Saturday, February 15, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 15 2014


Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name.

The name Lupercalia was believed in antiquity to evince some connection with the Ancient Greek festival of the Arcadian Lykaia (from Ancient Greek: λύκος — lukos, "wolf", Latin lupus) and the worship of Lycaean Pan, assumed to be a Greek equivalent to Faunus, as instituted by Evander.

In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15, was called the Lupercalia. His priests wore goatskins. The historian Justin mentions an image of "the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans Lupercus," nude save for the girdle of goatskin, which stood in the Lupercal, the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. There, on the Ides of February (in February the ides is the 13th), a goat and a dog were sacrificed, and salt mealcakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins were burnt.

National Gumdrop Day

This is an interesting thing to celebrate the day after Valentine's Day. However, if you are tired of eating those rich and delicious chocolates, then you can celebrate with something different today. February 15 is National Gumdrops Day.

What are gumdrops?
Gumdrops are a tasty, chewy candy made with gelatin and coated with sugar. Gumdrops can come in fruity flavors like grape, cherry, orange, and lemon or spiced flavors like cinnamon, clove, mint, and anise.

History of the gumdrop
Many people believe that a man named Percy Trusdale invented the gumdrop in 1801, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that gumdrops have been a popular confection for at least two hundred years.

In the United States, three other "old fashioned" gumdrop candies are also popular: orange slices, licorice babies, and spearmint leaves. All are larger in size than spice drops or gumdrops, are fruit slice, kewpie-doll, or leaf shaped, sprinkled with sugar, and are typically sold by the bag.

Ways to eat gumdrops
Of course you can eat gumdrops right out of the bag, but there are other ways to enjoy gumdrops.
  • Decorate cake and cupcakes with gumdrops.
  • Put gumdrops on ice cream.
  • Use gumdrops for craft projects.
  • Around Christmas time, gumdrops are used in making gingerbread houses.
To celebrate National Gumdrop Day, use colorful gumdrops in one of the ways listed above.

Remember The Maine Day

A massive explosion of unknown origin sinks the battleship USS Maine in Cuba's Havana harbor, killing 260 of the fewer than 400 American crew members aboard.

One of the first American battleships, the Maine weighed more than 6,000 tons and was built at a cost of more than $2 million. Ostensibly on a friendly visit, the Maine had been sent to Cuba to protect the interests of Americans there after a rebellion against Spanish rule broke out in Havana in January.

An official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March that the ship was blown up by a mine, without directly placing the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible and called for a declaration of war.

Subsequent diplomatic failures to resolve the Maine matter, coupled with United States indignation over Spain's brutal suppression of the Cuban rebellion and continued losses to American investment, led to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.

Within three months, the United States had decisively defeated Spanish forces on land and sea, and in August an armistice halted the fighting. On December 12, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States and Spain, officially ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire with the ceding of such former Spanish possessions as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

In 1976, a team of American naval investigators concluded that the Maine explosion was likely caused by a fire that ignited its ammunition stocks, not by a Spanish mine or act of sabotage.

Singles Awareness Day

In response to the huge push by retailers for us to buy all of their candy, flowers and greeting cards February 15 has been declared Singles Awareness Day! This is the day that all of the single people can proudly stand up and show that it is OKAY to be single!

Sure, some people would prefer to have their February celebration on February 14, but the rest of us appreciate the break from the commercialism.

The goal of Singles Awareness Day is to let singles have celebrations, get-togethers, etc. and to exchange gifts with their single friends. The awareness day was established by single people who were just sick of feeling left out on Valentine's Day, and support of the day is growing every year.

Suggested activities for this day are sending yourself flowers, planning parties for other singles to mix and meet and to participate in some sort of single's event. This is especially recommended if you don't WANT to be single. Of course, for those who kind of like being single it's a blessing and a reason to have some fun!

Originally, most singles referred to February 14 as Single's Awareness Day (acronym: SAD) until it just became too depressing! Choosing the next day allowed single people a chance to turn this into a celebration rather than a festival of self-pity or whatever they were doing before. It seems like a refreshing change of pace to know that you can survive Valentine's Day and move on to YOUR day, doesn't it?

And if you are happy to be single, then February 15 is your day to tell the world. The dates approaching quickly, so it might be time to start planning your party right now.

Susan B. Anthony Day

Born Susan Brownell Anthony on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, Susan B. Anthony grew up in a Quaker family. She developed a strong moral compass early on, and spent much of her life working on social causes. Anthony was the second oldest of eight children to a local cotton mill owner and his wife. The family moved to Battenville, New York, in 1826. Around this time, Anthony was sent to study at a Quaker school near Philadelphia.

After her father's business failed in the late 1830s, Anthony returned home to help her family make ends meet, and found work as a teacher. The Anthonys moved to a farm in the Rochester, New York area, in the mid-1840s. There, they became involved in the fight to end slavery, also known as the abolitionist movement. The Anthonys' farm served as a meeting place for such famed abolitionists as Frederick Douglass. Around this time, Anthony became the head of the girls' department at Canajoharie Academy—a post she held for two years.

Leading Activist
Leaving the Canajoharie Academy in 1849, Anthony soon devoted more of her time to social issues. In 1851, she attended an anti-slavery conference, where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was also involved in the temperance movement, aimed at limiting or completely stopping the production and sale of alcohol. She was inspired to fight for women's rights while campaigning against alcohol. Anthony was denied a chance to speak at a temperance convention because she was a woman, and later realized that no one would take women in politics seriously unless they had the right to vote.

Anthony and Stanton established the Women's New York State Temperance Society in 1852. Before long, the pair were also fighting for women's rights. They formed the New York State Woman's Rights Committee. Anthony also started up petitions for women to have the right to own property and to vote. She traveled extensively, campaigning on the behalf of women.

In 1856, Anthony began working as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She spent years promoting the society's cause up until the Civil War.

Women's Right to Vote
After the Civil War, Anthony began focus more on women's rights. She helped establish the American Equal Rights Association in 1866 with Stanton, calling for the same rights to be granted to all regardless of race or sex. Anthony and Stanton created and produced The Revolution, a weekly publication that lobbied for women's rights in 1868. The newspaper's motto was "Men their rights, and nothing more; women their rights, and nothing less."

In 1869, Anthony and Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony was tireless in her efforts, giving speeches around the country to convince others to support a woman's right to vote. She even took matters into her own hands in 1872, when she voted illegally in the presidential election. Anthony was arrested for the crime, and she unsuccessfully fought the charges; she was fined $100, which she never paid.

In the early 1880s, Anthony published the first volume of History of Woman Suffrage—a project that she co-edited with Stanton, Ida Husted Harper and Matilda Joslin Gage. Several more volumes would follow. Anthony also helped Harper to record her own story, which resulted in the 1898 work The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony: A Story of the Evolution of the Status of Women.

Death and Legacy
Even in her later years, Anthony never gave up on her fight for women's suffrage. In 1905, she met with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., to lobby for an amendment to give women the right to vote. Anthony died the following year, on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86, at her home in Rochester, New York. According to her obituary in The New York Times, shortly before her death, Anthony told friend Anna Shaw, "To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel."

It wouldn't be until 14 years after Anthony's death—in 1920—that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all adult women the right to vote, was passed. In recognition of her dedication and hard work, the U.S. Treasury Department put Anthony's portrait on dollar coins in 1979, making her the first woman to be so honored.

World Whale Day

There's much to celebrate when it comes to the charismatic and graceful humpback whale. These beautiful behemoths almost didn't make it to the party.

One of the most charismatic of whale species is the humpback. With their long flukes like dancers' arms, their exciting and acrobatic leaps from the water, and their — let's be honest here — adorable frowny faces, humpbacks steal our hearts. In fact, they even get their own holiday. World Whale Day honors the return of humpback whales to Maui during their seasonal migration.
The waters off of Maui are the principle mares for mating and calving for humpback whales in the U.S., so the return of these charismatic and gentle giants every year is a wonderful event. World Whale Day is celebrated on Feb. 15, and in Maui features a parade, performances, food and festivities. And there's a whale-sized reason to celebrate this day: humpbacks almost never came back at all. 

Like many whale species, humpbacks were the target of commercial hunters. During the 19th century, the whales were hunted all along the coast, and as the technology of ships and weapons became more sophisticated, the whales didn't stand much of a chance. By 1966, the species was nearly wiped out with only about 5,000 individuals remaining worldwide. Thankfully, this was the year that the Whaling Commission issued a ban on their hunting to prevent extinction. Since protections were put in place, humpback numbers have rebounded to around 20,000 individuals today.
It will still be a long time before humpbacks reach their historic numbers, but in the meantime, whale watchers have been excited to see the species' numbers grow and have made the whales' feeding activity into a spectator sport.

California has seen amazing activity from humpback whales in the last few years, with feeding frenzies becoming almost a common sight during their stay along the coast. Kayakers, whale-watchers and photographers came out in droves to witness the activity. And divers have gotten a little too close to the bubble nets of feeding humpbacks, almost becoming part of the meal themselves. Actually, how humpbacks feed is interesting in and of itself.
A pod of humpbacks will locate a school of fish. Working in unison, they will swim in a circle below the fish, blowing bubbles in a "net" to corral the fish and force them toward the surface. As the fish gather into a tight ball, the whales make their move and lunge upward, mouths open, to catch as many fish as they can in a huge gulp.

National Hippo Day

It’s normal for a person to dream and wish to live a life so different from reality. The internet provides this chance to dream through online communities like social networking sites or virtual worlds of gaming. This, however, should be given due parental guidance as this may lead to the “resident” or user to opt to live in a virtual world. This will result to psychological or behavioral problems later on for the resident.

The National Hippo Day is an online bizarre holiday as agreed by the majority of the residents of the Second Life. Hippo, found in Hikaru Yamamoto’s zoo, belongs to the biggest community where he is a hero against the gnomes. Hippo is a virtual character started by Darwin Appleby’s thread on the Second Life forums.

Second Life is a free 3D virtual world where online members can mingle, interact and create using free voice and text chat. This online cybernetic world was developed by Linden Lab and launched in June 23, 2003. Its unofficial mascot is the Hippo.

The simplest way to celebrate this day is to log on to Second Life and play with the Hippo. Contributing to the Second Life forums on the event can also be done. Hosting an online party is another way to celebrate the day. This occasion may also be featured at Facebook to increase awareness of this happening.

Angelman Syndrome Day

Angelman Syndrome (or AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 1 in 15,000 live births. Although the cause of AS is known, there are currently no treatments available for this disorder. FAST is committed to funding the research that will lead to treatments and eventually a cure.

Angelman Syndrome (often abbreviated AS) is a severe neurological disorder characterized by profound developmental delays, problems with motor coordination (ataxia) and balance, and epilepsy. Individuals with AS do not develop functional speech. The seizure disorder in individuals with Angelman Syndrome can be difficult to treat. Feeding disorders in infancy are common, and some persist throughout childhood. Sleeping difficulties are commonly noted in individuals with Angelman Syndrome. AS affects all races and both genders equally.

Individuals with Angelman Syndrome tend to have a happy demeanor, characterized by frequent laughing, smiling and excitability. Many individuals with Angelman Syndrome are attracted to water and take great pleasure in activities like swimming and bathing.

People living with AS require life-long care, intense therapies to help develop functional skills and improve their quality of life, and close medical supervision often involving multiple medical interventions. Angelman Syndrome may be misdiagnosed since other syndromes have similar characteristics.

Angelman Syndrome is a genetic-based disorder resulting from the loss of function of the Ube3a gene in the brain. Loss of Ube3a prevents neurons from functioning correctly, leading to deficits in learning and memory. Importantly, loss of UBE3A does not appear to affect neuronal development, indicating that neurons could function normally if UBE3A function is restored.