Sunday, March 15, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Mar 15 2015

Brutus Day/The Ides of March

Brutus Day aims to promote recognition of the fact that betrayal, backstabbing and dirty politics aren't by any means a thing of the past, and are as widespread and tactical in our modern, corporate lives as they were in the forums of ancient Rome. Watch your back, avoid office politics, and look out for your friends!

Gaius Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Caesar, born into the Julii, an ancient but not particularly distinguished Roman aristocratic family, began his political career in 78 B.C. as a prosecutor for the anti-patrician Popular Party. He won influence in the party for his reformist ideas and oratorical skills, and aided Roman imperial efforts by raising a private army to combat the king of Pontus in 74 B.C. He was an ally of Pompey, the recognized head of the Popular Party, and essentially took over this position after Pompey left Rome in 67 B.C. to become commander of Roman forces in the east.

In 63 B.C., Caesar was elected pontifex maximus, or "high priest," allegedly by heavy bribes. Two years later, he was made governor of Farther Spain and in 64 B.C. returned to Rome, ambitious for the office of consul. The consulship, essentially the highest office in the Roman Republic, was shared by two politicians on an annual basis. Consuls commanded the army, presided over the Senate and executed its decrees, and represented the state in foreign affairs. Caesar formed a political alliance--the so-called First Triumvirate--with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and in 59 B.C. was elected consul. Although generally opposed by the majority of the Roman Senate, Caesar's land reforms won him popularity with many Romans.

In 58 B.C., Caesar was given four Roman legions in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum, and during the next decade demonstrated brilliant military talents as he expanded the Roman Empire and his reputation. Among other achievements, Caesar conquered all of Gaul, made the first Roman inroads into Britain, and won devoted supporters in his legions. However, his successes also aroused Pompey's jealousy, leading to the collapse of their political alliance in 53 B.C.

The Roman Senate supported Pompey and asked Caesar to give up his army, which he refused to do. In January 49 B.C., Caesar led his legions across the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, thus declaring war against Pompey and his forces. Caesar made early gains in the subsequent civil war, defeating Pompey's army in Italy and Spain, but was later forced into retreat in Greece. In August 48 B.C., with Pompey in pursuit, Caesar paused near Pharsalus, setting up camp at a strategic location. When Pompey's senatorial forces fell upon Caesar's smaller army, they were entirely routed, and Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated by an officer of the Egyptian king.

Caesar was subsequently appointed Roman consul and dictator, but before settling in Rome he traveled around the empire for several years and consolidated his rule. In 45 B.C., he returned to Rome and was made dictator for life. As sole Roman ruler, Caesar launched ambitious programs of reform within the empire. The most lasting of these was his establishment of the Julian calendar, which, with the exception of a slight modification and adjustment in the 16th century, remains in use today. He also planned new imperial expansions in central Europe and to the east. In the midst of these vast designs, he was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C., by a group of conspirators who believed that his death would lead to the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of the "Ides of March" was to plunge Rome into a fresh round of civil wars, out of which Octavian, Caesar's grand-nephew, would emerge as Augustus, the first Roman emperor, destroying the republic forever.

Buzzards Day

Let's begin by saying that there's been some confusion on when Buzzard Day is.  Because the turkey vultures return to Hinkley, Ohio every March 15, some claim that this is really Buzzard Day.  However, back in 1957, a few members of the Hinkley Chamber of Commerce got together and agreed to have a pancake breakfast festival at Brongers Park on the first Sunday of Spring.  This was the first Sunday after March 15th!  The Chamber of Commerce declared that Buzzard Day because of the Spring celebration.  But, because the popularity of these turkey vultures returning to the town every March 15th has become so wide-spread and popular, and creating a lot of tourists  who come to watch them specifically on March 15th,  it's on March 15th that Buzzard Day is observed and said to be its official day.

Although the buzzards have been coming to Hinkley for over 150 years, it wasn't until  February, 1957 when Robert Bordner, a writer for the Cleveland Press, got word of it.    Walter Nawaleniec, a Metroparks patrolman, said that he personally has seen these buzzards arrive in Hinkley every March 15th for the past 6 years.  And, that his deceased predecessor, Charlie Willard, had also seen them arrive annually on March 15th and  kept his own personal log on this for 23 years.  After Mr. Bordner's story was issued in the Cleveland Press, ornithologists, naturalists and even other reporters spread the word what was going to happen on March 15th.  So, what happened?  Well, right on time, the buzzards arrived in Hinkley, Ohio.  And, news spread even faster now that they were in town.  Over 9,000 visitors arrived, which the town was not prepared for at all.  The people were a bit embarrassed that they weren't prepared for all this attention.  So, this is when the Chamber of Commerce met and planned their pancake breakfast on the first Sunday of Spring, which was one week after the buzzards arrived.  Every year, the town has an annual Buzzards Fesitval.

But, the buzzards are popular outside the area as well.  Cleveland radio station WMMS used the buzzard as its logo and mascot.  They called themselves, "The Home of the Buzzard" for many years.

Turkey buzzards' heads are featherless and red.  Because of this feature, they resemble wild turkeys.  Another name for them is carrion crows ( Cathartes aura) and are scavengers that live on dead animals.  They have very good eyesight and soar through the sky on big updrafts.  They are considered Mother Nature's garbage collectors.  And, they can live up to twenty years!

In the summer they are in Hinkley, Ohio.  In the winter they can live in the southern part of the United States to all the way to South America.  Hinkley's combination terrain of open fields, rocky ledges and forests is considered an ideal nesting area for these buzzards.

Because they are scavengers, it's also believed that the buzzards first chose this area because of the massive amount of butchered refuse and unwanted game from the Great Hinkley Varmit Hunt of December 24, 1818.  The hunt was organized to help rid the area of predatory animals that were killing local farm stock.  475 men and boys lined up along the town's perimeters and slowly moved inward, in one of the largest drives in history.

William Cogswell, who was one of the first white settlers in the area in his manuscript wrote in 1810 about "vultures of the air at the gallows of the Big Bend in the Rocky River where the Wyandotes had hung an Indian squaw for witchcraft two years earlier."  Because of this manuscript, it proves that the buzzards have been arriving in the area for many, many years and not just since 1957 as some state.

International Day Against Police Brutality

The ironically unofficial and largely unacknowledged 'International Day Against Police Brutality' is a day of solidarity created in 1997 by the Canadian Collective Opposed to Police Brutality and the Switzerland-based Black Flag group. This initiative began with the purpose of providing an opportunity to educate, spread awareness and protest against police brutality. The date was set to March 15 following an alleged incident where the Swiss police force beat two young boys, by some reports to death. However, no evidence of this occurrence has been reported outside of anarchist sources, and the date was most likely chosen because it was initially a Saturday. Despite the days dubious connections with anarchism, its existence allows anarchists, victims and everyone else alike to address the issue together.

Police brutality is defined as the intentional and unprovoked use of excessive and unreasonable force by the police towards civilians. This abuse is usually physical in nature, but can also be verbal or psychological.

The prominent hindrance to even recognizing, let alone solving, the issue of police brutality is the scarcity of statistical evidence, a fact acknowledged by the United Nations' Human Rights Committee. Whilst some statistics exist, they too are problematic as few sources are considered reliable which can lead to the severity of the issue becoming exaggerated or undermined. If the available statistics were to be taken at face value, the fact would remain that most are US (or Western)-centric, most likely due to the comparatively wider access to information under the Freedom of Information Act and its counterparts, alongside the fact that these countries give most of their citizens rights that therefore can be violated. Whatever the cause of this disparity, it means that even reliable statistics do not necessarily accurately reflect the issue.

Occasionally, however, a single incident arises which provokes both national and international outrage, thus bringing attention to the issue. In February of this year, video footage of a group of South African police officers harming a man spread across the world through the media. The footage shows the officers making a feeble attempt to force a slight young man (later named as Emido "Mido" Macia, a Mozambican immigrant and taxi driver) into a police van, before giving up and handcuffing him to the back of the vehicle. As the shocked crowd demands to know which crime the man is thought to have committed, the van drives away, inflicting Macia with internal bleeding and head injuries, which are thought to have caused his later death whilst in police custody. The investigation continues, albeit struggling with the lack of cooperation from the police officers concerned, who were denied bail as a cautionary measure in fear that they would influence witnesses.

Macia's story is unfortunately just one of many. South Africa alone, with its shocking history of apartheid, has had countless incidents of police brutality, notably the killing of 34 protesting miners in 2012 and the infamous death of Steve Biko, which further mobilized the anti-apartheid movement. Elsewhere, some victims of police brutality have become well-known both nationally and in social justice communities, such as Rodney King and Ian Tomlinson. The stories of these victims, whether through their own words or the media's, are indispensable to understanding and working to solve the issue of police brutality, especially considering the presumably large volume of untold stories.

Whilst the so-called International Day Against Police Brutality remains an event recognized almost exclusively by anarchists, the issue of police brutality affects and has the potential to affect anyone, regardless of whether they are a peaceful protester, law-abiding citizen or innocent bystander. The UN recognizes the worldwide issue of human rights abuse annually on December 10, and also, more specifically, March 24 as the lengthily self-explanatory International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.

International Day of Action Against Canadian Seal Slaughter

March 15th is the International Day of Action for Seals. The International Day of Action for Seals is a worldwide protest against the Canadian seal hunt, which takes place in late March/early April.

What is the seal hunt?
The Canadian seal hunt, according to the Humane Society, is the largest annual commercial hunt of marine mammals conducted anywhere on the planet.

Harp seals are the primary targets. Most of the harp seals killed are pups under three months of age.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of seals are killed. In 2005 alone, 317,672 kills were reported. Note, however, that this number does not include the abandoned or escaped seals that later died of their wounds.

How are the seals killed?
Younger seals are clubbed to death, often with “hakapiks,” a heavy wooden club with a hammer head used for crushing the skull and a hook to drag away the body.

Often, however, the seals are still alive when dragged away for skinning.

A 2001 report conducted by an independent team of veterinarians found that in more than 40% of the cases they studied, the seals were conscious and had been skinned alive.

Older seals are faster and can swim, so they are typically shot from a distance with a high-powered rifle. Sometimes seals are only wounded by the first shot and manage to escape. Sadly, most that escape simply slip under the ice and die.

Why are the seals killed?
No part of the seal is eaten or consumed. The primary purpose of the hunt is to collect seal pelts which are then sold to fashion houses.

There is some demand for seal penises in Asian markets, which are used as a snake oil remedy for impotence.

With virtually no market for seal meat, the skinned carcasses are typically left to rot on the ice.

National Corn Dog Day

National Corn Dog Day is a celebration of basketball, the corn dog (A corn dog is usually a hot dog sausage coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter), Tater Tots, and American beer that occurs in March of every year on the first Saturday of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship.

National Corn Dog Day was inaugurated in 1992 in Corvallis, Oregon by Brady Sahnow and Henry Otley. The first celebration was informal and involved simply corn dogs and basketball. In subsequent years, National Corndog day was expanded to include tater tots and beer and gradually spread to other cities. The celebration currently is sponsored by Foster Farms, a Livingston, California-based poultry producer, PBR, a US Midwest-based beer company, and Jones Soda. Operations for National Corn dog Day currently are governed by a board of directors consisting of select event hosts (or "city captains") based in various cities across the United States.

By 2007, parties celebrating National Corn dog Day occurred at 113 locations in more than 30 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Australia. In 2008 National Corn Dog Day exploded, expanding to nearly 5000 parties. On five continents, including one at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. In 2009 participation fell back to the trend line from the 2008 peak, with nearly 400 parties around the country on March 21, 2009.  National Corn Dog Day 2009 took place on Saturday, March 21st, 2009.

On March 16, 2012, Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber issued a Proclamation declaring March 17, 2012 to be National Corn Dog Day.

National Pears Hélène Day

The perfect pear-ing of fruit and chocolate - March 15 is National Pears Hélène Day!

While the Ides of March may not have worked out so well for Julius Caesar, we like to celebrate today's date with a lovely confection that's sure to make you feel downright fancy.

Pears Hélène, or Poire belle Hélène, is a truly divine dessert made with pears poached in sugar syrup. The pears are then topped with vanilla ice cream, crystallized violets and chocolate syrup.

The dish was created in 1864 by Auguste Escoffier, who named his dessert after La belle Hélène, an operetta by Jacques Offenbach. Considering other foods have been created around and named after people, this isn't really out of the ordinary.

Over time, Pears Hélène has been simplified by substituting poached pears with canned and the delicate crystallized violets with sliced almonds. Not quite as fancy, but more doable for the pantry-scrounger that must satisfy his or her craving.

Intrigued? Take a stab at it by making caramelized pears with toasted hazelnuts and chocolate sorbet. They do take a bit of time, but you can also prepare them well in advance, especially if serving after dinner. And what a stunning finish it will make!

National Quilting Day

National Quilting Day is observed on March 15. It celebrates quilts and those who make them annually on the third Saturday in March. The National Quilting Association started National Quilting Day in 1991. Their members passed a resolution in Lincoln, Nebraska, on June 1991. 

Quilting can refer either to the process of creating a quilt or to the sewing of two or more layers of material together to make a thicker padded material. "Quilting" as the process of creating a quilt uses "quilting" as the joining of layers as one of its steps, often along with designing, piecing, appliqué, binding and other steps. A quilter is the name given to someone who works at quilting. Quilting can be done by hand, by sewing machine, or by a specialized longarm quilting system.

The process of quilting uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material to make a quilt. Typical quilting is done with 3 layers: the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material. The quilter's hand orsewing machine passes the needle and thread through all layers and then brings the needle back up. The process is repeated across the entire area where quilting is wanted. A rocking, straight or running stitch is commonly used and these stitches can be purely functional, or decorative and elaborate. Quilting is done to create bed spreads, art quilt wall hangings, clothing, and a variety of textile products. Quilting can make a project thick, or with dense quilting, can raise one area so that another stands out.

Quilt stores often sell fabric, thread, patterns and other goods that are used for quilting. They often have group sewing and quilting classes, where one can learn how to sew or quilt and work with others to exchange skills. Quilt stores often have quilting machines that can be rented out for use, or customers can drop off their quilts and have them professionally quilted.

The word "quilt" comes from the Latin culcita meaning a stuffed sack, but it came into the English language from the Frenchword cuilte. The origins of quilting remain unknown, but sewing techniques of piecing, applique, and quilting have been used for clothing and furnishings in diverse parts of the world for several millennia.

The earliest known quilted garment is depicted on the carved ivory figure of a Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty, about 3400 B.C.

In 1924 archaeologists discovered a quilted floor covering in Mongolia. They estimated its date as between 100 BC to 200 AD. There are numerous references to quilts in literature and inventories of estates. Crusaders brought quilted objects from the Middle East to Europe in the late 11th century. Quilted garments known as gambesons were popular in the European Middle Ages. Knights wore them under their armor for comfort and sometimes as an outer garment to protect the metal armor from the weather. The earliest known surviving European bed quilt is from late 14th century Sicily. It is made of linen and padded with wool. The blocks across the center are scenes from the legend of Tristan. The quilt is 122" by 106" and is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Quilting has been part of the needlework tradition in Europe from about the 5th century CE. Early objects contain Egyptian cotton, which may indicate that Egyptian and Mediterranean trade provided a conduit for the technique. Quilted objects were relatively rare in Europe until approximately the 12th century, when quilted bedding and other items appeared after the return of the Crusaders from the Middle East. The medieval quilted gambeson, aketon and arming doublet were garments worn under, or instead of, armor of maille or plate armor. These developed into the later quilted doublet worn as part of fashionable European male clothing from the 14th to 17th century. Quilting clothing began to be generally used in the 14th century, with quilted doublets and armor worn in France,Germany, and England and quilted tunics in Italy.
True Confessions Day

Keeping a guilty secret can be stressful and puts a strain on any relationship. On a lighter note, confessing your feelings to someone could start a beautiful new friendship! True Confessions Day is a day that was created to inspire people to let go of their secrets and have a day of honesty. It’s no surprise that confession is such a big part of many religions: it allows one to cleanse their heart of their troubles and move on with a clear conscience.

Confessing a secret that’s been difficult to keep feels good and helps to relieve stress, so why not give True Confessions Day a try by getting something off your chest and talking things through with a loved one. Remember that honesty is the best policy all year round, so maybe celebrating True Confessions Day will help inspire openness in more relationships, which can only be a good thing.

World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is an awareness day, which is observed on March 15, 2014. The WCRD was first celebrated in 1983 and became an important annual occasion for mobilizing citizen action and solidarity within the international consumer movement. The day is an opportunity for promoting the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected and protesting about the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.

The day takes place on 15 March to mark the definition of consumer rights, outlined by US President John F. Kennedy. He was the first world leader to set out a vision of consumer rights and he also recognized the importance of consumers as a group. Kennedy gave the American consumer four basic rights: the right to safety, to choose, to information and to be heard. The aim of WRCD is to celebrate solidarity within the international consumer rights movement. 

The day is organized by Consumers International (CI), which is the world federation of consumer groups that serves as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers and was founded in 1960. Currently it has over 220 member organizations in 115 countries around the world. 

Each year, the CI Council selects a theme for the following World Consumer Rights Day activities, for example: “Our money, our rights” in 2010, “Consumers and water” in 2004 or “Unethical Drug Promotion” in 2007. Around the world the day will be marked with local initiatives, including campaigns, press conferences, workshops and street events.

World Contact Day

March 15, 2013 is officially World Contact Day, as designated 60 years ago, in 1953, by an organization called the International Flying Saucer Bureau. This year, in celebration of its 60th year, World Contact Day kicks off on March 15 and continues with various events all over the world through March 22. To read about its history, visit our “Origin of World Contact Day” page. For more information, visit Below is the “anthem” of World Contact Day, performed by the Canadian group Klaatu, whose name is a reference to the classic sci-fi movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Alfred K. Bender of Bridgeport, Connecticut, became fascinated by the ever-growing number of “UFO” sightings throughout the United States and the world. Bender, who worked as a supervisor at Acme Shear in Bridgeport (now called the Acme United Corporation), a company that made scissors, shears, and other devices for cutting, began collecting newspaper and magazine clippings about UFO sightings.

Obsessed with solving the mystery of the UFOs, Bender became convinced that members of his group should “attempt to send out a telepathic message to visitors from space.” March 15, 1953 was chosen as “Contact Day.” Bender sent out a special bulletin, containing a message to be memorized and an appeal to have all members focusing their minds on the message at the exact same moment, at 6 p.m. on March 15.In 1952, he started one of the first civilian UFO study groups, which he called the “International Flying Saucer Bureau.” Researcher Riley Crabb describes the organization: “Bender had started what promised to be the biggest and best Flying Saucer Club in the business in 1952. A natural leader, his efforts aroused national and international interest, memberships, mail and Saucer reports flowed in from all over the world. His headquarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut was swamped with correspondence. Such a widespread effort was bound to crack the secret in time.”

The message that everyone was supposed to memorize stated:
“Calling occupants of interplanetary craft! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft that have been observing our planet Earth. We of IFSB wish to make contact with you. We are your friends, and would like you to make an appearance here on Earth. Your presence before us will be welcomed with the utmost friendship. We will do all in our power to promote mutual understanding between your people and the people of Earth. Please come in peace and help us in our Earthly problems. Give us some sign that you have received our message. Be responsible for creating a miracle here on our planet to wake up the ignorant ones to reality. Let us hear from you. We are your friends.”
At 6 p.m. on March 15, Bender lay down on his bed in Bridgeport, closed his eyes, and repeated the contact message three times. He later described an odd experience that happened next, “I felt a terrible cold chill hit my whole body. Then my head began to ache as if several headaches had saved up their anguish and heaped it upon me at one time…. Then I partly lost consciousness as the room around me began to fade away.”

Bender then had the feeling of leaving his body and hovering above it. He said, “I felt cold, very cold, as if I were lying naked on a floating piece of ice in the Antarctic Ocean.”

He spoke back to the voice, saying, “Why aren’t you friendly to us, as we do not mean to do any harm to you?”Then he heard a voice in his head. It did not seem to be an audible sound. The voice said to him, “‘We have been watching you and your activities. Please be advised to discontinue delving into the mysteries of the universe. We will make an appearance if you disobey.”‘

The strange voice responded, “We have a special assignment and must not be disturbed by your people. We are among you and know your every move, so please be advised we are here on your Earth.”

When he snapped out of his “contact,” Bender found a yellow mist hovering in his room, and he saw out of a corner of his vision what seemed to be the shadow of a humanoid. He also noticed that the radio in his bedroom had turned on by itself and that there was a strange odor in his room. Bender later claimed that in this, and other “contacts,” the whole mystery of the flying saucers was revealed to him.

Shortly after this incident, despite its popularity, the International Flying Saucer Bureau was suddenly disbanded, only nine months after it was created. Bender refused to say why he shut the group down, but several years later, he stated that he received a visit from three mysterious “men in black,” who told him that he needed to desist from his UFO activities. He described the Men in Black as “three men in black suits with threatening expressions on their faces. Three men who walk in on you and make certain demands. Three men who know that you know what the saucers really are! They don’t want you to tell anyone else what you know.”