Sunday, August 9, 2015

Holidays and Observances for August 9 2015

National Book Lovers Day

Did you know that today is National Book Lovers Day. The day for book lovers is actually celebrated two times each year. The first celebration is August 9 and the second is the first Saturday of November.

National Book Lovers Day is an important celebration in reading. According to an October 23, 2012 Pew Research Center study titled Younger Americans’ Reading And Library Habits, more than 8 in 10 Americans between 16 and 29 have read a book in the last year. The study also finds that college-age students between 18 and 24 have the highest level of reading rate.

National Book Lovers Day isn’t just about picking up a paperback or hardcover. We are encouraged to grab the newest Amazon e-Book and consume literature in any way we can.

Even with the advent of digital books, consumers continue to lean towards print. The Pew Research study found that 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read print books while 19 percent read e-books and 11 percent of survey takers said that audio books were the way to go.

On National Book Lovers Day organizers urge readers to find something they will enjoy, even if they don’t normally enjoy picking up a book.

Remember that heading to your local library can be more than just a trip to pick up a book. Celebrate National Book Lovers Day with a book but then check out your library’s selection of DVDs/Blu-rays, music, and other offerings. Read the book of your choice then reward yourself with a movie if that is more your fare.

International Day of The World's Indigenous People

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World's Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples. Events may include messages from the UN secretary general and other key leaders, performances by indigenous artists, and panel discussions on reconciliation.

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. On December 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People should be observed on August 9 annually during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014). The assembly also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People annually during the second decade. The decade’s goal was to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The forum’s mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to culture, economic and social development, education, the environment, health and human rights.

Artwork by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has also been seen on material to promote the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. It features two ears of green leaves facing each other and cradling a globe resembling planet earth. Within the globe is a picture of a handshake (two different hands) in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background. The handshake and the landscape background are encapsulated by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.

For this occasion, Rebang Dewan’s artwork is often seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words “We the peoples” written in the middle. The logo is set on a darker blue background. The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material UN events. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents people in the world.

National Hand Holding Day

Everybody has their preferred technique: some like interlocking, others prefer cupping.   Some like the pinky-link while others prefer being on top…others on the bottom.   Some swing both ways.

When it comes to holding hands it is not all about romance.  When you hold the hands of another you are sending the message that the other person is valued, important and noticed.

James Coan of the University of Virginia found that when people hold hands, their brains don’t work as hard to cope with stress.  When we hold hands, (or hug and touch), our bodies release oxytocin.  Its role is to calm and distress, and it is thought that touch triggers the body into producing this hormone.

Touch stimulates the production of oxytocin which, in turn, promotes a desire to touch and be touched. In another study, researchers from the University of North Carolina told couples they would have to give speeches. Before they did so, 100 of the couples sat holding hands for a short time, then they embraced for 20 seconds. Another group of couples rested quietly and were separated from their partners. During their speeches, heart rates and blood pressure rose twice as high in the second group compared to the hand-holders. Research further suggests that oxytocin is the chemical that can give marriage its beneficial effect on health over those that are single.

To hold someone’s hand is to offer them affection, protection or comfort.

A poll of 3,000 people by Abbey field in the UK showed that more than half of people couldn’t remember the last time they held their grandparents hand and more than a quarter had never done so. However, almost a fifth of respondents, when asked whose hands they would most like to hold, said it would be the hand of a grandparent who has died.

Just one in twenty respondents had held the hand of their grandma in the last month and only one in twenty five made this contact with their granddad. The report revealed a similar gender trend with parents, while only six percent of those surveyed had never held hands with their mother, twice as many had never held hands with their father.

The poll also revealed that the older you get, the more you regretted that lack of contact. Almost half (48 percent) of respondents over 55, when asked whose hand they would most like to hold, said it would be that of a departed parent.

The majority of respondents (80 percent) associated holding hands with romance but this contact was most popular amongst the young. Of those surveyed aged 17 and under, 64 percent most wanted to hold hands with someone they were attracted to. This figure decreased with age until only 21 percent of those over 55 wanted to hold hands for romance. This older group were most likely to associate holding hands with dying. (15 percent compared to less than two percent of those surveyed aged 17 and under)

Loneliness and depression are rampant in today’s society.  Holding someone’s hand, especially of someone who is isolated, dealing with an illness or elderly can help them to be more resilient against the impact of stress, promote better health and combat their feelings of isolation.

National Polka Day

National Polka Day is celebrated on the 9th of August every year.

Polka is a form of dance that involves a series of peppy and quick steps, done along with a partner. The music for the dance is rocking accordion style music. This fast-paced duet dance form is said to have originated in the 1800s in Bohemia. It is also said that a girl named Anna Slezak was the one who invented this dance in the year 1834. The dance then gained popularity in ballrooms around the world. The dance is a series of triple steps performed to the tune of polka music played on the accordion. The dance is great fun and a rigorous exercise too.

Be a part of the polka festivals organized at various venues in your city on this day. In addition to featuring different polka styles and accordion music these festivals also offer traditional food and lots of beer. But if you are not a person who likes to be lost in a crowd, then you could celebrate this day with your kids right in the comfort of your home.  Whatever you do just enjoy the day with a jig of polka in it.

National Rice Pudding Day

It’s National Rice Pudding Day! Rice pudding is a delicious treat that combines the smooth, creamy texture of pudding with nutritious and filling rice. 

Rice pudding is an ancient dish enjoyed by people of many cultures and cuisines. This food traces its roots to the grain pottages of made by middle eastern cooks. It has long been associated with good nutrition and easy digestion, and were first mentioned in medical texts rather than cookery books. Throughout history rice pudding has been recommended for the young, the old, and people of all ages with stomach ailments. In 19th century America, arrowroot and tapioca puddings were prescribed for much the same reason.

The history of rice is a long and complicated story. Food historians generally agree that rice came to Europe by way of India. At first, rice was not used as an ingredient in cooking. It was prized for its medicinal value and known as a thickening agent. The history of spices also figures prominently in the history of this dish.

Rice pudding around the world

Middle East
"Firni, a sweet milky dessert, to be eaten cold, made either with cornflour or rice flour or sometimes both and usually flavored with rose water and/or ground cardamom. The dish is decorated with chopped or ground almonds or pistachio nuts...the history of firni goes back a very long way; it seems to have originated in ancient Persia or the Middle East; and to have been introduced to India by the Moghuls."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 300)

"Shola...the name given to a number of dishes all over the Middle East, Iran, and Afghanistan in which short-grain rice is cooked until soft and thick, with other ingredients chose according to whether the shola is be be savoury or sweet...sholleh was brought to Perisa by the Mongolians in the 13th century...Shola-e-zard is a sweet saffron and rosewater (or orange flower water) flavoured rice dish...It has a religious significance, being made on the 10th day or Muharram (the Muslim month of mourning)...also made as a nazr, which is a custom of thanksgiving or pledge practiced in Iran and Afghanistan. The shola is cooked and then distributed to the poor and to neighbors and relatives."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 720)

"Kheer is the Indian name for sweet milk puddings usually made with rice, although it can also be made with fine noodles called seviyan, or semolina, carrots or sage. It is sometimes called sheer, which means milk in Persian. It probably originated in Persia where a similar dessert is known as sheer birinj (rice pudding). There are many variations in the flavourings which can include raisins, cardamom, cinnamon, almond, pistachio, saffron, kewra essence...or rose water, etc. For special occasions it is customary to decorate the chilled kheer with edible silver or gold leaf. The Persian version, sheer birinj, according to Kekmat...was originally the food of angels, first made in heaven when the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the 7th floor of Heaven to meet God and he was served this dish."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 431)

"Kheer. A sweet confection based on rice. When prepared as a ritual pucca' food, the rice is first lightly fried in ghee before boiling with sugared milk till the milk thickens. A kheer of jowar is mentioned in the fourteenth century padmavat of Gugarat, and other cereal products (vermicelli, cev, pheni) may be used as well. A thinner product is payasam, and both are popular desserts, routinely as well as on festive occasions. The Hindi word kheer derives from the Sanskrit ksheer for milk and kshirika for any dish prepared with milk."
---A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, K. T. Achaya [Oxford University Press:Delhi] 1998 (p. 130)

"The Chinese eight jewel rice pudding is so named because it is made with eight different kinds of fruit preserved with honey. Eight was said by Confucius to be the number of perfection. The fruits are arranged on the bottom of the dish and cooked, sweetened glutinous rice poured on top. The pudding is then steamed for several hours so that the rice breaks down into a homogenous mass."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 665)

"Rice pudding is the descendant of earlier rice pottages, which date back to the time of the Romans, who however used such a dish only as a medicine to settle upset stomaches. There were medieval rice pottages made of rice boiled until soft, then mixed with almond milk or cow's milk, or both, sweetened, and sometimes coloured. Rice was an expensive import, and these were luxury Lenten dishes for the rich. Recipes for baked rice puddings began to appear in the early 17th century. Often they were rather complicated...Nutmeg survives in modern recipes. It is now unusual to add eggs or fat, and rice pudding has tended to become a severely plain nursery dish. Nevertheless, it has its devotees."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 665)

"Northern Italians fancy themselves as having a monopoly on the consumption of rice, but in fact rice first entered Europe as a foodstuff via Arab-occupied Spain and Sicily. The Romans knew rice only as an extremely expensive commodity imported in small quantities from India for medicinal purposes."
--- Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-Five Centuries of Sicilian Food, Mary Taylor Simeti [ECCO Press:Hopewell NJ] 1998 (p. 69)

Enjoy some rice pudding today in honor of National Rice Pudding Day!

National Veep Day

In accordance with his statement of resignation the previous evening, Richard M. Nixon officially ends his term as the 37th president of the United States at noon. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to resign from office.

Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

Ford, the first president who came to the office through appointment rather than election, had replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president only eight months before. In a political scandal independent of the Nixon administration's wrongdoings in the Watergate affair, Agnew had been forced to resign in disgrace after he was charged with income tax evasion and political corruption. In September 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.

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