Thursday, January 23, 2014

Holidays and Observances for January 23rd 2014

Measure Your Feet Day

When it comes to holidays, January 23 has a little something for everyone! Not only is it National Handwriting Day, National Reading Day and National Pie Day, which means free and cheap pie, it is also Measure Your Feet Day, too! No foolin!

Having a day dedicated to feet seems like a bizarre concept, but surprisingly, one does exist. Measure Your Feet Day is a holiday with a difference, and one where you have the opportunity to give your feet a little more attention! People rarely think about their feet, but they are a vital part of our everyday lives and require as much care as any other part of our bodies.

Making sure that you have shoes that actually fit your feet is one of the best ways to keep them healthy and prevent any problems occurring. When was the last time you took a proper measurement of your feet?

There’s no better time to get the tape out the bottom of your drawer and recheck their size than Measure Your Feet Day. Make sure you take a note of the exact measurements so you can get properly fitting shoes.

While the origins of this annual holiday are unknown, perhaps the day was created by a shoe salesman, designer, podiatrist or even a shoemaker, which just happens to be my maiden name!

In honor of Measure Your Feet Day, why not get out the old ruler and give it a go? Or celebrate by enjoying a much deserved pedicure. Today also provides the perfect excuse to splurge on those fabulous shoes you've been eyeing!

Fun Feet Facts
  • All babies have flat feet.
  • About 25 percent of the bones in your body are located in your feet! Each foot contains 26 bones.
  • If you have sweaty feet, it's not your imagination! There are 250,000 sweat glands in your feet.
  • The average person walks about 10,000 steps each day.
  • Toenails grow more slowly than fingernails.
  • You can pick up a variety of foot issues including ringworm, Athlete's Foot and plantar warts, from communal showers.
  • Women have more foot problems than men - probably due to high heels.
  • Nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too small.
  • The best selling shoe size for American women is 8 1/2 and 10 1/2 for men.
  • Did you know your feet are actually larger at the end of the day?
  • Nicknamed "Bigfoot," Matthew McGrory won the Guinness World Record for World's Largest Toe.
  • While size does matter sometimes, the correlation between shoe size and the size of a man's penis is unfounded despite what you may have heard.
National Handwriting Day

Today is National Handwriting Day in the United States, a time for acknowledging the history and influence of penmanship. Established in 1977, it’s celebrated on January 23, the birthday of John Hancock. The American founding father often remembered for his iconic signature on the Declaration of Independence would have turned 275 this year. We commemorate the holiday below with a look at how handwriting has evolved—and, some would say, declined—over the centuries.

Borrowing aspects of the Etruscan alphabet, the ancient Romans were among the first to develop a written script for transactions and correspondence. By the fifth century A.D. it included early versions of lowercase letters and sometimes flowed like modern cursive. After the Roman Empire fell, penmanship became a specialized discipline that primarily blossomed in monastic settings, specifically the medieval scriptoria that churned out Christian and classical texts across Europe. Styles varied widely by region, however, so in the late eighth century Charlemagne tasked an English monk with standardizing the craft. Influenced by Roman characters, Carolingian minuscule was designed for maximum legibility and featured lowercase letters, word separation and punctuation.

As the price of parchment and demand for books soared in the later Middle Ages, a denser style of writing evolved for European languages. Johannes Gutenberg used this Gothic approach for his printing press in the mid-15th century. Italian humanists soon revolted against the heavy look by reverting to a more Carolingian script and inventing a cursive form of it, known as Italic. Elegant handwriting emerged as a status symbol, and by the 1700s penmanship schools had begun educating generations of master scribes.

During the United States’ infancy, professional penmen were responsible for copying official documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Among amateurs, meanwhile, signature handwriting styles became associated with various professions and social ranks; women and men were also expected to embrace flourishes unique to their sex. In the mid-1800s an abolitionist and bookkeeper named Platt Rogers Spencer attempted to democratize American penmanship by formulating a cursive writing system, known as the Spencerian method and taught by textbook, that many schools and businesses quickly adopted. (Ornate and sinuous, it can be seen in the original Coca-Cola logo.)

By the turn of the century, an approach introduced by Austin Norman Palmer replaced the Spencerian method in American classrooms, where students learned to form loopy characters between horizontal lines on chalkboards; its predecessor, D’Nealian script, originated in the 1970s and was designed to ease the transition from printing to cursive writing. Another handwriting style, developed by Charles Zaner and Elmer Bloser for elementary-aged children, dominated textbooks for much of the 20th century.

As typewriters and word processors swept the business world, schools began to eliminate penmanship classes, and by the 1980s many U.S. children received little formal training. (This was not the case in many European countries, where students are given rigorous handwriting instruction to this day.) While penmanship studies haven’t completely disappeared from the American curriculum, schoolchildren today spend more time mastering typing and computer skills than the neat, standardized cursive of their parents and grandparents. As early as 1955, the Saturday Evening Post had dubbed the United States a “nation of scrawlers,” and studies show that handwriting abilities have largely declined since then.

Bemoaned by many (but not all) educators, the loss of penmanship as a requisite skill inspired the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) to create National Handwriting Day in 1977. According to the group’s website, the holiday offers “a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.” How can you celebrate? The WIMA suggests you pick up a pen or pencil and put it to paper—so get off the computer and start writing!

National Pie Day

Which pie should you choose for your National Pie Day party? The pie-sibilities are endless! Will it be one of the 231 varieties of apple pie, the favorite of 36 million Americans? Perhaps pumpkin pie, which was first introduced to the holiday table at the pilgrim's second Thanksgiving in 1623? Or maybe a pecan pie, which is the third most popular choice in our nation of pie lovers? We are encouraging pie lovers everywhere to teach someone to make a pie during the month of January in honor of National Pie Day.

History Of Pies
  • Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about it through the Greeks. These pies were sometimes made in "reeds" which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.
  • The Romans must have spread the word about pies around Europe as the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.
  • The early pies were predominantly meat pies. Pyes (pies) originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as "coffyn". There was actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pastries) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them "coffins" like the crust in England. As in the Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten, but simply designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of coffyn.
  • Over the years, pie has evolved to become what it is today "the most traditional American dessert". Pie has become so much a part of American culture throughout the years, that we now commonly use the term "as American as apple pie."
National Rhubarb Pie Day

Today, January 23rd, is National Rhubarb Pie Day.

Rhubarb has been cultivated by the Chinese for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. The plant grows from a rhizome, and the leaf stalks are thick and crunchy, similar in texture to celery. The stalks by themselves have a fairly tart taste naturally, although commercially grown rhubarb, often cultivated indoors, these days is usually sweeter than that grown normally outside. The earliest recorded use of rhubarb as a food is much more recent, dating back to 17th century England, as sugar became more widely available, and cheaper - without the sugar, rhubarb can be a bit too tart.

When making a rhubarb pie, the stalks are cut into short pieces and stewed in boiling water, with sugar added, until they are soft. The resulting cooked rhubarb can then be added to a pie case. Sometimes apples are included in the pie to counteract the tartness of the rhubarb, rather than just using sugar.

Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day

Hockey is back! And not just in the ice rink, but on the streets of our cities and towns as well. "Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day" was created by the good folks at Wellcat Holidays. It gives all our awesome snowplow drivers the chance to have a little fun by competing to see who can knock down the most mailboxes!

Every winter the men and women that plow are roads, in the dead of night to early morning and at times longer, for us to get to where we are wanting to go. School, work, church and so on. So for this day allows them a chance to have fun while they clear our roads.

Here is how it is played by the snowplow drivers in the rural areas. See how far you can whack a mailbox with just your snowplow! 20 extra points if you hit it out of the zip code!

Disclaimer: Please think of this as a weird holiday. Snowplow drivers really do not play this. We do not endorse the destruction of property, and you should remember that mailboxes are government property. So please, do not seriously celebrate Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day.

This game is easy enough for your average snowplow, but for super plows it's a no brainer! Syracuse, N.Y., is one of the snowiest cities in the country, averaging more than 114 inches of snow each year. A few years back it boasted the biggest snowplow in the world, measuring 32 feet wide and four feet tall. It can clear 8,500 cubic yards of snow in just one hour.

Women's Healthy Weight Day

We certainly can't let Healthy Weight Week go by without celebrating Women's Healthy Weight Day. So many women in the United States are unhappy with their weight, and many go to unhealthy extremes to lose weight. However, Women's Healthy Weight Day offers a different and more positive solution.

Women everywhere should learn to celebrate their diversity. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and types, and no two are the same. Many women see the cookie-cutter figures in television and online media (see article photo), and they set unrealistic goals to become just like those they idolize. In the years that I spent watching others destroy their bodies with inadequate diets and excessive exercise, I knew that in the future, I would never succumb to the desire to change my body with those methods.

I'm not saying that women should not be cautious about their weight, though. With studies pointing toward ever-increasing obesity problems, it would be dangerous for many of us not to look at our diet and exercise plans. And while this problem is compounded by our ever-shortening attention span, we should all make a genuine effort to make better choices in our eating and exercising habits.

The Healthy Weight Network advises the following: be active, eat well, relieve stress, and respect others. Sounds like a winning proposition to me. Have a Happy Women's Healthy Weight Day!