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NATIONAL VIOLIN DAY
A day devoted to something perhaps no other board member cares about, today is a day that stands out for me. At 78, I have taken up learning to play the fiddle. You might ask what's the difference between a violin and a fiddle - the answer, according to an old saw is "many, many dollars". Several months into my quest to not scare neighborhood dogs and cats I find it a worthwhile endeavor, Listen to Vassar Clements and Benny Thomasson to hear some of the best there is.
NATIONAL VIOLIN DAY
Honoring an instrument also known as the fiddle, National Violin Day on December 13th celebrates the bow stringed instrument loved around the world.
By drawing the bow across the strings, the violinist manipulates the sound in several ways. A violinist uses numerous bowing techniques to master the violin. The strokes dictate not only notes, but the quality of the note played.
While we associate the violin with classical music, it easily crosses genres. For instance, the violinist demonstrates the versatility of the violin by extensive use in baroque music, jazz, folk music, rock and roll, and soft rock.
“Violin” comes from the Medieval Latin work “vitula” which means stringed instrument.
Although having ancient origins, violin-makers developed most of the violin’s modern characteristics in Italy during the 16th century. Further modifications formed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It is believed that Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were the world’s earliest fiddlers. They played two-stringed upright fiddles strung with horsehair strings. Likewise, they played using horsehair bows and often featured a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. The violins we play today (as well as the violas and cellos) with bows still strung with horsehair are a legacy of the nomads.
- 1555 – Andrea Amati receives credit for the oldest documented four-string violin, like the modern violins.
- The “Lady Blunt” brought a record dollar amount when it was auctioned on June 20, 2011. The Stradivari violin sold for $15.9 million.
- Musicians and collectors alike seek instruments made by Stradivari almost more than any other maker.
- A luthier makes or repairs violins.
Used in a sentence, Soon I will be able to play the violin for the many sad gator fans who live in my neighborhood.
For the rest of you, here is a warming thought. It's also:
NATIONAL COCOA DAY
December 13th ushers in a celebration worthy of the winter holidays with National Cocoa Day. What better way to warm up after a cold day outside?
We make hot cocoa with cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar. However, Americans often use hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably, sometimes causing a bit of confusion. There is a difference between the two beverages. We make hot chocolate by using ground chocolate containing cocoa butter. We mix it with hot milk, and it is drinking chocolate.
Hot chocolate is also known as drinking chocolate.
We make hot cocoa from cocoa powder. We produce a paste called chocolate liquor through the fermentation, drying, roasting, and grinding process of cocoa beans. Through another method, they separate cocoa butter, leaving cocoa powder. We use this cocoa powder to make hot cocoa. The result has very little fat and calories.
The Mayans are credited with creating the first chocolate beverage around 2000 years ago. Culturally, cocoa became an essential part of the Aztec civilization by 1400 AD. After the drink found its way from Mexico through the New World, Europeans popularized the chocolate drink. However, it has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, drinkers used hot chocolate medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases.
In the United States, an instant form of the drink is popular. Mixed with hot water or milk, the packet contains mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. We also like to add marshmallows or whipped cream. It makes the chocolatey drink creamier and sweeter. What better way to celebrate National Cocoa Day?
The health benefits of drinking hot cocoa abound. Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. They have also shown that the cocoa bean helps with digestion. The flavonoids found in cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health.
Chocolate lovers enjoy both drinking cocoa and hot cocoa in a variety of combinations. Some top the hot drink with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon or peppermint to make the chocolate extra special. For an added caffeinated boost, some hot cocoa drinkers add a little bit of instant coffee. The coffee and chocolate flavors combine for a delicious mocha marriage.
Host a cocoa bar after a day outdoors in the snow. A cup of hot cocoa after sledding or building a snowman warms us right up. When we gather around the table and sip our steaming cup, let the conversation begin.
Try some of these delicious toppings:
- Whipped cream
- Cinnamon and sugar
- candy canes
- toffee bits
- Peppermint Patties
- butterscotch candies, crushed
- candy sprinkles
- cinnamon cereal
- mini chocolate chips
- chopped nuts
Ambitious hot cocoa fans are making hot cocoa bombs to give to friends and family. They fill these chocolate spheres with cocoa, marshmallows, and many of the ingredients listed above for a delightful hot cocoa treat.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy hot cocoa?
Used in a sentence: It does not often get cold enough to really enjoy a good cup of hot cocoa near the home of the gayturds.