By Rich Adams
December has 26 official days designated as National (fill in a food or drink) Day.
There are also two weeks that nationally center around food, according to the National Days Calendar. To top it off, December is National Pear Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month and Worldwide Food Service Safety Month.
But before we dive into the food, let’s talk about Monkey Day, which is celebrated Dec. 14 every year. It’s not about food, by the way.
Monkey Day would probably not be in this article if its creation wasn’t so odd, not to mention local. The unofficial international holiday celebrates monkeys, as well as other nonhuman primates such as apes and lemurs. The holiday is used to raise awareness about these animals and their role in nature, according to holidayscalendar.com.
While that website notes the origin of the observance is unknown, both Wikipedia and the National Day Calendar agree that Monkey Day evolved from Michigan State University.
Wikipedia explains the holiday was created and popularized by Casey Sorrow and Eric Millikin when they were art students at MSU. The National Days Calendar gets even more specific. The international observance supposedly was birthed when Sorrow wrote “Monkey Day” on Millikin’s calendar. A celebration followed and grew to international scope.
Who’d a thunk it?
OK, back to food.
There are three huge food holidays in December. First comes Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, an eight-day commemoration of rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians. This year it runs Dec. 22-30.
While the holiday features many observances it also features special foods, such as the potato latke, a type of fried pancake garnished with applesauce or sour cream, and the jelly-filled sufganya, similar to a doughnut.
Christmas, of course, is Dec. 25. Many families gather together for a feast on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Plus, there are the candies and brittles and … well, it’s a super food day (or longer).
Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 this year. Kwanzaa is a holiday tradition that is based on the “first harvest” celebrations in Africa. Kwanzaa observances in the United States arose from the civil rights movement in 1966, according to the Holidays Calendar.
Food is a key player in Kwanzaa as well. Better Homes & Gardens notes main dishes are always the highlight of dinner during the holiday. “For your Kwanzaa meal, try African creole, Cajun catfish, jerk chicken or groundnut stew, a tasty dish from West Africa. For your side we’ve got many traditional Kwanzaa recipes, including Jollof rice, collard greens, Kwanzaa slaw, grits, beans and rice, and okra.”
Those are the days most of us know about. But food or drink are stars of many other days in December, according to the National Days Calendar.
Starting at the top of the month we have National Pie Day and National Eat a Red Apple Day. The first week of December is National Cookie Cutter Week and, appropriately, National Cookie Day is observed Dec. 4. Cookie Day was established in 1976, when “Sesame Street” included National Cookie Day on its calendar for the first time.
Dec. 6 is National Microwave Oven Day, but that doesn’t really count. Although it is heavily used for food preparation, it is not food itself. It still deserved a mention.
Dec. 8 is National Brownie Day, and Dec. 9 is National Pastry Day. There’s a break in the food days until Dec. 12, which is both National Ambrosia Day and National Gingerbread House Day. Dec. 13 is National Cocoa Day.
On Dec. 14 – in addition to Monkey Day – we can celebrate National Bouillabaisse Day and National Cupcake Day. Dec. 16 is the overarching National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.
Dec. 17 is National Maple Syrup Day, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the sap of the maple tree is gathered in the spring and processed into syrup, not in December. Dec. 18 is National Roast Suckling Pig Day.
The week starting Dec. 19 is National Gluten-Free Baking Day. It’s also National Hard Candy Day and National Oatmeal Muffin Day (there are a ton of gluten-free recipes for oatmeal muffins, according to the Google machine).
Dec. 20 is National Sangria Day, followed by National French-Fried Shrimp Day on Dec. 21. The 22nd brings us National Date Nut Bread Day and the 23rd is National Pfeffernusse Day.
Christmas Eve is National Eggnog Day, and Dec. 25 brings National Pumpkin Pie Day (also a holiday staple). Dec. 26 is National Candy Cane Day and Dec. 27 is National Fruitcake Day.
It’s National Chocolate Candy Day on Dec. 28, and the 29th marks National Pepper Pot Day, a soup that supposedly dates back to Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Dec. 30 is National Bacon Day – yum!
And Dec. 31 is, appropriately, National Champagne Day. Now if your bubbly is not from the Champagne region of France, it isn’t really champagne – but it’s bubbly and fun, so who cares.
Champagne was rumored to have been the brainchild of Dom Perignon, a monk and cellar-master at an abbey in Hautvillers. He did pioneer a number of winemaking techniques, but champagne was not his creation, according to several sources. The oft-told story of Dom Perignon being a sightless monk who proclaimed “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars” has been debunked. He was neither sightless (at least when he was a winemaker) nor did he likely speak those words. In fact, the first appearance of that quote was in a print advertisement in the late 19th century, according to Wired.
Oh, and if all that food and drink gives you a stomachache, Dec. 30 is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, which celebrates baking soda’s role in many of these foods. But a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda added to a glass of water can sooth the Pfeffernusse acid in your tummy, according to WebMD.