Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Mar 3 2015

I Want You to be Happy Day

March 3 is I Want You To Be Happy Day. As you go about this day, remember that the point is not for others to make you happy, but each and every one of us to do what we can to bring joy to someone else’s life. (Of course, the act of doing something kind for another often makes the doer happy as well, but that is never the point.

You have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes before figuring out how to make that person happy. Flowers can cause smiles . . . or sneezes. One person would love to be taken out to dinner, while another would like nothing more than to be given a completely free evening alone with a book. Just remember, whoever you are dealing with on I Want You To Be Happy Day, your goal is to make that person happy.

Does happiness matter? People react to this question in surprisingly different ways. Some suggest that there are far more significant things to worry about; others see happiness as vitally important and something that every human being ultimately wants in life. To explore this conundrum, we need to start by looking at what happiness actually means.

Happiness relates to how we feel, but it is more than just a passing mood. We are emotional beings and experience a wide range of feelings on a daily basis. Negative emotions – such as fear and anger – help us to get away from danger or defend ourselves. And positive emotions – such as enjoyment and hope – help us to connect with others and build our capacity to cope when things go wrong.

Trying to live a happy life is not about denying negative emotions or pretending to feel joyful all the time. We all encounter adversity and it’s completely natural for us to feel anger, sadness, frustration and other negative emotions as a result. To suggest otherwise would be to deny part of the human condition.

Happiness is about being able to make the most of the good times – but also to cope effectively with the inevitable bad times, in order to experience the best possible life overall. Or, in the words of the biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard: “Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.”

One popular misconception about happiness is that happy people are somehow more likely to be lazy or ineffective. In fact research shows the opposite is true: happiness doesn't just feel good, it actually leads to a wide range of benefits for our performance, health, relationships and more.

For example, economists at Warwick University showed different groups of people either a positive film clip or a neutral film clip and then asked them to carry out standard workplace tasks under paid conditions. The people who were primed to feel happy were 11% more productive than their peers, even after controlling for age, IQ and other factors. Similarly, researchers at Wharton Business School found that companies with happy employees outperform the stock market year on year and a team at UCL has discovered that people who are happy as young adults go on to earn more than their peers later in life.

In healthcare, doctors who are happy have been found to make faster and more accurate diagnoses, even when this happiness was induced simply by giving them the small gift of a sugary sweet. In education, schools that focus on children’s social and emotional wellbeing experience significant gains in academic attainment as well as improvements in pupil behavior. Happiness has also been linked to better decision-making and improved creativity.

So, rather than success being the key to happiness, research shows that happiness could in fact be the key to success.

But it doesn’t just help us function better: happiness also brings substantial benefits for society as a whole. For example, a review of more than 160 studies found “clear and compelling evidence” that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers. They are around half as likely to catch the cold virus and have a 50% lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.

Happier people are also less likely to engage in risky behavior – for example, they are more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to be involved in road accidents. Happier people are even more financially responsible, tending to save more and have more control over their expenditures.

But perhaps most importantly of all, people who are happier are more likely to make a positive contribution to society. In particular, they are more likely to vote, do voluntary work and participate in public activities. They also have a greater respect for law and order and offer more help to others.

There is even evidence that happiness is contagious, so that happier people help others around them to become happier too. An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over 20 years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across “three degrees of separation”. In other words, how happy we are has a measurable impact on the mood of our friend’s friend’s friend.

When it comes to the happiness of society as a whole, however, the sad truth is that in recent decades we have become substantially richer but no happier. The positive benefits of higher incomes have been undermined by rising inequality and falling levels of trust and social cohesion. We’ve also reached the point where mental ill health is one of our greatest social challenges – causing more of the suffering in our society than either unemployment or poverty.

So happiness does matter – the scientific evidence is compelling. The pursuit of happiness is not some fluffy nice-to-have or middle-class luxury; it’s about helping people to live better lives and creating a society that is more productive, healthy and cohesive. As Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Of course, being happy is not some magical cure-all. Happy people still get sick and lose loved ones – and not all happy people are efficient, creative or generous. But, other things being equal, happiness brings substantial advantages.

Perhaps the most powerful insight of all comes, not from the research, but from the responses I’ve heard from many hundreds of parents when asking them what they want above all for their children. Nearly all say something like: “I really just want them to be happy.”

Happiness is the thing we want most for the people we love the most. That’s why it matters so much.

National Anthem Day

National Anthem Day is celebrated on March 3rd of each year in remembrance of “The Star Spangled Banner” becoming the national anthem on March 3, 1931.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. The fourth stanza includes the line “And this be our motto: In God is our Trust.”. The United States adopted “In God We Trust” as its national motto in 1956.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, whose melody was identical to the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

National Cold Cuts Day

Whether you prefer salami, pastrami, pepperoni or B-O-L-O-G-N-A, today is all about those precooked sliced meats Americans love to eat. It’s National Cold Cuts Day! While the origins of this annual food holiday are unknown, National Cold Cuts Day is celebrated around the nation each year on March 3rd.

Cold Cuts Day is the day upon which anything and everything related to cold cut meats are celebrated. Noboday really knows where the celebration of such an essential part of the human diet (and fridge essential stocks!) came from, but frankly, it’s as good an excuse as any to get down with the Joey from Friends philosophy on life and yell, “nobody touches my food”! Folks, prepare your pants, it’s time to eat!

Cold cuts come in many shapes and forms whether it’s leftover ham, turkey or chicken, deli sliced pastrami, salami, chorizo, sausage or corned beef. The key to truly celebrating National Cold Cuts Day in style is lashings and lashings of cold cuts, freshly baked bread, salad and a creative flurry in the kitchen. Whack any cold cut you can find on the bread, top it with salad and a drizzle of oil, and tuck in!

Cold cuts consumption in Greece has a history of over 2.500 years ago. It is a history of a myriad of flavors which bring us to Mani with its sausage specialty called the "Sigklino", to Evros with its "Kavourmas" sausage, to the island of Crete with the " Apaki" sausage, to the Cycladic islands where they offer "Loutza" sausage, and, last but not least, to Karditsa, famous for its small sausages. The imagination and resourcefulness of many generations and their relentless search for new tastes, led to an amazing culinary variety in the Greek market.

The history of cold cuts making evolved as an effort by man to preserve and economize meat from his hunts and to keep it in storage for the difficult months of the year. In time, mankind discovered methods to ensure better preservation, and, at the same time, experimented on the positive effects of some ingredients such as salt and animal fat. The need to preserve meat created the art of making cold cuts and other cured, smoked and preserved meats, a practice which is now called "charcuterie".

The ancient Greek ancestors were fond of their meat and in their quest to preserve their beloved food, they discovered the value and taste of cold cuts. Reports about sausages as part of the dietary menu of the ancient Greeks can be found in Homer's Odyssey, in the "Deipnosophists" a work by Atheaneus and in the writings of Hippocrates and Archestratus.

The ancient Greeks were lovers of cold cuts and offal, and Charinos, the father of Aeschines who was a student of Socrates, is mentioned in 500 B.C. as the first Garde manger, famous for his smoked meats.

The methods of meat preservation evolved with the passage of time and in the Middle Ages meat preservation developed into the culinary art of charcuterie. During this period of time sausage consumption grew in popularity and many places evolved into "sausage paradises". The sausages were named after the town where they were made as well as after their country of origin.

In various regions of Greece, sausage making started before Christmas. Every household was celebrating and the festivities lasted until dawn the next day. The meat was cut into pieces with some of the pieces kept for preservation either salted or preserved in fat and stored in clay pots. Other pieces were smoked over the aromatic brushwood from the mountains and other parts were grinded and seasoned with orange, leeks and peppers and made into sausages.

There are ample varieties of cold cuts and the manifold methods of their preparation reflect the gastronomic culture of each region as well as the cultural traditions of its inhabitants.

National Mulled Wine Day

It does seem strange that National Mulled Wine Day comes when it’s nearly Spring instead of in the dead of winter or at holiday time when its cheering comfort is more welcome and more needed. What could be more comforting than sitting around a crackling fire cradling mugs of steamy and fragrant Hot Mulled Wine.

Mulled wine recipes are usually inappropriate on all counts. First, they usually tell you to use a good varietal wine. WRONG! Mulled wine was invented as a way to make not so good wine tolerable. Besides, after you have add all that cinnamon, clove, ginger nutmeg and whatever else, who is going to be able to tell if you began with a Merlot, Cabernet or Zinfandel, let alone what vintage it was. Save your good wines for when it counts and use jug wine for mulling.

The next thing wrong with most mulled wine recipes is that they have you add the spices and other agents to the wine and cook the wine. This is wrong on two counts. If the wine is heated with the spices for long enough for the spices to impart their flavors, then most of the alcohol and any character the wine originally may have had will have cooked out of the wine. If you heat it for a short enough period of time that the alcohol is still there, then there will be very little flavor of the spices.

To make a truly exceptionally delicious mulled wine, you first make a simple syrup with the spices, then add the syrup to the wine, to taste, and apply heat just long enough to heat it but not long enough to damage the wine. I think you will find this recipe an excellent one. Also, you can make your syrup up in bulk and store it in the fridge, ready to use throughout the winter, whenever you want a tasty tipple.

National Pancake Day (IHOP)

Since beginning its National Pancake Day celebration in 2006, IHOP restaurants have raised almost $16 million to support charities in the communities in which they operate. On March 3, 2015, guests from around the country will celebrate a "Decade of Giving" with the tenth annual National Pancake Day at IHOP restaurants and enjoy a free short stack of Buttermilk pancakes. In return for the free pancakes, guests will be asked to consider leaving a donation for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals or other designated local charities.
Our Goal this year is $3.5 million for charity!

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million patient visits each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations - including all those made on IHOP National Pancake Day - stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity's Miracle Balloon icon. Its fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit's mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children's hospitals need community support, and learn about your member hospital, at CMNHospitals.org.

Peach Blossom Day

Peach Blossom Day is observed on March 03. It is a day to celebrate peach blossoms and a day for girls to celebrate being girls. Peach Blossom Day refers to the Japanese Doll Festival, which takes place on March 3.

Hinamatsuri, also called Doll's Day or Girls' Day, is a special day in Japan. Hinamatsuri is celebrated each year on March 3. Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
The peach, Prunus persica, is a deciduous tree, native to China and South Asia, where it was first cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit also called a peach. The flowers are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, pink, with five petals. The fruit has yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a skin that is either velvety in different cultivars.

Peaches are not only a popular fruit, but are symbolic in many cultural traditions, such as in art, paintings and folk tales such as Peaches of Immortality. Momotaro, one of Japan's most noble and semihistorical heroes, was born from within an enormous peach floating down a stream. Momotaro or "Peach Boy" went on to fight evil oni and face many adventures.

Unique Names Day

On Unique Names Day we celebrate the names that are different, the ones where people ask "How do you pronounce that?" Unique names have flair, they have character, they're memorable. If you have a unique name, then today is for your to celebrate it.

This holiday is part of the Celebrate Your Name Week (CYNW) which was established in 1997 by onomatology hobbyist Jerry Hill.

Names go in and out of favor, depending on celebrities, the economy and well, popularity. As an writer, I'm always trying to find unique names for my characters. And I know several people who were named after characters in a book. In fact, I'm naming one character in my current work-in-progress, Spenser after the 16th century English poet because his mother enjoyed reading poetry (not after the fictional 20th century private investigator).

There are several places to get unique character names, but one of the best places may be your own family tree. In our tree, I found these names:
  • Ascenith
  • Chrone
  • OC (not initials, that was her name)
  • Partha (another aunt)
  • Emmer (Pronounced E-mer with a long "e.". Her real name could have been Emma with the "r" sound was added as a regional dialect. Not sure.)
  • Worth
  • Vilma
  • Pinckney (Uncle Pink, named after one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence)
  • Sion (early 19th century, could this be an early spelling of Sean?)
  • Cordelia 
  • Uriah
  • Joab and his dad, 
  • Moab
Then among my friends are these names:
  • Faysoux (Most folks called him Soux, pronounced, Sooks, the double-o's like yahoo)
  • Gendron (French huguenot name passed down through seven generations.)
  • Stewart (A female friend's middle name, after her mother's maiden name) 
  • Lavon (female)
  • Pinkney (Different spelling of the above. As an adult, he used his initials, "P.J.")
  • Garnet
  • Hannah Brown (Brown was her middle -- and a family -- name, but she was called by both names)
And then names of acquaintance or those I've found on rolls:
  • Odyssey - After her mom's favorite perfume (thank goodness it wasn't My Sin!)
  • Lurline
  • Talmadge
  • King David (Yes, that's what he's called.)
There are several places to find unusual names for your characters.Behind the Name is always a good place to start and so are the Social Security Administration's Most Popular Names site and genealogy sites like Ancestry.com. If paper resources are more to your liking, you can always check the obituary section of the newspaper and the phone book.

What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day

How would life be different if your pet had opposable thumbs? Would your cat abuse her can-opener privileges? Would your dog open the pantry door or raid the cupboards?

A holiday to be grateful that our pets don't have a better grip. How would life be different if your pet had opposable thumbs? Would your cat abuse her can-opener privileges? Would your dog open the pantry door or raid the cupboards? Well now there's a day to imagine these scenarios... and be grateful that they're not possible. March 3 is What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day.

Most species do not have opposable digits, which allow for the development of fine motor skills and precise hand-eye coordination. With opposable thumbs, one can accomplish dexterous tasks such as writing and using tools. That's how ancient humans built fires, cooked their food, and invented crude axes, knifes, spears and scrapers made out of stone, wood and bone.

Opposable Thumbs Day is the brainchild of Thomas Roy. He has appeared in a movie with Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, but that may not be his biggest claim to fame. He and his wife, Ruth, are the creators of more than 90 holidays, perhaps none quirkier than the one that's celebrated on March 3.

The Brad Pitt movie in which Roy played a street preacher was the 1995 time-travel thriller 12 Monkeys, which is fitting because opposable thumbs are the signature feature of the primate family. However, it wasn't his time on set that inspired him to create this wacky holiday.

Roy explains, "Having cats and dogs in the house for the past 45 years, it suddenly dawned on me that they've always been beholden to me for food. They run to the kitchen at the sound of the can opener, or even the lifting of the glass lid of the cheese dome. So one day about 15 years ago, I knew I had to create a day that all pet owners would appreciate: how things could go very awry if these pals of ours could get stuff out of the fridge, open cans, lift the cheese dome, open doors, and who knows ... drive off with the car?"

The image of a cat operating a can opener does make the mind wander to the other ramifications of pets getting a grip, so to speak. Consider, for example, this comic strip in which a cat with opposable thumbs devises a more effective way to wake up her owners. What would life be like if your pet had opposable thumbs? Feel free to share these imagined hi-jinks in the comments section below.

So how does one celebrate Opposable Thumbs Day? Roy recommends, "Get on your knees and give thanks that your pet doesn't€™t have thumbs!"

Or better yet, take some time to appreciate the extraordinary abilities that your pet already has. Here's one petcentric pet who doesn't even need thumbs to open the refrigerator and fetch a beer for his owner. As long as you've got the thumbs to throw a ball or open the front door to go on a walk, your pet is good to go. With an owner like you, who needs opposable thumbs?

World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.

Wildlife has an intrinsic value and contributes to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human well-being. For these reasons, all member States, the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, non-governmental organizations and individuals, are invited to observe and to get involved in this global celebration of wildlife.

The secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in collaboration with other relevant United Nations organizations, facilitates the implementation of World Wildlife Day.

On 20 December 2013, the Sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim 3 March as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The date is the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973, which plays an important role in ensuring that international trade does not threaten the species’ survival.

Previously, 3 March had been designated as World Wildlife Day in a resolution made at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP16) held in Bangkok from 3 to 14 March 2013. The CITES resolution was sponsored by the Kingdom of Thailand, the Host of CITES CoP16, which transmitted the outcomes of CITES CoP16 to the UN General Assembly.