Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Jan 21 2015

National Granola Bar Day

January 21st is National Granola Bar Day

If you're looking for something to do today then get ready for a wholesome snack because it's National Granola Bar Day!

Whether you're on the trail, on your way to work or just looking through your cupboards, granola is always a great option!

Let's get right into celebrating National Granola Bar Day!

You can read the history of granola breakfast cereal, which started in a health sanitarium in the late nineteenth century invention. Once very popular, it dropped below the radar for decades, only to reappear with the hippie/health food movement of the 1960s.

But how about the granola bar? Bars made of the cereal did not appear until later, and they're subject to different claims regarding their invention. Will the real inventor of the granola bar please stand up?

Most sources credit Stanley Mason as the innovator. Mr. Mason was a tireless inventor. He was born in New Jersey in 1921; by the time of his death in 2006, his more than one hundred inventions ranged from the squeezable ketchup bottle to dental floss dispensers. However, this claim is disputed by Herrick Kimball, who claims that he came up with the idea for the granola bar in the mid-1970s. Mr. Kimball’s blog, The Deliberate Agrarian, shows the text of a letter dated July 24th, 1975 that he allegedly sent to an organization called The Idea Marketplace, in addition to an old copy of the first part of that letter.

As one of the claimants to the invention is no longer alive, this matter will likely never be settled. It’s worth noting, though, that the U.S. market for cereal bars of all types, including granola bars, is an exceptionally lucrative one, worth more than $3 billion dollars as of 2005.

There are so many different varieties of granola bars available that I'm sure you'll never get bored with this treat!

National Hugging Day

National Hugging Day is celebrated on January 21st of each year and was created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney.  It is officially recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but is not a public holiday.  The holiday was founded on January 21, 1986 in Caro, Michigan, and has since spread to multiple different countries.  The purpose for the holiday is to help everyone show more emotion in public.  There is only one way you are supposed to celebrate the holiday, offer a hug to anyone and everyone you want.  While National Hugging Day and the Free Hugs Campaign share many similarities, there is not actual association between the two.  Whether you hug a family member or a stranger, the mental and physical health benefits are the same.

Kevin Zaborney is credited for creating the unique holiday in 1986.  The date of January 21 was chosen because it marks a midpoint between Christmas and Valentines Day, where people are figured to be at their emotional low.  The holiday was created because Zaborney felt like Americans are embarrassed to show their feelings in public and hoped that a National Hug Day would change that.  The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School has found that French couples spend 3 times as much time touching when compared to Americans.  Because of this apprehension to show feeling, Zaborney assumed his idea wouldn't go anywhere and that he would be mocked.  National Hug Day is not a public holiday recognized by the United States Federal government, and since Zaborney holds the patent for the day, he is able to collect commercial royalties associated with National Hug Day.

A hug is a near universal form of physical intimacy in which two people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. If more than two persons are involved, this is informally referred to as a group hug.

A hug, sometimes in association with a kiss, is a form of nonverbal communication. Depending on culture, context and relationship, a hug can indicate familiarity, love, affection, friendship, brotherhood or sympathy. A hug can indicate support, comfort, and consolation, particularly where words are insufficient. A hug usually demonstrates affection and emotional warmth, sometimes arising from joy or happiness at meeting someone or seeing someone long-absent. A non-reciprocal hug may demonstrate a relational problem. A hug can range from a brief one-second squeeze, with the arms not fully around the partner, to an extended holding. The length of a hug in any situation is socially and culturally determined. In the case of lovers, and occasionally others, the hips may also be pressed together.

Unlike some other types of physical contact, a hug can be practiced publicly and privately without stigma in many countries, religions and cultures, within families, and also across age and gender lines, but is generally an indication that people are familiar with each other. Moving from a handshake (or touch-free) relationship to a hug relationship is a sign of a new friendship.

An unexpected hug can be regarded as an invasion of a person's personal space, but if it is reciprocated it is an indication that it is welcome. Some Western culture commentators advise avoiding hugs at work to prevent uncomfortable moments, especially with people who dislike hugging. Also, a person, especially a child, may caress and hug a doll or stuffed animal. Young children will also hug their parents when they feel threatened by an unfamiliar person, although this may be regarded as clinging onto rather than hugging because it demonstrates a need for protection rather than affection.

While less common, hugging may be undertaken as part of a ritual or social act in certain social groups. It is a custom in Latin cultures such as France, Spain and Latin America for male friends to hug (as well as slap each other on the back) in a joyous greeting. A similar hug, usually accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, is also becoming a custom among Western women at meeting or parting. In Portugal and Brazil, it is common, mostly among males, to finish letters and emails with Um abraço or Abraço followed by the sender's signature. Similar formulas may be used in oral communication.

In May 2009, The New York Times reported that "the hug has become the favorite social greeting when teenagers meet or part these days" in the United States. A number of schools in the United States have issued bans on hugs, which in some cases have resulted in student-led protests against these bans. In the Roman Catholic rite of the Holy Mass a hug may be substituted for a kiss or handshake during the kiss of peace ritual. Some cultures do not use hugging as a sign of affection or love, such as the Himba in Namibia. During the month of Ramadan, it is halal for Muslims to hug during daylight hours if one has self-control. However if accompanied by libidinous urges, it is haram.

Hugging has been proven to have health benefits. One study has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin and reduce blood pressure. A group hug has been found to be a useful tool in group therapy to cement a sense of cohesion among the participants after a session, although it may cause discomfort for group members who shy away from physical contact.

National New England Clam Chowder Day

Today's food holiday is chowdah this world - January 21 is National New England Clam Chowder Day.

Let’s get one thing straight off the bat: New Englanders are serious about their chowder. Chowders - a hearty soup typically made from seafood and/or vegetables - vary by region. The differences might seem subtle to the untrained eye, but to representatives of that region, they're black and white.

The main difference between a New England clam chowder and a Manhattan clam chowder is the addition of tomatoes to the latter. Italian immigrants brought tomatoes with them to the New World and they became so popular, they were put in most dishes. New Englanders disagree with this addition, so much so that in 1939, an assemblyman in Maine introduced a bill making it illegal to add tomatoes to clam chowder.

Who made the first clam chowder? Impossible to pin on one person, but chowder, any of a variety of soups featuring salted pork fat, thickened with a flour, heavy roux, crumbled ship biscuit or saltine crackers and milk, first materialized with Breton fisherman who migrated south to New England from Newfoundland. They would take much of the offal of their daily catches and combine them with readily available ingredients in large soup pots to feed themselves, each other and their families.

Over time, as it became a culinary staple in the Northeast, the recipe refined and began to be served commercially. This was when large amounts of milk and cream began to be added, giving it its characteristic look and texture we know today. Also, large slices of potato became common in the soup, and in the chowders widely recognized as the best, onions sautéed in the drippings from pork fat are also incorporated into the recipe. To this day there are usually never vegetables besides a select few legumes added to chowders, although some recipes call for thinly sliced strips of carrot to enhance the aesthetic value.

The word “chowder” is usually recognized to have come from the French chaudière , which translated literally means “pot” though it refers to a specific cooking pot in French cuisine. Chaudière in turn comes from chaud , which is French for, literally, “hot” and is derived from the Latin calderia , the word from which the English language gets our word cauldron. It is sometimes argued that chowder comes from the Old English word jowter , a word with Nordic philological roots, but this is not seriously recognized by modern etymologists due to the heavy French population in Newfoundland , where the inventors of the dish originated.

Today clam chowder comes in many varieties, beloved as it is: The New England variety, the most popular, alongside Manhattan chowder, also called “Coney Island Chowder” and “Fulton Fish Market Chowder,” which is made with tomatoes, and though both are popular in the Northeast, only one will be served at a restaurant, rarely if ever side by side. There is also Rhode Island Chowder, which has a clear broth and is often not made with clams but with fish, usually cod, and also corn and onions. Also, many restaurants claim to have their own unique chowders and recipes for fish and clam chowders that, while not falling into traditional categories, nevertheless are veritable chowders themselves, and though too numerous to quantify, there are excellent original creations in existence that some believe surpass the famous recipes.

Clam chowder these days is often served with octagonal crackers made specifically for the dish, and is sometimes served in sourdough bread bowls, often in San Francisco, which takes pride in sourdough as a signature dish since the mid-1800s.

The Newport , Rhode Island “Great Chowder Cook-Off” is the largest competition for different varieties of chowders cooked in the Northeast, although it attracts patrons and participants from around the country.

Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrel Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on January 21 in the United States!

On this day we are encouraged to honor squirrels! You can help celebrate this day by putting out extra food for the squirrels.

Squirrel Appreciation Day is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate squirrels in their native environment. It's lots of fun to watch squirrels climbing trees, jumping from limb to limb, gathering food and munching on snacks. You can even get a big chuckle out of watching them do somersaults as they play with each other too. They even play with bugs by tossing them up in the air! hahaha

Squirrel Appreciation Day is held in mid-winter when food sources can be scarce for squirrels. In celebration of Squirrel Appreciation Day we suggest supplementing them with some winter food by giving them some squirrel feed or dried corn from your local pet center or feed store.

We love squirrels and make it a point to feed them in the winter. In fact the photo you see above is one of our squirrels. A family of squirrels were playing chase in the tree when I snapped this photo of one of them. This is a favorite tree for them because we have a squirrel feeders in it that's filled with corn and we also have a large bird feeder in the tree that's filled with a mix of bird seeds and sunflower seeds. The squirrels love the sunflower seeds too. I could spend hours watching them swing and snack on the treats. So on this special holiday please remember our wildlife and give them a helping hand.

Christy Hargrove from Asheville, North Carolina started Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, 2001. Christy is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina, and is is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.

Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae.  The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs.  Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia.  The earliest known squirrels date from the Eocene and are most closely related to the mountain beaver and to the dormouse among living species.

Squirrels breed once or twice a year and give birth to a varying number of young after three to six weeks, depending on species.  The young are born naked, toothless, and blind.  In most species of squirrel, only the female looks after the young, which are weaned at around six to ten weeks of age and become sexually mature at the end of their first year.  Ground dwelling species are generally social animals, often living in well-developed colonies, but the tree-dwelling species are more solitary.

Squirrels cannot feed upon cellulose and must rely on foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  In temperate regions, early springs is the hardest time of year for squirrels, because buried nuts begin to sprout and are no longer available for the squirrel to eat, and new food sources have not become available yet.  During these times squirrels rely heavily on the buds of trees.  Squirrels’ diet consists primarily of a wide variety of plant food, including nuts, seeds, conifer cones, fruits, fungi and green vegetation.  However, some squirrels also consume meat, especially when faced with hunger.  Squirrels have been known to eat insets, eggs, small birds, young snakes and smaller rodents.  Indeed, some tropical species have shifted almost entirely to a diet of insects.