Valentine’s Day began as St. Valentine’s Day, a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. February 14th first became associated with romantic love during the High Middle Ages as the tradition of courtly love was then flourishing. During 18th century England, this day evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending Valentine cards.
Mixed opinions prevail regarding who or what was celebrated in mid-February. Some point to martyred saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. The most popular story tells of the saint who defied a decree by Emperor Claudius II who outlawed marriage for young men because he believed single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine, preferring young lovers to be wed than have them sneaking around (or believing in the power of love), would marry them in secret. However, it may have been another Valentine who performed the marriages. Either way, at least two of them were beheaded for their actions.
Another possible origin for Valentine’s Day takes us back to a pagan festival called Lupercalia. As a way to discourage participation in the fertility festival, the Christian church placed St. Valentine’s Day in the middle of February.
Since the Renaissance, we’ve been exchanging Valentine’s cards. These handmade missives of romance grew into a more commercial venture by the Victorian era. Today, school children exchange Valentine greetings, too. They prepare for the day by making unique boxes to receive their many hearts, cupids, and pun-filled rhymes.
Chocolates and candy have also become a part of the celebration. While couples tend to be the focus of the day, singles celebrate being single, too. Friends take each other out or reject the overall notion of Valentine’s Day. Dinner and a movie, candlelight, and flowers also fit the bill for couples. It’s one of the busiest days of the year for florists.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ValentinesDay
You can surprise your special someone with flowers, chocolate or a card. Bring a smile to their face with an original poem or homemade meal.
Get Recipes that will impress without spending days in the kitchen. Many can be done at the last minute if needed.
Get something special for your Valentine and use #ValentinesDay to post on social media.International Book Giving Day
VALENTINE’S DAY HISTORY
Credit is traditionally given to Pope Gelasius for declaring February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day around the year 496 to separate the church from the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, an ancient pagan fertility festival which occurred on February 15th.
Every year on February 4th, World Cancer Day seeks to spread awareness for cancer. This day also focuses on the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.
Every year, 17 million new cases of cancer throughout the world are diagnosed. Cancer will be fatal for nearly 10 million of those who receive this news. By the year 2040, it is estimated that there will be 27.5 million new cases of cancer. The most common cancers include lung, female breast, bowel, and prostate.
Despite the prevalence, it is possible to reduce the risk of getting cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, these things can help to prevent many types of cancer:
- Avoid tobacco or stop using it
- Eat a diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, and limited amounts of processed meat
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day
- Protect yourself from the sun
- Never have unprotected sex
- Keep up with routine medical screenings
Sadly, it’s not just adults who get cancer. This deadly disease also affects children. About 300,000 children around the world are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the United States, cancer is the most common cause of death by disease for children. Some of the most common types of childhood cancers include leukemia, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumors. Many childhood cancers do not have a known cause. Early diagnosis and access to treatment greatly increases survival.
Certain countries have higher cancer rates than others. Australia has the most new cases of cancer. Every year there are 468 new cases for every 100,000 residents. The United States ranks fifth on the list. Each year, there are about 352 new cases per 100,000 residents. Other countries that have high rates of cancer include New Zealand, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, France, and Denmark.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldCancerDay
This day is organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Events on this day include free cancer screenings, educational discussions on recognizing the signs and symptoms of cancer, training public health officials on how to detect cancer, and live events on social media. A provider of cancer services, The Icon Group, encourages its staff, partners, and loved ones to spread messages of hope on paper butterflies to those who need it most.
- Reach out to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer
- Learn about the ways to prevent the risk of cancer
- Donate to a cancer support or cancer research organization
- Read about famous cancer survivors like Colin Powell, Olivia Newton-John, and Robin Roberts
- Wear a lavender ribbon to spread cancer awareness (there are also other colors that represent specific types of cancer)
- If you’ve been affected by cancer, share your story to encourage others.
My father lost his battle with prostrate cancer in January 2011. If Cancer has touched your life it is important that we continue the search for cures.
Whatever you do on this day, be sure to share it on social media with #WorldCancerDay.
WORLD CANCER DAY HISTORY
The Union for International Cancer Control established World Cancer Day on February 4th, 2000. The day was founded in Paris at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium. Today, there are over 900 World Cancer Day events held in 127 countries.
Don’t forget International Childhood Cancer Day is February 15th.
National Hug Day or National Hugging Day occurs on January 21st and is officially recognized by the United States Copyright Office, but is not a public holiday.
The purpose of the day is to help everyone show more emotion in public. The only way to celebrate the day is by offering a hug to anyone and everyone you want. While National Hug Day and the Free Hugs Campaign share many similarities, there is not an association between the two.
Whether you hug a family member or a stranger, the mental and physical health benefits are the same. From the day we are born, hugs or touch improve our sleep. Hugging, like cuddling, releases oxytocin. On its own, this hormone provides tremendous health benefits. Not only does it gives us feel-good hormones, but it reduces pain. Receiving a hug helps reduce stress, lowers blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease. It also eases anxiety.
In my research to help my husband, I came across the benefits of these marvelous creations. The weighted blanket feels like a hug and quiets things like anxiety, helps reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, and helps you get a deeper, better nights sleep. So I got him one for Christmas. He uses it every night. Instead of waking 10 times a night, he sleeps through the night. The Restless leg syndrome has quieted, he is no longer jerked awake by overactive nerve activity in his legs and feet.
I was skeptical that this would work, but after months and months of interrupted sleep and medical avenues not providing any relief, we were getting desperate. I figured what have we got to lose? I highly recommend this especially to anyone dealing with similar symptoms or issues.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalHuggingDay
Give someone a big hug. Or, if you need one, ask for a hug and reap the benefits. Use #NationalHuggingDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL HUGGING DAY HISTORY
The holiday was founded by Rev. Kevin Zaborney on March 29, 1986, in Caro, Michigan.
Each year on January 6th, National Cuddle Up Day encourages us to snuggle up with someone for the health benefits and more!
January is typically some of the coldest days of the year, so what better way to stay warm and reap the health benefits of cuddling on National Cuddle Up Day? Whether it’s a three dog night (a night so cold it takes three dogs to cuddle up with to stay warm) or only slightly chilly, there are multiple benefits to cuddling with human or canine or other pet.
Cuddling releases oxytocin. This hormone alone has tremendous health benefits. Besides giving us warm and fuzzy feelings, oxytocin reduces pain. So when the cold has made those muscles and joints ache, cuddling can help reduce those aches and pains.
Oxytocin also helps reduce heart disease, lowers blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. If it weren’t free, insurance carriers would probably cover cuddling since it’s such a huge health benefit!
Communication is more than just e-mails, texts, or conversation. Physical touch can communicate trust, commitment, safety, and reassurance. This goes for human to human contact as well as human to pet contact. Cuddling expresses all these things, which are vital to a healthy relationship.
Cuddling also boosts sexual desire. Dopamine is released, stimulating the brain to seek pleasure. But dopamine also can improve memory and focus as well.
Don’t have someone to cuddle up with? Make an appointment for a massage. Studies show massage provides similar benefits.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalCuddleUpDay
Cuddle up with someone you love. Invite your pet up on the sofa for a snuggle session. Schedule a massage. Use #NationalCuddleUpDay
While these do take a bit of work, you will be rewarded with each bite of these delicious Wellingtons. I usually do these as a labor of love on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or an Anniversary. They also work well for a special dinner for 2. Just add candlelight, and a salad. A great pairing is my Winter Arugula Pear Salad. It makes for a really good dinning experience. Add a decadent desert and anyone dinning will be very impressed. See Loaded Brownie recipe.
- 3 packages frozen puff pastry, Pepperidge Farm brand
- Flour for rolling
- 2 eggs Whisked with 2 Tbsp water
- 1 – 8oz pkg Baby Bellas chopped
- 6 Tbs. olive oil; more for cooking
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. Rosemary
- Salt and Black pepper to taste
- 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 medium onions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Salt and Black pepper
Spinach and Blue Cheese
- 2 – 10oz pkg fresh spinach blanched
- Pinch Black pepper (optional)
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- Crumbled Blue cheese about 6 oz
For the Steaks
- 4 – 7oz Ribeye or Eye of Round steaks
- Salt and Black pepper
- About 4 Tbsp butter, more as needed
- Roll out and cut the pastry—Roll out each pastry sheets to about 3/16-inch thick, with a sharp knife, cut out a 9-inch round. From the scraps, cut out leaves or other shapes to use as decoration. Layer the pastry rounds (and the decorations) between pieces of waxed paper or parchment, lay on baking sheet and store in freezer until ready to assemble.
- Cook the mushrooms—In a bowl, toss the chopped Baby Bellas with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours overnight is better. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add a thin film of oil, and sear mushrooms until they’ve softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels. When cool, set aside till ready to use.
- Caramelize the onions— Melt butter, add the onions, cooking over medium heat, slowly, stirring occasionally, until well browned, and soft, about 20 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the pan is dry. Set aside to cool. Put the cooled onions in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare the spinach and cheese
- Wash spinach well and remove any stems. Prepare an ice-water bath. Put half of the spinach in a large sauté pan with a touch of water, and 1 Tbs. of the butter. Cook over medium-high heat, until justbwilted and immediately put it in the water bath to shock the color and stop the cooking. Scoop it from the ice water and put it in a colander to drain. Squeeze the spinach, in a clean kitchen towel, as much as you can and set it aside on paper towels to continue draining. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. Stir in blue cheese, salt and Black pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Sear Steaks—Season each portion of meat with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning into the meat to keep it in place. Add butter and dash of olive oil to a heavy sauté pan. Sear the steaks over high heat for 2 minutes on each side until brown and crisp on the outside. Be sure your pan is very hot for searing the meat. Do not overcook it, or crowd the pan. It will cause the meat to steam instead of sear. (Check the sides to be sure the filets are still red in the middle.) Work in batches if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours.
Searing the steaks makes for a nice crust but a still-red center—once wrapped in pastry and baked, they’ll cook to medium rare.
Some Assembly Required
- Arrange your mushrooms, onions, spinach, and steaks within easy reach. Divide mushrooms, onions into four portions. Spinach into 8 portions.
- Make sure the caramelized onions are well drained (they tend to collect liquid as they sit).
- Cover a large rimmed baking sheet (that fits in your freezer) with kitchen parchment or silicon baking mat.
- Have a ruler, a small sharp knife, a pastry brush, and the egg wash on hand. Lightly flour one area to lay pastry, (the cooler the area the better).
- Pull a pastry round from the freezer and lay on the floured surface. Working quickly lightly score a 4×3-inch rectangle in the center of the round; don’t cut through the pastry. Extend the lines of the rectangle and cut out the corners of the round created by the line extensions, leaving a cross of pastry with a 4×3-inch center.
Cut a cross shape out of the pastry round. Save the scraps to cut out decorations.
- Spread Spinach in thin layer on the rectangle of pastry. Follow with a layer of onions, the steak, a layer of mushrooms and second layer of spinach. Spread each layer as evenly as possible. Brush a light coating of the egg wash on each of the four panels of dough.
- Check to be sure that the pastry is now pliable enough to fold without breaking (wait a minute or two if necessary). Fold up the longer sides first and then the end Fold each side panel onto the top, stretching the dough a bit if necessary to make the ends meet, or slightly overlapping if necessary. Follow suit with the top and bottom panels. Seal the panels together by pressing in the top panel where it meets the bottom panel and by pinching each of the four sides together where the panels meet. It’s important that pastry iswell sealed so the juices don’t leak out.
- Hold upright in your hands, securing all the seals and smoothing any rough spots to make the package into a neat, rounded block. Set it seam side down and gently press the top and sides to make them as even all the way around as possible. Brush the top and all sides with egg wash. If desired puut decorations on top and brush with egg wash. Set the Wellingtons on the lined baking sheet. Set in freezer to set and chill the pastry. Repeat with the 5 remaining Wellingtons, adding each to the pan in the freezer as you go. Allow 1 hour in freezer.
Cook the Wellingtons:
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Make another egg wash. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer (do not thaw) and brush them with a fresh coat of egg wash. Cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook another 35 to 40 minutes. Set them aside to rest for no longer than 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
National Thank You Note Day on December 26th recognized the time-honored tradition of thanking people for their gifts, hospitality and generosity. It is a day to get some note cards, paper, pen, envelopes, and stamps to write those special thank yous.
Taking the time to thank family and friends with a personalized message has special meaning. The receiver of the “thank you” will enjoy getting the card in the mail and the message you have written.
Personal messages also convey to friends and family a deeper, more intimate sentiment. These handwritten notes, however brief, carry a tactile expression of thanks that verbal communication often lacks.
Have the kids draw a picture for theirs if they are not old enough to write a thank you, note. Family and friends will cherish a “thank you” from a grandchild, nephew, niece… Will mean a great deal to the receiver. My mom puts those treasures front and center on the fridge, where such works of art belong. As they get older encourage the more traditional thank you notes. This will help them learn to respect the gift and the giver. Starting a good habit that will last many years into the future.
Never underestimate the power of “THANK YOU!”
HOW TO OBSERVE #ThankYouNoteDay
Writing a thank you has become a bit of lost art. We have provided a few tips to help along the way.
Begin your thank you by acknowledging the specific gift and how thoughtful it is. If the gift was delivered, then assure the sender it arrived safely and how much you enjoy it.
If the giver presented the gift personally, mention something you remember from your visit. Then thank them for the perfect gift they took the time to bring by describing it and how ideal it is for you.
Close your thank you by gushing about how kind the giver was for remembering you!
Within a few lines, you will have the knack of writing thank you cards. Share your tips using #NationalThankYouNoteDay to post on social media.
With all the holiday cheer this fun holiday is the perfect reminder, to get those holiday cards done by the 9th. For some added fun let the kids, write a letter to Santa. While in the mood pen an extra Christmas card to troops stationed overseas.
USPS can help you get a postmarked letter from Santa. Postmarked from the North Pole. Simply follow the instructions from the link above and have your own, “Yes Virginia” moment. Watch their faces light up when you give them mail postmarked from the north pole!
This year as you finish that card list write one more. Letters and cards sent directly to our military.
Pearl Harbor Day
Yes December 7, 1941 will continue it’s infamy. As we mark this day of Remembrance of this unprovoked attack on military and civilian both killing and wounding thousands on American soil.
2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft.
December 7, 2019
Information coming soon. Details about the 78th commemoration ceremony and other commemorative events will be provided on the official Pearl Harbor Events page, on our Facebook page, and on our website calendar.