Hey, It’s April First!

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

And that’s no joke!

Why is April 1st the day to pull pranks? This worldwide ‘holiday’ is enjoyed by individuals and corporate entities alike. You can find news sources, magazines, and newspapers publishing prank stories.

But why????

It could be traced back to Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ in 1392, but there’s some dispute about that. Maybe it’s because of French poet Eloy d’Amerval in 1508.

The Netherlands attribute the day to a victory over Spain in 1572. And the British origin goes way back to 1698 when people were tricked to “see the Lions washed” at the Tower of London.

In some countries, particularly those associated with the United Kingdom, the jokes end at noon.

Since ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and a good laugh can boost your health, it’s a good time to laugh at yourself and those around you.

Just make sure the joke is funny to everyone. Sonja

Today Is Earth Hour

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

What exactly is Earth Hour? It’s a grassroots movement (one of the largest in the world) that began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. It is observed every year on the last Saturday of March and encourages people to switch off their lights at 5:30 CT.

This is hoped to focus the attention of the people and their governments on the environment.

When Earth Hour was begun by the World Wildlife Federation, it was meant to show support for our planet. Since then, the movement has morphed to include the environment, including nature and biodiversity.

Support our planet and switch off your lights. Sonja

It’s the First Day of Spring!

Photo by Yoksel 🌿 Zok on Unsplash

Today is also called the vernal equinox. That means that the hours of sunlight equal the hours of nighttime.

The amount of sunlight increases consistently until the longest day of the year-Summer Solstice. Then the hours of daylight slowly decrease until they equal the night hours at the autumnal equinox.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox happens every year on March 20th or 21st. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it falls on September 22nd or 23rd.

Enjoy the run-up to summer! Sonja

It’s the Day to Wear Green!

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

It’s because of massive emigration to the United States that the “wearing of the green”, dying drinks green, and shamrocks (the national plant of Ireland) became synonymous with all things Irish.

Prior to that, Saint Patrick was associated with the color blue. But Ireland has celebrated his date of death for more than one thousand years.

Saint Patrick was born in Britain under Roman rule. He was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was sixteen years old. He escaped that situation but returned to Ireland in 432 AD to convert the masses to Christianity.

Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD after establishing monasteries, churches, and schools.

In Ireland, March 17th is typically a day of morning church services and afternoon feasting. This day falls within the season of Lent, but the prohibition on meat is lifted and the traditional Irish meal of Irish bacon and cabbage usually grace the table.

Today, more than one hundred cities host parades in honor of Saint Patrick. In New York City, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is watched by almost three million people. The parade typically takes more than five hours to travel the 1.5 miles. Chicago dyes its river green. Most of the population of the U.S. wears a bit of green, delivers pinches to those who don’t, and claim Irish descent-warranted or not.

Erin go Bragh-Éire go Brách-Ireland until the end of time! Sonja

International Women’s Day

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I took the following verbiage and hashtags from www.internationalwomensday.com. I added the Oxford comma at the end of the text:

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific.

#IWD2020 #EachforEqual

Sonja

It’s Time to Spring Forward!

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Unless you live in a place that doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time (DST), you need to move the hands of time tonight.

DST goes into effect tomorrow morning. Since it’s Spring, you need to turn the clocks forward one hour, which moves the morning to an earlier time. Hello, caffeine!

You can thank Germany and Austria for DST. They were the first countries to use the new time in 1916 to make better use of fuel during the war. This was adopted by several other countries just weeks later, including the United Kingdom and France.

DST was rescinded at the end of WWI and was repeated for WWII. Today, more than seventy countries observe DST.

A plan to make the most of seasonal daylight was actually put forth by Benjamin Franklin. Yes, that Benjamin Franklin. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

But he meant it as a joke–for Parisians.

He was living in Paris and wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris. The essay, entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, called for the people of that city to awaken earlier in order to reduce their need for candles.

Oh, that Ben. What a kidder.

The citizens of Ancient Rome relied on water clocks that used different scales throughout the year in order to follow the solar calendar.

But B. Franklin and Caesar are not credited with the invention of DST. That honor goes to New Zealander George Vernon Hudson and British builder William Willett. Do you thank them or curse them? I think that depends on which way the clock is bouncing–a thank you for the ‘extra’ hour in the Autumn and a curse for losing an hour in the Spring.

We can all be thankful that their particular schedule didn’t go into place. Hudson suggested moving the clocks by two hours, and Willett wanted the clocks to move in twenty-minute increments over four-week periods.

Wow. And you thought one hour twice a year was hard!

Don’t forget so you’re not late tomorrow! Sonja

National Read Across America Day

Photo by Jared Craig on Unsplash

Today is also called ‘Dr. Seuss Day’. These books are mandatory reading for pre-readers and early readers, it seems.

My favorite titles are ‘Go, Dog, Go’ and ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’–

I don’t know why these books are my faves–

I love dogs and loved climbing trees when I was younger, so maybe that explains my first choice.

I’m big on motivation and taking chances, so I love the message in ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’. “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

Wait, I think this stream of consciousness has answered my question.

When Guinness the Therapy Dog and I go to play with the at-risk kids at the domestic violence transition shelter, we always read at least one book. Last week, we read a book about a dog with no tail who had a pretend tail attached by a button.

My first question was: how was the button attached to his butt??? My second question was: why did the tailor (get it!) make the tail so long???

The poor dog already had self-image problems and now he has a tail that vies the length of ribbon used by Olympic rhythmic gymnasts.

In the end, the dog and his friends decide it’s better to be yourself than to rely on a fake tail. That’s a good message for the kids and the wordplay by author Kate Feiffer is fantastic.

Good reading! Sonja

It’s Leap Day!!!

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Why is there an extra day in February this year?

You can thank the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar.

You see, Rome followed a 355-day calendar, not 365 days like we do currently. They wanted to keep festivals in the same season every year. To do that, the Romans began to add another month to their calendar every other year.

I think that would be confusing.

So did a lot of people way back then. In 45 B.C., Caesar created the 365-day calendar and decided to add one day every four years. (This schedule was actually created by his astronomer, Sosigenes).

It was Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, who decided to add the day to any year divisible by four (except in years divisible by 100).

For groups that don’t follow the Gregorian calendar, the dates still need to be adjusted. A month is added to the Hebrew calendar every nineteen years and the Baha’i calendar has a leap day added as necessary to ensure the Vernal Equinox is the first day of their new year.

Whatever the reason, enjoy your extra day in 2020! Sonja

It’s Presidents’ Day-Or Is It?

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Today is actually the celebration of George Washington’s birthday and the law is written as such. Legally, there is no Presidents’ Day.

Confused? Me, too! But if you look for the law that designates the holiday, you will find that President Richard Nixon signed “Washington’s Birthday” into law.

It wasn’t long after that event that the day morphed into the present-day President’s Day, with the intention of honoring all those who have held the office of President of the United States. You can thank not only the holiday being changed to the third Monday in February, but also marketing to take advantage of the newly-formed three-day weekend.

By the early 2000s, at least half of the states officially listed Presidents’ Day on their calendars, instead of Washington’s Birthday.

Wait! There’s more confusion about the date.

Washington was born on February 11, 1731, but today his birthday is acknowledged to have been February 22.

Why?

When Washington was born, the British Empire, including the colonies in North America, used the Julian calendar. By 1731, that calendar was eleven days behind the Gregorian calendar, which is the calendar currently used by the United States and the United Kingdom. When the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, it recognized previous dates as eleven days later in order to align with the Gregorian calendar. And, voila!, Washington’s birthday became February 22!

What a confusing and fraught holiday! Sonja

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

I hope you have someone to share this day with–someone who will show you how much he/she loves you.

If you don’t have a partner, then I hope you celebrated Galentine’s Day with your gal pal, or something similar with your male friend(s).

For some, Valentine’s Day is a difficult day that causes them to feel lonely. I hope you don’t experience this. If you do, then find something to distract yourself. Go for a hike, read a book, go shopping (not retail therapy!), or something else that brings you joy.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Sonja