Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Holidays and Observances for September 29 2015

Broadway Musicals Day

Musicals began to emerge as modern Western theatre in the 19th century. They’re commonly shows that integrate a story with music, range from 30 minutes to three hours and are presented in two acts. They differ from opera by being sung in the audience’s native language and generally incorporating acting, dancing and singing equally. In opera singing is the priority, operas generally employ singers not actors.

Musicals originated in ancient Greece where music and dance were included in light comedies and tragedies. The Romans continued this tradition, also introducing a form of tap shoe to make their dance steps more audible in auditoriums. By the Middle Ages musicals mostly consisted of travelling minstrels and performing troupes offering singing, slapstick comedy and musical morality plays of which little is known. In the Renaissance period musicals evolved into Commedia dell’Arte, Italian masked theatre based on sketches. Court masques involving music, dancing and singing were introduced in the Tudor period, and William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson both wrote plays which included masque-like sections. Musical opera evolved from masques which was very popular until the death of Charles 11 in 1685.

Comic operas and ballad operas, like John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) became popular in the 18th century. Ballad operas typically contained spoof lyrics which were written to popular tunes. Comic operas,  like Michael Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl (1845) were happy and original musicals, normally with romantic overtones.

Music halls, melodrama, burlesque, vaudeville and operette also developed during the 18th century. One of the earliest British music halls, Weston’s music hall, evolved from operette. Music halls were incredibly popular during the industrial revolution and both Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin began their careers there.

Operette was introduced by the French composer Herve in 1850. The most significant composer of operette was Jacques Offenbach, Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical theatre, can be traced back to him.

Gilbert and Sullivan were the first authors in Britain to write musical stage works  (1871 to 1896). They combined humor, acting and music and were similar to the musicals we love today. Gilbert wrote the words and Sullivan wrote complimentary music. Pirates of Penzance (1879) and HMS Pinafore (1878) are two of their more famous works.

Meanwhile, in America, Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart were doing their bit towards the evolution of modern musicals. Harrigan and Hart collaborated just after Harrigan’s first stage performance in 1867. They acted and David Braham, a London born musical theatre composer, wrote the corresponding music. Their plays were Vaudeville sketches of lower class workers which audiences, typically lower and middle class citizens, could relate to and loved. Vaudeville sketches, performances consisting of several unrelated acts such as comics, singers and acrobats were different from variety shows, also popular in the period, because they were aimed at families. Variety shows tended to consist of chorus girls, dancers and comics.

Minstrel shows were also introduced around this time. These now carry some racial stigma because white and black actors performed with black faces nevertheless, at the time, they were popular.

Broadway as we know it was introduced in 1866 with the show, The Black Crook, a production put on William Wheatley for, at the time, the unheard of amount of $25,000. In the 1900’s George M. Cohan, an American entertainer known before WW1 as “the man who owned Broadway” and Victor Herbert, an Irish born cellist and composer, gave musicals the distinctive style that we know today. Musicals evolved steadily throughout this period and the twentieth century. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical Showboat premiered in 1927 and Oklahoma! in 1943. In the 1950s, iconic musicals such as The King and I (1951), Bernstein and Sondheim’s West Side Story(1957) and My Fair Lady (1956) entered Broadway.

Concept musicals emerged in the 1960s, they are typically musicals which put significance on the statement rather than the narrative. Cabaret (1966) is thought to be a concept musical.

However, by the 1980s the big staged musicals were becoming more fashionable and French musical Les Miserables (1985), Miss Saigon (1989) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (1986) were introduced.

At present big Broadway musicals seem to be growing in popularity with the Lion King (1997), Wicked (2003), Billy Elliot (2005) being highly successful favorites.

To celebrate Broadway Musicals Day, here’s a list of some of my favorite songs from musicals:
1. “All That Jazz” from Chicago— I wasn’t familiar with Chicago Until the movie came out, but when I saw it, I fell in love. I saw it in the movie theater four times, and then Mom and I saw it on Broadway thanks to my freshman year college friends. If you’re familiar with this blog, you know how that went. But I really think if I had a chance to play any character on stage, it would be Velma Kelly!
2. “For Good” from Wicked — I know most people’s favorite song from Wicked is “Defying Gravity,” but I just love “For Good.” Makes me tear up everytime I hear it.
3. “Single” from The Wedding Singer — I just saw this at the Pennsylvania Playhouse last month, and I absolutely loved it. The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite movies, and they follow that script pretty closely. But then they add some really terrific songs to it, including this one. It’s hilarious and so catchy!
4. “Tomorrow” from Annie – Annie is another musical we grew up with, and we used to act out with the Foster and Schultz girls. A young Brandon was always Daddy Warbucks.
5. “Hard Candy Christmas” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was the first La Salle theater production I saw. I loved it, and Tanya had us watch the movie before we saw it as well. There is something so sad yet sweet (get the pun? It has candy in the title!) about this song.
6.“The Telephone Hour” from Bye Bye Birdie — This one has a lot of sentimental value because it’s one of Mom’s favorites. We used to sing it with her all the time.
7. “All Er Nuthin” from Oklahoma — Emily and I used to perform this one for our Nanny, and she loved it. I don’t remember which one of us was Ado Annie and who had the poor luck to be Will.
8. “The Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Show — I’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Show on stage, just it’s very popular film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve gotta say the movie is so bizarre and I don’t know what to think of it, but I do know the music is awesome!
9. “Waterloo” from Mamma Mia! — After Ter and I saw this movie, I would not stop singing “Waterloo.” Worst part was, I didn’t really know the lyrics. I’m pretty sure my roommates were very close to choking me.
10. “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors — My high school produced this one and I was really impressed how they were able to operate that big ol’ plant on such a small stage!

Confucius Day

Confucius Day is held annually on Confucius’ Birthday September 28 to pay homage to Confucius, China’s ‘First Teacher.’

Confucius (551-479 BC) was a sage, scholar and philosopher. Confucius passed on his passion for education by emphasizing the importance of education. A slew of accolades, including a posthumous award of “Supreme Teacher” in 1AD, an imperial decree deeming him a "Grand Master" in 581AD, and the bestowing of the title “Prince of Culture” in 739AD led to Confucius’ continued popularity.

The Confucian ceremony has been traced to the Zhou Dynasty (1046BC-221BC). After Confucius’ death, ceremonies to honor him were held by Confucius' family members. Emperor Lu Aigong converted Confucius’ home in Qufu, in Shandong Province, to a temple so Confucius' descendants could honor him. It wasn't until after Han Emperor Gaozu Liu Bang paid his respects to Confucius that all emperors began to worship Confucius. Confucian Ceremonies have been held regularly since the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD).

During the Three Kingdoms Period (220AD-280AD), Emperor Cao Cao established the biyong, an institute for teaching the emperor how to conduct the Confucius ceremony.

The modern Confucian ceremony is 60-minutes long and is celebrated at Qufu (Shandong), the birthplace of Confucius, the Confucius Temple in Taipei, Taiwan, and at temples throughout China. The Confucius ceremony is held at day break each Sept. 28 on Confucius’ birthday. The modern Confucian Ceremony consists of 37 parts which are each precisely choreographed.

The ceremony starts with three drum rolls and a procession of attendants, musicians, dancers and participants who include political leaders, school principals and students, musicians in Ming Dynasty style red robes and black hats and 64 dancers dressed in Soong and Ming Dynasty style yellow silk robes with dark blue waistbands and black hats. Each person must stop every five steps and pause before continuing to his designated spot where each person remains standing for the entire ceremony.

The next portion of the ceremony involves opening the gates of the temple, which are only opened during the Confucian ceremony. A sacrifice is buried and the spirit of Confucius is welcomed into the temple. After three bows, food and drink, which traditionally included a pig, a cow, and a goat, is offered as a sacrifice to Confucius. Nowadays, livestock have been replaced with fruit and other offerings at some ceremonies including the one at the Confucius Temple in Taiwan.

After the food offering, “The Song of Peace” is played with traditional Chinese instruments while the dancers, who are all students, perform the Ba Yi dance, an ancient dance that started in the Zhou Dynasty as a way to pay respect to people of different social positions. Yi means ‘row’ and the number of dancers depends on who is being honored: eight-rows for an emperor, six-rows for a duke or princess, four-rows for high ranking government officials, and two-rows for lower ranking officials. Eight rows of eight dancers are used for the Confucian Ceremony. Each dancer holds a short bamboo flute, which symbolizes balance, in the left hand and a long pheasant tail feather, which symbolizes integrity, in the right hand.

Incense is offered and after a few moments of chanting, there is another round of three bows. Next, each official group makes a presentation and, in Taiwan, the president offers incense before chanting a blessing and giving a short address. Some years the president of Taiwan is unable to attend so another high ranking political person delivers the speech on his behalf. When the president finishes chanting, there is another round of triple bows.

The sacrificial feast is removed to symbolize it has been eaten by the spirit of Confucius. His spirit is then escorted out of the temple. A final round of three bows precedes the burning of spirit money and prayers. The participants move from their appointed places to watch the pile of money and prayers burn. They return to their places before the gates of the temple are closed.

Once the gates are locked, the participants exit and the ceremony concludes with the participants and observers feasting on a ‘wisdom cake’. It is said eating the special rice cake will bring luck with one’s studies so hundreds of students line up each year hoping a bite of this cake will make them as smart as Confucius or at least garner better academic performance.

National Attend Your Grandchild's Birthday Day

Beginning in 2002, September 28 has been designated as “National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birth Day.” It is being set aside each year to encourage grandparents participate in their grandchild’s birth as well as his or her life.

Have you been invited to attend the birth of your grandchild? Are you reluctant to go or are you looking forward to it?

With the ease in hospital regulations and the exploding senior population, many grandparents are now present during the delivery of their grandchildren. Attending the birth is a way to begin the lifelong love affair with your grandchild.

When you attend the birth of your grandchild, the birth event becomes a “rite of passage” where everyone celebrates the addition of a new generation to the family. Your children become parents and you become grandparents. You all move up a branch on the family tree. It is an emotional and spiritual event that touches everyone in attendance. Sharing your grandchild’s birth provides unforgettable memories.

“A new baby can cement and affirm family bonds,” says Dr. Arthur Kornhaber, President and Founder of The Foundation for Grandparenting, who has long advocated the attendance of grandparents at the birth of their grandchildren. “But many grandparents are hesitant about attending their grandchild’s birth. They ask many questions about the “how”, “why” and “when” of getting involved.”

If it has been over twenty years since you were in a maternity ward, you probably realize that things have changed a lot. Perhaps you were sedated during the birth of your children and have never actually seen a baby being born. Or if you had your children during the 70′s, you may have had natural childbirth. But today’s hospital birth is very mechanized and a delivering woman can look like she is in intensive care. Despite all the propaganda about new pain relieving procedures, women still have some degree of pain at some time during most deliveries. Watching your daughter give birth is a very different experience than giving birth yourself and watching her in pain can be overwhelming if you don’t understand what is taking place.

It is no wonder some grandparents are hesitant. Many often feel that birthing is a private event and they shouldn’t intrude. But if you are invited to be there, don’t pass up the opportunity. This is your child who is having a child. It is an important event. A little preparation will assuage any fears that linger.

Preparation makes the event more comfortable for everyone present: the doctor, the expecting couple, the hospital staff, and the grandparents, and preparation begins with the first announcement that a baby is expected.

Here are ten tips to enhance your expectant grandparent experience:
  1. Be informed. Read about how pregnancy is managed today and about birthing practices and how they have changed. Know the tools and terminology.
  2. Be positive. Keep a positive attitude. Refrain from scary talk even when you are worried. Tell only positive birth stories.
  3. Be attentive. Be ready to help when asked, listen to a daughter or son’s pregnancy updates with enthusiasm, and recognize this milestone in their life.
  4. Be available. Go shopping together, attend a doctor’s visit, take a hospital tour, and help fix up the nursery, stay in touch.
  5. Be prepared. Have your camera in good working condition; keep yourself healthy, study up on baby care, childproof your home, get your own baby equipment for future visits.
  6. Be available. Postpone a vacation or cancel a function if it means you might miss the birth. This day will not come again.
  7. Be supporting. Even if you don’t agree with plans your children make, try to support them. This is their birth and their baby. You don’t want family disputes now.
  8. Be Proud. Let everyone know you are looking forward to this grandchild and to being a grandparent; least you hurt your children’s feelings.
  9. Be Patient. Have a thick skin, as pregnant and laboring women aren’t always in a good mood. Don’t take things personal.
  10. Be kind. Don’t forget other grandchildren. Think of everyone else’s needs before your own during this time.
Whether you are in the room or waiting nearby, being there when your grandchild is born is an exciting experience and one you shouldn’t miss. Your children will appreciate your help and support during this milestone in their life.

National Biscotti Day

September 29 is National Biscotti Day!

Biscotti Goddess created and registered National Biscotti Day.  We have been in business since 2001 making handmade gourmet biscotti and believe there needs to be a day to celebrate this delicious treat that pairs wonderfully with coffee (and wine, tea, milk, etc.).

Based upon some searching we did, it appears there seems to be confusion around the existence of a day dedicated to biscotti.  It sometimes has been bundled in with Coffee Cake Day (April 7) and National Cookie Day (December 4).  We feel it makes sense to us to match it with National Coffee Day on September 29 and submitted it to Chase’s Calendar of Events.

"Biscotti" is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Such nonperishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions. The word biscotti, in this sense, shares its origin with the British English word "biscuit", which describes what American English-speakers refer to as a "cookie". In modern Italian, the word biscotti refers to any cookie or cracker, just as does the British use of the word "biscuit". The number of bakings or hardness is not relevant to the term. In America, the term "biscotti" refers only to the specific Italian cookie. The American pronunciation is also different from the Italian.

The first documented recipe for biscotti is a centuries-old manuscript, now preserved in Prato, found by the eighteenth-century scholar Amadio Baldanzi. In this document, the biscuits are called of Genoa.

Although commonly used to indicate the biscuits of Prato, biscotti di Prato, in modern Italy and Argentina they are also known widely by the name "cantuccini". These names actually suggest other similar regional products of Italy. The term cantuccini is most commonly used today in Tuscany, but originally refers to variations or imitations which deviate from the traditional recipe in a few key points such as the use of yeasts, acids (to make them less dry) and flavorings. Rusks are larger, longer biscuits, rustic bread dough enriched with olive oil and anise seeds.

The confusion on the name may have been born from the fact that on the old sign (still present) of "Biscottificio Antonio Mattei," the leading manufacturer of biscuits of Prato, is written just below the name of the shop: "Manufacturers of cantuccini," which at the time were one of the major products of the biscuits. The sign has remained unchanged, and after such a long time people are accustomed to associate the name "cantuccini" with the biscuits typical of Sardegna and Sicily.

Through Middle French, the word was imported into the English language as "biscuit", although in English as in Italian "biscuit" does not refer specifically to a twice-baked cookie.

In Spain, the Catalan carquinyoli are made with whole or sliced almonds, and are also associated with the regions of Aragon. In Batea, La Fatarella, and Prat de Comte, all inland municipalities of Catalonia, in the Terra Alta they are also called carquinyols. Biscotti are traditional also in some inland towns in Valencia, where they are called rosegons or rosegós. In Minorca, carquinyols are square shaped and do not include whole almonds. One Catalan food writer states that carquinyoli is derived from the French croquignole. Croquignole, another name for these biscotti, is a French word of Germanic origin.

In North America, where "biscuit" has taken on other meanings, any twice-baked cookies are apt to be known as biscotti.

National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day takes place on September 29. National Coffee Day is an annual event observed in a handful of countries for the celebration and enjoyment of the popular beverage coffee. This day is also used to promote fair trade coffee and to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers. 

On this day, many businesses around the world offer free or discounted cups of coffee. Some businesses share coupons and special deals with their loyal followers via social networking. Some greeting card companies sell National Coffee Day greeting cards, as well as free e-cards to help celebrate the occasion. While the exact origin of International Coffee Day is unknown, many countries around the world participate in this event. 

The global spread of coffee growing and drinking began in the Horn of Africa, where, according to legend, coffee trees originated in the Ethiopian province of Kaffa. It is recorded that the fruit of the plant, known as coffee cherries, was eaten by slaves taken from present day Sudan into Yemen and Arabia through the great port of its day, Mocha. Coffee was certainly being cultivated in Yemen by the 15th century and probably much earlier. In an attempt to prevent its cultivation elsewhere, the Arabs imposed a ban on the export of fertile coffee beans, a restriction that was eventually circumvented in 1616 by the Dutch, who brought live coffee plants back to the Netherlands to be grown in greenhouses.

Initially, the authorities in Yemen actively encouraged coffee drinking. The first coffeehouses or kaveh kanes opened in Mecca and quickly spread throughout the Arab world, thriving as places where chess was played, gossip was exchanged and singing, dancing and music were enjoyed. Nothing quite like this had existed before: a place where social and business life could be conducted in comfortable surroundings and where - for the price of a cup of coffee - anyone could venture. Perhaps predictably, the Arabian coffeehouse soon became a centre of political activity and was suppressed. Over the next few decades coffee and coffeehouses were banned numerous times but kept reappearing until eventually an acceptable way out was found when a tax was introduced on both.

 By the late 1600’s the Dutch were growing coffee at Malabar in India and in 1699 took some plants to Batavia in Java, in what is now Indonesia. Within a few years the Dutch colonies had become the main suppliers of coffee to Europe, where coffee had first been brought by Venetian traders in 1615. This was a period when the two other globally significant hot beverages also appeared in Europe. Hot chocolate was the first, brought by the Spanish from the Americas to Spain in 1528; and tea, which was first sold in Europe in 1610. At first coffee was mainly sold by lemonade vendors and was believed to have medicinal qualities. The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683, with the most famous, Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco, opening in 1720. It is still open for business today. The largest insurance market in the world, Lloyd's of London, began life as a coffeehouse. It was started in 1688 by Edward Lloyd, who prepared lists of the ships that his customers had insured.

The first literary reference to coffee being drunk in North America is from 1668 and, soon after, coffee houses were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other towns. The Boston Tea Party Of 1773 was planned in a coffee house, the Green Dragon. Both the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of New York started in coffeehouses in what is today known as Wall Street.

In 1720 a French naval officer named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, while on leave in Paris from his post in Martinique, acquired a coffee tree with the intention of taking it with him on the return voyage. With the plant secured in a glass case on deck to keep it warm and prevent damage from salt water, the journey proved eventful. As recorded in de Clieu's own journal, the ship was threatened by Tunisian pirates. There was a violent storm, during which the plant had to be tied down. A jealous fellow officer tried to sabotage the plant, resulting in a branch being torn off. When the ship was becalmed and drinking water rationed, De Clieu ensured the plant’s survival by giving it most of his precious water. Finally, the ship arrived in Martinique and the coffee tree was re-planted at Preebear. It grew, and multiplied, and by 1726 the first harvest was ready. It is recorded that, by 1777, there were between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and the model for a new cash crop that could be grown in the New World was in place.

But it was the Dutch who first started the spread of the coffee plant in Central and South America, where today it reigns supreme as the main continental cash crop. Coffee first arrived in the Dutch colony of Surinam in 1718, to be followed by plantations in French Guyana and the first of many in Brazil in the state of Pará. In 1730 the British introduced coffee to Jamaica, where today the most famous and expensive coffee in the world is grown in the Blue Mountains.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw the establishment across Brazil of vast sugar plantations or fazendas, owned by the country’s elite. As sugar prices weakened in the 1820’s, capital and labour migrated to the southeast in response to the expansion of coffee growing in the Paraiba Valley, where it had been introduced in 1774. By the beginning of the 1830’s Brazil was the world’s largest producer with some 600,000 bags a year, followed by Cuba, Java and Haiti, each with annual production of 350 to 450,000 bags. World production amounted to some 2.5 million bags per year.

The rapid expansion of production in Brazil and Java, among others, caused a significant decline in world prices. These bottomed out in the late 1840’s, from which point a strong upward movement occurred, reaching its peak in the 1890’s. During this latter period, due mainly to a lack of inland transport and manpower, Brazilian expansion slowed considerably. Meanwhile, the upward movement of prices encouraged the growth of coffee cultivation in other producing regions in the Americas such as Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia.

In Colombia, where coffee had been introduced by the Jesuits as early as 1723, civil strife and the inaccessibility of the best coffee-growing regions had hampered the growth of a coffee industry. Following the “Thousand Days War” of 1899 to 1903, the new peace saw Colombians turn to coffee as their salvation. While larger plantations, or haciendas, dominated the upper Magdalena river regions of Cundinamarca and Tolima, determined peasants staked new claims in the mountainous regions to the west, in Antioquia and Caldas. New railways, relying on coffee for profit, allowed more coffee to be grown and transported. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 permitted exports from Colombia’s previously unreachable Pacific coast, with the port of Buenaventura assuming increasing importance.

In 1905 Colombia exported five hundred thousand bags of coffee; by 1915 exports had doubled. While Brazil desperately tried to control its overproduction, Colombian coffee became increasingly popular with American and European consumers. In 1914 Brazil supplied three-quarters of U.S. imports with 5.6 million bags, but by 1919 that figure had fallen to 4.3 million, while Colombia’s share had risen from 687,000 to 915,000 bags. During the same period Central American exports to the U.S. had risen from 302,000 to 1.2 million bags.

In spite of political turmoil, social upheaval and economic vicissitude, the 20th century saw an essentially continuous rise in demand for coffee. U.S. consumption continued to grow reaching a peak in 1946, when annual per capita consumption was 19.8 pounds, twice the figure in 1900. Especially during periods of high global prices, this steadily increasing demand lead to an expansion in production throughout the coffee-growing regions of the world. With the process of decolonisation that began in the years following the Second World War, many newly independent nations in Africa, notably Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, found themselves in varying degrees dependent on coffee export revenue.

For US coffee drinkers, the country’s wettest city, Seattle, has become synonymous with a new type of café culture, which, from its birth in the 1970s, swept the continent, dramatically improving the general quality of the beverage. This new found 'evangelism' for coffee has spread to the rest of the world, even to countries with great coffee traditions of their own, such as Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia, adding new converts to the pleasures of good coffee. Today it is possible to find good coffee in every major city of the world, from London to Sydney to Tokyo; we are drinking more and, more importantly, better coffee.

The importance of coffee to the world economy cannot be overstated. It is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade, in many years second in value only to oil as a source of foreign exchange to producing countries. Its cultivation, processing, trading, transportation and marketing provide employment for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Coffee is crucial to the economies and politics of many developing countries; for many of the world's Least Developed Countries, exports of coffee account for more than 50 percent of their foreign exchange earnings. Coffee is a traded commodity on major futures and commodity exchanges, most importantly in London and New York.

Many studies have examined the health effects of coffee, and whether the overall effects of coffee consumption are positive or negative has been widely disputed. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults. However, coffee can worsen the symptoms of some conditions, such as anxiety.

National Mocha Day

September 29 is National Mocha Day!

Mocha lovers from all over – today is the day to indulge in the rich, delicious mocha flavored beverage of your choosing. If you like your coffee plain, maybe branch out today and try something with a mocha twist.

When you step into your local coffee shop and order a café mocha, mocha latte or mocha java, do you really understand what you are ordering and the origin of the drink. Here is a little insight into the history of your drink.

Mocha, also spelled Mokha, is used to describe a varietal of coffee bean. Smaller and rounder than most other varieties, these beans are derived from the coffee species Coffea Arabica (Arabica coffee) which is native to the Middle East country of Yemen. Although, the beans originally shipped from the port of Mocha, Yemen were thought to have had a chocolate-like taste, current mocha beans from Yemen usually do not.

It is commonly believed that the coffee bean that originated in the port city of Mocha (Mokha), Yemen and was first encountered by Marco Polo on his trip through the Arab World. After the month and a half into Polo’s troubled journey, his party was forced to go ashore, into what is now modern day Lebanon, to resupply their stocks, because their captain had provided insufficient room for food storage. In the marketplace, Polo found a salesman, from Yemen, who had brought coffee beans from Mocha. He purchased some and ultimately returned with them to Europe. However, the bean was not widely known throughout Europe until the 17th century.

“Mocha coffee” can refer either to coffee brewed with mocha beans, which were originally cultivated in Yemen and exported through the port of Mocha or to a popular, yet bastardized, drink made of coffee infused with chocolate.

The term “mocha” in relation to chocolate and coffee–chocolate blends is strictly a result of European influence. Chocolate is not cultivated at Mocha nor imported into it. Mocha Java refers to a blend of beans from both Mocha, Yemen and the island of Java in Indonesia. Now you know.

National Poisoned Blackberries Day

It’s Poisoned Blackberry day! We are celebrating this day around my house with – guess what? Lots and lots of blackberries! 

So just what the heck is Poisoned Blackberry Day anyway?

The reason for the day actually has a couple of theories behind it. The first, English, legend says that after the Devil was kicked out of Heaven on September 29,  he sought revenge by spitting – and some other, ickier legends even say peeing - on the blackberries! This made them unfit to eat and therefore, they were known to be poisoned blackberries.

There is another, perhaps more reasonable, explanation as to what Poisoned Blackberry Day is all about. This one dates back to the 1700s and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Devil or his bathroom functions. This theory states that during that time, blackberries were thought to cause more deaths than any other fruit that comes off a vine or a bush. Ever since, dozens of people have gone roaming the countryside on Poisoned Blackberry Day to hunt for the lethal blackberries that kill immediately upon consumption.

I have no idea whether there’s any merit to be given to either of these theories. But I do know that it’s Poisoned Blackberry Day. And that’s one more reason to take some berries out of the freezer, and figure out something new to do with them!


Each year on September 29th VFW Day is celebrated at Posts and in communities around the world. It’s a day devoted to the organization and its dedicated members who are so deeply committed to serving those who bravely serve this nation.  

This year marks the 115th year since the VFW was established. On this date in 1899, a small group of Spanish-America war veterans joined together to form what would become the nation’s largest and most dedicated group of combat veterans.  

For 115 years the VFW has been unwavering in its devotion “to honor the dead by helping the living.” VFW and its Auxiliary members carry out this mission by promoting good will, patriotism and youth scholarship. Their commitment is demonstrated through national veterans and legislative services, military assistance and community service programs, youth activities and scholarship programs, as well as millions of volunteer hours in their local communities each year.  

Show your support by honoring all members and veterans in your community. Today everyone is invited to celebrate the tradition of continuous service and steadfast devotion that defines the VFW.

World Heart Day

World Heart Day is globally observed on September 29 to inform people about cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest cause of death worldwide. The event also aims to promote preventative measures that reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Many people around the world unite with governments and non-government organizations celebrate and promote World Heart Day each year. Activities include fun runs, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The World Heart Federation organizes awareness events in more than 100 countries. They include:
  • Health checks.
  • Organized walks, runs and fitness sessions.
  • Public talks.
  • Stage shows.
  • Scientific forums.
  • Exhibitions.
  • Concerts.
  • Carnivals.
  • Sports tournaments.
These activities are done in partnership with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health.

About World Heart Day
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and this is projected to remain so, according to WHO. About 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Risk factors that may lead to heart disease and stroke include:
  • Raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Smoking.
  • Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables.
  • Overweight.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical inactivity.
World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death. Together with organizations such as WHO, the World Heart Federation spreads the news that at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – which are tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – are controlled. World Heart Day started in 1999 and is held on the last Sunday of September every year.

Various leaflets, posters, brochures and other material used to promote World Heart Day show images of people taking steps towards healthier living through activities such as exercise, as well as eating healthy and nutritious food. The heart symbol is also seen in promotional material.