Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9th- California Admission Day (USA)

Happy Birthday, California! Today is the 161st anniversary of the "Golden State". The treaty between the USA and Mexico that ended the Mexican war specified a large piece of the Southwest (including California) as belonging to America. California became wildly popular in 1848 as a result of the Gold Rush. People from all over hurried to the territory in search of their fortune, and before long, a civil government was needed to settle disputes among them and provide equal law for them. On this day in 1850, President Millard Fillmore signed the bill that would admit California as the 31st state of the Union. California was accepted as a state under The Compromise of 1850, which rejected the slave-owning Southern states  access to the Pacific. 

Today, California will honor the day with a celebration on the South Steps in Sacremento. The state of California announced: “Together, we celebrate a more inclusive story of the History of California, targeting 4th grade students through Official Statewide History and Social Studies Content Standards and Practice[this is implemented and ongoing in California state public school curriculum]." 

This holiday has provided a perfect opportunity to learn about the impact California has had on American history. To bring this article to a close, I'll leave you with a few funny Californian laws I happened upon while researching. 

1. "In Arcadia, peacocks have the right of way to cross any street, including driveways."
2. "In Carmel, ice cream may not be eaten while standing on the sidewalk." (Ironic, no?)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1st- First World Hypoparathyroidism Awareness Day (World)

World Hypoparathyroidism Awareness Day on June 1st, 2011 was the very first Hypoparathyroidism Awareness day. This was an especially important holiday for me because I was diagnosed with Hypoparathyroidism almost exactly two years ago. 

Hypoparathyroidism (HPTH) is a rare endocrine condition that is unknown by many people because it is so uncommon. Although it only affects a small number of people, its effects on a person are huge. People with Hypoparathyroidism, whether it is Iatrogenic (caused by surgical removal) or Idiopathic (without a defined cause), all have insufficient levels of parathyroid hormone causing the inability to regulate blood calcium levels. Although living with falling blood calcium levels is difficult, it is possible by taking a precarious combination of many medicines and supplements. Hypoparathyroidism causes extreme weakness among other unpleasant symptoms and can be life-threatening if calcium blood levels drop too low. 

To raise awareness for our uncommon condition, my friends and I at HPTH UK honored the day by wearing green and encouraging our friends, family, and peers to do the same. We used phrases such as "Going Green for Hypoparathyroidism!" and "Green for a Growing Awareness for HPTH!" to spread the word of our day. 

The day was a success as we had 463 people from all over the world confirm via Facebook that they would wear green June 1st to support us. My family, friends, and school community at The Galloway School in Atlanta, GA were wonderful and went all-out to support me by wearing green for the first World HPTH Awareness Day as you will see in the following pictures.

Over 75 students and teachers at The Galloway School in Atlanta, GA wore green to support HPTH Awareness Day

Morgan (right) and I (left) Going Green for HPTH!

Close-up of the group

Friends Laura (left) and Erin (right) and I (center) wearing green HPTH Awareness shirts.

To learn more about Hypoparathyroidism, please visit

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30th- Canary Islands' Day (Canary Islands)

The Canary Islands are made up of 7 inhabited islands between Europe and Africa: Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife, El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera, and Chinijo Archipelago (which is made up of the smaller islands La Graciosa, Alegranza, MontaƱa Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste). The Canary Islands are an autonomous (meaning self-governing) Spanish community with their own parliament. Canary Islands Day marks the day of the Canary Islands' very first parliament session in 1983. 

Although the holiday celebrates government, it is also a celebration of the islands' rich culture. On this day, schools hold extra classes about the history of their homeland. The Canarians eat communal meals and host festivals in honor of the day. There are also domestic animals shows and exhibits of cows pulling sleighs. Another large part of the celebration consists of children singing cultural music and playing traditional games such as "watch-your-step" and "tug-of-war". This is indeed the day when the people of the Canary Islands celebrate their ancestry and exhibit their pride for bringing joy to so many. 

Map of Canary Islands

View from Canary Islands Beach
Photos from:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8th- White Lotus Day (Theosophy)

Although this Sunday is Mother's Day in America, there is an additional holiday that is much lesser known held annually on May 8th. This holiday is called White Lotus Day, and it is celebrated to commemorate the passing of Madame Helena Patrovna Blavatsky (also referred to as HPB). Madame Blavatsky was born into a well-to-do Russian family in 1831. During her life, she travelled around the world never staying in any one place very long. Madame Blavatsky was known as a psychic and was one of the founding members of the Theosophical Society. She is credited with launching the Theosophical Movement and first introducing the knowledge of Eastern Religions to the West. 

White Lotus Day is a holiday that encourages meditation and observation of the metaphor of the lotus. The lotus's life begins in the mud and travels through the water to reach the clear air and warmth of the sun. Madame Blavatsky and her fellow members of Theosophy believed that life structured itself in a quite a similar way. White Lotus Day is celebrated in several ways: 

1. At noon, a commemorative meeting is held at headquarters in which excerpts from Theosophical works are read. 
2. Food is given in Madame Blavatsky's to the poor fishermen of Adyar, India.
3. The flag is half-masted from sunrise to sunset. 
4. The convention hall is adorned with white lotus flowers. 
5. All braches of Theosophy meet on this day and express their love for Madame Blavatsky "in some simple, unsectarian, yet dignified way, avoiding all slavish adulation and empty compliments [...] for her who brought us the chart of the climbing Path which leads to the summits of Knowledge". 

White Lotus

Madame Blavatsky

Photos from: and

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7th- Radio Day (Russia, Bulgaria, and Armenia)

The invention of the radio in 1895 had a large impact on communication for individual countries and the world as a whole. Radio Day (or Radio and Television Day, as it is called in Bulgaria) became a holiday on May 7th 1945, exactly 50 years from the Day Alexander Popov first successfully established the Radio as a tool. The brilliant Russian physicist built upon Tesla and Marconi's prior achievements in the process of radio development and is generally credited in Eastern Europe with its invention. Because Tesla and Marconi had already begun work with the idea of "emission and reception of signals by means of electromagnetic oscillations", Western Europeans typically acknowledge them as the radio's inventors. 

In celebration of the holiday, some radio stations in Russia, Bulgaria, and Armenia will be running commercial-free all day. In downtown Sofia, The Bulgarian National Orchestra will be conducting a concert to mark the day. Today in Armenia, the Prime Minister visited the Yerevan Office for RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty and praised them for their exposure of "problems and shortcomings in Armenian society". However they may celebrate, it is clear that the people in these  Eastern European countries have an appreciation for all that radio broadcasting has done for the world's expansion of communication. 

Picture from:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3rd- Polish Constitution Day (Poland)

Polish Constitution Day is the 3rd day in a series of Polish holidays following Labor Day on May 1st and Flag Day on May 2nd. 

The Polish Constitution, adopted in 1791, was based on ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and established Poland's move toward a parliamentary system and rule of law. The Polish Constitution was the first modern, codified constitution in Europe and only the second one in the world, preceded by that of the United States. The constitution instituted the world's first Constitutional Monarchy, meaning that the king keeps his status as head of state, but it still subject to the law's rules. It also abolished the "Liberum Veto" (Latin for "I freely forbid), which allowed any one nobleman to veto the decision come to by the Nobleman's Assembly led by the king. 

The Polish Constitution was retained for a year but fell when the king joined the Targowica Confederation, and Poland was divided between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. 125 years later, Poland finally regained is sovereignty and constitution. May 3rd was even banned as a holiday several times, but it was restored in 1989 after the fall of communism. Even though it went back and forth as a legal holiday, Constitution Day was always honored as a celebration of hope and inspiration for the Polish people. 

The President of America, Barack Obama, released a statement yesterday wishing the Polish well on their celebration of Constitution day. He says, "Even today, fledgling democratic movements look to Poland as an example and guide."

Polish Flag

Picture from:

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25th- Liberazione (Italian Liberation Day), Festa di San Marco, and Festa Del Bocolo (Italy)

As you can tell from the title of this post, April 25th is a busy day in Italy! Several holidays fall upon this day, the first being Liberazione--Italian Liberation Day. This holiday commemorates the fall of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic and the liberation of Italy by allied troops in 1945 toward the end of World War 2. The Italians honor Liberazione nationally not only by celebrating, but also by remembering the soldiers and war heroes who gave their lives to fight for Italy's freedom. Although there are parades, concerts, marching bands, flags, and rallies to celebrate the fallen Italians, most restaurants, shops, and public services throughout Italy are closed. 

Coincedentally, April 25th is also the Festa di San Marco in Venice.  This feast day honors Saint Marco who is Venice's Patron Saint. To celebrate, the Venecians host a parade and a procession in the "Piazza San Marco", or Saint Mark's Square. In honor of Saint Mark, the Venetians also celebrate the "Festa Del Bocolo", or Festival of the Blooming Rose. On this day, Venetian men present the women they love with a red rose. There are several myths from which this tradition may have originated. One story tells of a war hero wounded to death on the battlefield who leaves his lover a rose covered in his own blood. Another legend tells of a rose bed growing beside Saint Mark's grave that served as a barrier between two young lovers many years later. Whatever the true story may be, Venetians honor the Festa Del Bocolo similarly to the way Americans celebrate Valentine's Day. 


Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16th- Birthday of Queen Margrethe II (Denmark)

Queen Margrethe II was born on April 16th, 1940 and ascended to the throne of Denmark on January 14th, 1972. This year, she is celebrating her 72nd birthday as Denmark's second female monarch. The Queen is very well-liked by her people, who know her for love of art and literature. Her talents range from painting, drawing, and watercolor to scenography, textiles, and needlework.  The people of Denmark love their queen so much that they begin celebrating her birthday March 24th and continue through May with concerts, banquets, parades, and exhibitions honoring her life and achievements. On her actual birthday, April 16th,  Queen Margrethe II's tradition is to stand on her castle balcony and waive to the throngs of her people who gather below to cheer for her. Although the celebration of her 71st birthday this year will be significantly smaller than that of last year, she will still be greeting her people and waiving from her balcony with her family. 

Queen Margrethe's II's Birthday

Queen Margarethe II

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12th- Cosmonautics Day (Russia)

April 12th is honored as Cosmonautics Day in Russia because it was the day Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union made his historic flight as the first human in space. Yuri Gagarin took the 108 minute orbit around the Earth at 9:08 AM aboard the capsule Vostok 1. The groundbreaking flight left Gagarin both a national and international hero. 

Celebration of Cosmonautics Day in Russia begins with a commemoration ceremony in Korolyov, which is often referred to as the "cradle of space exploration". Participants of the celebration then advance to the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in the Red Square to pay their respects at Yuri Gagarin's grave, which is located alongside the graves of other Soviet leaders and heroes. Next, the group proceeds through Cosmonauts Alley which exhibits busts of significant participants in the Soviet space program including Yuri Gagarin and people such as Sergei Korolyov and Valentina Tereshkova. At the end of the avenue, the procession comes to a close at the monument "To the Conquerors of Space", which was assembled in 1964 to honor Russia's achievement in space exploration. 

Possibly the best part of this holiday is the fact that on April 7, 2011, the UN General Assembly made history by adopting a resolution that declares April 12th the International Day of Manned Space Flight. As a result of this, the holiday will from now on be celebrated not only in Russia, but also throughout the world. 

Yuri Gagarin, Age 27

The Vostok 1 Capsule on display at the 
RKK Energiya Museum


Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8th- Buddha's Birthday (Buddhism)

Although Buddha's birthday is celebrated on different dates throughout Buddhism-practicing countries, Japan celebrates it every year on April 8th because they have adopted the Gregorian calendar. The exact year that Buddha was born is debatable, but most agree that it was between the years of 563-483 BCE. Buddha's Birthday is a day of great celebration throughout Asia boasting parades full of musicians, dancers, floats, and dragons. People hang lanterns in streets and enjoy communal meals. The Japanese refer to  Buddha's birthday as Hana Matsuri, meaning "Flower Festival" because they venture to the temples bringing offerings of fresh spring flowers, especially cherry blossoms. 

One widely spread tradition for Buddha's Birthday that is found in most schools of Buddhism is the washing of the baby Buddha. According to legend, when Buddha was born, he took seven steps and declared, "I alone am the World-Honored One". He then pointed up with one hand and down with the other, which symbolized that he would unite heaven and earth. It is said that the seven steps represent seven directions: north, south, east, west, up, down, and here. The tradition of washing the baby Buddha honors this moment. The process begins with a statue of the baby Buddha being placed on a stand inside an elevated basin. People come up to the alter and pour water or tea on the tiny figurine with a ladle to symbolically wash the baby Buddha. 

Hanging Lanterns in the Streets

The Washing of the Baby Budhha


Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7th- Day of Maternity and Beauty (Armenia)

On April 7th, the Armenian Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary-- the day, according to the Biblical legend, that "the angels announced the Virgin Mary on the forthcoming birth of Jesus Christ" (Advantour para 2). In the secular lives of the Armenians, this day was turned into the Day of Maternity and Beauty. Keep in mind that April 7th also marks the end of the "Month of Praise of Women" in Armenia that began March 8th on International Women's Day. During the whole month in Armenia, there are festivals, exhibitions, fairs, concerts, and theatre openings held in women's honor. Although this holiday especially celebrates mothers, all females (no matter what status or age) are given gifts from men, who regard them as the "fairer sex". 

The Day of Maternity and Beauty in Armenia may ring a bell to us here in the United States; after all, we do have a Mother's Day celebrated in May. However, The Day of Maternity and Beauty is different from our Mother's day because it celebrates not only mothers, but the entire female population. It is also different from Mother's Day because in Armenia, children congratulate women by giving them not only gifts and candy, but creative artwork as well. Children's creative work for The Day of Maternity and Beauty is showcased in exhibitions all around the country. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28th- Rikyuki, Remembering Sen no Rikyu (Japan)

Every year on March 28th, the Japanese make a special point of remembering Sen no Rikyu, a man who was pivotal in the formation of the contemporary Japanese tea style. Sen no Rikyu was born in 1522 under the name of Yoshiro in the merchant city of Sakai. He initially studied traditional tea ceremony but eventually moved on to learn about the contemporary tea ceremony under the guidance of many influential tea leaders. 

Sen no Rikyu began studying zen at the Daitoku-ji Temple in northwest Kyoto. The temple was renown for "a deep relation with tea", and it was while he was studying there that Rikyu (who was then known as Yoshiro) changed his name to Sen Soueki. By the time he was 58 years old, he was serving as a tea master, and 5 years later he received the honorary title of "Koji". After the being awarded this esteemed Buddhist rank, Rikyu changed his name once more to Sen no Rickyu Koji establishing his prominence among the other Japanese tea leaders. 

Sen no Rikyu left a legacy in the Japanese tea culture through his contributions to tradition. Rikyu believed that the 4 qualities that should be represented in a tea ceremony are: 

Rikyu also introduced several new behaviors into a contemporary Japanese tea ceremony, including: 
-A tea house should hold 5 people.
-Utensils should be washed in a small separate room.
-There should be two entrances to a tea room: one for the host and one for the guests.
-The doorways should be low so that one must bend down to enter, humbling one's self for the ceremony. 

One of Rikyu's most well-known sayings is: 
"Though many people drink tea,
if you do not know the Way of Tea,
tea will drink you up."

Another one of his well-known quotes is: 
"The Way of Tea is naught but this:
first you boil water,
then you make the tea and drink it."
This quote exhibits Rikyu's zen, simplistic view of the tea ceremony. 

Drawing of a standard Japanese tea ceremony.

A Japanese Tea House


Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21st- Harmony Day (Australia)

Falling on the same day as the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Harmony Day is celebrated in Australia. The holiday began in 1999 and is managed by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Harmony Day is celebrated to acknowledge the cultural acceptance and diversity of the Australians. It is an opportunity for the nation to come together and embrace the many different cultures and heritages of its people. 
Harmony Day is celebrated predominantly by wearing orange or an orange ribbon to show one’s support of the day. People also host morning teas, dress in national costumes, and participate in sporting events. People organize and play soccer games on this day because soccer is considered a “world sport”. 
To celebrate, I wore orange and spread the word of the Australian holiday!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15th- The Ides of March (Ancient Rome)

“Beware the Ides of March”
-William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
The Ides of March is the traditional Roman calendar’s name for the 15th of March. However, the significance of the day is far more than simply a date. The Ides of March marks the day in 44 BCE when Julius Caesar was murdered by a conspiracy of Roman Senators led by Marcus Brutus who referred to themselves as “the liberators”. The conspirators convinced the public that by killing Caesar, they were freeing the Romans from a harsh dictator who was a threat to the established Roman Republic. Whether Caesar was a true tyrant has been analyzed frequently in literature and is still debated today. The most well known literary representation of the sequence of events is William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in which Shakespeare depicts Caesar as an dominant oppressor and Brutus as a tragic hero. However, the poet Dante viewed Brutus as a traitor who is “doomed to the lowest levels of hell” for killing the man who spared him. 
In the end, it seems that Caesar’s legacy has lived on and that the Ides of March has served as a warning for future rulers to be careful in how they politically present themselves. I believe that this history shows the power in a group of people unified against a common cause and the danger in having too much control. 
The Italian artist Vincenzo Camuccini’s depiction of Julius Caesar’s murder on the Ides of March. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 6th- Norfolk Island Foundation Day (Norfolk Island)

March 6th is celebrated as Foundation Day on Norfolk Island, a small island located west of Australia, because it was the day Lieutenant Philip Gidley Kingand his crew of 15 convicts and 7 free men arrived on the uninhabited land. Lieutenant Philip promised the convicts rights and citizenship if they worked hard to establish the island. Coming from England, the men took ownership of the Norfolk Island intending upon using it as a foothold for Britain in the Pacific. They also wanted to use the island for its resources including pine trees, flax, and nutrient-rich soil. However, the flax was too difficult to prepare, and the pine trees were not resilient enough to be used as masts. So, Norfolk Island was mostly used as a farm on which to grow food to feed the starving city of Sydney.  The island is now know as a friendly place to live a chill lifestyle.
On the morning of March 6th, to celebrate Foundation Day, the people of Norfolk perform a re-enactment of Lieutenant Philip’s arrival by boat onto to their island. People drink a mixture of orange juice and wine while toasting to the King and hoisting up the Union Jack (another name for the UK flag). This year marks the 224th anniversary of Lieutenant Philip’s first settlement on Norfolk Island. 
The Norfolk people presenting their re-enactment of Lieutenant Philip’s arrival. 
The Norfolk Island flag. The flag has a pine tree on it presumably representing the plethora of pine trees on the island. 
The gorgeous sweeping view of Norfolk Island’s coast.