Life Day 23958: Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning Valentines. Today is Thursday, February 14th, 2013. The first holiday today is, of course, Valentine’s Day. Yes, there is an apostrophe, and no, it is not pronounced Valentime’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and lovers. The roots of Valentine’s Day go back to ancient times, when people paid honor to the Roman God of Fertility. This was known as the Feast of Lupercalia, and was celebrated even then on February 14th. The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. The traditions of Valentine’s Day have changed little since the days of  Chaucer. Sadly though, it has become far too commercialized in my opinion. It is a time to exchange cards or small gifts. Chocolates and jewelry are the big hits of this holiday as is romantic dinners. It is a romantic event for lovers. Many a couple become engaged or wed on this day. For others it is a day to fall in love.
There are also a plethora of other “holidays” today that piggyback on the ‘heart-related theme’ of Valentines Day. These tend to fall into two distinct categories.The first category I’ll call “Affairs of the Heart”. The related “holidays’ in this category are:
1) Quirky Alone Day. Quirky Alone Day is a do-it-yourself celebration of romance, friendship, and independent spirit. It’s a celebration of all kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, and yes, self-love. It is not anti-Valentine’s Day. It is not a pity party for single people. It’s a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine’s Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in the media today. If you are unattached on this Valentine’s Day, do not despair, celebrate. Whether or not your lack of a relationship today is by choice, do not let society make you feel like an outcast. Make a “special dinner” for yourself, rent a couple of “action flicks” or “slap-stick comedies” , and settle in for the evening. At all costs, avoid places where couples would generally congregate.
2) Call in Single Day. In the same vane as Quirky Alone Day, singles are encouraged to pick up the phone, take a day off from work, and set aside some time for themselves. Nobody can love you like you, so make sure you love yourself a lot today. Go out and do things for YOU. Take a walk, spit at passing couples walking hand-in-hand (not really, but feel free to sneer at them as they go past), eat copious amounts of chocolates, chase your shadow, and do whatever else you single people do, just make sure you enjoy yourself. If all that alone time eventually gets to you, you could always pickup some games and gadgets to pass the time. If you seek to avoid this holiday next year, go out and find some other lonely singles to celebrate with. Who knows, you could find the ‘love of your life’ and next year you’ll be able to participate in the crass commercialization of Valentine’s Day. (Just ignore the single people sneering at you as you walk by them).
And, 3) National Condom Day. The premise for this “holiday” is is simple guys; “Wrap it before you tap it.”  National Condom Day aims to raise awareness of safe sex and the reasons for it.
The second category of heart-related “holidays” I’ll call “Heart Health”. “Holidays” in this category are:
1) World Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day.  Today is the day we  have chosen to request that states and countries recognize that Congenital Heart Defects are the number one birth defect in the world. Most people who have not been affected by congenital heart defects are unaware of that statistic. According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in 125 children are born with a congenital heart defect.
2) National Have A Heart Day. The goal of National Have A heart Day is to create a new consciousness concerning the impact of our food choices on the environment, world hunger, animal welfare and human health,especially heart health. Vegetarian diets increase longevity and help prevent, and even reverse, heart disease. Total vegetarians live about 15 years longer than non-vegetarians and suffer less than one-tenth the heart disease death rate of non-vegetarians.
And, 3) National Organ Donor Day. National Organ Donor Day encourages people to sign up to donate their organs. It may save a life. Sure, it is uncomfortable to think of our own death, especially an early one. But, if it was to happen, you could save other lives . So, please seriously consider signing up to donate your organs and tissue.
Holy carpal-tunnel syndrome Batman! We’re not finished yet. There are some non-Valentine’s Day/heart-related “holidays” today as well. The first is Pet Theft Awareness Day. On February 14th of every year, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) celebrates Pet Theft Awareness Day  by educating the public about the dangers of pet theft with the help of individuals and other animal organizations throughout the United States. If you haven’t already, have your Veterinarian install a micro-chip in each of your pets. It will greatly improve your chances of recovering your beloved ‘friend’ if he/she is ever lost or stolen.
Another “holiday” is Race Relations Day. This day designated by some churches to recognize the importance of interracial relations. Formerly was observed on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday or on the Sunday preceding it. Since 1970 observance has generally been Feb 14.
And last, but certainly not least, today is Library Lovers’ Day. Libraries are a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They offer security and peace and quiet. They are also a place where you can focus surrounded by like-minded people with the desire to acquire knowledge.  Not everything is available on the internet (yet). Libraries have vast  stores of qualitative and quantitative information, without all of the opinion led snippets and snapshots from online. Love your library for what it is, a community meeting place or treasure trove of ideas. Why not go and learn something new that will expand your knowledge of who you are, of where you live or what you do?

Yes, there is also a food-related “holiday” today as well. Today is National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day. While it is not clear when or why this holiday started, I suspect that it has something to do with all of the chocolate sold around Valentine’s Day. Cream-filled chocolates can be made two ways. The first way is to make ganache and fondant, roll it into a ball and then dip the fondant into chocolate. The second way is to use a mold and put melted chocolate in the mold. Chocolate in molds are cooled by freezing. The molds are then filled with a cream filling and chocolate poured over the candy. Once the candy has cooled, it can be taken out of the mold. The chocolates can be filled with a number of flavors. Some of them are coffee, maple, mint, raspberry, strawberry orange, lemon, vanilla, maraschino, rum, chocolate and coconut. Most of the flavors are attained by using flavoring, liqueur, extract, fruit juices or powdered ingredients.  Chocolate is known to have been consumed by the early Mayans and Aztecs. When the Spanish conquered them, they took the cacao seed back to Spain. From there it spread to Europe. Baking chocolate came about in the form of cocoa powder in 1828, and chocolate bars in 1842.

On this day in 1849, the first photograph of a U.S. President, while in office, was taken by Matthew Brady in New York City. President James Polk was the subject of the picture. Ever since, the most dangerous place on the planet to be is between a Politician and a camera.
Other significant historical events which happened on this date are:
In 1778, the Stars and Stripes was carried to a foreign port, in France, for the first time. It was aboard the American ship Ranger.
In 1803, Moses Coats received a patent on the apple parer.
In 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell filed an application for a patent for the telephone. It was officially issued on March 7, 1876.
In 1889, in Los Angeles, CA, oranges began their first trip to the east.
In 1899, the U.S. Congress approved voting machines for use in federal elections.
In 1903, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor was established.
In 1912, the first diesel engine submarine was commissioned in Groton, CT.
Also in 1912, Arizona was admitted as the 48th U.S. state.
In 1920, the League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago. The first president of the organization was Maude Wood Park.
In 1929, the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” took place in Chicago, IL. Seven gangsters who were rivals of Al Capone were killed.
In 1932, the U.S. won the first bobsled competition at the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, NY.
In 1940, the first porpoise born in captivity arrived at Marineland in Florida.
In 1946, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled. The device, built at the University of Pennsylvania, was the world’s first general purpose electronic computer.
In 1962, U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gave a tour of the White House on television.
In 1966, Rick Mount of Lebanon, IN, became the first high school, male athlete to be pictured on the cover of “Sports Illustrated”.
In 1980, Walter Cronkite announced his retirement from the “CBS Evening News.”
In 1989, the first satellite of the Global Positioning System was placed into orbit around Earth.
In 1997, Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery began a series of spacewalks that were required to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope.
And, in 1998, U.S. authorities officially announced that Eric Rudolph was a suspect in a bombing of an abortion clinic in Alabama.

If you were born on this date, you share a birthday with the following notable people:
George Ferris, 1859 – Inventor.
John Barrymore, 1882 – Actor.
Jack Benny, 1894 – Comedian.
Jimmy Hoffa, 1913 – Union goon.
Woody Hayes, 1913 – Football coach.
Hugh Downs, 1921 – Broadcaster.
Frank Borman, 1928 – Astronaut.
Phyllis McGuire, 1931 – The McGuire Sisters.
Vic Morrow, 1932 – Actor.
Florence Henderson, 1934 – Actress/singer.
Andrew Prine, 1936 – Actor.
Michael Bloomberg, 1942 – New York City Mayor.
Gregory Hines, 1946 – Entertainer.
Teller, 1948 – Comedian, magician (Pen and Teller).
Jo Jo Starbuck, 1951 – Figure skater.
Ken Wahl, 1957 – Actor.
Meg Tilly, 1960 – Actress.
And finally, Drew Bledsoe, 1972 – Football player.

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