Everyday is special - Dec. 12

December 11, 2011, Sunday/ 22:39:00

Today is Jamhuri Day in Kenya. This national holiday is the anniversary of the independence of Kenya from Britain in 1963.

Jamhuri is the Swahili word for “republic,” and the holiday officially marks the day of Kenya’s establishment as a republic on Dec. 12, 1964. However, as the country also gained full independence from the United Kingdom one year earlier, Jamhuri Day is thus a dual celebration.

Today is Neutrality Day in Turkmenistan. This national holiday commemorates the UN recognition of Turkmenistan as a neutral country. For the last few years, Neutrality Day has also been celebrated as the country’s Youth Day. Turkmenistan is the third neutral country in the world, after Switzerland and Austria.

Today is Constitution Day in Russia, which commemorates the adoption of a new constitution on Dec. 12, 1993. The day replaced the previous Soviet Constitution Day and is celebrated with ceremonies, speeches and a fireworks display in St. Petersburg. The original Soviet Constitution Day was first observed on Dec. 5 and then changed to Oct. 7 in 1977.

Today is Poinsettia Day in the United States. The day honors Joel Robert Poinsett (1779-1851) on the anniversary of his death. Poinsett was the first US ambassador to Mexico, and he brought back a plant with brilliant red flowers to his plantation in the US, where he introduced it to the American ecosystem. The plant, named after Poinsett, is now regarded as a symbol of Christmas.

Today is the birthday of Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), the iconic American jazz-oriented popular singer and Academy Award-winning actor. Sinatra was a solo artist who had great success in the early to mid-1940s. His career found a second wind when he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1954.

Today is the anniversary of the death of Azerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev (1923-2003). Aliyev was a former member of the Azerbaijan Communist Party and served in the autonomous region of Nakhchivan and in the Politburo of the Communist Party. After Azerbaijan’s independence, he served under President Abulfaz Elchibey as the chairman of the National Assembly and on Oct. 3, 1993 became president.

Today is Guadalupe Day in Mexico. Honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the republic, this is one of Mexico’s major celebrations. On this day, people from all over Mexico travel to Tepayac Hill in Mexico City, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before an Indian peasant named Juan Diego back in 1531. Mary told Juan to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built on the hill so she could be close to her people.