Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holidays for December 14th 2013

Monkey Day


Monkey Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated internationally on December 14. While the holiday is mainly about monkeys, it also celebrates other non-human primates such as apes, tarsiers, and lemurs.

The holiday was started in 2000 when artist Casey Sorrow, then an art student at Michigan State University, jokingly scribbled Monkey Day on a friend's calendar, and then first celebrated the holiday with other MSU art students. It gained notoriety when Sorrow and fellow MSU art student Eric Millikin began including Monkey Day in their artwork and Fetus-X comic strips, and began promoting it online along with other artists. Since then, Monkey Day has been celebrated internationally, across countries like the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Hallmark Cards describes it as the "one day when monkey business is actually encouraged." The holiday is primarily celebrated with costume parties intended to help draw attention to issues related to simians, including medical research, animal rights, and evolution. Often there are competitions to see who has the best costumes, who can act like a monkey the longest, or speed knitting of monkey dolls. The holiday cuts across religious boundaries and provides opportunities to share monkey stories and contemplate our simian relatives. Other Monkey Day activities include going on shopping sprees for Paul Frank "Julius the Monkey" fashions, eating Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream, and spending the day at the zoo.

In 2005, Peter Jackson's King Kong was released on the fifth anniversary of Monkey Day. King Kong and Planet of the Apes films are popular at Monkey Day parties. Monkey-themed songs, such as Major Lance's "The Monkey Time", are also part of Monkey Day festivities.

Often, celebrations involve raising money for primate-related issues. In 2008, the official Monkey Day celebrations included an art show and silent auction to benefit the Chimps Inc. animal sanctuary; the show and auction included art by human artists as well as paintings from chimps Jackson and Kimie, residents of the sanctuary. The Biddle Gallery in Detroit also celebrated Monkey Day in 2008 with an annual Monkey Day art sale that included a free banana with each purchase.

Prominent webcomic artists like Sorrow, Millikin, Rob Balder, and David Malki have created Monkey Day themed comics and artwork.

For Monkey Day 2012, USA Weekend published The 12 Stars of Monkey Day, a series of paintings by Eric Millikin that were "in part inspired by the many pioneering space monkeys who rode into the stars on rockets, leading the way for human space flight."

Sorrow also maintains a comprehensive "Monkeys in the News" blog with stories on topics like monkey attacks, monkey smuggling, and monkey science. Every Monkey Day, Sorrow's "Monkeys in the News" blog counts down the previous year's "top 10 Monkey and Primate News highlights".

National Bouillabaisse Day


Go fish! - December 14 is National Bouillabaisse Day.

Just because it's winter time doesn't mean you should neglect your favorite vegetables or seafood. Even better, why not put them in a nice, hot soup that will warm you from the inside out?

Bouillabaisse is an oldie but a goodie - when Marseille was founded in 600 BC, the Phocians were serving up a simple fish stew that laid the groundwork for this Provencal special. And there's even a bit of myth involved, because according to Roman mythology, this is the soup that Venus gave to Vulcan.

The dish has evolved over time, and what we know today was tweaked to perfection by fishermen who wanted a satisfying meal when they returned home at the end of a long day. They used the fish that were too bony to sell to restaurants. The name itself comes from how the soup is prepared, by boiling the broth first (bolh), adding different kinds of fish one at a time, and then lowering the heat each time the broth reaches a boiling point (abaissa).

A good bouillabaisse usually includes at least three kinds of fish, along with leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery and potatoes, as well as herbs like fennel, saffron, thyme, bay and dried orange peel. It's not complete without rouille on the side, a creamy, rust-colored sauce flavored with garlic and cayenne.

Julia Child, after living in Marseille for a year, said that bouillabaisse was unique not only for the flavorful soup base, but the different kinds of lean, firm and soft-fleshed fish and shellfish it combined. Try your own spin on the stew, which tosses in lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams and halibut.

This hearty soup is sure to comfort you at the end of a long day, even if you aren't wearing fishing galoshes.

National Wreaths Across America Day


Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paperboy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.

Unable to donate thousands of wreaths to each state, Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military, and for POW/MIAs. In 2006, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, simultaneous wreath laying ceremonies were held at over 150 locations around the country. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered as escort for the wreaths going to Arlington. This began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that travels the east coast in early December.

The annual trip to Arlington and the groups of volunteers eager to participate in Worcester’s simple wreath-laying event grew each year until it became clear the desire to remember and honor our country’s fallen heroes was bigger than Arlington, and bigger than this one company.

In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals who had helped with their annual Christmas wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non profit 501-c3 organization, to continue and expand this effort, and support other groups around the country who wanted to do the same. The mission of the group is simple:

Remember. Honor. Teach.
In 2008 over 300 locations held wreath laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves. Over 60,000 volunteers participated.

December 13, 2008 was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day”.

In 2010, Wreaths Across America and our national network of volunteers laid over 220,000 memorial wreaths at 545 locations in the United States and beyond. We were able to include ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites if the September 11 tragedies. We accomplished this with help from 902 fundraising groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands.

The wreath laying is still held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December. Our annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veteran’s parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veteran’s homes and communities all along the way to remind people how important it is to remember, honor and teach.

Wreaths Across America also conducts several programs to honor our Veterans, including our popular “Thanks a Million” campaign which distributes cards to people all over the country to give Veterans a simple “thank you” for their service. We participate in Veterans’ events throughout the year, and have a Veteran liaison on staff to work with local Veterans organizations.

WAA is committed to teaching younger generations about the value of their freedoms, and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms. We offer learning tools, interactive media projects, and opportunities for youth groups to participate in our events. We also work to create opportunities to connect “the Greatest Generation” with the “Generation of Hope”. The inspirational stories of our World War II Veterans must be passed on to the leaders of the future.

Wreaths Across America would not be successful without the help of volunteers, active organizations and the generosity of the trucking industry. We thank them for working with us to remember the men and women who served our country, honor our military and their families, and teach our children about our freedom and those who protect it.