Thursday, May 14, 2015

Holidays and Observances for May 14 2015

National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

National Buttermilk Biscuit Day is celebrated on May 14th in the United States. It is a food holiday. The United States has food holidays on almost every day of the year. Food holidays are not recognized to the point of workers of being given the day off work. Other food holidays in the month of May are National Quiche Lorraine Day on May 20th and National Coconut Cream Pie Day on May 8th.

In the United States, a biscuit is a small, round piece of bread that is leavened with baking powder or baking soda. A typical buttermilk biscuit recipe contains flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter shortening and buttermilk. The dough is mixed and then folded over on itself. After being rolled out, the dough is cut into round disks. The biscuits are then baked in the oven. A buttermilk biscuit recipe differs from a regular biscuit recipe mainly because of the buttermilk. A regular biscuit recipe has plain milk in it instead of buttermilk.

In other English speaking countries beside the United States, a biscuit refers to a hard cookie or cracker. However in the U.S., they are a small, soft bread and are served with breakfast and dinner. The biscuit is good for topping pies such as pot pies and sopping up food such as with biscuits and gravy. Cowboy style biscuits were created by pioneers using makeshift ovens as they traveled through the U.S. These were also often made by the chuck wagon cooks. The two main types of biscuits made were soda and sourdough.

A buttermilk biscuit called a cathead biscuit was created in the Appalachia and served with Sawmill gravy. The cathead biscuits were a very large biscuit. The Appalachian people had a fondness for large biscuits according to the book Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernog Wine.

People wishing to celebrate National Buttermilk Biscuit Day can go to a local restaurant and order a meal with some biscuits. Some restaurants may offer specials on biscuits that day. The local grocery store may have some biscuits for customers to buy. People who like to bake may enjoy making a batch of buttermilk biscuits and sharing them with friends and family. They can also look up the history of buttermilk biscuits.

National Dance Like A Chicken Day

National Dance Like a Chicken Day is celebrated on May 14th of each year in celebration of the “Chicken Song”. The “Chicken Dance” is an oom-pah song and its associated fad dance is now a contemporary dance throughout the Western world. The song was composed by accordion (Handharmonika) player Werner Thomas from Davos, Switzerland, in the 1950s.

The name of the original Swiss song was “Der Ententanz” (The Duck Dance). It is rumored to be a drinking song sung at Oktoberfest. Sometime in the late 1970s, the song acquired the name “Vogeltanz” (The Bird Dance) or “Vogerltanz” (Little Bird Dance or Birdie Dance), although these names never caught on seriously in Germany. On some sheet music and recordings it is called “Dance Little Bird.”

The dance was introduced in the United States in 1981 during the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oktoberfest by the Heilbronn Band from Germany. They wanted to demonstrate the dance in costume, but there were no duck costumes available anywhere near Tulsa. At a local television station, however, a chicken costume was available which was donated for use at the festival, giving the “Chicken Dance” its name.

The “Chicken Dance” song is accompanied by a dance requiring a group of people, and it goes as follows:
  • At the start of the music, shape a chicken beak with your hands. Open and close them four times, during the first four beats of the music.
  • Make chicken wings with your arms. Flap your wings four times, during the next four beats of the music.
  • Make a chicken’s tail feathers with your arms and hands. Wiggle downwards during the next four beats of the music.
  • Clap four times during the next four beats of the music while rising to your feet.
  • Repeat this process four times.
  • At the bridge, hold your arms straight, in imitation of an aeroplane. All dancers spin around the room in “flight” until the bridge ends.
  • (Alternately: At the bridge, link arms with the nearest person, turn right eight steps, switch arms and turn left eight steps, then repeat until the bridge ends)
  • (Alternatively: Assume close position with partner and polka until bridge ends.)
  • The dance repeats, progressively getting faster and faster, until the music stops.
The Stars and Stripes Forever Day

Composed by John Philip Sousa on Christmas Day 1896, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is the official March of the United States of America (US Code, Title 36 Chapter 10)

Surprisingly, John Philip Sousa's great American patriotic march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," was written not in the aftermath of a great battle, but on an ocean liner as Sousa and his wife were returning from a European vacation.

In late 1896, they were at sea when word came that the manager of the Sousa Band, David Blakely, had died suddenly. The band was scheduled to begin another cross-country tour soon, and Sousa knew he had to return to America right away to take over the band's business affairs. Sousa tells the rest of the story in his autobiography, Marching Along.
"Here came one of the most vivid incidents of my career. As the vessel (the Teutonic) steamed out of the harbor I was pacing on the deck, absorbed in thoughts of my manager's death and the many duties and decisions which awaited me in New York. Suddenly, I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed."
The march was an immediate success, and Sousa's Band played it at almost every concert until his death over 25 years later. Sousa even set words to it:
Let martial note in triumph floatAnd liberty extend its mighty handA flag appears 'mid thunderous cheers,The banner of the Western land.The emblem of the brave and trueIts folds protect no tyrant crewThe red and white and starry blueIs freedom's shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the bestAnd cheer them with fervid elationBut the flag of the North and South and WestIs the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.
Hurrah for the flag of the free!May it wave as our standard forever,The gem of the land and the sea,The banner of the right.Let despots remember the dayWhen our fathers with mighty endeavorProclaimed as they marched to the frayThat by their might and by their rightIt waves forever.
Let eagle shriek from lofty peakThe never-ending watchword of our land;Let summer breeze waft through the treesThe echo of the chorus grand.Sing out for liberty and light,Sing out for freedom and the right.Sing out for Union and its might,O patriotic sons.
Other nations may deem their flags the bestAnd cheer them with fervid elation,But the flag of the North and South and WestIs the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.
Hurrah for the flag of the free.May it wave as our standard foreverThe gem of the land and the sea,The banner of the rightLet despots remember the dayWhen our fathers with might endeavorProclaimed as they marched to the frayThat by their might and by their rightIt waves forever.
Underground America Day

What, you may ask, is Underground America Day? And what can you do to celebrate?

The holiday was founded on May 14th, 1974 by architect Malcolm Wells. It celebrates eco-friendly architecture designed to be partly underground. Wells believed that structures should be built to work with Earth and leave as little of a footprint as possible.

Wells’ buildings are designed to harness geothermal and solar energy. His houses are built with the contours of the land, often burrowed into hillsides. The roofs are generally covered with a thick layer of earth, suitable for gardening.
He also believed that these structures should provide an aesthetically pleasing habitat for humans and wildlife. It has even been described as “gentle architecture.” Picture a Hobbit’s house with some modern adaptations.

So, how do we celebrate Underground America Day? It is a holiday free of any obligations, just as Wells wanted it. does have a few suggestions if you are the “partying type.” They suggest, “Think about moles…” or “Stay home from work and put some dirt on your roof.”

This is the first Underground America Day since the passing of Mr. Wells back in November of 2009. Do him proud and think green. Maybe think about moles too!