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Good health or the Lemming Effect?

Charging into a nearly freezing body of water in the middle of the winter is a tradition for people around the world. Frequently, the plunge is made on New Year’s Day.     The first New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge is credited to Coney Island, New York, in 1903. Founder Bernarr Macfadden believed that a dip in the ocean during the winter could be “a boon to stamina, virility and immunity.” The Coney Island Polar Bear Club takes ocean plunges every Sunday from November through April, with the largest on New Year’s Day.

It all goes back to Hansel and Gretel

In one form or another, gingerbread has been popular since at least mediaeval times.     “Gingerbread was a favorite treat at festivals and fairs in medieval Europe — often shaped and decorated to look like flowers, birds, animals or even armor,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. “Several cities in France and England hosted regular gingerbread fairs for centuries.”

How I learned to make my own cookie cutter at the library

Fans of Star Trek are familiar with replicators, providing exotic drinks, gourmet meals, and practical and important objects for all sorts of purposes in the future. Give voice commands to the computer, and the objects appear.     In real life, you can take a first step toward this future by having your computer create solid objects.

Dashing through the cold for a good cause

The temperature shivered in the high 30s Saturday morning December 10 as some 200 runners stripped down to briefs for the annual run up Main Street, Annapolis.     Warmed by music from the kilted Chesapeake Caladonian Fife and Drum Band, they sped uphill from O’Brien’s to St. Anne’s Church, where they turned around and ran back down to O’Brien’s to celebrate the season and their daring.     Annapolis area children benefit from their chilly fun, as the race fee was an unwrapped toy donated to the Salvation Army.

Better options for bagging leaves become the rule

Be sure to ask Santa for compostable paper bags or a new bin for your yard waste in 2017. Beginning in January, neither Annapolis nor Anne Arundel County will accept plastic bags in its curbside pickup of grass clippings, leaves, Christmas trees and other yard waste.     The new regulations mean putting yard waste in a bin (but not your yellow one for recyclables), biodegradable paper bags or in a secure bundle tied with twine. Mark reusable containers with an X. In the city of Annapolis, you can request a 32-gallon green recycling cart for your yard waste.

Way better than the Elf on the Shelf

To support his parish, Father James Boric, associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Severna Park, will do just about anything.

Downtown offers Grinch-free options through the year

It’s the shopping season, which means downtown Annapolis businesses are busier than ever. Which also means more traffic and more parking challenges.     Once again, our capital city offers free three-hour parking at meters through January 1 plus a couple of other ways to make holiday shopping and touring more cheerful for both drivers and pedestrians.      “Annapolis is known as one of America’s best holiday towns, and we want to make it even better,” said Mayor Michael Pantelides.

Visit the Annapolis Green House for gifts, ideas, recycling

Not every gift you’ll read about in Bay Weekly this week wants wrapping. But the gifts you do wrap can look pretty without generating a ton of waste in the form of boxes, bows, ribbon and tissue paper. The eco-organization Annapolis Green has set up shop as the Annapolis Green House at 92 Maryland Avenue and is-wrapping gifts using unique, innovative packaging in recycled, fun materials that would otherwise go to waste. Think burlap, fabric, blueprints and more — plus all the wrapping materials you’ve recycled from years past.

Visit Congregation Kneseth Israel

The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins December 24 this year, celebrating oppression overcome and a miracle of illumination in the Second Temple in Jerusalem.     The eight-day celebration, which focuses on the lighting of the seven- or nine-branched menorah, includes gifts as well as lights. Congregation Kneseth Israel, which has served the Jewish community of Anne Arundel County for more than 100 years, opens its gift shop just in time for Hanukkah shopping.

Still dazzling after 35 years

Let me describe the spirit of Christmas: It’s the wonder in a child’s eyes when Scrooge talks to them as they wait in line November 19 with their parents for a ticket to Colonial Players’ 35-year Annapolis holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. It’s another child’s giddy excitement when Ebeneezer pulls them from the audience to dance as he joyfully transforms from cold-hearted humbug to warm, genial benefactor.