Saturday, February 22, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 22 2014

George Washington's Birthday


George Washington (1732-99) was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) and served two terms as the first U.S. president, from 1789 to 1797. The son of a prosperous planter, Washington was raised in colonial Virginia. As a young man, he worked as a surveyor then fought in the French and Indian War (1754-63). During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero. In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution. Two years later, Washington became America’s first president. Realizing that the way he handled the job would impact how future presidents approached the position, he handed down a legacy of strength, integrity and national purpose. Less than three years after leaving office, he died at his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, at age 67.

EARLY YEARS
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, at his family’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, in the British colony of Virginia, to Augustine Washington (1694-1743) and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708-89). George, the eldest of Augustine and Mary Washington’s six children, spent much of his childhood at Ferry Farm, a plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. After Washington’s father died when he was 11, it’s likely he helped him mother manage the plantation.

Few details about Washington’s early education are known, although children of prosperous families like his typically were taught at home by private tutors or attended private schools. It’s believed he finished his formal schooling at around age 15.

As a teenager, Washington, who had shown an aptitude for mathematics, became a successful surveyor. His surveying expeditions into the Virginia wilderness earned him enough money to begin acquiring land of his own.

In 1751, Washington made his only trip outside of America, when he travelled to Barbados with his older half-brother Lawrence (1718-52), who was suffering from tuberculosis and hoped the warm climate would help him recuperate. Shortly after their arrival, George contracted smallpox. He survived, although the illness left him with permanent facial scars. In 1752, Lawrence, who had been educated in England and served as Washington’s mentor, died. Washington eventually inherited Lawrence’s estate, Mount Vernon, on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia.

AN OFFICER AND GENTLEMAN FARMER
In December 1752, Washington, who had no previous military experience, was made a commander of the Virginia militia. He saw action in the French and Indian War and was eventually put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. By 1759, Washington had resigned his commission, returned to Mount Vernon and was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he served until 1774. In January 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802), a wealthy widow with two children. Washington became a devoted stepfather to the children; he and Martha never had any offspring of their own.

In the ensuing years, Washington expanded Mount Vernon from 2,000 acres into an 8,000-acre property with five farms. He grew a variety of crops, including wheat and corn, bred mules and maintained fruit orchards and a successful fishery. He was deeply interested in farming and continually experimented with new crops and methods of land conservation.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
By the late 1760s, Washington had experienced firsthand the effects of rising taxes imposed on American colonists by the British, and came to believe that it was in the best interests of the colonists to declare independence from England. Washington served as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia. By the time the Second Continental Congress convened a year later, the American Revolution had begun in earnest, and Washington was named commander in chief of the Continental Army.

Washington proved to be a better general than military strategist. His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together. His troops were poorly trained and lacked food, ammunition and other supplies (soldiers sometimes even went without shoes in winter). However, Washington was able to give them the direction and motivation to keep going.

Over the course of the grueling eight-year war, the colonial forces won few battles but consistently held their own against the British. In October 1781, with the aid of the French (who allied themselves with the colonists over their rivals the British), the Continental forces were able to capture British troops under General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) in Yorktown, Virginia. This action effectively ended the Revolutionary War and Washington was declared a national hero.

AMERICA’S FIRST PRESIDENT
In 1783, with a peace treaty signed between Great Britain and the U.S., Washington, believing he had done his duty, gave up his command of the army and returned to Mount Vernon, intent on resuming his life as a gentleman farmer and family man. However, in 1787, he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and head the committee to draft the new constitution. His impressive leadership there convinced the delegates that he was by far the most qualified man to become the nation’s first president.

At first Washington balked. He wanted to, at last, return to a quiet life at home and leave governing the new nation to others. But public opinion was so strong that eventually he gave in. The first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789, and Washington won handily. John Adams (1735-1826), who received the second-largest number of votes, became the nation’s first vice president. The 57-year-old Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, in New York City. Because Washington, D.C., America’s future capital city wasn’t yet built, he lived in New York and Philadelphia.

The United States was a small nation when Washington took office, consisting of 11 states and approximately 4 million people, and there was no precedent for how the new president should conduct domestic or foreign business. Mindful that his actions would likely determine how future presidents were expected to govern, Washington worked hard to set an example of fairness, prudence and integrity. In foreign matters, he supported cordial relations with other countries but also favored a position of neutrality in foreign conflicts. Domestically, he nominated the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay (1745-1829), signed a bill establishing the first national bank and set up his own presidential cabinet. His two most prominent cabinet appointees were Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), two men who disagreed strongly on the role of the federal government. Hamilton favored a strong central government, while Jefferson favored stronger states’ rights. Washington believed that divergent views were critical for the health of the new government, but he was distressed at what he saw as an emerging partisanship.

WASHINGTON RETIRES TO MOUNT VERNON
In 1796, after two terms as president and declining to serve a third term, Washington finally retired. In his farewell address, he urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards domestically and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. The address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon and devoted his attentions to making the plantation as productive as it had been before he became president. More than four decades of public service had aged him, but he was still a commanding figure. In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain. The cold developed into a throat infection and Washington died on the night of December 14 at the age of 67. He was entombed at Mount Vernon, which in 1960 was designated a national historic landmark.

Washington left one of the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Known as the “Father of His Country,” his face appears on the U.S. dollar bill and quarter, and hundreds of U.S. schools and towns, as well as the nation’s capital city, are named for him.

International Sword Swallowers Day


International Sword Swallowers Day celebrates the art of sword swallowing. As some might think, the true act of sword swallowing is not an illusion. Though sword swallower doesn't actually swallow the sword, they do open the esophagus to the point where the sword can pass through down to the stomach. The first known sword swallowing is said to have occurred in in south India before 2000 BC. Do not attempt to celebrate this holiday at home. Except for the extremely few true professionals, it's better to be a spectator than a participant. ;)

International Sword Swallowers Day was first celebrated in 2007 and is organized by Sword Swallowers Association International, SSAI, and is co-sponsored by Ripley Entertainment. The month of February was chosen for this holiday because February is National Swallowing Disorders Month month and the events associated with this holiday help to raise money for esophogeal cancer research and to fund treatment of sword swallowers who are injured in the course of their work.

World Thinking Day


World Thinking Day is a day of friendship, advocacy and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.

On 22 February each year, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world celebrate World Thinking Day by:

  • Learning about their international sisters in designated focus countries for the year
  • Read more about international Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting
  •  Doing fun and educational activities based around an advocacy theme for the year
  • Find out about this year’s theme
  • Fundraising for the World Thinking Day Fund
  • Find out more about fundraising on World Thinking Day
  •  Earning the World Thinking Day badge
  • Find out more about the badge programme

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been celebrating World Thinking Day since 1926 and it has been an important fundraising day since 1932. Read all about the history of World Thinking Day.

In 1926, delegates from around the globe met in the USA and agreed that 22 February would be known from then onward as a special day for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world.

Camp Edith Macy – now called Edith Macy Conference Center – in New York state, USA, was the venue for the fourth World Conference of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement in 1926.

A special day
Conference attendees agreed that year that there should be a special annual day when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world think of each other and express their thanks and appreciation for our international Movement. This was called Thinking Day.

The delegates chose 22 February as the date for Thinking Day because it was the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout Movement, and his wife Olave, who was World Chief Guide.

A birthday gift
Six years later in 1932, the seventh World Conference was taking place in Bucze, Poland, when a Belgian delegate pointed out that a birthday usually involves gifts, and so girls could show their appreciation on Thinking Day by offering gifts to our international Movement by fundraising or making a donation.

Olave Baden-Powell wrote to all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts later that year to tell them about this idea and to ask them to spare a penny to help support Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting around the world. Scroll down to read Olave’s letter.

International aspects
Much later in 1999, at the thirtieth World Conference in Dublin, Ireland, delegates from around the world decided to change the name of the day from Thinking Day to World Thinking Day, to better emphasise the international aspects of the day.

The fundraising aspect of World Thinking Day that began in 1932 is still an important funding mechanism for WAGGGS today, and it helps to keep the Movement going.

National Cook a Sweet Potato Day


National Cook a Sweet Potato Day celebrates these tuberous roots that should not only be eaten during Thanksgiving and Christmas but year round. Sweet potatoes are a very good source of beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and vitamin B6. The natural sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream so you don't have to worry about any spikes. Sweet Potatoes are typically baked or boiled and are extra tasty served with cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, brown sugar, or melted marshmallows. They may also be eaten as sweet potato pie, fries, or chips.

Five Food Facts about Sweet Potatoes

  1. Sweet potatoes are the 6th most important food crop in the world.
  2. Asia accounts for 90% of the world consumption of sweet potatoes.
  3. George Washington Carver helped to develop the primary adhesive used for postage stamps from the mucilage(sticky film) of  sweet potatoes.
  4. Sweet potatoes are actually tuberous roots which are considered one of the worlds most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom.
  5. Despite the physical similarities of yams and sweet potatoes. They actually are not even closely related. Yams are actually closely related to grasses and lilies.

National Margarita Day


We pay tribute and honor the margarita on this special day of celebration.  We so deeply respect and value its place in our history that we have set aside Feb. 22 of every year as National Margarita Day.

Loved and consumed by millions, friends and families around the world honor this sacred tequila, triple sec and lime drink every year on February 22.

There is much debate as to the exact individual responsible for inventing the classic margarita, although it was during the 1930’s or 1940’s.  Frozen margaritas were invented later in 1970’s when an inventive bartender converted a soft serve ice cream unit into a frozen margarita machine.  Whether you prefer a classic margarita on the rocks or frozen, it is the most common tequila based cocktail in the United States today.  Hence National Margarita Day!

Are out looking for the best margarita?  Best is relative!  The margarita has developed into so many different flavors and varieties, each differing slightly depending on region.  A few of the more popular flavors include Strawberry Margarita, Mango Margarita, Limeade Margarita, Watermelon Margarita, Pomegranate Margarita, Raspberry Margarita and Blackberry Margarita.

National Margarita Day was started to celebrate the margarita, plain and simple.   Friendship, good times and memories of somewhere warmer are all great reasons to enjoy a margarita.

Open That Bottle Night


Since the millennium, one night in the dull, dark month of February has been immeasurably brightened for wine-lovers by the creation of a special day to celebrate cherished bottles of wine, champagne and spirits. Open That Bottle Night is dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed.

Created in 2000 by ‘Tastings’ columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, ‘Open That Bottle Night’ is an annual occasion that aims to motivate people to reconnect with each other over a bottle, and create good memories with friends and family.

Tips to help you make the most of your designated bottle include:

  • Serve the wine – both red and white – at cellar temperature, around 55 degrees.
  • Have a spare bottle – in case your chosen wine has been stored a little too long.
  • Use a cork bottle-opener with two prongs, and practice first!

Walking the Dog Day


February 22 is “Walking the Dog Day.” Not only is walking the dog great exercise for you, but it is one of the best activities you can share with your dog. According to i-love-dogs.com, most dogs have the ability to travel up to 15 miles a day.

A dog who does not get enough exercise may exhibit signs of frustration and destructive behavior such as barking, chewing, digging, and running away.

Furthermore, walking the dog is great exercise for you, gives you an opportunity to socialize with the people in your neighborhood, and also allows you to bond with your dog. Make sure to respect your neighbors’ yards by carrying plastic bags to pick up your dog’s waste while you are out walking.

Start with just a 20 minute walk per day and in no time you and your dog will be in shape, happier, and will look forward to your daily walks.