Archive for October, 2013
When is World Stroke Day?
World Stroke Day is observed annually on October 29th to raise awareness about stroke. This health crisis is a worldwide problem that affects people of all ages. The World Stroke Organization (WSO) established this holiday to help raise awareness of risk factors and preventive measures to decrease global stroke incidents.
A stroke is a serious health condition that occurs when blood flow ceases in a portion of the brain. The body relies on constant blood flow for the transport of nutrients and oxygen. When the brain doesn’t get enough blood, oxygen reception stops. Permanent brain damage can happen because cells die when they don’t get enough blood oxygen, and the condition can even cause death. Stroke survivors may suffer from permanent impairments, including memory loss, paralysis, depression and loss of motor skills.
The American Heart Association reports that the stroke death rate in the United States decreased 37 percent between 1999 and 2009. Such changes reveal an efficacy in treatment measures, as well as an awareness of early stroke symptoms. Despite these improvements, strokes still contribute to cardiovascular disease and are a major cause of disability among Americans. While strokes can sometimes run in families, lifestyle factors play a large role. Smoking, unhealthy weight, high blood pressure and a lack of physical activity are some of the leading risk factors for stroke.
Despite gains in medical treatment, stroke poses a great threat worldwide. In fact, the WSO estimates that one in six people globally will have at least one stroke at some point during their lifetime. Increasing awareness for risk factors and better medical care can help reduce this statistic.
History of World Stroke Day
World Stroke Day was established by the WSO in 2004, but it didn’t become an annual holiday until 2006. Since then, it has been observed every year on October 29th. The holiday also marked the merging of the World Stroke Federation and the International Stroke Society to combine into the World Stroke Organization.
Organizers for World Stroke Day hope that this holiday increases awareness for stroke warning signs, as well as preventable risk factors. A major focus is high blood pressure, which is considered the leading cause of stroke worldwide. Since strokes are a year-round health concern, the WSO aims to create themes that will stick in your mind every day. Some past themes include: “Because I Care” and “Little Strokes, Big Trouble.”
Observations and Celebrations
World Stroke Day is not a public holiday, which means that government offices remain open. The primary focus of this day is education. Controlling risk factors early in life can help prevent strokes. If patients already have cardiovascular-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then education about signs of stroke is crucial. Since a stroke can quickly become debilitating, it’s important that family members and friends know the warning signs, too. Early treatment can help save lives even after strokes occur.
Certain celebrations also occur on World Stroke Day. Award ceremonies are held for scientists who make ground-breaking discoveries in stroke research, as well as for medical personnel who save lives. For victims of stroke, World Stroke Day is a cause for celebrating life and survival.
When is World Science Day?
World Science Day for Peace and Development (WSDPD) is a holiday dedicated to promoting science and its numerous global benefits. Better known as World Science Day, the holiday is celebrated every November 10th.
In 1999, the United Nations’ World Conference on Science was held in Budapest, Hungary to discuss the need to fill the gaps between society and science. While global scientific advances had long been credited for improving lives, the United Nations recognized a few problems. First, a lack of awareness for the role of science decreased the appreciation for professionals in the field. In some parts of the world, this caused a lack of prevalence for scientists because governments didn’t support their efforts. Another problem was the lack of education for potential future scientists.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially established WSDPD in 2001, and the holiday was first recognized on November 10, 2002. UNESCO has kept every World Science Day to November 10th every year. In addition, UNESCO holds the World Science Forum every two years, which occurs near November 10th.
Types of Celebrations
World Science Day is celebrated in numerous ways. Communities that aren’t traditionally heavy in the sciences may choose to host conferences and free events to raise awareness. Science museums across the world are often big participants, with some offering free admission on the holiday. Special exhibits tailored to the peace-keeping abilities of science may also be used.
Since UNESCO is particularly concerned about promoting science education for future generations, many teachers choose to celebrate World Science Day in the classroom. Instructors may host special lectures on WSDPD, as well as fun experiments to get children involved. If the holiday falls on a weekend, then the holiday may be celebrated on the closest weekday when class is in session.
Scientists and students may also choose to celebrate key scientific advances during this holiday. The impact of global warming on the environment is just one example of a worldwide concern that science aims to address every day. This helps keep the peace because there is less of a fight over natural resources when solutions are found.
Promoting Science for Life
On a global scale, World Science Day is ultimately the focus of peace measures on the part of UNESCO. Science and technology have improved quality of life as well as longevity, but there are still many opportunities to promote peace. The United Nations continues to have an emphasis on promoting natural resources for all, as well as for scientific advancements to make everyday living “greener.”
World Science Day is not only meant to educate the public, but it is also used to promote science to better societies across the globe. This is especially important in communities where science is not well understood. There is also an important mission to create more scientists in nations where there is a lack thereof—in the long-term, this will ultimately promote cooperation among world scientists in their discoveries.
When is Native Americans’ Day?
Native Americans’ Day is an alternative holiday celebrated in opposition to Columbus Day. It is held every second Monday in October—the same day as Columbus Day. While not recognized as a government holiday, Native Americans’ Day is considered a city and state public holiday in many regions in the United States. As the controversies of Columbus Day grow, celebrations of Native Americans’ Day has increased in prominence.
South Dakota is the birthplace of Native Americans’ Day. It officially started in 1989 when the state legislature took steps to replace Columbus Day. The new law effectively replaced Columbus Day in South Dakota with Native Americans’ Day starting on October 8, 1990. It was a unanimous decision, and a significant change that the people of South Dakota welcomed wholeheartedly. On top of the change in holiday, South Dakota declared the same year as a “Year of Reconciliation for Native Americans.”
Where It’s Celebrated
Native Americans’ Day got its start in South Dakota, but the idea has since spread to other parts of the United States. The city of Berkeley, California has celebrated the holiday since 1992. In fact, Columbus Day is no longer observed by Berkeley. While many people have praised the city’s decision, others feel it would be fair to celebrate both holidays. However, the consensus in Berkeley is that Native Americans’ Day is the more appropriate holiday to observe.
Since its founding in 1989, Native Americans’ Day has grown in popularity. Some groups of people choose to celebrate this holiday over Columbus Day, even if the latter is declared a public holiday in a particular region. Native Americans’ Day is also called Indigenous People’s Day in some locations.
Types of Celebrations
There’s no question that the “discovery” of the Americas turned into tragedy for Native Americans. Still, most people who celebrate Native Americans’ Day wish to commemorate the holiday as a positive one based on heritage. Native customs, songs and dances are highlighted in ceremonies, and educational events highlight cultural traditions. By bringing such celebrations to light, traditions can carry on and won’t be forgotten.
While Columbus Day is celebrated on a national level, many states choose not to observe the holiday as a public one. The situation is similar with Native Americans’ Day. The extent of business and government closures depend on local and state laws. In South Dakota and Berkeley, California, schools and public offices are closed, as well as many businesses. Families that celebrate Native Americans’ Day may also choose to take the day off from work or school.
When is Muharram?
Muharram is a holiday that marks the start of the Islamic New Year. Not only is it the first month on the Islamic calendar, but it is also one out of the four sacred months, as outlined in the Quran. Muslims around the world celebrate the first days of Muharram every year through related customs and traditions. The exact date of Muharram varies every year because of variations in the lunar calendar it is based on.
History of Muharram
This sacred month on the Islamic calendar stems from events that have occurred throughout the history of the Muslim religion on the same month of the lunar calendar. Most of these events are centered on Husayn ibn Ali, who was the grandson of Muhammad. Among these events include the beginning of the Battle of Karbala, which Ali’s army ultimately lost in 680 CE. The tenth day of Muharram is particularly important within Islam because it marks the anniversary of Ali’s death.
Muharram is first, and foremost, a time of prayer. Prayers are conducted throughout the first day of Muharram, and may be done so in groups on the tenth day. Evening prayers are commonplace throughout the months of Muharram. This sacred tradition may be conducted individually or by group. Prayers are focused on mourning of Muharram, as well as on peace.
Fasting is another major tradition of Muharram, but the act varies between dominations of the Islamic religion. Sunni Muslims often fast more frequently over the course of Muharram than Shi’a Muslims. In some Sunni Muslim groups, followers will fast the first ten days of Muharram. The fasting consists of restricted food and drink during daylight hours, but eating and drinking is permitted during the evening.
The tenth day of Muharram is typically the primary day for fasting. Not only does it commemorate the martyrdom of Mohammad’s grandson, but it is also a special day when Muslims commemorate the escape of Moses and the Israelites from the Pharaoh. However, fasting traditions may start as early as the first day of Muharram. Fasting is also of particular significance on the seventh day because Ali and his army were denied access to water.
Other Muharram celebrations may consist of charitable deeds. This is accomplished in an effort to promote a sense of peace and goodwill. Fighting and violence are prohibited during Muharram. Muslims in Indonesia host a special day of meditation on this holiday.
Muharram is celebrated around the world. Some of the ways the holiday is celebrated varies by region. For example, while fasting is commonplace at the beginning of Muharram globally among Muslims, month-long fasting isn’t as common in some countries. While the U.S. doesn’t regard Muharram as a public holiday, it is considered as such in other countries. In areas where Islam is the predominant religion, businesses and government offices are often closed.
In 2013, Muharram will occur on November 5th. Because of variations in the lunar calendar, Muharram will occur on October 25th in 2014, and on October 15th in 2015.
By: Kristeen Cherney