Organized by UNESCO, April 30, 2012 is the first ever International Jazz Day!
Jazz has always been one of my favorite musical genres, although I’ve never gained the confidence to improv well, at least in front of an audience. Here’s one of the greatest hits from the big band era of jazz to get your celebration started: “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (and who said that the clarinet wasn’t a jazz instrument!).
“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.”
Happy International Dance Day!
This celebration was begun by the International Theatre Institute in 1982. They created it simply to celebrate dance and its ability to bridge cultures, but they chose April 29 because Jean-Georges Noverre, the father of modern ballet, was born on this day in 1727.
The plan for today is obvious. Turn on some of your favorite music and dance. If you can, learn a dance from a different culture. You won’t regret it.
“Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.’”
Today is Great Poetry Reading. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Classic: Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” (a.k.a. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”)
Masterful: John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 14” (a.k.a. “Batter my heart, three person’d God”)
Modern and Fun: Billy Collin’s “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House” (You can read it in Sailing Alone Around the Room.)
Even more up-to-date: Make your own! Sitting down with a paper and pen is great, but magnetic poetry is pretty fun too!
You can also check out the intricate construction of the ancient Hebrew acrostic found in Psalm 119, starting:
“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.”
It’s Morse Code Day! Time to use a little Morse code. If all you know is . . . _ _ _ . . . (SOS), then today is the day to learn a bit more.
In 1836, Samuel Morse, Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail developed the telegraph, a system that sends electrical pulses along a wire over long distances.
To make full use of this invention, Morse and Vail slowly invented a special code of dots and dashes that could be easily translated into letters and numbers.
Since then, Morse code has been used for all sorts of communications over the telegraph, through casual tapping in every spy movie, and by flashing lights on ships.
Morse Code Day is celebrated every year on Samuel Morse’s birthday.
Here’s an ancient S.O.S.:
“In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.”
I love soft pretzels. While the specialties are good (especially cinnamon sugar or pepperoni), nothing beats the classic, just salt and bread.
No one seems to know why this date was chosen, but April 26 is National Pretzel Day.
The way to celebrate is obvious: eat pretzels. The only question left is . . . what kind?
“Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Personally, I've never cared for hard pretzels, but everyone I know loves them, so I guess there's something wrong with my taste buds.
Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day! Today is the day to pamper every administrative professional you know – cards, flowers, candy, or a nice lunch are all popular ideas. (I just noticed how similar that sounds to a simple Valentine’s Day!) Of course, cash is always nice too!
I spent most of college working a few hours a week in the university English department, where I had a front row seat to the importance of our main administrative professionals. (Okay, we weren’t very politically correct. She was our secretary and we loved her!)
Administrative professionals know everything and keep the office running – they can find anything and are constantly preventing disaster (It’s time for your meeting! Don’t forget your notes!) all while answering phones, making copies, and greeting everyone with a smile.
“Honor one another above yourselves. “
I think just about everyone loves pigs in a blanket. But what are they? In the U.S. you can find:
pigs in a blanket, the appetizer (cocktail sausages wrapped in crescent rolls),
American appetizer pigs in a blanket
- pigs in a blanket, the meal (full hot dog wrapped in large crescent roll, cheese and ketchup optional),
- pigs in a blanket, breakfast edition (sausage links wrapped in pancakes and drizzled in syrup).
Elsewhere, you can find even more versions:
American pigs in a blanket for breakfast
- The British celebrate Christmas with small sausages wrapped in bacon, also called “kilted sausages.”
- Germans eat “sausage in a dressing grown,” or sausages rolled in puff pastry.
- Jewish children often enjoy a sausage wrapped in phyllo dough with ketchup (no cheese, please!) called Moses-in-the-basket or Moses-in-the-ark, where the sausage is baby Moses and the pastry is the basket/boat he was placed in at the Nile.
Time to pick a style to celebrate with tonight. If you had a party, you could get everyone to bring a different version! (If you do, let me know if it was enjoyable or if everything was just too similar and you got sick of it.)
In honor of Moses-in-the-baskets:
“Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.”
As an English major, I can’t possibly pass up Talk Like Shakespeare Day. If William Shakespeare was still alive, he’d be 448 today. Today, you can celebrate his birthday by talking like him. The Talk Like Shakespeare Day website contains plenty of suggestions, such as using thee or ye instead of you, rhyming when possible, and starting your opinions with the word “methinks.”
If you think this sounds difficult, you can quote my favorite not-quite-complimentary love poem “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun” or call the guy that cuts you off “thou saucy tardy-gaited varlot!”
Other celebrations reading or acting out your favorite Shakespearean play, or watching a version. Although histories and dramas like “Henry V” and “Romeo and Juliet” are classics,most people prefer a comedy like “Much Ado About Nothing” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for a holiday.
Since the King James Version was translated during Shakespeare’s lifetime, I’ve included the beginning of Psalm 23 in the KJV:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1-3 (KJV)
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
Happy Earth Day! You can celebrate today by
- stopping to smell the roses, dandelions, pines, tulips, rain . . .
- picking up trash and recycling
- planting a tree
- having a picnic
- [read with a radio announcer's voice] and much, much more!!!
How will you celebrate Earth Day?
On April 21, 1836, the Texan Army (about 900 strong) under Sam Houston decidedly defeated the Mexican Army (just under 1400 men) under General Santa Anna. Apparently, Santa Anna was confident in his army’s superior numbers and weapons, but Houston made a surprise attack in broad daylight during the afternoon siesta. Surprisingly, there were no guards posted to sound the alarm.
Today Texans celebrate San Jacinto Day because that is the day that they (practically) won independence from Mexico. Official recognition came much later, but Santa Anna was captured and his troops withdrew. A festival and reenactment is held every year at the site near San Jacinto.
“Let them give glory to the LORD
and proclaim his praise in the islands.
The LORD will march out like a mighty man,
like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry
and will triumph over his enemies.”