Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Jan 6 2015

Apple Tree Day

Apple Tree Day could also be called ‘Put a Doctor Out of Business Day’ because of the fruit’s health benefits, however the origin of this day is quite different. Apple Tree Day started as a celebration of an old apple tree almost two centuries old, and has grown to become a celebration of the apple itself.

Apple trees were the most popularly grown fruit tree in colonial America and practically every settlement farm and backyard gardener planted this easily grown fruit tree, or easier, the seed of the apple could be planted to establish a permanent food supply. Growing these apple tree products could be eaten fresh or could be dried and preserved in many different ways to eat at a later time. Historical instances on the existence of apple trees are documented from folklore, legends, stone images on carved tablets, petrified slices of apples on plates for tomb offerings, and overwhelming numbers of references from Hebrew Bible scriptures and innumerable writings from poetry, songs, literary publications, and many other surviving accounts of all civilizations in the ancient world. One of the earliest archeological evidences of apple tree fruit comes from the remains of excavations from Jericho, Jordan, that has been dated 6500 BC by radiochemical analysis of carbon atoms.

The petrified remains of apple slices that were found in a saucer of an ancient Mesopotamian tomb, the burial site of royalty dates back to 2500 BC and was uncovered in southern Iran. In the ancient historical accounts of the fruit of the apple tree, there appears to be an incomprehensible trail of evidence that no other fruit could match. The interest shown in apples by the Greek and Roman philosophers, poets, historians, and literary masters was even extended to Renaissance painters, royal chefs to the Tsars of Russia and too many other references to mention.

In colonial America, apple trees were grown and planted from seeds in orchards by William Blackstone at Boston, Massachusetts in the 1600’s. Early documents on file at the National Library in Washington, DC suggest that all land owners in Massachusetts had begun growing apple trees by the 1640’s.

William Bartram, the famous explorer and botanist, wrote in his book, Travels, “I observed, in a very thriving condition, two or three large apple trees” in 1773, while traveling near Mobile, Alabama. It is important to realize that these large apple trees found growing in Alabama in 1773 could very easily have been grown from the seed planted by Creek Indians. Those seed may have been obtained by the Indians from American colonists on the Eastern coast of the United States at a much earlier time or from French farmers who settles in areas of agricultural land grants north of Mobile. General Oglethorpe planned in 1733 to plant “various plants, subtropical and temperate, which might prove valuable for Georgian farms and orchards,” according to William Bartram in his book Travels, published 40 years later. William Bartram’s father, John Bartram, trip to “East Florida” (Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas) was, in part at least, an attempt to inventory the plant resources of England’s new acquisition—after expelling the Spanish from East Florida.

Many modern botanists believe that the improved apple that we know today descended from the crabapple that is commonly interplanted with apple trees for cross pollination. Old documents record that fact “cultivated apples descended from crabtree or wild apple-Pyrus malus.” Wild crabapple tree seeds appeared on the list of collected seeds in the Plant List of 1783 of William Bartram and his father, John Bartram. In William Bartram’s book, Travels in 1773, he “observed amongst them (fruit trees) the wild crab (Pyrus coronaria) in his explorations near Mobile, Alabama. Robert Prince established the first operating nursery in the American colonies at Flushing, New York, in the 1700’s, where he offered apple trees for sale at his nursery that was visited by General George Washington, who later became the first President of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson was planting and growing apple trees at his fruit tree orchard in Monticello, Virginia, in the early 1800’s.

The legendary Johnny Appleseed was responsible for the rapid development of the apple trees growing and planting when he established a nursery in the Midwest that sold both apple trees and seed to be planted for growing into trees in the 1800’s. Over 2000 cultivars of apple trees are listed as being grown today, many of the trees resulting from the huge apple seed dispersion that was begun by the memorable ambition of Johnny Appleseed to entirely cover the landscape of America with the fruit of apple trees.

Over the centuries, apple trees became susceptible to many disease problems such as fire blight; however, Dr. C.S. Crandall from the University of Illinois performed several backcrosses that involved modern cultivars and the apple tree ancestor ‘crabapple,’ Malus floribunda. The wild crabapple contained an immunity factor within its genetic composition towards all major bacterial and fungal diseases of apple trees. In 1989, researchers from the pomology department at Cornell University extracted an immune fire blight gene from a nocturnal moth and transplanted it into an apple fruit, resulting in the total defeat of fire blight in that particular apple tree cultivar.

Fruiting of apple trees is perhaps the most troublesome characteristic experienced by an orchardist or a backyard fruit tree gardener. Most cultivars of apple trees require cross pollination of two separate varieties in order to set fruit on the tree.

It is necessary that the blossoms of the two apple tree flowers develop pollen at the same time, in order that fruit will be set, which can be a tricky problem to correct. The simplest solution to pollinate apple trees is to use the ancestor of the modern day apple cultivars, the crabapple, which sheds its pollen over a long period of time and easily overlaps the apple tree cultivar flowering period. Crabapple trees produce a fruit that is much smaller than the common apple, but it can be used in cooking in various ways, and it is loved by wildlife in the fall and winter when wildlife food is scarce for animals and birds. Crabapple trees are also valuable when used as flowering trees that begin blooming in early spring with huge clusters of pink, white, and even red blossoms. Several outstanding grafted flowering tree selections are available, such as: Brandywine, Red Perfection, Radiant, and Spring Snow.

Apple trees are easy to grow, and if a gardener purchases a large tree, he may experience fruit development even on the first year of planting and growing. The selection of the proper cultivar of grafted apple trees is extremely important, because even though the apple fruit can be grown in most areas of the United States, the trees require different amounts of chilling temperatures in order to flower. The interesting introduction of low chill cultivars from Israel makes it possible to experience apple growing and planting as far south as Florida. Certain popularly grown cultivars of apple trees in the United States today are: Arkansas Black, Gala, Granny Smith, Red Rome, Anna, Red Fuji, Yates, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Ein Shemer, and Golden Dorsett. Apples contain some mysterious quality that can preserve it from deterioration for centuries. Apple slices can be dried and kept delicious for long periods of time. This mysterious characteristic may be recognized by man’s association of paradise being connected and related to Eve and Adam picking apples from a fruit tree growing in paradise for their eternal pleasure, that was planted by God and described as the tree of life at the fabled Garden of Eden. We see this fruit of paradise recurs in the history of many other ancient civilizations. A similar account that we read as children in the book of Genesis from the scriptures in the Hebrew Bible.

Even if you don't have access to an organised function on Apple Tree Day, you can still participate – just eat an apple, drink apple cider or eat meals with apple in them. Traditionalists will take apple tree cuttings and plant them, but if you don't have a green thumb it’s just as acceptable to plant an apple tree bought from a plant nursery. Sign up for a course on fruit tree pruning. If you're at work, hold a competition to see who can peel an apple to make the longest ‘Slinky’ – you don't have to like apples to be involved.

And since this day comes just once a year, if you're in love declare it by throwing an apple at the ‘apple of your eye’ and see if they reciprocate by catching it! If they don't, there’s always next year!

Cuddle Up Day

Today is Cuddle Up Day. It’s time to make yourself a hot chocolate with plenty of marshmallows, pull on your PJs and snuggle up with a teddy bear, a good book, or maybe even another human being if you're especially lucky.

We've all got our personal responsibilities, from careers and family to finances and charity work, so we're allowed a day to just relax and let all the week’s stresses melt away. Without the occasional day of rest and relaxation we’ll just burn out; even those who consider themselves dynamic go-getters and hard as nails need to cuddle up every now and then, whether they admit it or not.

It’s no secret that cuddling makes you feel good when you're in a new or established relationship. It’s also something that you miss greatly when you're single. But did you know there’s actually a scientific reason for that? It’s true! There are many surprising benefits of cuddling—so read on, and you’ll want to cuddle someone right now!

  1. Cuddling releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that does everything from making you feel good to helping you feel connected to others. Oxytocin is crucial in the act of cuddling, as you'll see from its benefits popping up in the list below.
  2. Cuddling boosts your immune system. When you’re so in love you feel invincible, you're experiencing oxytocin release. This feel-good hormone makes you feel like nothing can hurt you—which is an amazing benefit! It also increases hormones that help fight infection. So, basically, you're boosting your immune system because you’re feeling too good and healthy to get sick. The power of positive thinking—and feeling loved and secure—actually works!
  3. Cuddling relieves pain. Just as it boosts your immune system, cuddling and releasing oxytocin will decrease your pain levels. Whenever your neck hurts, what do you do? Rub it, right? Even simple touches like that release enough oxytocin to make you feel better, so imagine the effect cuddling has! 
  4. Cuddling helps deepen your relationships. Communication is important in relationships, but people often forget how effective and meaningful touch can be. When your career is so stressful you come home and can't stop thinking about the job, you're taking a negative toll on your relationship. Instead, imagine coming home and cuddling with your partner for even ten minutes a day. This brief break from the stress of everyday life will not only give you all the other benefits listed here, but will also deepen your relationship. You'll be taking time to focus solely on your partner and what you feel for them.
  5. Cuddling can lead to more. Even non-erotic touch can release dopamine, which is a hormone that increases sexual desire. Getting a sweet hug or massage from your partner after a long day can lead to more, which is win-win for both of you! Regular sexual activity will strengthen your relationship as well. Also, sex is a good stress reliever, and an easy way to get in some physical activity.
  6. Cuddling helps women bond. Have you heard the term “oxytocin” in relation to childbirth and breastfeeding? It’s because this chemical doesn’t just inspire good feelings between couples—it also works for women and their babies. Oxytocin helps relax the mother, so that breastfeeding may come more easily. It also enables sleep, even when the mother might have difficulty sleeping with a newborn in the house.
  7. Cuddling reduces social anxiety. Oxytocin inspires positive thinking. It helps you have an optimistic outlook on the world. Which means when you get a hug right as you arrive at the party where you only know one person, you’re going to feel happier and more social going in. You'll feel like you can charm everyone at the party. And with oxytocin coursing through your system, you will!
  8. Cuddling reduces stress. It’s obvious by now, right? Oxytocin is an amazing natural hormone that has so many benefits for the human body. It’s only natural that all these positive effects are going to release stress, also. You’re feeling more connected with your partner, you're feeling confident in social situations, your immune system is stronger—what do you have to be stressed about? You have a great, cuddle-filled, loving life. Enjoy it!
  9. Cuddling lowers your risk of heart disease. Yup—oxytocin again! All the benefits listed above add together to mean less stress, less anxiety, lower blood pressure and—you got it—a lower risk of heart disease! Because your heart is happier and not working as hard to combat the effects of stress and sickness, you'll be healthier, longer.
  10. Cuddling doesn't have a definition. Cuddling doesn't have to be between you and your romantic partner. It doesn't even have to be with another person—you can rub your own shoulders! You can also hug friends or play with your pets. If you don't want to be social or don't have a furry friend, never fear! You can take a warm bath or get a massage. Feeling warm and connected by some sort of touch is enough to release oxytocin into your system and get you feelin’ good!

So get that pillow all plumped up, pick out some DVDs and surround your bed or sofa with as many snacks as can fit within arm’s reach, because this isn't your day to shine, it’s your day to cuddle up!

Bean Day

In many places Bean Day is celebrated on January 6th. Though the origin is unknown but people believe that communities of farmers celebrate the harvest of the bean crop.

There are days that are named or celebrated after a cause but Bean Day does not have an origin or a cause. Though this day is celebrated on January 5th, there is still no day fixed to celebrate it. In the year 2003, John Hoeven, the Governor of North Dakota announced November 3rd as Bean Day.

North Dakota is known to have a huge production of dry beans. However, Garrison, North Dakota celebrates its Bean Day on April 15th. This day has been chosen because it is believed that after people pay their taxes they have to eat beans for some time.

Every year, in the beginning of October in Alabama and Athens, a Bean Day dinner is held by the Fire Department so that the money collected goes towards charity. About 3,000 people are fed on this day.

Many people still do not agree with the date of the Bean Day celebration. There is a disagreement between the 5th and 6th of January. For both these days which are celebrated as Bean Day, there are two separate organizational precedents. In Minnesota, the Northarvest Bean growers Association of Minnesota have been celebrating the Bean Day in the month of January since 1975. This day is celebrated in the third week of January. An annual meeting is held by the Nebraska Dry Bean Growers Association on the “Bean Day”.

There are many ways of celebrating Bean Day. Below are a few popular ways:
Most newlyweds add a few beans in the bean jar on this day.
Many gardeners can spend their time checking bean seeds to grow during spring.
Teachers can read the famous story to school kids, “Jack and the Beanstalk”.
Students can use beans as a live example for learning in their study materials.
Other people can go through the origin of beans, now this sounds great!

Other than celebrating the Bean Day in different ways people also come up with interesting bean recipes. This day is completely dedicated to celebrating beans. Some popular dishes are, corn and bean salad, black bean salsa, butterscotch beans, cheesy beans and nachos and French country beans. The list is endless.

People in North Dakota also hold road trip foodie. In this, beans are grown and dried. It then goes from Colorado and then on Friday evening the Wagon Mound Firehouse organizes a bean cleaning party. People remove the dirt and clean the beans after which a pit is dug and 800 pounds of meat is cooked in it. This pit is covered with charcoal and wood. In the evening once it is cooled, the meat and beans are served to everyone. It’s like a big feast in the village.
National Shortbread Day

Today's celebration is short and sweet - January 6 is National Shortbread Day!

Buttery, crumbly shortbread is a sweet treat indeed for a cold winter's day. Dunk a bit of that in your morning coffee to induce some instant bliss.

Shortbread is a type of leavened cookie simply made with flour, sugar and butter. (Hey, there's nothing wrong with simple if it tastes amazing!)

It's usually cut into points, oblong fingers or baked into individual rounds, all for excellent dipping and munching purposes. You can make your own scrumptious shortbread or wait for the Girl Scout Trefoils to come around.

Scottish shortbread evolved from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a Rusk (soft, sweetened biscuit). Eventually butter was substituted for yeast, and shortbread was born. Since butter was such an important ingredient, the word "shortbread" derived from shortening. Shortbread may have been made as early as the 12th Century, however its invention is often attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th Century. Petticoat Tails were a traditional form of shortbread said to be enjoyed by the queen. The round shortbread was flavored with caraway seeds, baked and cut into triangular wedges. The triangles resemble the shape of fabric pieces used to make petticoats during the rein of Queen Elizabeth I. Shortbread was also made in individual round biscuits called shortbread rounds and in a rectangular slab, which was cut into thin pieces known as fingers. All of these forms of shortbread are still made today.

In the beginning shortbread was expensive and reserved as a luxury for special occasions like Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve), and weddings. Through the years it developed into an everyday favorite and is now enjoyed all around the world. Traditional shortbread consisted of three main ingredients: flour, sugar and butter. Today many varieties of shortbread exist, but most still include the traditional ingredients. The type and texture of the dry ingredients greatly influences the consistency of the shortbread. The addition of rice flour gives shortbread a grainy, crumbly texture while cornstarch (corn flour) gives it a more dense texture.

National Smith Day

January 6 is National Smith Day, a day for the almost three million other Smiths in the USA...and beyond!

According to the U.S. Census, more than 1 percent (1.006%) of the population in the USA are Smiths. On the east, there are more than 1,000 Smiths listed in the telephone directory and I'm one of them. Are you?

National Smith Day is real and commemorates the Jan. 6, 1580, birthday of Captain John Smith, the English colonial leader who helped to settle Jamestown, Va., in 1607. Depending upon which history source you consult, Jan. 6 may also be the birthday of mountain man and explorer Jedediah Smith, who blazed trails across the West. While that's really great, if you're a Smith - or you know/love a Smith, this is a very cool holiday - just because of your last name.

National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day

After all the fabulous food, the non-stop shopping and the get-togethers, the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season is o-v-e-r. But before we can get back to a "normal" routine, there is one more thing we need to do. While the halls have been decked, the drummers are done drumming and Santa has settled down for a long winter’s nap, it’s time to tackle all those balls, untangle the bright lights and the granddaddy of ‘em all – the ole’ Christmas tree.

When is the best time to take down the tree? Just as there are no tried-and-true rules for putting up the Christmas tree, taking it down is often a personal preference. One man has left his tree up for 40 years! According to a Mirror report published on Dec. 27, Neil Olson put up his Christmas tree in 1974 and is not taking it down until all his six sons come home.

Although most of us won't wait decades, many Americans ditch the tree the day after Christmas while others wait until New Year’s Day or the day after. For some people, the actual condition of the tree dictates when the tree will be taken down. Others wait until they have a day off work or when they have a few extra hands to help out. But some folks follow a more traditional path. The official holiday season ends on Jan. 6 – following the 12 days of Christmas, which officially begins on the evening of Dec. 25. In keeping with tradition, Jan. 6 is National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day, an annual holiday created by the Queen of Holidays.

While putting up the tree and decorating the inside and outside of the home is often a merry event, taking down the tree and the decorations can be downright depressing. In honor of National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day, why not make it a fun event and have a de-clutter and de-tree party? Gather up the family or a few BFFs, whip up a few tasty appetizers and one or two refreshing cocktails, and you are good to go. It’s time to toss the tree and give it the old heave-ho. But just in case you're feeling a little blue – no worries. Depending when you read this article, next Christmas is less than 362 days away! (Please don't forget the birds this holiday season. If you put up a real tree this year, recycled trees can provide much-needed shelter for our feathered-friends.)