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When is Mother’s Day 2013?

May 12, 2013

Learn more about Mother’s Day.

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Go Green This Earth Day!

This Earth Day, make a pledge to be green and save some green! By following the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra, you can help the environment while helping your wallet. Take a look at the list below, and try to find at least one thing you can change or improve.

Reduce:

1. Gas – The cost of gas is no joke. Carpooling with a spouse or coworker even one day a week can make a significant difference on emissions and how often you need to fill your tank. If your job allows it, you could also try working from home a few days a month, or working four 10 hour days to save a trip a week. If you are one of those lucky enough to live close to work, try walking or biking on nice days.
2. Electricity – Even when turned off, anything connected to a plug sucks energy. Try to unplug items that you aren’t using, or at least those that you don’t use very often. If your outlets are hard to get to, plug several electronics into a power strip that you can just flip off when you need to. Another easy way to save on electricity is to switch to Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs.
3. Water – Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save enough water to make a difference, but there are several other ways to conserve water around your house. Get a low-flow toilet, or for a cheaper option, displace the water in the tank with a plastic water bottle or rocks. This will leave enough water to flush, but reduce the excess water that isn’t needed to do the job. Also, modern dishwashers tend to use less water than hand washing, and professional car washes use less than you would at home.
4. Paper/Plastic/Styrofoam – Do you find yourself constantly leaving notes around your house for yourself or others? Pick a central place in the home and put up a dry erase board instead! Another easy way to reduce the amount of paper/plastic you use is to move away from paper plates and plastic utensils. It is actually better for the environment to use the little bit of water to wash a plate and fork than to throw away disposable dishes. You should also take your own coffee mug and/or water bottle to work. By keeping these items at work and rinsing them daily, you are lowering the amount of trash you produce.

Reuse:

1. Containers – Those boxes or plastic containers are perfect for home or office organization! Simply cover them with wrapping paper or pretty duct tape to make them match your current décor.
2. Compost – Potato skins, egg shells, vegetable stems, coffee grounds, leaves, and even dryer lint can all be reused to fertilize your lawn or garden. Learn the basics of composting.
3. Water – Get a rain barrel and use the water for your lawn, garden, or outdoor water feature. You can also use this water to bathe your pets or wash your car.
4. Tools – Most homes will purchase a tool for one job then let it sit in the garage or shed for years. Buy cheaper tools at a garage sale, borrow from a friend or family member, or rent from a home improvement store.

Recycle:

1. The staples – Most neighborhoods and offices now allow you to recycle paper, plastics, and aluminum. The lucky ones can even recycle glass containers.
2. Electronics – Donate or recycle old phones, computers, or pretty much any other electronic device. A quick Google search can give you local recycling options, and many of them will actually pay you!
3. Styrofoam – This one is a bit more tricky, but can be done. For those that shop online, you may have an excess of Styrofoam packing or packing peanuts. Many shipping stores such as FedEx or UPS will take those packing peanuts off your hands, but larger chunks have to be recycled at a certain facility. Visit Earth911.com and enter your zip code to find a drop-off location near you!
4. Batteries – Batteries should never be thrown away with your normal trash. If there is a Best Buy near you, they normally accept batteries and recycle or dispose of them properly. You can also visit batteryrecycling.com for other options.

Sources: goodhousekeeping.com, worldwatch.org, USnews.com

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Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday always falls on the Sunday prior to Easter. It marks the beginning of “Holy Week” and the final seven days of Lent. This year, Palm Sunday is on March 24, 2013.

Palm Sunday is a commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the city of Jerusalem. Crowds of his followers greeted him by waving palm branches and laying them in his path prior to his arrest and Crucifixion.

Today, Palm Sunday is celebrated through the dispersal of palm branches tied into crosses during worship services.

Sources: About.com, Wikipedia

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When is Easter in 2013?

March 31, 2013

Learn more about Easter.

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History and Origin of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time is the practice of adjusting clocks so that the optimum amount of daylight is utilized; clocks are turned one hour forward in the spring (spring ahead) and one hour back in the fall (fall behind). It is observed in several parts of the world, most notably North America, with the exception of Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What we know today as Daylight Saving Time was an idea originally introduced in 1895 by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson. He proposed a two hour daylight saving change to the Wellington Philosophical Society which received a lot of interest. Independently, outdoorsman William Willet proposed advancing clocks in the summer months in 1905, which was considered by British Parliament but not officially passed into law.

Germany launched observation of Daylight Saving Time on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I. Many European nations followed suit, and the United States began observing Daylight Saving Time as mandated by the Standard Time Act of 1918. After the war, Daylight Saving Time was eradicated until World War II, when the federal government required states to observe the time change yet again as an endeavor to save energy for war production.

Following World War II, states chose independently whether or not they would adhere to Daylight Saving Time, which took advantage of later daylight hours between April and October. That is, until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, legislation that would standardize Daylight Saving Time throughout the nation.

Daylight Saving Time was extended four weeks in 2007 as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The reason behind this was an attempt to save 10,000 barrels of oil every day, and lengthened Daylight Saving Time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

The benefits of Daylight Saving Time are seen in retail and business, sports, and the decrease in the amount of traffic-related accidents. The time change does present challenges as well, most notably the disruption of travel, billing, record keeping, software updates, and sleeping patterns.

Sources: Geography, Wikipedia, National Geographic

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Ash Wednesday

In 2013, Ash Wednesday falls on February 13!

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holiday that marks the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days prior to Easter Sunday (which falls on March 31 this year). Lent is the period of preparation for the resurrection of Christ, and provides Christians with a time for self-examination.

Usually, practicing Christians choose something that they enjoy to “give up” for lent; it could be a particular favorite food, alcohol, caffeine, etc. This exercise allows people to give up a vice of theirs and in turn become closer to God. Another option is for a person to give up something that occupies too much of their time, such as TV. The idea is to then use that extra time to study the Bible, pray, volunteer, or do some other activity that helps others or deepens their faith.

On Ash Wednesday, it is common for Christians to attend church services in which a priest marks their forehead with black ashes in the shape of a cross. The ashes are usually blessed, and are reserved for the “foreheads of the faithful,” who don the ashes until they wear off. Ash Wednesday is also a fasting holiday, in which Christians are asked to abstain from meat.

Sources: Wikipedia

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Fat Tuesday

Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday!

Fat Tuesday changes every year depending on Easter, and in 2013, we celebrate on February 12! Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is all about overindulgence and feasting prior to lent, which begins the following day. Today marks the end of the Carnival season and people celebrate with music, parades, and parties.

Mardi Gras celebrations began thousands of years ago in medieval Europe as a pagan ritual to celebrate springtime. Christian leaders decided they would integrate Mardi Gras by recognizing it as a period of excess right before the Christian fasting holiday of Lent.

The first American Mardi Gras was reported to have taken place on March 3, 1699, when two French explorers settled in Louisiana. The Twelfth Night Revelers introduced the throwing of beads and other trinkets to crowds of people in the 1870s. Carnival has grown into wild and hedonistic celebrations, the largest of which occur in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Sources: Mardi Gras New Orleans, NOLA

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Chinese New Year 2013

Chinese New Year is February 10!

Chinese New Year is as important to China as Christmas is to many Western nations, and the same basic ideas are upheld; the holiday is all about being with your loved ones, giving gifts, and eating food!

Since the 20th Century, Chinese New Year has been referred to as Spring Festival. This continues to be the most integral social and economic holiday in China. Chinese New Year lands on a different day each year, and the Year of the Snake begins on February 10, 2013. The holiday always lasts 15 days, with different celebrations and traditions for each day.

Legend says a beast called Nian would terrorize ancient Chinese towns and eat people. The townspeople were able to make the beast go away with loud firecrackers and bright red decorations (red is thought of as a lucky color by the Chinese). A more reasonable explanation behind Chinese New Year is that it originated as an end-of-harvest celebration where people would give thanks to the gods and celebrate the end of winter and beginning of spring.

Some common Chinese New Year traditions are Jie Cai Ceng, Yuan Xiao Jie, Hong Bao, and the Dancing Dragons. Jie Cai Ceng is when business owners set off firecrackers to welcome the gods of Wealth and Prosperity. Yuan Xiao Jie is the Festival of Lanterns that marks the end of Chinese New Year. Red Envelopes filled with money called Hong Bao are given to children and unmarried adults. The dancing dragons represent prosperity and good fortune.

Celebrate Chinese New Year by learning about some great Chinese New Year recipes and what each food symbolizes.

Sources: Go China, About.comHistory.com

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When is the Chinese New Year in 2013?

February 10, 2013

Learn more about the Chinese New Year.

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Inauguration Day

Happy Inauguration Day!

Inauguration Day is when the commencement of a new term of the President of the United States begins, following an oath. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the last president to be sworn in on March 4 in 1933, before the date of inauguration was changed to January 20. Every four years, the President is sworn in to office on January 20, except when that date falls on a Sunday.

If January 20 happens to be a Sunday, there will be a private swearing-in on the 20 and the public ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21. This dates back to President Monroe’s inauguration in 1821, where he decided to hold the ceremony on a Monday because most public offices were closed on Sundays.

Only 6 times in history has Inauguration Day fallen on a Sunday, and January 20, 2013 will be the seventh. Barack Obama will begin his second term as President and be sworn in by the Chief Justice in a private ceremony on Sunday, January 20 then a public ceremony the next day. January 21, 2013 will mark the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

Take a look at the Inauguration Luncheon Menu that will be served on Monday, and don’t forget to check out our Barack Obama 2013 calendar!

Sources: Wikipedia, Senate.gov

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