April 1st Poisson d’Avril (April Fish Day) April Fools Day in France

Of course we all know today is a day to play harmless tricks on others and get a laugh for ourselves, and for them. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s what it’s supposed to mean anyway. The day’s origins may have several sources but the most likely origin dates back to 1564 France, where it was believed to be New Years Day. The rest of the world could not follow the French logic and called them fools for believing it was New Year’s Day and those outside of France may have thought the French were trying to play a harmless trick on them.

How to celebrate – Play some harmless tricks on others (just make sure no one is getting hurt). Throw a party for our boss here at Unboxing the Bizarre, it’s her birthday! Visit France.

July 14th Bastille Day

Bastille Day celebrates the French people winning democracy and freedom from a ruling monarch. In 1789 the “people” attacked the Bastille, a prison for primarily political prisoners, and a symbol of the monarchy. It is called Fette de la Federation in France. I have always wondered how the French King could support the Americans in overthrowing the King of England and not expect the same of their own people. But apparently they didn’t which is why there is no more royalty in France today! Well, leave it to the French to celebrate defeating themselves, “Vive la France”!

How to celebrate – Visit the Bastille. Read about the French Revolution. Learn how to speak French.

April 29th Peace Rose Day

April 29th Peace Rose Day

Somewhere between 1935 and 1939, French horticulturist Francis Meilland developed a new rose he wanted to share with the world. Knowing World War 2 was about to begin and that his work would probably be destroyed, he sent cutting of the rose to Italy, Turkey, Germany and the US. In France it was known as the “Madame A. Meilland”, in Italy the “Gioia” (Meaning joy) in Germany the Gloria Dei (Glory to God) and in the US it became known as the Peace Rose because of its association with the End of World War 2 in Europe on April 29th, 1945.

How to celebrate – Grow your own Peace Rose. Read about Francis Meilland. Plant a rose garden.

April 26th National Pretzel Day

Though the pretzel is often associated with German food, or snacks, it actually was created around 610 AD in Southern France by Catholic Monks. Some insist that pretzels first appeared in Italy, also made by Monks, who created them as treats for children who said their prayers. The original pretzels were designed to look like arms folded over the chest, as if saying prayers. Of course the Germans claim some credit for the first pretzel as well so about all we do know is that it was created in Europe, somewhere. The first pretzel in the United States was made by Julius Sturgis in 1850 at Lititz, Pennsylvania. While today has some listing a 1983 Pretzel Day we do know that Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania made a pretzel holiday in 2003.

How to celebrate – Have a pretzel today. Learn how to make your own pretzel. Visit a German restuarant.

February 7th Ballet Day

February 7th Ballet Day

Standing right along with the Opera, Ballet is a beautiful art form that seems designed for the upper crust. Perhaps that’s because that is where ballet started. Its roots come from the Renaissance, particularly in France and Italy among the nobility. Dance, speech, music, verse, song and pageantry were all celebrated in the ballet where at the end the audience joined in. Must have been quite a sight! Of course, there were not tutus and all those fancy steps like the A terre, Arabesque and Carbriole weren’t even heard of yet.

How to celebrate – Learn ballet. Go to a ballet performance (If you can find one). Try on a tutu to see how it looks on you.

July 14th Bastille Day

In 1789 the French people revolted against the king, attacking the Bastille which was a prison but symbolized the monarchy. It was the beginning of democracy in France. I often wonder how much the American revolution had to do with the French Revolution. The French helped Americans free themselves from the King of England. They armed the Americans, sent weapons and supplies and eventually their army and navy. I wonder if the French people saw that and said to themselves, we want that too. As it turns out they traded the King for an Emperor, which is basically short of King, so not a lot changed for them over the next few years. Think of Bastille Day as France’s Independence Day.

How to celebrate – Visit France. Read about the French Revolution. Go see the Bastille.

May 24th National Escargot Day

Eating snails maybe a real treat, I will never know. The idea of eating something that crawls along the ground has never appealed to me. To others though, snails are a delight. I believe the French, who were among the first to see this creature crawling on the ground and said, to themselves, “Yum”. However, leaving them entitled “Snails” may have turned others off so they named them Escargot instead. (That’s probably not true but I don’t really want to find out) If you eat snails remember to extend your little finger so people know you have class cause otherwise they might just think you are weird.

How to celebrate – Have some escargot. Go out and see if your supper is climbing your walls. Visit France.

May 5th Cinco de Mayo

The Battle of Puebla in 1862 saw the Mexicans beat a highly trained French army in their long struggle for freedom. It did not bring about Independence but it was a celebrated victory that went a long way in winning freedom and gave the Mexicans a victory to celebrate raising morale and helping them keep the faith. Though Puebla was technically in the United States, California still held a large population of Mexicans, and of course, the Americans were in a Civil War of their own. Even so, it was a great victory bringing about a national reason for joy and hope.

How to celebrate – Read about the battle of Puebla. Learn more about Mexico. Throw a Cinco de Mayo party.

April 26th National Pretzel Day

When we think of pretzels we often think Germany, and beer. Well, the world’s oldest snack food actually came out of France around 610 AD when Monks created the treat to represent children’s folded arms while in prayer. You can get pretzels salted, and unsalted, and in numerous different flavors today and generally speaking, while not exactly healthy, they aren’t all that bad for us. You can get hard pretzels or soft pretzels, big pretzels or small pretzels, you can even get them mixed with other snacks like popcorn, peanuts and raisins. (And you don’t have to have beer but it does make them better)

How to celebrate – Have some pretzels. Learn how to make your own pretzels. Become a Monk.

December 31st National Champagne Day

National Champagne Day December 31st

Champagne is a sparkling wine named for the region it comes from in France. It is appropriate that today falls on December 31st when many, many bottles will be uncorked to celebrate the coming of the New Year. Raise a glass and bring in the New Year with something as bright and bubbly as we all hope your future will be.

How to celebrate – Welcome in the New Year. Celebrate the New Year with a glass of champagne. Visit the Champagne region in France for the New Year.