Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Mar 25 2015

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa's economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade's causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.

International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members

March 25 is the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. This date is the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a journalist who died while working for the UN.

The UN promotes the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members to encourage governments to do more in their power to protect UN personnel in their jobs.

The day is also a moment to remember UN personnel who have been abducted whilst doing their job, such as journalist Alec Collett. Collett worked for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East when he was abducted by armed gunman in on March 25, 1985.  His body was found in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 2009 and eventually returned to his family.

Over the years, many UN personnel have been kidnapped while working for the UN and many more continue to face threats to their freedom and security.  According to the UN’s Department of Safety and Security, at least 28 UN civilian personnel were detained or arrested in 2010 in cases that were considered job-related.

The UN’s International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members was created to bring awareness to these kidnappings and to call for governments and communities to protect UN workers.

International Waffle Day (Våffeldagen)

As it turns out, waffles are such a popular world-wide phenomenon, that they merit two days in the calendar to celebrate them.

Waffle Day began in Sweden as Våffeldagen, actually due to confusion between the Swedish “vårfrudagen” meaning “Our Lady’s Day” which falls on the same date. The day historically marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated by the eating of many waffles.

The alternative Waffle Day began in the USA and honors the anniversary of the patenting of the first US waffle iron invented by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York and is celebrated on 24th August.

Whichever day is picked to honor it however, the waffle is certainly deserving of celebration. The remarkable dough-based griddled cakes can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, snack or dessert. And then there is that whole other business of the potato waffle, different but still delectable.

Take this day to explore the variety that the world of the waffle has to offer you: tuck into American waffles topped with fried chicken or alternatively stacked and drenched in sugary maple syrup for breakfast; enjoy a Brussels or Liège Belgian waffle dusted with confectioner’s sugar or coated in chocolate or cream, or travel east and sample a soft and sweet Hong Kong waffle laced with the flavors of peanut butter or honey melon. We could waffle on forever…

Manatee Appreciation Day

Today is Manatee Appreciation Day! Sometimes called sea cows, manatees are a large, but graceful, endangered species that thrive in warm-water environments ripe with vegetation. The West Indian manatee, one of three living species, can be spotted off the coast of Florida year round.

Manatees are large marine mammals that inhabit slow rivers, canals, saltwater bays, estuaries, and coastal areas. They are a migratory species, inhabiting the Florida waters during the winter and moving as far north as Virginia and as far west as Texas in the warmer summer months. Manatees are calm herbivores that spend most of their time eating, sleeping, and traveling. They have a lifespan of about 60 years with no known natural enemies. Most of their deaths are the result of human activity, particularly watercraft collisions. In the past, manatees were exploited for their meat, fat, and hides. However, the most significant challenge manatees face today is the loss of habitat. Manatees were once very widespread, but coastal development and poaching has significantly reduced the size of their population. There are currently around 3,200 manatees living in the United States.

Manatee Appreciation Day is devoted to raising awareness about these quirky creatures. Unfortunately, manatees are endangered. Although hunting manatees is usually illegal, they continue to be poached for their meat and hide. Also, manatees are often fatally injured in collisions with boats. It is important to increase manatee awareness so that these fascinating animals will continue to exist in the future.

Manatee Appreciation Day events usually take place in areas with large manatee populations, such as Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. Zoos and marine biology centers may offer special manatee-related programming on Manatee Appreciation Day. You can celebrate Manatee Appreciation Day anywhere by researching manatees, starting your own awareness campaign, or donating to manatee conservation programs.

National Day of Celebration of Greek & American Democracy

Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy, celebrated on March 25, evolved in order to give recognition to the many contributions made by Greek Americans to our society. The foundation for Greece’s impact on the American society, perhaps, is evident in ancient Athens' practice of democracy over 2000 years ago. According to “A Blupete Essay on Democracy,” this is the first democracy ever recorded. Could this have later sparked the development of a long-lasting friendship between 2 great nations?

The old Greek proverb, “The passion for freedom never dies,” has been historically reflected in Greece’s fight for independence over 179 years ago. The support of Americans during Greece’s quest for independence has reinforced friendship between the 2 nations, a friendship that is based on mutual respect, shared values, and common goals.  

National Lobster Newburg Day

Lobster Newburg is a dish full of history. The recipe was developed in the late 19th century at the one of the most famous eateries on the planet.  Delmonico’s opened its doors in the heart of the New York financial district in 1837.  The iconic establishment on Beaver Street, long known for its succulent steaks, is still a fashionable dining destination today.  But Delmonico’s is much more than an old-fashioned steak house.  It is also the home of several gastronomic firsts – it was the first formal dining restaurant in the United States, the first to serve hamburger, the creator of Baked Alaska, the creator of Eggs Benedict, and of course the creator of Lobster Newburg.

Lobster Newburg is itself a fantastic bit of culinary lore.  As the story goes, a wealthy sea captain and regular patron of Delmonico’s came in one night in 1876 announcing that he had discovered a new preparation for lobster. Ben Wenburg called for a chafing dish and demonstrated his new recipe on the spot.  Chef, Charles Ranhofer, and owner, Charles Delmonico, were suitably impressed with Wenburg’s creation.  Ranhofer tweaked the recipe and added “Lobster a la Wenerg” to the menu soon after that fabled night. The creamy lobster concoction was an instant hit with diners.  Then the story takes a dark turn. Delmonico barred Wenburg from the restaurant after the two quarreled. Over what, no one knows.  Wenburg was thus deemed persona non grata and the dish he helped create was renamed Newburg.  Despite its sordid past, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the Delmonico’s menu.

Now that we’re done with the history lesson, you may be asking what exactly is Lobster Newburg? Put simply, it is pure decadence.  It is lobster with a sherry and cognac infused, egg-thickened cream sauce.  Trust me, you don’t want to count the calories on this one.  Suffice it to say you’ll have a log a few hours on the treadmill to work off a Newburg.  That said, every day is a good day for lobster.

I have to admit, I've never made Lobster Newburg before.  I haven’t even tried it in a restaurant, so the first thing I had to do was to go in search of a recipe.  I settled on the Lobster Newburg recipe from  I followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of adding a squeeze of lemon at the end and serving it over parpadelle instead of toast points.  I served my Newburg with a heaping helping of asparagus to help ease my unhealthy conscience.  Coincidentally, asparagus also goes really well with a rich creamy sauce.

And the verdict… I loved it!  The rich, luscious sauce paired with the sweet tender lobster was a brilliant combination.  That said, if I were to make it again, I’d serve it as an appetizer.  A little bit of rich is fantastic, too much is just too much.  The other thing I might do is to replace half of the cream with lobster stock to turn it into an almost-any-day pasta sauce.  It also occurred to me that crab, prawns and perhaps even scallops would pair nicely with the Newburg cream sauce.

So there you have it… 134 years after its first appearance Lobster Newburg is still winning fans.  You know, I've always wanted to go to Delmonico’s.  I think the next time I’m in New York I’ll have to make a pilgrimage to the home of the original Newburg.  Maybe I’ll try the Baked Alaska while I’m at it.

Old New Year's Day

It's Old New Year’s Day! Although the Gregorian calendar was created in 1582, many countries chose to ignore it for several hundred years. Instead, they used “Annunciation Style dating,” which recognized the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) as New Year’s Day.

England didn't adopt our modern-day Gregorian calendar until 1751. Russia held out until 1918! In fact, people in Russia, Switzerland, Macedonia, Georgia, Belarus, and Serbia still celebrate the Old New Year.

Plan a grand feast with family and friends to celebrate the occasion. Happy Old New Year!

Pecan Day

The pecan tree is the only nut tree that’s native to North America.  It is believed by some people that Pecan Day commemorates the day that George Washington planted pecan trees–which were gifts from Thomas Jefferson–at his home at Mount Vernon. However, there are historians who strictly oppose that view. Those are probably the same historians who note that we also celebrate a National Pecan Day on April 14th. So, you know, what happened then, huh? Anyway, we’re pretty sure that all historians agree that a   pecan pie is the perfect way to celebrate either holiday.

Those who visit the Mount Vernon Estate may have noticed the majestic pecan tree on the grounds of the estate. 

The 140 foot tall, 160 year old pecan tree stands tall next to the mansion and overlooks the Potomac River.

This just isn't any old tree — it has some historical significance to Mount Vernon. 

Today marks the anniversary of the planting of pecan trees by George Washington at Mount Vernon. 

"What is nice about the tree is that Washington is the first person to plant it in this country," said  Dean Norton, Mount Vernon Estate horticulturalist. "He mentions in his letters his desire to grow more. He grew some in the botanical garden and planted pecan nuts in the nursery." 

Thomas Jefferson sent George Washington a bunch of pecan nuts from Philadelphia in the late 1700's, Norton added. 

This particular tree is a seedling pecan tree not grown to produce hearty pecans, said Norton. Most pecan trees in the country are grafted for nut production. Still, visitors from the two largest pecan producing states visit the Estate to catch a glimpse of the tree, said Norton. 

“The two largest pecan states in the country are Texas and Georgia,” said Norton. “We get people coming from those states to check out the tree.”

If you look closely, you can see that the tree leans slightly towards the Potomac. This was the result of a storm of “Biblical proportions” during the early 1900s that bent the tree about 40 degrees. 

"The tree was about 40 to 50 years old, so they put it on a winch and pulled it up to a point," said Norton. "They used wires that were attached to concrete blocks in the ground." 

There were two pecan trees on the grounds of the Estate, but one was knocked out during Hurricane Isabel, said Norton. 

Does this tree still produce pecans? Yes, it does, said Norton.

"It still produces pecans, but no one would make a pecan pie with them," said Norton. "Every third year we get a good crop." 

National Medal of Honor Day

The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress to US military personnel only. There are three versions of the medal, one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version.

The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, early in the American Civil War, to give recognition to men who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity" in combat with an enemy of the United States. There have been 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with more than half of them presented for actions during the four years of the Civil War.

The Medal of Honor is usually presented by the President in a formal ceremony at the White House, intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.

Tolkien Reading Day

Although founded in 2002, the First Tolkien Reading Day wasn't until March 25th 2003. This is because a journalist from New York inquired as to whether or not there was such an event for Tolkien in January 2002 and the society liked the idea so much they adopted it – although they didn't have time to prepare anything for that year and postponed it.

The society chose an important date from the book for the reading day. March 25th is the Downfall of Sauron.

In recent years The Tolkien Society have provided information packs, bookmarks and posters for schools taking part in this event. They have also provided free posters for events held by libraries and the general public taking place near to the event, rather than on the 25th.

With the popularity of the Lord of The Rings film trilogy firmly influencing the popularity of the books, Tolkien Reading Day was set up with hopes of getting even more people reading and discovering that there is much more to Tolkien than just The Lord Of the Rings.

Typical events consist of readings and discussions, but some groups re-enact scenes from the Lord of the Rings books.