Saturday, February 16, 2019

History of President's Day Holiday

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington and is currently celebrated on the third Monday in February, in 2019 that's February 18th. The federal government still officially calls it “Washington’s Birthday.” When first established, it was celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual date of birth.

The story of Presidents’ Day begins in 1800. Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration.

While Washington’s Birthday was an unofficial observance for most of the 1800s, it was not until late 1879 that it became a federal holiday when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. The holiday initially only applied to the District of Columbia, but in 1885 it was expanded to the whole country.

The shift from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day began in the late 1960s when Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This law shifted the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays creating three-day holiday weekends. While some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill had widespread support. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12 thus giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous presidents.

The main piece of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968 and officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard Nixon. Washington’s Birthday was then shifted from the fixed date of February 22 to the third Monday of February.

Washington and Lincoln still remain the two most recognized leaders, but Presidents’ Day is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives. For its part, the federal government has held fast to the original incarnation of the holiday as a celebration of the country’s first president. The third Monday in February is still listed on official calendars as Washington’s Birthday. [I just took a look at my office calendar and it shows February 18, 2019, the third Monday in February, as President's Day rather than Washington's birthday.]

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The World's Most Romantic Islands

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a list I saw of the world's seven most romantic islands—travel destinations that offer more than just beautiful beaches.  Travel destinations that offer the perfect romantic getaway for the holiday that celebrates love.

7)  MAUI, HAWAII
Behind the outer wrapping of a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches you will find an interesting and varied landscape.  On the way to the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater you pass through vegetation that includes cactus, something not usually associated with the Hawaiian islands.  There are vast stretches of sugar cane fields, a 1900s cowboy town, and a rain forest with an almost primeval feel to it.

6)  MALDIVES
An archipelago in the Indian Ocean with white sand beaches, atolls, and secluded resorts.  This is the world's lowest elevation nation (overall elevation of high and low averaged).  You will find a hotel with a coral nursery and an underwater nightclub.  And how about a restaurant reachable only by boat?

5)  BORACAY, PHILIPPINES
This five mile long island was once a haven for backpackers with only the most basic accommodations.  Today it rivals many of the well-known Asian destinations.  Boracay starts with a forty-five minute flight from Manila followed by a boat connection to the final destination of White Beach with powdery sand that just might be the softest in the world.

4)  KAUAI, HAWAII
This is the oldest of Hawaii's eight main islands and has the most dramatic scenery from wind sculpted mountains, red-walled canyons (Waimea Canyon is referred to as Hawaii's Grand Canyon), primeval rain forest, and a wide range of waterfalls.  Kauai has also been the location for several movies including The Descendants, Avatar, Body Heat, and South Pacific.

3)  SANTORINI, GREECE
Every place you look gives you a postcard perfect view.  White washed buildings, colorful flowers, blue-domed churches all clinging to the hillsides of an ancient volcanic crater.  In addition to the spectacular scenery, Santorini offers a wide variety of diversions—fine wines, black and red and white sand beaches, archaeological sites including one referred to as the Minoan Pompeii.

2)  CAPRI, ITALY
This four-square mile dot in the Tyrrhenian Sea embodies la dolce vita.  There is a funicular railway to take visitors from the main port to the street of Capri town with its boutiques, restaurants, and romantic getaways.

1)  BORA-BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
What could be more romantic than staying in a bungalow above the waters of a turquoise lagoon? (pictured at top) At the heart of Bora-Bora is the jagged peak of Mount Otemanu and on its fringes are islets and a coral reef perfect for snorkeling to observe the varied and colorful marine life.

So, if a romantic getaway to one of these islands isn't in the cards for Valentine's Day this year, it would be a good time to start planning for Valentine's Day 2020.  One caveat—with the constantly changing international situation regarding terrorism, be sure to check out travel warnings that may apply.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Bizarre and Unique February Holidays


February may be a short month, but it certainly is not short on the bizarre, unique, and weird when it comes to holidays—celebrations above and beyond the legal holidays where government offices, banks, and schools are closed for the day.

There are several month long designations in February:  American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Black History Month, Canned Food Month, Creative Romance Month, Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month, National Children's Dental Health Month, National Grapefruit Month, and National Wedding Month.

February also has a week long celebration: the third week is International Flirting Week.

Hmmm…American Heart Month, An Affair To Remember Month, Creative Romance Month, National Wedding Month, and International Flirting Week.  How appropriate that they should all be in the month that gives us Valentine's Day.

Feb. 1         National Freedom Day

Feb. 2         Ground Hog Day
Always celebrated on February 2.  On this day, the groundhog awakens from a long winter's nap and goes outside of his den.  If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, Spring is rapidly approaching.  The tradition comes from the German roots of Candlemas which is the mid point between Winter and Spring.
Feb. 2         Candlemas

Feb. 3         The Day The Music Died
Always celebrated on February 3. On this date in 1959 singers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash.  The event was immortalized in the popular song, Apple Pie, written and recorded by Don McLean.

Feb. 4         Create A Vacuum Day
Feb. 4         Thank A Mailman Day

Feb. 5         National Weatherman's Day
Always celebrated on February 5.  According to the Air Force News, this holiday "commemorates the birth of John Jeffries, one of America's first weathermen."  He was born on February 5, 1744, and kept weather records from 1774 to 1816.  This holiday honors the men and women who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather.  Even with the major technological advances including super computers and satellites, forecasting weather is still a tricky, ever changing, and always challenging task.

Feb. 6         Lame Duck Day

Feb. 7         Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbor Day
Feb. 7         Send A Card To A Friend Day (a holiday created by Hallmark?)

Feb. 8         Boy Scout Day
Feb. 8         Kite Flying Day
Always celebrated on February 8 (but why in the middle of winter?).  People have enjoyed flying kites for thousands of years, both children and adults.  The most well known kite flyer is undoubtedly Benjamin Franklin with his key and lightning experiment.  Kites were first used by the military in ancient China over 3,000 years ago.

Feb. 9         Toothache Day

Feb. 10       Umbrella Day

Feb. 11       Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day
Feb. 11       Make A Friend Day
Feb. 11       White T-Shirt Day
Feb. 11       Clean Out Your Computer Day (the 2nd Monday of the month)

Feb. 12       Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (combined with George Washington's birthday, it's legally celebrated as President's Day the third Monday of February, on the 18th this year)
Feb. 12       Plum Pudding Day

Feb. 13       Get A Different Name Day
Always celebrated on February 13.  This day is for those who are not fond of their given name.  It's the day to take steps to change your name (and don't forget to notify those who need to know about your new name).

Feb. 14       Ferris Wheel Day
Feb. 14       National Organ Donor Day
Feb. 14       Valentine's Day

Feb. 15       Candlemas (on the old Julian Calendar)
Feb. 15       National Gum Drop Day
Feb. 15       Singles Awareness Day

Feb. 16       Do A Grouch A Favor Day

Feb. 17       Random Acts of Kindness Day
Always celebrated on February 17.  You know what to do…perform a few random acts of kindness.  Almost any kind deed will do.  And remember—Random Acts of Kindness is highly contagious.

Feb. 18       National Battery Day

Feb. 19       National Chocolate Mint Day

Feb. 20       Cherry Pie Day
Feb. 20       Hoodie Hoo Day
Always celebrated on February 20.  On this winter day, people go out at noon, wave their hands over their heads and chant "Hoodie-Hoo."  This is the day to chase away the winter blahs (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Feb. 20       Love Your Pet Day

Feb. 21       Card Reader Day (another Hallmark creation?)

Feb. 22       George Washington's Birthday (combined with Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, it's celebrated as the legal holiday of President's Day on the third Monday of February, on the 18th this year).
Feb. 22       Be Humble Day
Feb. 22       Walking The Dog Day
Feb. 22       International World Thinking Day

Feb. 23       International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
Feb. 23       Tennis Day

Feb. 24       National Tortilla Chip Day
Always celebrated on February 24.  The corn chip recipe was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by a Texas businessman.  Just a few decades ago, Americans seldom ate corn chips and salsa.  Today it's wildly popular.

Feb. 25       Pistol Patent Day

Feb. 26       National Pistachio Day
Feb. 26       Tell A Fairy Tale Day

Feb. 27       Polar Bear Day
Feb. 27       No Brainer Day
Always celebrated on February 27th.  By definition, a no brainer is doing something simple, easy, obvious, and/or totally logical.  If a project requires thinking, study, or analysis of any kind, then this is not the day for it.

Feb. 28       Floral Design Day
Feb. 28       Public Sleeping Day
Feb. 28       National Tooth Fairy Day (sometimes celebrated on August 22)

So…enjoy your favorite bizarre, weird, and unique celebration/holiday.