Archive for the "International" Category

World Day for Cultural Diversity

When is World Day for Cultural Diversity?

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a holiday dedicated to the acceptance and embracing of diversity across all cultures. Also simply known as World Day for Cultural Diversity, it is observed every May 21st with the support of the United Nations. This is an educational holiday to promote peace and tolerance across cultures.

History of the Holiday

At the turn of the century, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) saw an opportunity to broaden its reach in cultural awareness across the world. During a General Assembly in 2002, UNESCO passed a resolution to create a holiday dedicated to this mission. Since 2003, the organization has celebrated the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development annually on May 21st.

Part of the reason why UNESCO established the holiday was to decrease cultural stigmas in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Since these tragedies took place, people have begun understanding that the hatred stemmed from extremism, and is not representative of any particular culture. Furthermore, dialogue is opening up between developed and developing countries to understand their customs.

This holiday was also established at the beginning of the height of the Internet era. Before there was any Internet, people would read about other cultures through books, or relied on hearsay. Another problem in the earlier years is that there wasn’t a wide access to the Internet among poorer communities. Now that access is beginning to become more widespread, it is more important than ever to instill a spirit of acceptance in terms of cultural diversity.

Promoting Cultural Diversity

Promoting World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is based on a culmination of work. It is a holiday designed for everyone, but the types of celebrations might vary. For example, professionals working in cultural studies might observe the holiday with special seminars and workshops. Schools may focus on a different culture every year and host a range of learning activities. Since there are a variety of cultures that exist within single nations, it is not surprising that one specific culture isn’t celebrated, but rather a multitude of cultures at once. Many community members take the opportunity of the holiday to explore aspects of other cultures unfamiliar to them. This can be as simple as attending a music festival or an art exhibit.

It’s impossible to change one’s views in a single day. However, this isn’t really at the heart of the holiday. UNESCO hopes that World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development can leave lasting impressions on participants so that they will continue to make year-round strides. This holiday serves as a reminder to all that, while there are many improvements in cultural acceptance, the diversity is so vast that much more work needs to be done.


World Migratory Bird Day

When is World Migratory Bird Day?

World Migratory Bird Day is a holiday established to protect migrating birds, as well as all of their habitats. Unlike other traditional holidays, World Migratory Bird Day is actually held over two days. It falls on the second weekend of May every year.

Why Protect Migratory Birds?

Migratory birds refers to the species that travel to other regions as seasons change. Hence, this is where the American term “south for the winter” comes from. At the season’s end, the birds flock back to their native regions.

World Migratory Bird Day was established to help protect such birds. According to the National Audubon Society, about 60 percent of all North American bird species have experienced northward shifts during migration over the last four decades. This is indicative of habitat losses from human development, as well as climate change. Without taking action to protect migratory bird habitats, many of these species will eventually die out. In turn, such a loss can devastate the ecosystems that depend on the bird species. While these statistics are based in North America, bird extinction is a world-wide problem.

History of the Holiday

World Migratory Bird Day was founded in 2006 as a holiday to help educate the public and raise awareness about the growing problems that are affecting the habitats of bird species around the world. It has since become a holiday recognized by the United Nations, and it helps organize events in numerous countries. World Migratory Bird Day was established at the height of the era in which humans were starting to understand the impacts of climate change. The mission of this holiday is to positively promote changes in human behavior that can help minimize the effects of global warming.

Since World Migratory Bird Day is held over the second weekend of May, the dates can vary. In 2014, the holiday starts on Saturday, May 10th. In 2015, the starting date is May 9th. Observing the holiday over an entire weekend gives families and bird enthusiasts alike to get outdoors and learn more about migratory birds.

Education and Celebrations

Education is at the core of World Migratory Bird Day celebrations. The number of programs and festivals continues to grow each year, the content varying by region. For example, the burrowing owl is a focus in southwest Florida. States residing along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts may focus their educational programs on the birds that depend on their shores. World Migratory Bird Day provides people the opportunity to learn about their favorite birds, and there are often bird watching tours scheduled for that weekend.

While World Migratory Bird Day can be a fun way to learn about birds and their habitats, the weekend holiday is also focused on some serious notes surrounding conservation. At events and festivals, the public can learn exactly how their native birds’ habitats are being disrupted. More importantly, participants can learn how to stop the destruction.

Each year there is a different theme surrounding World Migratory Bird Day. In 2014, the theme is: “Destination Flyways: Migratory Birds and Tourism.” The mission is to help educate the public on how tourism disrupts bird habitats, and to look for solutions to minimize such concerns.


World Meteorological Day

When is World Meteorological Day?

World Meteorological Day is a holiday recognized every March 23rd. It was initially created to commemorate the establishment of the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Since the holiday’s formation, it has also transformed as an opportunity for the WMO to engage with people on the importance of meteorology and society.

Early History

The United Nations, which was established in 1945 after World War II, is the backing agency behind the World Meteorological Organization. The organization was established at a U.N. conference on March 23, 1950. However, this isn’t the first organization of its kind. Prior to the creation of the United Nations, there was an agency dedicated to weather called the International Meteorological Organization. The purpose was to gather and track weather information, while also reporting it to the public as efficiently as possible.

In 1950, the United Nations decided to transition the international organization into the World Meteorological Organization that we know today. While the WMO shares the same core purposes of the International Meteorological Organization, it works with the functions of the United Nations, too. It is important to know the daily weather forecast, but the WMO goes beyond this to educate world communities to ensure safety and well-being.

Establishing a “Weather” Day

World Meteorological Day was established in the 1960s. March 23rd was chosen as the annual day of observance because it is the same date the WMO was created. This “weather” day was created for numerous reasons. First, the holiday raises awareness to societies around the world, and aims to gain public interest to enhance meteorological education. It is also the aim of the WMO to raise issues about public safety and health related to the weather.

The holiday may even garner interest in the youth and encourage the prospect of future meteorological studies in college. Furthermore, people who have an interest in the weather may also take the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate their hobbies. On World Meteorological Day, the WMO also honors meteorologists who have made global impacts through their work.

Celebrating Meteorology

Having an interest in weather may give you a good incentive to recognize and celebrate World Meteorological Day. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to travel to the annual conference. There are local events tailored to the celebration of meteorology, as well as to the awareness of weather-related issues. Schools may also choose to hold special science projects around this time. Local weather stations may hold events to highlight meteorological issues pertaining to the area and beyond. For example, a hurricane seminar can highlight concerns about the storms, as well as the potential climate changes that may drive their force.

The WMO also creates a theme to focus on for every World Meteorological Day. For example, the 2014 theme is “Weather and Climate: Engaging Youth.” The purpose is to educate next generations about climate change and how related weather impacts can affect the world populous. Past World Meteorological Day themes include: “Our Future Climate,” “Weather, Climate, Water in the Information Age” and “Polar Meteorology: Understanding Global Impacts.”


Vernal Equinox

When is the Vernal Equinox?

The Vernal Equinox marks the official start of spring. Also called the March Equinox, this equinox is characterized by the sun lining up with the equator. It is a welcome event by many people looking forward to defrosting from wintry conditions, although the warming trend can happen before or after the official day of the equinox.

What is an Equinox?

An equinox is the scientific term to explain the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator. The earth’s equator is essentially lined up against the middle of the sun. Unlike the tilting of the earth that results in the cold weather conditions and shorter days associated with winter, the planet doesn’t tilt at all during the equinox. During the day of an equinox, Earth also experiences relatively equal lengths of sunlight and nighttime. In other words, there are about 12 hours of day, and 12 hours of night.

There are only two equinoxes per year. The first is the Vernal Equinox, which happens near the end of every March. The exact date changes year to year, but falls between March 20th and the 24th. This equinox marks the change from winter. The second one is the September (or Autumnal) Equinox, and marks the beginning of fall.

Signs of Spring

People in the northern hemisphere look forward to the Vernal Equinox as a welcome sign of the change of seasons. This equinox marks the transition from winter to spring, where many individuals are aching to break out of cold weather and short days. The biggest noticeable difference on the day of the Vernal Equinox is an extension in daylight. However, other signs of spring can occur slightly before or after the equinox. This is largely based on other factors in weather patterns on Earth. It is not out of the realm of possibility to experience a snowstorm after the Vernal Equinox. Keep in mind that seasonal changes from the March Equinox have the opposite effect in the southern hemisphere.

“Warm” Celebrations

For some people, the Vernal Equinox marks an annual change in seasons, and they simply adapt to the transition. For others, however, this equinox marks a time for celebration. Historically, the Mayans were among the first to take the equinoxes as well as the solstices seriously. The days were of significant cultural importance, and some of the villages would even make sacrifices. Rituals and festivals were also held in ancient Egypt and Iran. It was even historically regarded a pagan holiday in parts of Europe.

Major spring holidays also occur around the time of the Vernal Equinox. This includes major religious holidays, such as Easter in Christianity and Passover in Judaism. St. Patrick’s Day, which occurs every March 17th, is also relatively close the March equinox.

There are other cultural rituals connected to the Vernal Equinox that don’t have the same historical context as holidays. After spring begins, many households commence their own traditions related to the equinox, though they may not realize it. This may include the infamous “spring cleaning,” gardening or even structural painting. Spring also marks the time when winter tools and clothing are put away. Others simply get outside and plan activities that were put on hold until winter thawed away.