Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holidays and Observances for November 27 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, football and family. While today’s Thanksgiving celebrations would likely be unrecognizable to attendees of the original 1621 harvest meal, it continues to be a day for Americans to come together around the table—albeit with some updates to pilgrim’s menu.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple so ubiquitous it has become all but synonymous with the holiday, may or may not have been on offer when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.

Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.

Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.

For some scholars, the jury is still out on whether the feast at Plymouth really constituted the first Thanksgiving in the United States. Indeed, historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America that predate the Pilgrims’ celebration. In 1565, for instance, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner in St. Augustine, Florida, after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival. On December 4, 1619, when 38 British settlers reached a site known as Berkeley Hundred on the banks of Virginia’s James River, they read a proclamation designating the date as “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

Some Native Americans and others take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions. Since 1970, protesters have gathered on the day designated as Thanksgiving at the top of Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, to commemorate a “National Day of Mourning.” Similar events are held in other parts of the country.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

November 27 is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day. Bavarian cream pie is a delicious, chilled dessert made with a cooked egg custard layered with whipped cream and toppings in a pie shell.  

Bavarian cream was originally a French (or German?) cold dessert of egg custard stiffened with gelatin, mixed with whipped cream (sometimes with fruit  purée or other flavors), then set in a mold, or used as a filling for cakes and pastries.

No one is sure about the origin of Bavarian cream, but during the late 17th  and early 18th centuries many French chefs worked at the court of the Wittelsbach Princes (a German family that ruled Bavaria from the 12th century to 1918). This would have given them the contact to have learned it in Bavaria. The famous French chef Carême (1783-1833) gives recipes for it in the early 18th century. 

The suffix 'crème' in German speaking lands, is the term for the  gelatin mold - (Schokolatencreme, Weincreme, etc.) and there are many variations,  flavored with chocolate, lemon, kirsch, etc.

So - in summary, the most likely origin is that the French chefs working for the Bavarian rulers (the Wittelsbachs) learned something either the same or very  similar while working in Bavaria, and when they returned to France continued to make it, and called it Crème Bavaroise (Bavarian Cream). And since, in addition  to being served in a gelatin mold, it was also used as a cake filling, the next  step to its use as a doughnut filling at Dunkin Donuts was inevitable.

To celebrate this day, make some divine Bavarian cream pie for you and your family to enjoy!

National Day of Mourning

The National Day of Mourning is an annual protest organized since 1970 by Native Americans of New England on the fourth Thursday of November, the same day as Thanksgiving in the United States. It coincides with an unrelated but similar protest, Unthanksgiving Day, held on the West Coast.

The organizers consider the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day as a reminder of the democide and continued suffering of the Native American peoples. Participants in the National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. They want to educate Americans about history. The event was organized in a period of Native American activism and general cultural protests. The protest is organized by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE). Since it was first organized, social changes have resulted in major revisions to the portrayal of United States history, the government's and settlers' relations with Native American peoples, and renewed appreciation for Native American culture.

The United American Indians of New England (UAINE) organized their protest to bring publicity to the continued misrepresentation of Native American and colonial experience. They believed that people needed to be educated about what happened when the Pilgrims arrived in North America.

A century ago heavy immigration brought millions of southern and eastern Europeans to the United States. Educators and civic groups thought it necessary toassimilate the new citizens. The new arrivals were taught to view the Pilgrims as models for their own families. The tale of the "First Thanksgiving" was an essential element of this curriculum. The story of the Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing a meal of turkey became part of United States tradition. The story tells of the mutually beneficial relationship between these groups.

UAINE, by contrast, says that the Pilgrims did not find a new and empty land. Every inch of land they claimed was Indian land. They also say that the Pilgrims immigrated as part of a commercial venture and that they introduced sexism, racism, anti-homosexual bigotry, jails, and the class system.

Governor John Winthrop proclaimed the first official "Day of Thanksgiving" in 1637 to celebrate the return of men that had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to fight against the Pequot, an action that resulted in the deaths of more than 700 Pequot women, children, and men, which their people called a massacre. In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln authorized that the fourth Thursday of November be set aside to give thanks and praise for the nation's blessings. Thanksgiving became part of American culture.

UAINE believes that the Native American and colonial experience continue to be misrepresented. It asks why the "First Thanksgiving" was not celebrated or related back to the first colony at Jamestown. According to UAINE, the circumstances at Jamestown were too terrible to be used as a national myth. The settlers turned to cannibalism to survive. The UAINE used the National Day of Mourning to educate people about the history of the Wampanoag people. UAINE representatives say the only true element of the Thanksgiving story is that the pilgrims would not have survived their first years in New England without the aid of the Wampanoag.

Since 1921, the 300th year after the first Thanksgiving, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts stages an annual reenactment of Thanksgiving. People gather at a church on the site of the Pilgrims' original meeting house, in 17th century costume. After prayers and a sermon, they march to Plymouth Rock. This annual event had become a tourist attraction.

The UNAINE organized the first National Day of Mourning on the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival on Wampanoag land. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts planned to celebrate friendly relations between English ancestors and the Wampanoag. Wampanoag leader Frank James, also known asWamsutta, was invited to make a speech at the celebration. But, when the anniversary planners reviewed his speech [4] in advance, they decided it was not appropriate for the celebration. The reason given was, "...the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place."

Wamsutta based his speech on a Pilgrim's account of the first year on Indian land. The book recounted the opening of graves, taking the Indians' corn and bean supplies, and selling Wampanoag as slaves for 220 shillings each. After receiving a revised speech, written by a public relations person, Wamsutta decided he would not attend the celebration. To protest the silencing of the American Indian people, he and his supporters went to neighboring Cole's Hill, near the statue of Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims landed. Overlooking the Plymouth Harbor and the Mayflower replica, Wamsutta gave his speech. This was the first National Day of Mourning.

National Pins And Needles Day

When you hear the words, “pins and needles,” what comes foremost in your mind? Is it sewing or people making clothes? But probably, you may also think of that particular sensation that comes when you are anticipating something. After all, pins and needles also mean anticipation. So, shall we anticipate this year’s celebration of the National Pins and Needles Day? National Pins And Needles Day is always observed, in the United States of America, on the 27 day of November, each year.

The National Pins and Needles Day is a special day which remembers the opening of a Broadway historical and blockbuster play in 1937. This pro-labor performance ran 1,108 times at the Princess Theatre of New York City. Its cast consisted of members of the International Garment Workers Union who were really not performers.

Here is a list of fun activities we suggest for you to do on this year’s National Pins And Needles Day:
  • Blog online;
  • Post a reminder to all your Facebook friends on the event;
  • Send e-Greetings or e-Cards to your virtual friends;
  • Write a pro-labor article and post it on the web;
  • Learn more through research about the play, Pins And Needles;
  • Organize a stage play at school or work;
  • Send pins and needles as presents to friends celebrating their birthday on the special day;
  • Host a tea party at home for kids featuring games involving pins and needles;
  • Create a work of art by using pins and needles; or,
  • Bake a cake and decorate it artistically with icing or frosting shaped like pins and needles.
Turtle Adoption Day

November 27th is Turtle Adoption Day! Have you ever heard of a Mini-turtle?  Itty-bitty.  Adorable. Only costs $1.  Lives in a bowl of water.

Dogs and cats make great companions but they may not be the right pets for everyone.  Maybe you’re allergic to pet hair or you don’t have the space for a large animal.  If you can’t have a dog or a cat, but still have lots of love to give and want to experience the joys of pet ownership, what are you to do?

There are many things to consider before adopting a pet turtle.  These guys live a long time, making your decision to adopt a long term commitment.  In the wild, Red Eared Sliders (RES) may enjoy a lifespan of 70 years.  In captivity, RES can be expected to live 35 years with proper care.  Although they’re the most popular pet turtle, most people are in the dark about what they actually need to live long, healthy and happy lives.  Sadly, many RES don’t make it past the first year or two.

Before adopting a pet turtle you must do your research.  RES naturally live in rivers, lakes and ponds.  RES require very specialized environments to thrive in captivity.  Unless you plan on building an awesome turtle pond in your backyard, it’s likely you’ll be keeping your turtle indoors.  Your potential new friend will need a water tank to swim in.  A 1 inch-long baby slider requires a 20 gallon aquarium.  Bigger turtles need more space: at least 10 gallons of water per 1 inch of shell, with an additional 10-20 gallons for an additional turtle, depending on its size.  Your turtle needs to have a dry basking area where he can crawl out of the water and dry off completely.  You don’t want him getting trench foot (nasty skin disease)!  It is extremely important that RES have access to lamps that provide heat, UVA, and UVB rays.  This is necessary for them to produce essential vitamins, to prevent fatal illnesses such as Metabolic Bone Disease, and for their overall psychological well being.  You will also need a submersible heater to maintain the proper water temperature (temps not cold enough to hibernate yet not warm enough to be active and healthy are known to turtle keepers as the Death Zone!), a water conditioning solution to remove harmful chemicals and chlorine from the water, and a good filter to keep the water clean.  RES will be drinking and living in the same water they defecate in, so it is crucial to maintain a clean tank and perform frequent full water changes.

RES are inquisitive creatures and love to examine things. When one of my turtles finds something to explore, the other rushes over to join in the investigation.  “What is this?” they ask. A toy frog perched on my basking platform? Attack!!  A fallen treat is like buried treasure beneath the smooth river rocks in the bottom of the tank, just waiting to be discovered.  My turtles are easily entertained and love attention!  They watch, listen, follow me and they beg!  RES are notorious beggars. You should learn to be firm and not give in too easily.  At mealtime, turtles enjoy a variety of veggies (but only certain vegetables are safe for turtle consumption) they need a little protein too.  It’s best to feed turtles in separate buckets (they must be in water to swallow food), this keeps the tank cleaner longer, and prevents food aggression between turtles.

Keeping RES requires specialized knowledge, care and demands regular labor.  Children are not capable of caring for RES and should not be left with them unsupervised.  Turtles have the potential to carry salmonella; hygiene should be a concern in keeping a pet turtle.  Always wash with soap and water after touching turtles or their water.  It is illegal in the USA to sell turtles fewer than 4 inches in length because children are likely to put them in their mouths.  While the sale of turtles fewer than 4 inches in length is illegal, it is perfectly legal to own, care for, and adopt turtles of any age or size.

Whether you want to raise your turtle from a baby, or start out with a more hardy adult, adoption is always the way to go.  Turtles sold in pet stores may have been shipped out in mass from breeders and quite often are ill or diseased. There are tons of turtles out there already up for adoption.  You can find them in local listings (i.e. CraigsList), where they may even come with some of the equipment you’ll need to care for them.  They are often available at local animal shelters, you can locate them using pet adoption listings like Turtle Times and Petfinder.  You can also contact a reptile rescue organization that specializes in adoption and re-homing, such as the California Turtle and Tortoise Club.

If you are considering adopting a turtle it’s important to keep in mind that keeping RES can be expensive and require a lot of time and labor.  Many new turtle owners think turtles will be low maintenance pets because the people selling the turtles deceive customers in order to make a sale.  My sister, for example, bought me two baby turtles for a surprise birthday present five years ago.  The man sold them to her for 1 dollar and told her they could live in a small bowl on the table.  Well, they definitely cost more to care for than they did up front!  Though they start out as tiny quarter-sized hatchlings, they can grow up to 12 inches in shell length, and live for a really long time.  Just like with any other pet, turtles require regular vet visits to stay healthy.  If you can take on the responsibilities of turtle ownership, you can have a new friend for life.