Friday, March 21, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 21 2014

National Puppy Day

It's National Puppy Day! A woman named Colleen Paige declared the first National Puppy Day in 2006. The purpose of the occasion is to celebrate the unconditional love and joy that puppies bring to our lives, and to raise awareness about the horrors of puppy mills.

There are more than 8,000 puppy mills and “backyard breeders” in America that supply our nation’s pet stores. The dogs at these puppy mills are kept in terrible conditions and are often killed when they are no longer fertile. How can you make a difference? The official motto of National Puppy Day is, “Adopt instead of shop!”

To celebrate National Puppy Day, give a puppy a hug, learn more about this important issue, or adopt a dog from your local shelter!

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed with a series of events and activities worldwide on March 21 each year. The day aims to remind people of racial discrimination’s negative consequences. It also encourages people to remember their obligation and determination to combat racial discrimination.

Various activities and events are arranged in many countries worldwide on this day. Previous activities included a webcast from the UN headquarters on March 21 featuring special appearances of UN leaders. Such events aim to help young people voice their opinions, find ways to fight racism, and promote tolerance in their communities and in their lives.

Young people also have the option of posting their opinions regarding discussions on human rights and racial discrimination at Voices of Youth, which is UNICEF’s online bulletin board for young people. Contributors to Voices of Youth come from different parts of the world including Jamaica, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines.  Other activities include essays, photo projects, and published articles that promote the fight against racial discrimination.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established six years after an event, known as the Sharpeville tragedy or Sharpeville massacre, which captured worldwide attention. This event involved police opening fire and killing 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa, March 21, 1960.

The UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination when it proclaimed the day as a UN Day of observance in 1966. It also called on all world states and organizations to participate in a program of action to combat racism and racial discrimination in 1983. It held the World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The UN continues its work to fight against all forms of racial intolerance.

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

Memory Day

Uh…what day is it again? Oh yes, that’s right – Memory Day! Celebrate the amazing gift of your memory – before you forget and the day is over!

Why not try one of those on-line brain games to test your memory skills? Or devise your own test at work – cover your eyes and try to remember all the items on your colleague’s desk? Or what about trying to remember the lines from your favourite TV show’s theme song from back when you were a child?

On a more serious note, we all know how devastating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are to both its sufferers and their loved ones. Why not mark this day in a meaningful way by supporting one of the great charities that help in these areas? Or go visit someone you know who is affected. They may not remember it, but you will – and your world will be a little better for it.

National Common Courtesy Day

March 21 celebrates common courtesy, which, as we all know, isn't actually all that common. Sometimes I think we are all waiting for that chance to do something big and wonderful, something heroic, where we can point and say, “there is the good I have done.” Sadly, much of life is made up of the small, the mundane, the almost meaningless, and these small things may far outweigh the heroic deed we hope to be remembered for.

Common courtesy consists of just these tiny, momentary deeds: holding a door open, proper table manners, saying hello and goodbye, giving up your seat to someone who needs it . . . the list goes on and on. National Common Courtesy Day is the perfect day to start practicing new habits of common courtesy with everyone you meet.

National French Bread Day

You have a lot of breads to choose from; however choose French bread today. March 21 is National French Bread Day.

French bread, also known as a baguette, is a crusty loaf baked in a long, thin shape. The French have been making long sticks of bread since the mid-eighteenth century.
French bread become an iconic symbol of French cuisine in the twentieth century.
A new law passed in 1920 banned workers from beginning their shift before 4 a.m. so customers could have fresh bread when they arrived. It would have made it difficult for French bakers to have fresh bread ready for their customers in the morning if workers prepared it earlier. So bakers turned to the fast-baking baguette for a solution, and soon it became a part of daily life.

A baguette is a long thin loaf of bread with a thick crust and often having large bubbles of air inside, popular in and associated with France.

While the baguette claims the title of “French bread,” it is not the only French bread. France produces many other famous types of bread including: croissants, brioche, pain de campagne, batard, pain de mie, and fougasse.

It is interesting that French bread goes well with Italian dishes such as spaghetti or lasagna. No matter what you eat your French bread with, enjoy every bite.

To celebrate National French Bread Day, buy or bake a delicious loaf of fresh French bread to share with your family.

Single Parents' Day

Single Parents' Day takes place each year on March 21. Simply put, it's a day set aside to honor and applaud the hard work single parents do each and every day in raising their children.

According to Mary Anne Britton, the International Vice President of Membership for Parents Without Partners, Single Parents' Day is a day for "honoring the single parent who is basically doing double duty" and "giving them some respect."

When Did Single Parents' Day Begin?:
The idea for Single Parents' Day began back in 1984 with an article written by Janice Moglen, a divorced mother of two who hoped that Single Parents' Day might one day gain the recognition many associate with both Mother's Day and Father's Day. In collaboration with the organization Parents Without Partners, Moglen began to petition individual states to declare their own recognition of Single Parents' Day.

It is believed that the day, March 21, was chosen to coincide with the inception of Parents Without Partners, which began 50 years ago, on March 21, 1957.

Why Set Aside a Separate Day?:
While some may conclude that Single Parents' Day is just a variation of Mother's Day and Father's Day, it is actually much more than that. Single Parents' Day is an opportunity for the children of single parent families to recognize the sacrifices both of their parents make to provide for their needs, collaborate with one another, and maintain a stable home environment where the children can thrive. It is also an opportunity for single parents themselves to celebrate their efforts and achievements.

Increased Awareness:
Single Parents' Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the determination and strength shown by the more than 14 million single parents who are raising children in the U.S. today. Britton notes that "Many single parents aren't even putting themselves in 2nd or 3rd place" as they work to raise their kids, "making sure they have the same opportunities as dual family units." While there is tremendous joy in the task, it is also a lot to bear all on your own, and it's time that we applaud the individuals who are up to the task, instead of tearing them down with negative propaganda.

Support Single Parents' Day:
Since its inception, both national and state proclamations in support of Single Parents' Day have been sporadic. You can play a role in changing that trend by requesting that both local and national leaders issue a proclamation in support of Single Parents' Day this March 21.

International Day of Forests

This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihood.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.

They play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Forests contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Activities expected to take place on the 2014 International Day include tree-planting and other community-level events, and national celebrations including art, photo and film as well as social media.

National Day of Action On Syringe Exchange

March 21, is the National Day of Action for Syringe Exchange. Since the Reagan administration, Congress has expressly prohibited any federal funds from going to syringe exchange programs. This ban on federal funding is an outgrowth of the ineffectual War on Drugs, the theory being that preventing injection drug users from accessing clean syringes will cause them to stop using drugs. (A more nefarious justification: they’ll just use dirty needles, contract Hepatitis C or HIV, and die. Except they don’t just die and they cannot be denied treatment because they’re horrible drug users.)

For the first time, in last year’s budget, Congress lifted the prohibition on federal funding of syringe exchanges, providing a valuable and effective service to those in need. Then, at the end of last year, Congress reinstituted the ban in this year’s budget.

The prevailing face of syringe exchange is not one that lends itself to advocates. Many injection drug users are poor, homeless, or both; this is the demographic with which people most associate injection drug use. But many injection drug users are also people with homes and jobs who happen to use drugs. The harm reduction philosophy of public health doesn't care why people use drugs, or for that matter, that people quit their addictions. Harm reduction is judgment-neutral in the sense that it concerns itself with people using drugs as safely as possible, which includes using sterile syringes.

Despite its proven efficacy in reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV, and the fact that syringe exchanges do not increase the use of injectable drugs, syringe exchange is one public health plank that remains largely undefended. Safe sex education is easily defensible on the ground that everyone has sex, so everyone should use condoms. That is to say, the middle class will invariably end up having sex. Not true with injection drugs. In this way, syringe exchange can remain the pariah of the public health world because it appears to affect the dirty, downtrodden masses (though you would probably be surprised to know that this is not the case; middle class people inject drugs, too!).

The loss of — or rather, the prospect of another year without — federal funding for syringe exchange does a disservice to a swath of society. As a social justice issue (or, rather, a justice issue), those without access to clean syringes should not bear the burden of lifelong, chronic disease as a result of their lifestyles, some parts of which they chose, and others of which they did not. In other words, people should not be judged or punished for the decisions they make that don’t affect others. Want to inject heroin? No problem: just do it safely. This is the moral argument.

“But why should I pay for some junkie to get high? It’s his fault he’s using drugs, so he should bear the consequences, including chronic disease and/or death.” So I see you’re not a fan of the moral argument. Consider, though, that the lifetime cost of care for an HIV patient can be as high as $600,000 per person. For an indigent user, that’s money coming out of your taxes that isn’t going to pay for something else. Contrast this with the cost of a citywide syringe exchange program, which can be contracted out for as little as $100,000 per year. Couple this figure with the fact that the War on Drugs has neither saved money nor decreased drug use, and we arrive at this simple conclusion: abstinence inducements are expensive to begin with and increase the risk of contracting (and spreading!) disease by encouraging such behaviors as using dirty needles and sharing needles with others. These behaviors, in turn, result in more collateral costs, like HIV treatment and emergency room care.

By taking a judgment-neutral approach; i.e., not allocating blame and making value judgments (the latter of which can get very dicey, very personal, and can easily be reflected back to the judger in some form), harm reduction — and syringe exchange, its subsidiary — foster both dignity, for those concerned with morality, and cost effectiveness, for those concerned with money. When a syringe exchange ban is lifted, everyone wins: injection drug users, tax payers, and cash-strapped state governments, which have shuttered many public health programs — including syringe exchanges — due to lack of money. Moreover, a comprehensive, federal syringe exchange program could go a long way in curbing the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV, ultimately saving money in the long run.

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day is a time to appreciate and support poets and poetry around the world. It is held on March 21 each year and is an initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Many people around the world celebrate World Poetry Day on or around March 21 each year. Government agencies, educators, community groups and individuals get involved in promoting or participating in the day. World Poetry Day is an opportunity for children to be introduced to poetry in classrooms. It is a time when classrooms are busy with lessons related to poetry, in which students examine poets and learn about different types of poetry.

Poets may be invited to read and share their work to audiences at book stores, cafes, universities and schools. Awards and other forms or recognition are made to honor poets and their work. Exhibitions and poetry evenings are also be held to showcase the work of various poets on or around March 21 to coincide with World Poetry Day.

In November 1999, UNESCO designated World Poetry Day to be held on March 21 each year.  The organization recognized the important role of poetry in the arts and in cultures throughout the world and over time. It also wanted the day to promote the efforts of small publishers with regard to publishing poetry. The day also focused on promoting a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, as well as strengthening the association between poetry and other forms of expression, such as dance, music, and painting. The first World Poetry Day was held on March 21, 2000.

Various works of poetry and images of poets are featured in various materials and forms of media to promote World Poetry Day each year. Exhibitions and other events are also held to showcase various forms of poetry on this day.

Spring Fairy Fun Day

With the warmer weather and a bit of sunshine here in the Salt Lake Valley, you are probably ready for some spring time fun. Easter is still two weeks a way, but tomorrow is the first day of spring, and Sunday March 21 is Spring Fairy Fun Day. While you may have been unaware of this holiday up until now, why not take advantage of it and have some fun with your girls. Here are a few ideas to make your party memorable.

* Make a spring fairy tree- If you happen to have any blossoming branches this would be beautiful, and if you don't, you can make your own blossoms. 
INSTRUCTIONS: find a branchy branch of a tree, with or without blossoms. Create some colorful spring fairies out of paper, fabric, glue, and sparkly doo dads. Hang them on the tree and enjoy a tiny fairy land.

* Build a fairy house- This is a fun outdoor activity, and the only limits are those on your imagination. Use all natural materials, anything you find outside will do, and construct a fairy size house. If you really get into it, you could even make some fairy size dishes and furniture to go in your fairy house. Once complete, hide and wait for your fairy friends to move in.

* Make fairy wings- You can hardly celebrate Fairy day without your own set of wings. Try these sites- wikihow, about, videojug for instructions on making your own.

* Make a fairy cake- I've heard these are all the rage over the pond.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
7 Tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Note: I have used 1/2 teaspoon almond extract instead of the suggested 1 tsp.vanilla extract and the flavour is amazing.
2-3 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking cups. (You can also use mini muffin tins, bake less time)
Put all the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel to make for a soft consistency.
It doesn't seem like enough, but you can get enough into each baking cup, just scrape it all out and try to fill each one equally.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden on top.
Cool on a wire rack, but remove from the tin as soon as possible.

If you don't have self-rising flour: Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of flour into a separate container.
For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Mix to combine.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
3-4 tablespoons milk
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

* Put on some fairy music- You may not realize that there is a whole CD devoted to flower fairies called Flower Fairy Alphabet. Buy it on Amazon.

* Tell a Spring Fairy Story- There's one included below in case you can't find your own.

Once you've started celebrating Spring Fairy Fun Day, you'll never want to stop. Make it an annual tradition and you and your girls will have a fun new way to herald in spring each year.

The Fairy Tulips
An English Folk-tale

Once upon a time there was a good old woman who lived in a little house. She had in her garden a bed of beautiful striped tulips.

One night she was wakened by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing. She looked out at the window. The sounds seemed to come from the tulip bed, but she could see nothing.

The next morning she walked among her flowers, but there were no signs of any one having been there the night before.

On the following night she was again wakened by sweet singing and babies laughing. She rose and stole softly through her garden. The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying to and fro. The old woman looked closely and she saw, standing by each tulip, a little Fairy mother who was crooning and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip cup lay a little Fairy baby laughing and playing.

The good old woman stole quietly back to her house, and from that time on she never picked a tulip, nor did she allow her neighbors to touch the flowers.

The tulips grew daily brighter in color and larger in size, and they gave out a delicious perfume like that of roses. They began, too, to bloom all the year round. And every night the little Fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower cups.

The day came when the good old woman died, and the tulip bed was torn up by folks who did not know about the Fairies, and parsley was planted there instead of the flowers. But the parsley withered, and so did all the other plants in the garden, and from that time nothing would grow there.

But the good old woman's grave grew beautiful, for the Fairies sang above it, and kept it green - while on the grave and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and other lovely flowers of spring.

World Down Syndrome Day

21 March 2014 marks the 9th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still so much more we can do.

Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the world to choose your own activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities. We will share your WDSD World Events on our dedicated WDSD website in a single global meeting place.

For WDSD 2014, DSi is focusing on:
“Health and Wellbeing - Access and Equality for All”
All people with Down syndrome have the right to access healthcare when required on an equal basis with others without discrimination and with proper assessment of the specific health needs of the individual. We will be highlighting that:
  1. Having Down syndrome does not make a person unhealthy.
  2. Down syndrome is a genetic condition, not an illness.
  3. People with Down syndrome may have health issues throughout their lives, just like everyone else and they should have access to healthcare on an equal basis with others.
  4. There are specific known health issues which may affect people with Down syndrome, for which accurate, evidence based information is available.
  5. Health professionals should be aware of these specific issues when treating a person with Down syndrome.
  6. Health professionals should not discriminate against people with Down syndrome by:
  • refusing to treat them;
  • blaming health issues on Down syndrome in general, or;
  • considering only specific known health issues which may affect people with Down syndrome.
Our WDSD Global Video Event and WDSD Conference will both explore this important area of focus.

If you would like to join this campaign, then we very much welcome its adoption into your plans for WDSD 2014.

Once again in 2014, we are inviting everyone across the world to wear LOTS OF SOCKS on 21 March to get people talking about WDSD. 

You can also participate in our WDSD activities by nominating someone for the WDSD Awards, you can join us on our various WDSD Social Media channels, and you can promote our WDSD Patrons Messages.

Whatever you plan to do, lets create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome on 21 March.