International Friendship Day

International Friendship Day
International Friendship Day

Friendship should never be taken for granted.  The value of having a friend  and especially a best friend is a true treasure. I was thrilled to see that there is a day to honor and cherish all the qualities that friendship embodies and that the scope of the holiday has been broadened to include opening the avenues of understanding to all nationalities and ethnic groups around the world.

Friendship Day was first proposed on 20 July 1958 by Dr. Artemio Bracho during a dinner with friends in Puerto Pinasco, Paraguay. The World Friendship Crusade was formed from this meeting of friends.  It promotes friendship and fellowship among all human beings regardless of race, color or religion.  Since that day July 30 has been designated as Friendship Day in Paraguay and also adopted by several other countries.

In the USA, Friendship Day was first promoted by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards in 1930.  August 2 was chosen as the day for the celebration because it was in between other holiday celebrations.  People felt like the holiday was too commercial and by the 1940’s, interest in it had almost disappeared. Although there the interest in the holiday has never surfaced and taken hold in Europe, there has been an interest shown in Japan and several countries in Asia have adopted it.

In 1998, an interest in the holiday again emerged when Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. The World Friendship Crusade has lobbied the United Nations for many years to recognize July 30th as World Friendship Day. Finally on 20 May, General Assembly of the United Nations decided to name 30 July as the International Day of Friendship. All Member States were invited to observe the International Day of Friendship in accordance with the culture and customs of their local, national and regional communities.  Educational and public awareness-raising activities about the holiday are encouraged.

According to the Huffinton Post, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently issued a statement to promote international solidarity on this special day.

“The International Day of Friendship is an important opportunity to confront the misunderstandings and distrust that underlie so many of the tensions and conflicts in today’s world,” he wrote. “It is a reminder that human solidarity is essential to promoting lasting peace and fostering sustainable development.”

 

 

 

 

Customs And Traditions in Australia

 

Australia flag
Australia flag

As one of the seven continents of the world, Australia evokes visions of beautiful natural settings, kangaroos and kola bears, but I was interested to know more about their cultural traditions and customs.

One of the strong influences in Australian culture is the Aboriginese people and the history that surrounds them.  According to Aboriginal belief, the earth descended from the sky to awaken a dark and silent world from which the totemic spirit ancestors emerged.  This time in Australian history is referred to as Dreamtime.  Many of the traditions and customs from this period can be found in the study of rock art, craft and bark painting. The songs have lyrics that have remained unchanged for thousands of years and are usually accompanied by clapsticks or the throbbing tone of the didgeridoo.

Australians are drawn to having a “fair go””, believe in mateship and have a strong affection for the underdog.Their language is described as “strine” which can be described  as a combination or blend of a strong Irish accent with cockney words or phrases while also combining some words from the Aborigines languages.  It is common place to add “ie” or “o” to the end of words and use reverse nicknames such as “Snowy” for someone with dark hair.

Sports and games and are very important to Australians and they have won many championships and trophies in competition. With a population of just over 21 million people, it’s estimated that six-and-a-half million people in Australia are registered sport participants. Football, rugby, and swimming are the most popular sports. Camel racing is also a popular sport which seems very unusual rather comical way to pass time.

camel racingThe common sport of jumping rope is common for children and stems from an ancient Aborigines activity.  The boomerang is also a popular activity for all ages.

Australians love food and especially love foods cooked on the barbie (barbecue).  Alcohol is very popular with beer being the preferred beverage.  It is easy to see why Australians have a reputation for being fun-loving and down to earth.

 

 

 

Countries In Africa

It is a large continent but how many countries in Africa are there?  I must admit that I did not know so I looked it up. There are 52 countries total. Nigeria is by far the largest with a population of 146,255,000.  The second largest is Ethiopia with a population of 82,544,800 followed by Egypt-81,713,500, democratic republic of the Congo – 66,514,000, and South Africa with a population of 48,782,800.  The size of some of the countries vary widely from Nigeria’s population in the nine digits to  the lowest population of 206,178 in Sao Tome and Principe.  Several of the other countries with the lowest populations are Djibouti – 506,221 and Equatorial Guinea – 616.459.

Some authorities consider there to be 47 countries instead of 52.  The difference in this number is the four islands, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Madagascar, the Comoros, the Seychelles, and Mauritius. The 47 are on the mainland of Africa.  Occasionally there is a dispute about some of the island countries not being African, but in general all  have strong historical ties to Africa so therefore are generally included.

The History of the Fourth of July Holiday

 

Most of Americans are familiar with the basic information about the history of the fourth of July.  It commemorates the signing of the declaration of independence when America became independent from Great Britain in 1776. But when did the holiday become official and what is the history behind it?

The Declaration of Independence

John Adams predicted to his wife Abigail that a new holiday would be proclaimed in two days. Actually he was off by two days. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 2, 1976 but only by John Hancock, the presiding officer, and Charles Thompson, the secretary of Congress. Two days later the fourth it was passed by Congress. The  formal celebration of the event did not occur until days to weeks later, when the Declaration was published in the Philadelphia Evening Post on July 6. The first celebration is considered to be when the muskets were fired and people shouted in support after hearing the good news.  As copies of the Declaration were read in different township meetings, people would celebrate by lighting bonfires,fired guns, rang bells, and removed symbols of the British monarchy. The next year no one in Congress thought about commemorating the holiday until a day late, so the first celebration of independence was July 4, 1977 in Philadelphia, Pa. There were parades, fireworks and cannons firing 13-gun salutes. Ships in the harbour were decorated in patriotic colors.

Fireworks did not become popular for the fourth of July celebrations until after 1816, when Americans began to produce their own instead of relied on having them shipped in.

In America, the celebration has become a family favorite for the summer with picnics, barbeques and fireworks.  It is also a time to show our pride for our country and the story behind the flag.