December 2019 Soto’s Chronicles
Protecting your most valuable asset — your family
FROM THE DESK OF
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!
However you spend the month of December, I hope it is filled with lots of fun and festive activities. It’s a favorite time of the year for me, and I hope you take time to spend it with family and friends. It’s been a very busy year. As you are out and about with your loved ones, please make sure to give lots of wellness checks on your older family members. The holidays can be a busy time, and those older family members may feel left out. Pick up the phone or stop by —do whatever you can to include them in your holiday activities. It’s also a good time to double-check and make sure all of the powers of attorney and health care directives are in place, current, and easily accessible. If you need to update these documents, give us a call prior to the end of the year and we can give you peace of mind for your loved ones.
THEY DO WHAT IN WINTER? Winter Celebrations Around theWorld
Winter is a time for festive joy when celebrations culminate to carry us through the gloomy weather and keep us cheery about ringing in another year. Sometimes it’s hard to look outside our own traditions because we love them so much, but there’s a whole world out there full of people who have their own wonderfully different ways of celebrating a season that means so much. Here are just a few you might find as fascinating and heartwarming as we do.
RUSSIA: MASLENITSA, OR PANCAKE WEEK
Celebrated at the end of February to denote the passing of winter, this seven-day festival is a time of indulgence for people all across Russia. As the name suggests, piping hot pancakes (or blinis, as they’re called in Russia) are served up every day of the celebration as people stuff themselves to the gills in preparation for Lent. The blinis are golden, fluffy, and come with an array of decadent toppings, like chocolate and fruit, or savory options, like sour cream and caviar. The festival also involves plenty of dancing, winter sports like ice skating and skiing, and culminates in the burning of the Maslenitsa straw figure to signify the forgiveness of any wrongdoings suffered. That all sounds fun and dandy, but they honestly had us at pancakes.
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when the mayor of Oaxaca at the time made the carving competition part of the annual Christmas market in an effort to promote local
CHINA: LUNAR NEW YEAR
agriculture. Seeing as radishes were already an integral part of Oaxacan cuisine, citizens latched on tight and haven’t let it go since.
While this holiday is celebrated all around the world with varying customs from country to country, China’s history and traditions surrounding the holiday are the most renowned. Often falling in
late January, Lunar New Year marks the start of a new lunar cycle, and thus a time to reflect on the past and look to the future. Family from across the country comes together to spend time appreciating one another and their ancestors as neighborhoods are adorned in a festive scarlet red. Cash gifts are given in small red packets, and food, dancing, parades, and fireworks entertain late into the night. It all culminates in the Lantern Festival when families light lanterns as a sign of peace and forgiveness.
AROUND THE WORLD: SANTACON
You may have heard of this one or even participated in the past. But for those of you who haven’t, SantaCon is open to all! Throughout the month
of December in cities big and small, men and women alike dress up in Santa’s traditional red garb and get together to have some fun. The biggest gathering ever recorded occurred in New York in 2012 where an estimated 30,000 Santas all congregated to celebrate! While some like to get a little rowdy by turning their celebrations into events like festivals and pub crawls, others volunteer their time at charities or raise funds for good causes. Whatever the case, it’s a time for adults to get into the spirit of the season by harkening back to their childhood whimsy about Santa and all the joy he brings. This winter, we hope you’ll celebrate and cherish your own fun traditions to the fullest, whatever they may be. The season can be cold and drab for some, but for all, it should be a time to reflect on our past, be thankful for what we have, and tap into the potential of all the things the coming year may bring.
MEXICO: NIGHT OF THE RADISHES
Celebrated every year on Dec. 23 in Oaxaca, Mexico, Night of the Radishes is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Bright magenta radishes are grown just for this one-night celebration, when they’re picked then carved into fun
and intricate figurines, including Nativity scenes, mythical monsters, and much more. They’re put on display for all to enjoy for just a few hours before they start to wilt, and prizes are awarded to the best carvings. This tradition has roots (pun intended) that date back to 1897
HOW TO BUILD THE PERFECT SNOWMAN (According to Science)
aesthetic of your snowman and overall stability. Mathematician Dr. James Hind from Nottingham Trent University developed a formula for building the perfect snowman. He recommended that a snowman be 64 inches tall, while the sections of the snowman should be 31 inches in diameter for the base, 20 inches in diameter for the middle, and 12 inches in diameter for the head. Once your snowman is built, science has just one rule for decorating: Have fun. Grab a scarf and a top hat, a carrot nose and radish eyes, or a fancy bow tie. Building the perfect snowman means building a snowman that will make you smile when you see it.
masterpiece is freshly fallen snow when the temperature is around 32 degrees F. If the snow isn’t quite right, you can moisten it a little by spraying water on it.
If you’re lucky enough to get a good snow day this year, building a snowman is a great way to spend it. That said, building a snowman isn’t all fun and games. It’s hard work, and you want to make sure the end result is worth the sore legs and soggy pants. Here are some science-backed strategies for building the perfect snowman. Snow is your artistic medium, so make sure you have the right material for your project. Yes, there is a wrong kind of snow to use when building a snowman. You want the snow to be moist enough that it packs well but not so slushy that it collapses under pressure. The ideal snow for building your CHOOSE THE RIGHT SNOW
LOCATION IS EVERYTHING
Before you start stacking your snowman, pick the right location for it to hang out. Asphalt will heat up faster, so stick Frosty on a grassy lawn. If you can find a place that will be in the shade when the sun comes out, all the better.
PAY ATTENTION TO PROPORTION
As you roll the snowballs to form the head and body pieces, keep proportions in mind. This is important for the visual
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LIGHT UP THE NIGHT Why Do We Hang Christmas Lights? The first string of twinkling lights illuminating your neighbor’s house is always a telltale sign of the upcoming seasonal festivities. Christmas lights are a holiday staple, but have you ever wondered where this beloved tradition started?
Johnson, a close friend of Thomas Edison and vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, vowed to find a better way to decorate Christmas trees with light. In December 1882, three years after Edison’s invention of the lightbulb in November 1879, Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white, and blue lightbulbs together and wound them around a Christmas tree in his parlor window. A passing reporter saw the spectacle and declared in the Detroit Post and Tribune, “One can hardly imagine anything prettier.” Johnson continued this tradition, increasing the number of lights each year and eventually putting them up outside. But because electricity was still a new concept, many years passed before the fad took off for regular Americans. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree, which spurred the idea of selling stringed lights commercially. By the 1930s, families everywhere were buying boxes of bulbs by the dozen. Today, an estimated 150 million Christmas lights are sold in America each year, decorating 80 million homes and consuming 6% of the nation’s electricity every December. Whether you’ll be putting up your own lights or appreciating the most impressive light displays in your neighborhood or town, let the glow fill you with joy this season. Just don’t leave them up until February!
The tradition of hanging lights on the tree originally started with candles. Because this posed an immense fire hazard, Edward Hibberd
Take a Break!
Inspired by TwoHealthyKitchens.com
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
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2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Directions 1. Heat oven to 350 F. 2. Grease a loaf pan with canola oil.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1/2 cup canola oil, molasses, brown sugar, eggs, ginger, and cranberries. In a separate bowl, sift and combine flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.
4. Scrape batter into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes. 5. Transfer to a rack, let cool for 20 minutes, slice, and serve.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Desk of DeDe PAGE 1 Winter Celebrations Around the World PAGE 1 Build a Snowman With Science! PAGE 2 The History Behind Christmas Lights PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Cranberry Gingerbread PAGE 3 How Santa Claus Became Powered by Reindeer PAGE 4
WHAT ABOUT DUNDER AND BLIXEM? The Strange History of Santa’s Reindeer
businessman, who mass-marketed reindeer as Santa’s companions. In the late 1890s, the Sami natives of Northern Europe, who were longtime reindeer herders, made their passage from Norway to the U.S. with a herd of reindeer to invigorate the Alaskan landscape and help their native neighbors. Lomen saw the reindeer as an opportunity and partnered with the Macy’s department store company to create a promotional Christmas parade in
no exception. (Well, kind of.) Rudolph wouldn’t join the squad until a department store added him as part of their promotions in the 1930s. WHAT’S IN A NAME? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, and Cupid were all brought to life by Moore, but have you ever heard of Dunder and Blixem? Though we now know the duo as Donner and Blitzen, Moore originally named them Dunder and Blixem— the Dutch words for thunder and lightning—but publishing companies wanted names that would rhyme better with the rest of the poem. Still, it was a few decades before Donner and Blitzen made their appearances in the version of the poemwe know today. REINDEER BURGERS, ANYONE? Moore’s poem paved the way for Santa’s most famous form of transportation, but it was actually Carl Lomen, an Alaskan
We all know reindeer visit our rooftops every Christmas Eve, but what brings them there? Follow the unique and complicated history of Santa’s reindeer to find out. A VISIT FROMWHO ONWHAT NIGHT? In the 1820s, Clement Clarke Moore penned a holiday poem that became the foundation for a phenomenon still alive today. Commonly known as“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,”
which Santa, led by his reindeer, a sleigh, and Sami herders, were prominently featured. Lomen’s goal was to promote his massive reindeer conglomerate for the production and sale of reindeer meat. Instead, a holiday story was born.
“A Visit From St. Nicholas”is a beloved story shared by
every generation. It is in this poem that reindeer were first credited with powering Santa’s sleigh around the globe. Many popular songs, movies, and plays have preserved Moore’s vision of St. Nick, and his reindeer and their names are
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