Last full week in January

©Tim Buckley

Winter-een-mas is a secular holiday devoted to gaming. The holiday spans the last week in January.

It is celebrated by 14 million people in 32 countries.

(Not really, just made that up.)

Actually it is celebrated by video game addicts, mostly males in their 20s, in the United States, Canada, the U.K., and Japan.

It is sort of the video game world’s Festivus, a holiday alternative to Christmas, publicized by the TV show Seinfeld.

Winter-een-mas originated from Tim Buckley’s comic strip Ctrl+Alt+Del, in which the character Ethan, upset when the heat goes out during a snow storm, makes the following realization:

“In fact, winter should be one long holiday that caters to me! I should be in constant receipt of gifts for having to deal with the cold! Yes! From now on the winter months shall be known as Winter-een-mas, and I shall be its king!”

Eventually Ethan is talked into shortening the holiday to one week.

Winter-een-mas has been celebrated by Ethan and video gamers across the world every year since 2003.

Birthday of the King: Elvis

January 8

The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a National guitar,
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war,

I’m going to Graceland, Graceland
In Memphis Tennessee…
…I’ve reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

Paul Simon, Graceland

Today is the birthday of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley. Though not an official holiday in any nation, it is observed throughout the world.

Elvis statue Elvis worshipper

(Above: the author praises the King in Memphis, Tennessee)

The focal point of the celebration is Graceland, Elvis’s former home in Memphis, Tennessee. Festivities begin each year with a gospel tribute at the Gates of Graceland at midnight.

Graceland was not named by Elvis, but by the original owner S.E. Toof after his daughter Grace.

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. At age 13 the Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Elvis lived for most of his life.

In 1957 the 22 year-old superstar purchased the Graceland mansion in Memphis. He was proud to move his parents into it, a long way from the two-room house where Elvis was raised. His mother Gladys died the following year.

Graceland living room

Early viewers of Elvis’s concerts, such as rock legend Roy Orbison, cite his instinct and incredible energy as a performer as separating him from the artists before him. It is difficult to convey the novelty of Elvis after the half-century of imitations and changes that followed. Various morality groups assailed him for his “vulgar” and “obscene” music and movements on stage.

His discoverer, Sam Phillipsof Sun Studios, said Elvis “put every ounce of emotion…into every song, almost as if he was incapable of holding back.”

When Elvis first entered the Sun Studios, receptionist Marion Keisker asked him who he sounded like. He is reported to have said “I don’t sound like nobody.”

While this was true in mainstream radio, Elvis was heavily influenced by the black gospel singers he had seen at Memphis’ Ellis Auditorium and black blues performers in the clubs along Beale Street.

Stories make it sound like Elvis walked into Sun Studios and the rest is history, but in fact, after his first recording in 1953, Elvis politely hassled Sam Phillips for a year—while working as a truck driver—before Sam teamed him up with bassist Bill Black and guitarist Scotty Moore. The three recorded a high-energy version of black R&B artist Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right, Mama” in July and the single was released that month. Some white disc jockeys refused to play Elvis’ music at first, believing Elvis was black.

In January 1956 RCA released Heartbreak Hotel, co-written by a part-time Florida schoolteacher Mae Boren Axton, who was inspired by the newspaper epitaph of a suicide victim: “I walk a lonely street.”

Heartbreak Hotel slowly and steadily climbed the charts, entering at #1 68 in March, and making its way to #1 in May.

Elvis the #1 Hits: The Secret History of the Classics

Though Graceland is considered the musical Mecca for Elvis fans, do not miss Sun Studios just to the east on Union Avenue, for a more in-depth historically revealing tour about Elvis and Memphis music history.

Festivus: a Holiday for the Rest of Us

December 23

On December 18, 1997 Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) introduced the TV-watching world to a new holiday tradition. In the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” George’s father explains to Cosmo Kramer how years earlier, fed up with the commercialization of Christmas, he conceived of the new holiday:

“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.”

Frank summed up the holiday in a simple catch-phrase: “A Festivus…for the rest of us.”

Over a decade later Festivus has exploded into an international–well, okay, national–phenomenon. According to the Big Book of Girl Stuff:

“Festivus was intended to be a holiday that required no shopping. The only Festivus decoration is a bare metal pole, which can be stuck in a pot or hung from the ceiling.”

Festivus Poles

Another Festivus tradition is the “Airing of Grievances” during which family members announce how disappointed they have been in one another over the past year.

As far as cultural anthropologists have deduced, the holiday was invented by the father of Seinfeld screenwriter Dan O’Keefe in the 1960s, although the younger O’Keefe altered the holiday for the Seinfeld version. The original Festivus for example was held anytime from December to May. The modern incarnation is celebrated on December 23, halfway between Winter Solstice and Christmas.

But these days Festivus has competition for the December 23 spot. A holiday known as HumanLight is also celebrated on the 23rd. HumanLight is a non-denominational festival that makes no reference to the divine or supernatural. It was started by a Humanist organization in Verona, New Jersey in 2001. Its purpose: to provide a non-religious alternative to Christmas, Hanukkah, and other December celebrations.

It’s unlikely the December 23rd date was chosen to oust Festivus, but Festivus participants will gladly take on the challenge. You see, the final activity of Festivus is known as “Feats of Strength”: no Festivus party is declared over until someone can successfully pin the host’s head to the ground.

So have a great Festivus, and if you’re throwing a party, consider plush carpeting.

Anna’s Day

December 9

Today is Anna’s Day in Sweden, during which Scandinavians honor all those born with that name, which is about a third of the population.

What’s the reason behind or the purpose of Anna’s Day, we have no idea, but right now in Scandinavia it’s dark 20 hours a day, so who would blame them for throwing in as many December holidays as possible?

Today’s the day Scandinavians begin preparing the Swedish delicacy lutefisk, to be consumed on Christmas Eve.

Any fish that take 15 days to make better be darn-tootin’ good.

Lutefisk however is the exact opposite.

According to Swedishologist Rich Tosches, lutefisk means, literally, “cod soaked in plutonium.”

More on How (but not why) Lutefisk became a delicacy – by Rich Tosches

But, as writer Dave Fox points out, the Scandinavian tradition of soaking fish in lye–that’s right, toilet cleaner–developed not because…

they thought it was tasty. A long time ago, in the pre-refrigeration epoch, salting and drying fish was an efficient way to preserve it…A century ago, lutefisk really was a staple in the Norwegian diet. Also a century ago, a lot of Norwegians fled the country.”

— Make Love, Not Lutefisk – by Dave Fox

If you have any more info on Anna’s Day please let us know.

In the meantime, here’s today’s poem for the Anna’s of the world:

Anna, Anna
Banana Fana Fo Fana
Me, My, Mo Mana

Sadie Hawkins Day

November 13, 15, 16, or the Saturday after November 9


“For 15 years, Sadie Hawkins, homely daughter of Dogpatch’s earliest settler, had failed to catch a husband. Her Pappy in desperation one day called together all the eligible bachelors of Dogpatch…”

Thus spoke Sadie’s father:

“‘Boys! Since none o’ yo’ has been man enough t’ marry mah dotter, ah gotta take firm measures!! Ah declares t’day “Sadie Hawkins Day” — When ah fires all o’ yo kin start a-runnin’! When ah fires agin—after givin’ yo’ a fair start—Sadie starts a-runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husband!'”

With the boom of Pappy Hawkins’ gun, artist and writer Al Capp started a sexual revolution.

The year was 1937. Al Capp, creator of the comic strip Li’l Abner, needed a plot point to move the story along in his November strip. Li’l Abner starred Abner Yokum, a small-town simpleton whose life revolved around fishin’ and not gettin’ hooked to his long-suffering girlfriend Daisy Mae. The Sadie Hawkins Day tradition fell into place. Al Capp invented a race wherein, if a woman could catch a man, she could wed him. Capp explained the reasoning behind the race in a three-panel historical flashback of the original Sadie Hawkins.

According to panel 3:

“Well, Sadie did catch one of the boys. The other spinsters of Dogpatch reckoned it were such a good idea that Sadie Hawkins Day was made an annual affair.”

Al Capp’s idea struck a cord, not just with the fictional residents of Dogpatch, but all around America. Keep in mind Al Capp came up with this back when it was frowned upon for a woman to even ask a guy out on a date or to a dance. Yet within two years of Sadie Hawkins’ original appearance, “Sadie Hawkins Day” was being celebrated at over 200 schools in 188 towns across the United States! (Life Magazine, Dec. 11, 1939.) Granted, at most of these institutions the girls didn’t marry the guys they caught. Instead, the schools held Sadie Hawkins Dances, in which girls would ask boys to the dance instead of the typical other way around.

“Costumes derive from characters in Li’l Abner. Girls generally dress as pretty Daisy Mae rather than as homely Sadie Hawkins. At Texas Wesleyan, where Bible study is a required course, a slogan for Sadie Hawkins Day was found in Daniel, XII, 4: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Life Magazine, 12/11/39)

There is no set date for Sadie Hawkins Day. cites November 15 and November 16, 1937 as the first appearances of Sadie Hawkins. Other sources say November 13. Regardless of its first appearance, Sadie Hawkins Day is generally celebrated on November 13, 15, 16, or the first Saturday after November 9. A few sites insist that Sadie Hawkins Day is February 29, a date that would no doubt please Abner himself. (Others disagree.)

As it turns out, Daisy did not catch Abner that first Sadie Hawkins Day in 1937. In fact, it wasn’t until 1952 that Al Capp bowed to public pressure and allowed Daisy and Abner to tie the knot, an event that made the cover of Life Magazine.


Incidentally, Capp himself would not have fared well in any Sadie Hawkins Day race. As a nine-year old boy in New Haven, the future comic writer was run over by a trolley and lost his left leg.

“All comedy is based on man’s delight in man’s inhumanity to man…I have made 40 million people laugh more or less every day for 16 years (on that formula)…”

“…We didn’t laugh because we were heartless wretches. We laughed because we are normal human beings, full of self-doubt, full of vague feelings of inferiority, full of a desperate need to be reassured.” Al Capp, Atlantic Monthly, February 1950


“It is the ambition of every newspaper cartoonist to get published in something that won’t be used to wrap fish in the next morning.” Al Capp, Atlantic Monthly

My Well-Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg, by Al Capp, Review by Bobby Matherne

Al Capp, Time Magazine: Inhuman Man

The Comic Book Makers, by Joe Simon

Abet and Aid Punsters Day

November 8

Warning to women who go camping:
Beware of evil intent

If you’re experiencing withdrawal from October holidays, no better way to be Hallowean’ed than by celebrating Abet and Aid Pun Day.

We’ve no clue how this holiday originated or why November 8th is the fortunate day in question. [By coincidence it holds the distinction of falling on the day between Russia’s former Revolution Day—marking the beginning of the Soviet experiment on November 7, 1917—and the fall of the Berlin Wall—marking the end of the experiment on November 9, 1989.] The holiday actually dates all the way back to the 1970’s, though its precise origins are lost to time.

Regardless of how it began, Abet and Aid Punsters Day is a good time to reflect on the holiday headlines of the past year…

Holiday headlines:

Children’s Day:
Kids in trouble for resisting a rest.

Bastille Day:
Celebrants who jumped off Paris bridge declared temporarily in Seine.

Revolution Day:
Army beauty pageant called off. Troops revolting.

Santa’s helpers: deemed Subordinate Clauses.

Holiday predictions:

After eating enough Thanksgiving leftovers, you will quit cold turkey.

If it’s drizzly on December 25th, yule have a merry Christ-mist.

Holiday with the most waves? Flag Day of course!
(Incidentally, Betsy Ross’s first design was decided upon by referendum: the country’s first flag poll!)

Valentine’s Day:
Some girls like roses, all like two lips.

Independence Day:
In July, may the fourth be with you.

Until next year, remember what happened to the holiday calendar thief…
He got twelve months!

[Translator’s note: this page is guaranteed to make no sense in any language but English. (And even then, very little.)]

Cinnamon Bun Day – Sweden

October 4

Not a good holiday for those on a diet.

It’s worth wondering how a people noted for their healthy physique could be gastronomically symbolized by a cinnamon bun. The thing is a black hole of caloric intake.

Cinnamon buns, or kanelbullar, have been a Swedish staple since at least the 1920s. According to Birgit Nilsson Bergström of Sweden’s Home Baking Council:

“We found that the cinnamon bun was the best symbol for Swedish home baking. I don’t think there are any Swedes who don’t like them.”

These angelic looking, yet devilishly tasty swirls of dough and sugar made their way across Northern Europe during the 20th century, and finally got their big Hollywood break in the hit 1977 film Star Wars.

I decided to celebrate today by finding the world’s best cinnamon bun, and came across a National Cinnamon Bun Day blog by baking aficionado Anne of Sweden. The Swedish cinnamon expert has sampled some of the finest buns in the world and proclaims she found the perfect bun, not in Scandinavia, but in a distant land…

“My favorite cinnamon bun is not a bun, but a roll, from Sweet Jill’s. That’s a small pastry shop on Second Street (Belmont Shore) in Long Beach, California. Needless to say, I don’t eat them very often. But on my California trips…The rolls are huge – incredibly large, I bet they weigh a pound. And so incredibly delicious.

So at great expense and hazard to my own person, I undertook the perilous journey to this quaint and mystical seaside town of Belmont Shore.

I was surprised to find the workers at Sweet Jill’s unaware of Cinnamon Bun Day. When I asked for a world-famous cinnamon bun, my server replied, “Walnut or low-fat?” He may have noticed the disappointment in my face, or the tears welling up in my eyes. (I don’t like walnuts and don’t believe in low-fat.) For, moments later, he pulled from the oven a fresh batch of beautiful, nut-free, fat-full cinnamon swirls.

I did not weigh it, but I would agree with Anne, you could feed a family of four for a week.

Okay, truth be told, I grew up near Sweet Jill’s, a classmate of mine even worked there in high school, and I set foot in there maybe once all the time I lived there. It goes to show the old axiom is true: You don’t know the treasure in your own backyard, until you start researching National Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden.

The bun/roll/swirl was delicious as its legacy warranted, and I can honestly say, I end this holiday, if not wiser, heavier. (Warning: You may absorb calories just by looking at this website.)

Xicolatada – France

August 16


Today (August 16) the town of Palau de Cedagne in Southwestern France celebrates Xicolatada. At 11 am on this date, residents indulge in a delicious cup of piping hot chocolate.

This 300+ year-old tradition grew out of another festival. According to legend (i.e., Wikipedia):

15 August was once a festival day, and the locals would drink quite a bit, to the point that they felt a bit ill the following morning. To feel better, the village chocolatier would offer them a hot chocolate, which he claimed was an excellent remedy. Over the years, this habit grew into a custom, and eventually a municipal association was formed to remember the tradition and to organise the distribution of hot chocolate every year on 16 August, at precisely 11 in the morning.

At the time, chocolate was imported through Spain from the Latin American colonies. Located on the border of Spain and France in the Pyrenees, Palau de Cedagne was perfectly situated along popular trade routes.

Today the hot chocolate brewing follows an age-old secret recipe, cooked up in cauldrons, by a brotherhood of well-trained “Mestres xicolaters” (maîtres chocolatiers).

A Master Chocolatier, Xicolatada
A Master Chocolatier serves Xicolata

Xicolatada –

Xicolatada –