Dec. 6: St. Nicholas Day, Mitten Tree Day, National Gazpacho Day, Microwave Oven Day

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St. Nicholas Day

We often use the terms St. Nicholas and Santa Claus interchangeably, but "St. Nicholas Day" is celebrated independently of Christmas, on Dec. 6 each year.

Folklore tells us that on the night of Dec. 6, medieval nuns would anonymously deliver baskets of food and clothing to the doorsteps of the needy. St. Nicholas himself was known for secret gift-giving as well. Children would leave their shoes out on the stoop for him at night, and he would secretly hide coins inside them.

You can join in the spirit of St. Nicholas Day by doing something kind for a person in need. Perhaps you can make a meal for an elderly neighbor or organize a food drive for a local shelter.

Mitten Tree Day

There are many wonderful things about this time of year, and for me, "Mitten Tree Day" is one of them. A mitten tree is a Christmas tree that is decorated with winter mittens of all colors and sizes. Once full the mittens are then donated to children and others who need them.

If you don't have a mitten tree to contribute to this year, you can start your own. All you need is a tree -- it doesn't even have to be a real one -- and a group of like-minded people. Perhaps your church, school, or even bowling league would be a great organization to support your mitten tree.

National Gazpacho Day

You may think it odd to celebrate a cold soup in December, but gazpacho is a soup that's good any time of year.

Gazpacho was developed in the Moorish kitchens that are now part of Spain, Portugal and France. It was served for lunch as a way to keep field hands cool and refreshed during the hot summer months.

Since today is "National Gazpacho Day," why not mix up a batch of your own? This easy and versatile soup is made with a tomato base, is thickened with bread, and garnished with various raw vegetables of your choice.

Why not try this refreshing recipe from Fabio Vivani via Yahoo! Shine?

Microwave Oven Day

Have you ever bought a kitchen appliance only to regret it later? Maybe it was a fancy juicer, burger cooker or doughnut maker? Me too. But the one kitchen appliance purchase I have never heard anyone lament is the microwave oven.

Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer, an employee of the Raytheon Corporation, discovered the cooking abilities of microwaves by accident. One day in 1946, while working with magnetrons, he discovered that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. That was all it took to pique his curiosity.

The first commercial microwave oven was built in 1947. It was 5 1/2 feet tall and weighed 750 pounds! Thank goodness research didn't stop there.

Today is "Microwave Oven Day." You can celebrate by putting your microwave to use. It'll only take a minute!

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