Friday, March 20, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Mar 20 2015

Alien Abductions Day

Who knew? March 20th is Alien Abductions Day! Be prepared! Stock up on food, and grab your favorite alien abduction books and movies so you can spend the day safely ensconced in your home, out of sight of marauding aliens looking for humans to abduct.

That is, unless you prefer to have an outer space experience. Then celebrate outdoors where you can watch the heavens for fast-moving, mysterious UFOs, and signal to them to pick you.

From ancient times to the present, people have professed to have seen UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) or had encounters with aliens or extraterrestrials. There have been hundreds of books, films, and documentaries made on the topic. The History Channel has its famous series called Ancient Aliens in which they provide "evidence" of alien existence, presence, and influence in ancient civilizations. The United States has the famous Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico, where the government allegedly retrieved an alien spaceship which crashed and studied the bodies of aliens found, but continued for decades to deny the existence of the secret base. England and other areas of the world have their mysterious crop circles. Around the world, countries have reported unusual sightings believed to be UFOs.

Whether you are a devout believer or a skeptic, one has to acknowledge the topic has fascinated people from the dawn of time.

People have been fascinated by the proposition that aliens exist and visit out world. A whole genre has evolved in books, film and television, known as Science Fiction.The entertainment industry has made a fortune on the topic from early television shows like "My Favorite Martian" and "Mork and Mindy", to the cult series, the "X-files". Other shows such as "Outer Limits" and the "Twilight Zone often featured shows on extraterrestrials as well. Although the series "Star Trek" was short-lived on TV, it rebounded to have a cult following, and renewed life in the Star Trek spin-offs and movies which still has a tremendous and profitable fan base today. Then followed "Star Wars", and hundreds of outer space movies including "E.T". and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

If this weird and wonderful holiday is right up your alley, why not throw a costume party for your like minded friends. You can dress as your favorite aliens, serve out of this world food and drinks, and have a great time. Just don't make too much noise, or the aliens may find you. Then again, if this is up your alley, you just might want to be found and abducted. Move the party out under the stars and see who can spot the UFOs.

If you are quieter by nature, you might enjoy an all day and night alien movie fest to celebrate the holiday. I'd recommend sharing it with at least one friend though - don't want to give yourself nightmares!

Great American Meatout Day

Meatout is an international observance helping individuals evolve to a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. The purpose is to expose the public to the joys and benefits of a plant-based 
diet, while promoting the availability and selection alternatives to meat and dairy in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations.

Meatout has grown explosively since its inception in 1985 to become the world's largest annual grassroots diet education campaign. Thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and a host of other countries welcome Spring with colorful educational events. These range from simple information tables, exhibits, and cooking demonstrations to elaborate receptions and festivals. Visitors are asked to "kick the meat habit" on March 20th (first day of spring) and explore a wholesome, nonviolent diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Several mainstream health advocacy organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and the American Heart Association, have since launched their own campaigns to promote consumption of plant-based foods.

Meatout reflects national trends:
  • Mainstream health advocacy organizations and the official government publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" tout plant-based foods.
  • Over 30 million Americans have explored a meat-free diet.
  • One in five teens thinks vegetarianism is "cool."
  • National beef and veal consumption have dropped by 25 and 70%, respectively.
  • Major manufacturers and retailers are marketing meat-free and dairy-free meals.
  • Several national fast food chains are offering veggie burgers and several major baseball parks are selling veggie dogs.
Head Injury Awareness Day

The Head Injury Awareness Day falls on March 20th every year and looking at the number of people who suffer from a mild bump on their head to severe brain injury, we do know how important this day is. Observing the Head Injury Awareness Day remind us on how we could reduce the day to day accidents and brain injuries only if we are careful. It brings our attention to the simple safety gadgets like helmets and seat belts and childproofing your home which can take off the bandage from head and the problem associated with the injury.

Every year more than 5 percent of the people around the world get serious brain injury after they get into an accident or just unknowingly bump their head. So it has become very important to educate and to make the world aware of how a very little injury to your brain can spoil the whole life.

During this time when the Head Injury Awareness is all in air, let us be aware of how and what are the causes behind head or brain damage. As all of us may know, accidents and bumping your head onto something or being hit on the head by anything heavy can cause irreversible brain damage to the victim. But are you aware that a baby falling from a crib and a football being hit on your head can all cause the same damage; sometimes minor and in some cases very serious and irreversible. Being one of the most important parts of the body, brain is protected inside the hard bony skull but even the skull can't withstand the force sometimes and the soft brain tissues may get injured by a possibly very small hit.

Head injury can result in damage to the most important part of the central nervous system, our brain and this can affect ones health and well being adversely. Even a very small case can result in ultimate damage if proper care and treatment is not given on time. One should be aware of what a simple head injury can cost them and their dear ones and should be very particular to get the right and expert treatment on time.

There are a number of cases, maybe hundreds of thousands of cases from around the world where head injury resulted in death or paralysis of the victim just because the proper care was not given at the right time. Always remember, time is a very critical factor if a person has any damage done to their head or brain, if the right time passes off what could have been treated becomes an irreversible and lifelong damage done to them.

Sometimes you won't even know that the brain is injured as there won't be any bleeding or blood but all that is inside would be messed up, this is the case of closed brain injury. But sometimes in open brain injury just by the look of the victim every other man can guess what has gone wrong.

Head injury can cause problems from small loss of memory to severe paralysis and death. There are a number ofvictims who are partially or fully paralyzed just because they 'forgot' to wear their helmet on the day. Some even lose their life or the whole loads of beautiful memories of life because they bumped their head or got hit on it. Remember your skull don’t have to crash if the brain damage ought to occur, silly and small hit can also cause small or serious brain injury.

There are a number of things which we all know, can protect our head from injury but forget at times.

Fastening helmets and seat belts while driving can help to reduce the cases of brain and head damage to a large extend. Wearing the helmets to the playground, if you are playing rugby or cricket or any such sport can also help in bring down the chances of playground injury to your brain. Similarly protecting yourself from by wearing hiking caps in any cases where you might get injured also lower the chances.

Childproofing your house by removing obstacles in your child's path and taking care that there are nothing in their head level that can hurt them also lowers the home accidents. Take care to have your lightings in the attics, store and stairways fixed so that you don’t bump into things while probing in the dark.

Some very simple things like these can help to bring down the number of accidents that cause brain death. Remember the next time you get into your car, fasten the seatbelts and drive safely as a simple carelessness can cost your life.

International Astrology Day

Yes! There IS such a day!! It's today! International Astrology Day was founded by AFAN in 1993.

The purpose of this event is to raise the public’s awareness of astrology, aiming to dispel the many myths and misunderstandings that surround the subject and in addition to expand networking opportunities among the astrological community and direct media attention to the positive aspects of astrology.

International Astrology Day is celebrated to coincide with the beginning of the astrological year, the spring equinox, when the Sun enters the tropical sign of Aries. Since astrologers are known for celebrating celestial events, this day should be at the top of our list as a way of not only honoring our profession, but of sharing what we do with others.

Astrology consists of several pseudoscientific systems of divination based on the premise that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world. Many cultures have attached importance to astronomical events, and the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. In the West, astrology most often consists of a system of horoscopes purporting to explain aspects of a person's personality and predict future events in their life based on the positions of the sun, moon, and other celestial objects at the time of their birth. The majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.

Throughout most of its history, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition. It was accepted in political and academic contexts, and was connected with other studies, such as astronomy, alchemy, meteorology, and medicine. At the end of the 17th century, new scientific concepts in astronomy and physics (such as heliocentrism and Newtonian mechanics) called astrology into question. Astrology thus lost its academic and theoretical standing, and common belief in astrology has largely declined. Astrology has been rejected by the scientific community as a pseudoscience, having no validity or explanatory power for describing the universe. Among other issues, there is no proposed mechanism of action by which the positions and motions of stars and planets could affect people and events on Earth that does not contradict well understood basic aspects of biology and physics. Scientific testing of astrology has found no evidence to support any of the premises or purported effects outlined in astrological traditions. In one study, participating astrologers attempting to match natal charts with profiles generated by a psychological inventory produced results not significantly at variance with random chance.

Astrology has been dated to at least the 2nd millennium BCE, with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. A form of astrology was practiced in the first dynasty of Mesopotamia (1950–1651 BCE). Chinese astrology was elaborated in the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE).Hellenistic astrology after 332 BCE mixed Babylonian astrology with Egyptian Decanic astrology in Alexandria, creating horoscopic astrology. Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia allowed astrology to spread to Ancient Greece and Rome. In Rome, astrology was associated with Chaldean wisdom. After the conquest of Alexandria in the 7th century, astrology was taken up by Islamic scholars, and Hellenistic texts were translated into Arabic and Persian. In the 12th century, Arabic texts were imported to Europe and translated into Latin, helping to initiate the European Renaissance, when major astronomers including Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler and Galileo practiced as court astrologers. Astrological references appear in literature in the works of poets such as Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer, and of playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

International Day of Happiness

In 2012, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness.

The day recognizes that happiness is a fundamental human goal, and calls upon countries to approach public policies in ways that improve the well being of all peoples.

By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development, and alleviates poverty. Additionally the UN acknowledges that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well being.

The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from Bhutan – a country whose citizens are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world. The Himalayan Kingdom has championed an alternative measure of national and societal prosperity, called the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH). The GNH rejects the sole use of economic and material wealth as an indicator of development, and instead adopts a more holistic outlook, where spiritual well being of citizens and communities is given as much importance as their material well being.

Kiss Your Fiancée Day

We all need a bit of romance in our lives and Kiss Your Fiancée Day is an ideal opportunity to indulge your romantic side. This special day is more than just an excuse to kiss your loved one; it’s also an opportunity to relax and unwind.

Kiss Your Fiancée Day was created as a reminder to couples who are busy planning their wedding day to take some time off and enjoy each other. As kissing is therapeutic and relaxing, there’s no better way to unwind than with a good kiss. Why not use the day as an excuse to plan a special date night, such as an evening out at the cinema or to a restaurant, or cook a special meal for your partner.

Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful times in anyone’s life, so take the day as a reminder to have some fun, too.

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) is a national mobilization effort designed to encourage Natives (American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians) across the United States and Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get involved in prevention and get treated for HIV and AIDS. 

NNHAAD was founded in 2007 by three collaborating agencies then called the National Native Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) Network, which included Commitment to Action for 7th-Generation Awareness & Educations [CA7AE], Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. [ITCA], and National Native American AIDS Prevention Center [NNAAPC].  The three network agencies were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] to provide capacity building assistance to Native organizations, tribes, state health departments and any other organization serving Native populations.  Since the founding of NNHAAD the collaborative partnership has grown to include Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board as well as a twelve member materials review committee to review all products developed for NNHAAD.

In support of NNHAAD the National Native CBA Network presented a resolution “SAC-06-002” to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in October of 2006. The resolution was approved for support of the National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day held on March 21, 2007.

The first day of Spring was the chosen as the date to celebrate National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  This day was chosen by individuals in the community who had participated in a national survey to determine what day would be most appropriate.  It was acknowledged that in many Native cultures across that US that the four seasons are highly respected in many cultures because they closely represent the cycle of life.  Spring also represents a time of equality and balance and is the only day when day and night are at equal lengths. It is considered a time of profound change, new beginnings and birth, a celebration of life for all people.
The cycle of lief is defined by the change in seasons, and ceremonies are held to recognize the passing of one season and the beginning of another.
In Alaska

The nalukatak, or spring whaling festival, takes place at the end of the whaling season. One purpose of this festival is to win the favor of the spirits of the deceased whales and to ensure the success of future hunting seasons.
The Woodland Tribes

Celebrate the Green Corn Ceremony to mark the emergence of the first ears of corn which represent the ideal relationshop between humans and the corn plants upon which they depend for their existence.
Native Hawaiians

For Native Hawaiians and many of their Polynesian cousins, the season of Makahiki begins with the first sighting of the rising of the Pleiades in the heavens; it is the time when the sun turns northward and plants flourish and fish spawn. It is the season to give tribute to Lono, the god of cultivation. The seasons of Makahiki is a time of peace.

National Ravioli Day

Ooooh, that's the good stuff! March 20 is National Ravioli Day.

When I first started covering food holidays I thought, “Wouldn't it be cool if I tried to make the food of the day, every day?” That notion lasted all of a minute. Tt was simply too time consuming, so, I chose my battles wisely. Today has got to be one of my favorite days, I’m a ravioli addict.

Ravioli is any filled pasta shape that’s sealed. Different sizes and sealing techniques have different names. Whether it says agnolotti, tortellini (the smaller version of a tortelloni) or sachetti on a menu, they’re all the same thing – a type of ravioli.

Making ravioli might sound daunting, but with some practice it’s pretty easy, and you don’t even need a pasta machine. The beauty of making ravioli at home is that it’s the perfect way to make leftovers seem like a brand new - and rather fancier - meal.

Have extra roasted butternut squash from dinner? Combine it with some goat cheese, sage and bacon bits and you’ve got a restaurant-quality meal made from scratch. Ravioli is also a great way to use up extra bits of produce filling up your fridge.

That onion half, end bit of zucchini and too-small-for-a-dinner-side portion of frozen peas makes a great primavera ravioli. Add some Parmesan cheese to the caramelized vegetables (add the peas in last though) and voila: spring dining at its finest.

As for the pasta, I like an eggy dough. If you’re rolling it out by hand, make sure to let it rest of at least an hour before you start. If not, a simple rolling pin and a well-floured surface are all you need. Ravioli dough can be quite thin because eventually there’ll be two layers. Don’t worry if you can’t get it super skinny – home made pasta tastes so good no one will notice. At least I don’t.

One of my all-time favorite ravioli recipes has to be braised short rib ravioli. It takes some time, but with a slow cooker or some patience, it’s well worth it.

I use Anne Burrell’s braised short rib recipe for this, only I cook mine at 350° not 375° for four hours not three.

Once the short ribs are falling apart, I remove them from the pot and save all the veggies and sauce that are left over. I add a little more tomato paste and red wine, plus a rind of Parmesan cheese and let it bubble away while I make the ravioli.

The pulled-apart meat is so tender it’s easy to portion it out into raviolo. I serve it with the reduced sauce and a little more Parmesan or asiago cheese. It’s a crowd pleaser in the winter, but the same principle can be applied to braised chicken or leftover coq au vin for the spring and summer time.

Next time you’re looking for something elegant to make for dinner, consider the humble raviolo – a peasant dish that’s anything but.

Proposal Day

The "Proposal Day! Holidays present an opportunity to raise the subject of marriage proposals in a light-hearted and non-threating manner, and it's a gentle way to get a glimpse of how the person you love might feel about a marriage proposal that'll lead to the two of you becoming engaged to be married!  Although few of those who discuss this topic will choose to propose on the Holiday itself...still, what's a nice marriage proposal if the exact timing, manner, and method doesn't remain a pleasant mystery?

The Holiday is particularly effective in assisting those in long term multi-year relationships who've been drifting along over the years without moving towards a specific commitment such as 'engaged to be married'.  By opening the door to a discussion about their future together, the Holiday provides  opportunities to discuss the path ahead.  Some couples will sense that they'll be making their wedding plans soon, while others will come to an understanding that their existing relationship is comfortable, but it's also unlikely to ever lead to anything serious.  By acting as a catalyst, the Holiday helps the single who is seeking marriage in the relationship avoid unknowingly spending years more searching for a ring within a relationship that does not present that opportunity now and is not ever likely to present it in the future.  Sending a Proposal Day! card to your true love is a decisive act that is designed to generate a response; either interest in the possibility of marriage to you, or a lack of enthusiasm for the idea that makes you understand that the two of you will always remain friends, but it's unlikely you'll ever marry each other.

Just as a marriage proposal can be made on any day of the year, the Proposal Day!® greeting card can be sent to your true love on any day throughout the year.  However, the card should never be sent to anyone you wouldn't be very happy to consider as a candidate to become your future spouse.  Only give this card if you consider the person you're sending it to as marriageable and desirable, and you are quite certain that you would almost certainly accept their proposal of marriage.  Sending a 2014 Proposal Day! card isn't making a proposal of marriage, but it is an excellent way to let the one you love and hope to marry know that you'd happily consider marriage to them, and that you want to be considered by them as a current candidate for their hand in marriage.

Singles seeking marriage can use what they've learned from discussing the Holiday with their true love to actually pop the big question at any time during the year.  The Proposal Day Holiday is able to help many singles overcome their hesitation and finally make a firm decision and begin making the necessary preparations to:  PROPOSE MARRIAGE TO THEIR TRUE LOVE!

Singles who are looking for a special day for their marriage proposal are encouraged to propose to their true love on either the first day of Spring or the first day of Autumn --- the day of the Vernal Equinox or the Autumnal Equinox, as these are the two days in the year where day and night are of equal length worldwide, symbolizing the equality of the two who comprise the successful marriage.  However, any day that is special to you, the one you love and intend to propose marriage to, or a day that is meaningful to you both as a couple, will be an excellent candidate to be the perfect day for your proposal of marriage to your true love.       

And.....understand this, that the flow of everyday life will not stop and await your decision to make your proposal of marriage.  Do not linger too long, my friend.  If you do, you give another person, a potential rival for your true love's affections, the opportunity to meet, woo, and win the heart of your true love.  If you haven't listened to "Tennessee Waltz" in a while, please review the lyrics, listen to it a couple of times, and think it over.  Then, make your decision!

Snowman Burning Day

Today is Snowman Burning Day! Every year on the first day of spring, students at Lake Superior State University burn a snowman to celebrate the end of winter. The inspiration for this unique tradition comes from the Rose Sunday Festival in Germany. The mayor of each town burns a straw snowman if the children of the town have been well behaved all year. The smoke rising from the bonfire is supposed to ward off blizzards and usher in the spring season.

The first Snowman Burning Day took place in 1971. An LSSU student club called the Unicorn Hunters organized the event and established several traditions including the annual poetry competition. Students, faculty, staff, townspeople, and kids in the community compose poems about the snowman burning and recite them during the event.

UN French Language Day

The United Nations is celebrating French language today as part of a new initiative to raise awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six official languages of the world body.

“French, as a working language of the UN and one that is spoken on all continents, plays an important role in spreading the message of the United Nations in the world,” said Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Public Information (DPI) and Coordinator for Multilingualism at the UN.

“The United Nations practices multilingualism as a means of promoting, protecting and preserving diversity of languages and cultures globally,” Mr. Akasaka added.

Each of the six official UN languages ¬– Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian – will be honoured on a relevant day for that language.

The 20 March celebration of French coincides with the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of La Francophonie, a group whose members share a common tongue, as well as the humanist values promoted by the French language.

As part of celebrations at UN duty stations around the world, the world body’s New York Headquarters is presenting documentation and information in French.

French versions of the UN documentary series “UN in Action” and other products available in French have also been made available.

“On this special day, DPI is happy to share with delegates and UN staff the linguistic diversity of its productions, its publications, its radio and TV programmes and the UN website,” Mr. Akasaka said.

“We are planning future celebrations on the birthdays of great writers and poets – Shakespeare and Pushkin – illustrating the link between language and culture,” said Mr. Akasaka, noting that the English language day will be celebrated on 23 April, the day believed to have been William Shakespeare’s birthday, while Russian language day will be marked on 6 June, the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, recognized as the father of Russian literature.

Later this year, the UN will highlight the role of the Spanish language on 12 October to coincide with Spanish National Day.

The 18th of December has been designated Arabic language day. On that day in 1973, the General Assembly approved Arabic as one of the official UN languages.

A date marking Chinese language has yet to be approved.

“As an avid reader and consumer of news in English, French and Japanese, I can see how different cultures think and perceive the world, including the UN,” said Mr. Akasaka, who is a Japanese national.

“I think it's crucial to remember that we exist in a multilingual world where the languages we speak, or read, or write, affect the way we think and act,” he added.

While the UN language days are part of a DPI initiative, the UN system has historically emphasized multilingualism among its staff.

UN duty stations offer language classes in the six working languages for free to their staff.

Vernal Equinox

As Earth revolves around the Sun, there are two moments each year when the Sun is exactly above the equator. These moments — called equinoxes — occur around March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23. Equinox literally means “equal night,” since the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world during the equinoxes.

The March equinox marks when the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt toward the sun, which means longer, sunnier days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is called the vernal equinox, because it signals the beginning of spring (vernal means fresh or new like the spring). The September equinox is called the autumnal equinox, because it marks the first day of fall (autumn).

When the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt toward the sun in spring, the Southern Hemisphere starts to tilt away from the sun, signaling the start of fall. Thus, in the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox is called the autumnal equinox, and the September equinox is called the vernal equinox.

People have celebrated the vernal equinox for centuries. For ancient cultures, the vernal equinox signaled that their food supplies would soon return. Early Egyptians even built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox. In Christianity, the vernal equinox is significant, because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

If you keep your eyes and ears open around the time of the vernal equinox, you’re likely to hear or see people talking about a magical phenomenon that only occurs on that day. According to legend, the special astronomical properties of the vernal equinox make it possible to balance eggs on end.

So is there any truth to this popular legend? Nope! It’s actually possible to balance eggs on end on any day of the year. It just takes a lot of patience and determination. There’s nothing magical about the vernal equinox that makes it any easier to balance an egg on end.

You might be wondering how such an interesting and widespread legend got started. No one knows for sure, but some believe the Chinese may have started the practice of balancing eggs on end during the vernal equinox. Given that day and night are balanced at the time of the vernal equinox, it’s possible that the Chinese chose a balanced egg as a symbolic representation of this astronomical phenomenon.

Won't You Be My Neighbor Day

Any day can be a beautiful day in the neighborhood – and Won’t you Be My Neighbor Day, is no exception!

Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day is a day to remember and honor Fred Rogers, that iconic children’s TV presenter of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. His show reached it’s heyday in popularity back in the 1970′s and 80′s, and repeats can still be seen today. Gentle, soft-spoken Mr. Rogers was a mainstay for preschoolers and their parents; teaching them that respect of those around you and a good attitude were just as important as learning your colors and letters.

Why not don a 70′s style sweater today, and speak softly to your partner? Be mindful of how you can show kindness and patience in explaining a simple concept to a child (or perhaps even to a work colleague!) After all, it’s a beautiful day for a neighbor – and for being neighborly!

World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People

WORLD Day for Theatre for Children and Young People is celebrated annually by Assitej centres around the world.

To honour the day, the international Association of Theatre for Children and Young People hosts theatre works which try to engage children and youth and bring them into theatre spaces which they would not normally be able to access.

The point of the campaign is to encourage children to become the audience for theatre by providing them with access, especially if they have never experienced theatre before.

Each year a prominent person writes the World Day message to inspire all to join the campaign. This year the message was written by actor John Kani, while Cape Town’s Yvette Hardie, international president of Assitej, wrote the accompanying president’s message.

As Hardie explains, giving children an opportunity to dream, to imagine other possibilities for their lives, to engage with and empathise with people and situations from different walksof life, is an important gift.

“Without the liberating power of the imagination, problem-solving becomes impossible,” said Hardie.

Assitej hosts special performances and family festivals at this time of year to ensure children and young people get to see theatre in their local communities. More than 15 000 children attended theatrical events through the campaigns in 2012 and last year.

World Sparrow Day

World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the House Sparrow and other common birds to urban environments, and of threats to their populations, observed on 20 March. It is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world.

The Nature Forever Society was started by Mohammed Dilawar, an Indian conservationist who started his work helping the House Sparrow in Nashik, and who was named one of the "Heroes of the Environment" for 2008 by Time for his efforts. The idea of marking a World Sparrow Day came up during an informal discussion at the Nature Forever Society's office. The idea was to earmark a day for the House Sparrow to convey the message of conservation of the House Sparrow and other common birds and also mark a day of celebration to appreciate the beauty of the common biodiversity which is taken so much for granted. The first World Sparrow Day was celebrated in 2010 in different parts of the world. The day was celebrated by carrying out different various kinds of activities and events like art competitions, awareness campaigns, and sparrow processions as well as interactions with media.

World Sparrow Day also has a broader vision to provide a platform where people who are working on the conservation of the House Sparrow and other common birds can network, collaborate and exchange conservation ideas which will lead to better science and improved results. It aims to provide a meeting ground for people from different parts of the world to come together and form a force that can play an important role in advocacy and in spreading the awareness on the need of conserving common biodiversity or species of lower conservation status.

World Storytelling Day

World Storytelling Day is a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling. It is celebrated every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, the first day of autumn equinox in the southern. On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night. Participants tell each other about their events in order to share stories and inspiration, to learn from each other and create international contacts.

The significance in the event lies in the fact that it is the first global celebration of storytelling of its kind, and has been important in forging links between storytellers often working far apart from each other. It has also been significant in drawing public and media attention to storytelling as an art form.

World Storytelling Day has its roots in a national day for storytelling in Sweden, circa 1991-2. At that time, an event was organized for March 20 in Sweden called "Alla berättares dag" (All storytellers day). The Swedish national storytelling network passed out some time after, but the day stayed alive, celebrated around the country by different enthusiasts. In 1997, storytellers in Perth, Western Australia coordinated a five-week long Celebration of Story, commemorating March 20 as the International Day of Oral Narrators. At the same time, in Mexico and other Latin American countries, March 20 was already celebrated as the National Day of Storytellers.

When the Scandinavian storytelling web-network, Ratatosk, started around 2001, Scandinavian storytellers started talking, and in 2002, the event spread from Sweden to Norway, Denmark, Finland and Estonia. In 2003, the idea spread to Canada and other countries, and the event has become known internationally as World Storytelling Day. Starting around 2004, France participated with the event Jour Mondial du Conte. World Storytelling Day 2005 had a grande finale on Sunday March 20. There were events from 25 countries on 5 continents, and 2006 saw the program grow further. 2007 was the first time a storytelling concert was held in Newfoundland, Canada. In 2008 The Netherlands took part in World Storytelling Day with a big event called 'Vertellers in de Aanval' on March the 20th; three thousand kids were surprised by the sudden appearance of storytellers in their classrooms.

In 2009, there were World Storytelling Day events in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Australia.