Celebrate National Watermelon Day -Aug.3

This non-official American holiday’s beginnings are unknown however some believe it was created by watermelon farms while others suspect it was a creation of the National Watermelons Board.

According to Holidays Calendar, “Biologists and botanists believe that the modern watermelon can be traced all the way back to a vine like plant that grew wild in southern Africa. It has been cultivated by indigenous people since at least the second Millennium BC. From that auspicious beginning, the modern watermelon then spread all the way through Asia over the next thousand years, and eventually made its way into southern Europe by the tenth century. It was then introduced to the New World via European settlers and African slaves by the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, it was a commonly grown staple throughout much of the southern United States.

Today, watermelons are grown in almost every state in the U.S. In fact, there are only about 6 states where watermelons aren’t grown commercially. The states which produce the most watermelons are California, Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Florida.”

 

Watermelon Facts:

  • Watermelons are mostly water. About 91% of the watermelon by volume is made up of water.
  • The seeds and rind of the watermelon are edible.
  • Watermelon is both a fruit and a vegetable.
  • Seedless watermelons are NOT genetically engineered. They are a result of hybridization.
  • Oklahoma’s official State vegetable since 2007.
  • Watermelon has more lycopene than raw tomatoes.
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Halloween Trivia

Trick or treating comes from the Middle-Age practice of the poor dressing up in costumes and going around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for prayers. The food given was often a Soul Cake, which was a small round cake which represented a soul being freed from Purgatory when the cake was eaten.

The tradition of adding pranks into the Halloween mix started to turn ugly in the 1930’s and a movement began to substitute practical jokes for kids going door to door collecting candy.

Happy Halloween

Trick or Treat!

  • Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with Fall.  The color black is associated with darkness and death.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers as Number 1.
  • Candy corn was first made in the 1880s, and it was only more March through November.
  • Over 93% of children will go trick-or-treating. Approximately 84% of trick-or-treaters say candy and gum are their favorites with chocolate candy preferred by 50% and non-chocolate by 24%.
  • Kids’ least favorite items to get in their trick-or-treat bags are fruit and salty snacks like chips and pretzels.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • Candy corn was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderies Candy Company.
    National Candy Corn Day is on October 30th.
  • There are 25 colors of M&Ms, the most popular candy sold in the U.S.
  • It takes an average of 252 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
  • San  Francisco is the number one U.S. city for trick-or-treating
  • In 1955, UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund) for Halloween program began.  The original idea started in 1950 in Philadelphia, when a Sunday School class had the idea of collecting money for needy children when trick-or-treating.  They sent the money they made, about $17, to UNICEF which was inspired by the idea and started a trick-or-treat program in 1955.
  • A study from the National Retail Federation shows Americans spent over $300 million on pet costumes last year!

Halloween is also know by other names:

All Hallows Eve
Samhain
All Hallowtide
The Feast of the Dead
The Day of the Dead

  • The tradition of bobbing for apples originated from the Roman harvest festival that honors Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  • Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green.
  • There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, the color of pumpkin.
  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
  • Halloween also is recognized as the 3rd biggest party day after New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday.
  • The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia.

Monster Trivia & Folklore

  • Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hair palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.Werewolf in the light of a full moon
  • Vampires are mythical beings who defy death by sucking the blood of humans.
  • In 1962, The Count Dracula Society was founded by Dr. Donald A. Reed.
  • Dracula means “Devil’s son.”  Bram Stoker’s creation “Dracula” was based on the life of Prince Vlad Tepes (1431-1476). He was also called Vlad the Impaler since he had a bad habit of impaling his victims on stakes. The name “Dracula” is Romanian for Devil’s Son.  Vlad Draculas father was a knight of the Order of the Draco (or dragon), so Dracula also translates as “the son of Draco.”
  • To this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.
  • There really are so-called vampire bats, but they’re not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
  • According to legend, you can kill a vampire by cremate it, pound a stake through its heart or bury it at a crossroads.  Sunlight is also said to kill them. Different countries have different ideas of how to destroy vampires.  Garlic and crosses only keep vampires away.
  • Allegedly, “Revenge falls upon whoever opens the coffin of a mummy.”
  • The country most associated with mummies is Egypt.
  • Zombies often wear chains for they are slaves; slaves of their evil masters who have brought them to life using magic.
  • Two areas of the world particularly associated with the zombie myth are Africa and Haiti, a country on the island of Hispaniola.
  • Many people still believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil spirits.

Witches

  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.
  • In the Middle Ages, many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats.
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch’s familiars who protected their powers.

Creepy Tidbits

  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved on watching over you.
  • Worldwide, bats are vital natural enemies of night-flying insects.
  • The common little brown bat of North America has the longest life span for a mammal it’s size, with a life span averaging 32 years.
  • In about 1 in 4 autopsies, a major disease is discovered that was previously undetected.
  • In Medieval times, a spider was rolled in butter and used as a cure for diseases such as leprosy and the plague.
  • The famous magician, Harry Houdini, died on Halloween, 1926 in Detroit, MI.

The next full moon on Halloween night will be October 31, 2020.

haunted house, owl, spider and jack-o-lanterns

Happy Hallowe’en!

The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.

Halloween is Oct. 31 – the last day of the Celtic calendar. It actually was a pagan holiday honoring the dead.

Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

Halloween is correctly spelt as Hallowe’en.

Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world, dating back over 2000 years to the time of the Celts who lived in Britain.

According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

Halloween was originally a Celtic holiday celebrated on October 31.

Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.

Obsolete Rituals focused on the Future and Love

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married.

  • In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.
  • In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)
  • Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.
  • Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.
  • Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.
  • Bobbying for apples is a fertility rite, or a marriage divination and dates back to the Celtics. Unmarried people would try to bite into an apple floating in water or hanging from a string. The first person to bite into the apple would be the next one to marry.

bobbing for applesPumpkin Facts

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.
  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”
  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
  • The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.
  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
  • The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin.
  • Stephen Clarke holds the record for the world’s fastest pumpkin carving time: 24.03 seconds, smashing his previous record of 54.72 seconds. The rules of the competition state that the pumpkin must weigh less than 24 pounds and be carved in a traditional way, which requires at least eyes, nose, ears, and a mouth.

Happy Birthday, Barbie! (March 9th)

20 Surprising Things You Don’t Know About Barbie

All those years spent playing together and you didn’t even know her real name.

Barbie®

Barbie® is a doll!

posted on May 20, 2013, at 2:20 p.m.
by Brian Galindo, BuzzFeed Staff

  1. Barbie’s real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
  2. In 1959, the first Barbie doll sold for $3.00 (that would be the equivalent of $23.97 today)
  3. The first Barbie doll was available as either a blonde or a brunette.
  4. The first Barbie dolls were manufactured in Japan and their clothes were hand-stitched by Japanese workers.
  5. Barbie isn’t from Malibu, she is actually from (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin.
  6. Barbie was originally a 17-year-old “Teen Age Fashion Model.”
  7. Over the years, Barbie has had seven siblings: Skipper, Stacie, Chelsea, Krissy, Kelly, Tutti, and Todd.
  8. She has had more than 130 careers; they have included being an elementary school teacher, a business executive, a McDonald’s cashier, a doctor, an astronaut, and yes, even a rapper. Plus, she’s vied for the Presidency of the United States.  Barbie first ran for the office in the early 1990s and hasn’t showed signs of quitting.
  9. Ken is two years and two days younger than Barbie (he was introduced in 1961). Also, his full name is Ken Carson. Ken® doll was named after the son of Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler.
  10. Ken has never put a ring on it (he and Barbie have never officially been married).
  11. The very first Barbie car was a 1962 Austin Healy roadster.
  12. Barbie’s first pet was a horse named Dancer. Since then, she has had more than 50 other pets, including 21 dogs, 6 cats, a chimpanzee, a panda, a parrot, a lion cub, a giraffe, and a zebra.
  13. Brown is the color most frequently used for Barbie’s eye shadow.
  14. In 1985, Andy Warhol created a silkscreen painting of Barbie. According to his posthumous book, The Andy Warhol Diaries, he hated it and cringed when he unveiled it for the President of Mattel.
  15. Totally Hair Barbie

    Totally Hair Barbie© came with Dep® hair styling gel for her owner.  (Via images.businessweek.com)

    Totally Hair Barbie (1992) is the best-selling Barbie doll ever.

  16. In 2004, after breaking up with Ken, she had a rebound relationship with Blaine, an Australian surfer. Ken and Barbie got back together on Valentine’s Day 2011.
  17. Barbie has never been pregnant (only her best friend Midge has).

    Dr. Barbie© alongside her best friend Midge and Midge's family

    Dr. Barbie© was in the delivery room with her best friend Midge.  Here she poses with Midge, her husband, Alan, and kids.

  18. Aqua’s 1997 song, “Barbie Girl,” was the subject of the lawsuit Mattel v. MCA Records. In 2002, Mattel lost the lawsuit, a Court of Appeals ruled that the song was protected under the First Amendment as “parody and a social commentary.”  In 2009, despite the lawsuit, Mattel released a music video of Barbie singing, “Barbie Girl” (a re-recorded version with modified lyrics).
  19. If Barbie were a real-life person, she’d be the same age as other celebs born in 1959, like Emma Thompson, Marie Osmond, and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
  20. Presidential Candidate Barbie

    Barbie is not afraid of politics. She first ran for U.S. President in the 1990s.

    Like any baby boomer, she’s witnessed plenty of historic moments and changes in the modern era.  Barbie’s life can only be described as colorful. She came into existence around the era of old-school glamour, became an astronaut during the space race, discoed her way through the 1970s, broke the “plastic ceiling” as a woman in business in the 1980s, entered politics in the 1990s, and even survived a high-profile breakup in 2004. She’s gone from just a pretty face to becoming an athlete, teacher, vet, and even a Naval officer. She really has proven she won’t be confined by a box.

Facts via: Barbie MediaDoll Diaries, and Huffington Post

Family & Friends

Barbie’s family tree may look like a giant Sequoia, but the Barbie Dream House always has room for friends and family, including:

Sisters

Barbie® has three sisters: Skipper, Stacie, Chelsea

Friends

Barbie® has lots of best friends, but her oldest friend is Midge® (shown here), who she grew up with in Willows. Barbie was even Midge’s maid-of-honor at her wedding to Alan in 1991.

Ken© and Barbie©

Like every couple Barbie® and Ken® have have had some bumps in their relationship but have managed to stay together for over 50 years. However, they have NOT been officially married!!!

Barbie® doll’s boyfriend, Ken®, debuted two years after Barbie® in 1961. Ken® doll’s official birthday is March 11, 1961 – making Ken® 2 days and 2 years younger than Barbie®. Starting out with nine outfits, a skinny frame and fuzzy crew cut, he’s always stood by Barbie.

Barbie® doll was named after the daughter of Mattel Founders Ruth and Elliot Handler and Ken® doll was named after their son.

Barbie doll® creators Ruth and Elliott Handler pose with their children, Kenneth and Barbara.

Barbie doll® creators Ruth and Elliott Handler pose with their children, Kenneth and Barbara.

Ken® and Barbie® broke up on Valentine’s Day in 2004 after being together more than 43 years, they rekindled their romance announcing their reunion after seven years of being apart on Valentine’s Day 2011.

4th of July – Trivia Quiz

Take the Quiz today.  Check back later for the answers.

Washington D.C.
The mall and the Washington monument in Washington D.C.

1. Who designed the National Mall in Washington, D.C.?

A. Pierre L’Enfant
B. George Washington
C. Thomas Jefferson
D. John Adams

 

2. Who was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and why is his signature so large?

A. George Washington
B. Patrick Henry
C. John Hancock
D. Thomas Jefferson
E. John Adams

 

3. What famous character with a stars-and-stripes top hat has become a symbol of America?

A. Cat in The Hat
B. Uncle Sam
C. Captain America
D. Big Bird

 

The US Flag and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

4. On July 4th of what year did the 50-star American flag wave for the first time as Hawaii was granted statehood?

A. 1955
B. 1960
C. 1965
D. 1970

 

5. Which of our Founding Fathers created the blueprint for our Fourth of July celebrations by suggesting that the day be celebrated with “bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other” by succeeding generations of Americans?

A. George Washington
B. John Adams
C. Thomas Jefferson
D. John Hancock
E. Benjamin Franklin

 

6. What notable event occurred on July 4, 1848?

A. Boston’s first fireworks display
B. The State of New York emancipates its slaves
C. Construction begins on the Washington Monument
D. Centennial celebrations are held in the United States
E. The first public Fourth of July reception at the White House

 

7. About how many people were living in the colonies in July 1776?

A. 1.5 million
B. 22 million
C. 2 million
D. 2.5 million
E. 12 million

 

8. Only one president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on the Fourth of July. Three presidents died on that date. Who were they?

Baby in Patriotic cap - Photo by Erika Iurcovich Photography
Click here for this baby cap. Erika Iurcovich Photography

A. George Washington,Chester Arthur and James Monroe
B. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Richard M. Nixon
C. Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant and Warren Harding
D. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe
E. Harry Truman, Franklin Pierce and John Tyler

 

9. What American president said, “We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution?”

A. George Washington
B. John F. Kennedy
C. Abraham Lincoln
D. Dwight Eisenhower
E. Franklin Roosevelt

 

10. On July 4, 1976, Americans all over the country celebrated our nation’s 200th birthday. How many tons of fireworks were exploded in a magnificent display above the Washington Monument in Washington, DC?

A. 5
B. 24
C. 33

 

11. Which of John Philip Sousa’s compositions was designated the National March of the United States in 1987?

A. “The Liberty Bell”
B. “US Field Artillery”
C. “The Stars and Stripes Forever”
D. “The Washington Post March”

 

12. When Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814, it immediately became popular with the public. When was it adopted as our national anthem?

A. 1798
B. 1812
C. 1954
D. 1865
E. 1931

 

 

Presidential Quiz – Answers

Do you know your United States History???

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA

Click the photo for more on the Mt. Rushmore National Park located in South Dakota, United States.

Mt. Rushmore National Park in South Dakota features the faces of the following United States Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Here are the answers to the Presidential quiz.

1. Which of the 4 Presidents featured on Mount Rushmore was the only President elected unanimously… twice?    Answer:  George Washington

2. To date, which president is the tallest, standing at 6’4″?   Answer: Abe Lincoln

3. Which United States President spoke 6 languages?  Answer:  Thomas Jefferson

4. Which president is known for his achievements in conservation?  Answer: Teddy Roosevelt

Presidential Quiz

Do you know your United States History???

Take this fun quiz and find out.

Mt. Rushmore National Park in South Dakota

Mt. Rushmore features the faces of the following United States Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Find out more about this national monument.

1. Which of the 4 Presidents featured on Mount Rushmore was the only President elected unanimously… twice?

2. To date, which president is the tallest, standing at 6’4″?

3. Which United States President spoke 6 languages?

4.  Which president is known for his achievements in conservation?

(hint:  the answers can be found on Mount Rushmore, South Dakota)