Thursday, October 8, 2015

Holidays and Observances for October 8 2015

Alvin C. York Day

Today is the commemoration of a heroic deed during World War I.

Alvin C. York had been born in a two-room cabin in Tennessee, back in 1887. He didn't want to fight in the war because of his strong religious views, but he was drafted into the army anyway. He discussed with his commanders how conflicted he felt between his religion's pacifist stance and his training in the army. Eventually he decided that, in this war at least, he should fight and even kill...if he had to. And, sadly, he had to.

On this date in 1918, the battalion that York belonged was sent to capture a German position along a railway in France. However, the Germans were safely tucked into a “machine gun nest” on the hill and were killing American soldiers right and left. So a small group of soldiers, including York, were sent to work their way behind German lines and take out those machine guns.

At first the small expedition was a success, and the American soldiers captured a large group of German soldiers. Then came the counter-attack; the German machine guns peppered the area, killing and injuring nine of the U.S. soldiers.

Suddenly, York was the highest ranking soldier still he was now in charge of the other seven remaining troops.

The seven guarded the prisoners while York took on the German soldiers manning the machine guns. All by himself.

Apparently, York was an excellent shot. He took a sniper position and shot 17 of the 30 or so German gunners. Finally the Germans realized that they were facing just one man, so six or seven (accounts differ) German soldiers rushed at York with their bayonets. They may have realized that York was out of rifle ammunition.

But York had a pistol, and he drew that and was able to kill all 6 – 7 German soldiers before they reached him!

The German commander facing York emptied his own pistol trying to kill the American sharp-shooter, but he didn't even injure York. So he called out in English and surrendered. York and the seven U.S. soldiers he led were able to march out 132 German prisoners and 32 German machine guns.

As heroic as this story is, of course, it is also completely tragic that so many young men—the Germans as well as the Americans—died “for their country.” York never wanted to kill—even when he felt he had to. He wrote that, all the while that he was proving his excellent marksmanship:
“I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.”
York got a lot of fame, the Medal of Honor, and some offers of fortune for his amazing feat. He turned down the offers of money for appearances, newspaper articles, and movie rights to his life story. He turned down cash for appearing in advertisements. Instead, he lent his name to charitable causes and campaigned successfully to get a road built to the region of Tennessee where he was born.

(York did accept the gift of a farm, but he ended up losing a lot of money when people reneged on their promises at the same time that there was a farming depression.)

York cooperated with journalists, publishers, and eventually even Hollywood to bring his story to America, but it seems that most or all of his earnings went to charities and schools.

American Touch Tag Day

American Touch Tag Day is observed on October 8th. Touch Tag is a playground game that involves one or more players chasing other players in an attempt to "tag" or touch them, usually with their hand. There are many variations; most forms have no teams, scores, or equipment.

A group of players decide who is going to be "it", often using a counting-out game such as eeny, meeny, miny, moe. The player selected to be "it" then chases the others, attempting to get close enough to tag them - touching them with a hand - while the others try to escape. A tag makes the tagged player "it" - in some variations, the previous "it" is no longer "it" and the game can continue indefinitely, while in others, both players remain "it" and the game ends when all players have become "it".

Tag and other chasing games have been banned in some schools in the United States and United Kingdom due to concerns about injuries and complaints from children of harassment. A principal who banned tag in their school criticized the game for creating a "self-esteem issue" in nominating one child as a victim, and noted that the oldest and biggest children usually dominated the game.

National Depression Screening Day

For more than two decades, Screening for Mental Health has developed programs to educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common behavioral and mental health disorders and suicide. We envision a world where mental health is viewed and treated with the same gravity as physical health, and the public’s participation in National Depression Screening Day helps make that vision a reality.

National Depression Screening Day, held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October, is an education and screening event conducted by hospitals, clinics, colleges, and community groups nationwide. Much like the medical community screens for diabetes and high blood pressure, we wanted to offer large-scale mood disorder screenings for the public. The program provides free, anonymous screenings for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as referral to treatment resources if warranted. Screenings are held both online and in-person and thousands of people participate each year.

This year, October 8th, will mark 25 years of this revolutionary event. To recognize the milestone, Screening for Mental Health is planning special outreach initiatives and will host a celebration in November in Boston and honor an outstanding mental health advocate.

As technology rapidly advances, we continue to look for new ways to bring mental health screenings to more people and we need your help. Screening for Mental Health has worked to reduce stigma and create new ways for the public to seek help for their mental health concerns. We are proud to be at the forefront of mental health awareness and screening initiatives and plan continue our mission for the next 25 years and beyond.

Please join us for our milestone National Depression Screening Day and help us spread the word to increase awareness of mental health.


  • Up to 80 percent of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning treatment. (NIH)
  • According to the World Health Organization, depression is projected to become the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020
  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. (WHO)
United States
  • One in five 18 to 25 year olds experienced a mental illness in the past year
  • An Estimated 1 in 10 U.S. Adults Report Depression (CDC)
  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. (World Health Organization, 2004)
Physical & Mental Health Connection
  • One-third of individuals with a chronic illness experience symptoms of depression
  • People with depression are 4 times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without the illness.
  • Many conditions may coexist with depression. Depression may increase the risk for another illness, and dealing with an illness may lead to depression. In fact, according to the NIMH, depression affects:
  • More than 40 percent of those with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 25 percent of those who have cancer
  • 27 percent of those with substance abuse problems
  • 50 percent of those with Parkinson's disease
  • 50 to 75 percent of those who have an eating disorder
  • 33 percent of those who've had a heart attack
Depression is a prevalent and increasingly recognized risk factor for both the development of and the outcome from coronary artery disease (CAD). (National Institute of Health)

National Fluffernutter Day

Today is National Fluffernutter Day! A Fluffernutter is a yummy sandwich made with bread, peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff. It is now a classic American treat enjoyed in school cafeterias, college dorms, and local diners nationwide.

Marshmallow candy can be traced back to ancient Egypt when people first began to harvest the marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis). During the 19th century, French pharmacists extracted the juice from marshmallow plants and heated it with egg whites and sugar, creating a marshmallow cream.

Marshmallow creme, one of the two main ingredients of a Fluffernutter, was invented in the early 20th century. Archibald Query invented a creation he called Marshmallow Creme in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1917, while Amory and Emma Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts, invented Snowflake Marshmallow Creme in 1913. During World War I, Emma Curtis published a recipe for the Liberty Sandwich, which consisted of peanut butter and Snowflake Marshmallow Creme on oat or barley bread. The recipe was published in a promotional booklet sent to Curtis' customers in 1918 and may be the origin of the Fluffernutter sandwich. Earlier labels and booklets published by the Curtises suggested combining Snow Flake Marshmallow Creme with peanut butter or eating it on sandwiches with chopped nuts or olives.

Meanwhile, sugar shortages during World War I hurt sales of Archibald Query's Marshmallow Creme, so Query sold his recipe in 1920 to two men from Swampscott, Massachusetts, H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, who began distributing the product through their company, Durkee-Mower Inc. The pair renamed the product Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff, and Durkee-Mower continues to sell the product under the name Marshmallow Fluff. The sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow creme continued to be eaten, but was not called a Fluffernutter until 1960, when an advertising firm Durkee-Mower hired created the term as a more effective way to market the sandwich. Fluffernutter is a registered trademark of Durkee-Mower, although the company's U.S. trademark registrations for the term cover only ice cream and printed recipes. In 2006, Durkee-Mower sued Williams-Sonoma Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleging that Williams-Sonoma infringed on its trademark by selling a marshmallow and peanut butter chocolate-covered candy under the Fluffernutter name.

In June 2006, Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios gained national attention when he proposed legislation restricting the serving of Fluffernutter sandwiches in public schools. After Barrios learned that his son was served Fluffernutters on a daily basis at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, public elementary school, he created an amendment to a junk food bill that aimed to limit the serving of Fluffernutters in Massachusetts public schools to once a week. The proposal was criticized as an example of trivial and overly intrusive legislation, while Barrios' supporters pointed to concerns over the problem of childhood obesity. Among the people who defended the Fluffernutter at the time was Massachusetts State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, whose district in Revere was close to Lynn, where Marshmallow Fluff is made. She claimed she planned to "fight to the death for Fluff" and supported legislation that would make the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The measure failed, and Reinstein tried again unsuccessfully in 2009. Supporters of the bill cited the sandwich's close association with childhood and Massachusetts.
How will you celebrate National Fluffernutter Day? Eating a Fluffernutter sandwich is a great way to start!

National Pierogi Day

Today is the day that pierogi lovers across the nation have been waiting for, it is National Pierogi Day. This holiday is celebrated each year on October 8.

Pierogies are Eastern Europe’s equivalent of ravioli or tortellini - essentially filled dumplings. This peasant dish originated in Poland in the 13th century, and hasn’t changed much since.

Let’s start with the name, just to clear things up. You’ll probably see it spelled pierogi, pirohgi, pierogie or any combination thereof. Merriam-Webster spells it pierogi, which is also the internationally accepted standard spelling. Pierogi is actually the plural of pierog, so saying pierogies is a little redundant but socially accepted.

Now for the dough. Back in the day, the dough was made simply with flour and water. These days, some dough recipes use eggs, and sometimes even sour cream. The dough is rolled out and cut into circles. The circles are filled and then sealed and boiled. After boiling, they may be pan sautéed or fried for some texture and color.

As for the filling, traditional pierogies feature mashed potato, cheese, sauerkraut, fried onions, meat or mushrooms, but the sky’s the limit on this. There are also different fillings to celebrate different holidays and times of year. If you’re making pierogies at home, make sure they're sealed well so you don’t lose the filling during the cooking process.

Typically pierogies are served hot, often with a sour cream dipping sauce, fried onions and applesauce. Dessert pierogies may be filled with fruit, chocolate or sweet cheese.

Want to try your hand at a batch at home? Look no further than pierogi enthusiast Martha Stewart who claims them as her favorite food.

World Octopus Day

As the name suggests, World Octopus Day celebrates one of the most distinctive creatures living on the planet today; the octopus.

Octopuses are worthy of appreciation for a number of reasons. First of all, they are one of earth’s great survivors. Indeed, despite their relatively short life span, octopus fossils date back more than 300 million years, meaning that they pre-date even dinosaurs. They are also highly intelligent, with around 500 million neurons located in their brains and arms, allowing them to bypass their insticts, learn lessons and solve problems.

In addition, they are visually stunning, coming in various different colors and shapes, while the Giant Pacific Octopus is able to grow to weigh more than 600 pounds!

So how should you celebrate World Octopus Day? How about a trip to a sea life center? Alternatively, put aside a small section of your day to simply learn more about these fascinating creatures.

A cephalopod is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda. These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles (muscular hydrostats) modified from the primitive molluscan foot. Fishermen sometimes call them inkfish, referring to their common ability to squirt ink. The study of cephalopods is a branch of malacology known as teuthology.

Cephalopods became dominant during the Ordovician period, represented by primitive nautiloids. The class now contains two, only distantly related, extant subclasses: Coleoidea, which includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautiloidea, represented by Nautilus and Allonautilus. In the Coleoidea, the molluscan shell has been internalized or is absent, whereas in the Nautiloidea, the external shell remains. About 800 living species of cephalopods have been identified. Two important extinct taxa are the Ammonoidea (ammonites) and Belemnoidea (belemnites).

World Sight Day

World Sight Day is a global event that focuses on bringing attention on blindness and vision impairment. It is observed on the second Thursday of October each year.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating authority for health, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) are actively involved in coordinating events and activities for World Sight Day. Associations such as Lions Clubs International have also been actively involved in promoting the day on an annual basis for many years.

Many communities, associations, and non-government organizations work together with WHO and IAPB to promote the day for the following purposes:
  • To raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment as major international public health issues.
  • To influence governments, particularly health ministers, to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programs.
  • To educate target audiences about blindness prevention, about VISION 2020 and its activities, and to generate support for VISION 2020 program activities.
Some people plant trees to commemorate World Sight Day and while others submit a photo for an international photo montage that focuses on the theme of blindness. Other activities include taking part in awareness-raising walks or distributing and displaying posters, bookmarks, booklets and other forms of information the raise awareness about preventable blindness.

The world's population is ageing and people are living longer but blindness from chronic conditions is also rising, according to WHO. About 80 percent of the world's 45 million blind people are aged over 50 years. About 90 percent of blind people live in low-income countries, where older people, especially older women, face barriers to getting the necessary eye health care. Yet, many age-related conditions leading to blindness – such as cataract, refractive error and glaucoma – can be easily and cheaply treated or cured. Timely intervention can often delay or reduce their effects on vision.

Lions Clubs International partnered with blindness prevention organizations worldwide to commemorate the first World Sight Day on October 8, 1998. This event was later integrated into VISION 2020, a global initiative that the IAPB coordinates. This initiative is a joint program between WHO and the IAPB. It involves non-government organizations, and professional associations, as well as eye care institutions and corporations.