- October 8th 2012
Today is Columbus Day, commemorating the 520th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. To mark the occasion, here are some interesting facts about this holiday.
- Christopher Columbus actually arrived in this part of the world on October 12, 1492.
- The day is celebrated in many places around the world with several different names. For example, in Latin America it is called Día de la Raza to commemorate the arrival of Hispanic peoples in the New World. It is also known as Día de las Americas in Uruguay and Fiesta Nacional in Spain.
- People have been commemorating this event since colonial times but in the US Colorado was the first state to make the day an official holiday in 1906.
- Columbus Day was named a federal holiday in 1937.
- San Francisco has the oldest continuously running Columbus Day celebration in the US. Its annual Columbus Day parade started in 1868.
- Instead of Columbus Day, the state of Hawaii celebrates the discovery of the territory by the Polynesians. This holiday is called Discoverers Day. Alaska and South Dakota do not celebrate the holiday either. Dakota has another state holiday around the same time.
- Christopher Columbus started his voyage on August 3, 1492. During the voyage he travelled for three weeks without seeing land, the longest journey of this type.
- Although Columbus sailed from Spain he was actually born in Italy.
- Columbus never landed on the American mainland on any of his voyages. On his first voyage, he landed on San Salvador (or Watling Island) in the Bahamas.
- Columbus was actually looking for Asia on his voyage but obviously he didn’t find it here. Amerigo Vespucci, who gave the country its name, was the first to realize that these lands were not part of Asia.
- Some people oppose the celebration of Columbus Day because of the cruelty to and decimation of indigenous peoples that followed his discovery.
- Columbus’s body was buried, exhumed and re-buried in places as diverse as Valladolid and Santo Domingo. However, recent reports suggest that his bones are in Seville, Spain.
Will you be celebrating Columbus Day?
- September 21st 2012
It’s fall! Or at least it will be tomorrow. To mark the occasion here is another of our roundups of fun facts.
- September 22 is the autumnal (fall) equinox. There are two equinoxes each year and the other is in March at the start of spring.
- On this date the day and night are each about the same length. The term equinox comes from the Latin for “equal night”.
- Several cultures have ancient traditions that take place around this time.
- In Greek mythology this was supposed to be the time when Persephone rejoined Hades in the underworld.
- The Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival around this time with particular emphasis on being thankful for the success of the summer harvest.
- In Japan, this is a time to remember the dead and if there is a week of Buddhist services during this period.
- One of the visible signs of fall is the changing color of the leaves. This happens because photosynthesis stops during this period so leaves do not stay green.
- Favorite fall fruit and vegetables include apples, spinach, squash, bell peppers and, of course, pumpkin.
- The custom of bobbing for apples originates from Roman times.
- Evergreen trees remain green through the winter because they have waxy leaves which do not freeze.
- During this period birds prepare for winter migration. One of the longest migrations is the 11,000 mile journey by the Arctic Tern. However, the bar headed goose is also impressive reaching heights of 28,000 feet to skim over the Himalayas.
- While we call this season ‘fall’, the British call it ‘autumn’. Both words date from around the same period in the 16th century. Before these terms came into use, this period was called ‘harvest’.
What’s your favorite thing about fall?
- September 19th 2012
Doesn’t it seem sometimes that there’s a week for everything? This week is National Unmarried and Single Americans week. Last year there were 102 million unmarried people over 18 in America – that’s 44.1% of all the over 18s in the US. It’s a huge group and that alone is worth celebrating.
Celebration of national singles week started in Ohio about 20 years ago. However it really took off when Unmarried America began to promote it in 2001. The addition of the unmarried label recognizes the fact that those with partners, or who are parents or have been widowed do not regard themselves as single.
So what can you do to celebrate this week? While there’s a serious side to this observance, it’s also a great time for some travel fun. How about these suggestions for great trips for singles and unmarrieds.
- One of the classic singles trips is a beach weekend in the Caribbean, Cancun or even Florida. We’re not talking about Spring Break style mayhem – unless that’s what you want – but a trip where you can work on your tan and enjoy the more relaxed beachside pace.
- For a bit of girly fun, consider a weekend spa or shopping trip – or combine them both. Hit the shops on the first day to stock up on fashion and beauty products and then pamper yourself, especially your tired feet, at the spa.
- While guys go to the spa too (nothing wrong with that), they might also enjoy something more active. There are dozens of adventure breaks for adrenaline junkies as well as weekends for braving the outdoors, kayaking or canoeing, paint balling or any other sport you can name.
- And let’s not forget some trips that are great for a group, like hitting the casino or doing the rounds of the city’s best bars.
What’s your favorite way to spend a singles weekend?
- September 17th 2012
Today is Constitution Day (formerly known as Citizenship Day). Here are some fun and interesting facts about this observance and about citizenship in the US.
- Constitution Day is on September 17. The day marks the ratification of the US Constitution and honors people who have become US citizens. The US Constitution was adopted on this date in 1787.
- The holiday was first celebrated as Constitution Day in 1911.
- There was also a celebration of a holiday to honor citizenship promoted by William Randolph Hearst and called ‘I am an American Day’. That day was celebrated on the third Sunday in May until 1952 when it was moved to the present date and renamed Citizenship Day.
- In 2004 the holiday was renamed to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
- More than 600,000 people become naturalized American citizens every year.
- In order to qualify they need to have been resident for five years and pass a naturalization interview and test.
- As well as fluency in English the test checks on people’s knowledge of US history and civics. They must attain a 60% pass rate.
- In 2009 the US had 16.8 million naturalized citizens.
- The country of origin of naturalized Americans has changed significantly. Until the early 20th century many immigrants came from Europe; today most come from Latin America and Asia.
- In 2009 it was estimated that 52% of legal immigrants to the US chose to become citizens.
- September 3rd 2012
Happy Labor Day! As you enjoy the last day of the long weekend, here are some fun facts about the occasion we are celebrating.
- The first observance of Labor Day in the US is believed to have been on September 5, 1882.
- According to some, it was organized by Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary Peter J. McGuire.
- Some believe that Matthew Maguire actually suggested the observance.
- Labor Day was designated a federal holiday in 1894, by which time more than 50% of the states were already marking the occasion.
- There are more than 155 million people over 16 in the nation’s workforce.
- More than 3 million people spent more than an hour and a half commuting to work in 2010 (and let’s not forget they had to go back, too!)
- The average commute is more reasonable: 25.3 minutes.
- 2010 median earnings for full time workers: $36,931 for women and $47,715 for men.
- Labor Day is celebrated on the same day in Canada.
- Canadian Labor Day started in 1872 as a demonstration for workers’ rights in Toronto.
- In Canada, Labor Day became a legal holiday (the first Monday in September) in 1874.
- In America in the 1800s, many workers used to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- The Adamson Act of 1916 set up the 8 hour workday.
- Many countries around the world celebrate workers on May Day or International Workers Day on May 1.
- The now traditional Labor Day parade was suggested in the original proposal of the holiday.
- Labor Day also marks the unofficial end of summer, the start of school and the beginning of the football season in the US.