Dec 25, 2015

Happy Friday

Laughter is food for the body. Smiles are food for the soul.

I always keep well fed in body and soul on a Happy Friday, and even more so on a Happy Christmas Friday!

Christmas Thought

Did You Know?

Christmas and the following New Year's Day (Jan 1) are always one week apart and fall on the same day. However, within any calendar year, Christmas and New Year’s Day always fall on different days.

Boxing Day

It is celebrated in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand on the first weekday after Christmas. Boxing Day is always the day after Christmas and traditionally occurs on December 26, but is not a fixed-date public holiday, meaning it is celebrated on the next weekday if the 26th is on a Saturday or Sunday. December 26th is also Saint Stephen’s Day, but will be celebrated December 28. I love extending holidays.

Bacon Day

Bacon Day is celebrated annually on December 30th. Bacon is a very popular food and you can find many items also flavored or scented with bacon including popcorn, soap, candles, air fresheners and many more. #bacon

Eating Together

Cornell professors found that firefighter platoons who eat meals together have better group job performance compared with firefighter teams who dine solo. The study is in the Harvard Business Review's December issue.

"Eating together is a more intimate act than looking over an Excel spreadsheet together. That intimacy spills back over into work," said the study's author, Kevin Kniffin. "From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today's workplaces."

Over the course of 15 months, Kniffin and his colleagues conducted interviews and surveys in a large city's fire department, which included more than 50 firehouses. The researchers asked the department's 395 supervisors to rate on a scale of zero to ten the performance of their platoon compared to other fire companies in which they served. The supervisors were also asked how often the platoon eats together in a typical work week. The platoons who ate together most often also received higher marks for their team performance. Conversely, the platoons that did not eat together obtained lower performance ratings.

In interviews, firefighters said daily group meals were a central activity during their shifts. Some firefighters who worked a shift that started at 6 p.m. often ate two dinners, one at home and a second at the firehouse. One firefighter said you don't want to dis the wife by turning down the food she prepared and implied that it was just as important to avoid disrespecting his co-workers. "To me, that's a good example of the importance of the group. It's comparable to his family," said Kniffin.

The researchers noted firefighters expressed a certain embarrassment when asked about firehouses where they did not eat together. "It was basically a signal that something deeper was wrong with the way the group worked," Kniffin said.

Pronouncing the Letter X

Did you know there at least eight ways to pronounce the letter X? The first is for today:
as kris in Xmas
as eks in x-ray
as gz in exist
as gzh in luxurious
as ks in sex
as ksh in anxious
as z in xylophone
or not at all as in faux pas.

Bacon Mashed Potato Waffles

To make this holiday leftover treat, add crumbled bacon, butter, garlic powder to mashed potatoes and cook in a waffle iron. Add more bacon and cheese on top, then broil until cheese melts. Ah, post holiday ambrosia!

Origins of Christmas Carols

In 1816, a Catholic priest wrote the poem Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! while stationed at a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria. When he transferred to St. Nicholas' two years later, he asked Gruber to help him write guitar music for the poem, which the two performed on Christmas Eve of 1818. Silent Night was translated into English more than 40 years later by Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, who is responsible for the version Americans favor. The song has been translated into 142 languages to date.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, was written by James Gillespie. This tune was first performed on American singer Eddie Cantor's radio show in 1934. The inspiration came from a place of grief. Gillespie was a vaudevillian-turned-songwriter who had fallen on hard times, both financially and personally. Gillespie received a call to write a Christmas tune just after learning his brother had died. However, on a subway ride, while recollecting his childhood with his brother and his mother's warnings that Santa was watching changed his mind. He finished the lyrics in fifteen minutes, then called in composer John Coots to make up the music that would become a big hit within 24 hours of its debut.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was originally sung to several different tunes, including 'New Britain'. The up tempo it is sung to today came from German composer Felix Mendelssohn. More than 100 years after it was written, English musician William H. Cummings paired the carol to Mendelssohn's cantata Fetgesang. The carol was a poem written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The original opening line as it appeared in his collection Hymns and Sacred Poems was "Hark how all the welkin rings," using a rarely used term for heaven. The Anglican preacher and friend George Whitefield tweaked the opening line to the one we know today.

Deck the Hall originally dates back to sixteenth century Wales, where its melody and much of the lyrics were copied from the New Year's Eve song 'Nos Galan'. Lines like "Oh! how soft my fair one's bosom/ Fa la la la la la la la la," were transformed into Yuletide wishes like "Deck the halls with boughs of holly/ 
Fa la la la la la la la la." This musical makeover was done by Scottish folk music scribe Thomas Oliphant. His version is not the one most commonly sung today. Now, lines like "Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel," have been changed to "Don we now our gay apparel." This variant became popular from revised music sheet printings made in 1881.

Jingle Bells was not originally conceived for Christmas time. It was written by James Lord Pierpont in 1850s Savannah, Georgia. The song originally titled 'The One Horse Open Sleigh' was intended to celebrate Thanksgiving. The local Unitarian church where he would later play the song on the organ boasts historical markers declaring it the birthplace of the song. However, some sources say Pierpont was singing the memorable melody when he still lived in Medford, Massachusetts. "Jingle Bells" was renamed in 1857 when its lyrics and notes were first published. Decades passed before it rose to prominence.