Monday, April 18, 2011

Pesach (Passover): April 18-26, 2011

Happy Passover to everyone!
The foods on the Seder Table symbolize freedom to the Jewish culture.

From Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership -

Passover is not simply a Jewish holiday; it is an invitation to be free 
and a method for achieving freedom.
The holiday of Passover takes it’s name, according to the Hebrew Bible, from the ancient Israelites last night in Egypt. On that night, some 3,200 years ago if the story is historically accurate, God “passed over” the houses of those leaving Egypt, sparing them from the last of the ten plagues: the death of the first born Egyptians. The Hebrew name for Passover is Pesach, from the word meaning to pass over.

(Source: Wikipedia, &; photo credit: seder plate,; matzah and kosher wine,

Monday's food holiday: "National Animal Crackers Day"!

Animal crackers are crackers in the shapes of animals, some brands of which are sweetened. These are usually animals one would see at the zoo or circus, including lions, tigers, bears, and elephants. Traditionally they come in a box with a handle on the top. The string handle was originally added so the box could be hung as a Christmas ornament and carried easily by young children.
In the late 19th century, animal-shaped cookies (or "biscuits" in British terminology) called "Animals" were imported from England to the United States. The demand for these crackers grew to the point that bakers began to produce them domestically. Stauffer’s Biscuit Company produced their first batch of animal crackers in 1871 in York, Pennsylvania. Other domestic bakeries, including the Dozier-Weyl Cracker Company of St. Louis and the Holmes and Coutts Company of New York City, were the predecessors of the National Biscuit Company, today's "Nabisco Brands".
In 1902, animal crackers officially became known as "Barnum's Animals" and evoked the familiar circus time theme.  Later in 1902, the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season with the innovative idea of attaching a string to hang from the Christmas tree. Up until that time, crackers were generally only sold in bulk (the proverbial "cracker barrel") or in large tins. These small cartons, which retailed for five cents at the time of their release, were a big hit and are still sold today. In 1948, the company changed the product name to its current designation of "Barnum's Animal Crackers". 
The number and variety of contained in each box has varied over the years. In total, 54 different animals have been represented by animal crackers since 1902. The current crackers are tiger,  cougar,  camel,  rhinoceros, kangaroo, hippopotamus, bison, lion,  hyena,  zebra, elephant, sheep, bear, gorilla, monkey,  polar bear,  seal and giraffe. In its current incarnation, each package contains 22 crackers consisting of a variety of animals. The most recent addition, the koala was added in September 2002, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, after being chosen by consumer votes, beating out the penguin, walrus and cobra.
More than 40 million packages of Barnum's Animal Crackers are sold each year, both in the United States and exported to 17 countries worldwide. The crackers are in the oven for about four minutes and are baked at the rate of 12,000 per minute. Fifteen thousand cartons and 300,000 crackers are produced in a single shift, using some thirty miles of string on the packages. This runs to nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 km) of string a year. Those bright circus boxes are produced in three colors - red, blue and yellow - with different variety of animals on each.

(Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: boxes,; box,; Christmas tree ornaments,; animal shapes, Wikipedia; box handle, Wikipedia)

Monday's celebrations

April 18th has a bunch of celebrations to consider:
National Animal Crackers Day
International Juggler's Day - also applies to multi tasking office workers
Newspaper Columnists Day
Adult Autism Awareness Day
International Amateur Radio Day
National Stress Awareness Day
National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day
Pet Owner's Independence Day
Third World Day
Observed Tax Day is today: Deadline has been extended past the traditional April 15th date because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, which falls on April 15th this year.
Patriot's Day (MA, ME) (3rd Monday of the month) Patriot's Day commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775; which began the American Revolutionary War.
"Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" Day: Paul Revere makes his famous midnight ride from Charlestown to Lexington, MA, shouting and warning the colonists, "the Red Coats are coming!" as the American Revolutionary War begins. (1775)
Boston Marathon
The House That (Babe) Ruth Built, Yankee Stadium officially opened, 1923
The Great San Francisco earthquake hits, killing 700 people. (1906)          
Passover (Jewish - begins at sundown)
Christian Feast Day: Corebus, Galdino della Sala, Eleutherius and Antia, Perfectus, Molaise of Leighlin
St. Aya's Day
Constitution Day, Canada
Independence Day (Zimbabwe) from United Kingdom in 1980
Army Day (Iran)
Invention Day (Japan) 1885
(Photo credits: boxes,; An example of an amateur radio station with four transceivers, amplifiers, and a computer for logging and for digital modes. On the wall are examples of various awards, certificates, and a reception report card (QSL card) from a foreign amateur station; tax day cartoon,; Paul Revere’s Ride,; The elite men runners climb a hill and round a curve near the 1 mile marker of the 112th Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., on Monday, April 21, 2008,; Great SF earthquake photo by Arnold Genthe shows Sacramento Street and approaching fire, from Steinbrugge Collection of the UC Berkeley Earthquake Engineering Research Center,; This ancient wall painting (c. 1994-1781 B.C) appears to depict jugglers. It was found in the 15th tomb of the Karyssa I area, Egypt. The prince is looking on to things he enjoyed in life that he wishes to take to the next world. The fact that jugglers are represented in a tomb suggests religious significance: "round things were used to represent large solar objects, birth, and death", Wikipedia)