Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holidays and Observances for December 31 2014

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve, which is on December 31, is the last day of the year in the United States. It is a major social observance and many parties are held, particularly in the evening.

New Year's Eve is a major social holiday for many people in the United States. Many people hold parties at home or attend special celebrations to celebrate the upcoming New Year. In many cities, large scale public events are held. These often attract thousands of people.

A particularly striking aspect of the New Year's Eve festivities is the ball drop in Times Square in Manhattan, New York City. The ball is made of crystal and electric lights and is placed on top of a pole, which is 77 feet, or 23 meters, high. At one minute before midnight on December 31, the ball is lowered slowly down the pole. It comes to rest at the bottom of the pole at exactly midnight. The event is shown on television across the United States and around the world. The event has been held every year since 1907, except during World War II.

Across the United States a range of cities and towns hold their own versions of the ball drop. A variety of objects are lowered or raised during the last minute of the year. The objects are usually linked to an aspect of local history or industry. Examples of objects 'dropped' or raised in this way include a variety of live and modeled domestic and wild animals, fruit, vegetables, automobiles, industrial machinery, a giant replica of a peach (Atlanta, Georgia), an acorn made of brass and weighing 900 pounds (Raleigh, North Carolina) and ping pong balls (Strasburg, Pennsylvania).

December 31 is not a federal holiday, but it does fall in the holiday season at the end of the year. It is a holiday in some states like Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Most schools and other educational institutions throughout the United States are closed. Some organizations are closed and others are open but offer limited services. Many stores are open on New Year's Eve, but may close early. Many theaters, clubs and other entertainment venues have special programs. It may be necessary to reserve tickets many weeks in advance.

Public transit systems may operate normal or reduced services. Some companies extend their schedules into the early hours of January 1 to enable people who have attended New Year's Eve parties to return home safely. If you need to use public transit on December 31, it is wise to check the appropriate timetables carefully before you travel.

There may be some congestion to traffic or diversions around large scale events. Diversions may be in effect in the days before New Year's Eve so that stands can be built. It is wise to check the local media if you wish to drive to or near large scale events.

In both the Gregorian calendar, currently used in the United States, and the Julian calendar, which was used until 1752 in the British colonies, the last day of the year is December 31. In Europe, the mid-winter period was traditionally associated with feasting and parties. In the early years of the American colonies and within the United States, this type of celebration was often frowned upon, particularly by religious communities.

Around the start of the 1900s, New Year's Eve celebrations in America started to appear. The first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. Around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on January 1.

New Year's resolution

A New Year's resolution is a secular tradition, most common in the West but found around the world, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement starting on New Year's Day.

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year's resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.

Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible.

Popular goals include resolutions to:
  • Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
  • Improve mental well-being; think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
  • Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization (NGO)
  • Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence
  • Make new friends
  • Spend quality time with family members
  • Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids
  • Try foreign foods, discovering new cultures
  • Pray more, be closer to God, be more spiritual
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

Quoting Frank Ra (author of the new year's resolution book "A course in happiness"): "Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year's resolutions". It is also noted that talking with a counselor about setting goals and new year resolutions can help you keep those resolutions.

Make Up Your Mind Day

This holiday is observed and celebrated on December 31 every year.

It's about making up your mind and sticking to it. It's time to stop being indecisive and make up your mind. No more putting off your decision, todays the day to finalize your thoughts and take a stand! Just remember- making up your mind makes life easier.

I wonder why the month of December was picked to celebrate make up your mind day and why the 31st day?? That's the question. But unfortunately… our research did not find the creator, or the origin of this day. This holiday is referred to as a "National" day. However, we did not find any congressional records or presidential proclamations for this day. Even though we didn't, this is still a holiday that is publicized to celebrate. So have fun with it and celebrate it!

Mind collectively refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination; mind is the stream of consciousness. It includes all of the brain's conscious processes. This denotation sometimes includes, in certain contexts, the working of the human unconscious or the conscious thoughts of animals. "Mind" is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason.

National Champagne Day

There's a bit of confusion as to when National Champagne Day is. Some calendars say it's December 31st where others say it's August 4. We think the reason everyone thinks December 31st is National Champagne Day is because of the New Years Eve saying- "It's Champagne Day!" It is champagne day as far as the New Years celebration goes but as far as the National Holiday, we think the actual National holiday is August 4.

This holiday is celebrated by breaking open a bottle of bubbly! Yep that's what everyone does on this holiday. What's the most popular way to open the bubbly you ask? Well it looks like it's traditional to celebrate this holiday by hosting a champagne breakfast, brunch or lunch. I've read some posts that say they like to have a champagne picnic if the weather is good too.

Most people need a good reason to drink champagne because it's more of a celebration drink but National Champagne Day is a holiday in itself which gives everyone an excuse to drink the bubbley!

What is a Champagne Breakfast?
"A champagne breakfast is a breakfast served with champagne or sparkling wine. The accompanying breakfast is sometimes of a similarly high standard and include rich foods such as salmon, caviar, chocolate or pastries, which would not ordinarily be eaten at breakfast."

"Champagne is a sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine to effect carbonation. It is produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France, from which it takes its name. Through international treaty, national law or quality-control/consumer protection related local regulations, most countries limit the use of the term to only those wines that come from the Champagne appellation. In Europe, this principle is enshrined in the European Union by Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. Other countries, such as the United States, have recognized the exclusive nature of this name, yet maintain a legal structure that allows longtime domestic producers of sparkling wine to continue to use the term "champagne" under specific circumstances. The majority of US produced sparkling wines do not use the term "champagne" on their labels and some states, such as Oregon, ban producers in their states from using the term."

"Champagne first gained world renown because of its association with the anointment of French kings. Royalty from throughout Europe spread the message of the unique sparkling wine from Champagne and its association with luxury and power. The leading manufacturers devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine, associating it and themselves with nobility and royalty. Through advertising and packaging they sought to associate champagne with high luxury, festivities and rites of passage. Their efforts coincided with an emerging middle class that was looking for ways to spend its money on symbols of upward mobility."

"The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of northeast France with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. Churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims and champagne wine was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbors to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo."

"The English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation six years before Dom Perignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented champagne. Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Perignon did not invent sparkling wine. Merrett presented the Royal Society with a paper in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise in 1662."

"Although the French monk Dom Perignon (1638-1715) did not invent champagne, it is true he developed many advances in the production of this beverage, including holding the cork in place with a wire collar (muselet) to withstand the fermentation pressure. In France, the first sparkling champagne was created accidentally; its pressure led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable) as bottles exploded or the cork jolted away. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the only fermentation had finished. Champagne did not utilize the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, approximately 200 years after Christopher Merret documented the process. The nineteenth century saw an explosive growth in champagne production going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850."

"In the 1800s champagne was noticeably sweeter than the champagne of today. The trend towards drier champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut champagne, the modern champagne, was created for the British in 1876."

Universal Hour of Peace Day

“Living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully” is the motto of the Universal Hour of Peace, held each year from 11:30pm on December 31st to 12:30am on January 1st. (I believe many who wish to do this on a global, not local level, celebrate this at noon GMT.)

What started in 1995 as an hour of peace soon grew into a yearly event now held as we transition into each New Year. What is the vision? For everyone to spend this one hour—the same hour— in a state of peace.

The idea of large groups of people engaging in an activity at the same time is a powerful one. There is an energetic coherence which happens when we get on the same thought frequency.

The folks at the Global Coherence Initiative tell us that, “large numbers of people intentionally creating heart-coherent states of care, love, compassion and appreciation will generate a coherent standing wave that can help offset the current planetary-wide wave of stress, discord and incoherence.”

In fact, they’re studying the effects of groups of people engaging in heart centered meditation. Groups of people are coming together to intentionally send out thoughts of peace and compassion. And as more and more groups come together to do this, we have an opportunity to re-shape our collective consciousness…through heart-centered thought.

It’s been estimated that an idea put out there is virtually unstoppable once 20% of the population adopts it.

Just think if 20% of the world’s population spent this Universal Hour of Peace doing something peaceful…what change might that spark?

And if this one hour of thinking peacefully ignited within us a more peaceful day to day life…what might that do to the world we live in.

This New Years Eve, take a moment, an hour even, and sit for peace. Let your thoughts join with others this year, in a time where peaceful living is so in need.

World Peace Meditation Day

World Peace Meditation Day is a time in which we all come together and live harmoniously as one. Since December 31, 1986, spiritual communities around the world have come together in hope for world peace through the calmness and serenity of meditation. The day was created in order to unite people under the common bond of love and peace. People all over the world came together through prayer and meditation in hopes of spreading their own thoughts and feelings towards world peace.

"Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference." "It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years." "It is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices which may emphasize different goals -- from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind."

The word meditation originally comes from the Indo-European root med-, meaning "to measure." From the root med- are also derived the English words mete, medicine, modest, and moderate." "It entered English as meditation through the Latin meditatio, which originally indicated every type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning "contemplation."

"Eastern meditation techniques have been adapted and increasingly practiced in Western culture."

No Interruptions Day

Does it seem like your child has radar from across the house the moment you pick up the phone to have a conversation?

Inevitably, there suddenly is an urgent question that must be answered -- right NOW! Most parents will admit that their child is a "work-in-progress."

One of the more challenging lessons involves patience and not to interrupt "unless there's blood involved" according to my mom! Breaking free of this cycle may not happen overnight. Still, use "No Interruptions Day" as a stepping stone in the right direction.

Talk about it
Explain why it's important not to interrupt, except for worthy cause. In addition to being disruptive, at times it may be considered just plain rude.

As your child grows and interacts more with others, interrupting can actually become a habit that -- once entrenched to adulthood can be even more impossible to break. Think of your child's future employer and colleagues, not to mention spouse (if they choose). All will frown upon this characteristic.

Give examples
Kids need some guidance to help them determine when it is and is not ok to interrupt. Help them differentiate between "Mom, Jason jumped out the second story window!" (PLEASE interrupt!) and "Jason looked at me -- through the wall -- on the other side of the house! I can feel him looking!" (Um… No interrupting!)

Offer several scenarios. Keep them relevant to your child! Teach good manners for when they must interrupt with phrases such as "excuse me" and "sorry for the interruption."

Role play
Practice makes perfect isn't just an old adage. Take turns with your child acting out various scenarios. Allow them time in your shoes as well. Practice at home, in the car, at the store...anywhere at all is perfect.

Enlist others to help. Draft grandparents, siblings and even the next door neighbor. If possible, videotape your exchanges and play them back. Seeing good manners in action -- particularly when it's their own -- is more likely to stick.

Practice what your preach
As adults we need to strive to insure that we're modeling good behavior. Be a good listener, especially within conversations with your child. Don't walk over them before they can complete a thought to share.

Wait for complete instructions from your boss before you let him or her know what your objections may be. Take note when your significant other has something to say.

Displaying the positive give and take will stress the importance of not interrupting for your child.

Plan ahead
It really isn't fair to go start a long phone call or work on a project, and leave your child "hanging" so to speak. When possible, prepare your child with something to do.

Get that glass of water as you wouldn't want them to die of thirst! Do the potty break before dialing in. Gather a healthy snack to keep starvation at bay! The more you can predict, the more successful you will be in having a somewhat complete conversation – sans disturbances!

In case of emergency, dial M-O-M
While you do want to teach your child about having good manners and no interrupting, at the same time it's vital to teach when it is ok to butt in!

In a true emergency, you do want to be informed. Remember that blood reference from my mother? Your child should tell you about things like fire, life, limbs at risk -- or one off your personal list (the DVR failed to kick on to record the final episode of your favorite show, perhaps).

Have you experienced a "most embarrassing moment" from a small youth interrupter? How have you worked to meet this challenge?