Archive for September, 2013

World Teachers’ Day

When is World Teachers’ Day?

Teachers are among the world’s most respected professionals, and for good reason. To commemorate the importance of teaching, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day every October 5th. This not only gives students the opportunity to honor their favorite teachers, but the holiday also increases awareness of the importance of quality education worldwide.

History of Teachers’ Day

Educators make an impact every day. This impact may seem small at first, which is why many students don’t realize the significance their former teachers had on their lives until many years later. In order to recognize the impacts of teachers today, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) developed World Teachers’ Day. It was first held on October 5, 1994.

Today, World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on every continent, with more than 100 countries actively participating in the holiday. Despite the high participation rate, not every country celebrates this holiday yet. This is especially the case in some developing countries, where public education is just now becoming an initiative. UNESCO has an open invitation for countries that don’t yet participate in World Teachers’ Day.

Celebrating Teachers and Education

UNESCO is the leading organizer of World Teachers’ Day. In addition, individual national teaching organizations also help to advertise the annual observations and events. In the United States, this includes the National Education Association (NEA). While not a public holiday, World Teachers’ Day gives students and parents the opportunity to celebrate by showing appreciation for the educators in their lives. Depending on seasonal schedules, some regions may hold separate holidays to celebrate teachers so they may be observed when school is still in session. Events may also take place on a different day if the holiday falls on a weekend.

The way people celebrate World Teachers’ Day varies. Students of all ages often make or purchase cards to give to their favorite teachers. Adults may recall a favorite teacher and send them an email to show their appreciation. Apples are common symbols for the holiday.

While celebration and appreciation are certainly large components of this holiday, UNESCO has also taken advantage of the attention given to World Teachers’ Day to help set up the future of education. This is why you may see increased efforts for teacher recruitment on or around October 5th. Today’s teachers are important in educating today’s students, but the world requires quality educators for future students. Numerous resources are available on World Teachers’ Day to help recruit professionals for certain subjects, as well as for specific higher education programs to train teachers.

Global Impacts of Teaching

World Teachers’ Day also means more than just celebrating the roles of teachers and education in your life. On a larger scale, this holiday also celebrates the global impacts of quality teaching. Education is proven as just one of the ways to beat poverty, which in turn leads to better job opportunities and quality of life. Furthermore, teachers help children understand the world around them; learning is therefore linked to increased empathy and reduced oppression. Such points are even more endearing as the world becomes more of a global community each and every day.

World Heart Day

When is World Heart Day?

World Heart Day is a holiday dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular health. Held every last Sunday in September, World Heart Day 2013 will be recognized on September 29th. This is an opportunity for people around the world to educate themselves and others about heart diseases, which are the number one cause of premature death globally.

Understanding Heart Health

Obesity continues to rise in industrialized nations, so it’s no wonder that heart health is a growing concern. Poor eating habits coupled with a sedentary lifestyle can decrease the blood-pumping skills of the heart, and even block the arteries. Short-term problems can include lack of blood oxygen and nutrient flow. Over the long-term, poor health can cause heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says that heart disease is the most common cause of death for people in the United States. At the same time, cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of disabilities in U.S. patients. Women are at a higher risk of fatalities related to heart problems, although both genders are vulnerable to cardiovascular disease.

At the same time, heart disease kills more people globally than any other health problem. Heart disease is common with obesity, but you don’t have to be overweight to have cardiovascular problems. Limited access to nutrient dense foods and adequate healthcare are leading contributors worldwide. Other common risk factors can include smoking and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Holiday History

The World Heart Federation established World Heart Day in recognition of the daunting global statistics surrounding cardiovascular health. Formerly known as the International Society and Federation of Cardiology, the World Heart Federation is a non-government organization in Switzerland. Originally established in the 1940s, the organization officially switched its name in 1998 the World Heart Federation. The new name was easier for people to remember, and officials hoped it would make finding heart health resources that much easier.

A new name also meant a new global heart health initiative. The very first World Heart Day was celebrated on September 26, 1999. With a purpose for heart health education, the holiday has been observed ever since. The United Nations works with the World Heart Federation each year to ensure success.

Celebrating Good Heart Health

While World Heart Day isn’t a public holiday, the information circulated on this day is vital to public health. Many people decide to kick-start heart-healthy habits on the holiday, such as quitting smoking, eating healthily, and exercising more. Some patients are born with heart problems, which makes access to healthcare even more vital. In most cases, however, heart disease stems from poor health habits built up overtime. The primary aim of World Heart Day is to make sure you know all of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease, as well as ways to adopt better permanent lifestyle habits.

The World Heart Federation works hard to develop and execute a new campaign for each Heart Day. New brochures and leaflets are given out to the public, and the organization’s website has numerous tools for people of all ages to utilize. For 2013, the Federation’s focus is on women and children. Women are at the highest risk for heart disease, and children are at an increased risk as many don’t lead the active lifestyles of generations past. By focusing on these issues today, World Heart Day can help increase the livelihoods of many communities for a better tomorrow.

World Food Day

When is World Food Day?

World Food Day is an annual holiday dedicated to ending global hunger. Observed every October 16th, the primary goal of this holiday is to increase awareness surrounding world hunger and to encourage action. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that hunger kills more people worldwide than infectious diseases combined.

Startling Hunger Statistics

Despite a flourishing packaged food industry, hunger continues to be a global problem. According to the WFP, about 870 million people don’t get enough to eat worldwide. Hunger is a common health concern in developing regions, but financial concerns have caused an increased prevalence in developed countries, too. The recession is thought to have had a large impact on hunger statistics in the United States.

The prevalence of global hunger leads to many questions. Contrary to common belief, these statistics are in relation to a lack of access to food, and not to a global food shortage. Whether a family doesn’t have enough money, or oppression in communities keeps impoverished citizens away from nutrient-dense foods, the problem occurs in all areas of the world. Healthy food is a basic human right; now the challenge is getting people connected to this valuable resource.

A Holiday to Stop Hunger

There are numerous agencies and organizations established to help connect people with food. In 1945, the United Nations established the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is responsible for tackling global hunger. While the agency has made significant gains over the last several decades, officials know that they alone cannot combat world hunger alone. This is why the FAO established World Food Day in 1979, and first observed in 1981. October 16th was chosen because it’s the same date that the FAO was founded.

Every year the FAO establishes a unique theme for World Food Day. Many of these themes have dealt directly with the agricultural aspect of food growth. Examples include “Agricultural Cooperatives” and “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security.” Other themes, such as “Women in Agriculture,” “Women Feed the World” and “Youth Against Hunger” have shed light on many of the social and cultural dilemmas facing the hunger problem. In 2013, the theme is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”

Celebrating Food for Everyone

Since 1981, the focus of World Food Day has been to educate the public about global hunger problems. Heightened awareness encouraged parents to teach their children not to waste their food at meals over guilt that other families didn’t have food. However, such sentiments don’t solve the problems of world hunger. This is why another important aspect of World Food Day is to help teach impoverished families how to access valuable food sources – this includes home gardening techniques.

While not a public holiday, World Food Day is celebrated in several countries across the globe. The United States has been a big advocate of the holiday since its creation. Many schools have special lessons about the problems surrounding world hunger, and many science classes hold special gardening projects. Other citizens donate food items to shelters and kitchens on World Food Day. Activities also include walks to raise money for hungry families, as well as holding special dinners every October 16th.

Columbus Day

When is Columbus Day?

Columbus Day, held every second Monday in October, commemorates the discovering of the American continents by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Columbus first arrived to the region on October 12, 1492. The world changed forever upon his discovery. While created out of good spirit, Columbus Day is one of the most controversial modern-day holidays.

Sailing the Ocean Blue

In 1492, Christopher Columbus became known as the first European to find the American continents. While later historical accounts have proven this claim to be false in many aspects, Columbus has long carried this credit throughout the centuries. Before his discoveries, Europeans didn’t know there were large land masses outside of Europe, Asia and Africa. Despite later controversies, this discovery was significant at this time in European history. It would later lead the way to the colonializing of what would eventually become the United States of America.

Evolution of Celebrations

Columbus Day has evolved over the decades from other types of celebrations. Christopher Columbus himself was of Italian ethnicity, which is why he is praised by many Italian-Americans residing in North and South America. People affiliated with this group in New York City celebrated Christopher Columbus in 1866. In 1869, Italian-Americans residing in the San Francisco area also first observed the early makings of what would later be called Columbus Day.

In the late 19th century, discoveries were continuing to be made in the western portion of the country. It’s no surprise that the original discoveries of Christopher Columbus were often thought of. The 400th anniversary of the original discovery date was observed in 1892. Just over a decade later, the state of Colorado started celebrating Columbus Day every October 12th. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt expanded legislation to make it a national holiday. To make celebrations easier, Columbus Day was officially moved to the second Monday in October beginning in 1970.

Traditionally, Columbus Day is a federal holiday. This means that the government is not in session during this time. Most public schools and banks used to be closed on this holiday as well; however, as of recent years, many businesses and local governments don’t consider Columbus Day a public holiday.

The most common form of celebrations are that of discovery. Many historians argue that we live in a global community today thanks in part to the efforts of explorers of the past. While there aren’t any major land masses to discover today, the spirit of exploration rings true to many people – even more so on Columbus Day.

Controversies

While exploration is certainly an integral part of our history, there are many arguments against celebrating Christopher Columbus. There’s no denying the fact that when early Europeans discovered the Americas that native peoples were displaced. As a result, communities were often destroyed, and many other cultures wiped out, leaving no traces for history books to capture. This sad fact is the dark side of the discoveries made by Columbus. Others argue that too much credit is given to Columbus, as he didn’t make it around the entire perimeter of the Americas.

Due to such controversies, many local and state governments have modified Columbus Day. For example, the state of Hawaii observes the holiday as “Discoverer’s Day.” Alaska does not recognize the holiday at all. Other states have transformed the holiday to remember the indigenous people who Columbus came across when he first came to the Americas. For example, South Dakota recognizes “Native American Day,” and Wisconsin knows Columbus Day as “Indigenous People’s Day.”