Sunday, July 5, 2015

Holidays and Observances for July 5 2015

Bikini Day


On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed "bikini," inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.

European women first began wearing two-piece bathing suits that consisted of a halter top and shorts in the 1930s, but only a sliver of the midriff was revealed and the navel was vigilantly covered. In the United States, the modest two-piece made its appearance during World War II, when wartime rationing of fabric saw the removal of the skirt panel and other superfluous material. Meanwhile, in Europe, fortified coastlines and Allied invasions curtailed beach life during the war, and swimsuit development, like everything else non-military, came to a standstill.

In 1946, Western Europeans joyously greeted the first war-free summer in years, and French designers came up with fashions to match the liberated mood of the people. Two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, developed competing prototypes of the bikini. Heim called his the "atom" and advertised it as "the world's smallest bathing suit." Reard's swimsuit, which was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string, was in fact significantly smaller. Made out of a scant 30 inches of fabric, Reard promoted his creation as "smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit." Reard called his creation the bikini, named after the Bikini Atoll.

In planning the debut of his new swimsuit, Reard had trouble finding a professional model who would deign to wear the scandalously skimpy two-piece. So he turned to Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about appearing nearly nude in public. As an allusion to the headlines that he knew his swimsuit would generate, he printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini modeled on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.

Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s. Reard's business soared, and in advertisements he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn't a genuine bikini "unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring."

In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches. It was immortalized by the pop singer Brian Hyland, who sang "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini" in 1960, by the teenage "beach blanket" movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and by the California surfing culture celebrated by rock groups like the Beach Boys. Since then, the popularity of the bikini has only continued to grow.

National Apple Turnover Day


Every year in the United States, on the fifth day of the month of July, lovers of fruit-stuffed pastries all over the country have an excuse to indulge in a decadent breakfast treat. This is because National Apple Turnover Day falls on this date, and offers an opportunity to nosh on an apple turnover and spread awareness of this classic, fluffy, pan fried sweet.

Apple turnovers may be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch or as a snack. The turnovers have a shelf life of about 4 days, and are best if frozen immediately (rather than being stored in the refrigerator). Frozen apple turnovers are best if eaten with 6 months of freezing.

As there is little documented information about National Apple Turnover Day that is readily available, it is difficult to determine the roots of this food holiday.

Apples themselves are said to have originated in the Tien Shan mountain range in Northwestern China, and they have been beloved by ancient rulers such as Ramses II and Ramses III, who presented them as offerings to the god Ra. The oldest accounts of turnovers date back to England and America in the mid to late 18th century.

You can celebrate National Apple Turnover Day by purchasing a batch of the fried pastries and distributing them among friends and family members, or simply enjoying an apple turnover (or more than one) on your own. You may also with to challenge your culinary prowess by whipping up some turnovers in your own kitchen at home. In some cities you will find competitions and parties in celebration of the day.

How to Make Apple Turnovers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2znX9lhxcsk This video from Youtube features Nicky from Deglazing.com, who demonstrates a quick and simple recipe for making apple turnovers at home. Nicky starts with fresh granny smith apples, which she pares and chops, and mixes with orange juice and zest. You may use either a sharp knife or a parer to peel your apples.

National Build a Scarecrow Day


Each year in the United States, the first Sunday of July celebrates National Build a Scarecrow Day.  This is a day to gather together all the needed supplies and build a garden ready scarecrow.

A scarecrow is a decoy or a mannequin that is in the shape of a human and is dressed in old clothing.  It is placed in gardens and fields to discourage birds such as crows and sparrow from feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops.

For thousands of years scarecrows have helped humans save their crops from crows and other hungry mouths and provided an outlet for human creativity. Scarecrows are as old and as mysterious as human nature and have been useful friends to humans since the mists of early time.

Scarecrow genealogy is rooted in a rural life style. The Egyptians used the first scarecrows in recorded history to use to protect wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail. Egyptian farmers installed wooden frames in their fields and covered them with nets. Then they hid in the fields, scared the quail into the nets and took them home to eat for dinner.

Greek farmers in 2,500 B.C. carved wooden scarecrows to look like Priapus, the son of the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite, who supposedly was ugly enough to scare birds away from the vineyards and ensure good harvests. They painted their wooden scarecrows purple and put a club in one hand to scare away the birds and a sickle in the other for a good harvest.

The Romans copied the Greek scarecrow custom and when Roman armies marched through the Europe they introduced Priapus scarecrows to the people there. Almost simultaneously with the Greeks and Romans, Japanese farmers made scarecrows to protect their rice fields. They made scarecrows called kakashis, shaped like people. They dressed the kakashis in a raincoat and a round straw hat and often added bows and arrows to make them look more threatening. Kojiki, the oldest surviving Japanese book compiled in the year 712, features a scarecrow known as Kuebiko who appears as a deity who can’t walk yet knows everything about the world..

 In Germany, scarecrows were wooden and shaped to look like witches. Witch scarecrows were supposed to hasten the coming of spring. In medieval Britain, young boys and girls were used as live scarecrows or “bird scarers.” They would patrol the fields of crops and scare away birds by waving their arms or throwing stones. In later times, farmers stuffed sacks of straw, made faces of gourds, and leaned the straw man against pole to scare away birds.

In the United States, immigrant German farmers made human looking scarecrows called “bootzamon,” which later changed to bogeyman. They were dressed in old clothes with a large red handkerchief around their necks.

Native American tribes across North America used scarecrows or bird scarers, mostly adult men. In Georgia, Creek Indian families moved into huts in their corn fields to protect their crops during the growing season. In the Southwest, Zuni children had contests to see who could make the scariest scarecrow.

Pilgrim families took turns guarding their fields against birds and animals, but as Americans expanded west they invented new kinds of nonhuman scarecrows like wooden and straw figures. During the Great Depression, scarecrows could be found all across America, but in the agri-business era after World War II, farmers sprayed or dusted their crops with chemicals like DDT until scientists discovered their harmful effects. To substitute for chemicals, some farmers built scarecrows like whirligigs that revolved like windmills to scare away the birds.

Scarecrows still guard fields around the world during the growing season. Today some farmers use technological scarecrows instead of straw and wooden figures, technological scarecrows like reflective film ribbons tied to plants to create shimmers from the sun or automatic noise guns that are powered by propane gas. Other farmers in India and some Arab countries, station old men in chairs to throw stones at birds to keep them away from the crops just like the medieval bird scarers.

Even though Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, by American author L. Frank Baum, admonishes her dog Toto, “Don’t be silly Toto, scarecrows don’t talk,” the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz does talk. In his first appearance in the book, he reveals that he doesn’t have a brain and wants more than anything else to acquire one. The reality is that he already has a brain, but since he is only two days old it is largely unused. As the story unfolds, he demonstrates that he does use his brain and it keeps growing along with his experiences. The scarecrow is symbolic because even though he has the title, “the wisest man in all of Oz,” he is wise enough to know his limitations. He continues to credit the Wizard for his brains and he hands over the throne of Oz that the Wizard bequeaths him to Princess Ozma. He becomes one of her trusted advisors, but carves out enough time for himself to play games and enjoy life.

Paul Cornell focuses on the sinister aspect of scarecrow evolution in his 1995 Doctor Who novel Human Nature, when he has his villains, the Family of Blood, create an army of scarecrows to try to capture the Time Lord.

Tim Preston, in his children’s book, The Lonely Scarecrow, sees a winter future for the scarecrow. He imagines that instead of dying in the fall after the festivals and fun of Halloween are over, the scarecrow is covered with snow in the winter and becomes a useful friend until he resumes his guard duties in the spring.

Scarecrows have evolved along with people and people sponsor scarecrow festivals every year in places as diverse as  West Kilbride, Scotland,  St. Charles, Illinois, and Alberta, Canada. After the scarecrow festivals are over, both scarecrows and people enjoy a long, friendly, restful winter before they resume their more strenuous duties in the spring.

Today, on National Build a Scarecrow Day, have fun putting together your own unique scarecrow and protect your fruits and vegetables!  Make sure to let the kids help, they are filled with creativity and great imaginations!

National Graham Cracker Day


The graham cracker is a cookie of sorts, common in the United States, which is typically sweetened with sugar, honey, and/or cinnamon. The current recipe is a far cry from their original one — a mild, unsweetened biscuit made of unbleached flour with bran and wheat germ added. Graham crackers were originally invented in the early 1800s by a Presbyterian minister by the name of Sylvester Graham, who introduced this snack item as part of his then-radical vegetarian diet which eschewed white flour and spices.

Why? Graham hoped to end what he believed to be the scourge of his time: masturbation.

Graham, one of seventeen children, found sexual urges to be something to be repressed, and found “self-abuse” — a colloquialism common in the 1820s and 1830s — to be a particular ill of society. By some combination of pseudoscience and faith, he concluded that a vegetarian diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, limited dairy, and bland starches would result in an end to lustful behavior. For the last two decades of his life, Graham (who died at age 57) preached that his diet, later called the Graham Diet, would help those who followed it (called Grahamites) abstain from sexual activity, and, in particular, from self-love, which Graham argued led to insanity and blindness.

The Grahamite movement waned after its leader’s death in 1851, but one man in particular stayed true to Graham’s bland food (and sexual abstinence) edict. That man, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, was the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, and he insisted that patients abide by a similar diet. When his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, the sanitarium’s bookkeeper, accidentally left cooked wheat out, letting it go stale, the Kelloggs decided to try and force it through the rollers anyway. Instead of softening, the wheat came out hard, and in flake form. Dr. Kellogg served the flakes, which were genuinely well received by the sanitarium’s patients.

But while Dr. Kellogg was a Grahamite of sorts, his brother Will was not. Will saw a mass market opportunity by adding a touch of sugar to the corn flakes, causing a rift between himself and his steadfast brother. Will founded the Kellogg’s corporation, now an $18 billion company; John focused on “rehabilitating” masturbators, and, per Wikipedia, at times resorted to mutilation.

Bonus fact: For a while, Oberlin College in Ohio adopted the Graham diet, going meat-free, as well as eschewing condiments and seasonings, according to the student newspaper. These items were banned outright, even if you brought it into the dining hall yourself. But one day, a professor named John P. Cowles decided to challenge the system by bringing a pepper shaker to a meal there, and found out that the rules were taken quite seriously — he was fired. But a year or so later, student dissatisfaction with the rules ended up crescendoing, finally culminating in a return to more typical dining hall fare.

National Workaholics Day


If you live to work, thrive on challenges, live and breathe the office and haven’t taken a vacation in years, this special occasion may be right up your alley! July 5 is National Workaholics Day, an annual “holiday” dedicated to those hard-working Americans who love to work and those who love them.

Life with a Workaholic
While the boss may appreciate the workaholic’s work ethic, working all the time can be detrimental to one’s personal life. For the workaholic, there is no such thing as a 40-hour workweek. Taking time off from work is simply not an option. If you have no healthy life balance and are always on the job, work addiction can be problematic.

It can be difficult for the significant other to deal with a workaholic especially when the spouse is practically married to the job. He or she is addicted to work and the job is the mistress. A 1999 study revealed that the divorce rate is twice the national average when one person in the relationship is a workaholic.

In honor of National Workaholic Day, take today off. Turn off all the electronic devices and step away from the computer - after you finish reading this, of course! Spend some quality time with your loved ones today and enjoy life a little. Get back to work tomorrow!