weird and wacky holidays happening in April

April 25 is DNA Day

DNA DayToday is DNA Day. On April 25, 1953, the journal Nature published three papers submitted by James Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin, Raymond Gosling, Maurice Wilkins, Alexander Stokes and Herbert Wilson about the structure of DNA.

Swiss biochemist Frederich Miescher observed DNA in 1869, but its importance didn’t emerge until 84 years later. Watson and Crick are the scientists most often associated with the discovery of DNA. They used data from X-ray diffraction research done by Rosalind Franklin to unravel the molecule and learn its essential role in creating life as we know it.

In 2003, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives declared April Human Genome Month and April 25th DNA Day. Serendipitously, on April 14, 2003, the Human Genome Project, a publicly funded program begun in 1990, announced it had achieved its goal of sequencing nearly all of the euchromatic genome.

But the U.S. proclamation covered a one-time-only celebration, not an annual holiday. Since 2003, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has organized DNA Day festivities every year. Countries including Lithuania and Nepal have designated April 25th as International DNA Day.

Happy DNA Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays


April 22 is In God We Trust Day

in god we trust dayToday is In God We Trust Day. On April 22, 1864, Congress ordered the redesign of the one-cent piece and the minting of a new two-cent coin bearing the motto. On March 3, 1865, Congress passed another act directing the U.S. mint to place the words on all gold and silver coins.

The phrase is often attributed to lawyer Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the British bombardment of Baltimore Harbor on September 13, 1814, during the War of 1812, which lasted much longer than its name suggests.

Key wrote the poem Defence of Fort M’Henry, which was later set to the tune of a popular British song, Anachreon in Heaven, and renamed The Star-Spangled Banner. In the fourth stanza, like many sports fans, Key expresses a belief that God is on our team’s side.

We include the poem in its entirety because, like us, you may not have seen it. We’ve never heard it at a sporting event. It would be cruel and unusual punishment for the fans and for the singer trying to hit the high notes again and again.

Defence of Fort M’Henry

O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there —
O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream —
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havock of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul foot-steps’ pollution,
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home, and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto — “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

On July 30, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law declaring that In God We Trust must appear on all currency. The first paper money bearing the phrase was issued the following year. He also made it the nation’s official motto, replacing E pluribus unum (Latin: Out of many, one), the country’s unofficial slogan since its inclusion on the Great Seal of the United States created in 1782.

Have a happy and healthy In God We Trust Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

April 21 is Keep Off the Grass Day

Today is Keep Off the Grass Day. It may just be a clever way to stitch together Pot Smoking Day (April 20) and Earth Day (April 22). But there’s an event that it should represent, even though it happened a few calendar days later.

keep off the grass dayOn May 1, 1894, a wealthy Populist named Jacob Coxey arrived in Washington, D.C. with an “army” of 500 men to demand the government create jobs building roads, bridges, etc. to help alleviate unemployment in the depression caused by the Panic of 1893.

Word of “Coxey’s Army” preceded it. In anticipation of its arrival, 1,500 soldiers were mustered, with thousands more ready to be mobilized if necessary. But during the march from Ohio, many lost enthusiasm and left to go home or find work. Other so-called armies, meant to converge on Washington around the same time, had dwindled to nothing before reaching there.

Despite his group’s militaristic name, Jacob Coxey had come not to stage a coup but to give a face to poverty-stricken citizens who desperately needed work.  He set out to make a speech on their behalf in front of the U.S. Capitol building. But the moment he stepped on the Capitol lawn, he was arrested for walking on the grass.

Fifty years later on May 1, 1944, at the age of 90, Jacob Coxey was finally allowed to deliver his speech from the steps of the U.S. Congress. Here is a portion of it:

…Up these steps the lobbyists of trusts and corporations have passed unchallenged on their way to committee rooms, access to which we, the representatives of the toiling wealth-producers, have been denied.

We stand here today in behalf of millions of toilers whose petitions have been buried in committee rooms, whose prayers have been unresponded to, and whose opportunities for honest, remunerative, productive labor have been taken from them by unjust legislation, which protects idlers, speculators, and gamblers.

We come to remind the Congress here assembled of the declaration of a United States Senator, “that for a quarter of a century the rich have been growing richer, the poor poorer, and that by the close of the present century the middle class will have disappeared as the struggle for existence becomes fierce and relentless.”

…Coming as we do with peace and good will to men, we shall submit to these laws, unjust as they are, and obey this mandate of authority of might which overrides and outrages the law of right. In doing so, we appeal to every peace-loving citizen, every liberty-loving man or woman, every one in whose breast the fires of patriotism and love of country have not died out, to assist us in our efforts toward better laws and general benefits.

Today, Coxey’s words still ring true. Here’s to everyone who refuses to keep off the grass!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

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April 20 is Lima Bean Respect Day

lima bean respect dayToday is Lima Bean Respect Day. We don’t know who invented this holiday, but we suspect it may have been someone who grows them. So let’s cultivate a little knowledge about this underappreciated legume.

Lima beans have been found at archeological sites dating back as far as 6000 BC. They were named by Spaniards traveling through Lima, Peru in the 15th century.

The fiber in lima beans helps lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates, keeping blood sugar level while insoluble fiber improves bowel regularity, which is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

They’re low in fat and full of protein, iron, magnesium, folate, manganese and calcium. They contain protease inhibitors that may halt the development of cancerous cells. Their high molybdenum content helps people who have sulfite allergies due to insufficient levels of molybdenum in their bodies.

Lima beans contain a cyanide compound and should not be eaten raw. Only varieties with the lowest cyanide levels can be legally sold in the United States. Cooking destroys it.

Show a little respect for lima beans today. Relax: We’re not saying you have to eat them.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays