Bacon®, in 1993. Abbey came up with the idea after watching her father soaking up bacon grease with old newspapers. They are now sold in Walmart stores nationwide, as well as on Amazon.

So, to celebrate National Innovation Day, the next time you see a youngster making a Mentos volcano erupt, building a machine out of Legos, or putting together an airplane from balsa wood and rubber bands, don’t chastise or belittle them – encourage them. Who knows, they may just turn out to be the next Chester, or Frank, or Abbey.

Kyoto Protocol Day

Kyoto Protocol Day is celebrated annually on February 16th. As you can easily infer, it honors the date in 2005 that landmark international agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gasses went into effect. While the United States originally signed the protocol, they withdrew from them in 2001. Canada too has withdrawn from the protocol after initially participating.
The Kyoto Protocol has been seen as a landmark achievement, but some have been critical of it. After the first two years, many countries didn’t reach their targets. Some critics said that even if all targets would have been met, the environment would not have been greatly improved, because China and United States – the top two greenhouse gas emitters – were not bound by the protocol. Some said that even if the United States had participated, the effects would not be large enough to make a difference in global temperatures.
This link will provide more information about the Kyoto Protocol.

National Almond Day 

National Almond Day is celebrated annually on February 16th. You don’t need to be a member of MENSA to assertain that this holiday celebrates almonds – one of the most popular nuts in the world.
I can think of no tastier combination of Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, protein, and fiber than almonds. Almonds are one of the few foods that are both nutritious and tasty.
Historians say that almonds were among the world’s first cultivated foods. They are mentioned in the Old Testament and early Roman historical accounts. They are believed to have originated in Asia and then been traded to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean along the “silk road”…the trade route between Asia and the Mediterranean areas during those ancient times.
Today, California produces about 80% of the world’s almond supply. I don’t know about the “can a week” that the California Almond Growers Association recommends in their TV ads, but a couple of handfuls of almonds as a snack today would be an ideal way to celebrate National Almond Day. As my [fictional] Jewish grandmother might say, “It wouldn’t hoit”  – unless you’re allergic to almonds.
Almond Facts:

  • It takes more than 1.2 million beehives to pollinate California’s almond crop, which spans more than 550,000 acres.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 40% of the almond crop (and 20% of the world’s peanuts).
  • It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.
  • The largest crop on record in California was in 2002: 1.084 billion pounds of almonds were processed.
  • There are over 5,600 people in America with the last name “Almond”.
  • The Jordan almond, a large plump variety of almonds from Malaga, Spain, is considered to be the finest cultivated almond. It is frequently sold with a hard colored sugar-coating.
  • Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums, and peaches. In this case, it’s the stone or pit, that is eaten.
  • Almonds are the most nutrient-dense tree nut. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol. The unsaturated fat in almonds is “good” fat, with 13 grams per one-ounce serving.

Tim Tam Day

Tim Tam Day is celebrated annually on February 16th. Unless you are from, or have been to, Australia, you might not be familiar with Tim Tams, but there, they are, by far, the favorite sweet snack wafer (biscuit). Tim Tam Day was established to celebrate this iconic treat, and the country it calls home. The origins of this holiday are unknown, as are it’s creator(s), but the reason for it are obvious to anyone who has ever tasted a Tim Tam.
Before I go any further, I should let you know exactly what Tim Tams are. They are, quite simply, a layer of fluffy cream filling sandwiched between two chocolate malted biscuits, then coated in a delectable milk chocolate outer layer. They sound good to me. No wonder they are so popular in their country of origin, Australia.
Tim Tams were created by Ian Norris –the director of food technology at Arnott’s Cookies. They were first marketed in 1964. Mr. Norris claims to have came up with the name after attending the Kentucky Derby in 1958. Tim Tam was the name of the horse that won that year.
Celebrating Tim Tam Day here in America could prove to be a daunting task. While, in 2008, Pepperidge Farm (a sister company to Arnott’s) began to import Tim Tams to America they are still hard to find. Your best be is to search online for retailars in your area that sell them.

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