Thursday, February 6, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 6th 2014

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations (UN) campaign held on February 6 to stop genital mutilation to girls and women.

Various activities and events are held on February 6 each year to promote the UN’s campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Public conferences and forums often feature FGM survivors who are invited to share their personal experiences. Other activities include photo essays and round-table discussions on making policies and laws to end FGM.

About 120 to 140 million women have been subject to FGM and 3 million girls are at risk each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). FGM relates to all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This practice is an abuse of human rights and causes serious health complications, including fatal bleeding.

The UN first officially commemorated the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on February 6, 2003. It continues to fight against FGM through a range of activities in addition to the observance.

Lame Duck Day

Lame Duck Day is celebrated on February 6th of each year in remembrance of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment reduced the amount of time between Election Day and the beginning of Presidential, Vice Presidential and Congressional terms. Originally, the terms of the President, the Vice President and the in-coming elected Congress began on March 4, four months after the elections were held. While this lapse was a practical necessity at the end of the 18th century, when any newly-elected official might require several months to put his affairs in order and then undertake an arduous journey from his home to the national capital, it eventually had the effect of impeding the functioning of government in the modern age.

From the early 19th century onward, it also meant that the lame duck Congress and/or Presidential administration could, as in the case of the Congress, convene or fail to convene; in the case of the administration, to act or to fail to act, or to meet significant national crises in a timely manner. Each institution could do this on the theory that at best, a lame duck Congress or administration had neither the time nor the mandate to tackle problems. Where as the incoming administration or Congress would have both the time, and a fresh electoral mandate, to examine and address the problems that the nation faced. These problems very likely would have been at the center of the debate of the just completed election cycle.

This dilemma was seen most notably in 1861 and 1933, as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt (plus the newly elected Members of Congress from the political party of each of these Presidents) had to wait four months before they, and the incoming-Congresses, could deal with the secession of Southern states and the Great Depression respectively.

Originally, under Article I, Section 4, Clause 2, the Congress was required to convene at least once each year in December. That requirement created a mandatory lame duck session following each federal election.

The amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933. Section 5 delayed Sections 1 and 2 taking effect until October 15, 1933. This delay resulted in the first meeting of the 73rd Congress, along with the inauguration of President Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner, taking place on March 4, 1933.

On February 15, 1933, 23 days after this amendment was ratified, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt by Giuseppe Zangara. If the attempt had been successful then, pursuant to Section 3, John Nance Garner would have been sworn in as President on March 4, 1933.

The first Congressional terms to begin under Section 1 were those of the 74th Congress, on January 3, 1935. The first Presidential and Vice Presidential terms to begin under Section 1 were those of President Roosevelt and Vice President Garner, on January 20, 1937.

Because of this amendment, if the Electoral College fails to resolve who will be the President or Vice President, the newly elected Congress, as opposed to the outgoing one, would choose who would occupy the unresolved office or offices.

MONOPOLY The Board Game

MONOPOLY, the board game, went on sale in stores on February 6, 1935. For 75 years, dogs, thimbles, cannons, irons and cars have been making their way through Atlantic City by the roll of the dice. (Wasn't I always the hat?)

Charles B. Darrow, of Germantown, PA, brought the game to Parker Brothers at the height of the Great Depression. The game was rejected. Darrow was unemployed and his friend in the printing industry helped him publish the game alone. 5,000 handmade sets of the game were sold to a department store in Philadelphia. Darrow returned to Parker Brothers in 1935, when he could no longer keep up with the growing demand for his game and this time they accepted Monopoly.

There are plenty of tips for playing the game on the MONOPOLY website and the trivia site has some interesting information as well, such as, “In Cuba, the game had a strong following until Fidel Castro took power and ordered all known sets destroyed”. You can also learn the name of the jailbird, the officer who put him in jail and find out who Mr. Monopoly really is.

MONOPOLY History & Fun Facts
  • More than 275 million games have been sold worldwide and it’s available in 111 countries, in 43 languages.
  • The longest MONOPOLY game in history lasted for 70 straight days.
  • Many specialized editions of the classic game have been produced featuring your favorite sports teams, brands, television shows, cartoons and more.
  • The most expensive version of the game was produced by celebrated San Francisco jeweler Sidney Mobell. Valued at $2 million, the set fea tures a 23-carat gold board and diamond-studded dice.
  • The character locked behind the bars is called Jake the Jailbird. Officer Edgar Mallory sent him to jail.
  • Children play MONOPOLY all over the world, but where they live may determine what they call the highest rent property on the game board. In the U.S., it is named “Boardwalk” after a street in Atlantic City. In Spain, it is named “Paseo del Prado” after a street in Barcelona and in France, “Rue de la Paix” is the name of the most coveted property space.
  • Escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into MONOPOLY game boards smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. Real money for escapees was slipped into the packs of MONOPOLY money.
  • Every few years, national champions from around the globe meet for the MONOPOLY World Championship tournament. World Champions have hailed from 10 different countries, including: United States, Ireland, Singapore, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan and Spain.
Canadian Maple Syrup Day

Canadians have long celebrated the gift of rich maple syrup, but we do not have a definitive "holiday" for this activity. Maple syrup "festivals" occur in late March to early April around the country, and an American Maple Syrup Day is observed in December each year. 

In 2010, it was decided that Canada needed a special day to mark the beginning of the syrup rising in the maple trees. Although the maple may be running at full speed closer to the beginning of spring, it's those first few drops of syrup that appear in early February that are worth celebrating. And therefore, the first Canadian Maple Syrup Day was observed on February 6th, 2010. 

Canada's symbol is the Maple Leaf, so maple trees and maple syrup has always been near and dear to our Canadian hearts. Maple Syrup Day provides us with an opportunity to discuss the rich Canadian history of Maple Syrup tapping and to celebrate the life sustaining resources that abound in our beautiful land.

At the opposite time of year from July 1st, Maple Syrup Day on February 6th gives Canadians a chance to celebrate their pride in Canada at a time when Canada's winter is at its height. What better way to celebrate a day of skating, skiing, or building snow forts than to reflect on our proud history?

Unlike most other holidays, Maple Syrup Day is not a day for commercialization with plastic decorations, or burdensome gift giving. Maple syrup day is about celebrating the natural gift of maple syrup, a spark of hope in the coldness of winter.

Yes, you can celebrate Maple Syrup Day by supporting Canadian maple syrup harvesters. But you could also tap maple syrup yourself! 

Maple Syrup Day is meant to be a holiday which makes us more aware of the gifts of nature, and this means not polluting our beautiful land with wasteful commodities and unneeded trinkets. Get back to nature by exploring the rich taste of PURE maple syrup, rather than "table syrup" which is mostly corn syrup. Or discover the beauty of winter, by exploring the outdoors and hiking through the forest among the trees that provide for us all year long.

February is a time that is typically associated with Valentine's Day. While celebrating love and relationships is a joyful and happy time for many people, it also leaves a lot of people out. Some Canadian provinces also observe Family Day later in the month, but this holiday can also stigmatize people based on their lifestyles. Indeed, single people living alone can find February very frustrating!

Maple Syrup Day is the holiday that is different. Maple Syrup Day is not a regional holiday, as maple syrup can be harvested from coast to coast, in just about every province. Anyone can celebrate Maple Syrup Day on February 6th, no matter your age, location, religion, or lifestyle. It's even a Vegan friendly holiday!

Early February is a tradition time to celebrate winter. Many ancient Pagan festivals, such as Imbolc and Candlemaas celebrated the returning of the light and winter foods. Later, these holidays became associated with the Christian feast of St. Bridget. In addition, Groundhog's Day celebrates the hope that spring will return.

Maple Syrup Day also takes place between two minor religious holidays in Judaism and Christianity. The Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat takes place shortly before Maple Syrup Day. Tu B'Shevat is the New Year of the Trees in Judaism, and is observed through eating nuts and berries from trees, or planting new trees. Meanwhile, the Catholic holiday of Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday takes place shortly after Maple Syrup Day. Pancake Tuesday is the day many Catholics cook pancakes before the fast of Lent. 

What better time of year for Maple Syrup Day than after the New Year of the Trees and before Pancake Tuesday? That is why Maple Syrup Day is celebrated on February 6th. 

You can celebrate Maple Syrup Day anyway you like! Here's some ideas:
  • Cook with pure Canadian maple syrup. Make pancakes, waffles, or french toast for breakfast. Roast potatoes, yams, carrots or squash in maple syrup for supper, or use maple syrup as a glaze on hams, or as a marinade on salmon. You can also make maple syrup cookies, maple syrup ice cream, or maple syrup liqueurs. 
  • Learn about the history of Canadian maple syrup harvesting. Visit a local sugar bush, or attend a winter festival with an interpretative booth about maple syrup tapping (Ottawa's Winterlude has an interactive maple syrup station every year!). Read a book about Canadian maple syrup history, or find a blog that teaches you about the history.
  • Go for a walk outside and explore the beauty that maple trees provide for us even in the winter. Enjoy outdoor winter activities and make the most of the season. 
And much more! How do you want to celebrate Maple Syrup Day on February 6th?

National Frozen Yogurt Day

Dairy good! February 6 is National Frozen Yogurt Day.

Some blasts from the past are suddenly quite au courant. For example: bingo night, parachute pants and handlebar mustaches are currently all the rage. Another product that’s making a comeback? Frozen yogurt.

In the early 1980s and '90s, frozen yogurt stores were on almost every street corner in the U.S. After a brief market slump in the late '90s and early 2000s, the industry is back on the rise, fueled in part by the recession. Frozen yogurt offers consumers choice at varying price points; perfect for those who want to treat themselves without blowing a hole in their wallets.

The multimillion dollar industry has another thing going for it – head to head, frozen yogurt is less fattening than ice cream. That’s because in order to be classified as ice cream, the product needs to contain a certain amount of fat. Producers often add cream to achieve the necessary fat content. Frozen yogurt, on the other hand, isn't federally regulated, and since yogurt naturally contains less fat than cream, the resulting product is as creamy as ice cream but with much less fat.

Before you go buckwild at your local frozen yogurt store, consider this: while the actual treat might be less in fat, it’s very easy to erase the difference with toppings. That's not to say that toppings are off the menu, but if healthfulness is the goal, consider cutting back on the brownie bites and hot fudge sauce.

You could also make your own frozen yogurt in an ice cream maker or blender, thus controlling the mix-ins and nutritional content.

While no one really knows how long the froyo craze will last, our bet is that kids will be lining up at their local yogurt shop long after the last hipsters are yelling "Bingo!"