Has the recent cold, snowy weather left you feeling sad and filled with the blues? Take some time at the end of this month to celebrate some of the national days for special occasions. While things slow down for many during the winter months, the number of unique and sometimes bizarre reasons to party this month is not lacking. Take some time to plan how you will celebrate the end of January.

Jan. 27 is a day set aside for two very diverse celebrations. Since we are thinking about the bitter with the sweet, let’s talk about the sweet first. Jan. 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day. I am not sure, but I think I gained five pounds just typing that sentence. This day celebrates the cake more people favor.

In the United States, chocolate was consumed mostly as a beverage into about the 1840s. According to the Dover Post, the first chocolate cake was born in 1765 when a doctor and a chocolate maker teamed up in an old mill. They grounded cocoa beans between two huge grinding stones to make a thick syrup. The liquid was poured into molds that the duo hoped could be turned into a beverage. Instead the substance hardened.

A popular Philadelphia cookbook author, Eliza Leslie, is credited with publishing the first chocolate cake recipe in 1847. The first boxed cake mix was created by the O. Duff and Sons company in the late 1920s. Betty Crocker released its first dry cake mixes in 1947.

How can you observe this celebration? Well the adage encourages you to have your cake and eat it too. You might also bake a chocolate cake and take it to a friend who could use some cheering up. Say thank you to the office staff at the doctor’s office with your favorite cake. The folks at the nursing home would be ecstatic if you brought them a cake and sat down and ate it with them.

The 27th also celebrates National Punch a Time Clock Day. Mechanical time clocks used heavy paper cards placed in a time slot that was “punched” by a worker before they started work. The first time clock was invented by William LeGrand Bundy, a jeweler from Auburn, New York. He filed a patent for his invention in 1890. The mechanics of the machine made it difficult to cheat on the amount of time worked.

How should you celebrate this day? This morning when I arrived at work, I got out my cell phone and “clocked” into the job. I will celebrate the day being grateful that I don’t have to punch a card anymore.

Let’s turn our attention to the last day of the month. Jan. 31 also celebrates two special occasions. The first is National Eat Brussels Sprouts Day. Why in the world do we have a national day for these things?

Well, the day was probably put together by Birdseye or Green Giant. Eighty-five percent of the brussels sprouts market is served through frozen foods. But they do have a nasty reputation. A 2008 survey by Heinz shows that brussels sprouts are America’s most hated vegetable, an honor held by spinach until the days of Popeye.

Andy Griffiths, not the television sheriff, is the author of the New York Times’ best-selling book “Just Disgusting.” His brussels sprouts description includes, “Who wouldn’t hate them? They’re green. They’re slimy. They’re moldy. They’re horrible. They’re putrid. They’re foul. Apart from that, I love them. No, I don’t. That was just a joke.”

It is believed that the sprouts originate from their namesake city in Europe: Brussels, Belgium. Records can trace the vegetable back to the 12th Century, but the name was probably coined by the French later in the 18th century. By the 19th century, the sprouts became very popular in Great Britain. And you thought the revolution happened because of tea. Now things make more sense.

Even though the climate in California is ideal for growing brussels sprouts, Europe — and especially the Netherlands — produces tons more of the vegetable than America. There are several websites if you need ideas for how to observe this special day. Sounds to me like a recipe for disaster.

Clasped hand-in-hand with National Eat Brussel Sprouts Day is National Hell is Freezing Over Day. The idiom, “Not until hell freezes over,” sets the standard of improbability at the highest — or lowest — level. When the unlikely occurs — perhaps like eating brussels sprouts — hell has frozen over. Get bundled up and ready to celebrate. Observe the day by doing all the things you have put off until this day.

Nestled into the frozen tundra about 20 minutes northwest of Ann Arbor, a small unincorporated community boasts that it isn’t officially winter until Hell, Michigan, freezes over. It takes a streak of frigid days, often into the month of February, when the water flowing through the dam stops. Last year, the official date was mid-February.

During the last decade the event actually occurred only three out of the 10 years, 2014, 2018, and 2019. All three times the day happened in January. How should you observe the holiday? Get out the scrapbooks and recall the coldest winters that you remember. Share the stories and photos with the children who have yet to know what cold is all about. Perhaps you remember the minus temperatures such as -22 of 1994 or the -15 of 1985 and 1989. 1982 came in close at -11. I was in college in Cincinnati in 1977 when -13 allowed us to walk on the Ohio River.

From the Catbird Seat, dig deep and find some reasons to celebrate during the often cloudy, often cold winter days. (BTW there are less than 20 days until the start of baseball’s Spring Training.)

Tom May is a freelance writer and educator, and a columnist for the News and Tribune. Reach him at tgmay001@gmail.com.

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