Friday, July 4, 2014

Holidays and Observances for July 4 2014

Independence Day

Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical. By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine’s bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published in early 1776. On June 7, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee–including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York–to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” On July 4th, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king’s birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III, as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy’s hold on America and the triumph of liberty. Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war. George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year, in celebrations that allowed the new nation’s emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties–Federalists and Democratic-Republicans–that had arisen began holding separate Independence Day celebrations in many large cities.

The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has since the late 19th century become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

Independence From Meat Day

Not only is July 4th Independence Day in the US, it is also Independence from Meat Day. This day, originally created by the Vegetarian Awareness Network in Tennessee, has grown beyond its original US-only focus to being an international day for celebrating a meat-free diet and lifestyle.

Arguments for and against eating meat has raged for years, and while there has been many scientific studies published on the health benefits of a meat-free diet, many of these are inconclusive, given the huge variability on human diets both with and without meat. Also, many of the health risks posed by processed meat, for example, has more to do with the chemicals and fats introduced as part of the processing, than it has with the meat itself.

Much stronger arguments are made on moral grounds against the slaughter of animals for human consumption, and many great thinkers have made succinct arguments for a meat-free diet. In the words of outspoken vegetarian George Bernard Shaw, “Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.”

The fact of the matter is that, despite evolving as omnivores, the human mouth and gut is such that we don’t need meat in our diets. Our bodies can extract the necessary nutrients from a plant-based diet, as long as you take care to provide your body with good alternative sources of the proteins and other nutrients typically found in a meat-diet. Growing children require more protein in their diet than adults, so vegetarian children need to make extra sure they get all the required nutrients in sufficient doses.

Vegetarian or not – it can’t hurt enjoying a meat-free day every so often. So give it a go – celebrate your Independence from Meat, wherever you are.

Invisible Day

But the day is all about going unnoticed.  July 4 is Invisible Day.  Is it akin to 'fly on the wall day' or is it more like 'oh wo is me day'.  There are days that everyone can feel a little invisible. These days can be brought on by bouts of pity (that one is me), they can be brought on by a sense of failure (again... could be me), or they can be brought on by the super powers of another dimension and can make the rest of the world jealous as hell.  Well, it would if they could see you.

If you could be invisible for just one day, what would you do with that day?  Would you hang out in the dressing room of the Seahawks and admire the offensive line?  (Hey... now THAT really does sound like me.) Would you walk amongst your office mates and superiors to hear what they won't say to you? Would you sit in on the dark backroom negotiations of the G20 summit and then use the information to potentially really make a difference?  Or, would you use it to play pranks on people all day long?  If it were me, I would want to spend it in the dressing room of the Seahawks playing pranks on the offense, defense, and special teams.  I mean come on...

It was also on July 4th that Lewis Carol told a story to Alice Liddell that would eventually become the story of Alice in Wonderland.  In celebration of this great tale... every time I think of the boys in the dressing room, wearing their towels and their smiles, I too will be smiling... like a Cheshire Cat.

National Barbecue Spareribs Day

Time for some rib-tickling fun - July 4 is National Barbecued Spareribs Day.

The word spareribs is actually derived from German. If you've been told that these meaty morsels are actually extra bones, your source of information was probably just ribbing you.

There are four different types of rib cuts: baby back, spareribs, St. Louis and rib tips. Spareribs are actually a combination of St. Louis and rib tips. Spareribs are also straighter and flatter than baby back ribs, which are curved. Even though spareribs are less expensive than baby backs, they’re often preferred given their connective tissue and fat, which equals flavor.

Spareribs work well with a dry rub or a sauce - or both! Many folks trim the membrane - also called silverskin - from the back of the ribs before rubbing them down, but some choose to skip the step. They can be smoked, grilled or broiled and benefit from a long cooking time at a low temperature.

National Caesar Salad Day

Most Americans may know the 4th of July as the United States Independence Day, but there are actually two food holidays that fall on this date. First of all National Barbecued Spareribs Day occurs at this time, and secondly National Caesar Salad Day shares this date. This page will discuss the origins and celebration of the latter of the two.

The salad may be one of the least celebrated foods in American culture, as it is plagued by a dull image and is sometimes seen as a type of food that has to be eaten for health reasons, but is not necessarily enjoyed. The Caesar salad, however, brings life to an otherwise plain plate of romaine lettuce by adding flavor, creaminess, zest and a bit of crunch.

It is unclear exactly how National Caesar Salad Day began. Many food holidays are started by companies who manufacture food products, or by organizations dedicated to their promotion. Most are not officially recognized holidays.

The Caesar salad itself actually has nothing to do with Rome or Julius Caesar, as many people tend to believe. It is generally understood that the salad was created by a Tijuana restaurant owner named Caesar Cardini, who served it to guests for the first time on the 4th of July in 1924. He was short on food at the time, and threw it together with ingredients that he happened to have in his kitchen.

While most Americans are busy celebrating Independence Day on the 4th of July, it is simple to add Caesar salad to the festivities. Greens are typically a welcome addition to any barbecue, and you can honor National Caesar Salad Day by adding Caesar dressing and croutons to your salad.

Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

Side Walk Egg Frying Day is celebrated July 4th of each year in Oatman, Arizona. Oatman Sidewalk Egg Frying Day is held at high noon and is held on historic Route 66. For entertainment, there is wild west gun fight reenactments, burros roaming the streets, and plenty of food for everyone. But, the real attraction is the egg frying competition where only the sun can be used to fry an egg on the hot pavement. There is only a 15 minute time limit to fry your egg.

On a hot summer day, bet a friend that you can cook an egg without a stove or microwave.

If it is hot enough (warmer than 35º C), you can break an egg directly on the sidewalk and it should cook within a few minutes. If it is not this hot, you can still cook an egg by creating a solar energy catcher to intensify the sun’s cooking power.

What you need:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 strip of tinfoil (the size must cover that of a small frying pan)
  • Cement pad (garage driveway or sidewalk)
  • A hot sunny day!
  • Adult helper
If temperature is warmer than 35º C - Find a spot outside where the sun is directly shining. Crack the egg and pour onto the hot sidewalk or driveway (make sure it is a flat and level surface). Allow the sun to do the rest of the work. Wait a few minutes and you will have a cooked egg.

If the temperature is less than 35º C – You will not have enough sun heating your area so you will need to intensify the heat in order to cook the egg. This can be done by laying a sheet of tinfoil (shiny side up) on the sidewalk or driveway (it should be flat or level) where the sun is directly shining. Curl up the edges of the tinfoil so that the egg stays on the tinfoil. Crack your egg and pour the contents on the tinfoil. Your egg will soon start to cook.

Curl up the edges to keep the egg on the tinfoil. If it is hot enough, you can cook the egg directly on the sidewalk. WARNING! Do not eat the results of this trick!

Be sure to clean up your mess after you are done.

* Make sure to protect yourself from the sun. Remember to “Slip, Slap, Slop” – Slip on a T-shirt, Slap on a hat and Slop on the sunscreen.

How it works:
The egg cooks faster on tinfoil because it is a reflective surface that focuses the solar (sun) energy back into the egg instead of allowing it through into the cement. The egg will cook faster than if you put it directly on the sidewalk.

Did you know…
Coagulation of an egg (ie. change from a fluid to a solid or semi-solid form) is influenced by temperature. Egg white begins to coagulate at 62°C (144°F) while yolk begins to coagulate at 65°C (149°F).

Did you also know…
Solar energy is being used to power everything these days, from camping lamps, to houses, even cars! 

National Country Music Day

National Country Music Day is celebrated July 4th of each year. The idea of National Country Music Day is dated back to the 1950′s with the Country Music Deejay Association (CMDJA) as a way to commemorate Jimmie Rodgers and country music. It does not appear that National Country Music Day is an “official” holiday, but that doesn't stop the celebrations.

James Charles Rodgers (September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933), known as Jimmie Rodgers, was an American country singer in the early 20th century known most widely for his rhythmic yodeling. Among the first country music superstars and pioneers, Rodgers was also known as The Singing Brakeman, The Blue Yodeler, and The Father of Country Music.

National Hillbilly Day

While millions of Americans are busy celebrating America’s birthday, July 4 is also National Hillbilly Day, y'all! While the origins of this annual “holiday” are unknown, hillbillies are often described as simple country folk who live in rural, remote areas of the south and are often out of touch with modern society.

And how does one celebrate the annual holiday? The best way to observe National Hillbilly Day is to go to a Hillbilly party, of course. After you get done with your parade and backyard barbecue, why not sit a spell and get your Hillbilly on!

Hillbilly Party 101

  • Slip on your favorite pair of overalls and fanciest straw hat before you head out the trailer and head for the pickup truck.
  • If you notice any road kill along the way to the party, throw it in the back of the truck. Road kill makes some mighty tasty vittles.
  • You can’t have a party without some great family-friendly entertainment, right? How about a greased pig or spittin’ contest?
  • If music is more your cup of tea, try your hand playing the spoons or Dueling Banjos.
  • Shotgun weddings are also a favorite activity during hillbilly get-togethers. Hope you remembered your shotgun.
  • If you’ve got a hankerin’ for something to whet your whistle after enjoying all that grub, try a sip or two of granny’s homemade moonshine.

How Else to Celebrate National Hillbilly Day

  • If you can’t make it to a Hillbilly party in your neck-of-the-woods, why not watch an old episode of the classic television series, “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
  • If you haven’t seen it in a while, watch Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds in the disturbing film, “The Deliverance.”
  • Just in case you don’t know if you are one or not, be sure to read "300 Reasons Why You Might Be a Redneck" by Jeff Foxworthy.