Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Apr 2 2015

International Children's Book Day

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.

Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of ICBD. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. Many IBBY Sections promote ICBD through the media and organize activities in schools and public libraries. Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children's books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

It's National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Did you know that the average American consumes 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the age of 18? The combination of sweet jelly and salty peanut butter has been a staple in school lunchboxes for over fifty years.

According to one story, American soldiers invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich during World War II. They decided to combine their bread, jelly, and peanut butter rations into a fabulous new treat. When the soldiers returned home after the war, peanut butter and jelly sales soared.

To celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, make this iconic American sandwich for lunch!

National Ferret Day

Although not as popular as Halloween, Memorial Day or other observances, National Ferret Day, on April 2 in the United States, has gradually gained momentum through the years to be celebrated by more and more members of the ferret community. Ferret owners and enthusiasts celebrate the day in their own way, usually by doing something special for their ferrets. But what is the origin of this event?

A member of the USDA National Agricultural Library staff revealed that National Ferret Day is not listed in the federal records as of 1994.

After 1994, the National Special Events Registry took over listing such observances, according to its website. “In December 1994, the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that Congress would no longer officially recognize special days, weeks, or months sponsored by associations, corporations, or individuals.” Access to this database of events is available only for a fee. [Update: National Ferret Day has been in the National Special Events Registry since 1995 according to John Kremer, president of Open Horizons, the company that operates the registry. No informaton is available about the founder of the day.]

An Internet search reveals that although National Ferret Day was mentioned as occurring in February a few times, other mentions overwhelmingly put the day on April 2. Possibly the first mention of National Ferret Day is on the Daily Miscellany page from 2001. And possibly the earliest recurring mention of it begins on the Holidays For Everyday page for April 2, 2004.

Interestingly, a National Ferret Day began in the United Kingdom in 2007, with May 5 chosen as the day. The founder of National Ferret Day in the United Kingdom is Ian Kearns of the Ferret Education and Research Trust (FERT). 

Whatever the origin, ferrets and ferret enthusiasts continue to celebrate this day.

National Love Your Produce Manager Day

"National Love Your Produce Manager" Day. As featured in the Chase’s Calendar of Events, this holiday is “honoring the exemplary customer service in U.S. supermarket produce departments.” Produce Managers are the unsung heroes of the healthy eating revolution, quietly playing a key role in increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by the U.S. consumers.

Produce Managers are more important than ever as people are looking to add more fruits and vegetables to their lifestyle. Produce managers can help consumers pick the perfect fruit and order exotic vegetables as seen on TV. Heck, sometimes they’ll even share their favorite recipe!

Everyone! Boomers to millennials, parents and kids. Make sure to stop by a local grocery store on Tuesday, April 2nd, to say hello to the Produce Managers, and thank them for helping everyone to eat healthier!

Reconciliation Day

Reconciliation Day is an annual holiday that celebrates the bond between black and white South Africans. The day originally commemorated two different events. For members of South Africa’s Afrikaner community, it celebrated the Boer victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838. By contrast, for black South Africans, the day was significant as the anniversary of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the anti-Apartheid African National Congress.

Both of the dates commemorate part of a history of violence between the black and white communities. After the end of Apartheid, however, the government made the day into a celebration of the end of that conflict. Reconciliation Day acknowledges that violence but forges the two separate holidays into a single holiday that unites the whole of the South African people.

Reconciliation Day was first celebrated by the South African people in 1995.

Whole Grain Sampling Day

You know how it is when a crowd of people are all shouting and pointing at something at the same time? You just have to look, to see what’s so interesting – it’s simply human nature.

That’s what Oldways’ Whole Grains Council does every year on the first Wednesday in April: we get people all over the country, pointing to the nearest whole grains and saying, “Lookee here – good stuff!” We figure, if enough people are shouting and pointing at the same time, everyone else will simply facebook to see what the excitement’s all about.

April 2 will be our third annual Whole Grain Sampling Day, and this event is picking up momentum in a big way. One of the most exciting celebrations is a month-long sweepstakes from Roman Meal Bread. The grand prize winner will receive $2,500 and many others will win free bread coupons. Details on their Facebook page in April.

If you’re on the road on The Big Day, start off your morning at Dunkin’ Donuts, where there’s a special Buy-One-Get-One-Free offer on Whole Wheat or Multi-grain Bagels with cream cheese (all week!), at participating locations. At lunch, pick up whole grain burritos or tacos at Rubios, and enjoy a $1 discount to celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day. Then finish up at dinner, by ordering your pizza with a whole grain crust at California Pizza Kitchen. Other national chains, including McDonald’s, Denny’s and Genghis Grill, will be promoting their whole grain options on social media throughout the day.

Beyond these six chains that have officially signed on as WGSD partners, you may be surprised to know that scores of other chain restaurants now offer whole grain choices. Check out the list on our website, to find out what may be available near you. We've even noted a few restaurants that now offer special whole grain kids meal choices. A big thanks to Healthy Dining Finder and the National Restaurant Association, who helped us reach out to restaurants, and to Barilla, Freekehlicious and Lotus Foods, who offered free whole grains to restaurants looking to practice their whole grain mojo.

If you prefer to cook and eat at home, your local supermarket may be able to point you in the direction of some new whole grain ideas. Many Hy-Vee supermarkets will be working with grain supplier InHarvest to sample a quinoa salad on April 2, and some Whole Foods locations will also be celebrating Whole Grain Sampling Day.

If your local supermarket doesn't happen to have a Sampling Day event scheduled, take things into your own hands. Buy your favorite whole grain ingredients, pick a recipe from the Whole Grains Council website, and have your own sampling event for friends and/or family. This is your chance to win over a few converts on your own!

After dinner, browse the internet, where our partners at the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) are posting a special slideshow on whole grains, and an infographic highlighting how whole grains can reduce the risk of some cancers. They’re also updating their section on whole grains, just in time for Whole Grain Sampling Day.

Also online, a special corps of bloggers – our anointed Whole Grain Ambassadors – will be blogging about whole grains, and sharing their opinions on a wide range of whole grain products they've been sampling, courtesy of more than two dozen food manufacturers. We love our intrepid Ambassadors and invite you to link to all their blogs, through the special Ambassadors page on the WGC website. Many of them are also planning giveaways in connection with WGSD, and you may be able to get some goodies by following their blogs.

The fun doesn't end there. Check out our full list of Sampling Day partners across the country, and you’ll notice food trucks in Boston and New Orleans, a Bolivian restaurant in San Francisco, a bakeshop in Georgia, a private school in South Carolina, and a university in North Dakota. Even Google is on board, with special whole grain promotions and tastings happening in all their workplace caf├ęs globally. If your company cafeteria is run by Compass USA, there’s a good chance there will be WGSD specials happening where you work, too.

Stop by the Whole Grain section of the Oldways Forum, and tell us how you plan to celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day on April 2. We’d love to hear from you. To kick off the Forum discussion, I've posted a new recipe I created this week with barley. I hope you’ll try it!

World Autism Awareness Day

The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/139, tabled by the State of Qatar, which declares April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) in perpetuity. Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, supported the campaign for a World Autism Awareness Day through the current 62nd UN General Assembly Session, garnering consensus support from all United Nations Member States.

This UN resolution declares WAAD as one of only four official health-specific United Nations Days and will bring the world's attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions. The World Autism Awareness Day resolution encourages all Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society and to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention. It further expresses deep concern at the prevalence and high rate of autism in children in all regions of the world and the consequent developmental challenges.

World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism epidemic and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and is a day when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, we will give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Please join us in our effort to inspire compassion, empowerment and hope.

What Is Autism? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. 

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role. Learn more …

How Common Is Autism?
Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

ASD affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years. There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered. Learn more …

What Causes Autism?
Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea.” Research is now delivering the answers. First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.

In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of nongenetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk. The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk.

A growing body of research suggests that a woman can reduce her risk of having a child with autism by taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid and/or eating a diet rich in folic acid (at least 600 mcg a day) during the months before and after conception.  

Increasingly, researchers are looking at the role of the immune system in autism. Autism Speaks is working to increase awareness and investigation of these and other issues, where further research has the potential to improve the lives of those who struggle with autism. Learn more …

What Does It Mean to Be “On the Spectrum”?
Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.