Thursday, January 16, 2014

Holidays and Observances for January 16th 2014

Appreciate A Dragon Day

January 16th is a celebration of the noblest of creatures, the dragon! As symbols, dragons have existed for centuries. Appreciate a Dragon Day was started in 2004 by Donita K. Paul to celebrate the release of DragonSpell.

Dragons are usually thought to have wings and breathe fire. They also are said to have scales and claws. Some also have horns. Almost always they are said to be venomous. Some dragons may have two or more heads. They may also have more than one tail. They may have two, four or even more legs; however, most are known to have four legs. Dragons are said to eat things such as rats, birds, snakes, bats, or even humans, especially children.

Dragons are very intelligent creatures. They live in remote areas, far away from humans, in places that are dark, damp and secluded, such as caves. Dragons were first thought of as creatures who lived in water. Later they became associated with fire. Sea serpents may have been the first dragons, and may be the reason for this association.

Almost all dragon stories portray the dragon as the villain from whom the hero must protect the city or the princess. But some dragons can take on the form of the protector. The biggest differences in dragons usually come from different cultures, especially the cultures of the East and the West. Each culture seems to have their own idea about dragons.

Dragons cannot be put all into one group, as there are so many dragons. Each culture seems to have their own type of dragon, and each of these dragons is usually very different. Some people have said that dragons once existed, maybe during the time of the dinosaurs. Others believe that dragons began around the same time the earth began. A few people even claim to have seen a dragon in their life time. Of these people who claim to have seen one, they usually agree that it was humans who finally defeated the dragons.

But most of all, dragons are fascinating, magical creatures who have captivated our attention for thousands of years. The many different kinds of dragons and the ability for us to use our imagination to create these creatures only adds to their appeal. Many stories have been told about these great beings and it seems like dragons are a part of our mythical history. Whether these creatures are or ever were real probably doesn't matter due to the fact that the imagination can create them in almost any situation.

International Hot and Spicy Food Day

Do you like hot and spicy food? If so, you are in good company. You can celebrate along with people around the word. January 16 is International Hot and Spicy Food Day.

People have been using hot spices in their recipes for over 6000 years.

The hottest chili pepper in the world is the Naga Jolokia. On an average, one of these peppers is over 170 times spicier than a jalapeno pepper.

Throughout the world, there are hundreds of different spices that contribute to an array of hot flavored foods.

There are health benefits to eating hot and spicy foods. Hot and spicy foods can actually be very good for you because of their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Garlic, chilies, onions, allspice, and oregano all kill bacteria and make food safer to consume. Hot and spicy foods are often considered to be a combat for the common cold.

In general, hot and spicy foods are stimulants. They stimulate the circulation and raise body temperature.

To celebrate International Hot and Spicy Food Day, try a few hot peppers or hot sauces with your food.

National Fig Newton Day

Fig Newton Day! Who would have guessed that this unique cookie would have its own date to celebrate amongst all the other food holidays? Well it does; and January sixteenth is the day to honor this fabulous cookie.

While reading about this famous cookie a few passages caught this authors’ attention.
“Fig rolls were first mass-produced in 1891 by Philadelphia baker and fig-lover Charles Roser, who in 1892 patented a machine which inserted fig paste into a cake-like dough, that was pastry-like, with a characteristic chewiness. Roser named his product "Newtons", after the local town of Newton, Massachusetts.”
“In the 1939 animated Mickey Mouse short "Mickey’s Surprise Party”, Mickey gives Minnie many Nabisco products, one of which is Fig Newtons. Mickey claims that they are his favorite.”
“The Fig Newton is a Nabisco trademarked version of the ancient fig roll pastry filled with fig paste. Their unusual shape is a characteristic that has been adopted by many competitors, such as the generic fig bars sold by most supermarkets.”
Now over and over it has been said that homemade cookies are better than store bought. There is one exception. The Fig Newton! (Oops, you didn’t hear me say that!) But it is true. This cookie is so unique in texture, flavor and shape that trying to copy it would be a mistake. Thus far, the store bought Fig Newton surpasses all attempts at recreating this cookie.

Fig Newton cookies used to sell in boxes and held twenty four or more cookies to them and were reasonably priced. Now the boxes are half the size and the prices like everything else have gone up tremendously. Fig Newton’s can be found in Wal-mart, Spain’s, the Dollar Store and SuperValu in and around Winona, Mississippi.

These cookies are great but money doesn’t grow on trees, but figs do. So let’s talk about figs today and find out more about this fruit that make these cookies such a hit.

Everyone refers to figs as a fruit. Well guess what? Figs are not a fruit but actually a blossom that folds up into itself. Inside this blossom are thousands of tiny seeds that are crunchy. These crunchy seeds are the unfertilized ovaries of the underdeveloped blossom or fruit as we like to call it. The seeds are edible and are sweet and sticky too; giving the fig its unique flavor.

There are actually hundreds of different varieties of figs. They vary in color, shape and size. The most popular is the purple fig followed by the white fig. Fresh figs are in season from June to October. They can be found at many farmers markets and gourmet shops. The fresh figs are costly and hard to find, not all markets and shops carry them. Although figs that are dried; can be found in the grocery stores year round.

Figs are a delicate fruit. Once purchased, they should be rinsed under cold water and refrigerated. Fresh and ripened figs can be kept for two to three days before they start to bruise and spoil. If you purchased figs that are not quite ripe they can remain at room temperature until they mature. Each fig varies as to how long it takes to ripen. They should not be too firm to the touch and not too soft either when ripe.

Figs are very nutritious too. They are a fibrous fruit containing mostly insoluble fiber. This is actually good for the intestines to help the lower digestive tract do its job. Part of the fig fiber is also soluble and when this fiber interacts with the stomach’s digestive juices will slow down digestion of food and give you the feeling of being full longer.

These delicate blossoms are a good source of iron, vitamin B6, potassium and of course fiber. They are also known to regulate fat and cholesterol absorption while promoting a good balance of blood sugar.

Not only are figs used to make Fig Newton cookies but they also make a great little snack when picked fresh. And when Nabisco wraps this delicate blossom with their flaky and semi-dry but moist cookie pastry the rest is history. And so is the box of cookies! Have a cookie today with a tall, cold glass of milk or a cup of tea.

Enjoy your Fig Newton!

National Nothing Day

National Nothing Day is an "un-event" which is celebrated on January 16, 2014 by doing nothing. It was proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin. Its purpose is "to provide Americans with one National day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing or honoring anything."

Nothing is no thing, denoting the absence of something. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness. In nontechnical uses, nothing denotes things lacking importance, interest, value, relevance, or significance. Nothingness is the state of being nothing, the state of nonexistence of anything, or the property of having nothing.

Grammatically, the word "nothing" is an indefinite pronoun, which means that it refers to something. One might argue that "nothing" is a concept, and since concepts are things, the concept of "nothing" itself is a thing. Many philosophers hold that the word "nothing" does not function as a noun, as there is no object to which it refers.

In physics, the word nothing is not used in any technical sense. A region of space is called a vacuum if it does not contain any matter, though it can contain physical fields. In fact, it is practically impossible to construct a region of space that contains no matter or fields, since gravity cannot be blocked and all objects at a non-zero temperature radiate electromagnetically.

Religious Freedom Day

One of our less well known national days is Religious Freedom Day, which commemorates the enactment of Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom. The Virginia Statute was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 but it wasn't passed and signed into law until 1786, by then-governor James Madison. Its unfortunate that Religious Freedom Day is not better known -- because the statute was the forerunner to the approach to religious freedom and separation of church and state taken by the framers of the Constitution and later the First Amendment.

There will certainly be a Presidential Proclamation on January 16th. But if past is prologue, there will probably not be a whole lot else. But it is time for that to change. In this era when religious freedom is rising as a defining national issue, the day provides us a teachable moment -- teachable most importantly to ourselves. Religious freedom is, or ought to be a strong issue for progressives, one with roots in the best traditions of the Enlightenment, progressive religious communities, and of the American Revolution and the making of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, the Religious Right is making religious freedom a central part of their argument on everything from abortion rights, to marriage equality to the contraception benefit of the Affordable Care Act. But there is much in the history of religious freedom in the U.S. that makes claims of the need for most such exemptions from the law, ring hollow. On another front, some on the Religious Right go so far as to argue that religious freedom is for Christians only and certainly not for Muslims. But history proves otherwise.

Nearing the end of his life Jefferson, who considered the Virginia Statute one of his three most important achievements (the others being drafting the Declaration of Independence and founding the University of Virginia) wanted to get in the last word on interpretation.

While he knew that the Virginia Statute was as revolutionary as the era in which it was written, he also knew that interpretations of convenience come easily to people with opposing views. The Statute was clear in stating that no one can be compelled to attend any religious institution or to underwrite it with taxes; that individuals are free to believe as they will and that this "shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." But Jefferson wanted to be even more specific about what was meant by all that.

So in his autobiography, Jefferson warily dotted the i's and cross the t's of history, lest anyone think there could be any exceptions. The statute, he wrote, contained "within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."

The idea that Muslims (then-called Mohametans) would be equal in the eyes of the law with Christians of any flavor -- and anyone else -- has even greater meaning today than it did in the heady revolutionary days of 1777.

Indeed, President Obama held closely to the spirit and intention of Jefferson's reminder when he declared in his 2013 Religious Freedom Day Proclamation:
"...our Founders looked to the Statute as a model when they enshrined the principle of religious liberty in the Bill of Rights.
Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose. As a free country, our story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, Sikhs and non-believers. Our patchwork heritage is a strength we owe to our religious freedom.
Americans of every faith have molded the character of our Nation. They were pilgrims who sought refuge from persecution; pioneers who pursued brighter horizons; protesters who fought for abolition, women's suffrage, and civil rights. Each generation has seen people of different faiths join together to advance peace, justice, and dignity for all."
Religious Freedom Day thus affords all of us a great opportunity, for those who are religious and non-religious, for example, to agree on such a powerful thing as our common civil and constitutional rights, and to recognize the threat to those rights that we share. We face similar challenges as the Religious Right seeks to redefine history for political advantage. That is smart politics because history is powerful. But too often, I think, we allow the Religious Right to go unchallenged, or inadequately challenged in these things.